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February 6, 2013

Walkn n


Flying In

I leave work at 2:30 a.m. The bars are all closed.
They fixed my bike today but I never got by to pick it up. Its raining anyway. BART doesnt run this early, so I schedule for a cab to pick me up at 4:30 a.m.
I close my eyes and try to sleep. An hour later the phone rings. My cab is outside.
I only closed my eyes for an hour. From 3:00 am to 4:00 am.
I pray for a swift death.
The city is dark at 4:30 am. Sound asleep.
Meth addicts rest in cardboard nests among the city's storefronts.
A homeless reef of drug addled delelicts.
A night-whore coughs and stumbles through the night on tall heels in skimpy dress.
Heading home to try to forget how hollow she feels.

At the gate, I plead for a better seat. Please for the love of god...dont make me fly across the continent in a middle seat.
Can I have 8F?
We have to charge you for the upgade.
How much?
But she prints my new boarding pass and doesnt charge me anything.

We pack like sardines into this aluminum tube and secrertly rub rabbits feet
Praying to the travel gods for mercy
The interior of the plane is 195 degrees.
Sweltering, we melt like cotton candy in the rain.
"Will you help in the event of an emergency?" the orange-haired flying waitress wants to know.
This pearl rests on her lips.
She wants to know if I'll help in an emergency. But I'll be no good to her or anyone else once we take off, I'll be in a coma.
Outside the rain makes puddles on the tarmac with little gasoline rainbows.
Soaking wet people that can't afford to travel climb up into the belly of the jet on a conveyor to pilfer a few items from the unsuspecting passengers.
Loading suitcases of the traveling class at night in a rainstorm must be about as bad as it gets.

There is nothing but this. This dark wet night that found San Francisco and wrapped her up like a pig in a blanket.
This wet night needs the city. She's here of her own volition.
A yellow raincoat tests his red flashlights.
Waves them around and watches for the pilot to need him.

Takn off.


Walkn home

At California the very loose cable slaps and pops beneath the street. 51 degrees in foggy perfect weather.
SFPD barricades and 'FREE PALESTINE' in chalk outside the Israeli embassy at 456 Montgomery street.
Some bank guards explain they protested here all the time.
"No they don't," I reply. "This is my living room. I walk past here every day."
"Well, last week they did."
"Ok. Fair enuff."
I was gone last week. Christ you freaking blink and the city changes.
So much going on.
A Chinese woman collecting plastic to recycle stops to reorganize her trash
Im on Columbus as it's the busiest (and therefore the safest) street in North Beach.
It's midnight and I'm walking alone with an iPhone, an iPad, two laptops, two cameras, and $10K in cash.
But no one bothers me.
San Francisco is a safe city.
"Come see my photographs," a woman barks.
"Right.....Ill pass."
"Heyyy. Three dollar drinks!" calls a stripper from Broadway.
An old brken black man begs for change on Grant and Columbus.
The streetside tables offer candlelit dinners but there are no takers.
I'm at Amante.


Walkn home

At Kearney in California a Porsche turns the corner and floors it in 1st gear.
Car spins sideways as people waddle through the crosswalk.
Tires squeal and burned rubber fills the air.
But no one cares. They just keep walking like ducks to a pond.
Last nite I saw a homeless guy working Green St and I kinda laughed at him...not haha funny but sort of predictable. Ironic. Almost funny.
Then I lost my keys. And it wasnt so funny any more.
And I think how improbable that those two events happened so close together.
Instant karma
The waiters try to pull in the patrons as they walk by on Columbus.
The homeless pause to pitch their plight to candlelit lovers over calzones and gnocci
Everyone smokes on the sidewaks pitching butts into the street
Diners wade uphill on Green street stuffed to the gills on pasta and port.
They stalk past bakeries as they toss out the leftovers and warm the brick hearths for tomorrows breads.
I wish I wasn't like this.
Wandering nomad, always runnng towards the next flicker of excitement.
And running away, inadvertently, from whatever ties might bind me.
I have my keys!
At Amante


