These Are the Graffiti in My Neighborhood

Mission District, San Francisco (by Soaked In Sin)It’s hard to write about one’s urge to make graffiti and do it in a non-incriminating manner. So what the hell; I won’t.

It calls to me. I have a roll of sticker labels, and a neighborhood crawling with/calling for graffiti. Funny story, there. Lynae tells me this: there’s a guy, one guy, who, after getting off his work in the afternoon, drives around the Mission noting all the graffiti he sees. He then gives his list to a Graffiti Task Force Officer (or whatever they’re called), whom I shall henceforth refer to as GTFO. This GTFO takes the list, looks up each property owner, and tapes up the neighborhood equivalent of a Cease and Desist letter to their building. The guy who drives around has gotten so popular there’s even graffiti of him (pictured at right). Going into Surgery on the Streets (by Orin Optiglot)Nice touch, huh?

Here’s another funny thing: the definition of graffiti, as stated on the GTFO letter, is that it’s non-consensual. Without consent of the property owner, that which is painted, affixed, engraved, assembled, or sautéed in garlic butter with minced figs and within the public viewpoint is considered graffiti. It then becomes the responsibility of the property owner to get rid of it within 30 days. Here’s an odd observation, property owners: why not just say yes? If graffiti is stuff on your stuff without permission, give permission for your stuff. No more paint to buy—and no more frustration when the damned things got more scrawl on it the next morning. I’m just saying.

I’m just saying that if more stuff starts showing up that actually comments on the existing graffiti, don’t be surprised. If you’re not part of the problem you’re part of the solution. Or something.

By the way, anybody besides my dad even notice that I haven’t really come close to my goal of 25,000 words this month? Anyone?

Walking Outside on 4th of July

I had no idea what to do this fourth. Maybe I was gonna dress up like a salmon and bother tourists (it seemed only fair). But instead, I just walked outside. I walked outside. And my neighborhood took care of it for me. You have no idea how much I love this town.

Directly outside there were people setting off the screamy ones that don’t leave a lot of smoke. Down the street I could see big ones. We got in the car and drove southwards, toward Bernal Hill. We figured we could get a nice wide view of the entire Mission (which, apparently, is a “hotbed” of illegal fireworks). Unfortunately some other damn fool had the bright idea to light off some of the same from that dry, grassy park at the top of a windy hill, and… well, we drove outta there pretty fast once we figured that out. Precita Park was cool. The little lady’s new camera got such a workout her batteries died. Someone blew up a garbage can. The SFFD showed up with a big spotlight but didn’t say anything to anyone, and all was understood. The projects down about Cesar Chavez and Harrison were lit up, streets closed off with stolen (borrowed) traffic cones, its intersection packed with people standing 200-300 feet directly below the wink-and-a-nod explosions, each family who wanted to celebrate taking turns which meant at least three separate finales… that I saw.

Did I mention I barbecued burgers on our backyard balcony? Cause I did and they were delicious. Just wanted to mention. Happy Fourth, San Francisco.

Cinco de Whatevs

I am not of Hispanic origin. Nor am I Latino. Nor am I non-white of Hispanic/Latin ancestry. I am, in fact, a European-American a.k.a. Caucasian a.k.a. Whitey—and therefore possess no formal distinction between any of the previous terms. Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good party.

Which, by the way, where was the party? Last year, apparently, it was at a park I can see from my window. No este año. There was supposed to be a parade down Mission street, which is in the Mission District of San Francisco, which is where I live. But I didn’t see much of that at 5:00pm when I finally got around to leaving the house… and by then I looked darn festive, you better believe. So no parade. That’s OK. I notice the bars are a little cup-runneth-over with people drinking Margaritas and Coronas… but then again it is a Saturday. Fewer ice cream vendors. More people on the street, I suppose. Need I remind you, but this is The Mission, the most Latino district in the whole city. If I walk down past Caesar Chavez street, I see Salvadoran, Honduran, Peruvian, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Ecuadorian, and (I suppose) a few Mexican restaurants too, but If I were to do it today, how many revelers would I see, how many true Latinos, or Hispanics, or just plain well-tanned individuals, on this, “the all-Latin holiday?” None too many, and none too many that look like they might enjoy a bullfight or an iguana taco. No me gusta. Most Latin thing I did all evening was give a street interview for a radio show about burritos.

Some say I’m part of the problem. I’ll agree with them for now. See, I’m white and I think this place is cool: the food is great, the rent is cheap and the community is good, it’s an easy ride most places and the weather’s nice too. But too many of me, or people like me who are young and hip and have zero children and want thrift stores and nice Vespas but don’t but salted pork or paint freedom-fighter murals and the whole Latin culture that made the place’ll be gone. That’s the fear, and that’d suck. So we made a compromise, my woman and I. We didn’t visit an packed taqueria or purchase overpriced Corona, chilled as it might’ve been. I’ll tell you what we did do, to get some nice spicy flavorful food in us. Latinos forgive us. Has anyone ever had Tapas before? They’re delicious.

Critiquing the Viewing of the Dwelling

There are a lot of apartments in this world. Some of them are livable. Lemme tell you what…

There’s a place in the Marina with bay windows and a couple of big bedrooms. Hardwood floors. Private entry. Nice Chinese landlady. View to the bay (just a little). Extra room, almost as big as the bedrooms. Dining room’s gigantic too.

There’s another place in the Mission, on a corner. Got a lot of character and some nice bedrooms, really sunny. Been painted a dozen or more times and we could do the same. Sliding door between the bedrooms. Lots of stuff in the neighborhood, markets and little stores and maybe a crazy-cool neighbor downstairs.

Both places cost the same. They’re both spacious and close enough to public transit. Awesome party houses, if that turned out to be our thing. There are four roommates and we’re split down the middle. Not two and two, but each one of us liking the both of them. We applied to one. The other gets put in tomorrow. How do you decide these things? A coin toss seems somehow inadequate. They’re both good.

Then again, the Mission one is in what some would call “el Barrio.” Those charming taquerias and markets and community parks might harbor gang-bangers at night. The paint is peeling outside and the common courtyard has stained asphalt and a half-dozen neighbor’s windows. Loud music bumped from the place next-door, and I’d assume more of the same. The guy downstairs could just as easily be crazy-crazy. Valencia, the cool street in the Mission, is way farther than I’d like it. I think it’s also possible there’s ten people living next door.

But in contrast, the Marina spot is as boring as a lobotomy. There are enough cool restaurants to shake a toothpick at. A flavorless, bland and splintered toothpick. Union street is close, at several blocks away, and has lots of charming… upscale shops. Every room is ample (and then some) save for the kitchen—which wraps around both the hot water heater and the recycling and the back door and indeed, despite it’s granite-osity, still manages to seem cramped and uninviting. Did I mention that this place is situated on the main highway? Yeah, that’s our doorstep.

I’m not sure if I told everyone who reads this yet: me and three others are currently seeking an apartment in San Francisco. We’ve been living together in a small room on the fifth floor of a hostel in the Financial District, one that now houses a total of six, and we really want to move out by April 1st.

We’re gonna get a cat.