The wind came up quickly today, blew steady all day long, whipping up dust and grime, discarded greasy scraps of fast food wrappers, shed bird feathers and the spent clothes and sleeping bags of a hundred ruined lives along Market and 5th. While cautiously eyeing a squished alien mars bar in half of it’s covering, that was hopping and jumping down 5th, playing chicken with it, dodging it’s melted tacky street sullied shoe ruining path, I hoped that today, just today, I could sidestep the grotesqueness of the city and walk freely.
Market and 5th sits between the Tenderloin and the cleaner, fresher richer air of the coastline of the Bay. The shops don’t seem to be doing well, many are closed down, or on the verge of it, and the mall has taken on a half apocalyptic air. Disembodied voices call out to pull masks over noses, and insist on six foot spacing in all areas. They robotically intone their pandemic prayer, calming people with covered faces, gently warning them not to touch merchandise, nor try it on. I looked at a tee shirt and gave up on life. B52’s. Bombers. Bam. Pow. Blast from a better time. Love shack, baby. No highway get aways. All there is is a hole where our lives used to be. “Sign says, get away, fools!” We have gotta get back to the garden, or at least to something like looked something like it looked before. We need to get together, baby. The future’s so obscured I gotta wear ’90s cat eye sunglasses with rose tinted lenses just to try and catch a glimmer of something shinier and happier, people!
Who would dare dream of touching a near stranger now? Who would dare to get within six feet? I wouldn’t touch you with a bargepole takes on a whole new meaning. It depends. Is it six foot long? Love shack? More social fracture hotel that I fear we can never leave. The ties they cracked from side to side. There are no flirtatious smiles, no possibility of touch or an illicit affair. At least not on Market. Not in the mall. Not in my dreams, nor the fears of the disembodied voice that haunts the mall, auditioning for a bit part in an Orwellian drama.
It is all cleaner in the Marina, but break that reflection of your better self and you are in for seven years of bad juju, baby. Cleaner apart from The Voodoo Longue, which looks closed down anyhow. Black Magic! Bad juju. Dive bar signage. A vinyl awning that was never clean even when new. It was the kinda place where you talk to people and they talk to you as you both get outrageously drunk. You can imagine old Buk pulling up a chair to start a fight or seduce some one legged broad who drinks more than he could: The kind of place which is now not so much out of fashion as downright outlawed. You can’t shake the bones or rattle the doors, or watch the Saints pillage a win anymore. All the spells are broken and the dirt of the graveyard sits unused. John the Conqueroo is not playing anymore. The Devil’s daughter has no tricks up her sleeve left for him.
The cities fields remain unploughed, the chores are left undone: there are no days or works or hands, nor souls to save left. Everything is so mundane, so empty, so bland, so grey. You cannot hide a mojo bag or ride the devil’s horse out of this town, not to somewhere swampier or wetter, not to anywhere at all.
The Drumm/California bus pulls out ahead of the taxi, snaking down the street as we edge towards the ‘loin. Everyone wants to approach the area sideways, from an angle, askance, not head on. Not many have their heads screwed on straight round here. The tents are drifting back onto the side streets towards the shelter. The stray dogs are back nosing around trash cans and barking half crazed for food and attention, their human companions howling at the moon. Nothing can ever be achieved in a state of siege. What can anyone do while the dogs bark, the ‘heads howl, the street swims in violence and hopelessness and the sweetness lays squashed underfoot in the gutter?