Tag Archives: Bus

The Accidental Cupid on the 21-Hayes

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Good Evening:

It happens sometimes.

I become your Accidental Cupid.

In 1999, a friend of mine was directing a play and asked me if I knew any stage managers. At the time, I had a strong interest in an impeccably cute Italian-American young lady who was looking to start a career in the theater, and I wanted to impress her by getting her a job, so I recommended her to him.

They’re still happily married, complete with the house, two kids, and most important, the dog.

In 2000 or 2001, I needed a rough, tough, macho looking guy to play a rough, tough, macho looking guy role in a stage reading of a one-act play in development. Since I had performed in a cowboy comedy called Lariats of Fire with a bunch of rough, tough macho looking guys, I cast one of them in my one-act. One of the playwrights in the audience, a mousey-looking woman all of five feet tall with a pointed nose and eyeglasses with almost half-inch thick lenses, stared and I mean STARED at him during the entire reading, and when it ended, cornered and I mean CORNERED him, placing her right palm on the wall next to his left shoulder and her left palm on the wall next to his right.

She basically told him that he was her next boyfriend, and that relationship lasted over three years.

In 2005, another one-act play of mine received a world premiere in a major San Francisco Bay Area theater festival. I had in mind a young woman for the lead role of a blind aspiring cellist, not a woman in whom I had any particular romantic interest, but a woman whom I knew could beautifully deliver my extremely long “arias” (monologues for women over three minutes long) and who could perform with aplomb a role that kept her onstage for virtually the entire play. After a bit of a dispute, the director finally relented and cast her in the play, but he chose to give her the other female role. She did so well in that play that the director soon cast her in another play.

They’re still happily married.

I’m a rare Accidental Cupid, but I’m a good one.

So there I stood in a hopelessly overcrowded 21-Hayes bus at 5:05 p.m. last Friday afternoon, with a foreign couple, tourists, screaming at the bus driver because they were convinced he had no idea where he was going, while the bus driver screamed back at them that he lived in San Francisco all his life and knew d— well where he was going, while an elderly woman screamed at a 20-ish woman sitting on one of the seats reserved for the elderly and handicapped to stand up and let her sit, while the 20-ish woman screamed back at her that she had an injury, while a tall man in his seventies with silver hair and a walker screamed at everyone to get out of his way so he could get off the bus, when a very short young woman wearing a backpack thicker than herself boarded the bus, squeezed through a few people, and got twisted around in such a way that her backpack molested my butt.

I mean really molested my butt. I thought someone was grabbing me.

I turned around to confront the “person” grabbing my derriere, but to do that, a short young man with dark hair had to squeeze out of my way, causing him to stumble against a tall young man with dark hair fumbling with his sunglasses. The squeezing and stumbling caused him to drop his shades.

“Oh, f—, there goes $200.”

“I see them,” said the short young man, who bent over to pick them up, literally butting me into the backpack that had been butting into me. The short young woman who belonged to the backpack and I apologized to each other, and she miraculously found a seat that had become available. This gave me enough room to give the short young man enough room to fetch the tall young man’s sunglasses and return them to him, and yes, San Francisco bus riding is the only sport that combines ballet, hockey, mixed martial arts, and that puzzle where you have to manipulate fifteen square tiles on a sixteen square grid.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

The tall young man’s hand rested upon the short young man’s hand holding his shades.

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

The tall young man placed his sunglasses in his shirt pocket.

“Riding the bus is always so dramatic, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the short young man. “Who needs theater?”

They laughed, and I thought, well, I need theater, but never mind.

“You never know who you’ll run into.”

“More like bump into.”

“Or butt into.”

They laughed again.

The tall young man said, “So what’s your name?”

And I thought, I’ve done it again. Should have given them my card. You know, so they could invite me to the wedding.

Vonn Scott Bair

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The Full Moon at Dusk Over the San Francisco East Coast, 16 November 2013

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Good Evening:

I began today’s chores at 3:04 p.m., taking buses everywhere, starting with the 71-Noriega, followed by the 22-Fillmore, the 14-Mission, the 14-Mission Limited, 48-Quintara, 22-Fillmore again, and concluding with a return on the 71 and safely back home at 7:01 p.m. I even managed to visit all five stores I wanted. But dusk fell in between the 48 and the second 22 as I walked along 3rd Street.

