Air as putrid as an old man’s breath gushes into an intersection like one too many drinks explode onto the front seat of an inner city taxi. Warmth, far from the embrace of a loving hug, oozes around threadless sneakers and burns the hairs of a sniffling nose. A stray cat hisses as a hoarse cough ignites regrets of a last cigarette. A toothless escort swaggers around a corner, dropping hiccups like a rich man drops plastic and a graffiti yielding vandal adjusts his hood. Colors as elegant as the Getty’s frescoes and as expressive as the MOMA’s permanent collection lure you into a fecal dumped and urine soaked alley. Flies swarm as photos snap. Ideas drip off the walls in illegible swirls. Incoherent advice stumbles from the mouths of the homeless as the underbelly of San Francisco welcomes adventure with each warm fart, hoarse belch and belligerent ramble.
A Spanish speaking attendant met us at the entrance of an oily garage and assured us that our ride would be safe in his hands. His demeanor seemed as one who just wanted to log a full day of work before returning to his wife and kids. His voice was sharp and quiet. With luggage in hand, we avoided a wave of aimlessly staggering hobos and crossed the street where reservations for two nights awaited at the Hotel Bel Air. A man who resembled the many who loitered Jones Street unlocked the glass door with a toothless smile. We were led to the front desk where an Indian family took turns greeting guests and tenants. The father pointed at a hand written sign that read “cash only” as his wife and daughter watched television down the hall. A quick exchange took place similar to those which occurred out in the streets, followed by a tour up a spiraling staircase, down a smokey hallway and ending at room 215.
Our first full day in the city began with coffee on Market Street along with the growth of an unexpected crowd. Green t shirts and fake red beards grew like the contagious itch of an unwanted rash and high pitched whistles rattled windows. The crowd grew rapidly, bouncing with toddlers and roadside hobos. A marching band stomped in the distance and boozed leprechauns danced as the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade rolled down the closed street. A ruckus which once irritated due to confusion, now excited with festivities, but soon was overtaken by the nagging buzz of an approaching responsibility.
We were rushed away for an appointment at Club 6 on 6th. This street seemed to be an extension of the one our hotel was located on. Crackhead quarrels scratched at each corner and low brow dealers chatted into Metro PCS’. Police cars parked motionless as a potential arrest was always at arm’s length. Shady deals slipped through the cracks and mid day slumbers blocked the flow of traffic. Club 6, caked in colors on the exterior, opened up to a large room with blank walls and a napping bar. Each artists designated their chosen wall space with modest claims as canvases stacked. Hammers pounded and drills screwed as each work was hung, adjusted and eventually blinded by the blackening flip of a switch. Darkness consumed the club and the doors slammed shut. They would remain locked until the following night’s mayhem.
While most choose a vacation as a time to relax, our goal is to explore. We adventure into the thick of a location, probing the underbelly of our destination. How does a city work and who are the grunt workers that keep it afloat? Candy coating remains at the country clubs while the city’s personality is in the streets. We wandered through San Francisco, experiencing the moist alleys, exploring the Tenderloin and seeking the paths less traveled.
Click HERE to see Snyder Art @ Club 6
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