Exploring San Francisco through the lens of city blocks, Blocker is a weekly series by Charles Hodgkins. Look for it on SFist each Wednesday, around the lunching hour.
View the map of all published Blocker episodes.
Blocker, No. 19: Haight St. in the Upper Haight
A man in a black leather jacket carefully backs his Yamaha into one of the six motorcycle spaces on Haight at the corner of Shrader. He's here to see Pinback's in-store performance at Amoeba Music across the street later in the evening, but he's also pulled his bike into a world where the warm early evening air is alternately punctured by the scent of patchouli, McChickens, pee, and smoke from silly cigarettes. Plenty of off-street fee parking and reminders of the 1960s glory days are also available.
Certain parts of Haight between Shrader and Stanyan have seen better commercial days – specifically, the shuttered and boarded Cala supermarket at its west end, and on a much lesser scale, the former home of taco/burrito retailer Chabela's at 1805 (dormant since the mid-'00s) – and there's no escaping the persistently suffocating sense of flower power and "revolution" around here anytime soon. (Kind bud?) The vibe on the block's sidewalks can be construed as seamy or circus-like (or perhaps both), depending upon one's tolerance for American Youth in Very Big Pants, or for politely deranged men pushing shopping carts and singing "COME TO AFRICA!!" at the top of their high-pitched lungs. But regardless of one's frame of reference, there's always a lot to take in down here in Amoeba Gulch.