Day 10: “You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”

11/07/2008 //

San Francisco

San Francisco was always a place for the mystics, it seems, and so you have the Beat trail, and of course the hippie trail to visit. And that trail takes you to the Haight-Ashbury area. We got on the bus at Market and watched the Tenderloin wreckage with great curiosity and some sadness. I keep wondering whether or not there are more homeless people around than there used to be when I lived here. Perhaps I’d gotten more used to it back then, but I don’t think so. It’s sad either way.

We decided to go to Golden Gate Park first, then walk back some blocks on Haight. Some other tourists, all the built like brick shithouses, asked me how many more stops there was to Haight-Ashbury. I told them we just passed it. They all ran off the bus, but the bus driver shouted “You’re not there yet!” and they got back on, sending me dirty looks. “Better not get off at the same stop as them,” said Stig. I concurred, and we ended up waiting until they exited the bus.

Luckily, it was out stop anyway, so no harm done. “You know, I didn’t lie – we did pass Haight-Ashbury back there,” I said. “Yeah, but do you think they’ll believe it?” replied Stig. Fair enough.

Golden Gate Park is humungous, but the first part seems unappetizing thanks to all the hippies and derelicts milling around. Neither of us are in the market for pot, but that doesn’t stop every peddler in the park from asking if we want to buy. We didn’t go too far in. There’s much to see in the park, if you’re of the horticultural bent, but for us, the head shops on Haight were more tempting, so we slinked back out of the park and headed for said shops.

Amoeba Records is pretty great, if you’re old-fashioned enough to enjoy scouring through rack upon rack of CDs looking for a good bargain or just some random CD you want. I was only supposed to look for some Jellyfish material, but ended up with a whole bunch of other stuff instead. But hey, why the hell not? You kids with your fancy Internet connections and iPhones and broadband and torrents just don’t know what you’re missing, mark my words. (Now get the hell off my damn lawn.)

I never thought I’d buy a Grateful Dead t-shirt, but I did. It’s really cool, to be honest. But no way did I think I’d ever buy a Grateful Dead t-shirt.

We decided to forego searching for the houses where Charles Manson, the Dead and Janis Joplin lived (not all at once, people – three different houses). As I told Stig I’d been there before and that they’re just regular houses. Somewhere I have a stack of photos of them. In hindsight, they weren’t worth all the bother of finding and photographing, nor the expense of having them developed. (You kids with your fancy digital cameras – back in my day, we used film that had to be developed with chemicals…now get the hell off my damn lawn!) Instead, we headed for Alamo Square and the painted ladies.

Now, the painted ladies, for those who might wonder, are not hookers (see day 8), or not anymore, at any rate. We’re talking about a row of loverly Victorian houses all lined up in a row. Well, not quite. The painted ladies is a term referring to any of the Victorian house in SF painted in bright colors, but the ones on Steiner Street by Alamo Square are the really famous ones; in the 80’s, these were whored out to the opening credits on the horrible show “Full House” (yes, I’ve seen most episodes, as far as I’m aware.)

Later on, we hit Vesuvio’s once again, to see some of my old friends, then larged it up a bit at the Bubble Lounge, where we met up with Stig’s cousin and some friends of hers.