Tuesday, March 29, 2022


Frankly, it's a dump. The only times in the past several years that I have been on Market Street were when I needed to catch a bus to a doctor's appoinment outside of the Chinatown and North Beach areas. But over the years I've spent a huge amount of time there.
After I arrived back in the States, I bought a Peterson at the pipe counter in Woolworth's basement, which I would smoke after lunch at a sandwich place which has not existed in years. Booths painted institutional green, high windows, cheap coffee.
Glass ashtrays at every table.

That pipe was, over a period of two or three years, horribly abused. Because as a youngster I didn't know what I was doing, though I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I no longer have that pipe, but it was the same shape and finish as the one below.
There are two of them in my collection. I've had many more, as well as similar ones.

One of those two was bought at a tobacconist that closed in September of 2012 when they couldn't renew their lease -- the beauty academy three floors above them objected, because even a faint reek of cigars interfered with the scholars studying beauty -- but which had been a longtime fixture of San Francisco. That location became a Starbucks after several years, and the last time I passed was a deserted storefront.

There are more than enough nearby places for a venteccino with hazelnut raspberry syrup that an additional Starbucks was not necessary. The area around the Montgomery Street station is the Bermuda Triangle of strong bad coffee.

It probably fuels the yuppies who buy their fentanyl, smart drugs, and stolen goods, along the Market Street corridor, as well as the crazed drunkards dossed down on the pavement.

On a bright sunny morning, when you're waiting for the bus to the doctor's office at a distant clinic, the wind is still, the dustmotes dance in shafts of sunlight, the air is clear enough that in one direction you can see the Ferry Building, in the other there is the barely visible bustle several blocks away where that Woolworths once stood near the cable car turnaround, and you can smell the invigorating scent of marijuana and stale urine.
Almost as if you were back in the hippie days.
It's absolutely perfect.

Tourists love Market Street; it's so colourful.
The rest of us almost never go there.
Like Fisherman's Wharf.

In the year's that the office was around the corner from the tobacconist, I switched from full Latakia mixtures to Virginias and Virginia with Perique. My smoke is nowadays less offensive than during my college years, and less likely to trigger sensitive people. Also, I rarely smoke around other people on my days off. Times have changed.

When I was in highschool, most of my classmates smoked black shag cigarettes and drank good strong coffee without added syrups. We read many books in foreign languages, and ate foods filled with gluten (and refined sugar). After graduating we were "adults, and went on to college or prison.

Maybe I should go down to Market Street on a day off dressed in a lab coat and holding a giant butterfly net sometime, to delight the tourists and scare the crazies: the old fashioned European intellectual, long rumoured to be extinct, collecting colourful specimens for Herr Doktor Freud back at the Universität. Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Nobody would blink an eye.

I would of course be smoking a pipe.
There are several that would be suitable for this adventure.

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