Sunday, June 03, 2007

Walkin with Loki

Saturday: Still so disgusted at the yeller paint job on the Hebrew Free Loan Association that I changed my normal Saturday morning walk. For a couple of years, Loki and I have headed down Market, across Franklin or the new Octavia Boulevard, then up Hayes or Grove and back home via any number of routes depending upon how much time we have.

So starting this weekend, we're going to go West, wander through the Haight and walk back through the Panhandle, all long ago home to the Summer of Love. The Haight is definitely best in the early morning before the madding crowds of lookie loos and the incessant circling for parking. No neighborhood better illustrates the destructive impact of the monster car counter-revolution than a place like the Haight. SUV driving has caused a marked deterioration in driving skill in general ... people wander all over the place, make left turns like one-eyed drunks, crowd the center stripe, blow through stop signs like they're not there. It has to do with the self-absorption of bloodless cynical empty consumption combined with most people driving vehicles that are just plain too big for either their limited attention span or their driving skills. Cranky. I plan to wax more cranky on this subject again later.

It has been cool and dank, which is the way I like it. Only a few hardy drunks and speeders and generalized homeless on Haight itself. Loki doesn't like the homeless ... I figure they must smell different because my last dog, the red husky Den, also didn't like homeless people. I keep him on a tight leash when they're around.

Found an old mural from the 70s, The Spirit of Youth, on some sort of youthie community center ... they have a lot of community in the Haight, after all. Faded mural, but a couple of the figures struck me as exuding unselfconscious sexiness. I guess as an old fag from the 70s who revelled in the unselfconsciousness of the sexiness of men of the time, this litle faded mural pulled me back in time. I enjoyed the 80s and 90s movement of men into the mainstream of sexiness, and I argue that this has a lot to do with the consciousness that gay liberation commanded, but some nagging sense worries me that we let the secret out of the bag.

Had a bagel in this place once a few months back, and the cream cheese was kinda crappy and cheap. San Francisco abounds in little places like this, but this one never seems very crowded. Just after I took this pic, some young guy came along and sat outside ... he watched me with a look of disinterest as I photographed sundry street art. I wanted to shoot him, but my little belt camera has insufficient telephoto capabilities for candid human shots. This would not have been terribly candid, at any rate.

Stood in the middle of an empty Haight to take a shot of an old bar ... cop drives up slow on me, but lets me do my thing, perhaps because I was pretty efficient about it. I shoot all these photos with a big dog on a rope tied to my left hand, so it is a bit of a balancing act. Loki is reasonably patient but he does get to tugging. I wonder who drinks in this place ... I figure it could be a bar in Phillie or Kansas City. It's up toward the end of Haight, near Stanyan, where the funk of the street runs out quick. At Stanyan, which is where Haight Street ends and Golden Gate Park begins, there is an ill-conceived MacDonalds (where were the NIMBY protesters when we needed them), a boarded up grocery store that is supposed to become a Real Foods, an abandoned bowling alley. There used to be a homeless encampment, but the city finally cleaned them out ... or leastwise moved them a couple of blocks north as best as I can tell.

Sunday: We took the Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach walk that I wrote about when on my first real blog post, but this time took about three hours to do as we dilly-dallied here and there. Again, a nice cool slightly moist day, not too many people about.

I let Loki have a look at the seals at Pier 39 (or some such number ... I'll have to check it out.) Loki, naturally, was inordinately interested, but did manage to suppress any barking. He strangely gets spooked by the bison in Golden Gate Park, but he could not take his eyes off this caviling herd. Amidst the squabbling, certain of their members sleep in utter peace. We are not privy to the particulars of why some sleep, some squabble, and some get shoved back into the water.

We rambled around the waterfront, and over Vallejo again. It appears that they are going to close Vallejo between Columbus and Grant to make room for a pedestrian mall fronting the new national shrine to Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of our fair city. I am in favor of pretty much any pedestrian mall, but it amusing to realize that the sanctimonious fathers and mothers of the onetruechurch will be smugly clapping themselves on the back while all the aging beatniks and anarchoids and atheists and philosophes of the venerable Caffe Trieste, directly across the mall, will have even more room to stretch out their indolent limbs.

Loki and I took refuge at the Caffe Puccini ... I never have enough time to wait in the line at the Trieste given that the dog has to wait unhappily outside. We had ... leastwise I had the vast majority of ... a lox bagel and a macchiato. Even here in little Italy, the macchiato is what a cappuccino would have been only a decade or so ago. Everything is bigger now .... the cars, the waistlines, the egos, and the coffee drinks.

Photos by Arod

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