Visit to Richmond BART station

Today I voyaged to Richmond BART! It was very exciting!

It’s an aboveground platform with a large concourse underneath. Amtrak also comes here! Right next to the BART platform, across a nicely landscaped garden with trees, the California Zephyr pulled up with tremendous clanging and excitement. You get to the Amtrak platform from the concourse level using a separate elevator. (I am already planning wild trips to Truckee, Fresno, and Elko, Nevada.)

A giant mural/sculpture by our old friend, William Mitchell, is in the concourse level. It’s bright greeny-blue and reddish orange, wild and glistening. It is supposed to evoke underwater sea life and also something Aztec, but it also made me think of shell mounds and of a giant lizard. You can get right up to it and feel its smooth, weird shapes.

Long sloping ramps and an elevator in a large distinctive red structure at the station’s east entrance. A bit like the prow of a ship. Orange California Poppies blooming in the sun.

To the east there were several little Mexican/Central American markets. You are not going to find a coffee shop or a latte within a couple miles of here but you can get good groceries. It reminded me of neighborhoods I grew up in, in Detroit.

Downtown is half a mile to the east, an easy scoot or walk. The Civic Center, which includes an auditorium, is big, spacious, deserted looking at 2pm, and very red-bricky; the library is pleasant. I browsed their shelves and found a good collection of Native American history and literature books. (Research for Transitory.) Lots that isn’t in the SFPL system. There is an elevator to the 2nd floor, to get to it, you have to get the nice librarians to let you behind their circulation desk.

And their Seed Lending Library is very good! I took a Cupcake Papaver somniferum poppy packet and some Golden Sweet Pea that has pretty flowers that you can eat. Best use of little card catalogue style drawers… intriguing to open and riffle through. I have some seeds in envelopes that I could bring to donate next time.

seed library drawers

ON the west side of the station there is an interesting nook or two, one with a terraced hanging garden and the other with a bench underneath three big murals of the history of Richmond, On the Right Track by Daniel Galvez and Jos Sances. I liked the murals themselves and underneath each one there was a bas relief sculpture of different trains throughout the region’s history including a Pullman car, one carrying the Bay Hippo, a car carrying a ship or a submarine, a fruit and veggie car, a car with a mariachi band and a jazz band, and finally an Amtrak and a BART car! It’s so adorable! I wish it were lower down so it would be easier for people to see all the details.

Check this out, the west entrance of the station. Looks like a spaceport doesn’t it?

richmond train station

To the west of the station, looked like a public housing project but a pretty nice one. Like, they tried to make it nice to be in. There were places to sit and this is also where you’ll find the convenience store most handy to the train station. There are some small colorful decorations along the walkway down Nevin street, iron railings kind of like the papel picado railings around the 16th and Mission BART stairwells. I didn’t go much further but sat and ate some chips in the sun. There was a big transit center here as well with very good maps showing places you could go on various buses. I was tempted to take the 72 bus to the Richmond Ferry (which in the library, I learned was the former Ellis Landing, built amidst huge Huchiun shellmounds. Next time maybe. Need to go back to that library and also try to make it to the Richmond Plunge and Wildcat Canyon.

ON the trip home I also would have liked to visit El Cerrito but the El Cerrito del Norte elevator is out until April 1. I was warned by several people that there is “nothing” to see in El Cerrito but I have my eye on the Ohlone Greenway and the wildflower park in the middle of it.

Almost forgot the “best” part, the quote on a big old display above the entrance to the BART concourse, sponsored by you know who:

Richmond – home of some of the country’s cleanest fuels, lubricating oils, and juicy steak-making propane.

Richmond, home of the most cringeworthy, tone-deaf, awkwardly phrased and most-containing-food-where-it-shouldn’t-be corporate slogans!

Index to all posts describing my BART station visits

Bus poetry

Very excited about this bus poetry project by Mc Allen:

“Some news: I have been given a poetry column in the @BayCity_Beacon. I will write a poem for _every_muni_route_ in San Francisco. If you followed #TotalMuni2018 or #SummerofMuni this will be up your alley.”

I’m so going to show up on Sunday on the sidewalk and check this out. And maybe bring my own Ode to the 14 and the 49 (it needs to be written!)

Anyway …. I just wanna be friends with all the bus poets. So much love!

The logo is so clever, too, it’s the gorgous, swoopy MUNI logo but reworked to get the letters POEM into the swirls!

Epic journey to the south

This morning I took the bus to BART, changed trains in Balboa Park (having a look around as I waited), onward to Millbrae, to Caltrain, then I had thought I was going to take light rail to the Mountainview office but the stop was eliminated in 2015 so I caught a small shuttle bus (happily, accessible.)

I took notes ecstatically on the weird concrete wall patterns (different in every station) and which ones were like deep canyons; the bronze statues in their narrative cement cocoons in Millbrae; which stations were above ground; and lots of notes today and last night about the Ramaytush and other Ohlone people of the areas I was traversing.

Interspersed with Ingress and Pokemon catching it made a pleasant ride. On Caltrain I was even able to work a little bit as it wasn’t crowded and just felt OK to do, while it would seem obnoxious to me on BART. So, in between all that I started the process of releasing Firefox 66 beta 10 and answering bugmail.

Happy hour with some nice people from the office on Castro street – then all the buses and trains in reverse order, this time whenever I wasn’t in tunnels, looking up the art and artists and architects of some of the stations.

