Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Haight and The Bridge

I never got to drive up and down San Fran’s crazy angles. I just had to wander. Haight Ashbury’s Victorian mansions were colourfully fun. They line the streets of a district of America where anarchist bookshops make ambitious claim to a tradition of left beam radicalism one might struggle to find elsewhere.

I missed one of the walking tours promising to take me to the sight of 67’s famous ‘Be In’, but enjoyed the armchairs in the consciously chilled cafes, smelt the Mary Jane from the joints of the disheveled, and felt, somehow, the glimmer of the past, collective, experimental event. But its essence was dispelled by 68, so I learnt, not long after it began, routed by the commodifiable consequences of its success. Stick a label and a category on something and the shadow will fall. This we know.

A little later I took a walk from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge. Supposing California’s sun would be no match for Kuwait’s, I wasn’t expecting my face to get burnt as I lay down in green grass for a rest along my way.

Since its construction in the 1930s, over a thousand people have leapt to their deaths from the iconic Bay- spanning landmark. There’s a film called ‘The Bridge’ all about it. Debate mounts over what can be done, whether or not fencing it off, which would no doubt happen in Europe, would too drastically interfere with civil liberties and views of the Bay (which are wondrous). Meanwhile, emergency telephones offer avenues for indecision, and bold, macabre signs, conceivably encouraging as much as discouraging in their effects, read ‘the consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic’.

Personally, peering over at the succulent, soft, shimmering curls of the water beneath, I didn’t think that was obvious at all, but maybe I’ve seen too many movie stars launching themselves from gallant heights.

I wonder, with respect, if any of those who died were just wanting a swim and fancied their skills as a diver.

2 comments:

elberry said...

There is something rather appealing about using a bridge to kill yourself. It has a certain elegance, i suppose because your broken body isn't left squidged on the pavement but is carried away by the water, Ophelia-like.

Alexandra said...

It is said that most people who decided to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge jumped facing the city. This is the side that most people walk on. In my opinion these people are just trying to reach out really hard to the society, even for the last time in their lives. Very tragic.