Early Sunday morning, I hear the drums and the amplified music coming up from 24th Street.  Carnival in San Francisco.  Rio snorts.  New Orleans scoffs.  It should happen in February, but of course February is a cold, rainy month. Late May is when we get sunny warm days. In theory.

The morning is socked in with fog.  The breeze has Alaskan forebears. I suspect that the event, in any case, will be one of those urban happenings when people mill around and wonder if there isn’t something more interesting happening on the next block.  Still, since I have to go to 24th St. anyway, I go early and check it out.

At the intersection of Folsom and 24th, Boliva dances by. A woman in orange with an orange umbrella twirls down the block with her high plains sisters and aunts.  Doing it. Those are going to be some tired legs.  One group after another, Argentina, Haiti, Brazil, turquoise and gold and green and purple, shaking and showing, bodies by Aphrodite and bodies by Burger King, hot grandmas, game tots, and muscled black drummers. As if on a careening ship the dancers veer toward one curb, then toward the other, as the beat draws all onward.

Amid the drummers on the flatbed of a truck; a thin white woman thumps her 5-gallon bucket.  Under Jamaican plumage Desmond the librarian shakes his shoulders.   The cross-pollination is what makes our city something great, much more than the provincial town it generally is.  Invests it with a god thankfully, not The God. The dancers, drummers, and singers embody it, Desmond too, and radiate a joy denied observers.

No matter.  I have as much joy as I can handle just watching.



  1. Lovely piece. And I love the concepts of “high plains sisters” and the breeze having Alaskan forebears. Alaska has brown bears, Kodiak bears, polar bears and now, I will always remember, fore bears.

  2. Wow. truth, beauty and love all wrapped up for us sleep-ins.

  3. Serena Billmayer

    Love it, of course.

  4. Bodies by Aphrodite and Burger King. I assume that drummer isn’t into fries with that.

  5. I, too, loved the breeze having Alaskan forebears, as those bears moved north today and are playing in Washington. Thank you, Jim Ramsay, for adding to the pictures in my mind!

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