[13 January 1998, Tuesday, ~12:45 pm] In deed, if not in word

English: Graffiti in the Tenderloin, San Francisco

English: Graffiti in the Tenderloin, San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Rodney’s teaching me something.  Spending nights out on the prowl with him, I am having to confront over and over the prejudices I hold.  His feud with his friend, Patrick, has reminded me that in some ways, I am unfortunately not as enlightened as I would pretend.  His friend, Patrick, would sterilize all rednecks, and — literally — put all beggars and bums to death.  Patrick’s boss, Michelle, the owner of the coffee shop where we congregate late into the night, “just” thinks they should ship all bums  away somewhere, though perhaps not kill them out right.


My views are neither so extreme, nor so dark.  I believe in principle that I should love everyone; Rodney actually seems to put this into practice.


Specifically, I’m thinking of the homeless souls we encounter while on our photographic jaunts together.


In my fear of the Other and of being taken advantage of, I project not love but a callous indifference.  Contrary to my principles, I negate their very humanity through my negligence.  I am, in other words, prejudiced in deed, if not in word.


While Rodney and I are out roving, I look to him to see how I should act.  After all, he knows these downtown streets of night better than I.  When street people approach us, which happens regularly everywhere we are, I look sideways at him for clues: is this one genuinely in need?  Is he helpless?  Is he full of shit?  Or are we in danger now?


It’s like being with Greg in San Francisco: I feel helpless, new-born.  That night with Greg, I ran, genuinely afraid, through the Tenderloin and back to the safety of Tapestry’s second floor apartment in the Haight.  Now, I am out for a leisurely “stroll around the block,” safe on deserted Memphis streets and back alleys, shielded from any real harm by Rodney’s spirit and idealism.


Je ne suis pas d’ici.



3/19/00 Notes on a California Dream:

A guy I talked to down at the radio station mentioned that small towns outside of L.A. and the immediate Bay Area are actually quite reasonable to live in.  He mentioned the Modesto, CA is a beautiful little town, though he did not mention the cost of living.  Also, he mentioned a little town called Atwater (or Atville?), which he said was about two hours north of San Francisco.  He said he had a friend who rents a decent apartment for about $400 a month.  He also said that the BART runs about 40 miles out of San Francisco, making a long commute a reasonable possibility, provided that I could find work in my area.