Some random observations – the platform floor in Balboa Park is very smooth marble, pleasant to roll across. The Millbrae complex (largest intermodal station west of the Mississippi!) is beautiful if you take a step back from it and admire its soaring winglike structures of steel, glass, and fiberglass.

Also noted: There should be more high density housing on the Peninsula near the BART and Caltrain stations. Some high rise apartments will not ruin your lives, NIMBYs!!

Bus encounter of the day

I got on the bus just before a very old lady with a walker and a fancy hat, as the driver let the ramp down first and it makes more sense to park my chair before her walker, kind of shrugging and smiling a little and she nodded and smiled back. I am so relieved she isn’t annoyed. She is very beautiful, her skin drawn very fine over her high cheekbones. On the bus she asked me some questions about my chair. How much… What was the cause… She would like one maybe but feels she needs the exercise. She has a nice accent, faintly British sounding but African or Caribbean, I can’t tell. I talked about my free tai chi class at the senior center. Another lady got on with a very large wide walker and could not get past. “Mira….” she said, grabbing the first lady’s walker to fold it. “No, you can’t…” The walker was not foldable because the basket underneath was full of stuff including Michele Obama’s book. No, no, I’ll go back here (I slowly trundle further back on the luckily uncrowded bus) and turn around, then there’s room. The first lady didn’t want to scoot down a seat. So the one with the large walker was now able to go around and sit next to her. “What does that mean, Cowwwwwmoooca?” “….?” Comooooooca over there on that sign? I peer around the front of the bus. “Cumaica. I ummmm I don’t think that’s a spanish word it’s probably from some indian language like the name of a place. Maybe it’s Mayan? Or like, sounds more like an um, Taino or Arawak sort of language? I don’t know” THe spanish speaking lady nods when I sum this up as “una palabra de los indios?”. Well you can find out. Tell me what it means. “Ok… ok yeah I can look it up right now. (thumbing my phone) I love the internet. OK uhhh it’s definitely gonna be a place name. Yes! It’s a place in Nicaragua.” But what does it MEAN. I don’t know…. I’d have to dig a little more. Another lady gets on the bus, sparkly eyed, about my age, in a cute scarf. “Oh! You! You are so pretty. You look so familiar. You look beautiful, just like my mother!” “Well what a nice compliment. I like that. Thank you!” “Yes, you could be from my village. It is not really a village but it was. In Ethiopia. Where are your people from?” “I can’t really, we don’t really know a lot but actually I’m researching my geneology and making my family tree. ” “Well you can get the DNA” says the Ethiopian lady. “Yes I’ve been thinking about doing it. I’m going to do it. Did you know you can go to the place, in the East Bay they have a big place, the Mormons, and look up a lot of that history. I don’t know why the Mormons have it but they do.” I chime in. “It’s because they think everyone in their records goes to their heaven.” “They really think that?” “I guess so.” “Well…. huh. ” We all laugh at this.

The Spanish speaking lady with the big walker has to get off the bus. We prepare to do our do-si-do dance in reverse but the bus driver is angry. She is grabbing the Ethiopian lady’s walker but she’s holding onto it tight. “No! You don’t have to do that. She is going to move back there and then she is going around. ” MA’AM…. MA’AM… YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME says the grim bus driver lady. MA’AM YOU HAVE TO LISTEN. We are all arguing with the bus driver and trying to explain we have it under control. The bus driver wrestles the walker away from our dignified friend. “She took it. She didn’t have to do that. Well!” We all look at each other. The lady with the large walker gets off, ducking her head in apology at stirring up a problem. The bus driver gets back onto the bus with the walker. “YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME” she scolds. “YOU SEE HOW EASY THAT WAS? YOU SEE HOW EASY THAT COULD HAVE BEEN? YOU ALMOST GOT THAT LADY FALLING OVER. YOU CAN”T BE TRIPPING THAT OTHER LADY.” “That isn’t how it was, you see, we were going to move back and let her get off.” she said firmly. I spoke up as well and said, that’s how she got on, we just moved for her and it was fine! But, we shrugged and let the driver keep talking. She finally went back to take the wheel. Behind the partition out of her sight, I stick out my tongue like a child, playing to my sympathetic audience so we can get a laugh out of our sadness. “What are you going to do. The truth is the truth.” says our queen. “She has a hard job. But she could have had more respect,” I say. We all laugh kind of like we just did at the Mormons’ database of heaven.

“My mother would like you.” our friend resumed. “The place where my village, not really a village, it is a PROVINCE, well, it was good, and the people were so friendly and good. Well, now, you could not even buy a house, a place just the size of this, this front of the bus, just so little, is 300 thousand dollars! You can’t live there.” “Well…. Someone sure got rich off of that,” I say. “They did, and you know who got rich from it…. ” No… who? “The ones who came to power. They got rich.” We all are thinking on that as the lady my age who looks like the 90 year old Ethiopian lady’s mom gets off the bus waving to us. “I am going to the doctor. The new one isn’t as good, because, they aren’t by the ferry building, so I don’t get as nice of a lunch.” We discuss the pleasures of the Ferry building and then I have to go. Sometimes the ephemeral nature of these bus friendships gets to me. I think that I will have a good old age someday. There will be moments of indignity but also we will have solidarity and a good time.

