Thursday, May 8, 2003

After having breakfast this morning and trying to figure out flights to Montreal, I headed off to the BART station to go into town. On the way there a latino man approached me and asked me if I wanted to buy some ID, to which I politely said no. Then I caught the next train to the corner of Hyde, 8th and Market, and walked up Hyde to McAllister, where my uncle works at Hastings Law School. After taking in a great view of the city from the 24th floor of the Tower, we took his little yellow Bug first to the cleaner's, and then up to the Haight-Ashbury. He had gotten in touch with Pam Brennan (the daughter of Peg Brennan) who normally runs the Flower Power Walking Tour, and she said she would give us a special tour, even though it was her day off. The Brennans were good friends of my father back in the sixties, when he lived in NY in his mid-teens. When Dad was kicked out of his house he stayed with the Brennans, and initially came out to California in order to see Bruce Brennan, the eldest, who had moved there. Dad has told me many stories about Peg Brennan, who took him in under her wing and would take all the kids to the war demonstrations, and finally today I met her. She is a wonderful old woman with the most beautiful wrinkles--they are the softest lines I've ever seen, and they fit her face very well. She has very blue eyes, and her smile is gentle but she still seems to have a sharp mind and a sense of humour.

So after seeing the inside of 525 Ashbury, we walked around the area they call the Haight, looking at all the neat shops (head shops, clothing shops, lots and lots of shoe shops--Sarah, you'd be drooling--cafes, bookstores, food programs) and other scenery (flower plots every 10 feet or so memoralizing some dead Haight resident, like Ken Kesey, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin; the amazing vegetation like the astounding bottle-brush tree; and of course, the people). We had lunch at Magnolia (we sat in the further booth that you can see in the third photo) and then Peg went home to take a nap, and the three of us carried on with our tour. Pam told us all about the history of the neighbourhood; from way before the sixties up until the present. Apparently the area is becoming sadly gentrified, lots of yuppies moving in and despising the 'riffraff', but there still seems to be a real spirit alive there.

We saw the Grateful Dead's house (second picture down), but there is now a gate at the bottom of those stairs to keep people from running up and sitting where Jerry sat. We didn't go to Golden Gate Park but I heard a lot about this today, and since our names are similar had to link to it. And I'm just showing you this because I think it looks pretty. Pam had a copy of it hanging on her wall; she collects the posters from each year.

So after our trip back in time Eric and I went back to his place where he made a lovely vegetarian dinner for the four of us (there is also Joe and Francisco, who is from Mexico) and then we chilled out here in the Mission the rest of the evening. I took a hot bath and Joe demonstrated how the gas lights work, and I worked out my flight to Montreal for next week. Now the wind is whipping up outside and it might rain tonight; I think I'll go read some Gary Snyder and maybe even clear up my things which have somehow sprawled themselves all over my beautiful bedroom.

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