Gladys Knight at the Pips saved my life

I was rounding the corner of Webster onto Haight street. I live in the lower haight, and this is my neighborhood. It’s a complex situation here these days… new life, fancy people with money awkwardly blended with the life long residents and hold outs from a time when the lower haight meant anything but pubs, automats, and easy parking for your hybrid… but somehow we manage to live together in relative peace. My head was down, and I was buckling under the pressure of all that’s been weighing me down so heavily lately. In truth, I was mumbling “I wish I was dead, I wish I was dead” over and over to myself. Not that I actually wish I was dead, rather, I want this pressure off my back, I want these negotiations resolved, I want to relax, I want a lot of things right now, and on saturday it felt like none of them were going to transform for me any time soon, if ever.

I approached the middle of the block, just a step away from Rookie’s Records when I head it: This amazing bass line blasting out of the speakers. Man was I moved. I stopped dead in my tracks and cocked my head to the sky… a grin spread across my face, and helplessly, without any self consciousness I began to shift my hips and shake my head. Against my better judgement I was dancing… a guy coming out of the shop clutching a bag of records paused, looked at me and started to dance too. A man who had been parking his shiny cadilac emerged from the driver’s side of the car and said “Is this some old Gladys Knight?” I grinned at him. He said “Her royal yo’mammaness!” I laughed and said “Fuck yeah.” He joined us in front of the speakers… shaking his head and shuffling his feet. Almost as soon as he joined us, three homeless people gathered beside us and started to dance. In a sweaty shimmy, low to the ground, we shook it tightly right there on the sidewalk in broad daylight.

When the 11 minute song eneded, The homeless people walked away, the man from the cadilac nodded and strolled up the street, the guy with the record bag made a right turn and disappeaered into the people walking along the sidewalk toward Fillmore, and I headed straight into the shop and bought the record for $5.

Glady Knight and the Pips – Love is always on your mind
Save your own life!


  1. I just love the magic of you. Great street story.
    Happy Birthday, darlin’!

  2. I agree with Jaya!