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July 18, 2012

Walking In (7/10/12 - 7/18/12)

I walk to work these days, instead of riding the motorcycle. I mean, it's fun riding wheelies through the financial district, terrorizing the pedestrians, and getting tickets and all. But walking provides a more intimate view of San Francisco.

As I walk to work, I've recently been texting Carrie, and she encouraged to write, describing to her what I saw on the way. So, these are a compilation of text message that I sent to her recently, as I was wandering through the city, mainly while on my way to work.

So, if you want to look over my shoulder as I walk into work, feel free. :)


Chinese carpenters rebuild a basement next door
Acetylene and oxygen canisters roll into the basement for the pipe-fitters
Our ice-cream market is closed this morning
Line forms at Mama's as they mow Washington Square and rip the sidewalks open with enormous concrete saws

A homeless man sleeps on a bench by a shopping cart full of trash
Asians do the synchronized Calisthenics in the park as i wander aimlessly through these city streets trying to make sense where none can be found

Orientals run me down on the sidewalks of Chinatown as razor blades rip open cardboard boxes
the rich scent of baking fortune cookies pulls me in
Walnut tarts, reject fortune cookies, concrete saws, and countless produce trucks line Stockton street.

A man steps off the street with an enormous hose and sucks cooking oil from a fifty-five gallon drum on the sidewalk

Chinese bounce off each other like Pachinko balls, deftly inspecting produce with no name
The Loquats aren't out yet
My dealer isn't here
I'm on the corner of Pacific and Stockton going through a low-grade Loquat detox
Crates of papayas and cantaloupes
50 lb sacks of flour stacked in dangerous pyramids
I surrender the sidewalks to hordes of hounding Asians and walk through the streets

Now an alley and signs in Cantonese
There are no street signs any more
Always i hope to learn Chinatown but never i do

Now pale tourists with cheap cameras
Grant Street is just a horrible, lifeless death
Empty streets and dull tourists shooting fading Chinese lanterns
The Real Chinatown is on Stockton Street, not Grant Street, but the tourists never got the memo
And so it goes

Now the financial district
Old white men in dark coats smoke on sidewalks before tall buildings
Cables hum beneath my feet as i cross California Street
A man in a black suit trades his shoes for roller-blades and sails away
A homeless man with broken shoes peers hopefully into a trashcan

Alleys are hosed and swept by the morning crews
Table and chairs stacked in teetering columns in the alley
Hungry people study cafe window menus rocking gently on sore feet
Clean shiny women strut down the sidewalks, hoping to be discovered before the fall comes home with short days and slate grey skies

Day laborers tend our flower garden at work
Deftly culling and trimming the broken foxgloves and impatience

The newly homeless walk by pulling fresh carts of tightly bundled packages
Glancing nervously about, disbelieving that they've truly ended up on the streets of San Francisco
Awkward, embarrassed glances from the cusp of a long downward spiral
A parting glance from a lost soul slipping over the rim of a waterfall to their death
Enjoy the ride my friend
It's about to get very real


The line for breakfast is forming at Mama's on Washington Square
People reading books under low skies with purple flowers
Asians pooling in washington square for morning exercise
A man grinds away at the concrete sidewalk with a side-grinder
'Survey marks' he offers
'And these? What they are for?' I ask
'These dots of spraypaint all over the city?'
'Mosquito treatments,' he replies

A banner in Chinatown announces that we're in 'Lunar year 4710,'
Sidewalk produce markets
The scent of onions and large mysterious melons

The financial district is all slate and marble and workers wondering quietly if the fog will lift

The city pulls around me close now like a worn nightshirt
A timeless eternal cool city with the hopeful and hopeless inseparably blended
Workers hose dead pigeons from the sidewalks, victims of poor timing and produce trucks

Girls give up on waiting and buy themselves flowers from street corner vendors
The bus comes by and stops but no one gets on and it just pulls away sad and empty
The homeless are all in position to work the crowds, emerging from subterranean tunnels like locusts


Pigeons emerge from banks of fog disoriented and lost, regain their bearings and disappear into the fog
Tree-huggers race by on bicycles
Late girls run down the sidewalks in boots
Men turn to watch them move
This is the way we are

Sidewalk grates open up, exposing secret subterranean elevators
Kitchens are restocked by waiter-moles, out of sight out of mind
Pedestrians pool at the corner
The light changes as they race like lemmings into the streets
Then march into elevator prisons
To work like waiter-moles in the countless highrise officeprisons


A Morning fog wears the scent of countless bread ovens
Man washes down the sidewalk before his store
Pigeons coalesce around me loosely hoping for an accidental breakfast
But i have nothing for them
A homeless man with a large knife carves on a white tree he wears down the street
Forlorn smokers pout in tall shadows before buildings that will not have them
Everyone is plugged in to iphones listening to tunes youll mever hear
The cablecar cable whines and pops as it races beneath the city streets
The famiar crowd of urban strangers

Tall buildings spill their prisoners into the streets to search for lunch
Beautifuls girls gnaw like rabbits on lettuce and celery cursing their fate
They squeeze into jeggings and tall boots and strut down shattered sidewalks, like peacocks in the sunlight

She wears black boots covered in chains and bandanas
Keys jangle loudly on her jeans


Jacaranda trees explode purple beneath the morning sun
The chinese man runs a corner market store
Keeps a white cat with no name
Pigeons peck at cupcakes in the street
A chineese woman, old as the woods, digs for cans in a rubbish bin with a coat hanger
Brightly colored tourists unfold in the cool bay morning
Young girls stretch on the morning's edge
Lean and Strut
At work, the laborers push flowers into a garden
Fox Gloves, Impatients, Bleeding Hearts, and Azaleas
All bloom beneath the dogwoods as office workers parade by somehow immune to their charms
They dont see them, but i see them somehow
I dunno why this is
I walk very slowly into work taking it all in
The firetrucks and homeless and i wonder what it all means


The Foghorn Concerto
Forlorn foghorns resonate across the bay
The cathedral bells ring out 9:00 am
Seagulls bicker over scraps outside French and Italian bakeries
A man rakes leaves from the sidewalks
People reluctantly parade into work, clad in skinny jeans, draped with iphones
The scent of bread ovens draws me into an Italian bakery
I'm in the back surrounded by great stone ovens and racks of sourdough bread
The smell is maddening
But no one speaks my language
I take some photos and leave for work
Now I'm at the western terminal of the Pony Express, replaced by the invention of the telegraph 18 months after it started
Wells Fargo now with an old-school stagecoach inside, like someone drove it in and parked it this morning
Only thing missing is the driver and the man riding "shotgun" beside him

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM


Lovely. A lilting song to San Fran....

Posted by: sl on July 18, 2012 at 10:06 PM

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