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Street wishes: The homeless have resolutions too 

Wednesday, Jan 6 2010

Now that we're in the first week of the New Year, many San Franciscans are buckling down to meet their resolutions — read more, eat more organic produce, find your bliss with tantric yoga. But who says all resolutions have to be so — well — yuppie? In the dwindling hours of 2009, SF Weekly trekked out to discover how another sector of the city planned to reinvent itself. Turns out the homeless have resolutions, too.

We approached a 61-year-old guy named Don pushing a grocery cart at 16th and Mission streets. So, what's your New Year's resolution, sir? "To find more cans and bottles." That was pragmatic enough.

Down the street, a Santa Claus look-alike sipped beer out of a paper cup while announcing his resolution to stop doing just that. Now 59, Mario claimed he'd been drinking since he was 10, and his attempts to leave the bottle had failed. "I tried it one year." And? "Then I celebrated the year." He chuckled maniacally and gave us a fist bump.

At the Powell Street BART plaza, D.J. took a break from hawking directions to confused tourists to tell his woeful tale. Two years ago, he said, he fell down paralyzed in the alley behind the Westfield mall after a cyst on his spine ruptured. He'd finally willed himself out of a wheelchair five months ago, but wanted to wean himself off the OxyContin he takes three times a day. He hoped to check into a drug detox after his birthday on Jan. 12.

Wishing him luck, we walked over to Ed, who was hawking Street Sheets to three girls descending the stairs to the BART station with "Oh, man! Here come Charlie's Angels!" One responded with, "We're the poorest ladies," and he grumbled something about liars. His resolution? "To get a job to get out of this crap here. And to get folks to say something to you for once." It wasn't going so well. When he offered a newspaper to a man talking in Spanish into his cellphone, the guy waved him off: "Mañana, mañana." Ed has learned that the real translation of "mañana" isn't "tomorrow," but "never."

In front of the glowing Weinstein Gallery on Union Square, things weren't going much better for Vicente Blupriest — Blue for short — a Hurricane Katrina exile who played harmonica in front of a sign that read, "I ain't no lazy beggar that don't do shit to earn a tip." With a graying beard and wary eyes, Blue counted his income so far: $1.80 in change. He threw the coins into his bucket, sending a dime and penny careening down the sidewalk. His resolution? "To get something to eat. Anybody give a damn if I eat, raise your hand." No response. Despondent, he blew into his harmonica, singing bluesy verses between fills: Mama said there'd be days like these, things get rough ...

On Market Street, Jeremy, a friendly 27-year-old with rotting teeth, sat down to his New Year's feast: ribs and oyster leftovers left by passersby, chased by beer deceptively stored in a coffee cup. By now, we could guess his resolution for 2010: to quit drinking. A trio of punks stopped to ask, "Do y'all need some weed, Percocet, Xanax?" He declined. Now, if this year he could just do the same with malt liquor.

About The Author

Lauren Smiley


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