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In Search of a Public Life

Now that I can get up and down and out and about, pushing and prodding the limits of my prepositional life, I’m SOOO glad it’s our semi-usual February summer. I actually made the walk to the top of Bernal Heights with Adriana a couple of days ago, and have been bicycling around town a lot, though quite slowly as befits an old (recently incapacitated) man… The plum and cherry trees are in spectacular bloom. Here’s the plum tree outside my window, followed by a cherry tree we found on Bernal…

Taking advantage of our city’s beauty, walking around my neighborhood and the nearby hill (more photos of this recent walk at the bottom), but it’s all in a much larger context of a decaying society and its current political life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how ardently people are embracing the Obama campaign, what it means. I’m obviously unmoved by it, and find myself scratching my head in my quadrennial puzzlement at the urgency of people’s beliefs, their willingness to swallow all this vague rhetoric spooned up by a guy who is bought and paid for by the likes of Goldman Sachs and the Illinois coal industry. A guy who won’t rule out nuclear power! and yet is treated as the embodiment of major change… and to be sure, he is a highly symbolic form of change on the surface at least. If everyone’s secret wishes come true, he’ll actually be a pwogwessive once in office, sweeping aside the neocons in favor of a New Green Deal… it’ll still be capitalism, still dominated by corporations, but maybe, just maybe, a bit more humane, a partially restored social fabric and safety net, a creative approach to intractible problems like climate change, carmeggedon, drug wars, imperialism…

Oh, sorry! I got carried away. I think Goldman Sachs and Zbigniew Brzenzski and the many other major backers and advisers from the ruling class who are rallying around Obama may be the wing of capital who see the need for some real reform, after two terms of brazen looting and a foreign policy that has sent the U.S. plummeting over the cliff. The financial system is unravelling, the world market is in for a period of retrenchment, renewed nationalistic protectionism, and probably some kind of global rules on investment and capital flows… or at least, one might presume that’s what Obama promises the monied interests behind his blandly passionate and vaguely populist words…

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Hill Help for Bikes!

Having resumed bicycling my mood is much improved. The weather has been simply amazing too, plum and cherry trees are bursting into bloom all over the place, including in my back yard. I used to ride to the top of Twin Peaks every couple of weeks, sometimes more often, but now, with my hobbled sciatic nerve, I have to ride really slow, and the more I have to push against gravity, the more it hurts. So I’m not doing any sprints or climbs. By way of the SF Bike Coalition‘s regular email, I was pointed to this lovely video of a very simple cable bike lift in Trondheim, Norway… I had imagined a system of tow ropes and translucent bridges in my novel. But this is a beautiful fix for folks who want to cycle, but cannot deal with climbing steep hills. Check it out!

My neighborhood

Finally emerging from my month and a half hibernation with sciatica. I actually rode my bike to the Farmer’s Market today and then up to see Adriana’s new apartment in the Haight. Couldn’t ride the whole way, had to walk about 6 blocks at one point, just too much pressure on the sciatic nerve. But I didn’t do any damage and I made it back home after a few hours of convalescing in her really cool room with a big curving bay window looking west-northwest at Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle from Shrader and Page, top floor of the SE corner. About 5 days ago I had my first tentative walk around the neighborhood, making it about 16 blocks altogether. It still hurts but nothing like before, so I think I just have to work through it now… Anyway, it coincided with the first sunny day in weeks after relentless storms and rain. I took a bunch of photos. Here’s a nice shot of Mission Street with a very green Bernal Hts. in the background, and then a typical–but so lovely–produce market, which are abundant around here…

I felt so great just strolling around the area. I made my way to drop off a DVD, which took me past the abandoned gas station on Valencia and 23rd.

What is up with all the abandoned gas stations? One after another has been closing, getting replaced with condominiums, which I suppose is the fate for this large lot too. Obviously I don’t mind losing gas stations, but it seems strange that in a city that is gaining more population, generally affluent and car-owning, the gas stations are slowly closing. I was imagining (at least 20 years ago when I first noticed this trend) that it had something to do with the oil companies restricting availability to drive up the price… but all they needed for that was GW Bush and an invasion of Iraq (it went from $20/barrel in 2000 to $90+ now)… Not that I really care. I ride a bike or walk so the hell with the gas stations! But couldn’t we do better than an endless series of 4 and 5 story luxury condos going up on Valencia?

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