Noe Valley, San Francisco

Once the Irish, the Germans, the workers pressed together, clustered little Victorians, where they were born, lived, then died. Now babies in strollers, babies pressed against mom, against dad, toddlers wobbling, wide blocks of deconstructed, reconstructed, houses, pasted photos, smiling women and men, realtors, listing, listed, selling, sold. White buses, elevated people, wearing laptops like blankets, heading south to touch more technology. Hilly hills, wisps of fog, oceanic clouds, permanent winter like they say Twain said. Past and present commingle in gusts of wind, September summers, sometimes rain and rainbows.

Uber San Francisco

The future is in my way, again. A double-parked quasi-taxi, stopped in front of a green light, passenger getting in, cradling a phone. Uber claims to bring safe, low cost transportation, delivering a complex, precise, advanced product, but all I see is another clueless driver almost causing an accident. Behind the wheel, they start and stop, eyes glued to Google map screens, barely noticing pedestrians and other cars. Mostly gone are the old timers in yellow cabs, guys who survived Vietnam, grizzled veterans who really knew the city. This future has younger navigators, better cars, people doing their side hustle for cash.

But no one knows where they are anymore. Sometimes when I’m in my Prius a random person will open the back door, expecting me to drive them somewhere, until they figure it out and vaguely apologize. Uber sums up San Francisco: connected, disconnected. Connected to technology, disconnected from people experiencing homelessness. Connected to tiny screens, disconnected from face to face community. And this is only the first iteration, a prelude to the Uber vision of self-driving car automation. Efficient future, people sitting in the laps of robots, free, captured.