Re: OpenSFHistory Images

01/26/21 - posted by jb

Opening scene from “Body Heat”...
“Still burning?
Jesus, it's bigger.
What is it?
It's the Seawater Inn. My family
used to eat dinner there 25 years ago.
Now somebody's torched it
to clear the lot.
- It's a shame.
- Probably one of my clients.
I'm leaving.
What do you care?
You're watching the fire.
My history is burning up out there.”

Welcome back Frank. Nothing like an Irishman with a typewriter to break your heart. Reading through your commercial obituaries is painful, given my association with a lot of them. And whether they pre or post-date me, just like reading the Irish Sporting Green, I sit with a shot of curiosity, sunk in a tall glass of terror. Sure, my time will come but till it does, I rely on a roadmap of memories to navigate the sidewalks of San Francisco. And someone(s) has been working overtime with a pandemic-infused jack-hammer to level my old playing field. And it is painful.

Can’t discern which hurts most but the street florists round Union Square puts tears in my eyes, having bought gardenias from them since I was 10: my mom got the first and now Shortcake, the last. Not as old but every bit as special is The Elite Cafe, for sentimental reasons and the best Coke-soaked ribs and sweet potato fries EVER! Maybe it’s just eating them outside, when a foggy mist kisses your cheek with a hint of bourbon on her breath. Maybe because it was a pivot-point for the Fillmore to reinvent itself after the disaster of the 1960-70’s. Maybe just because...

I could go down your list and recall time spent with half the icons mentioned but it would only augment my melancholy:
Oh, to be 10 again in the City but in a Wellsian scene of temporal distortion. Sure, I’d first toss the joystick into reverse backtracking sloooowly and when I hit the Cholera Outbreak in the mid 1800’s, I’d jam it forward to say 2050, coming to a screeching halt. And there, on an aging billboard, running down in the rain, the words of another Irishman with a typewriter:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Baghdad-by-the-Bay to be born.

Cheers,
jb

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