Dear Diary: The pink house

Dear Diary,

I saw it. A pink house. The middle child, squeezed between strangers whose walls whisper to damp cotton skies and khaki-coloured trench coats in a department store. A pink house. The home of Janis Joplin, its wooden bones up for sale while the ghosts of rock and raspy blues weep at the loss of their love. Their girl. A pink house. The box of old things, like a sun-kissed Hummingbird and a few dusting memories that unleash, fire and all, a sweet, sweet summer’s kisses and rage. 

I left my heart in San Francisco, sings Tony Bennett. I left my heart there, too, just the other weekend, when I stood in front of Janis’s skeleton of a home, when I stood in streets that were once filled with lighthearted breath and the spirit of really good — and I mean really good — music. I left my heart in that San Francisco, which I think is the one that Tony sings about, because it surely cannot be the one with freshly pressed suits and black circles with bright lights and dreams of shiny things that shield us, like a kindhearted American, from the blood on the floor of others.

Because what we do not know, or pretend not to know, is that the other side of our shiny stuff is sharp. It is sharp, and it may be stupid, but I’ve been told not to call Innovation Derived From the Accumulation of Delicious Capital by Smart People Who Really Care About Stuff stupid. 

Instead, I’ll say that becoming slick with desire for a certain version of San Francisco is stupid. This is the version that runs on the blood of its own and others — on those willing to endure polyester swivel chairs and those whose bodies go slack because a Polyester Chair Survivor decided, for the rest of their life, that a comfortable cotton cushion at home was worth shagging a multimillion-dollar Vulture that laid frail eggs of Western weaponry. There are no hearts in this city of yours. 

Go somewhere else. Go back to that Summer of Love, to a fear of the century’s end that did not really exist because sugarcoated lyrics and guitar strings made from the strands of an erratic, beating heart flooded a few streets under the California sun. Go back. The heart we have lost still lives in San Francisco — Janis Joplin’s San Francisco. Can you see it? The city that was once a silky ship of smoke and satin and sinners we so desperately wish would just gather dust? Go to the pink house. You’ll feel everything there.