A bit of whimsy sparked from a Jon Carroll column, where he mentions a sign that says " NOTICE OF STREET VACATION," and wonders just where the street might choose to go.

Dancing With the Streets

by Cassady Black


"Hey, Em, let's get the hell out of town."

His call comes in sweet and low, almost a whisper, but I would know Folsom's voice anywhere, even on the San Francisco Undernet, where streets can communicate without ever seeing each other crack-to-crack. "Folly, we can't. The people need us."

He laughs that laugh, the one that makes me listen for him every time I go under, the one that allows him to ignore my full name and never once respect me as Ms. Embarcadero, the way every other street does, because they know I'm well-connected.

"The people," he says with a snort. "What have they ever done for you?"

"I know, they just walk all over us. You're right -- let their feet wait. Who else should we invite?"

"How about Market?"

"That tramp?" I know Folly has been running parallel with her for a long time. Or maybe I'm jealous the other way around -- it's not like Market has ever bothered to touch me.

"All right. How about Geary? She needs a break, she's been straight for way too long."

"Okay, Geary, and maybe Powell, he'll keep us on track. But where will we go?"

Folly pauses, and I began to realize that he's mapped this all out. "A slow train, Em, up into Canada," he finally whispers in his low sexy rumble. "I hear they have a street festival there, just for us. Kind of like Burning Man, only flatter, and with no people."


We board the Zephyr #8 in high spirits. Streets packed up for travel can be mistaken for any ordinary vacationer, but we feel special. We are ribald, telling our tales of the night. We laugh until we forget our worries and our lines begin to disappear and we feel all shimmery and new.

But when we are almost there, Geary looks a bit dreary.

"I miss him," she says with a sigh.

"Who?" I'm thinking -- Polk, Clay, Fulton? Who's she been running with now?

"You know. The pedestrian who writes about us. The one who cares."

She's a bit of a sap for being such an old street. The Carroll guy has been a legend among San Francisco streets for almost twenty years, but that doesn't mean we're going to pack him up and bring him along.

"The one who cares will miss us too, dear Gear. Perhaps he'll notice we're on vacation. They might even put up a sign."

"Yeah, forget about it, Gear," Powell pipes up. "We're going to dance! Don't you know it's impossible to be depressed while dancing with the streets?"

All the weary streets have come -- big Michigan is in from Chicago, Bourbon from down south, Madison Avenue -- "call me Maddy", even the Sunset Highway is weaving her way through the crowd. Rumor has it that Broadway will be a late arrival because she was stopped on her way out of New York and forced to clean up.

We dance, we sing, we play, we make new friends, and we walk and walk and walk. We never lie down once - streets just want to be free. Nothing can curb our excitement, and then the party is over and we are ready to head back to our concrete lives.

"But we must promise more vacations," Powell says longingly, filled with wanderlust before we're even home.

"Yes!" Geary raises a toast. "To next year in Paris."

"To the boulevards!" Folsom seems a bit tipsy.

An idea comes to me. "Or maybe Pamplona. Perhaps we could run on the bulls?"

© Cassady Black

Cassady Black is an editor at Slow Trains, and often spends her spare time dancing in the streets.

Home Favorites Links Guidelines About Us

Subscribe to the Slow Trains newsletter