May 19th, 2002


Lucky 13th Street

I had another day where I love 13th street.

Partially I love it because it has an identity crisis. Up where I live it’s called Duboce. From Mission to Potrero under the highway it’s 13th and from then on it’s Division. 13th is a little traveled, neglected pedestrian area for the most part. The traffic signs are so dirty people actually write "wash me" on them with their fingers.

My walk to work started with an old guy carrying a heavy-looking toolbox asking me how far Marina Green was. "Driving?" I asked. "No, walking," he replied.

"It’s a few miles and up and down hills. But you can catch the 22 right here and it’ll take you the whole way"
"No thanks, I wanna walk."

On 13th proper, I saw a new political poster with an old slogan. There’s a big anti-war protest scheduled for the Golden Gate Bridge. Unbelievably, the slogan "No Business as Usual" is under the date and time. And it’s not even an RCP poster; it’s an All-People’s Congress one. Careful readers will note my nostalgia for the No Biz posters that used to be under the freeway (see my 4/6/02 entry). In fact, those posters were one of the first things that drew me to 13th Street. And I love it when political rhetoric gets recycled. The poster also asserts "The anti-war movement ain’t playin’!" Oh, if only that were true.

While waiting for the light to change I get passed by a SF Minibus. I don’t really know what they are or who uses them, but I still kick myself for not getting a picture when they were the "SF/SM Minibuses". The SM stands for San Mateo, but I pictured minis filled with tourists and a tour guide pointing out Soma leather sites, important alleys, Stormy Leather and maybe ending at the monthly sex toy swap at the Women’s Building.

I burst out laughing when I see that the most disgusting corner on my walk (and in the running for most disgusting in the city) has been adopted in one of those highway-cleaning programs. The corner of 13th and South Van Ness is a freeway entrance, an underused parking lot and generally neglected no-man’s land. The stench, of too many people pissing, shitting and puking in the streets, often makes me gag and I work with cheese all day. Who’s adopted this corner or nastiness? This monument to gentrification, capitalism, and substance abuse? The California Department of Corrections, of course. Ironic or systematic?

Ah, the questions that 13th Street calls forth . . .