Last Monday we were feeling sociable after taking our first doses of Moderna, we decided to take advantage of the free days at SFMOMA and head to The City with the kid to experience what a museum visit is like before the COVID.
Before she could even walk, we dragged Teddy to art exhibits and installations, as well as science and nature centers, zoos, and parks. She’s generally super cold and respectful, but she’s still a kid. And tickets to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art don’t come cheap. It can be a pain to shell out over $ 50 when we will probably have to leave before we see more than a quarter of the work on display. No 4-year-old has the kind of patience needed for a full visit. So we joined the other budget-conscious art patrons and booked our free tickets for 1 p.m.
Fortunately, westbound traffic on the bridge is still light these days. A Monday, anyway. Gone are the days when you can take a trip across the bridge and not check Google Maps every five minutes before getting in the car.
The San Francisco traffic, like the killer in an ’80s slasher movie, returns with a vengeance. And this time it will be a real bloodbath, as most people will be avoiding public transport for a while. Even with vaccine cards.
I don’t look forward to being in rush hour traffic. I will never forget what it was like to be stuck in a tangle of vehicles trying to escape finance, when there was no movement for 20 minutes despite the signal turning green several times and you feel like you could just as easily bend the steel with your mind as crossing this intersection …
Already, some corridors around The City are regularly saved. And on weekends, traffic from East Bay is blocked at the tollgate, even though cars without FasTrak no longer have to stop and pay. Ah, but there is a merger. And anyone who drives in the Bay Area knows what motorists think about the merger …
For now, however, the city center is still a ghost town. We take the Fremont exit and turn onto Howard, where the lack of other vehicles on the street makes it easy to find a parking meter near the museum.
Walking from Hawthorne and Folsom, it’s amazing how quiet this part of San Francisco has remained. There are signs of activity, of course, but nothing like before.
Open businesses appear to be closed. There are no valets outside restaurants or hotels. No bouncers in front of the Gold Club and no costumes bouncing off UberBlack SUVs to enjoy the strip club’s lunch buffet. No UberBlack SUV is blocking the bike path. No taxis lined up for the W. And on the street in Moscone, just a few security guards showing a few people where to get vaccinated.
On Third Street, there are only a few other pedestrians. Before COVID, that sidewalk would have been packed with people at lunchtime, as an endless stream of cars climbed in third, blocking intersections or straddling crosswalks, as a cacophony of horns filled the hall. ‘air. Now it’s almost… peaceful. Instead of the ruling worker bees going to their next power meetings, most of the people around are grinding outside the museum or walking around the Yerba Buena center across the street. .
Based on the first part of our journey, it’s hard to believe the pandemic is supposed to be coming to an end. The biggest congestion we encounter is inside MOMA, as people rush to take selfies in front of pop art or cluster around sculptures in virtual queues to access special exhibits.
After checking out Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter and Jay DeFeo, I spend more time marveling at Elizabeth Murray’s “Things to Come”.
Once the child has had enough art for the day, we go home. This part of the tour is what driving in San Francisco was like. We’re not even that far from the bridge entrance, but the traffic has already built up in a quagmire of desperation. Drivers are vying for any chance of securing a spot ahead. Horn on slow blows and mockers. In a race to brake, we jerk back and forth, muttering curses and giving stinky eyes…
At least some things never change.
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver, currently on hiatus due to COVID restrictions. He is the author of the novel “A Masque of Infamy” and of a series of zines “Behind the Wheel”, assembled in a pocket omnibus, available on book markets or on his blog: idrivesf.com. His column appears every two weeks in the Examiner.
Museums and galleriesSan FranciscotrafficVisual arts