Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

stuff

June 24, 2016

stuff comes in

GoldnFreight

stuff goes out

Rubbish

some creatures stay

SFCoit1

some go away

BirdFligt

Glass Chimera 

Our Urban Companion

June 15, 2016

City city, rising high

all strung out across the sky

what artist’s smearings could interpret

thy jagged profile, so raggedly imperfect?

SFStrung

Since your swift gold rush run was done

and your thrashing railway web’s been spun,

have you embossed yourself in gold-tinged filagree?

Did we who trod the prairies plod thee?

(Aside)

Oh lookee here.

Yonder cometh the world traveler

Methinks

he hath the fat and hungry look:

Pigeon

Pigeon pigeon, strutting like a dude

with bold entreaties for some food

how long hast thou been loitering without fear?

You got a permit to solicit here?

Who gave you permission to hang around?

acting like you own this town.

‘Though you resemble your country cousin dove,

thou huntest not, but just beg and grub.

I surmise that in some faraway jungle

thou was chased away by some uncivilized uncle;

and now, thy feathery incandescent suit

cloaks with grandeur thy wand’ring grubby pursuit.

Oh ye little urbanized beggar

art thou a diner at this establishment, a regular?

Hast thou honed and perfected y’er plodding pleading game?

Hast thou an identity? Who gavest thee thy name?

Every city whence I travel

thou are there on the sidewalk, in the gravel,

sometimes poking in the parks where it’s grassy

other times pecking pavement, bold and sassy.

When I get to heaven wilt thou be there too?

Groveling and grubby down near my shoe.

But perhaps thou wilt there soar free.

Did He who form the eagle form thee?

Fare thee well my gentle companion,

with winged flapping in flight-paths random.

Cherish every encounter and generous friend

until in yon celestial city we do meet again.

Get along now!

You can’t be grazing here like a cow.

We shall see what will be

between you and me in eternity.

TreeTrail

Glass Chimera

Tale of Two Bridges

April 27, 2016

BridgSCar

That new bridge in the East is sleek and lowly-slung;

she shimmers ghostly against blue sky,

while Ole West, high-tense, from rock to rock is hung;

they had to sling them cables high.

Out where flat marshes meet Atlantic’s swellin’ swale

they’ve stretched a spindly span, ascending high with whitish wispy grace.

But over on California crags where Pacific currents hail

they had strung an iron span of steel-tensed strength in perilous golden space.

Here’s one bridge, laid-back and sleek, steeped in simple Southern style;

t’was formed up in 21st-century streamlined gray concrete;

the other was stretched in cabled steel–in blood-red iron by bloodied rank and file,

strung out in 1930’s grit as some gargantuan steel-nerv’d feat.

GoldGate

When America swoons in futures past and some souls live to tell the tale,

we’ll speak stories of bridges, of metallic spans that tested men’s mortal fate.

Perhaps they’ll mention Charleston’s pride–that span in whitish shade of pale,

but the king of steel-strung cabled bridgedom is that big red one at Golden Gate.

Glass half-Full

SFMuni Bus #48

September 29, 2014

Yesterday I took the #48 SFMuni bus ride from the Mission district over Diamond Heights to the West Portal.

I ambled around a bit, wandered lonely as a cloud through a corner of Golden Gate Park, then strolled straight up Haight, past Ashbury to Masonic, then northward through the Panhandle to Fulton and by n by took a long jaunt back  to mid-town and the San Francisco Opera house.

This morning, Pat and I hopped on the #48 and rode out to West Portal. Now we are kickin’ around, having taken a trolley(modern version) over to catch a view of the Pacific, which we had seen earlier this year, but that was down the coast a bit, in Costa Rica.