Coding, swimming, biergarten, chocolate

A really nice day. I worked on my game nearly all day and the time just flew. I’m feeling deeply obsessed! Danny is obsessed with Lisp and Scheme so we are just quietly muttering to ourselves like toddlers doing parallel play.

Yatima took me swimming at the JCC and I did some real laps. First time in a long time too. It’s good going with someone else, it’s just more motivating and feels like nice social time rather than a boring lonely chore. The JCC is pretty nice, especially the locker room which has a sauna and steam room. I steamed, then saunaed. Sauna is my favorite, getting into a sort of dead horse pose with my legs going up the wall, feels great on my ankles.

Then Danny and I went off to Biergarten to hang out with friends and I let all the kids (maybe 8-11 year olds? ) try my powerchair and they were all taking turns zooming around (the bold ones) or cautiously spinning on speed 1 (the shyer ones) It’s fun to see how their faces light up and they are like OMG I’M DRIVING! I’M A ROBOT! WHEEEEE! at 4 miles an hour, which is pretty much how I feel in the chair as well. They were going around the little park there on Octavia and even took it over to get ice cream. Anyway, I thought it was super fun (always have) and it is sort of normalizing disability & mobility stuff and they’re not going to harm anything… they were reasonably cautious and didn’t run anyone over. Really… is there anything nicer than the feeling of indulging children, especially when it is a crowd of benevolent adults looking on all sharing that feeling.

Then Cory taught me a 1 minute physical therapy exercise to detach your nerve fibers from the fascia or something like that, sounds great, fucking bring it because my leg nerve is horrible. Fuck a fascia, fuck a leg nerve, fuck a sciatica, etc. Also every tendon. So we did a weird little leg kicking ankle flexing dance sitting on the picnic table with me going Ow! fuck! ow!!!!! and then notching down my flexing ambitions even for the 1 minute thing. I will be giving it a try (adding it to my pantheon of other one minute exercises which I can invoke while feeling restless or painful). Cannot tell if it just helped or if the buzzing feeling now is OMINOUS and means doom. Always hard to correlate but time will tell.

Home again to deeply contemplate how I can modify the “implicitly pass through other barriers rule” so that my wheelchairs and elevators in the game work together correctly. Danny is in the process of maybe realizing that using gnu stow may do what he was about to write in Lisp. He sounds a little sad about this.

On the bus on the way home I was chatting with a guy in the front of the bus with me (also in a powerchair) and we were like both eyeing each others gear. He and his friend were from Ireland. Then he was like do you like chocolate? Being kind of high (I wasn’t while I was at the bar, but then, figured why not make the bus ride more tolerable…Vape in my pocket…. what the heck) I was like “Oh ummm well yeah, why, is my face covered in ice cream because I was actually just eating chocolate ice cream”. No it was not but he gave me a fancy chocolate bar from Dandelion. As pickup lines go this is a pretty good one and I did not know how to refuse the badass chocolate bar. I mean. Also, he complimented my sexy wheels and told me to share the chocolate with someone I love and I was like Um like maybe my husband who is sitting right there LOL. Now I have this awesome chocolate and we need to be friends but I was too stoned to do anything clever like exchange social media names or whatever, instead, staring at the chocolate bar like a doofus and mumbling. The end!

Oh but one more thing. This flyer from yesterday’ event for Public Domain Day at the Internet Archive, of things created in 1923 newly (re)entering the public domain. It’s a nicely printed large yellow poster or broadsheet by queer.archive.work, with a photo of a sculpture by Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, with a poem by Jean Toomer handwritten over it:

Within this black hive to-night
There swarm a million bees;
Bees passing in and out the moon,
Bees escaping out the moon,
Bees returning through the moon,
Silver bees intently buzzing,
Silver honey dripping from the swarm of bees
Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb,
And I, a drone,
Lying on my back,
Lipping honey,
Getting drunk with that silver honey,
Wish that I might fly out past the moon
And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.

I have that book somewhere. It’s a good one!

The circle of life on the bus

So I was waiting for the 51A bus in the rain in the dark with some other folks and was super happy when the bus pulled up and it was near empty and the driver let down the ramp without any weirdness or fuss. There was another guy in the front of the bus sitting on the other side. The bus driver got out some big old straps. I thanked her and said I would rather not, and didn’t need them. She said she would have to call her supervisor because it was policy that she had to restrain my wheelchair, or I would have to get off the bus. She was nice about it and I just kind of nodded like, OK…. and said I had been riding buses in wheelchairs for many years and go ahead and call.

The guy across started yelling at me during this exchange, from almost the first moment, that I was a bitch, an asshole, a cocksucker, a goddamned bitch and he hopes I die young.

At that point I stared back at him and said it was too late for that since I’m already 50. (OK, well, 49 and a half.) The driver told him to shut up a few times and told him he should not call me out of my name. By that time we had driven off because her supervisor told her to tell me that, should I be injured because of not being restrained on the bus, they could not assume any liability. Thanks. OK. I agree! We drove down Broadway towards downtown.

Then the guy said someone should kill me. Staring right into my eyes he said “I’ll kill you myself you bitch!” Driver finally told him to shut up or she would make him get off but that just made him madder. At some point he started just mouthing or whispering his threats while flipping me off.

I felt very glad I was not strapped to the bus while I was a couple of feet away from this horrible man.

