Posts Tagged ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’

Cannery Row

April 5, 2015

I’m currently reading an Italian translation of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row (Vicolo Cannery). For anybody who hasn’t read it, it’s a romantic, sentimental depiction of a real place and based on real people, a community of outsiders in old town Monterey, California during the depression. Cannery Row was the popular name for Ocean View Avenue. It’s in an industrial part of town at the waterfront and was home to the old sardine fleet. The fish were abundant then, and Ocean View Avenue was lined with canneries. The main characters in the story are a man who owns a biology laboratory and warehouse, a bunch of bums and winos who spend their days in a vacant lot drinking, a Chinese grocer, and a madam with a heart of gold. The book sympathizes with these outsiders. In the mid-1940s, the sardine population began to crash, eventually putting the canneries completely out of business. The book Cannery Row was so popular that the town renamed Ocean View Avenue after it and turned it into a tourist destination.

Last week, Judy did a special screening of Pelican Dreams at the aquarium in Monterey, and they put us up in one of the Cannery Row hotels. Because I’m reading the book, I was interested in checking out the locations. Today the old canneries have been turned into restaurants, hotels, and upscale boutiques. It’s extraordinarily expensive and quite tacky, like Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The morning we left I was walking along a bike path/pedestrian thoroughfare that used to be train tracks when I happened upon two homeless people guzzling a bottle of beer. It amused me highly because I was certain that if they’d been noticed by the police, they would have been run out of the neighborhood. Yet they were the only true part of the book that was left.


The Death of Bin Laden

May 5, 2011

My view of this affair is much too complicated to go into right now. My book is putting a special claim on my attention. But I do want to say this: I’ve never celebrated the death of anyone, and I’m not going to start now. It’s interesting to see how much of this is just a media event. All the news organizations have America celebrating victory. But the morning after, as I was riding my bike along Fisherman’s Wharf on my way out of town, I took the time to study the faces in the crowd. They all had the same bored expressions I always see down there. And these weren’t the supposedly America-hating San Franciscans of Republican imagination. San Franciscans seldom go to Fisherman’s Wharf. They were all tourists, and they come from every corner of the nation.