Art and Artists

In Homage to Maya Angelou.
(1928 - 2014)

This is my 5th and final submission to "One Day in San Francisco. Your Day. Your City. Your Future."

"Nearly North Beach" is a one minute pan of Jack Kerouac Alley, another obscure detail that defines San Francisco on April 26th, 2014. When I reviewed the 23 minutes of filage I captured that day, this one shot stood out as something special and begged for a poem that would reveal some of the history of this alley.

UPDATE May 28th, 2014: Sadly I learned this morning that poet Maya Angelou passed away. She was 86 years old. Among her many accolades and over 30 honorary degrees, one obscure detail that stands out, when she was just 16, she became the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. She was also a nightclub singer at The Purple Onion, a former North Beach club.

My poetry bit here pales in comparison to the great talents and venues that preceded. Here are some of the details of the history of the this 'hit or miss' corner:

Poets that either started here or passed through:
Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Neal Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Maya Angelou.

Former venues:
The Jazz Workshop, Basin Street West, Sugar Hill, The Hungry I, The Purple Onion, The Condor Club, Mabuhay Gardens, Finocchio's.

Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, Jim Nabors, Bob Newhart, Woody Allen, Phyllis Diller, Dick Gregory, Dick Cavett, Ronnie Schell, Richard Pryor, the Smothers Brothers, and Carol Doda.

Musicians then and now:

Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, John Lee Hooker, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, T-Bone Walker, Charlie Byrd, Erroll Garner, the Modern Jazz Quartet, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, The Kingston Trio, The Limeliters, Vince Guaraldi, Glenn Yarborough, We Five, Johnny Nitro, The Tommy Castro Band, Daniel Castro, The Delta Wires.

Camera, Editing, and Poem composed and performed by Phil Loarie

"Nearly North Beach"

This is the place.

This is the corner of Wanna Be and DoneThat,
The intersection of Stardom and Rejection,
Crossroads of Fame and Obscurity.

Yeah, this is the place.

Tosca, The Vesuvio Café, City Lights Bookstore, Club Fugazi, The Saloon.
The Dream is still dreaming.

Yeah, this is the place.

What was on the menu is now a mural on the outside wall.
Smoked Jazz mixed with blue’s riffs steamed with punk attitude grilling its own folk song,
…while strippers went topless, then bottomless until the law cracked down.

Yeah man, this is the place.

Copyright P. W. Loarie 2014


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