You've got a friend.

I didn’t open my eyes until noon, after 11½ hours of snore time, and I was feeling two-gazillion times better than the past few days. I glanced out the window, saw a beautiful day over the dumpsters, and had an urge to take a walk to no particular destination.

Britches on, plus a t-shirt and shoes, I stepped out of the rez hotel. Flipped an imaginary coin and went left instead of right, and my feet took me to the financial district. Monday-Friday those blocks are full of asswipes, but it’s beautiful when it’s deserted.

I wandered among the Embarcadero buildings, and at the foot of California Street, I saw Angry Man. He’s one of my favorite street people, a white guy who’s probably 40 but looks 60, and likes to scream at people. A few years back, I had a crap job in the financial district, and often enjoyed Angry Man being angry. In my better moods I’d yell back at him. 

We had no disagreements, though. He’s some kind of a lefty pinko, and so am I, so I always thought he was right about whatever he yelled about, when I could make sense of it. He would yell and I'd yell back at him, but I'd only yell my sympathies and acceptance with his finer points.

Today he was sitting on the bench at the cable car turnaround, and here's the part of his shtick I love best: He’s sly. He’s quiet for long stretches, until everyone nearby thinks he’s just another homeless guy in ratty clothes ... and then without warning he starts screaming angry politics, and people jump in fright, and then they cringe or hurry away, and it's hilarious.

He was still in stealth mode when we saw each other this afternoon, and he recognized me as soon as I recognized him. He waved at me, and I waved back, and thought of James Taylor:

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yes I will
You've got a friend

And then Angry Man started screaming — at me. Something about Hubert Humphrey? I’m a big guy, so I walked toward him with a big smile, thinking we might yell at each other for a few minutes for old times’ sake. But he bolted and ran as I approached, before I’d even decided what to yell.

Guess I could've yelled, "He was the vice president!"  but I'm just not that passionate about Humphrey.

♦ ♦ ♦

After Angry Man ran off, I took the seat he'd vacated on the bench, and watched humanity for a while. Tourists count as humanity, technically.

Some pink pages blew by — that’s the Sunday Chronicle’s arts and entertainment section — so I chased them, and came back to the bench with something to read.

Found an interesting movie listed at the Lumiere, Freedom on My Mind, the new documentary about people who risked their lives to register black voters in Mississippi in 1964. I’d been planning to see it at the UC, where it’s also playing, but instead I rode the California cable car halfway to the stars, and stepped off at Polk Street, where Heather is still gorgeous despite graffiti on her face.

♦ ♦ ♦

Freedom on My Mind talks to some of the brave blacks and a few whites who tried to change America thirty years ago. The movie had me weepy in places, and wondering whether I’d have half the courage of those men and women. It's also infuriating but not surprising that President Lyndon B Johnson and his Democratic Party were among the bad guys.

I have a major complaint about the movie, though. The filmmakers plugged in songs from that era, some of which I’d never heard before, and played the music, often quite loudly, while all the interviews unfolded. Why would they do that? It kinda defeats the purpose of tracking down and interviewing all these heroes, if the audience can’t hear what they’re saying.

♦ ♦ ♦

After the show, my mind wandered back in time, so here's a flashback to Martin Luther King Jr, and my father’s opinion of him: 

Our family always watched Cronkite at dinner, and one night there was a brief clip of something King had said. I don’t remember what it was, or what I thought of it, if I thought anything at all (I was just a kid).

I remember what Dad thought of it, though, because he told us. “He says he’s a man of God,” my father said, disdainfully. “Well, if he’s a preacher, he ought to preach the gospel to his congregation, and not be trying to change the world as it is.”

Have I mentioned — need I mention — we were white. Matter of fact, we still are.

♦ ♦ ♦

The cable car runs every twelve minutes on Sundays, says the schedule, but the schedule lies. In an hour, I saw only two. Tired of waiting, I walked around, and missed both my rides down the hill.

That’s OK, though. It's a cool neighborhood, and there’s always something to do. I browsed a bookstore, did some slight grocery shopping, found a donut shop and then a second bookstore, and by then the afternoon had become the evening.

Took the next cable car to Powell Street, and walked a few blocks home, stopping at Double Rainbow to buy a pint of raspberry/vanilla. I ate it while typing this, and now these keys are getting sticky.

It’s been a good day. Damned good, honestly, and I don’t understand anyone who disagrees … like my Mom, and Margaret, and probably everyone I know. Ah, well. That's why I'm here and happy, and they're there and not.

From Pathetic Life #4
Sunday, September 11, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. Captain HampocketsJuly 6, 2021 at 6:15 AM

    Sounds like a fucking fantastic day.

    I remember reading this back in the day, and wondering how accurate was the passage about the Pink Pages "blowing by." I like to think it's literal, but I suspect a tiny bit of artistic flair.

    1. If it doesn't feel real, then I've fucked up.

      Whether it really was real I can't say for sure. It's been too long. Almost all of PL was real, but certainly not 100%.

  2. Humphrey rocked.

    That does sound like a pretty good day. I appreciate the hot tip on that movie ruined by the sound mix.

    1. Do theaters have the ability to tweak the sound mix? I don't know how that works, but I'd rather believe that, than believe the moviemakers screwed it up on purpose.

  3. It doesn't sound like a "damn good day" to me, but its definitely a damn good description of a day. I love the way you tell it.


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