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How the West was won

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Summer vacation. At the end of August, the Call reported that the Board of Supervisors had voted to "vacate" several alleys south of Market, including a pair near Howard and First, where an "office project with associated retail uses and underground parking" is soon to appear. With the ink on the vote barely dry, the demolition crew has moved in. Tenny Place and Sloan Alley are now rubble. Heck, most of the block is rubble.

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Clean sweep. The latest Real Estate Times carries a Zephyr ad that begins, "Rarely Available Lighthouse Loft." In case you havenít been paying attention, the Lighthouse for the Blind on Howard ó where they used to make the brooms you bought every year ó has been converted to "truly urban living with the warmth and heart of home." The unit for sale boasts "an extraordinarily large storage space, a one-car++ parking space, and a common roof deck with 360ļ views of the city and the bay." In case you were worrying, Rose Resnickís Lighthouse is alive and well, across Market on Van Ness.

How I Got the Blues

I was born in 1961 in a small town in Indiana called Elwood, located about 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis, off State Hiway 37. I was raised by my father and grandmother in a home about five miles outside town, in Tipton County at the crossroads of Hiway 37 and 128. It was a new house situated on two acres, half-wooded, bordered on the west by Duck Creek and on the south by a somewhat smaller tributary whose name I never did know.

I was a good kid and very rarely got into any kind of trouble. Grandma took me up to the Baptist Church every Sunday for morning and evening services, and every Wednesday night for Bible study, even had me singing in the choir starting at the age of five.

At 14 I discovered music in earnest, and over the next four years taught myself to play guitar, piano, and other instruments, and began writing songs. At 18 I took my guitar and what few other items I could carry and hit the road south, to seek my fortune. For the next 13 years I hacked around the country hitch-hiking and riding freight trains, making my way mostly as a street musician, with occasional paying gigs in both dives and class joints throughout the U.S.

Then one day I was playing on a street corner in San Francisco, when this sharp-dressed black fellow walked up to me and said, "Hey boy, you ainít got that guitar tuned right. Let me see that a minute." I handed my í46 New Yorker over to him in somewhat of a daze and watched stupidly as he speed-tuned it and readjusted the floating bridge. Then he handed it back saying, "There you go; youíll be all right now."

Before I could say thanks or even what the hell, he had disappeared into the crowd. After a moment the significance of what had just passed came home to me, and I tried to undo the changes the tall black stranger had wrought on my guitar, but it was too late.

That is how I got the blues.

Moral: Some are born to the blues; others have the blues thrust upon them.

Big Fat Woman

Well, I had a pretty woman
bout 6 foot 1
400 pounds
I called her "Tons of Fun"
She said, "Donít you hate it
that Iím so big and fat?"
I said "Donít you worry, girl,
I like it like that."
You are my big, fat woman
and I love you just that way
I need my big, fat woman
to love me until the break of day


I said, "Looky here, baby
I donít play no game
I love the way you look
and you donít need to be ashamed
One look at you
soothes my worried soul
and I love the way you make your Jelly Roll."


Lovin my big, fat woman
is just like rockin in my mamaís arms
I know my big, fat woman
is gonna keep me safe and warm


Now sometimes my baby
worried bout her looks
I came home one day
she was readin a fashion book
She said, "I been studying
this here Jenny Craig Diet."
I said, "If you love me baby
please donít try it."


I need my big, fat, woman
I wish youíd gain a hundred pounds
I need my big, fat woman
to make my world keep spinnin round


Well, I lost that woman
Guess I knew I would
Cause nothin lasts forever
and maybe nothin should
Somebody Help Me!
Help me if you can!
My big fat woman left me
for a big, fat man


She was my big, fat woman
but she left me sad and blue
So now Iím lookin for a woman
500 pounds and 6 foot 2

Arlis R. Tyner