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June 7, 2012

Chinatown Loquats (Shut Up and Dance)

Chinatown Loquats

Last night, I stop by the Apple Store to interrogate the "geniuses". Now, I'd argue that a genius, by definition, doesn't work at any store for $11 an hour, but let's leave that for now.

My iPad 3 keeps shutting down while I'm listening to music. So, I want to ask the geniuses why that is, exactly. Why is it that I pay $800 for a tablet PC that's supposed to be so user-friendly that even a woman could use it, but somehow I can't even get it to perform as well as an iPod.

What Apple tells me is that they're going to wipe the thing clean and reinstall the O/S, losing all of my data in the process. I'm like...seriously? You can't back my data up?


I'm like what about the old "It Just Works!" slogan? Maybe y'all should change that to "If it doesn't work, we can't possibly make it work without throwing all of your data in the trash?" Maybe you should change your slogan to that. Or maybe "iPad 3. Like an $800 iPod that automatically shuts down every 7 minutes." Maybe that could be the new slogan?

So, I leave the dimwits at the genius bar behind and start walking home down Stockton Street, through the tunnel, through Chinatown and I see this one-eyed Chinaman selling some strange fruit on the sidewalk in Chinatown. I start to walk by and I'm thinking..."hold the phone...gimme some of those."

"What these are?"


"I can taste one?"

He digs around in a cardboard carton of these yellow-ish plum-sized fruits and hands me one. Most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth.

"Where these come from?"


"Yeah. Go ahead and set me up there."

So he hands me a big shopping bag full of them for $10 and I go on my way.

Now, I'm like the Johnny Appleseed of Loquats. I make it down to North Beach, and suddenly the Asians are replaced with Italians and I stumble into Avante, my favorite haunt.

"Blondie...try one of these. You know what they are?"

"Yeah. These are loquats. I grew up in Sacramento."

"Like where in the hell have I been? How did I not know about these?"

"I dunno. Can't help you there."

But everyone else I show them to has no clue what they are. Never heard of them. Not sure what they are or how to eat them.

Shut Up and Dance

Now that I don't have a motorcycle, I have to walk into work. This is not an altogether bad thing. I've learned a lot about my neighborhood by not racing through in on one wheel, terrorizing the hood.

This morning, I discovered a white cat that lives in the neighborhood grocery store and found a bakery I'd never noticed before.

The city is essentially, a canvas, and the creative people treat it as such, pasting enigmatic stickers on every conceivable surface. This particular morning, I spot a sticker that says "Shut up and dance". There's now way of knowing who put this sticker here, or why, but it does make one wonder. Who has that kind of time on their hands? What is the real message? Why would someone do this?

Every morning, as I get to market street, I stop by this one Oriental lady selling cut flowers and interrogate her on her flower cart. Now, the flower lady is a tough nut. She's hard to crack, this one. Always, I stop and shoot and show her my photos, but she just can't be pleased. She would never say one of my photos was good, and she always has her reasons, real or imagined. So, I've taken her on as a client, of sorts. And every morning, I try to stop and learn something new about the flowers, and try in vain to take a photo that she might deem worthwhile.

So this morning, I stop by and, as a peace offering, I show her my bag of loquats. She gets a gleam in her eye like a crack addict.

"Here...you know what these are?" I offer.

Like tossing walnuts to a squirrel.

She's digging through the bag, going through them like a woodchipper.

I take one, but it's kind of tart.

"They're kind of tart," I admit.

She gets this devilish grin. "You have to pick the ones that have a suntan," she explains. "These are the ripe ones here..."

Aha! So, that's what I'm looking for. Sure enough, she was right.

"Also, they cure a sort throat."

Eventually, I cut her off and hobbled into work, glad to have found a friend on market street.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 7, 2012 at 11:52 AM


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