Walkn n

It tries to rain in San Francisco but San Francisco doesn't know what rain is.
Just sort'a throws up a wave of thick fog and light mist and calls out "How's that?"
Not the onsoons of the Deep South that drown animals and burst dams.
The entire flock of wild parrots comes squawking into North Beach and splits in two for some rreason over Grant and Union.
The flock reforms and just flies in large circles over Grant and Union like a boat when the captain falls overboard - stuck in tight circles.
We know precious little about the birds. We know absolutely zero about the flock.
There's not so much rain but still the trees try to put on a good act.
They drop their leaves as if on cue and call out "OK.You got me," to the Fall.
The stores put up generic gentrified holiday lights. Nothing overtly Christian of course.
Wouldn't want to give credit to the Christians for creating the largest holiday the world over.
The bums steal the free newspapers in large hardcarts and shelter them from the rain with sheets of plastic.
The homeless stump down Market street in trash bags and carpet padding shawls.
Smokers stand in doorways smoking, indifferent to the law.
A Prius taxi floors it spinning on the trolley tracks to try to hit me.
I flip him off.
Some loud cursing in Spanish and I'm at work.


Walkn n

A woman walks alone talking to herself. Appears to be homeless, but she has an iPhone and an earpiece.
She's not homeless. Just bad fashion sense.
Up the Greenwich steps.
Aching legs and beating heart.
Coit Tower, Christopher Columbus, and chirping hummingbirds.
They trimmed back the Plumbago forest but already growing wild again beneath cool slate skies.
This fresh wet cool moss brick garden.
Every flower a new mystery for the brain to gnaw on.
A Springer Spaniel mutt on leash tugging girl with tight ass.
A tree spills acorn-sized fruits onto the sidewalk below,
but these are not acorns.
A worker turns his fury on distended garden with weedeater.
A single bee turns his attention to a fading Hydrangea bloom.
Am now seeing a different plant I'd assumed was a Hydrangea.
The more you look the more you see.
Julius Castle.
And now ...whats this? The tulip trees are blooming!
Id almost forgotten them.
Love to watch the flowers unfold from buds.
To study the engineering involved.
Now at the bottom on shaking legs.
What a difference a week off makes.
This is the worse part of the walk this bit here on Sansome between Greenwich and Broadway.
Urban squalor and cars and huge cranes on Sansome and Filbert.
Replacing a cell tower on top of a building.
Workers stringing Christmas lights on trees in Levi's Plaza.
Now down Battery street just to be different.
At night I lay in bed turning my code over in my mind.
Why doesn't it work? Did it ever work? Did I break it? Or has it never worked at all?
Construction zones and shattered sidewalks.
They're constantly tearing down and reubiulding the city,
like if a surgeon followed you around operating on you constantly,
performing open heart surgery cause you didn't have time to lay down.
I step into the crosswalk as a bus turns into my space and I start dog cussing her and pointing to my crosswalk.
A woman driver a course.
All the pedestrians see the situation.
"He's right lady", one observes aloud.
I'm too confrontational lately.
I get too work but I have too cool down on a park bench.
Two women walk by.
"He's videotaping us right now," the fat one whines.
"We're in the city...It's fine...people do that," the ugly one explains.
I dunno who they're referring to. I'm not filming anyone. I dont own any equipment that uses film.
Who even says "videotaping" any more?
I should mention here that buying a camera does not make you a photographer.
Carrying an expensive camera around in a case does not make you a photographer.
Taking pictures makes you a photographer.
At work


Walkn n
A spectacular clear crisp morning after a very wet weekend.
White gum tree dropping odd little seed pods onto Grant and Filbert
Purple seed pods at that
Why does Filbert seem so steep this morning?
A beautiful discovery - an orchid in a streetside tree square.
A trellis covered in purple Bougainvillea.
A shy brown bird forages in the crown of foliage atop Telegraph Hill.
Bright red berries are his target.
After a heavy rain, old buds are battered to the ground and fresh blooms open up.
The birds and bees all sense this, rushing to fresh morning flowers.
Foreign trees I've never seen before in tortured shapes and for what reason?
Angels trumpets unfolding from a pod is a miracle of origami.
Across the bay the cranes of Oakland silently defend the port.
Hustle across Broadway down beneath the Ficus jungle canopy of Montgomery street
The JapaCurry truck pulls up and the CurryUpNow Indian truck.
The San Buena roach coach.
All jockey for position at Sansome and Bush.
I'm at work


Walkn n

2:00 am is closing time.
The bars are kicking the drunks unceremoniously into the streets.
Everyone works the evicted drunks. The police, the whores, the cabbies.
There's blood in the water.
This will not be pretty.
Nothing good comes at this hour.

