It’s a common conception that whatever you say, whatever secret you divulge, or oddball behavior you reveal around a writer, it will inevitably wind up in a story. I admit that bits and pieces of many interactions, encounters and observations have worked themselves into my stories. That’s what inspiration is. A kernel of something concrete or ineffable that finds a home in your mind and flourishes—often into something new.
Inspiration pops up where you least expect it. Plenty of times no people are involved. You can find it underfoot, high up on buildings, and splashed exuberantly on walls. You just have to keep your eyes open.
splashed on walls
Please let there be a space, Jessica prayed to the parking gods while turning the BMW coupe onto busy California Street, in the heart of the city’s financial district.
Transamerica Pyramid angles upward
intricate wrought iron on California Street
Corinthian columns of capitalism
Penny burst out of Jessica’s office where she had been hiding. She fought through the crush, waving coupons. “People! I’ve got vouchers for a cable car ride and free hot fudge sundaes at Ghirardelli Square. Any takers?”
where chocolate fantasies come true
2 spoons and side of guilt
Award-dinner beauty prep was about to take up the rest of Jessica’s afternoon. She wolfed down a few chocolate truffles from a massive box sent by an appreciative client, then blew out of the office to Rincon Spa.
A former post office now a mall maintains its modern details
Chelsea sat on a planter in front of a brick office complex … She was about to leave when she saw a harried woman emerge from a building, face glued to her phone. She moved to intercept her.
Levi Strauss Plaza: where denim is king
originally Frederick Griffing’s wharf
She rang the buzzer, then looked up at the industrial façade. It seemed like a fitting abode for him: masculine, formidable. Why haven’t I been here before?
Old school marketing for music shows and events is alive and well in the Mission District. Many flyers and posters are typically glossy and slick, but the hand-drawn ones have a low-fi, punk charm. Come upon a vertical surface— telephone poles, construction barriers, boarded-up storefronts—it’ll likely be covered with notices. During my political activist Berkeley days, groups of us would go “sniping.” We’d affix campaign posters and rally flyers everywhere with a staple gun. We had an efficient system: one would hold up the flyer the other would staple it with the gun. We’d arrange them in grids for maximum visual effect.
There was this unwritten rule that you’d never tear down other people’s stuff—that’d be uncool (unless they were Republican campaign posters—we rationalized they were doing it to us Dems). So we’d only cover up the ones that were out-of-date. Now that practice seems so quaint and idealistic given that these days competition for consumers’ attention is so fierce. But that’s not what’s happening as evidenced by the layers upon layers of flyers in these photos. It’s nice to know that the “rules of the flyer” still apply.
Penny rounded up a crew of skateboard rats and bike messengers and enlisted them to plaster every telephone pole and construction site barrier with Hayden Korr Band posters.
Oh, how the café experience has changed. Before café-goers turned them into their personal workspaces, they used to do all sorts of activities rather than staring into their laptops or phones: like striking up random conversations with strangers, reading a book or just plain old daydreaming. At Farley’s coffeehouse in Potrero Hill, there were sketchbooks. All were welcome to write or draw whatever they liked in them. During a recent visit my friend Ken pointed out dozens of these books still on the shelf above the boardgames. (Patrons used to play those, too.) Many dated back about twenty years. The drawings inside were personal, funny, crude and artistic. It’s pretty apparent social media has become the destination for all these emotions and creativity. If you’re ever in Farley’s be sure to check them out. They’re filled with all sorts of eclectic treasures.
Krusty Krab: found in the street
Outside, the views along 18th Street are just as inspiring.
Outside Farley’s, under the Gratitude Tree
shabby buggy chic
view down the hill
view from the hill