Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Welcome to SF

by Skald

Jet lagged, tinged with lysergic acid,.... stumbling through the Mission District. Dodging drunks and junkies till we reach Delirium... right through the rabbit hole. I sit in rapturous stupor-- perma-grin. A wild Asian girl flirts with me, motions me to dance, tells me Im old, scoffs at me, then flirts again.... I remain silent, motionless, and bewildered throughout the drama.

As we leave, this same girl and her friend get in a hair-pullling, fist-swinging fight with another girl outside the bar. Guys come to the entrance and laugh... egg them on. One yells, "I love this bar".

I dont. The attitude, cockiness, poverty, and violence are too much for me right now.. just off the plane from Asia. I miss the gentler streets of Bangkok & Osaka. I miss the gentler people.

Other than the obscene fatness of folks, what strikes me first about America is the anger and violence. Everyone seems annoyed or pissed off. Theres a kind of strutting attitude. Its there in the self-righteous liberal cyclists... who scream at any car that dares "cut them off". Its there in the aggresive panhandlers... who mumble insults at those who dont give them money.

What is the source of this anger? Materially, these people have far more than the Thais... even more than the Japanese. But maybe thats the point. Americans have invested their lives in THINGS. Not people. Not each other.

Another immediate impression was how lonely and desolate America feels. This is a major US city, but it feels empty to me. There are hardly any people walking on the street. Everyone is sealed up in their cars.. safe from everyone else. Bangkok's streets are full of people. So too Osaka's. And even Hiroshima's. My little Bangkok neighborhood, late at night, had more people walking around than does my friend's SF neighborhood... at peak daytime.

Where are all the people? Why are they so spread out? Why do they hide in their homes and cars?

At first impression, America seems a ghostly place. Spread out. Mechanized. Lonely.


Andrew said...

Glad to see you are still writing; when you didn’t update for a long time I grew concerned. Your blog is an important part of my weekly reads. I need to comment more.

I, too, agree that America seems cut-off from each other as citizens. I can go weeks without seeing my neighbors. I do not even know their names. I find that sad. It IS a ghostly place. Our society has changed so much in my lifetime and that of my parents.

I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandmother on her rural farm in the country. They had a very cohesive community. The neighbors would stop by and bring something to eat and sit on the back porch to talk and discuss relevant issues over a glass of cold, iced tea. I miss those times and the harmony they seemed to purvey. Folks looked after each other then. It seems now it is everyman for himself; a dog eat dog society.

I like to think we are building little cohesive communities with our blogs. We express ideas and share with each other. Like minded individuals group together and support each other. What a marvel this internet thing is.

Please keep up your efforts to blog. I have found you a kindred spirit online. Your writings have inspired me and touched me in deep ways. You always make me think and question. You inspire me to write. I think we have a mutual friend in Thoreau.

Jonathon aka The Grumpy “Old” Man

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to Amerika. And you didn't even land in New York, which makes San Francisco (where I lived for three years to get away from the neurotic East Coast) seem like a haven of warmth and empathy...

But I understand the Thailand was getting Orwellian, even by the standards of the coup d'etat in this country where most slave for the top 1%...