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Monday, July 28, 2008

Positively Haight Street

"You know, I went to Haight-Ashbury, expecting it to be this brilliant place, and it was just full of horrible, spotty, dropout kids on drugs. It certainly showed me what was really happening in the drug culture. It wasn’t what was I thought of all these groovy people having spiritual awakenings and being artistic. It was like the Bowery, it was like alcoholism, it was like any addiction. " ~ George Harrison

Yesterday I took myself for a walk down Haight Street (which is easy to do since it's the closest neighborhood to mine).
The Haight alternately amuses and confounds me. I find it interesting and totally clichéd, wild and disgusting and freaky and totally San Franciscan.
I think it's probably that the myth of the Summer of Love and the hype has created the Haight more than anything else, but I thought you'd like to accompany me on my little tour...
An appreciation for Hindu gods, Free Tibet, multiple piercings, facial tattoos, and alternative anything is de rigueur. Either that, or you'll be one of the myriad of tourists clutching maps, wearing shorts, wondering why it's so damn cold and why is everything so dirty.
Vintage hippy hat above. Vintage stores abound here, and their items are not inexpensive, either.
There are lots of street kids begging for money. It's a different crowd than the regular homeless people you see all over town. Lots of these kids look like suburban runaways, maybe here on some drug-fueled adventure.
This is a place where capitalism is adored (get yer tie-dye and bongs here!), but all economic and philosophical persuasions are tolerated.
The mural on the side of the Anarchist Bookstore reads: History remembers two kinds of people-- those who murder and those who fight back.
This fella was setting out brightly colored flags for the Participarade. He invited me to walk with the parade to Golden Gate Park. But I was too busy taking photos, so I just thanked him.
Murals and colors abound.
Just walking. And sitting.
I love the architecture here.
It is possible to get a contact high just by walking down the street. (That's incense, obviously.)

Need I say more?


Ta-da. The end of the walk.

Here's the song that started it all:

More Haight photos here.


Liz July 28, 2008 at 12:44 PM  

I have much the same feelings about the Haight, and yet there is something whimsically, quite sweet about it too, and yes, the contact high, very very possible.

AND I love those 2 houses at the end of your post, always love walking by them to see the colours...

TK July 28, 2008 at 12:59 PM  

Great pictures!

I lived in and near the Haight, off and on, for about 9 years. I agree with you that a lot of the Haight homeless seem to be runaway kids with drug problems who are drawn by the peace 'n love reputation and stay for the cheap meth.

Still, not a bad neighborhood at all, all things considered.

Anonymous July 28, 2008 at 1:27 PM  

Positively GROOVY, TB!

Love 1192 Haight photo. And I didn't realize The Haight had a La Boca section.

Christina July 28, 2008 at 7:59 PM  

Eh naw- is dat Robert Nesta Marley me spottin on da blog here? Ok, that was an impression of my grandfather but I am excited about that pic the most.

Thank you for the tour.

tangobaby July 28, 2008 at 10:34 PM  

Hi Liz,

You know, I totally agree with you. Even though the hippyness of it is commercialized, there's still an innocence about the place. I end up on Haight Street a lot.

Those houses are probably the most colorful, but there are some good runners up. I keep looking for more.

Hi tk,

Thank you for your comment, and welcome to my blog. I really like coming here for walks. The Haight never ceases to interest me, above all else. And then there is Amoeba Records, which is probably why I am poor.

Hi Johanna,

Isn't that a great address thingy? (I'm not sure exactly what you call it.) I've seen some architectural details that I've not noticed elsewhere in the city, and of course the colors in this part of town are not to be beat.

La Boca! lol. I have not yet been to that taqueria yet, but the sign enough makes me want to stop in for a tamale.

Eh naw me girl Christina,

Yah, dat be de famous Bob Marley. Long live da man.

