Night Crawler

Santa Francisco

On the way to Union Square, the Santas rate pedestrians naughty or nice (the very old and very young are mostly nice; the very attractive are very naughty), and beat on a Bank of America building. They cram themselves into a telephone booth, mostly, and Santa Ed takes a piss in an alley, explaining to passers-by that "Santa has to pee." Overwhelmed by street singer Michelet Innocent, the Santas swoon and prostrate themselves, then "infiltrate" the teenage carolers from the New Artist's Guild. They pass under a banner quoting Friedrich Nietzsche, "Life without art is a mistake," into Saks Fifth Avenue, which proves more tolerant than the Gap, Old Navy, and Virgin Megastore combined by offering to spritz each Santa with holiday cologne. The Santas take in more libations at the Gold Dust Lounge, and Santa Ed gets very, very friendly with a couple of dowagers from Sacramento. Then it's a game of how many Santas fit in a cable car, followed by a standing-only ride to the Powell Street turnaround in exchange for a photo-op with the turnaround operator (taken by a drunken Santa who photographs his own eye). At the Sony Metreon, things don't fare as well for the Santas. After a little nap and a quick session of grass-angel-making on the lawn, the Santas march to the top of the building complex with security guards in tow, and ooh and aah at folks waving from the grounds below. Outside, the Santas are approached by a friendly woman in uniform who says very dangerous Santas at the WTO protest make us highly suspect.

"Guilt by association sucks," says one Santa (they all start to look the same after a while). Millennial Santa and her cohort, Y2Katie, are asked not to pass holiday stickers to the youngsters.

Rousing their holiday spirit, the Santas head to Zeum, where they ride the carousel, climb the world, and pose for pictures with some crazy family that follows for the next half an hour. Then it's off to beers at 111 Minna, and a stumble to the Oakland ferry for impromptu judging of the Oakland Lighted Yacht Parade.

The next night, after an aborted attempt at crashing the corporately sponsored Parade, the Cheap Suit Santas console each other at the Naughty Santas Black Market crafts soiree held at SOMAR. Discussing sprained ankles, splitting hangovers, and plans for next weekend's Seattle Santacon, the bedraggled Kris Kringles find the merry might to beat on a junked car with golf clubs and sledgehammers for charity.

"It's been a pretty mellow weekend for Santa," says a Santa. "Just a few drinks with friends, really. It's a tough job, and it takes a pretty vigorous Santa. Luckily, we've got a few laying around."

Ho! Ho! Ho?

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