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Sunday, January 06, 2008


From From Thanksgi...

There are certain things I miss about San Francisco. The architecture, the hills, the beautiful views, the Bay, the food. New York pizza, as an aside, is highly overrated. I've heard people defend it by saying, "it's great because it's cheap and it's on every block." You know what? So is dogshit, but you don't see many people raving about that. Something doesn't add up and I think the error in the equation is false pride. I digress.

What I really miss is the feel and culture of the city. A place where an event like the Love Parade is allowed — thousands of people dancing in front of City Hall with police standing by as weed smoke floats through the air and people run around dressed up in costumes or dressed down in nothing.

All is not lost here in New York. Occasionally I catch snatches of San Francisco invading the less whimsical nature of this city. Several weeks ago my housemate Carlos joined thousands of other people dressed up for SantaCon. The entire event consisted of nothing more than dressing up as Santa and parading all over Manhattan, stopping at plenty of bars along the way. There was a shared festive attitude which induced total strangers to talk to each other and livened the atmosphere for everyone who happened to stumble upon the event.

No-one knew what the parade route was ahead of time, but the organisers sent out text messages which were forwarded from person to person until the entire group of hundreds all headed as one to the next stopping point. At that point everyone would mill around the streets, fill up all the bars in the vicinity, and generally cause a commotion. The fascinating part was that no-one seemed to know who the organisers were. It seems that terrorist camp training can be put to good use.

A couple weeks later I was surprised to find old subway trains taking up space on the V line when I walked into the 2nd Ave. station on a Sunday morning. It reminded me of the old streetcars from all over the world running along the Embarcadero, down Market Street and into the southern area of San Francisco. For a second I thought I needed to go back to bed to clear my head, as the previous night had been inspired by a 5-litre wine bottle on display in a store which Erik and I bought and shared between not quite enough friends.

Once I affirmed that I was indeed awake, I got on the train and found that each carriage was from a different decade, stretching back to what looked like the 20s or 30s. The advertising space was lined with old ads for Pomade and filtered cigarettes ("The Healthy Cigarette!"), and the MTA authorities let people wander from one car to the next as the train was moving. The cars ran as a special event each Sunday in December, completing a loop of the city every hour and a half. It was lucky timing that my brunch excursion coincided with it.


Lilia said...

...the people... you miss the people in San Francisco too, right?

It sounds like New York is very cool too.

Nigel said...

Of course! Above everything I miss the people.

KT said...

You should check out "What Would Jesus Buy," the film about Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, a true NYC original, much in the same vein as SantaCon.