Was I married? He bet I was not. I’m too nasty! Too much of a bitch! He’s been married 4 times! He was in Vietnam! Also, he’ll kill me! I need to die! BITCH!!! You’re a BITCH!

It was amazing how much venom he got into the word “Bitch”!!!!

Let’s take a moment to quote the beautiful words of the immortal JOREEN,

Bitches must form together in a movement to deal with their problems in a political manner. They must organize for their own liberation as all women must organize for theirs. We must be strong, we must be militant, we must be dangerous. We must realize that Bitch is Beautiful and that we have nothing to lose. Nothing whatsoever.

Thank you Joreen!!! You give me strength!

At one point I said, You know what, we all have the right to ride this public bus, me, everyone, and you too even though you’re a sad and crazy old guy yelling at me, you get to ride the bus. That’s it. I was shaking with rage and fear but that’s what I said!

So that went on for a little while and I mostly didn’t say anything more, and I kept my camera on and pointed at him in case things heated up and my other hand on my folded up cane that I was half sitting on, which is quite sharp on the folded ends, carbon fiber edges, and which honestly I was ready to drive into a motherfucker’s throat if he came at me, and then he got off the bus while humbly thanking the bus driver and apologizing to her and everyone else on the bus FOR WHAT A BITCH I WAS SORRY TO EVERYONE EXCEPT HER THAT BITCH and now he was gonna go to Grocery Outlet. Bitch.

Wild!

Then, like, all the women on the bus came up to me and patted me and were sweet and concerned to check in that I was ok and say they were so sorry I had to go through that. And stuff. They were very nice but I was so mad I found it hard to talk any more. I actually thought then, Oh, they were more scared than I was. Until he got off. Huh.

My BART ride and extra bus ride home were peaceful. I then twittered cathartically about my experience all the way home, at some point realizing I should put on headphones and listen to the loudest possible riot grrrl and punk music. Thank you 7 Year Bitch, L7, Tribe 8, Crashprez, The Soviettes, MDC, Black Flag, and J Church. Very healing to the soul.

So, I am still super mad, and I so wished I could yell at that guy (more than the little bit of pissy backtalk that slipped out from me in the moment ) And also I had the thought that actually he did cross a line legally and it was all recorded on the bus camera which is easily obtainable through FOIA request. Like, he did threaten me and stuff but… Actually I just wanted to go home and recognized that my truly obscene amounts of privilege did not need to be whipped out just here. I disagreed with how the bus driver handled it but also figured that she probably saw this guy every day and she had a notion of whether he was really going to be violent or not. And I still had a part of me that didn’t want to agitate to kick an old guy out in the drizzling rain any more than I didn’t want to get off the bus myself and wait another 25 minutes for the next one. Anyway so I did not escalate and didn’t ask the bus driver to kick him off. She really was super calm and chill about the whole thing and I admire de-escalating in general. But, she could have – should have maybe – protected me a little more, I think. I’m going to be thinking about how I could have tried to set a boundary myself with the guy that I would have felt better with than what I went with which was “me shutting up while he yelled insults at me”.

I’m not so fragile! I’m mnot going to like, be fucked up that some asshole yelled at me! Assholes have been yelling at me on buses since I was 10 years old! They called me a faggot and a bitch and spit in my face and I cherish the memory of some guy who told me on Facebook 35 years later that he cherishes the memory of tiny 11 year old me double flipping off everyone on the bus clutching my bookbag to my chest and screaming shrilly, “FUCK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!” I cherish my fierceness! I am a little badass inside! I don’t like being yelled at! It freaks me the fuck out! I would never tolerate it in my everyday life, not for a moment from anyone at all! Obviously, I’m fucking bothered or I wouldn’t be writing this hours later. But you know what….. WHATEVER. You know what is the best fierceness – it is maintaining your vulnerability. I don’t have to not be bothered, it is right to be upset, inside, it lets me defend my vulnerable self, which I assert to the world.

Anyway, I got off the bus pretty near my house and went across the street to see if this guy who lives on the corner was there because, he got all his stuff stolen again, and I got him some warm things but the shoes the VA gave him were two sizes too small, he took them because, half way on they kept his feet warmer and drier. He has a wheelchair but cannot push himself in it very well as his hands are also messed up but he gets along pretty ok. Whatever I asked him his shoe size the other day and realized it is the same size as my brother in law, and i was at him and my sister’s house all today, so I had these shoes to give him. He was happy about the shoes but he was also drinking and a bit messed up. I realized suddenly that between the bus stop and his niche on the corner I had seen a blanket and some bags and a backpack. Bob do you have your backpack. Was that your backpack over there on the other block? Oh no does it have an american flag on it? I went to see. Yes…. so… I brought him all his stuff. I think it just fell off the back of his chair as he was going along and he was too messed up to notice. No one had even gone through it. He kissed my hand drunkenly and invited me to sit with him. I went home but felt like so much more human because I took all the meanness and transmuted it into kindness and being decent to other people which is literally JUST WHAT HAS TO BE DONE. What is to be done? Do the work in front of you and be decent about it people. Like I said on the twitters Kindness is punk as fuck, and this bitch will bring you a boot party where it’s a present of boots that fit your feet and keep them warm and dry. Motherfucker, you will take these social services and this transformative justice and this example of nontoxic masculinity, OR ELSE. P.S. Fuck you, asshole!

