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tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

June 23, 2007

the second gayest street in san francisco – Polk Street

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The Flagpoles played a show last night at Space Gallery, for an art opening and on my way to Bob’s Donuts I spied this old timer speaking his mind. Polk Street was recently featured on My Robot here.

607stickers.jpg

let’s say that playing country music at a graffiti show was weird.

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those ovaries look like they were fun to draw.

May 24, 2007

streetwalker/car dater/transvestite

My old friend Mr. Ravioli gave me a stack of these police reports from the notorious Polk Gulch area of San Francisco. He found them cleaning out a garage. cardater.jpgThey were all from the 1970’s, a couple hundred of them, playing out prostitution busts in police speak.

September 15, 2009

bikesale


two gentleman came to look at my wares
Put an ad on Craigslist, which sometimes comes out as craigslit when I type and I checked but there isn’t a porn site there.

“These frames are pretty thrashed and are missing parts but you can take them both for one price – $30. I mean beaten, rode hard and put away more than damp. But there’s gotta be something positive there. Ready to made into a fixy, fixed gear, whatever you call it. Or let it coast. Come take them to your shop. I’m in the outer richmond of san francisco. The first picture I uploaded by accident. It’s a folding boat. I’m leaving it up so people know there’s a boat out there that folds up. ”
holdboat
from my CL ad
gitane
a real $15 bike on CL

There’s the ad. I got a whole cross section of a medical study on pack-rat mentality. I’m selling a bicycle for 15 dollars in 2009 and people ask how much a part is. Say, just the front wheel? How much for that?

“14.50” I answer.

“I might as well buy the whole thing,” they answer.

“I’d appreciate that,” I say.

Writing an ad on craigslist is like inviting a gypsy caravan to camp in your back yard, and when they ask if they can promote a circus act they’ve been performing, you say, “Sure!”.

I haven’t forgotten I’m weird, either. Don’t get me wrong. I moved out to the Richmond District because I wanted to really stand out. If you throw up on your shoes on Polk Street ten guys will drop down and try to lick it up. I can’t compete. So I moved out here where the streets are clean and empty so I might get a little respect as an eccentric.

The strangest thing is the people that come and look and look and look. They hold the bike up with one hand and lean back, trying to see it from the distance. Then they hoist it up by the seat and spin the back wheel to see how true it needs to become. They squeeze the brake lever time and time again, like a doctor who keeps hitting your knee as you sit cross legged on the edge of a medical table. They are fascinated by mechanical motion. A monkey who has discovered that a banging gong rings.

“I squeeze handle and rubber thing pinches wheel!” says a grunting customer.

“I knee balls and you bend over!” I say as I knock the man’s nutsack up into his taint.

The best thing is I know they are interested, but if I don’t go below $15 bucks they won’t bite. I have my bikes laid out directly in front of the bee hive’s flight path and it is getting on towards evening and they are coming back from the neighborhood flowerbeds. The Replies, as I shall call them, in that they replied to my ad, have their heads down and are trying to figure out how much money they can make off me. They walk away from an amazing deal because I won’t come down from $15 to $10.

“You allergic to bees?” I ask.

“No, I don’t think so,” replies the Reply.

“Good. Because you’re standing in front of a hive.”

The Reply straightens up and realizes bees are coming in from the east at eye level to the tune of twenty-five a minute. Others are milling around in lazy circles around his legs. A writhing mass of 200 are tangled up in each others warmth at the hive entrance seven feet away.

“Oh. I didn’t realize. How much for the seat post?”

“14.50”

May 2, 2007

flagpoles.jpg

The Flagpoles are playing tonight at the gallery space right next to Hemlock Tavern on Polk Street, the transvestite whore area of town. 9 pm. If I had a choice, I’d stay on the sidewalk and watch the action in the alleys. Alas, I play bass in The Flagpoles.

December 22, 2007

1207streetdog.jpg

Most people want to be successful. Respect is tied up in that. I’m getting older and haven’t been a success in business. I make money, pay my bills, but I never built a business up. When you live far from your family, sometimes you wish you were a big success out here so your parents could brag about you. When I was younger I left home and traveled the country. I was looking for a place to live and a way to make a living. I settled in a trailer in Woodside and watched an old man named Rusty Sunshine make money driving tractors and building fences. So that was that.

It’s a life without success. No celebration, just an occasional sense of accomplishment when the job gets done and not too many things went bad. But I still have daydreams about success. Success in the sense of making a lot of money. Which is why I drew that picture up there. Sometimes I get carried away by dreams of success and come up with a cockamamie plan – like this one where I borrow my neighbors gas grill and take it downtown to sell hot dogs for three bucks apiece.

I put a lot of thought into it. I’d go to Polk Gulch, the tip of the Tenderloin around 11 pm and serve the hungry drunks until after last call, when the cash would really roll in as impressionable dipsomaniacs caught a whiff of grilled onions and hot dogs as they stumbled out of the saloon hoping to sober up for the ride home. Easy money.

These backwards ideas have plagued me my whole life. Hatching get rich the hard way plans as I wash dishes in some degrading soup kitchen. Wondering why a smart guy like me bounces checks. Shouldn’t I have made it by now, I ask myself. Where do i keep going wrong?

We all feel like that I suppose, and it’s odd. But when you meet a character whose given up on success, or never really wanted it, that’s so darn refreshing. You can sense it right away, they aren’t judging you. They don’t judge themselves by those standards of success either. I think that’s the allure of Charles Bukowski’s persona. He didn’t care. He drank and wrote and went to work when he had to. But he was a success in the end. So the mythos isn’t quite accurate.

The slacker attitude back in the 90’s was another manifestation of anti-success. I’m not built that way. I’m always looking for ways to make money. Just this morning I was online looking for jobs in Iraq. I could go over there and drive a truck in the green zone and make $100,000 a year. On top of that, it’s a war zone. I could smuggle Afghani opium onto base and make another 100 grand. And all the looted artwork from Iraq’s museums is floating around out there to be picked up for a song…the corruption I could tap into with military equipment…give me a year over there and I’d be a success.

It’s either that or sell those hot dogs. That sounds fun too.

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