This blog often addresses the importance of walkable cities and towns, localities that are really there — that have a sense of place. A friendly acquaintance of mine, Jacqueline Smay (wife of popular music guru David Smay, who authored SwordfishTrombones) tossed off this charming note that is more powerful than any statistic:

… it was cold but not bitter out, Union Square was glittering with lights and ringing with the sounds of competing street musicians, and the sidewalks were crowded with a mix of very late theatergoers, tourists, street people, street performers, local chi-chi store staff closing up for the night, dejected Giants fans, and elated A’s fans. Everything felt very shiny and bustling and wide awake.

Outside a smoke shop on the corner of Powell a couple blocks up from Market, a two-man band composed of two young white guys, one with guitar and one with drums, was playing an improbably terrific version of “No Woman No Cry.” Really, they had no right to be as good as they were. The streetcorner was crowded with tourists and miscellaneous wanderers, including a grandma out and about with her two six to eight-ish granddaughters; the girls were dancing deliriously in their teeny girl-power t-shirts and pastel Crocs while their grandmother beamed.

And right in front of the musicians, a middle-aged homeless black man was dancing with a middle-aged Asian woman all done-up for a big night out in a black, crepe dress with white lace and a long, swoopy duster and loads of makeup. They danced together a bit and then she spun out on her own, and he turned to the crowd, flung his arms out, and shouted, “She’s beautiful! She’s alive! She’s alive and she knows it!”

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The song ended, I wove my way down the next two blocks, navigating around a shocking number of baby strollers and just barely getting myself past the mediocre, but huge and cheap lure of Blondie’s Pizza. Just outside the Powell Street station, I stopped a mixed couple (A’s/Giants) to ask the final score. “Five to nothing, baby!” the guy shouted gleefully, fist-pumping at the sky.

“There’s still tomorrow!” the woman with him said, just a little sharply.

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“No way! LET’S GO, OAK-LAND!” he bawled.

She gave him a “look,” threw her head back, and blasted right back, “LET’S GO, GIIII-ANTS!” And there I left them, yelling up Powell Street in a fury of bitter, fannish competition.

I don’t know if it’s the City itself or the red wine and Milanos for dinner, but I desperately wanted to hug the stuffing out of everyone and everything. I love my city, with all its ridiculous earnestness. I do.