Jerry Garcia Street

Pub date June 15, 2013
SectionPixel Vision

This spring, me and the missus brought our kids up to the City from LA for the first time, via Big Sur, Monterey and Santa Cruz. It was our best family trip ever–wild turkeys and great hikes in the Sur, hanging on the boardwalk in Cruz and finally, SF. Stayed a few nights in Japantown, climbed Mt Tam, watched the fog envelope the Golden Gate–touristy stuff (I passed on the cable cars, however–they loved them).

Naturally, we had to show our children where we once lived and as we’d been up to Twin Peaks already, the Haight was nice and easy. Plus, I had to make a stop at Amoeba to consign some music.

Our old neighborhood has changed since the middle 90’s, but mostly in subtle ways. Still a bunch of panhandlers about (carrying banjos and ukes now as opposed to guitars), the wonderful Pork Store and the panhandle itself. The biggest change is the proliferation of parents–I don’t recall many strollers back in the Clinton era, but there was much pram pushing down Haight Street (sorry, Mick) all the same. Saw lots of that in SoMa parks, too–kiddie city.

When I was dropping off the discs at Amoeba, me and the counterman started jawing about the changes underway and he shocked me by saying that a great deal of the shop’s foot traffic was tourist based. People that came up to that neck of the woods solely for the history. And I got to thinking and I wondered–why is there almost nothing named after the area’s most famous export and certainly its magnet, John Jerome “Jerry” Garcia?

The Dead and their compatriots made this little corner of SF the most famous place in the world for a spell and yet very little commemorates the fact. That they carried on for 28 years past the “summer of love” spreading their loping groove around the world means that the rest of the world (a lot of it) comes to SF to try and absorb a little of that long gone good feeling. In other words, more tourism and more business.

I wonder, wouldn’t it be something if upper Haight Street–from Divisidero to the terminus at Golden Gate Park (I would say Cala Foods, but that too is gone) be renamed “Jerry Garcia Boulevard?” If Army Street can become Cesar Chavez, why not? 

And please spare me the incoming crapola about “honoring junkies”. Garcia’s personal habits have nothing to do with his work and the idea that he represented the “corruption of youth” gives someone that eschewed being a role model way too much power. 

There’s already a “Joey Ramone Place” in the Bowery in NYC. As there should be. It’s high time (no pun) that San Francisco did the same for the creator of its underground scene as well.