It is funny what you notice in San Francisco when the noise is quietened and the day is young. The flashing lights on a street cleaning truck cheating the dirty gutters of their grime and piss…the way the pride flags on Polk are caught in the breeze and flutter upright and trapped between the wind and the skyline. The blue of a cloudless sky with finally some summer-like weather. The way the sun glints off the collar of a large dog whose gaze wanders between donut shop to street and back to the man who holds the leash. The morning felt as if the pause button had been pressed, there was a stillness in the air despite the rush of people who do not look as if they are headed to work or play, instead simply milling about aimlessly wandering between the rock of Alcatraz and the hard places of the City like the Tenderloin where I live.
There is a small truth about San Francisco in its current reduced state, and at its high points of extreme art-richness which leads to gold-richness: even when San Francisco has ‘it’, it doesn’t have anything at all. I just can’t work it out. All of this is an illusion. All of it is transitory, superimposed upon a City in the fog on a Bay that was stolen from Mexico a long time ago. Who builds a City on hills such as these anyway? This City rises up and recedes like the tides that lap on its shores. It is on the down right now, but will rear up once again, once it has taken itself down a few pegs.
Great big empty office buildings dominate the horizon, ugly and lacking delicacy, looming over Victorian houses in pastel colors and hilly streets that attempt to impose some kind of order upon travel, and the parks which fill themselves with plants and people come rain, or fog or shine. Boarded up shops sit forlorn waiting to be repossessed by mortgage companies and repurchased for fragments of what was paid for them before the Big Bust, and then let out at reasonable rates to little shops selling tee shirts and magnets and homewares and things you never knew you wanted until you saw them. We lost a sweet little garden store a while ago, that sold potted plants and flowering bushes. Japantown lost a tea store, a cafe, and now sits mostly empty due to the greed of Landlords. Oh, dear Landlord, do not put a price on the soul of San Francisco. Ah well, they will, and it won’t work, and they are rapidly learning that holding the City hostage to their capitalist demands will only lead to vendors leaving the City until they regain their minds and everything becomes reasonable once again.
Reasonable is not something San Francisco is fond of right now. The suffering on the streets has reached stratospheric levels. Outside my sweet little apartment in the bad part of town, it is not just bad, it is horrendous and has become very, very dangerous indeed, as was demonstrated when I got attacked out there, yet again. The mental health crisis is being allowed to spiral out of control and everyone – including the mentally ill – are being forced to suffer. The City is a run away horse and nobody is holding the reins. It is not fair that the encampment outside is allowed to constantly disturb our sleep, scream and shout constantly with no medication or supervision. It is not fair on them or on the residents like me that are living on their nerves.
The scream last night was so loud I just about jumped out of my skin from a dead sleep. People cannot live this way. I cannot live this way. I am too unwell to live this way. The cops, even when called, do not come. The street crisis team come and feed them, give them some essentials and leave them where they are to suffer and to make everyone around them suffer. It is unbearable. I am hoping that when I get the disability housing which I was approved for, that they will move me and the Boy away from here. I am not well enough to deal with it. I am not sure anyone is.
The Good Ship San Francisco is a mess of boosting (stealing) from shops, which are closing down in droves, streets that stink of piss and have piles of human shit everywhere. There is a particular place on California which has a famous shit. When it is cleaned away it reappears once again, same place, against the wall of Wells Fargo Bank, pebbledashing the side of the wall with a disturbingly pungent mixture of diarrhea and undigested solid particles. I try to remember to cross the road before then, and not have to face it, but sometimes the other side of the road is even worse, with a huge encampment outside the bed shop, which blocks the path.
The City cannot carry on like this. San Francisco, my home, is going from bad to horrendous. I do not know what the answer is apart from to try and wait out the nightmare and let it hit rock bottom and hope that the crime wave which needs Batman at least to fix it, will abate and adjust. It won’t though, until we get some serious compassion in here. The closed Tenderloin Harm Reduction Center has led to an increase in overdoses, with May being the worst month on record so far for OD deaths. Like that was not predictable! Closing the hotel shelter rooms for unhoused people, that I and the Boy benefitted from, has increased the suffering immensely. We have gone backwards, not forwards, and it does not feel like anyone who can do anything cares in the slightest. They are either ignoring the issues or else simply do not know what to do.
This is how cities shift to the right – with people looking towards authoritarianism to fix the social ills which are ignored. It is not compassion, not liberalism to allow the mentally ill to suffer on the street and torture all around them.
I am miserable. I love this City, but is is unlivable. I am stressed out, I am not allowed to sleep, and it is dangerous out there, and the police promise to send a ‘crisis team’ and they do not even do that when they say they will. I am at the point where if I am not moved, I am giving up entirely. I am simply not well enough.
As far as my health goes, I have been quite desperately unwell…but that is a topic for another day…
Peace, love and flowers in the hair of anyone who wants ’em…