January 1, Saturday afternoon -- Reading Open Exchange

On a rainy New Year's Day, under the awning of Southern Exposure, an arts organization in the Mission District
I met two guys, drinking a bottle of Gallo and reading Open Exchange, a magazine that lists classes and other resources for healthy living in the Bay Area. "I usually like The Examiner or The Chronicle, but he gave it to me," said the guy holding the magazine. He told me how his brother-in-law used to work for the Chronicle downtown and let him stop by and get free newspapers and then give him money to get some food and coffee. He said he'd also sold a newspaper called The San Francisco News at 4th and Townsend Street and made more money in tips than he made from newspaper sales themselves.

He doesn't read books these days, though, when he was young, he remembers the best book he ever read was called Somebody Up there Likes Me: My Life So Far, by Rocky Graziano and Rowland Barber. It's about Rocky's tough childhood and, of course, boxing.

We talked about Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash program, which they were not happy with. "We're happy with this shelter here," they said pointing to the awning that was shielding us from the rain, and explained that they don't need shelter, they need cash. They are both glad to see Newsom transition to Lieutenant Governor on January 3 and are hoping for a mayor that will give the homeless money and take better care of them. The interim mayor will be identified by the Board of Supervisors within the next few days.

The Open Exchange magazine gifter gifted me, too. He gave me From the Ground Up: Shafer Vineyards' First 25 Years, pictured below and, later, when I passed by again on my way back from grocery shopping, he gave me a book by Beth Gutcheon called Good-bye and Amen, which, on the cover shows a few houses on a bit of rocky land jutting over an ocean. "I don't understand this," he said, "the cover looks like it's from outer space and that doesn't make sense with the title. I don't want it."
They asked me repeatedly if I was having a good year. I said yes, but, of course, without the benefit of the Gallo, I was not as jolly as them. I think they were worried about me. "Happy New Year, Feliz Año Nuevo," they called out to me as I left. I lugged my groceries the remainder of my way home. I'd purchased a good bottle of wine on sale for just five bucks at the grocery store, and intend on doing more toasting to the New Year, too....after I post my blog.

Happy New Year, Feliz Ano Nuevo, cheers to many good books this year!