At 2:00 am, all that's left is stale pizza, scabby whores, and angry police spoiling for a fight.
They're in no mood for it this night.
They take Tom and chain him to a park bench and work him over real good.
The scabby whore finds a victim and they disappear in a cab.
The cabs just circle this confusion, like sea birds diving on a school of fish.
Chaos. Confusion. Just another dying night in the city.

The city is madness and the madness pulls you in, but it turns you also.
It changes who you are.
Seeing people sleep every night in a concrete storefront on a bed of cardboard.
The endless sirens.
There is a special ambulence siren that I'd like to mention here.
It's a sad siren.
And by this, what I mean is that the tone starts high and drops, so it makes a sort of dying, wailing sound.
But in a city full of emergencies and persistent sirens, it's important to stand out.
So they all have different sirens that they can change up on the fly to try to command the most respect in the streets.

And they don't give a tinker's damn about the traffic.
Don't be foolded.
They race those insane Apple-Dumpling-Gang-grade firetrucks through the intersections against the red lights
and God save any soulds in their path.
But always at night I'm lying in bed and I hear that sad siren wailing across the city.
Like it's pleading for someone to let them pass.
It's the saddest sound in the world. Sadder than a broken man playing a pocket sax in the break room.

In Washington Square people walk their dogs carrying little bags of shit
The Orientals never seem to die.
Old as concrete they dance their arcane calesthenics on Washington square.
The city pulls you in and drags you down like a pack of wolves.

I find myself putting pizza crusts and Diet Coke cans into mail boxes
and laughing at homeless people - not because It's funny - just because It's inescapable.

I begin the slow descent into my own private hell.
Deadlines and once I get my coffee and strap in it's like you're fighting a Black Marlin in a fighting chair.
Everything comes out to be put on the desk.
Wallet, keys, everything.
There can be no distractions now.
Now you have to sit and figure out complicated problems that most people will never know.
They paid my invoices.
Now It's time to show them why I'm here.
I sit at the computer and the hours peel away like leaves before a Fall storm.
There is a beauty in this madness though.
It's great to know that, for the first time in a long time i'm really trying to operate at peak efficiency.
And though grueling it is somehow deeply cathartic.
I watch the pigeons and study their behaviour.
But I wasn't prepared to accept the truth.
I saw two pigeons flying and tried to discern the leader.
But couldn't work it out.
As best as I could tell they took turns leading.
Which made no sense to me so I just left it alone.
One of life's little riddles that most people never notice.
But I kept turning it over and over in my head
Like a shell washed against the beach until it's shiny and smooth.
Then I saw the movie 'The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill'
And realized they were a pair. That was why they took turns leading.


Walkn n

Clear, sunny, and cool.
A beautiful morning to be alive and not paralyzed.
It was so cold last night that I closed my bedroom window for the first time this year.
Summer wherefore art thou?
No clouds. No fog.
I climb Telegraph Hill, glad to be alive.
Overheard - "...buut, I like the expression of throwing concrete blocks into your bathtub...off a step ladder..."
And now, the gardens of the Filbert Steps.
Hummingbirds and Bottlebrush and Palo de Arco.
It occurs to me I'm wearing my jacket.
But I never wear it for my walk-ins.
So cold today this.
I turn on Montgomery because I despise Sansome above Broadway.
Somewhere out there the parrots sqwawking their racket.
New Guinea Impatiens.
And now the Ginkgo Biloba trees surrender their yellow fan shaped leaves.
Much like an Aspen or a Cottonwood.
A little machine hops loudly through the streets guided by a road crew with a unitized patcher.
Sumptouous lunches rolled through the streets on carts beneath saran wrap.
Meals for the office folk.
And the homeless leer and drool strutting like pigeons sizing up the situation.
I walk with a girl from Fresno a few blocks to guide her to the Greyhound station.
I'm at work


Walkn n

Cold clear morning of wild parrots and kids dancing up the Filbert street steps to daycare.
Across fallen leaves.
Past dogs wearing coats and sniffing at Ficus trees.
The gardens seem resigned to the winter.
I stalk The frozen winter gardens now in jacket shivvering.
Cyclamen flowerboxes and yellow carpets of fan shaped Gingko leaves.
At the foot of the Vallejo gardens, a purple Agapanthus tries to bloom .
To make a statent. To spit in winter's eye.
It is 37 degrees F.
I walk past the place where I crashed my bike
And came sliding to a dazed wet halt on the edge of the road.
Stunned and stupid, like a bird that flies into a window.
Some birds fly away. And some dont.
And only the hand of God decides who will live and who will die.
At the corner, piles of muppies wait for the crossing light.
But some of the crowd knows the lights and they're not all the same.
A portion of the crowd anticipates the change
And rushes madly into the fold.
A farmers blow to clear things a bit.
The guy selling incense before McDonalds and
I'm at work.


