This is a city where people come to be themselves, or to be weird, or to turn into vehicles for their own
fops. They develop a fop: a silly hat, a funny hair growth, a grossly extended tattoo, and they become the fop.
Who needs to have character, to be a person within themselves? Look at my fop! This proves what an
interesting person I am!
I met Georgina the Fop-Magnet at my hostel. Georgina was a fun, intelligent English accountant, but with one remarkable power: every wierdo in San Francisco wanted to talk to
her and be her friend. And now me. It was funny to watch: one minute we'd be sitting
talking about something perfectly normal, then bang, here comes the looper of the day, in his
bare feet and tattoo (note the multi-element fop) to stare straight at her, and announce "In this state
it's legal for me - not you! - to carry a sidearm! Dressed like this!" And then he'd
march straight off! Leaving me wondering whether to hit him or laugh.
It's All About Me
Hum. Travel. I once pictured myself as an intrepid travel-hero striding manfully
across the continents, with never a glance behind. Now, I'm tired again. Fatigue builds up over long
periods of travel and you can't shake it off. And there's worse. You meet so many people,
for such short periods - a hour, ten minutes, a day, a week - that new people, new friends,
seem less and less real as time goes by. You want to build walls of silence, of privacy against
having to explain yourself again. Sometimes it seems that travel, instead of broadening
my mind, is making me more isolated and self obsessed.
I could go home I suppose, but
that would look bad. Spent a lot of time here trying to figure out what to do.
I'm going to Quito, Ecuador, where, mirabile dictu, I can afford to
have my own room. My own room, for the first time in over four months.
I'm glad to have seen so much of the U.S. but it will be good to leave it now. There is
an undercurrent of fear and suspicion around the place. It's only slight, but which each
vague FBI alert, each anthrax scare, it grows just a bit. Added to the strange squalor and machismo
of the American city, it has become taxing. Quito is of course more dangerous in that sense,
but what else do you expect from a poor, struggling country. In the U.S., the greatest nation on
Earth, these things are harder to fathom.
But America does get things done. What a remarkable place North America is. All I have seen was
wrought from almost nothing in just three hundred years. And as I wander round all the communities here,
Chinese, Spanish, all the Asian and European and Latin American immgrant neighborhoods, I wonder,
where would all these people be if there weren't an America to escape to? Slaves to the land,
to the whim of a warlord, to poverty, to hopelessness? And here they are, with at least the possibility of
freedom. And if offered the chance of freedom, rather than slavery, even with a chance of failing, of falling between the
cracks, who would say no?