Monday, May 25, 2009

San Francisco and Ferlinghetti

San Francisco was the first stop on our recent two-week trip to the West Coast, most of which was spent in various National Parks and Monuments. J and I stayed a couple nights in the modest but neat and centrally located Mosser Hotel, just off Market St. a few blocks south of Union Square. One memorable, bright morning we walked along the bay from Fort Mason and the Marina over to the Golden Gate Bridge. Then we hiked onto the bridge out to the first tower for a stunning view of the Bay, Alcatraz, and the city's skyline.

During our walk to Union Square, up Grant St., and onto Columbus Ave. toward Fisherman's Wharf, we stopped at City Lights Bookstore, one of my four favorites (the others being Gotham Books in New York, Prairie Light Books in Iowa City, and Powell's Books in Portland). Upstairs in the poetry section, I ran into Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the store's founder, the city's poet laureate, pal of the beats, and a relentless campaigner for the arts--and for the integrity of San Francisco itself. I bought his book, San Francisco Poems, and had him sign it. He sat at a table for a brief chat as sounds from a jazz combo in Kerouac Alley wafted through the window. He wore his trademark scruffy beard and a baseball cap.
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