August 28th, 2005

(no subject)

The best way to start your day in Soma, San Francisco is to be out of cigarettes. This inevitably leads you out onto the streets, up 4th Street and five or six blocks down Market Street to the nearest tobacco shop (I smoke irregular cigarettes so I am doomed with only few places to buy them). The area is so densely populated and happening that there's something different going on between Folsom and Howard than there is between Howard and Mission, and something even more exciting between Mission and Market. Up or down Market you can go and watch the street people roar in their bizarre ways and the tourists unload maps from their phannie packs. Market Street is a stampede of pedestrians that are all trying to suck in the sunny morning air all for themselves before the fog rolls in and the city is swept up in shade. Some of them are selfish with this Market Street air, but others know that there's enough to share, and simply smile at you and comment on how you treat the brick street as your catwalk. The mile-and-a-half walk for cigarettes is a runway everyone will watch you strut if you are just anxious enough for that sweet smell of clove tobacco. If you notice the beauty of the city's morning, it will notice you, too.

(no subject)

I was an innocent pedestrian this morning at Bryant Street with a tiny paper bag of DayQuil, Buy-1-Get-1 Parliament Lights, Djarum Blacks, and a medium black coffee in my hands. As soon as the sign on the other side of the street displayed a white walk sign, I slowly turned my head to the right to note the presence of a man on a roaring motorcycle. Next to him was another man on another raging bike, and next to that man, and behind that man, and diagonal, and in back of that man were more motorcycles waiting anxiously for the road to scream underneath their tires. I slowly nodded my head and realized that as far as the eye could see, all the way down the straightness of Bryant Street was a gang of bikers no less than three thousand in size. The entire road was covered from curb to curb, miles and miles back of big men on their big bikes in their big jackets and revving their big egos at their handlebars. Every single one of them was using their bike to scream their presence into the air of the mid-morning, cursing at the red light in front of them. They shoved classiness into the butts of their cigarettes as they stomped them into the ground underneath their heavy black boots and just screamed at me with their engines. It was only me on the crosswalk. It was only me and my catwalk strut walking between two white lines painted into the road that lay before a hoard of noise so ferocious that the revolt was deafening. I walked across that street and stood before thousands of muscular machines that were just waiting for the mere second when they could burn rubber in my tracks. Everything went in slow motion as I reached the halfway mark and the sign on the other side of the street turned from a white man to a red hand that started to count down.

"5," said the red hand.

I looked over at the man on the bike in front. My eyes slowly became slits as we made eye contact and I watched his wrist turn downward and make a fierce sound roar from his instrument.

"4," said the red hand.

I looked forward again and watched the sign blink at me. These were my final seconds as the one thing ahead of these rebels on the street.

"3," said the red hand.

I didn't want to keep going. I wanted to stop right where I was, right in the middle of Bryant Street and turn and face the three thousand bikers, one knee bent and arms straight out to the sides. I wanted to crank my neck backwards and let them roar on both sides of me, in front of me and in back of me, so fast and so loud that it would rip water from my eyes and my stance in the road would be the only part of the world not completely torn to shreds by their brutality.

"2," said the red hand.

My time was running out and theirs was coming up. I could tell they couldn't wait. They were more ready to go than a girl that had been teased and taunted for hours on end without a second of needed satisfaction. They were eager to cross intersections at such a rapid pace that for miles, the word "rebellion" would be the most insufficient understatement.

"1," said the red hand.

I looked back at the leader of the massive gang and a smirk wiped across both of our faces. It was such a mutual satisfaction with the number flashing for a fraction of a second on the small lit sign. It was such a mutual exchange of unsaid approval of each other's presence there on the road in that intersection. Market Street was no catwalk compared to this. That crosswalk was just a rickety bridge from one side of the road to the other, over a river of scorching, flesh-eating lava that was so fiery that it bubbled up and burned the edges of my viaduct. This man and the thousands of men behind him wanted to go.

"0. 0. 0," said the red hand.

This man and the thousands of men behind him wanted to go, and I was gonna get the hell out of their way. As my platform shoe stepped on the sidewalk, I turned around just in time to plug my ears and feel my gut explode inside my stomach as their wheels started to turn and their roars got ten thousand times louder. I had thought it impossible to be any louder than they already were, but I had never been so overwhelmed by sound before. And they went. Even before the lawful green light shined before them, they went; nothing on the road was about to stop them. They went and they made sure everybody within a ten mile radius knew they were coming. I stood there on the other side of the street, safe from their strength on the sidewalk, and every time I thought the crowded line of sound would end, it just kept going. For what seemed like minutes straight I was bombarded with a sight of never-ending mayhem and the sound and feeling of these men destroying pavement with their tires.

When it finally ended, the light had been red for a long time, and it had not stopped them from careening through the intersection like it was their own rule to break. I stood there leaning up against a lamp post for a few seconds with the biggest grin on my face, completely and totally overwhelmed by the epic proportions of the moment I'd just experienced. I hadn't spilled my coffee or crumpled my brown paper bag. I hadn't killed my ears or lost my balance. But I lifted my hand to my chest to notice my heart beating at a pace almost as rapid as that of the front man's motorcycle that was now miles down the road, still roaring into the morning.