I like the #48 bus. I was surprised to see it depicted in this mural, which we were viewing yesterday afternoon on Balmy alley in the Mission:

ProtestMural

At the present moment, early Monday afternoon Sept. 29, 2014, I am sitting at a Starbucks preparing to send you this little digital communicado. You may see the skullish fellow in the painting. He is is typing away on a laptop, as I am at this moment, and probably hoping to connect  cyber-cytizens of the world to some idea or story that will lead them to hell or heaven or somewhere in between. I hope the artist did not have this old white guy (me) in mind in that detail.

That cannot be me in the pic anyway, because I am not wearing a black robe. I’m wearing a Carolina blue shirt.

As for the excellent painting jpg’d here, I recommend you study it closely. It is very well done. But somehow I feel not entirely empathetic to its angstish message. On the other hand I can tell you that the painting itself is evidence that not all is well in this present arrangement of things: this truth I acknowledge.

As for the worldy injustice that is alluded to herein, I could write a book (yet to come.) It would be a long book, the fourth I have written, a labor of love, an opus, although others have probably done it better than I.

Nevertheless, If I may offer one brief advisement with which to leave you, it would be: read Matthew 5, 6,7. The message there is, I believe, even more powerful than, say, Marx, Mao or Che. And even more revolutionary than this painting, but not as colorful.

Glass Chimera

the prim and the propr

September 28, 2014

Here we have the primitive and the proprietary:

Little fence

Somebody’s busy hands wove this low fence along the sidewalk bordering Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

I like it. The little fence is primitive; the massive building and campus looming in the background is UCSF Medical Center, which is definitely not primitive, but it is proprietary. That is to say, it is property which is owned by somebody, presumably the people of California.

The UCSF Med Center is a large institution; the little primitive fence is not.

You might think that a fence so near that major institutional presence would be be impressive, expensive and engineered to provide big work for a local contractor or landscaper.

Not so. I like this little primitive fence. Here are my thoughts about  the person(s) who so skillfully wove it:

little fence, little fence, standing low

by the sidewalk just for show

what skillful hand or eye

hath woven thy primi asymet-try?

Glass Chimera

In the Park at sunset

September 28, 2014

Late afternoon Washington Square september

people on green grass lolling recline laughing

hold hands layback chill.

Here come Deep basso fellow dark and confident

singing with no inhibition he

serenade folk in the park

makin rounds group to little group.

We on park bench in late gold sun,

black basso man he come our way with singing

on his mind.

Meanwhile ole sourpuss geezer on bench he wear

no sunshine but he say:

“He juz want some goddam money. He come ev day,

every dam day!”

And yet here come deep basso man wit white shirt bow tie vest

lookn sharp and ready

so I say:

“You know Ole Man River?”

“I only know the Paul Robeson version.”

“The one you know– tha’s the one I want.”

And so the wise man sing and he fill the ev’n air wi strong

song and he modulate into Irving classic version Ole Man Riva,

and he finish by sliding into Louie’s What a wonderful world

with great vocal fortitude n excellence.

And by the sound of it the world be a betta place than was before, so I

lay the five spot in his hat.

Then ole geezer on bench he don say nothin, no beta than he was before.

Now I know there be two kinds men in world: them that do

and them that won’t.

An life go on in Washington Square an I guess sun when down

juz after we left.

Glass half-Full

The Work

April 5, 2014

I have worked all my adult life, beginning with that first job, at a Burger Chef, while I was in high school. After flippin’ the burgers for awhile, I did the bag boy thing at an A&P, where I moved into the big time of running a cash register.

One high school summer I did an  internship in an office at the Louisiana State Capitol.

Then moving on to LSU, I did part-time gigs: selling ladies shoes, dippin’ ice cream at a little off-campus storefront from which I got fired for leaving the doors open one night; also, servicing vending machines at the Student Union building in between classes and chairing a committee of the student Union.

As chairman of the student National Speakers committee (a freebie job, but great experience), I introduced Dr. Benjamin Spock and comedian-activist Dick Gregory to our assembled student/faculty audiences. After that, the Young Republicans complained about the lefty speakers with no conservative balance. They wanted somebody to represent their side. I told them that was understandable, but we had, alas, blown the budget on Spock and Gregory. I told them we could go halfsies on paying William Buckley, if they could get him for us, which they did. I always thought that was mighty civil of them; maybe that’s why I’m a Republican today.

I have fond memories of that time, which include hearing Dr. Spock talking about two Maoist girls who heckled him on some other campus somewhere, and Dick Gregory requesting a bowl of fruit be delivered to his hotel room and then making people laugh at his speech later but then impressing upon them the urgency of our racial problems. Then there was meeting Bill Buckley at the airport, escorting him to his hotel room and watching him tie his skinny tie as he smiled and talked to me like I was one of his New Yawk buddies. Bill had a very winning smile.

After a couple years of English and Political Science and intermittent cannabis distractions, I managed somehow to graduate, in December ’73, I hit the trail with my “General Studies” sheepskin from LSU University College. Now this southern boy gravitated over to the epitome of southern exotica, a place called “Florida,” where I sold  debit life insurance for awhile in a black neighborhood, then moved on over to selling classified advertising for Mr Poynter at the St. Pete Times. But then I lost my license on points, but continued to drive and got nabbed by a highway patrolmen. When I went to court on  the infraction, a judge named Rasmussen  told me that if people disregarded the law in the way I had done, there would “anarchy in this country, so therefore I sentence you to five days in the county detention center.”

“Detention center? What’s that?” I asked the judge.

“That’s the jail son,” he replied.

“When does it start?” I queried.

“Right now,” he said.

When I got to the jail, it was an alien environment for this university boy with wing tips, and so I decided to take control of my situation by getting involved in a poker game with these hardened criminals, but then I made the mistake of winning. I say “mistake,” because my little stack of quarters or whatnot motivated one of the incarcerated fellows to ask me a for a dollar to get in the game, but I told him No.

So later that night, since he was in the same bunk with me, he punched me out.

I did, however, survive it.

Four days later, I’m out of the Pasco County jail, and I didn’t get run over by a train or get drunk or nothin excitin’ but I did happen to go to a movie filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains; it was Where the Lilies Bloom.

The setting in that movie seemed so absolutely beautiful to me that I thought I’d like to just get the hell out of Florida and go to that place depicted in the movie, and so I did, and I’ve been liven’ in these mountains ever since. That was about forty year ago.

After settling in Asheville, a place far more mountainous and wintry than this Louisiana boy had ever known, I got a job selling printing for a printshop. That turned into about five years of good work, but it came in two stints that were punctuated by a detour to Waco Texas in 1978. ‘T’was there I got saved.

After meeting Jesus I returned to North Carolina and the print shop for awhile.

Then I drifted into the building trade and spent the lion’s share of my working life as a carpenter building houses and a few other structures, including a bridge at Grandfather Mountain that completed the missing link of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which them WPA boys had left hangin’ back in the ’30s, either cuz they ran out of money, or the War came on, or the jagged mountain was just too craggy for a man to build a bridge on it at that time.

I married Pat; we had three young’uns, now grown. Which brings me now to the main point of this here blog: work. When a man gets a family, he manages somehow to motivated to go out in the wide jungle world and make a livin’, by hook or by crook. And this is, I think, a very important part of what makes work for folks and what makes the world go ’round: Family. A greater motivator than ideology or guv’mint.

Last weekend, this mountain boy and my wife, Pat, were in San Francisco, at the upper end of Silicon valley where our son works amongst the high-flyin’ v.c.-fueled startups of our day. I spent a lot of time walking through that amazing city, and on the last morning there I found this interesting sight in the Mission district where our son resides.

So I snapped it for you:

MissionHeroes1

I found this really interesting. It’s a great work of art, painted lovingly and precisely on the face of a small business, which appears to be a hairstylist’s shop, probably a family business, but not run by Papa because it’s more likely run by Mama, with Papa working over on Mission Street with his grocery or some such enterprise.

