Sunday, November 16, 2014

Things I Saw in San Francisco Today

We walked down to the water from North Beach, planning to take the F up to Mount Sutro, where we wanted to explore a hiking trail we had noticed on a recent bike ride up there. The streetcar stop was in front of an abandoned-looking building that I've seen before, but I never noticed the artwork on the sidewalk in front of it, memorializing the deaths of two men killed by police during a maritime general strike in 1934.

The text on the ground says "Police Murder" and "Men Killed--Shot in Back." Turns out it is the Longshoreman's Memorial Building, named in honor of the two dead men. Times have changed, I thought. Then I remembered news stories about the recent police killing of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., and I wondered how much.

We rode the F to Church and Market. Along the way two Muni workers came on board and asked to see people's tickets, rousting three homeless men in the process. We got out our clipper cards, but they weren't interested in checking on us. I'm aware that being old, white, clean, and dressed in reasonable clothing (without holes) gives me some protection from harassment, but I feel bad for the others. As we moved off, the three men were standing outside as the Muni workers wrote them tickets--tickets I'm guessing will never be paid.

We got out a few blocks later in front of the old "Church Street Station" across from Safeway where my husband and I used to go at all hours when we were first dating 35 years ago. It was open 24 hours a day then, and was on our driving route between San Francisco State University, where we often stayed late putting out the now-defunct Golden Gater, and where I lived in the Mission on 19th and Guererro in a super huge flat that must cost multiple thousands per month today. I guess our diner became a restaurant called "Home" in the meantime, at least that's what the sign says. But it's all boarded up now--has been for three years, at least. I wonder how the landlord can afford to leave it empty, and why no one wants to open another restaurant there? It seems a sweet location. At least, it always was for us.

We waited there for the 37, a little-used bus that took us up to the trailhead on Stanyan near 17th. A sign at the entry said "Quiet Entering the Forest," and once inside, sure enough, I wanted to whisper--it was so beautiful. It's astonishing to find this lush natural world in the middle of San Francisco. Here are a few of the things I saw.









We spent a good, long time hiking up and down and all around the trails in the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, including one called "Fairy Gate," until we came out of the forest on Parnassus, and walked down to Haight to catch another bus. Many of the trees in the reserve are eucalyptus, which I know aren't native. I'm not sure what the fuss is about re-planting native species. After all, white people aren't native to North America (and are doing a lot of damage here, by the way), and no one is tearing me up by my roots or asking me to leave.

Once on the bus, we were back in the City again, with a sweet young homeless man--looking handsome, disoriented, and heart-breakingly vulnerable--asking me how to get to the library, and a Romeo talking too loudly on his cell phone to a girlfriend he wants to visit tonight. 

We got off on Kearny and Market, where we often wind up standing to catch the 30 Stockton home after an adventure, and I saw another sign of City living there. It was a hand-drawn map of the universe on the bus shelter. Or maybe just a warning about how we live.