Walkn n

I leave work at 1:00 am this morning and hustle home to North Beach.
Don Pisto's is closed
so a glass of gin at Amante before they bring up the lights and toss us into the night.
"They dont treat people like this in New Orleans," I offer. "There's bars in New Orleans haven't closed in 30 years!"

In the morning clear,sunny, and bone cold 46 F.
Children dance and skip beneath parents' gaze.
Toddle to the curb alone and stop, as anxious parents catch up.
An old Chinaman is loaded into an ambulance in Chinatown,
beneath purple blanket writhing like a snake run over in the road.
At Broadway and Stockton, dried seahorses and shark fins in glass jars.
A man carefully scoops walnut sized stones into bags weighing each bag and removing stones as needed.

"Here," he offers me a large rock. "Good."

I'm like, "You eat it?"
But he knows no English and my Cantonese is not so good.
He eats one, to show me.
I follow suit.
It's a dried date apparently. And delicious.
I buy a bag.

Chinatown is a human zoo.
By Jackson street, the sidewalks are useless.
Jammed with people and vendors and pigeons.
Buyers and sellers and produce trucks and dollies.
A lady hands me a flyer "Stop organ harvesting in China."

I am the only white guy in Chinatown surrounded by 4' Asians milling about like ants at a picnic.
Now the Stockton tunnel.
A fresh coat of paint over graffiti walls.
My eyes water the air so cold.
The tunnel is cold artificial light that can't warm you like the sun.
I see that the paper is in English.
Christ they're executing people in hospitals for their organs.
Now at Union square and all white pasty people again.
A woman hawking hats in Chinatown.
Now downhill to Market street.
Brooks Brothers and Pink.
Now retail of Union square collides with banks of the financial district.
Cold winds push through cracks between tall buildings.
The buildings steal the light from the streets and we shutter in awkard silence.
Bundled tourists shutter atop open sight-seeing busses...who's idea was this?
Now homeless packrats
They collect whatever they can amass and pile it in wretched heaps behind subway portals.

I'm at work

Leavn for airport in 30 mins (2012-12-21)
On bart headn to oakland :)
Nasty n oakland
Grey mist rain
Massive cranes guard the port looming thru the mist
Everything a blur of time and technology
Every project I finish only ends wirh another hot nightmare dropped in my lap
"I am committed to the success of this project"
Thats what I told her yesterday in the office when the doors were closed
There is a certain serenity in that. In trying as hard as you possibly can. In working from sunup to sundown until your head is reeling and you can no longer focus on anything
An odd unexpected euphoric feeling that, if I fail, and if they let me go, then I am ok with that. I know I did my best and if my best wasnt good enough, rhen fair enough
But no, finally, my program works. This is my christmas gift to myself. The program works and I stuck it into production.
Now, another hot nightmare. Bad data in HRTST. Programs not running to success. Ugh.
Bart pops above ground and the urban nightmare of Oakland scrolls quietly by.
Razorwire and graffitied buildings
Pigeons and seagulls circle in the slate grey rain.
Now, AIR BART for the shuttle
Now at airport
Cutting in front of the masses thx to my ff status
Shoving old crippled people out of the way
Now, flight delayed
Back to the bar to kill 45 mins