How did I do? Man, I would have loved to have had a chat with your grandpa. I bet he was a cool one!


julochka July 29, 2008 at 7:38 AM  

great pix! i love those pink shoes!

robin-bird July 29, 2008 at 9:18 AM  

what a great group of captures! i hadn't realized how much of this new Haight depends upon the days past for it's identity. i think that's kind of sad. my fav photos in this group are of the signs, especially anarchist bookstore and the final sidewalk wisdom. you surely had fun clicking away i know that!

robin-bird July 29, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

p.s. the birds on the edge is the very best! love the partial name captured.

studio wellspring July 29, 2008 at 9:34 AM  

excellent photo tour ~ you actually made haight street look way better than it actually is.... you brought out its best. which is a very nice thing for a photographer to do. sorry to disagree with you, but i don't think there's anything innocent or sweet about that hood ~ the crowds of self righteous hippies begging for everything or pushing you outta their very important paths, the continual wafts of incense & ganja & urine.... if it weren't for the great shops & bars & cafes i'd never go there.

d i a n a m u s e July 29, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

Dearest TBaby:

What a post!! And what a time it was. You've taken me on the kind of nostalgia tour that actually hurts. I feel kind of weak in the knees right now.

The summer of '67 was such an amazing moment in SF - I was a kid then, but probably all the more impressionable because of my age. And The Haight experience - in its purest we-can-really-change-the-world-through-spiritual-awakening-age-of-aquarius sense - was, sadly, so transitory. The sensory memories I have of Haight-Ashbury (and the entire city) are indelible. I haven't visited since the 90s - H-A was certainly recognizable, but the vibe and essence of the 60s was completely absent. You can't recreate something like that. Now, I guess it's kind of a souvenir version of its former self.

And Scott McKenzie? You're killin' me. I can't thank you enough.

Christie @ fig & cherry July 30, 2008 at 3:41 AM  

Absolutely LOVE the yellow and blue buildings! Nothing like that in my neighbourhood, boo hoo. I think a plane trip is in order!

Vanessa July 30, 2008 at 8:03 AM  

Amazing photos. I feel like an old soul from the Flower Power generation. And if any of that is true, then surely I must have roamed those streets at one point!

tangobaby July 30, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

Hi Julochka,

I know...aren't those pink shoes a hoot? I think it's the cool fake grass that makes the display extra fun.

Hi robin-bird,

The Haight's appeal to tourists hinges almost entirely on its hippie past. You can buy tie-dye everything here, it's the equivalent of the Alcatraz striped stuff down by Pier 39. I love those little birdies, too. What do you think they are? I am guessing they are babies still?

The Haight is a place where I'll always be taking photos. There's so much to look at.

Hi Ms. Wellspring,

I think you and The Boy are on the same page about the Haight. He makes a beeline for Cha Cha Cha and Amoeba and that's it.

I don't know why, but I really do like the Haight. I always end up there somehow.

Hi dianamuse,

Your comment gave me the biggest boost and smile. Thank you! I'm glad to know that the Haight had some grain of that spirit at it's core. I'm glad you shared that experience with us because you made it more real for me and everyone else here.

LOL about the Scott MacKenzie vid. Isn't youtube the best?

Hi Christie,

A plane ticket has been in order for you for a while now. I'll trade you cooking lessons for tours and photos!

Hi Vanessa,

You and me both. I was born a little too late for this time travel tour, but somehow I can still relate. You, too?

paris parfait August 1, 2008 at 11:41 AM  

Thanks for the fabulous photographic tour, since I didn't have time to get there this trip (although Jordana did and you can bet shopping was involved). :) xoxox

tangobaby August 1, 2008 at 4:39 PM  

Hi paris parfait,

Please tell Jordanna to let me know how she scored on her little field trip to the Haight. I thought of her (and you, of course) while I was on my photo excursion.

Next time, we'll go together.


labrysinthe December 22, 2008 at 9:26 PM  

Hiya, just surfed on by. I'm an American living in Berlin, Germany and am visiting my parents in SF. Was in the Haight today. Compliments on your excellent photos. :)