After a very pleasant walk around my beautiful Portland neighborhood, I found a letter that I wrote to my friend Cat just after I’d moved to San Francisco. Not sure why I never sent it — although it might have been a first draft:
…My life seems to have taken on some extraordinarily freakish dimension now that I’m “establishment.” I actually started a real job.
…I live in the Tenderloin — the most bizarre decayed neighborhood in San Francisco. I no longer have a driver’s license (suspended for making an illegal U-turn in SoCal and then neglecting to pay) but still have a car — unregistered, and must drive due to no parking space. I was walking downtown today and got hit in the head by a confused, angry black bird. My neighbor died last week and has been decaying next door for a week. Ok, deep breath, I guess I should start with the neighborhood. Today the bird incident, last week some guy spat on me for no apparent reason. The streets are covered with a semi-fluorescent liquous mosaic that I constantly slip in when walking to the train station. The stench of urine is constant — when it rains it is much worse because the dried urine runs in rivers down the sidewalk. On weekends and summer nights the old guys on the corner drag their living room furniture outside and sit around drinking 40 ouncers (a few have proposed. The sidewalk is littered with chicken bones — there is a liquor store that sells fried chicken from a dirty case with heat lamps. One morning I went to my car and found that it had been utilized as the fourth wall of a lean-to for a sleeping family. They appeared to be very snug and I apologized profusely for needing to drive away.
The other morning I stumbled to the street to move my car for street cleaning, backed up, heard a crunch, kept driving, finally some guy in a cross-walk pointed inspiring me to stop, at which point I found a 50 gallon plastic garbage can attached to my bumper. After much effort I managed to rip the thing off and fling it to the sidewalk..
There is a community of really tall hideous transvestites. They look like they are getting their hormone treatments from the crack dealers on the corner. and frequently run up and down the sidewalk scantily clad shouting their lovers names.
The other morning I had a flat tire at 7a and was assisted by a guy sitting on the curb eating fried chicken and drinking a 40 ouncer Men openly piss anywhere and everywhere. I’ve been chased by surly packs of smelly insane homeless people asking for change. Shopping carts with cats perched on piles of reclaimed garbage, push by demented, overweight women are all too common. There is some guy who dresses in a warriors costume and a plastic gold crown who beats the trash can on the corner like he’s calling the troops to battle.
It is complete urban anarchy.
Then there are the damn pigeons.; Hunting in packs. Apparently a month ago some do-gooder started feeding the birds strychnine. Around 40 dropped dead. Their ranks were quickly replaced.
I sleep on a deluxe air mattress. The other night I woke up sandwiched between 2 halves of the bed with miah (my cat) evilly grinning at me. Fortunately the deluxe air mattress comes with a deluxe patching kit.
Ah the days.
Now my sidewalks are scattered with chestnuts and it smells like autumn.
Although I’m still a lunatic magnet, and Portland has more then enough to keep me on my toes.