There’s no doubt about it (and I admit I’m biased) – SF is on the cusp of a lot of trends. Some I don’t know what to make of them, or even if it is a trend at all. Enter the poetry slam, they have been around for a long time, but SF takes it to a whole other level. I see them going on almost every day of the week from outdoor BART gatherings to specific topic poetry at upscale bars and even at my school. One that rocks my socks (I’m all about the rhymes today) would be the 16th and Mission gatherings on Thursday nights.
You really never now what you’re going to get. Last night’s was ridiculous – I was unsure whether I should laugh or cry. One thing is always certain…people cheer wildly whenever someone drops an f-bomb or finishes. Picture this: around 100 people gathered on the sidewalk at the BART station exit, some of them homeless, some of them hipsters, some of them possible Hispanic gang members…all of them drinking. There were moments of tension when a homeless, inebriated man looking for his daughter tried to take over the circle saying he would, “beat her ass when he found her.” A friendly game of roshambo decides the next performer and a flamboyantly gay yogi enters the circle talking about how “heart” was an anagram for “earth” and proceeded to say who knows what from there. (I think he was even more of a hippie than I am as I have never noticed that before.)
This gathering represents what I enjoy and despise about Man Franpsycho. It’s a city of tension and pain blended with beauty and love. 16th and Mission puts everything gross about the city right in my face: poverty, litter, stereotypes, alcohol abuse, drugs, and sometimes slight violence. Then a few minutes later the space fills with artistic expression, compassion, support, diversity, admiration, and yes sometimes even respect. The people who come to this group need to be heard and seen, everyone there gets to experience that whether or not they have a poem to perform. While I’m honored to provide that space for them, I could do without sitting on the gum-covered, filthy sidewalk.;)
Today I’m grateful for 4th of July, trips to L.A., and fresh produce.