Sunday, July 26, 2009

California Collision: Haight-Ashbury

Last week I traveled to California and visited three popular tourist destinations. San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, and Napa Valley. I've called this trip a fact-finding mission, but it was really a vacation. However, I've decided to do another travel series, which I'm calling California Collision.

Here are my earlier anthologies:

My Kansas Kronikles
My Mississippi Manifest Destiny
Midwestern Presidential Pathway

The few years that San Fransisco's Haight-Ashbury was a hippie mecca, roughly from 1967-1969, keeps bringing young people back to the neighborhood between Golden Gate and Buena Vista Parks.

They're trying to recapture a movement that died at Altamont.

Pictured on the upper right is where Haight and Ashbury meet. Like the rest of San Francisco, you won't find many chain or franchise outlets, so the Ben & Jerry's, where I bought a $4.50 cup of ice cream, is an anomaly.

$4.50! Cones are more.

Other stores nearby, all on Haight Street, go by such names as Bound Together: Anarchist Collective Bookstore, Wasteland, and Distractions. If you're looking for weird hats, or bizarre t-shirts with a left wing slant, then head to Haight. There are a number of tobacco shops offering pipes there, I didn't walk in to see exactly what kind of pipes, however. But I could find only one head shop in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of homeless people ensconced on Haight, and in Buena Vista Park, most of them younger than their compatriots in the other sections of the City by the Bay. Homelessness is a big problem in San Francisco, one that I'll tackle in a later post.

Haight-Asbury has a lot of colorful murals that don't obscure another SF problem: trash. San Fransisco is a dirty city: For instance, the sidewalks are strewn with cigarette butts. San Francisco might be America's most literate city, but after reading a newspaper, apparently the next step is to toss it on the ground.

Some of the garbage I found on San Francisco sidewalks was just bizarre. After I felt that I saw enough on Haight, I walked north on Ashbury towards my hotel, and I came across a pile of plastic coat hangers and some books right in the middle of the sidewalk. One of the books was "The Kite Runner." I've been meaning to pick up a copy of that best seller, so I did. Right off of the sidewalk.

There may be a lot of pigs in San Francisco, but they are well-read pigs.

Related posts:

Mission San Francisco de Asís

San Francisco's sea lions

San Francisco's blues mural

San Francisco: Cable cars

Obama's economic stimulus "campaign sign" stains Yosemite National Park

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