Tuesday, December 27, 2011


One of my friends asked why I like Chinatown. I had not actually considered the question before. It's just that when I moved to San Francisco in 1984 the place I ended up living was right on the edge of that neighborhood and North Beach.
Within a short time I had gotten used to the bakeries, coffee shops, and restaurants.

The alternative would have been spending all my time in North Beach.
Which, ever since the fifties, has been filled with artistic types, bohemians, intellectuals, philosophers, and other layabouts.
There's only so much free-verse a rational person can take before keenly desiring to barf.

I moved in 1993, but I still cross the hill every day.

I like Chinatown, I do not particularly like North Beach.
No, Jack, I do not wish to buy your revolutionary newspaper.
Can someone please shut up the unwashed person with the guitar?
Declaim that meaningful doggerel to yourself, no one else is interested.
Yes, you're special. Unique, creative, and inspired. Now please go away.

From 1984 to 1993 every morning I would go around the corner to wake up with a latte at the Caffe Trieste, spending half an hour reading the Chronicle before even thinking of doing anything else. It's easy to tune out artistic types and others when so engaged.
Unfortunately the SF Chronicle is not worth reading anymore, and the Trieste is more awash with bohemians than ever before.
Instead, if I'm in the neighborhood, I'll drop by the Caffe Puccini on Columbus Avenue. Their cappuccino is pretty good, and one can watch the pedestrians strolling past from a fine vantage point.

I end up in Chinatown several times a week, but hardly ever in North Beach during daylight hours.
Jack doesn't try to sell his communist rag there - he probably doesn't like the Cantonese, and considers them bad for the Marxist cause.
I've never seen a hippie playing a guitar in Chinatown - the locals would probably dump a bucket of water on him and tell him to take his screeching elsewhere.
Other than the loony at the intersection of Washington and Grant, there is no-one declaiming. And it's doubtful whether what he 'declaims' is actually free verse or sheer gibberish. Or even has any meaning at all.
The locals in Chinatown already know that they're special. Unique, creative, and inspired. They do not need anyone to tell them so, and have no interest in proclaiming it to other people anyway. They are self-confident, open for business, and not particularly enthused by guff from artistic types, bohemians, intellectuals, philosophers, and other layabouts.

The entire passage above is free verse, as well as deep and meaningful
Please ponder it, while sipping your cappuccino.
On the other side of Broadway.
Thank you!

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deja vu'edly amphibious said...

Is this a re-post?

The back of the hill said...

Nope. It's a somewhat of a rehash of a theme I've explored before, though.

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