the painful details & thoughts on cable cars

as promised, here is the rest of my story. i won’t call it ‘part deux’ because it’s not really related to my previous post about flying cats and teaching my ‘driver’ how to drive my car.

before i go on, i have to tell you a little secret: IT’S RAINING HERE RIGHT NOW. having just moved from Seattle i felt that that weather report was somehow significant. i’m sure a day will come when i am in San Francisco when a rainfall will not seem so absurd. i know that it rains here, of course. but today marks my one week ‘anniversary’ arriving in this fair city and i was not expecting to see rain until, you know, November or something. so for all you haters out there (i’m mainly speaking to those in Seattle who, only upon receiving my text last weekend declaring that it was “80 degrees and sunny!,” replied to me with ‘f*** you’ or ‘i hate you’), well now that i think about it.. to all you haters out there, i’m sorry, ok? stop doing your wicked rain dances up there.. please ?

so i live very near to Chinatown on what is called Nob Hill. yes, i know. get your laughs out now, i’ll wait.. are you finished ? i’m more or less sidled up against chinatown, a bit north of union square (which is a major tourist and shopping hub), and only about a mile south of pier 39 which is the main fisherman’s wharf that tourists flock to like pigeons flock to bread crumbs. the best part about pier 39 is the seals. yes, barking seals on the docks. barking seals who are not even remotely afraid of people or crowds. i was down there last weekend for an airshow – it was fleet week in the city and the blue angels were in town and so on and so forth. the airshow was fabulous, but i still can’t stop thinking about all those barking seals. seriously. if you go to the fisherman’s wharf for any reason, may it be because of the barking seals.

Chinatown is fun and an interesting place to live next to. i’m merely a block away from the main drag of shops and dim sum restaurants (all of them claiming to be the best dim sum in the city). of course i’m well versed with Chinatowns (don’t forget i lived in New York City for four years), but i’ve never lived so close to one. what i do live right next to, nay, basically on is one of the cable car routes in the city. those cable cars with tourists falling out the sides. and apparently cable cars do not stop when going around corners (safety hazard, no ? at least it’s forcing me to turn my head left and right when i cross the street) and even once the cars have passed by the tracks continue to rattle and buzz. i was informed that this was merely mechanical, but i am under the impression that i will be electrocuted if i step on the tracks. so if you ever come to San Francisco and you happen to be in Chinatown riding a cable car and you see some girl with oversized granny glasses leaping through the air as she crosses the street and skillfully avoiding the tracks on the ground – that’s probably me. i guess being in Chinatown makes me somewhat of a minority, so i probably look like a tourist, so leaping over tracks on the ground may not seem as peculiar to the people around me as they sigh and likely think to themselves, “stupid tourist.”perhaps Chinatown was a good pick for me considering my understandable fear of cable car tracks. oh, and lest i forget my passion for Chinese food. i’ve taken the liberty of cutting myself off from such a delicacy except for twice a month when i will allow myself to fall victim to its msg marinated deliciousness.

and i’m not kidding when i say that tourists are falling out the sides of those cable cars. they sometimes appear, at least to me, to be holding on for their lives as these cars careen around turns and fly down hills. first of all, there are car-cars everywhere and i swear, a foot too far out of that cable car is liable of getting severed. it’s much like a ride in an amusement park that warns you to: ‘Ride At Your Own Risk.’ in fact, i’m not sure why they don’t have some warning label of the like on the side of these cars. however, it does make schlepping up and down some extremely steep hills (another very serious fear of mine: i will, one day, topple from the top of nob hill and not stop rolling until i reach the bottom) far more entertaining when you make bets in your own head, like i do, on who will fall out of that car first.

three less amusing observations about these cable cars: 1.) when perched at the top of the hill they are about to glide down – the tourists feel it necessary to scream (and yes, some even take it upon themselves to throw their hands in air) like one screams upon approaching a steep decent on a roller coaster. this gets really really annoying after about the third time you hear it. i’ve taken to glaring at passengers when they do this and imagining them without their feet. 2.) living on the route means we (my three roommates and i) are subjected to the DING DING DING-A-LING of the bells on these cars. i thought the dinging was random until i realized that it is actually all manual. some poor schmuck has to work on the back of those cars ringing a bell all day and he has to be creative, too. coming up with new and different ding-a-lings regularly. i admire his creativity and his gusto, it’s just a shame that sound travels so well and we hear this ringing all the time. which brings me to my third observation.. 3.) these cars never stop. for a city in which things tend to die down around 10pm, unless it is a weekend, you’d think this tourist activity would also die down. i mean, aren’t they all in their fancy hotels sleeping at 3:00am? if not, they are surely too drunk to even consider taking a cable car back to their hotel – that’s what cabs are for. cabs are for drunk people and the airport.  but these cable cars, they go around all night long ringing their damn bells. i had to invest in a pair of ear plugs and having lived in NYC for four years i thought i considered myself quite tolerant of all city sounds. in fact, i love city sounds. i didn’t even hate the drunk people who would randomly and rather regularly go around hitting my buzzer at all hours of the night when i lived in the east village.

but, i am not actually complaining. i am very happy here and it’s things like those cable cars that are only making this more of an amusing adventure and will, no doubt, provide me with a plethora of good stories to tell. i forgot how great living in a city can be and all the crazy people that you may think are homeless – are actually your neighbors. i’m not even being sarcastic, i find comfort in things like that.

[iPhone camera][google images]

jessi

p.s. using my iPhone of late for picture taking as my camera is still in Seattle. honestly ? i didn’t forget my camera. i purposefully left it behind because of the chaos in my car – i was terrified it’d be broken by the time i got down to California. i will be reunited with it very soon, though !

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6 Comments

Filed under design, illustration (both acrylic and oilt), photography

6 responses to “the painful details & thoughts on cable cars

  1. Eddie

    This is a damn funny post. Well written Kempin, well done.

  2. this is a fabulous post. i <3 san fran and wanna so congrats on making the move! oddly, the weather has been amazing here. i think god got it backwards this year and decided to make summer shit and fall gorgeous. at least it's making the transition to gloom a little easier. and also, thank you for making me appreciate my job just a little bit more. i'm glad i'm not a ding-a-linger :-)

    • hahaha thank you Jenny :) the city is really wonderful… it’s just fun.. perky like new york but not as stressful.. a nice in between me thinks.. and yeah per the ‘ding-a-lingers’ – i think i’d shoot myself in the face after one day on that job *eek* ! hope you are well … i read your blog, too. good stuff in there and very funny… keep it up !

  3. makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

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