Walkn n (2013-01-18)
So nice today its a dream
Never snow or tornadoes and seldom rain
Greenwich street cars struggle up the hill
Toddlers toddle down clean sidewalks
Tumble n spill n get up crying but unhurt
Mama's on stockton and the line is 30 people deep
So nice that we could be here today to see this
Parrots and pigeons at washington square
A girl skateboards down the street barefoot
A woman carries a cockateil in a cage awkwardly before her
I forgot his travel cage she explains
Flower, sausages, milk and olive oil stacked on sidewalk before Tonys Pizza
Now across columbus street
Into chinatown
Immediately babbling n spitting and people running into you
Hocking and spitting and pallets of stuff on the sidewalks
Old broken women hobble alone on creaking canes
Spraypainted graffitied trucks and people wrestling for fresh produce shoulder to shoulder
Stuffing green beans (1.19) and auberge eggplants into disposable bags the city swore to ban
Chestnuts papayas dried sea cucumbers and shark fins
Lottry cards n
pacific and stockton is indescribable
Utter chaos
The last yellow leaves cling tenaciously to a gingko tree refusing to fall
As the ancient asians totter by too old to be bothered. Too tired to die
People smoking and spitting cars honking
Produce trucks from the central valley
This is a great city but u always feel like youre one car door away from being pigeon food
If someone opens the door as u ride by what then?
Bootleg dvds
A photoshopped image of 3 places in china. Beautiful but imaginary
Now the stockton tunnel with great buses and cold air
And a slight hangover
Sick People coughing and blowing snot onto the sidewalk
A homeless woman with a cat in a baby stroller babbling incoherently to no one at all
At grant a vendor sets up a stand of bright childrens knit hats before the lunch rush
A homeless man rolls a joint and diligently puts away his container of weed
Now the tall buildings of the financial district
Honking trucks and deep shadows greet the pedestrians
SF used to be 600 people in 1847 to 40000 in 1849
At work

Walkn n (2013-02-04)
Cool n damp n low slate grey skies
Plants die in sidewalk boxes and are born again
The parrots bicker on telegraph hill
Naked ginko trees
Cars with tattered 9ers flags
From 1849 when gold was discovered
People ride uphill in low gears peddaling wildly but hardly moving
Mamas is closed mondays
Saints peter and paul cathedral
A man delivers flowers n a van
I hearst pulls up front
Asians stretch dance and spit n the park
Also tae kwan do instructs a student
A city worker plays on his iphone instead of picking up trash
The wdege shaped restaurants of north beach
Tourists walking arms folded
Hands in pockets
A traffic cop writes tickets
The recession is over. Learn the guitar.
Homeless beg along montgomery st
Homeless women push shopping carts of trash through the streets
Im at work

Walkn n (2013-02-05)
In the morning cold grey skies in light wind
Purple glass sidewalks
In the morning putting neosporin on my cuts
And scrapes from the street
Its so good to know the road is there
The asphalt and pain are there for the taking like an old friend
How quickly we go from being on top to shivering in the streets
Pigeon feathers on the sidewalk a
A homeless rat shivering in a doorway
The ficus trees along columbus
When cars try to pull into my crosswalk I leap in front of the. Like seriously dude?
I try to meet my slumlord to pay the rent at montgomery n clay but shes on the phone
So im shooting stencils and stickers
Walking down sidewalks under narrow scaffolding constantly bumping into people
I think this is the problem right. Eureka!
In the city you watch people eatn out of trash can sleepn n doorways
Every restaurant is half again too small every sidewalk too narrow and youre constantly apologizing and dodgin people on the sidewalks like salmon
And there must be an outlet
A change in behavior to accomodate the new zeitgeist
Finally last night I wanted that guy to shut the fuck up and so I told him
I needed a break. I tore a hole in this silly little slow talkn apologetic illusion
It felt good too. Just like when I wrecked the bike
Zero to 150 in a tenth of a second
Like jumping out of a plane
Im at work

Walkn n (2013-02-06)
I got my bike back yesterday but im back to walking
Clear n sunny n cold
Line is forming at mamas
Asians stretch and dance in washington square
Theyre firing up the wood burning ovens of north beach
Stacking the ingrients of pizza on the wet sidewalks
Crazy roy catches a bus at broadway and vallejo
Dottering along on s cane.
Somehow in all of this madness we have to find ourselves
When every day seems like groundhog day
As we pound the rocks around us into sand
Each day seems to be a bad rerun of days before
I want to reach out and change the channel
As the light changes An asian girl walks into the crosswalk. A truck taps his
Horn to let her know shes in his light
Its ok baby take your time he calls
What a drag it must be to be a woman with men constantly pawing and leering at you
Twisting down long sidewalks
A bike ride would clear my head I think
Sweep all this madness away like cotton candy spiderwebs
Its sad to think we are little more than chemicals the doctors sell us
Our entire lives are little more than marketing campaigns for pharmacuetical companies
Im at work :O

Posted by Rob Kiser on February 6, 2013 at 8:13 PM


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