Sunday, March 8, 2009

Seven Blocks - Two Worlds

A friend once told me how San Francisco is a tiny city, only 7 miles X 7 miles in size. It packs a great deal inside that 7 mile X 7 mile space -- the great stuff and the awful stuff. This past weekend hit that home in a big way.

On Saturday M and I decided to check out the Bhutan exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. It is not far from us, maybe a 15 minute walk. It was an amazing exhibit. Rare Buddhist art that has never left Bhutan before, sculpture art that has all but disappeared from Pakistan, India, and Tibet. Beautiful mandhala's.

Walking out of the exhibit, we both felt grateful for the fact we live in a city where we can find such amazing cultural attractions so close to home. The downside was that we had to trek through the Tenderloin to get there. After 4 years here the TL should not disturb me anymore.

But it still does.

On the way there we passed by two frazzled out junkies talking about a mutual friend who went to go get some crack. The two of them hustled away in the opposite direction, one of them insisting that they go get her afternoon fix.

The two junkies were harmless. They weren't about mug or pickpocket either of us to get money for a fix. But it still really bothers me that this museum, loaded with priceless religious artifacts from the other side of the world, unique in North America due both to its size and focus on Asian Art, is surrounded by druggies, dealers, pimps, whores, and various human filth.

I've heard from others that city leaders here in San Francisco think that having wealth & culture parked next to povery and squallor would somehow make things better for the urban poor, that they would have access to services and economic opportunities that would otherwise be denied to them.

I fail to see how great Asian art was going to get those two crackheads to go into rehab.

I love SF. But the city leaders need to get an f$@#-ing clue.

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