Monday, January 18, 2010


I passed back and forth in front of Mission Dolores on my late-morning laundromat trips, keeping an eye on the unstable sky above San Francisco. It started out looking mild and empty, even faintly radiant, but before long this endless blanket of bruise-colored clouds started moving in and I started wondering if my bags of clean folded sheets and towels and socks and jeans might not get soaked or at least redampened on the walk home. However – to my great relief – the actual rain held off until after I was done.

Tourists take pictures mainly of the tall and florid steel-reinforced molded-concrete faux-baroque Basilica building (new-built after the 1906 Earthquake). For photographic purposes, they tend to ignore the squat little Mission alongside it (which survived the 1906 Earthquake and is in fact the oldest surviving building in the city). The Basilica is basically Disneyland architecture, with the vampire-style figure of missionary Junipero Serra brooding in his niche like some black-hearted wizard. (In 1780 – as cited here – Serra wrote: "that spiritual fathers should punish their sons, the Indians, with blows appears to be as old as the conquest of the Americas; so general in fact that the saints do not seem to be any exception to the rule.")