Friday, January 5

Dear Jim,

Tomorrow is the Epiphany. Remember the parish with that name in the southeastern part of The City? The weather was just as bad as where we lived, but there was no view of the ocean.

We had it good, even though the hot shits in the sunny, cultured, and bad neighborhoods looked down upon the foggy avenues and their wimpy unenlightened residents. We were lucky to have Golden Gate Park and the beach to wander in and along as our oasis’s from the times that were difficult for us.

I´ve been thinking about San Francisco a lot since looking at that book at Sis II´s and standing on the Embarcadero for an hour looking to Oakland. I am torn between my desire to visit The City to walk along the bay, and my repulsion at the ugliness and soullessness of the most vibrant part of the city – South of Market. I will be doing most of my walking there.

Since I´ve been listening to You Tube a lot, I decided to see what famous San Franciscans were saying about today´s San Franisco. There were a few lectures by the grassroots lobbyist about your age. But they were about expensive rents. I wanted to hear about the arts and different cultures.

So I typed in the name of San Francisco´s businessman/poet to see if there were lectures by him. The one that caught my eye was not about San Francisco, but was a speech he gave at UCLA in 1969. It was over an hour. The problem was that it wasn´t a speech but a poetry reading.

It was dreadful. I thought he would read for five minutes then start lecturing. After ten minutes I said, ¨Oh my God,¨ then forwarded to the 20 minute point, but he was still reading his diatribe about Nixon.

He isn´t a natural reader. He did not practice his delivery or memorize his poem. It was juvenile. Everyone in the audience thought it was great.

After I zapped off his reading, I tried to find something current by him. There was an excerpt from a TV news broadcast which talked about one of his recent birthdays. He complained about the price of rent and how hard it is for creative people to afford to live in San Francisco.

But some people disagreed. They said he was just an old fart complaining about changes he did not like, just like old farts have always done. Someone else said that the techies who priced other people out of San Francisco have brought a new type of creativity to The City. The beatniks were then, the techies are now.

That got me thinking. Of course I am disgusted that San Francisco is so expensive. I cannot live there. I would love to live there for two years after I retire, but I won´t be able to.

I complain all the time about the ugly skyscrapers South of Market, just like I have complained all my life about the beatniks and hippies. The self-proclaimed enlightened ones who wrote poetry in North Beach usually wrote shitty poetry.

The self-proclaimed revitalizers of South of Market usually create incredibly ugly and dispiriting buildings. But it takes a lot of skill to get through architecture school, then pass the board. It does not take skill to say fuck the president and fuck Western Civilization. Even worse – it´s a lie to call it poetry.

I hated the beatniks and I hate the architects and engineers who created an architectural nightmare South of Market. I don´t hate techies. I would love to know code and networking. I love talking to techies about their work, but I´m not interested in talking to poets about theirs because it is not very good and any idiot could do it.

One time in the 70´s or early 80´s I was complaining about the new architecture in The City. A hippie said he could remember all the neat buildings from the 60´s that were torn down for ugly new stuff, but he did not understand that our great aunt and great uncle felt that the hippies had destroyed charming old San Francisco.

The famous poet and the people on The Left don´t understand that the lousy juvenile poetry in North Beach happened before the Bank of America building began the Manhattanization of San Francisco. One can argue that the beatniks set the precedent for horseshit, then the land developers jumped at the chance to create their own crap.

I´m all wound up as mom used to say. So I´ll keep going. The beatniks initiated the disrespect for authority and Western Civilization that became common with the hippies. Neither group believed in truth or beauty, just like the developers downtown do not believe in creating buildings that are magical.

I´ll use a word I used to use all the time – phony. The beatniks were phony.

Remember when I got back from Kansas and we went to the U. S. Cafe for dinner? It was crowded so we shared a table with a couple ten years younger than mom and dad. The perfect beatnik age.

You said to them, ¨Dave just got back from Kansas.¨ The arrogant asshole said, ¨What´s in Kansas?¨ That hurt my feelings. I loved Kansas.

I´ll never forget that day. You loved being with me. You were proud of your kid brother who just got back from the adventure of his life.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko