Sunday 26 March 2006 11:08AM
I went out on an early morning photo shoot in North Beach this morning to catch a few images of "The Aftermath". For those who are familiar with these parts, you may know that North Beach has two very distinct faces. There is "The Village" and there are "The Invaders". Spend any amount of time here and you will come across both. Some are obvious, others are not. Some are friendly, others are not. But when you stir them all together, you get the flavor of this neighborhood, like it or not.
Personally I love North Beach.
A world of her own within this fair city, she lies in the shadow of a great modern pyramid.
Like a white collar monument pointing the way to her blue collar roots that push through to this day.
To visit, to ride this roller coaster thick with emotion, beauty, and irony. Inspiration.
Raked over by anger, pain and lust, her sensitive heart unbroken by rust.
The gritty surface disguises the ebbs and wounds and tides of history that shape her spirit.
Some love and find comfort in her.
Others have lost their minds or their own souls to her.
She is trashed and abused yet every morning she rises boldly from the ashes.
Unapologetically, she greets a new San Francisco day.
Her beauty and history often overlooked, by those known only as The Invaders.
While fading ghosts of the Beat drift along with poems so sweet.
And repackaged Victorians line her streets as wooden soldiers, flame defeats.
Still her elegant churches, so proud and so tall, remind me of times past and present, and call:
Warning of futures so dim or so dull.
Or promise of beautiful life's cup so full.
Behind the barred windows of her soul, confused tears, so joyful;
like heavy drops of crystal sadness, frequent fighting fits of madness.
In her find a white wedding rose, no sooner a menacing dark pistol nose.
Or ringing with echoes of children whose dances, fills schoolyards or blacktop like pews at Saint Francis.
For a baptism, christening, wailing procession.
Her narrow alleys play host these: to winos, invaders, pushers and thieves.
Find artists, poets, and movie stars.
They ride Bentleys, bikes and Alfa Romeo.
Tongues of each corner light up the stroll along her crowded streets so full.
While sirens and horns shatter the day and splinter the night; Broadway glow beckoning, lusty light.
And the violent hand pushes insanity onto so many who roam her halls.
In rent controlled homes that few could afford.
While homeless locals reside in the Square, groping and moaning, you know someone's there.
Rubbing shoulders, millionaires. They all have a song, a riddle, a sign.
Live music pours from her bars and pubs that run a dime a dozen.
Police patrol her streets with armor 'til the early morning hours.
Cabs are gone and hired hoses rise with the sun to wash the glass and mess from her edges into her Cracks and drains and faded stories never told, as another day unfolds.
The tourists, their cameras and the diesel roar.
The clicking of electric coaches and the remnants of the Aftermath is all that is left to remind me.
Another North Beach night is always just a few hours away.
"The Preacher and Friends" - Upper Grant Avenue, San Francisco Sunday Morning
"Rossi Supermarket - No Answer" - North Beach, San Francisco Sunday Morning
"The Garden of Eden" - On Broadway, Sunday Morning
"Paul, Caffe Trieste" - Upper Grant Avenue, San Francisco Sunday Morning