At Home in the World

Gettin' it Done and Then Some

Thursday, November 11, 2004

failed urban literature

The city was sick. Water was taking it away.
This uniquely multi-colored, North American city, so dependent on shadow and warmth to express itself, was being smothered. Ten days of wet and rain for a hundred miles with relief coming twenty miles east of the capital city. The shoulders on either side of the bay hunched under The bay was an industrial swamp. A comfortable place for the anonymous foreign steamers to wade their way to the steal womb of Port Oakland. Purple pollution trails, garbage, long dead Asian flotsam, all seemed more inevitable and unmysterious. Streets had been black with wet for ten days. The hills and valley of it were a uniform gray. Tops of buildings disappeared as everyone looked down, scouting for puddle-traps. The gutter canals transported garbage efficiently to loaded sewers. Potholes filled quickly and auto tires emptied them slowSweating rain and chilled for ten days. the tenth day without any real sun. Reliable, inevitable Californian sun. The The kind that ages buildings imperceptibly and . Wind and rain swirl through the heights of downtown, up Market and over the hump of the Height, and al At first thHidden in their offices, resigned unwilling to walk far for lunch. Under awnings. In the entrances to BART. In bus shelters. At home and putting off errands yet another day. It is a siege. With each gray, wet day fewer people are on the sidewalks.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

7 - Haight Bus

two guys get on and they are talking about different problems they have had at shelters and pay by the week places. one guy wants to impress the other. he knows how to set the other up to say signature tough guy things. "so was that a bad situation for that motherfucker or what, greg?" greg: "bad? id say him trying to creep in my window when i got a screwdriver under my pillow is about the worst situation he could BE in." other guy: "so the rest is history, greg?" greg: (looks back at other guy, drops his chin in a confidence that gets the guy chuckling): "what do you think?" other guy busts up.
now at some point in them talking about being homeless and on and off drugs the other guy, who seemed like he was either kinda fucked up on drugs or just fucked up permanently, he said a couple of indicipherable things about Skid Row. one was someth. like "greg, they dont put flowers on your table on Skid Row." another was someth. like "Skid Row aint for faggots and their girlfriends and everything they be seeing day in, day out." after this there was about a 10 second pause where neither spoke and then greg's friend said "do you know, greg, ive been on death row." greg looks back at him and pauses to look at him very seriously "you have, man?" greg's friend: "yes. but i got off it." im happy not knowing if he was really talking about skid row, not death row. or if he was somehow talking about drugs again or what. how often do people get off death row?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Favorable Elements of a City

-trash. not overflowing, but pieces of it here and there to study while you're walking.
-storefront produce stands that stretch the entire length of the storefront. all of the color and plenty. the transported bit of country/farm making the world feel compacted. and if the stacks are really tidy you get to picture the practiced, devotional hands that made them so.
-lots and lots of those banks of posters for movies, upcoming albums and shows. either on the makeshift plywood tunnel of construction site or against some unused bldg. and they should be a mix of mostly out of date and slightly out of date. there should be at least eight to ten of them in a row and the more the better.
-graffiti in surprising places like on a fence at the top of a steep hill skirting the highway.