One of San Francisco's cherished literary icons -- poet, painter and City Lights publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday.
Back when I first moved to San Francisco I had the pleasure of speaking with Ferlinghetti. I was doing a spot for something, I am not sure for what, but I wanted to use a quote from a Ferlinghetti poem so I called him asking for permission. I was a expecting to speak to an agent, assistant or some other minion but got the poet laurette himself. What a joy.
Ferlinghetti is now hard at work trying to transform a small block of Vallejo Street in historic North Beach into what would be called the Piazza Saint Francis, an Italian-style piazza, with inscriptions on the paving stones from up to 30 or 40 authors, mostly poets.
North Beach is an ideal place to do this, not just because of its Italian flare. The neighborhood consistently shows some of the highest pedestrian counts in the city, yet lacks a lot of usable public space.