Monday, August 18, 2014

Early and Pre-History of San Francisco (The Secret of the Sea Pt.III, Chap.3.)

under construction


History is a voyage from the real to the imagined.

1. Pre-history:
The Origins of Yerba Buena

It is widely accepted that the land mass 
that became San Francisco rose out of the sea 
 a sudden manifestation of tectonic tumescence

Petrified redwood provides us with clues
to what were once coastal forests

Little is known about the earliest animal life
widely presumed to have been very nasty
and to have died off quite a long time ago

It is thought that there were still whales in those days

With the first human inhabitants,
we peer around a rock darkly

Previous eras scholars produced idealized images
Noble savages who lived Romantic idyls

Actually, our understanding of these first people
remains quite primitive

Examples of populations considered extinct
still turn-up on sundry beaches,
Here we observe a prehistoric flower-child

Early History of San Francisco

Historical studies are best compared 
to a Miro-shaped hole in the floor
in which ancient objects of desire persist

The history of Western man is inextricably tied to beer,
from the earliest forms of beer in  ancient Egypt
to porters and ales top-fermented on backdoor stoops
to the eldritch breweries and taprooms 
to modern-era factory suds and today's microbrews,
Man marches on

In from the sea a sailor could trade
a dazzling tortoise shell
for three bottles of Wunder beer;
Exquisite scrimshaw
fetched a bottle of good whiskey

An establishment selling brews on July the Fourth
Hobos of the sea have landed here for centuries 
One can't overstate the importance of beer
 to the opening of the West,
to the founding of this Nation 

Dolls have a great deal to do with it too

Next thing you know you have
many a gay caballero on your hands

Hence the early arrival
of the civilizing influence of religion

The Gold Rush

Tall ship inside of a vitrine,
 a message in a bottle

The message was that the Europeans 
were the new dominant sub-species of primate,
Formal, organized, and technologically adept,
they replaced the local flora and fauna

Those damn Yankee traders showed up,
bringing with them all sorts of confidence men,
the Flaneur here includes himself

 Certain intrepid mercenary types
 roamed the earth as colonial front men
for the arch-capitalists


Then, a whirling milky way 
of gold dust 
was discovered upstream

An "instant city" appeared overnight,
coming on like sleepy mushrooms

Today the story's relegated to potted history,
Steam Punk drive-in movies,
buried gold dental crowns
and waterless ghost towns

Gold's glittering legacy
consists of  continual financial crime
and a permanent plutocracy

With its concomitant burden of struggle and strife,
cramped quarters for most,
pauper's burial at Land's End

Is that a "C" or is it a "G"?
In the first American Gilded Age,
  the custom was for Robber Barons
to build temples to house their dead souls

A system of justice arose
to protect the property rights of the wealthy,
law and order to maintain the status quo

The infamous Barbary Coast was also host
to rough men who did quick work 
with a paintbrush
or with a sailor's knife

Around this time Chinatown was first founded
as a source for cheap labor and florid housewares

The opening of the railroads,
A revolution in industry
dead tech too magnetic to discard

Charming and uncanny momentos 
of our race to the bottom

Examination of the historical record:
  souvenirs: coffee cups, matchbooks, 
room keys, and a neat opium bowl

 4. The Military Era

Bringing things up to the present

Ever vigilant in a turbulent world
of rising seas


Keeping the peace in our nation-state

Responding to emergency of any kind

Never mind Richard Serra, 
nautical military debris produces
real heavy metal enigmas

The military you shall always have with you

 4. Epilogue

A solitary room in the dim past
watches the tide roll this way

 The tidal clock says it's check out time

San Francisco,
Alameda, Oakland

Summer 2013-Summer 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Torpedo Update

The Flaneur's faithful will no doubt recall the image of a somewhat weathered torpedo appearing in a recent post. Well, grab hold of your furbelows and dig the refurbished and greatly enhanced new memorial to underwater stealth warfare.

 Where the previous model was proudly prodigious,
this baby is outstandingly protuberant. 
The engraved tablet and the Pampanito illustration are also new.

The whole thing moved me to an atavistic state 
of nationalist militaristic aggression.
I felt I had a lot in common with the passing crowds

13 August 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Next Stop Nowheresville

Remember like bees? They were hella scary. But today's technologies of industrial farming, pesticide chemistry, genetically engineered crops, robo-bees, super-highways, refineries, and radical new fracking forms of energy exploration, will soon solve that pest problem of old.

August 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Washington Street Addendum

Another side of Washington street is seen here in these images of the weekly farmer's market. The Flaneur passes through with a coffee and a burning ember under the nearest great tree.

 This is Suzanne Holland, 
who sings folk songs from America and the Isles,
I listen to those styles a lot, on radio, on record, in person,
and I regard her as unusally gifted

 It was a sparse day with a brilliant and scalding sun, 
neither a lot of farmers nor gleaners had showed up,
I pulled a chair up close to listen

Lovely folksinging with deep soul running through it, 
if you see Suzanne playing, stop and listen,
 and, who's gonna throw that minstrel girl a coin?

June 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Washington Street (P.O.O. #2)

The Psychogeography of Old Oakland #2

The Flaneur walks on the occasionally wild side of a truncated street. As always, sturdy shoes are recommended.

Washington Street by Night

 This is Washington street where it begins
the old Swan's marketplace


 It's a part of the City
where darkness can fall rather quickly
out of nowhere

 In its brief passage Winter sunlight elongates the dusk

Chinese bric-a-brac jumble shop
never seems to be open for business,
in sepia gloom existence itself seems frangible

 It's often a puzzling place,
perhaps even a transporting place

Entirely in the mind of the beholder

When days are the shortest
Kris Kringle appears
hand-carved hand-painted

 Some see Buddha's skull 
in the window of the old Bodhisattva Club

 Come as you are, 
as you were, as you want me to be

 You may need those reading glasses
 with headlights on them

After midnight
 civilization's maze-work
always a bit haunted

 The Rooster awaits the morning people,
as the children of the night evanesce

In the shadows of the control towers,
  tonight we shoot out the cameras

December 2013- 2014


Washington Street in the Sober Light of Day

 Summer 2013