Tag Archives | Zen

Chocolate Nam

Sometimes, a ride just speaks for itself. Meet Chocolate Nam…

Choc Nam

It’s mid-day and I’m cruisin’ Haight-Ashbury. The sun is high and it is yet another perfect, beautiful San Francisco day. (Yawn.) The street is bustling with thrift store shoppers, retail workers and mid-western tourists congregating for snaps of themselves flashing peace signs below the famous intersecting street signage that marks this infamous corner. Post-selfie, it’s on to gawk at all the 60’s memorabilia glowing in black lights, as bongs and tie-dye emanate psychedelic from a multitude of head shops. And with leashed cats on their shoulders and unleashed pit-bulls at their sides, dirty-colorful neo-hippie runaways hawk pot vivacious to all that pass.

I drive past… and am immediately struck by the vision of an older black man at the peak of fashion, as he hobbles into the street to flag me with his black and silver-gilt cane on high.… Read the rest

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Dreams of a Short



I haven’t slept.

Well, I haven’t slept well. Okay, okay, I admit it… I relapsed into nighttime cough syrup abuse. And sedatives of this type are widely reputed to rob you of vital R.E.M. (Thanks, NPR.)

Maybe I’ll just go into Citizen’s Cab late today. At this point, I am willing to exchange the first few hours of the day and it’s $20-80 remuneration for a few more hours of half-sleep. (Actually, as it goes, I did just start getting some R.E.M. about an hour before my alarm went off.)

I better call-in to Kojak, though. Let him know. If you don’t show around an hour after your medallion time – 4:15am in my case, the dispatcher/office guy can (and usually will) give away your shift to a newbie not on the schedule.


Sack, “Koj, it’s Sack. I’ll be in around 7. Hold 137 for me.”

Koj, “Sack, you wanna see if I can get you a short?”

I hear Kojak broadcast over the radio, “Anybody want a short?… Read the rest

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Starry Starry Dawn…



I bribed Kojak at dispatch for an airport this morning.
But it is not the airport, per se, with regard to which I write to you now…

2537 Clay – affluent Pacific Heights. My airport. “Beth” says the Cabulous screen.

I’ve backed into the drive.

(Yes, in my regular Prius – 137. I only had to jump her this morning. Okay… and ignore the one burned-out headlight while cruising around for flags in the predawn.)

The sun is rising.

I’m fifteen minutes early, to ensure that I would not be late to the order while rolling with a local. Well, and to ensure that Cabulous wouldn’t auto-dispatch my bounty to whatever other closer driver, while I’m headed to the order.

I ‘Call Passenger’ through the app and give the usual spiel,

“Hi. This is Alex from Citizen’s Cab. I know I’m early, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m out front for whenever you’re ready…”

Alas, Beth is not biting.… Read the rest

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Tin Foil Hats

Tin Foil

High noon:
I’m coming up on a red at 7th, heading west on Market. The Tenderloin.

There’s an empty Yellow just ahead of me at the light and an historic F line street car just letting off on the platform to our left. As the passengers pour out onto the island dividing the two westbound lanes here, I note one dude  – a bit frantic – check out Yellow, and then come running back to me. Dunno why dude would be getting off a train and then immediately try to hail a cab, or why he didn’t go for the empty Yellow in front, but I wave him in…

Although a bit edgy, a skinny 30-ish Pryor is wearing a clean white T nicely tucked-in that complements his chocolate skin, stylish jeans, and a large diamond earring in his left ear – presumably fake, he seems like he may be rational.… Read the rest

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A Transcendental Ride


It was a dark and stormy, clear summer’s day around high noon, as I rolled through the Elysian Fields that is the Mission District of San Francisco, when,

“Cha-ching! – 186 Liberty. Quigley. Dispatch.”

I ‘Accept’.

And I zoom across 20th Street, passing that majestic view of the city over Dolores Park, before turning a quick right onto Dolores proper, and then an immediate left up high on Liberty. As I pull up to 186, I witness what I believe to be my “Quigley” wrestling out in front of a florally manicured Victorian with several large Hefty bags.

