"On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points." --Virginia Woolf
Thursday, August 20, 2009
North Beach Crazy
I stood at the corner waiting for the light to change. Head pointing toward the sky, a month's worth of clouds formed and diminished before my eyes.
The Transamerica pyramid to the left of me, the old Transamerica building to the right. Two beautiful smiling girls stood at the entrance of what is now the Church of Scientology. One of sunny blond hair; the other pale and of dark brown. Black sweaters and white collars and all kinds of crazy behind those smiles.
I walk towards the dim sum restaurant and wonder if they eat dim sum too. Black sweaters white collars gotta eat. Gotta mail letters and water their lawn. Black sweaters white collars gotta brush their teeth, watch the news or turn it off. Do they smile at the DMV, or when they do their taxes? Will they smile in a mass suicide when their god tells them: this is The End.
Beatniks once charged down this street; later hippies and yuppies too. But now I am on this street among the power hungry, the mad, like my Barbary Coast-dwelling ancestors. But now I fear Volcano God worshipers in black sweaters and white collars.
I am uncommonly mobile; I have circumnavigated the globe eight times, walking amazing distances. Through the South Island of New Zealand to the Southern Alps. From Chile to the Andes in Argentina. Across the Serengeti in Africa. I made 300 ascents of mountains 10,000 ft. tall or more, including the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, and Kilimanjaro. I traveled alone, aided only by my porters, sketching volcanos and collecting wildflowers along the way.