Thursday, April 06, 2006

Walking around the Haight is like visiting an outdoor wooden sculpture museum, the amazing Victorian houses with their unnecessary details, and the bright colored paint emphasizing the details that the detail makers would never have thought of using.

Lots of occasions now to see the headlines from East Coast papers right after the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Headlines like "San Francisco in Ruins." Yes. No. Much in ruins; much not.

All these gorgeous wooden Victorians didn't fall down, didn't burn, because the fire guys persisted, because dynamiting a firebreak worked, because the fire hydrant (now with bronze plaque) at 20th and Church worked. (And is ready to work again, hopefully never in the same circumstances.)

The fire hydrant is across 20th from the most uphill corner of Dolores Park. I hope I get a flower to put by it before April 18th, the anniversary of Paul Revere's ride (1775) and the San Francisco earthquake (1906).

My freedom to live like I live owes much to many.

Paul Revere's ride was 14 years before the Bill of Rights but part of the sequence that led to fairly strong support for saying what is thought. San Francisco still existing gives a city to live in with a physical climate, like the climate Greek philosophers had, that makes it is easy to think about things that aren't urgent right this minute. The Bill of Rights creates a civil climate and legal framework where it's relatively easy to say what thinking produces, if it seems like it might be of use.

Of course, the Bill of Rights also makes it possible to say many things not of use and even bad, which just means I have to use the privilege of this legal climate, this physical climate, these gorgeous views around every other corner that encourage optimism, to say stuff that is useful, somehow honoring the effort of those who stayed or came back to rebuild in the ashes and the many others in many ways who have chosen the path marked "Go on." To say stuff that might be ready for the crisis after next or even help a little to prevent the crisis after next so we can keep choosing wisely, for ourselves and the future "Go on."

--some sheet music the San Francisco main library has displayed helped me write this. It's about San Francisco rising like a phoenix from the ashes, and was written and sold before that had really happened. It's the kind of thing that might seem corny, but having all these pictures around of downtown San Francisco in ruins displayed on those same streets now, it's doesn't seem corny. It seems like thank you very much for defining the dream that happened also in the solid world.