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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homeless Man Camps In Shadow of Cirque Du Soleil Tent

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge A tale of two tents: Jeff, left, with his buddy Mike. 'I can stay inside for a while, but after four or five days, I need to get outside,' says Jeff. 'It clears my head.' - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • A tale of two tents: Jeff, left, with his buddy Mike. 'I can stay inside for a while, but after four or five days, I need to get outside,' says Jeff. 'It clears my head.'
Circus patrons searching for clowns, trampoline acts, and Russian women who apparently have no spines and can literally bend over backwards could be forgiven for ending up at Jeff's tent. If you were told to go to the tent in an AT&T Park overflow lot to catch Cirque Du Soleil, you'd likely end up at the gargantuan blue-and-gold big top. But that wasn't the only parking lot tent this week -- Jeff's familiar green shelter stood nearby in the shadow of its giant cousin.

When asked how long he's been living in a tent, Jeff -- "It ain't spelled with a 'G' even if I do live in San Francisco" -- laughs. Eight years he says. And where did he live before? "Another tent," he says with a laugh.

Jeff methodically packed his belongings into a small trunk he hitches to his bicycle  with the methodical efficiency befitting a man claiming to have lived out off doors for the better part of 30 years.  "I've got PTSD issues," he says. "I can stay inside for a while, but after four or five days, I need to get outside. It clears my head."

Jeff's belongings are clean and orderly and his tent is in remarkably good shape. He acknowledges it's not on par to the circus tent looming behind him -- but it's definitely not manufacturers seconds, either.

"I found it in the trash," he says with another laugh. "It was new in the box -- right after Burning Man. Guess they didn't need it anymore."

Jeff's buddy Mike, himself a denizen of San Francisco's streets for the past 18 years, chimes in. "You'd be real surprised what you can find in the trash."

The green tent was a familiar sight several months ago in the parking lot -- Jeff camped here for about three months straight. City officials came by and asked him to leave, and he quickly complied. "They were nice about it and we didn't give them any trouble." He occasionally pops back into the lot -- usually a giant circus tent isn't there to keep him company -- and camps throughout Mission Bay between the ballpark and the power plant on 24th.

Every so often Jeff or Mike will leave San Francisco. But it never lasts too long. "It's like they've put a big magnet on our butts," rhapsodizes Jeff. "We always end up back here."

 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more

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