How weird is it that I went from hating on one old guy to helping out another one. It is really true, that helping someone out is something to be grateful for, because they trusted you enough to let you do it.

I’d like to thank this cat, this nice loud riot grrrl music, this feminist manifesto from the year I was born, this soothing mint tea, and this excellent marijuana for the massive improvement of my evening.

Also my nice spouse who spent all weekend and all day since 5am trying to like save Europe from Article 13 and Article 11 and thus save the entire fucking Internet. And then who brought me the soothing mint tea.

The rest of the day was super nice, I spent it working while my sister worked on her stuff, and we showed each other physical therapy exercises and had tacos. When I stopped working I got to show my nephew how to write a little Inform7 and then I left him playing Zork.

Good night all.

24th St Mission BART station report

Starting my BART station report series with my home station, 24th St Mission. Sometimes the St is spelled out so it’s 24th Street Mission, and sometimes it’s abbreviated in station signs. You can get some overview of the neighborhood on the Calle 24 Historic District site in English and Spanish. Get ready to ramble! I’m going to just write everything that comes into my mind from my notes, memories, and researches. I hope that you will enjoy reading it and then will see this (or some other train station or place in your city) with a new perspective.

Though I can go the half mile from my house to the station under my own power, this time I got there on the bus, debouching directly in front of a bench where a guy with a 49ers jacket was sitting holding a bug-eyed chihuahua on his lap, passing by him to scoot into Taqueria El Farolito since the line was very short.

El Farolito has a narrow corridor along the kitchen where you order and wait, and small picnic tables along the wall. I can make it in there in my powerchair to order, turn around by the jukebox after I order, and make it back out, but there is nowhere my wheelchair can fit for me to sit and eat inside. No big deal. As is usual in SF taquerias you get a number and lurk around the counter listening for your number. Bonus if you understand numbers in Spanish. I got a carnitas super burrito with everything and a mexican coke to go, which comes with a little bag of chips and some napkins, in a plastic bag with handles. The handles are so useful and important for hanging the bag on the arm of my wheelchair. Mexican coke is nicer and tastier than US coke because it uses cane syrup instead of corn syrup and it comes in a pretty glass bottle.

If you can see over the counter as you wait (I cannot in this particular location) then please admire the efficiency of the burrito-makers and study their workflow. It is instructive to compare the workflow of different taquerias, for stunning speed, La Taqueria; for complexity (sometimes as many as 14 people behind the narrow counter) Pancho Villa. Keep in mind that THESE BURRITOS ARE LOVE. You are going to be nurtured by your delicious and amazing burrito. Appreciate it properly.

At some point over the years I wondered what possible connection there was between burritos and lighthouses (Faro = lighthouse in Spanish and in many romance languages from the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos). I think it is from the “home of the Mission burrito” being Febronio Ontiveros‘ El Faro taqueria. So maybe El Farolito is an offshoot of the original El Faro at 20th and Folsom.

As I was waiting two mariachis came in, one with accordion, another with guitar and an amp on a hand truck. They set up and started playing in the back of the tiny narrow restaurant. I got my own salsa in containers and headed out to eat in the BART plaza. I shared one of the square cement bench blocks with a friendly tamale lady and a couple who were discussing their plans for the day in Spanish; staying in my comfy powerchair but using the bench corner for my coke bottle and bag of chips and also putting my feet up on there from time to time. One bench over, I noticed the Raccoon Guy (a white haired and bearded grizzled older man who has hung out in this plaza for years but recently achieved viral fame for bringing a dead raccoon into the nearby McDonald‘s.) From this we can deduce that 24th and Mission is a pretty good raccoon habitat, barring accidents.

orquestra de 24

OK so this plaza, the one on the Northeast corner. I am pretty familiar with it and it is one of my favorite hangouts, sort of refreshing and beautiful to me in a special way. Yes I realize sometimes it smells like pee. Try to bear with me. When it doesn’t smell too much like pee, it’s so nice! Lively, full of action, so much to look at, excellent food for the flaneur’s soul! On weekends there are often loud preachers or a band of old dudes playing mostly Cuban music. If I get there for the music then I hang out for a few songs and put some money in their donation bin. It is a lovely scene on a sunny day with families stopping to watch, people dancing, the tall washingtonia palms far overhead against a blue sky. Even without those very organized musicians, there are frequently other musicians playing in the plaza or coming up from the BART stairwell, and music coming from someone’s portable speaker or cars or the market in the southwest plaza that’s catty-corner across the street. The buses fwoosh and beep, the distinctive train car sound swells up from underground, Norteño or salsa music comes and goes, lots of Spanish and Chinese spoken all around. It is a lively soundscape that I absolutely love.

Facing north from this plaza, you’ll see a mural on the wall of El Farolito. This is by Michael V. Rios and shows a geometric cityscape, and some determined, rather grim people shouldering train rails with a shining metal BART train riding on top. It has a nice socialist realist feel to it, as it honors the workers who built and maintain the city’s infrastructure. The gleaming futuristic train is carried on the backs of the people! Maybe the people who built it or the people who paid for it with their taxes!