I veer to a stop and yell out of my taxi’s shotgun window to the middle-aged woman all caked in layers of vibrant make-up and adorned with large ornate brass earrings that dangle down over her flowing, paisley-patterned robes. She’s huffing up a storm and wincing with each limping tug at her bags, as multiple necklaces of various lengths of colorful concentric rings of turquoise, crystal and earth-toned wood beads repeatedly flop against them, failing in their collective work to hold down the fort that is my potential passenger’s more than ample chest.

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the nAiL

There’s a nail in the wall.
Well, no. Actually, it’s in a beam.
Across the alley on my neighbor’s roof.

I always liked that nail.
Sticks out about three inches.
It’s just so straight. So carefully hammered. With Love.

Sometimes, you can see its shadow on the beam, as the sun creeps across the sky over our roofs.
A jealous sundial.

Except, it’s not jealous.
It’s a nail.


Check out Alex’s book San Francisco TAXI: A 1st Week in the ZEN Life…
And Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for your non-practicing Buddhist one-offs. 

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The Best Four Minutes of Alan Watts

…(minus an intro from the double-rainbow guy), in which you are reminded that “what you are basically — deep, deep down — far, far in — is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.”

Kensho from Aaron Paradox on Vimeo.

Short film dreamt by Aaron Paradox.

Narrated by Alan Watts audio courtesy of alanwatts.org.
Music: “The Way” by Zack Hemsey.
Sound design by Jacob Thomas Czech.
Additional 3D Animations by Mike Winkelmann.
Dreamer’s voice by Paul “Bear” Vasquez.
Visuals and animation by Aaron Paradox.

Kensho poster: https://www.flickr.com/photos/133149322@N02/19264316153/

“This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief.”
— Rumi

Youtube version: https://youtu.be/bPJ5AjlPt4M

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Take Me To Your… Gold… Bridge!

Random Thought: There are two kinds of people in this world; The kind that go, and the kind that don’t go. If you go; ok. If you don’t… I will.

gold bridge copy


I’m meandering half-awake through the Citizen’s Cab lot.

As I head towards the bullet-proof glass to retrieve 137’s key and medallion – and maybe throw Kojak a $5 bribe for an airport, I take note of a newish Escape – 203, sporting a newly smashed-up front end. Poor night driver. Wonder what the story is on that.

And I do not see 137. Damn.

This is not good.

I address Kojak at the window, “What happened to 203?”

Kojak, “It was wrecked last night.”

Sack, “I don’t see 137 in the lot…”

Kojak, “It’s shopped. Got wrecked yesterday.”

Huh?? That’s my regular Prius!

So, ‘ol Koj throws me 2402, a Prius spare. It’s a spare I’ve driven before, one that smells like meth, B.O.

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Zen Nails & Waxing


Devoted Passengers,

Your driver would like to take a “detour” this week, if you will… Many a fare has asked, so please indulge as I explain the “non” part of “non-practicing Buddhist” from my author’s tag line…

I’m rolling the streets of ‘ol San Francisco in Citizen’s Cab #137 on yet another absolutely beautiful, clear, drought-ridden day. I’m rounding the left north onto Fillmore in the Lower Haight, fareless, when I spot an older woman up the block vehemently trying the capture the attention of an empty Yellow coming down the hill. She’s waving her arms all frantically at him on the sidewalk from the wrong side of a hedge of parked cars. His top light is lit, indicating that he is ‘Available’. But, Yellow does not see.

Well, “one man gathers what another man spills”.

I zoom up the block tapping my horn to gain the lady’s attention.

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TAXI Driver: San Francisco (Time-Lapse VIDEO)

My cabbie day time-lapsed. 10 hours in 10 minutes, complete w/ original music (by moi) and narration…


The infamous Milford is working the office and throws me 744, a Camry he boasts as “new” with a 5 o’ clock medallion. I throw him a five and Milford looks disappointed and expectant. I just ignore it. Why am I gonna tip him more for this?

I head out to the lot, prep the cab, and report some bumper marks over the radio to cover my ass – then proceed to leave the lot. But before I can, The Dutchman (a mellow, eccentric, 64 year-old driver who takes pride in looking 50 and lives 2 hours away in the Santa Cruz mountains where he has local girls trained as his personal prostitutes) has me roll down my window and asks where I’m going. I ask him where he’s going, if he needs a ride.… Read the rest

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