Saturday, July 8, 2017

Tenderloin




This is an essay without a thesis or a conclusion. Which is to say a bad idea. It is also depressing, so please skip it if you are not in the mood. I am rarely in the mood.

I simply walked some blocks I hadn’t walked before, and can’t shake them.

For a month plus, you curate your San Francisco experience, relish the weather and views, walk so much and wonder at the mildly attractive completely uninteresting younger people who travel  in packs.

To an East Coast person, it’s always such an arresting combination of paradise and provincialism. The 65-year-old woman behind the register at Duane Reade on First Avenue has easily a more sophisticated grasp of life than 90% of San Franciscans. And a more genuine smile. (Cuz I got all the good jokes at Duane Reade.)

I’ve taken lovely photos here, often misleading photos.  Can you feel guilt about photography? Yes, and also writing the way you do.

Today I had a beer I didn’t want to watch Federer on grass. I looked up best tacos in SF – you’d be surprised how poor the quality of Mexican food is here – and set a course that led me through the Tenderloin.

There were no people who were not deranged by mental illness, drugs, alcohol… no people at 12:30 on a peerlessly sunny day walking a reasonably straight line. So many in alleys, filthy camps blocking sidewalks.

This is one of the most notoriously bad neighborhoods in the world, a referendum on America and certainly a referendum on the dumbassedness of the city by the Bay.

You grieve being there, and you flee. I went quickly to Market and got on a streetcar and ate tacos instead at an old haunt in the Castro. Remembering that more than twenty years ago it was the same, knowing that San Francisco has never solved its problems, just gotten richer to the point that it maybe never will.

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