Untitled First Post
A week ago, walking across the street in front of my house, I saw three girls. One was laughing, one horrifed and the other gagging. All of them glanced nervously behind them. As I walked past them, I turned back and there in a door way on market street, I saw an old junkie in his fifties repeatedly sticking a dirty finger into the swollen, pudding like mess that used to be his arm. The flesh eating disease had eaten his swolen right arm from the wrist to the elbow, leaving a two inch wide bubbling gash that makes me dizzy to write about. I was seventy five feet from my front door.
Sweet home Sixth and Market. I like to imagine myself living in the true cross roads of the world; One block south is ghetto, one block north is hell, one block west is the UN, and one block east, you have the Gap and one of the busiest shopping streets in the world. For those of you who have never been to SanFrancisco, Sixth street is the southernmost pennensula of the tenderloin, a strip of Residential Hotels, Liquor Stores, Porn Shops and a business called Choice Point that seems to be a needle exchange. It’s Logo? A bullseye painted on the window.
My home, in the middle of this all, is a basement. Nearly 3000 square feet of concrete and drywall extending underneath both Market and Sixth streets. Shared with my roommate, an eccentric roboticist and inventor and his cat Nobel, our secret underground lair consists of my media center, (including a recording studio, theatre, silk screening rig, stencil punch, and a bunch of turntables, samplers and keyboards) and my roommates lab, (consisting of benches for everything from chemistry and woodworking, to programming microchips and casting robot parts). It is an oasis of sorts, eccentric and colorful, warehouse living in the middle of San Francisco and despite the perpetual lack of sinlight, and the occasional “rain of crackwater” from a leaky sidewalk above our kitchen, I love it.
In fact, I love this entire city. The people, the neighborhoods, the hangouts, the inability to walk fifty feet in any direction without encountering a familiar face. I love the history, the views, and even that which I don’t like so much, I still love.
A few years ago, I went into a bar around the corner from work for a quick shot with a coworker. The bar was filled with men dressed in leather, and a naked man in his late sixties played the worlds most enthusiastic game of naked pinball, banging the machine relentlessly, never looking up, the entire time we were there. That man makes melove this city, almost as much for the fact that people like that exist as much as the fact that I’m not one of them.
I’m starting the blog in preparation for a trip away from this city. In an attempt to polish my writing for the impending trip as well as to sort my thought about the trip ahead of me.
When I joined the army, I was given the opportunity to see a lot of America as well as serving with your men and women from all corners of this nation. As I sat in my foxhole reading, I imagined walking across the country when I was discharged. Instead, I went into college. Now, many years later, and living in San Francisco, I feel isolated from the America I knew nearly a decade ago. I have decided to go see America and see what she has to say and catch up for lost time.
Sometime in the next 18 months, I will probably depart by bicycle for the foothills of the San Antonio mountains, where I will assist my mother around the house for a few weeks in return for her storing my worldly possessions, and as a present for her upcoming retirement. She will also store my bike, and I will stake out west with a ruck sack, working my way across the country in an attempt to see America.
I will walk because I my goal is to meet and spend time with America, not to cross her. I will walk because I in adition to lots of reading in the army, I learned that I can walk anywhere and the skinny guys can walk forever. As I walk, I will keep a series of composition books, as I try to find the voice of America in the 21st century, I might not get it written down, but if I walk, I will be able to hear its whispers echoing through valleys and plains, and if my windows are rolled up, how will I hear her?
I will walk.