Folsom Street Fare

folsom-street-fare-no-border

Monday

Too damn early, and Alex, your trusty driver, is once again back in the office at ‘ol Citizen’s Cab.

I grab my girl’s key and 3:45 medallion from the pegboard myself – Prius #26, as Tony is busy by the register sliding another key and medallion under the bullet-proof glass, through the metal tray, to some newbie driver who’s standing outside the window. I guess dude doesn’t yet know to, or feel comfortable with, coming back into the office to pay respects to The Don, in person.

I do admit, that sometimes I, myself, am just too out of it and/or anti-social to go back and shoot the breeze with the dispatcher du jour and all the assembled drivers there – with exchanges of updates on the kids, and the invariable manly, blue collar one-offs. (Howz it hangin’?)

But still, it strikes me as rude. (For me, at least.) After six years with this crew, they are family, however fleeting our interactions, and after however many names lost to snap (or no) introduction.

Dude at the window slips a ten under the tray. Tony grabs it and then turns to address me, as stuffing his bribe into the Folgers can next to the register.

Tony, “Sack. Go tah 1015, now. Dere lettin’ owt dere.”

Interesting.

Tony has launched “1015” at me as if I were some old hand night driver. But, it should be noted that I have actually never driven a night shift.

Aside: That would be a whole other series of taxi reports and books; undoubtedly, with life lessons fused from a plethora of vomit, and bearing witness via the rear view to many too many a backseat blowjob.

Still, by way of osmosis, I do know of what Tony speaks. He’s referring to the risqué night club, 1015 Folsom. This mostly gay DJ club is located over in the industrial SOMA district, which is full of night clubs and not far from downtown.

But what needs NOT be said, is that this “letting out” will be the late night/early, early morning remnants of the over-partied leather and bondage crowd, all wrapping up this weekend’s annual Folsom Street Fair.

Digression: For those of you following these reports, you may recall that, for two years back in the early 2000’s, I worked as a token straight waiter at a 24-hour gay diner called Orphan Andy’s, located at ground zero in the Castro district. It was a wonderful job. And with wonderful people. (Though it should be said that it did nothing for my love life.)

Well, out of curiosity one year, after having been so embedded within the gay community, I actually went to the Folsom Street Fair… for about ten minutes. It was all a straight man’s constitution could take.

There were whipping stations, and suspended cages, and ball-gagged people on all fours with spiked dog collars passing by casually on leashes, as all kinds of piercings and chains connected nipples to various extremities, orifices, and a few mutilated genitals the likes of which one could never imagine. The women (whether dominant or submissive) all donned skimpy, form-fitting shiny black latex outfits – with fish nets, as the men wore (if anything at all) the standard uniform of black leather vests, black leather cop hats and black leather chaps… sans the jeans.

A strong malodor of lube filled the air across those several closed off blocks of SOMA, alongside the chants, cheers, and screaming moans which emanated from those congregated at the BDSM exhibits, with their participants each bound and strapped to a variant of Inquisition-style wood structures, found erected so liberally in the streets. Sex toy vendors flanked the exhibits, as more impromptu open sex acts – if that’s what one would call them – abounded in the dirty alleys off to the side, amidst trash bins and graffiti. And all of the bars were open mid-day for the event.

All this said, there was one vision that will forever be burned in my brain. It was as I was making my escape, retreating out past one of the makeshift saw horses at the border, with the disclaimer signage reading, “PAST THIS POINT YOU CONSENT TO WHATEVER YOU EXPERIENCE!”

The vision?

It was some Japanese tourist family, with YOUNG CHILDREN, walking TOWARD the event!! And as I left, I turned and bore witness, as each member was receiving the same orange day-glo “CONSENT” sticker that had been stuck on my chest, by the staff, as I had entered!!

I mean, JEEZ!!!

I DO understand how whatever international tourist in San Francisco could see a newspaper in the hotel lobby with the innocuous sounding “Folsom Street Fair” listed, and maybe mistakenly go out to investigate. But, how could these parents POSSIBLY get within a block of this thing and not have their SPIDER SENSE TINGLING OF THE CHARTS!!!

So, back to Monday… As I did not stock my backpack today with a solid supply of toilet seat protectors – for the chapped crew, and I have long since forgone keeping any stock of vomit bags… 1015 will NOT be on my list!

Not before Starbucks, anyway…

 

4:35am:
I roll up on my regular Starbucks, 16th & Kansas – Potrero Hill.

And, hmm…

There is an unusual congregation out in front. It’s my usual early morning cohorts, all in want of caffeine, and waiting: the two cops, the skinny blonde student, the homeless vet, and the two orange vested construction workers.

But what gives? Starbucks is supposed to open at 4:30!

I park, get out of my taxi, and investigate…

Well, the baristas are all inside working away and setting up. But there is a piece of copy paper taped to the door, with black Sharpie written on it: OPEN AT 4:45 TODAY.

Fuck. I am still working on my Zen patience practice. And this WILL NOT do!

I jump back in 26. And I go green, hitting ‘Available’ on my Cabulous app-hailing smartphone, as I begin working my way towards 1015.

Screw it. This deviance is my Zen.

However, just a few blocks on, and just a few blocks from Folsom,

“Cha-ching! – 1710 Mission. Ariel. iPhone.”

And, I ‘Accept.’

I zoom up Division Street, under the highway, and scan for cops before going for my illegal left onto Mission. (Eh, it’s early enough.)

And, I hit ‘Arrived.’

Soon enough, two young gay guys come down dressed like Boy George.