Facing west, past the stairwell, there is a giant mural on the side of the Silverstone cafe in addition to the super funky and cool coffee and tea sign of Silverstone. Sorry I don’t know much about the mural and forgot to take pictures but it says something like “SOCKS” on it. More later if I go investigate, or find info about this mural online. The Silverstone Cafe itself is quite nice, and has wifi and – I didn’t know till this week’s exploration – A pretty nice patio in back! And good, low priced, (large) pastries and breakfast and sandwich type of food. The interior is beautiful with a giant wooden… bar back or mantelpiece sort of thing. Because of the TV I didn’t try to work from this cafe, though I might in future. (Instead I ended up a few blocks down 24th, at Haus, which also has a lovely patio and an accessible bathroom.) If you go that direction you could also stop by Precita Eyes and learn more about the neighborhood’s murals.

I didn’t hang out today at the southwest plaza but can say it has a pleasant street market with booth selling jewelry, souvenirs, shopping bags, belts, phone cases and chargers, headphones, shirts (often ones embroidered huipil style) and ponchos (wool). There are also sometimes flower sellers and a booth for vitamin type of things, phone plan sales. Sometimes events in the far corner under the Coffee & Mission mural like, breakdancers or rappers. This mural is on Osage St. and is by Mark Bode, Mel Waters, Dino, Nite Owl, Dagon, and Free. You may notice Mel Waters‘ distinctive style in like, a zillion other murals all over the Misson and the rest of the Bay Area. There is a big metal ventilation tower here that, in Ingress and Pokémon, is a portal named Lipstick Tube after the shape of the tower. The way the plaza is shaped in the back by the stairwell entrance makes a pretty good stage for any sort of street events. There is also a dark green kiosk-style public bathroom in this plaza. I have never used it, opting to buy a coffee or something instead to use a bathroom!

Did you ever notice the “two totemic posts” of this plaza? I hadn’t. Hang onto your hats as I want to paste in a hefty quote from the designers.

The two totemic posts in the foreground were placed to formalize a stage area already used as such by the community. Otherwise, most vertical elements were removed to open up the plaza.

The plaza was originally designed along with the underground station in 1970. The basic configuration is an open plaza paved in a concentric brick pattern that radiates out from a large circular opening in the center. The opening comprises the main station entrance, containing a stair and escalator column with recessed semicircular planters on either side.

The circular opening offered the design team a powerful theme. The circle form not only ties together design elements throughout the plaza but attempt to also communicate universal notions. The circle is an ancient form used by many civilizations. It was universal and almost always represented the sun and thence fecundity, society and important values.

Eliminating the security fencing revealed the existing great circle—being able to enter and emerge from such a shape is an unusual experience even in a famous city. The cylindrical tower (necessary to protect the existing spiral stair) acts as a beacon for the station and recalls an ancient Maya astronomical observatory. It has a south-facing skylight through which the sun illuminates colored portholes. Emerging from the circle passengers will catch a glimpse of colored sunlight—but the light will not again appear in the same spot for an entire year. Of identical shape to the tower are shiny bollards (necessary to prevent vehicle intrusion from the alley) that are positioned in various angles to reflect sunlight at different strengths when seen from a distance. Throughout the plaza can be found variations on the theme of circles, light and totems.

Nifty! (What spiral stair?! Is that what the Lipstick Tube is?! I assumed it was for ventilation!)

Back to our BART station. I did not get even halfway through the burrito. I can live off a burrito for like, three meals at LEAST. While I was sitting there a mad-eyed disheveled dude asked me and everyone nearby for change. He eventually settled down elsewhere in the plaza. Being accosted for money is likely but just take it in stride. If you like to help people you might keep some dollar bills in a pocket ready to dole out (that’s what I do) and know how to set limits on the interaction, and how to say no. It may make you uncomfortable though especially at night. Personally I feel perfectly comfortable here day and night as it is very public and well lit with tons of people around. Anyway, I sat through many buses pulling up, people walking by, tamale lady calling out her wares (tamales de pollo, de carne!) and selling some from her ice chest on wheels. She’s super nice, I see her there a lot.

I waited for the elevator with a sweet family who had been shopping (grandma, mom, and teenage daughter with her backpack worn frontways across her stomach). Three dudes were just nearby playing very loud Cuban music (excellent taste) and cat calling us (Ay mamacita!!! que estás bonitaaaaaaaa!!!!) But not like hostile cat calling, basically a . . . non-hostile routine social interaction. I looked over at them and nodded, breaking all the rules of such things, being a sucker for good music and since their piropos weren’t gross or anything. But me and the older women also side-eyed each other in mixed annoyance and amusement and then when we got in the elevator kind of burst out laughing.

The elevator had the horrible smell of pee and industrial cleaning fluid. I always kind of long to tackle the gross walls of this elevator where someone tried to write, or paint, and then it was ineptly and incompletely sprayed with cleaner, so there are horrible drips going down the wall and it looks filthier than if they had just left the graffiti alone. There are also times when there’s… food smeared on the wall? I dunno! The thing with the smell is, the pee must run down through the mechanism of the door to the elevator well below, and just fester there for years. There need to be more bathrooms, open all hours, though, I think the Pit Stop bathrooms do help and in recent years the stench has been ameliorated to some extent.

The elevator from the northeast plaza lets you out in a sketchy feeling nook in the north corner of the concourse. The stairwell there (and, same on the other side) has 2 stairways and an escalator, with abstract concrete bas reliefs by the English sculptor William George Mitchell. If you get up close to the walls you can feel the rough (even sharp) corrugations which are the background to the broad smooth planes of the cement geometric shapes. I wonder if they give the Mission stairwells some of their nice acoustic properties. There are often musicians in them, and while I explored on this day there was an excellent guitarist, Ángel Rodriguez from Banda Sin Nombre, in one stairwell and then later in the day, a saxophonist in the other.