And with the dusk, the full moon, nestled in the heart of The Belt of Venus.

Full Moon Over San Francisco's East Coast, 16 November 2013

Full Moon Over San Francisco’s East Coast, 16 November 2013

The Belt of Venus is the pinkish ring, sometimes with an orange tinge, that you see just over the misty horizon at dusk on cloudless (and fogless) evenings. Except these pictures turned out purple. Odd, but explainable.

Medium Zoom In of Full Moon, 16 November 2013

Medium Zoom In of Full Moon, 16 November 2013

I only had the point-and-shoot with me, and the Landscape Mode was failing badly to capture the scene. So I switched to the Dusk/Dawn Mode and captured a fairly crisply detailed Moon, but the Belt had turned purple, and the silvery-grey mist at the horizon had turned violet. It’s just the nature of my point-and-shoot.

Full Moon at Extreme Zoom In, 16 November 2013

Full Moon at Extreme Zoom In, 16 November 2013

Of course, purple happens to be my favorite color, so this became an attempt to take a weakness that might be unique to my old-ish camera and turn into something I like, namely, the incongruous conjunction of a very nice looking Moon with a brilliant purple background–and an industrial environment of poles and wires in the foreground.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Smart Dog (almost) on the 33-Stanyan

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Good Afternoon:

“Excuse me, ma’am, do you have a leash for your dog?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You have to keep your dog on a leash, even if it’s a service dog.”

The Muni bus operator driving the 33-Stanyan bus (the intersection of 16th & Guerrero, heading west) looked a little impatient; I think he was running behind schedule. He spoke to the 50-ish heavyset woman in tank top and Capri pants. She looked at him as if he was a bit off his rocker.

“I don’t have a dog.”

“Then who’s that?”

She turned around. Behind her, waiting on the steps, was an above-average-sized dog of unknown and unknowable parentage, caramel colored coat with a white belly, waiting patiently, waiting as if to pay the bus fair, waiting as if wondering what was causing the delay. The woman turned back to the driver.

“That’s not my dog.”

“Then what’s he doing following you?”

“Hey, there you are! That’s my dog!”

This was a 20-something woman on the sidewalk with short straight hair parted on one side and Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

“Hey, you, what are you doing? You can’t go on the bus, we still have a long walk home. Come on, come on!”

The young woman with the Ray-Bans ordered her dog off the bus and made it follow her down the street. The 50-ish woman and the bus driver looked at each other.

The driver said, “That dog didn’t want to walk no more. He wanted a ride home.”

She said, “One helluva smart dog.”

They laughed, and we moved on, cruising past the young woman and her tired furry friend.

Vonn Scott Bair

The 49er Fan on the 22-Fillmore, 21 January 2013

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Good Evening:

The lanky, 50-ish African-American with eight inch long dreadlocks boarded the back of the 22-Fillmore bus without paying his fare, but he stood about six foot four and was drunk and in a very good mood, so no one seemed to mind.

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“Are there some San Francisco 49er fans on this bus? I said, are there some 49er fans on this bus?!  You sir! You sir, can I ask you something?”

He addressed a 50-ish Caucasian man with a grey beard and two earbuds stuck firmly into his ears. Unable to ignore our loud 49er fan who literally stood over him, he removed one.

“Are you a 49er fan?!”

The man with the grey beard nodded and put the earbud back in.

“That’s what I thought! We are all 49er fans on this bus! See! You’re all smiling now!”

Not that I noticed.

“We’re all happy the 49ers are going back to the Super Bowl! And we’re going to win, baby! Yessirree Bob! The 49ers never lose the Super Bowl! We have won every time and we’re going to win again! What do you folks drink?  You sir! You sir, can I ask you something?”

He addressed Mr. Grey Beard again, who had two earbuds re-stuck firmly into his ears. Unable once again to ignore our loud 49er fan who literally stood over him, he removed one.

“What do you drink, sir?”

The man with the grey beard said something and put the earbud back in.