Boy One, “We’re going to Geary and Leavenworth, driver.”

Ah, the Tenderloin.

I roll.

And I am fly on the wall, as my enamored couple casually discuss whether Boy One’s breath reeks of alcohol, and when Boy Two will get to meet Boy One’s family and if he’ll attend their annual gathering up at the vacation home in Tahoe.

That’s all.

We drop in the Loin amidst the predawn transsexual prostitutes and crack dealers, and I roll $11.75 richer, and with the ice now broken.

Now, there’s an open Starbucks a few blocks up Polk Street, at Green!

I zoom across Geary, towards Polk. But before I make it to Polk, I spy a hand in the air. But! There’s an open Yellow Cab rolling ahead of me. Oh, well.

But, Yellow passes the flag.

And I see why…

It’s some white trash crack head prostitute, with missing teeth and many a piercing, in high, HIGH heels, and wearing high riding Daisy Duke cut-off jeans. She’s sporting a far-too-tight dirty white wife beater, and has rolls of fat poking out from under, and HUGE breasts bursting out up top, from a bra at least three sizes too small. From under one arm, she’s juggling a gaudy rhinestone purse and nestling a big bottle of clear liquid. (And I do not think it is water.)

As waving her free hand violently, Daisy is screaming up a storm, in a gritty rasp,

“TAXXXXIIII!!!!!! TAAAAAAXXXIIIIIIIII!!!!!! TAAAXXXXIIIII!!!!!”

And Citizen’s Cab #26 veers HARD to a stop!

Daisy aggressively swings open the back door, and throws her bottle and bag in back, before diving in head first herself.

Daisy, “AlLLl-riGht!! WE neEd ta gO fiiiiiiNd mY…uH… mY uH… BrUtHa!!!”

Driver, with clipboard/waybill at the ready to document, “Okay. And where is your… brother?”

Daisy, “JuS gO RiTe heYaH… ahn pOlK! ‘N Hey!! Kin U pUt AHn 102.1! ‘N tErN iT uHP!!”

Driver adjusts the radio to 102.1FM.

BOOM BOOM BOOM-CHICKA!!! BOOM BOOM BOOM-CHICKA!!! WOW-WOW!!!

Driver takes the right up Polk, as Daisy sways in back and scans the streets for her… uh… brother.

However, only two blocks on, we come across a scene at a red light, at Sutter. It’s two San Francisco black & white police SUVs parked askew at the corner, with their lights flashing. The cops are out of their vehicles and are surrounding a young black man in handcuffs.

Daisy, “StAHP! DrIveRR STAHP!!! DaT’s mY… BrUtHa!! DAt’s HIIIM!!!”

Well, the light is red. I was already stopped.

And with the half empty bottle jiggling alongside Daisy’s tits, she leans out of her open window and yells over the techno music at the police.

Daisy, “DAt’s mY… uh… BrUtHa! IZ ee ArrEst’d!?? WhY u GhaT ’em in CuFfs!! Whadd ee Doo!!”

I throw on my hazards. And I turn down the music.

And in an AMAZING show of professionalism, the police break from their interaction with Daisy’s pim… uh… BrUtHa, to coolly, calmly address Daisy.

Police, “Ma’am, your brother matched the description of someone that we’re looking for. He is not currently under arrest. He is simply being detained while we ask him a few questions.”

Daisy, “U gOnnA tAkE ‘eM  tA JAiLL!?!! WhAT he dOnE!?!!”

But before the police can answer, Daisy throws open the door and jumps half out of the taxi. And just as the light turns green, and as several cars have begun to  line up behind.

Daisy, “HoW mUCH i O U DriVAh!?”

Driver, “The meter says $4.60.”

And with eyes affixed to the police scene on the sidewalk, Daisy hands me up a soggy, crumpled up twenty, from half out of the cab still.

I pinch the bill at the corners, and rest it on the shotgun seat. Then, I dig through my meager bank of change and hand Daisy back three fives, the ONLY fives I have!

Damn.

And Daisy takes them, again without looking – or thought of a real tip. And Daisy slams the door, before sloshing over with her purse, bottle, and tits to wrestle her… uh… BrUtHa from the grips of the police.

Now, up to that Starbucks, at Green. I’ve got caffeine to procure, napkins to steal, a bowel to purge… and a twenty to break.

Fifteen minutes later…

Well, I’ve made the rounds through Cow Hollow, the Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach and am now rolling west on Market downtown. And thus far, I only have my Cabulous gays and Daisy to show for it. Still, no complaints. It’s better than nothing.

Currently, I’m nearing Civic Center. And I can’t help from wondering… is 1015 STILL letting out?

I cut up McAllister and down Hyde, towards Folsom.

Alex Sack

Alex Sack, born 1970, is a taxi driver who grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland. He attended several different colleges and universities around the D.C./Baltimore region as a music major for 4 & 1/2 years before quitting - pre-diploma - to the horror of his father. He tried his hand as a professional musician/songwriter seeing him through travels domiciled in New York City’s East Village, Los Angeles (where he scored a few songs on The Disney Channel's 'Even Stevens') and San Francisco - where he's ultimately put down roots. Alex is a single dad to two boys, currently ages 14 and (a hormonal) 16. His post-natal fallback occupation as Operations Assistant at a start-up clean-tech engineering consultancy came to a sudden end with the one-two punch of the owner’s fatal skiing accident in Tahoe and the subsequent downturn in the economy.This - and an acquired nervous twitch to cubicle work - has led to his latest job...

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