I was cruisingaround here last night, soaking up the atmosphere. I felt like I was in America.Or old America. People are allowed to fall apart here out in the open. And ifthey want to pursue vice, then they can pursue it, though with some supervision,some threat of arrest, so there's not total chaos-I did see one cop car lastnight. And it all makes me realize how antiseptic Manhattan has become. I almostfeel like singing sadly for New York, like Simon & Garfunkel, "Where haveyou gone, you beautiful whores? Jonathan Ames turns his lonely eyes to you...woo...woo...woo"
So I hadcome out of my hotel last night around 12:30 and was walking up this streetcalled Eddy. I had taken off my tie, which I had been wearing earlier, and Idrew the collar of my coat around my neck so I'd look a little less muggable(a taxi driver told me you can get mugged in the Tenderloin) and at first Ididn't see anything. And then my eyes adjusted. Night vision so to speak. AndI realized there were women in the shadows of doorways, and men in tight jeansin alleys. There was a staticky streetlight glow and a cool breeze. It's likefall here in San Francisco. And the buildings, in this part of town, like mostof the town, are only a few stories high, so you can see the sky and you don'tfeel so tiny and diminished. And in the Tenderloin the buildings are kind ofcrumbly and need painting, so it gave me the feeling of being in an old city,a Western-frontier city, and it was nice to remember that America is not allspit and polish and phony-looking Plaza Hotel brass.