The concourse has a beautiful arched design that makes me think of 70s futuristic things, or maybe particular airports, with the concrete arches overhead soaring like an airplane hangar, and more interesting corrugation in between creating a fairly beautiful line. If you don’t look up, or look at the shape of the buttresses of the arches, you are missing out. The lighting is also really not bad for an underground area. If you do have a look at the ceilings you may also notice a lot of anti-pigeon spikes. (Ow!) Speaking of ow, as a small accessibility note I would say there is an archway pillar between the north stairwell and the entry ticket points where, the slope of it as you might be coming out of the ticket area is such that for a blind cane user, it would be easy to run your head right into the underhang of the arch. Same goes for the pillar by the southwest stairwell as you come out of the ticket area there and turn right – headbonking opportunity. That could be prevented by a small guard rail in both areas.

There’s a ticket entrance by the elevator and the northeast stairwell, and another on the south side of the station, by the agent booth. This south entrance is where the wheelchair and stroller accessible entry and exit point is. In some other stations, the elevator to the platform is outside the pay entry cage so you have to specially remember to reach over the barrier to tag yourself out (even though you’re already out!) Once you’re in the paid area, there are 3 stairwells from south to north; the first is an escalator coming up from the platform, and some bike racks. At the far north end of the paid area you’ll find the elevator to the platform (call button on the left). Like most elevators in the system this one has buttons marked C for Concourse and P for platform.

Platform 1 has the northbound trains, Platform 2 has the southbound. If you traverse the length of the platform you will see the 3 stairwells; the furthest one from the elevator is the escalator going up. In between the escalator and the middle stairwell are some big block style cement benches, and between the second stairwell and the 3rd, there’s a big map and schedule. The median walls (on the stairwells) are tiled with brown, orange, gold, yellow tiles with an occasional black one, which I think of as a kind of nice Painted Desert effect or like the backgrounds for Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. There are mysterious little rooms in these areas too with numbered doors (as there also are on the concourse). I expect these will factor into my BART text adventure game in some way. On the walls to either side of the platform tunnel you can see the same buttress looking cement things as you see above in the concourse. Between those, there’s plain beige tiles and a space for ads.

So, I’m going to return to my game-writing now! This isn’t an exhaustive Guide To Things To Do near 24th and Mission station, though, I do recommend you get a great burrito and admire the murals while you’re here. There is also excellent grocery shopping at many small latin american stores, a middle eastern grocery around 26th, bookstores nearby down 24th and on Valencia and 20th, and several import stores with a standard selection of things like cheap suitcases, backpacks, socks, SF souvenirs, jeans, trinkets, and I don’t know what all else as it’s been a while since I was able to fit through their aisles!

By the way…. tomorrow is the 18th Annual No-Pants Bart Ride Day! Are leggings cheating? I get cold!

Index to all posts describing my BART station visits

I need this new project like I need another blog entry

That is not at all, and VERY MUCH THANKS!!!!!11!!

New project idea, combine BART riding project with my Inform7 obsession and make a ridiculous BART simulator text adventure. I have got a single train line working by lifting it from the examples in documentation. It’s so satisfying!

Not sure how accurate I’m going to get though I could imagine putting a whole day’s schedule into this. The Red Line comes first since I tend to be aiming for it to visit my sister. I’m so amused — already you can get into the Richmond northbound train, then wait, then it pulls out of the 24th St. Mission station. Wait or look again and it pulls into Civic Center! Bwahahahaha! I’m dying here.

I’m going to make each station and make the player play a wheelchair user and ride in the elevators full of pee, because I’m evil.

A small travel plan for the year

One of my plans for this year is to ride BART to every stop. I’ve always wanted to do this but have not felt energetic enough to do it! I’ll plan out my excursions beforehand, marking cafes with wifi and nice lunch spots near the stations if they exist. Then I can haul myself out there for an afternoon and work from a cafe, getting to know the entire Bay Area more intimately & scouting for future excursions!

BART map

It would be nice to do this with the ferry, too.

I’ll get VERY ridiculously excited about going to Antioch, or Union City! And I’ll report back with the results of my travels!

Do you examine places on maps and mark down spots you’d like to visit? I had a great virtual tour of Sicily’s north coast near Messina (Villa Terrafranca, Bauso, and Serro) where some of my ancestors lived, walking along the village streets and the waterfront in Street View.

Whenever I’m going to a new part of town just within San Francisco I have a look on the map as well, to mark anything that might be interesting and study the accessible MUNI stops & best routes to go there and back.

Like Des Esseintes’ journey sometimes this map-journey is all I get. The real journey never happens and I am reasonably content with the imaginary one! If it does, then the imaginary journey deepens the enjoyment of the real journey. I learned something about this from how, when I was a little kid in Detroit in the 70s, my dad would write away to parks and chambers of commerce, get back a lot of maps and brochures, and we’d learn stuff about the history and geology of a place before we went.

Along with this knowledge is a sort of errand geography, so that I have buckets of errands to be done and if I’m going to a particular place I’ll know “And while I’m there I should do everything that needs doing in a hardware store since there’s one right next to the BART stop”. Very handy when you don’t drive (much) and have limited energy.