You will notice, on the painting, some great people–true heroes of working people. The heavy hitters among them include: Gandhi, Dr. King, Cesar Chavez. Also identifiable are a few whose legacy and life’s work was questionable, tainted with revolutionary violence: Che, Sandino. Sitting Bull is in the very middle. I wrote this song, Sitting Bull’s Eyes, about him a long time ago.

The other persons in this mural are worthy of historical consideration. I checked out all those names, which are written beside each face. I cannot remember them all, but perhaps you will visit the Mission in San Francisco someday and see this great work of art for yourself. Or you may recognize them from the photo.

Worth noting in the artwork is an omission: amongst this collection of lefty heavyweights, the two theoreticians Marx and Lenin are not included; nor are the bloody tyrants, Mao and Stalin.

Some of those leaders pictured are not totally honorable in my Christian world-view, but they are obviously heroic in the eyes of the artist, and that says something significant about the perpetual struggle between, in this world, them that have, and them that have not. As for me, I respect them that are willing to work hard for what they do get, such as I, by God’s grace, have done.

Smoke

Haight Ashbury

March 30, 2013

At Haight Ashbury yesterday

we walked through

an I be blinkin thinking

was it raunchy like this

from the beginning?

From 1967 love revolution summer

to devolution sleaze street bummer

the magic’s gone

maybe puff the dragon’s on

methadone

or did the neighborhood fall into some

huckster hole?

Go ask Alice; I think she’ll know.

Was descent from hippish sniffin

to hypish hawkin a given?

like destiny, always there to begin with

in the you-cant-put it-off-forever

headache stems and seeds,

Or did somethin fundamental change between then

and now?

I guess Life magazine left town

when the turn-on tuned out and dropped off;

the radicals crashed, their rose-colored dreams

trashed.

After the serious communards got their fill

of castles in the air and starshine dreams,

after they flipped out on fickle fellow-man,

fed-up with hangers-on and turn-offs,

they flew the coop.

No more roll-another-one-my-friend;

you gotta take this rough life by the scruff, and fend.

 

But then we passed into a Park or Golden Gate–

it was some everland beyond the Haight–

where there is music of the ancient human soul;

there breezes blow and children go.

Their parents’ call out gentle admonitions

that seem to banish old perditions.

And I hear trusty horses as they carousel around,

while mamas give loving nudges in the playground.

Cool breeze beneath sequoia boughs then reassured my soul,

after we had passed through Alice’s raunchy rabbit hole.

Glass half-Full

The Ragged and the Fine

September 24, 2012

“When I left my home and my family

I was no more than a boy, in the company of strangers,

in the quiet of a railway station, running scared,

laying low, seeking out the poor quarters

where the ragged people go, looking for the places

only they would know.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdKjEHfHINQ

Today in SanFran on the bus

I learned the meaning of Paul’s words

when the ragged people climbed aboard.

Yesterday I had walked up Mission and,

crossing 16th, crossing 17th,

seeing the poorer quarters

where the ragged people go–

now I know.

Forty years later, now I know.

Though

I am not one of them. I am

not one of the ragged people.

No, heaven forbid, no no.

My crowd congregates out on the Embarcadero

where the ragged tourists go

looking only for the places we are trained to know.

Meanwhile, up on the hill

and a few miles from here

there’s the Haight Ashbury

where my generation was told to go

Life mag told us to go

don’tcha know

But how’s that working out for ya now?

Here here and  now now.

My g-g-generation, so merry

went up on Haight Ashbury

where Ben&Jerry now serve raspberry.

Meanwhile back at the tranches,

over at the downtown bank branches

the makers and shakers program their chances

to do the dowjones nasdaq dances

while down below

the ragged people come and go

looking for michelangelo

or maybe just angelo,

or maybe just so and so

in the places only they would know

in San Francisco.

See Dick go. See Jane go.

Go go go

to San Francisco

and the silicon valley

ee eye ee eye oh.

It’s all good don’tcha know

as the people come and go

to San Francisco.

Glass half-Full