Archive for the ‘American’ Tag

Big City Thinking 2013   Leave a comment

I was walking my dog, doing errands, minding my own business.

I dropped off a video for my friend at the Mission Library, on the corner of Bartlette and 24th Street. I noticed the construction going on in the immediate area.  I spent time really looking.  I noticed the purple building across the street being renovated, the  workmen on the 2nd floor noticed me.  I stayed a bit longer musing at the money being pumped into the area and then walked on. The area is becoming cleaner, more colorful, with newly painted buildings, new murals, gentrified by the corporation. A general feeling of wealth pervades. Long time businesses must be thrilled with the revitalization of their neighborhood and yet there is a look of poverty among many of the people.

I was thinking….. San Francisco is looking like a Real Big City and 24th and Mission is losing its look of a well used, accepting, even friendly, kind of homey, and homeless, chewing gum covered MUNI and 24th Street BART station Neighborhood. There are not the “usual characters”, some have died I realize, but the homeless that I knew, and that knew me, because I am also a character in this neighborhood are not there anymore.  The under served  are more and different people, and it feels like a less congruent neighborhood.

I have crossed the street and have passed Cafe La Boheme, a longtime business in the Mission District of San Francisco California. I am on the north side of the street, by the bench, on the curb, waiting for the light to change.

I am standing next to two Central American women, they are on my right and carry on a quiet conversation that I cannot hear. They are clearly not ‘with me’ and yet ‘we are together’ standing on the curb. I like this part of living in the City; together, yet not together. A black car with a blue and white flag hanging from its rearview mirror stops early, not passing through the yellow Mission Street light, waiting for us three and others I do not see. I acknowledge this gesture with a wave and we three women, step onto the road, from the curb, to cross with the light, legally.

Just as we step onto Mission Street an American po liceman, on a bike, in dark blue shorts, with very tanned legs, going east on 24th Street, turns left or north, onto Mission Street,  directly in front of us! He is unsafely close to us. He proceeds to ride his bike on the wrong side of the street, having barely missed us. I yell to him, “Hey! You almost hit us And you’re on the wrong side of the street!”  I say the And part as if it is underlined, in a tone that insinuates he does not know the bike rules and that I do.

I can see him out of the side of my eye, he is coming back for me.  I am scared. I say to the women, “I think he is coming for me” they agree that he is  “probably” coming for me. I edge closer to these women. They do not move away.  We keep walking. We are across the street.

I can feel and see his American po liceman anger as he reaches me on the sidewalk. I don’t see anyone but him now. I am facing north.  I am breathing fast. I don’t look away, avert my eyes. I do not remember seeing anything else going on around me. The American po liceman straddles his bike and begins to scream at me. He screams at me, in front of witnesses, he screams at me, that his excuse or reason  for breaking the rule of riding on the wrong side of the road is so that he can “sneak up on the bad guys”.  I swear he says “sneak up on the bad guys.” He screams at me to mind my own business! That he is doing his job! Though I initially stop walking, he does not impede my forward progress when I begin to walk on as he screams.

As I walk I tell him, ” I can still speak out. I hear my voice become quieter than I feel, is that because of my anger or my fear, I wonder? He must know I am afraid. I am ashamed, I think that I looked down, cowed by his rage.  I think, I don’t know. I think I have failed and averted my eyes. I am ashamed.  Does the The American po liceman ride off, because he realizes I am afraid? Does he ride into the cross walk and onto the wrong side of the road to show me he can?”

A 30 something African man tells me I did the correct thing, bolstering me. He reconnects me to the changing neighborhood and myself. I am still breathing fast. I speak with the man for a moment, encouraged by him. I appreciate his neighborliness. I walk to a cafe and tell my story to the young women working. They tell me they are not surprised by the American po licemans behavior and one of them wonders why it did not escalate.

I remind the young women that there were many witnesses and that I am perceived as a white woman, we acknowledge this truth. I wonder if  my ethnicity was more obvious or if I had been wearing a hoody if I would have been safe from serious retribution? I wonder if this American po licemans behavior is to teach the witnesses, as well as myself to not speak out, to not speak the truth?


Travel ISLENSKA or Iceland   Leave a comment

Islenska or Iceland

Cold rain November, 2011 Reykjavik

Whatever the way you spell it and that depends on where you come from, I found Islenska and their Olde English, to be one of the most other worldly places on Earth.  I remarked to my friend about the rocks and big rocks, intersecting, encroaching, entering, the sidewalk or road, making humans go round.  I loved that the rocks got to stay and the humans were detoured. It turns out this is because of the Elves.

One Islenska man told me while we were in the hotpots that if they were to put in a dam or make any changes in the landscape all people of Islenksa would get to vote, because it would make a lake and cover some part of the landscape, changing it, and the Elves, of course the Elves would be consulted. The Elf Woman, I am sure there is a proper name for her, but I don’t know it, is called in and she communicates with the Elves; the Elves live in the rocks. If the Elves approve the move, the change is made, if not negotiations continue. The story goes that one time the Elf Woman was called and she negotiated for an entire night to get the Elves to move from their current rock, to a rock about a mile away, so a road could be built. I told the Insleskan I thought this great.  He said it takes a long time to get anywhere in Islenska because the Elves refuse at times to move, making the roads very wiggly.

The idea, the concept, the wherewithall of communicating with what so many cannot see, but so many Islenska’s believe, my non-Islenska self included, is what I think is so often missing from our American lives.  The idea that things exist even if YOU cannot see them, even if you do not believe in them, is of importance to the Earth. Be reminded that you cannot see an atom, a germ, etc.

So maybe Elves don’t live in your neighborhood, others believe they do live in their neighborhoods and then, though most Islenska’s do not see them they don’t rip the Earth up without the Elves permission.  This takes time, maybe this is why the landscape of Islenska is so beautiful and relatively unspoiled by modern man?

Think about it.