In which I rant about a minorly negative random encounter

Don’t be this weird hostile bus stop lady….

I was going to the bus stop yesterday, on a wide sidewalk on Mission, and I passed a couple who were standing by the bus stop bench about to sit down. I was hugging the wall by the pizza place and nail shop and about to turn to wait for the bus just a little ways down from the bus bench. So, I was something like 8-10 feet away from the couple.

The woman looked up as I passed and said “OH!!! Sorry!!!! I didn’t see you!” and kind of mimed as if she were getting out of my way. This was weird, since she wasn’t in my way, I wasn’t in her way, and there was nothing indicating that I was about to be anywhere near them.

“Uh…” I said, super coherently. “Well, I saw you, so, ok.”

Then I waited for the bus without anything further happening but I could see her weird discomfort. She was still bothered. She kept looking at me and kind of acting agitated. Her “Sorry!” was actually not a sorry but was more like a hostile accusation as if I had done something wrong and actually I was supposed to apologize.

This happens all the time (basically a microaggression). Like what happens when someone exaggeratedly holds a door open for me, and I don’t want them to, and I have to ask them to move out of the way because they think they’re holding the door open but they are literally blocking my path through the doorway and I don’t want to run them over. Or even if i can get by, I don’t want to put my face in their armpit.

People doing this kind of thing aren’t helping — they get angry if you don’t respond “correctly”, and then it becomes clear that they started out angry with their bogus offer of help. They are full of resentment and are uncomfortable with my presence and they want me to behave in a way that is apologizing for my presence.

Once you’ve experienced this multiple times a day every day, as you are just minding your own business, you will know what I mean.

And, actually, I’m not always so proud, I often act in a placating manner to make other people comfortable, especially in a crowd, while waiting in line, on the bus, and so on, because honestly it just makes thing easier. For example I normally feel like I am “supposed to” thank the bus driver at least 6 times while getting on and off the damn bus, once at every stage of the interaction like, they see me and start to lower the ramp or lift, they then offer help of various kinds or do stuff, or they give me unneeded (bad) advice or warnings, and I have to acknowledge it and I try to be polite. Probably, y’all get on and off a bus with maybe one “thanks” if you exit at the front but that is not my experience.

So, back to our story.

Time passes. I sit at the front of the bus playing Pokémon, and everything is remarkably peaceful for a middle of the day ride on the 49 bus. The driver remembers I’m there and also, I remembered to push the “ramp please” button well ahead of time and there is only one guy in front of me who is kind of trapped and has to get off the bus to let me off by the ramp, but the driver still yelled at the top of her lungs, “WHEELCHAIR COMING OFF WATCH YOUR FEET I SAID WHEEEEEEEEELCHAIR COMING OFF” I thanked the driver and said have a nice day. While the yelling is often unnecessary and unpleasant it does get the job done. The thing is I can say “excuse me” or “con permiso” myself to the people who I need to get by who are usually looking right at me anyway and can tell I am intending to get off the bus and can see perfectly well what needs to happen.

OK so, now I’m off the bus and it’s an even wider sidewalk than on Mission where I started. The sidewalk is at least 15 feet across. I suddenly realize that same couple who were at the bus stop with me had gotten off at the back of the bus and were on the sidewalk, again near the curb while I was on the far right side of the sidewalk by the buildings. The woman fidgeted around (not sure how to describe this – but it’s like someone doing a lot of “pay attention to me!” body language like they are about to speak to you – as if awkwardly trying to get the attention of a waiter including being frustrated at not already having that attention). And she did a little laugh and said “Oh!!!! I’ll TRY not to get in your WAY this time!!” and mimed “getting out of my way” again even though I was nowhere near her and not aimed anywhere near her.

It was so irritating!

I said “You weren’t in my way before and you’re not in my way now” and stared at her with what was probably the rudest face possible of incredulousness as if a cartoon though balloon that said “You’re an idiot” was floating over my head.

“Gaaaaah! I was JUST JOKING!” she said huffily…. making a little scoffing noise. Her husband stood there looking awkward and probably wishing he could sink into the ground with embarrassment.

I did not behave with the proper level of humility for this beeyatch to accept my presence on the public sidewalk!

I beetled uphill at a goodly clip, my maximum 5 miles per hour, wishing I were a goddamn rocketship to get away from this rude person even faster!

Lady… Let me just be clear…. Madam Fussypants, stick-up-your-butt, REI-clothing-wearing-probably-a-unitarian-white-lady-who-loves-calling-the-cops lady from my neighborhood…..I can snap judge you too! (Thusly.) I dunno what your deal is but you want me to perform some sort of role here for you that I am unwilling to perform!

I am notorious for chatting in a friendly way with total strangers on the street but she was such a jerkface that instead she got my “fuck off” attitude and nearly got me to stop dead in my tracks and pop off in an enormous harangue that would not have helped her obvious feeling of discomfort with my MERE PRESENCE IN THE PUBLIC WORLD.

Whatever demon she is wrestling with, whatever fear of disability…. I wish she would go deal with it in therapy and stop letting it hang out all over the sidewalk. I can’t be the only wheelchair user she ever sees in this town especially if she takes the goddamn 49 bus! What is her problem!

As my mom would say… Some people just need a good slap!

OK, so, all of y’all, don’t do this shit, it’s ridiculous!

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.