San Francisco 23rd April 2008



Day Off San Francisco


After an appearance at KFOG, the big “triple A” station here run by a loyal supporter, Dave Benson, I take a walk downtown to buy a new suitcase. There is a bewildering array in Macy’s and I do my neurotic mother act, pulling twenty different models from their tidy displays and roughing them up for signs of weakness. I eventually plump for something stupidly expensive that seems hardier than the malfunctioning cheap shit I brought with me. I notice it is made in Thailand. I step back into the daylight with my empty black tank to find myself surrounded by up-market designer outlets and multifarious street people,  the juxtaposition a living cliche of Reaganite social inequality. I hike up the ten blocks to the hotel checking out the different signs the homeless guys hold. One rhymes, “I sleep on the street, I eat from the trash, I don’t want your pity, I just want some cash.”  Another reads, “No lies, No bullshit, I just need help.”  Further up the hill a young guy with a bunch of imitation cloth roses growls at me in a voice identical to Gonzo’s from the Muppets, “Guaranteed to get you fucking laid.” All the time I’m dragging my luxury luggage behind me like an itinerant going first class. I pass by half a dozen more homeless folk with various ingenious methods of wheeling their world about; shopping carts, old suitcases with extender handles and one pushing a child’s buggy with a kind of awning built about it like a mad hansom carriage from 1890s London. These guys seem to have their own code, and shout across the streets to one another in indecipherable barks whose frequency we rich don’t seem to be able to hear. Here are Saint Francis’s lepers in their steel and glass lazar house.

“Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins”.