“Water? You drink water? You know what kind of water you drink? You drink 49er water! Yeah, you drink 49er water! The 49ers are going to be Super Bowl champions again! Yessiree Bob, we are going to the Super Bowl! New Orleans, are you ready? You better be because we are coming to win our sixth Super Bowl, baby! Look at all these big smiles around here.”

Not that I noticed, but never mind me.

The Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art, Blue Series

The Minimally Artistic Art of Instant Minimalist Art, Blue Series

“There better be big smiles because this is the 22-Fillmore! Know what that is? This is the 49er bus! Hey where are we? Where are we?!You sir! You sir, can I ask you something?”

He addressed Mr. Grey Beard again, who had two earbuds re-stuck firmly into his ears. Unable once again to ignore our loud 49er fan who literally stood over him, he removed one.

“What street did we just cross, sir?”

“Fell Street,” said the man, and he put the earbud back in.

“Fell Street?! No, this isn’t Fell Street, this is Fell-ty Niner Street! Heh, heh! Hear what I just did there? This is my stop, my stop, Mr. Bus Driver.  Go 49ers!”

The fan disembarked. At which point, for the first time, everyone on the bus finally smiled and told each other that yes, they were 49er fans. It’s funny–no one told the 49er fan.

Vonn Scott Bair

Snippets of San Franciscans Speaking on the 24-Divisadero

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Good Afternoon:

The man with the cell phone welded to his ear walked to the wrong spot at the wrong time–about 10 feet into the street near Castro & Market. But the driver of our 24-Divisadero bus (African-American, 50-ish, dreadlocks) had skills that equaled his alertness and swerved around Mr. Cell Phone, who had no idea that a bus almost as big as a Humpback Whale had to duck around him. One of my fellow passengers said, “Idiot has no idea we’re here, he’s stoned out of his mind. At least he’ll die in the right city.”

At which point two college-aged Caucasian girls, both with boots over blue jeans, one with a yellow sweater, the other with a yellow-and-white scarf, boarded the bus, Ms. Sweater checking the NFL scores (“Omigod, the Jets suck! Oh, no, my Saints lost!”), whilst Ms. Scarf tugged on Ms. Sweater’s arm and asked her, “Hey, that guy on the sidewalk, is he eating a banana?”

The bus driver, who possessed peripheral vision equal to his skills and alertness, said, “Ladies, that is not a banana.”

Ms. Scarf said, “Looks like a banana.”

“Not a banana, Miss.”

Ms. Sweater asked, “Is that a cookie?”

Ms. Scarf said, “Yeah, that’s a cookie.”

“Omigod, that’s a penis-shaped cookie.”

The young women stared at the cookie.

Ms. Scarf said, “I wonder if that comes in chocolate.”

To which I can only add, welcome to my town.

Vonn Scott Bair

I Do Not Understand Reality, 27 September 2012; Or, The Dueling Buskers at Castro & 18th Street

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Good Evening:

“San Francisco has five seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Hallowe’en and Autumn.” So I thought to myself at the 18th & Castro bus stop for the 24-Divisadero as a young man in a Catwoman costume (complete with falsies) walked past me. It’s that time of year in the city Herb Caen called Baghdad by the Bay. No doubt the gentleman had just returned from our annual Folsom Street Fair, our annual September celebration of decadence, debauchery, dominatrices and other forms of good clean wholesome fun for the entire family–the Addams Family. That part of reality I do understand.

Shy Busker on Haight Street with Digeridoos

I had spent that Sunday on Peralta Avenue–seen one metal-studded leather corset, seem ’em all–so I had chosen to miss the spanking, sadomasochism, sexual antics and other forms of good clean wholesome et cetera.

Now one thing music fans, activists, and pet lovers visiting San Francisco will enjoy knowing is that some of our finest buskers perform at the intersection of 18th and Castro. This is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the entire city, and charities, political activists, our local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and musicians will compete for space at the corner where a bank stands. A wide expanse of sidewalk wraps around the bank, and I have seen AIDS activists collecting donations, buskers playing acoustic guitar and singing, and the SPCA playing matchmaker for humans and kittens–all at the same time.

