If you read the New York Times this morning, and even if you don’t, the Democrats have a plan. (You have to have been a Democrat for a long time to sense the implicit irony.) They are running a highly diverse slate of candidates, more brown, black and yellow people than any time in history. And, of course, they are hoping to win. This is madness, but it may be inspired madness.
I say this having just returned from Cup, my neighborhood café. Note that I have one. Café society has always been my goal. Of course, I imagine this society to be cliché Bohemian, indolent intellectuals debating matters breathlessly and pointlessly. But enjoyably. Forget it. Cup is run by a Nicaraguan family. And for me that is its attraction. The family part, for starters. The owners treat the neighborhood like family, which now after a certain duration, includes me.
Just this morning I was talking to our local parking enforcement guy. Manny is his name. Actually, I know nothing more about him, except that he occasionally turns up at Cup. And in full disclosure, I only learned his name this morning. Because I asked what it was. And offered mine. I am, let us say, somewhat reserved in my neighborhood persona. But I’m trying to get over it. After all, I wanted to live in a neighborhood. And Mr. Rogers is gone, so I had better find my own.
Anyway, Manny and I chatted about traffic enforcement around the Giants Stadium. And if this sounds like a boring topic, you’re wrong. Turns out that drunken baseball fans, and there do not appear to be any other sort, stream out of the stadium. And on nights when they face defeat, these people are in a rather ugly mood.
This is no surprise to any sports fan. But missing the sports gene entirely, it is simply something that hadn’t occurred to me. In a way, I know more about what the British call “soccer hooligans” than I know about Giants fans. Anyway, if you are in traffic enforcement, the situation is in Manny’s terms, lethal. The baseball crowd hops in their cars, after being hopped up in the stands, and then commence to drive into each other. Apparently, drunken fender benders occur all over the place.
At this point I chimed in, expressing genuine surprise at the underuse of public transit. No, Manny assured me, plenty of people are heading home on Caltrain, BART, San Francisco Muni and so on. Just not enough. If you haven’t been in San Francisco recently, it’s hard to imagine what booming technology companies and burgeoning wealth have done to the former South of Market area.
The area is currently under construction. High-rises are rising. Subways are subbing. Among the former is the Salesforce Tower, an almost 70-story behemoth. Which I hope will not utterly blight the city with glass-and-steel architectural pollution. And as for the subway, that is being built for SF Muni’s light rail, this city’s first new transit tunnel in decades. All of which is not entirely a digression, for this explains why drivers dodging closed lanes here and barricades there, try to make their inebriated way out of the ballpark neighborhood toward the freeway and, instead, find each other. Actually find each other’s bumpers. Not to mention the odd pedestrian. Just in case you want to know.
And what I didn’t know until my cappuccino and avocado toast were both consumed and I tried to pay my bill – was that Manny had already paid for my breakfast. This brings public service to a new level. As does my definition of café society.