Tag Archives: 16th and mission

Live at 16th Street BART

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Here’s Dennis Blackwell, a guy who was playing at the 16th and Mission BART station on Friday. It does not look like a nice spot. The crowd’s hustling by, you have a little pigeon dung to deal with, and station agents who take in the whole thing with a cold eye.

Blackwell says he’s been playing for spare change for about a year. “I’ve been messing around with a guitar for 20 years. I’m 60 now.” He said he “came into manhood” on the streets of Berkeley, that his target audience is “aging hippies like me,” that he worked most of his adult life as a cook, and is on a fixed income now.

He played a little U2 medley, talked to me for a couple minutes, then launched into “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” by Bob Dylan. I didn’t bring him any luck–I didn’t see a single person stop and give him anything while I was hanging around with my camera and recorder. Hope he did better afterward.

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Mission Palms

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Last night, at the northeast entrance to the 16th Street BART station. Beautiful, warm afternoon and evening. Lots of people on the street, and the scene at the plaza around the station had a little bit of crazy energy to it at the moment I showed up: some of the homeless and local SRO (single-room occupancy) hotel residents arguing, parents reprimanding kids, a mom yanking her kid by the arm as she took him into Burger King for dinner, people spilling out of a Muni bus that had just pulled up at the corner.

For several blocks, I had watched the light above change and looked for an opportunity to try and catch it. Not that it’s so important; but in a way these pictures are a little like postcards to myself, reminding me of a place, a moment. This was my last look at the street scene before heading down the escalator to the train.  

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