Packing up After the Show

On this particular early Sunday evening, a young woman of about 25-30 wearing what I will call attempted “neo-Bohemian/60’s hippie” clothing performed acoustic guitar and sang for passersby with the aid of a portable amplifier that was less than 18 inches tall. This woman combined a major fail in fashion with major successes in songwriting, singing and guitar, sounding like someone who had started with Tori Amos and Sara McLachlan but then found her own way. She earned a steady stream of dollars from the spectators, including a George Washington from your faithful blogger. I understand this part of reality.

Then the competition showed up. This part of reality I did not understand.

This was an African-American gentleman, slightly older, much bigger, wearing a black suit, white shirt, no necktie, with an electric guitar and a two-foot tall amplifier. He began to set up his equipment.

She said, “Hey, what are you doing?” even as she kept strumming.

He said, “This is my spot.”

She said, “Excuse me, this is not your spot, this is my spot.”

He said, “No, you are in my spot, you took my spot away from me.”

She said, “I got here first.”

He said, “I have been playing here for eight years!”

She said, “I have been playing here for ten years!”

He said, “I have been playing here for twelve!”

He plugged his guitar into the amplifier, turned everything on, and began to play without tuning his instrument–louder than the acoustic guitarist with the tiny amplifier.

She turned up her amplifier until it was louder than his big one.

He turned up his amplifier until it was louder than her little one.

However, she had one of those amplifiers that can “go to eleven,” and she went there.*

He stood there, dumbfounded, alternating between glaring at her and glaring at his larger but impotent amp.

During this dispute, a crowd gathered around the dueling musicians and watched. “Why don’t they just take turns performing?” “Why don’t they just perform together?” “They both sound so awful playing so loud.” “Why doesn’t the City do something about this?” “Like what?” “You know, regulate, set up a schedule or something.”

Here’s something I noticed: during this entire dispute, neither musician earned even a penny. I thought of that other duel I had witnessed at 16th and Mission.

My bus arrived and spirited me away from the cacophany.

Vonn Scott Bair

* Every music-themed blog post needs a good Spinal Tap reference.

Totally Rolex, Mushrooms and Jailbait on the 33-Stanyan, 3 September 2012

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Good Evening:

Three of them. Teenaged white boys, grey hoodies, baggy cargo pants low enough to show baggy underwear. One did most of the talking, the second tried to get in a few words knife-edgewise, and the third saw something on the ceiling of the 33-Stanyan bus that made him so happy it literally rendered him speechless, and all he could do was stare at it and grin in silence.

White & Blue Series #652: Rear of Orpheum Theater, San Francisco, California

First: …so when you’re totally dead, your Rolex is totally mine, dude, totally mine, I mean I want my number engraved on it so you’re f—— family knows it’s mine-

Second: But I’m not dead yet-

First: -totally just a matter of time-

Second: -I could live a long time-

First: -an’ way you live, long time could totally mean you live to maybe Christmas so make up your will, dude, and leave me the Rolex so I can totally remember you-

Second: -it’s a fake-

First: -totally don’ care, don’ care at all, soun’ like I care? I’m your friend, I get you mushrooms, best price in town, dude, 36 grams for two hundred bucks, that’s like a pound of ‘shrooms, you can’t e’en ge’ half pound for four hundred, can you, I know you can’t, you e’er ge’ half pound of mushrooms for four hundred? You can’t an’ you know you can’t, but you hear about K——-, the little b—- been after you? You know she’s got the hots for you?

Second: Yeah?

First: Stay away from her, dude, totally stay away, I dated her twice once and she’s like, she says she’s totally into me and I’m like, all right, then I hear that she’s fifteen, f—— fifteen years old, so I dropped her so fast-

Second: Don’t worry, I’m seventeen years old, so it’s OK for me-

White & Blue Series #653

First: But where can you get a half pound shrooms four hundred man, you can’t, you just can’t, but I can get 36 grams two hundred bucks, that all it cost me-

Second: I think mebbe sumpin’ wrong wi’ your math-

White & Blue Series #660

First: -so dude, totally give me the watch when you’re gone man-

At which point my stop arrived.

Vonn Scott Bair