the cable car and the dragon

“Cable cars are so human they can even speak.  One of them can, anyway.  San Francisco, with all that water around it, is very windy.  And sticking out into the ocean that way, it is also foggy.  When the city is all covered with fog, it’s like living inside a great gray pearl.  It was on such a night that I found I could talk to Charlie the Cable Car.  It was so foggy that you couldn’t even see the tops of the buildings.  And so windy that all the tourists had gone to bed early.”

Currently reading: The Cable Car and the Dragon by venerable San Francisco Chronicle columnist and journalist Herb Caen.  Illustrated by Barbara Nine Byfield.  I like how Caen starts off the book with a short history about cable cars.  One night, Charlie, the youngest cable car in the city (only sixty!), veers off his usual route on Nob Hill and makes a right onto Jackson Street into the middle of a Chinese New Year Parade.  He meets an amiable dragon named Chu Chin Chow and the two go on a lively but harrowing adventure through the city.  A good read for Lunar New Year.

The way Caen weaves this tale shows a clear love for the city and a deep knowledge of its unique denizens, quirks and landmarks.  This is someone who avidly walked its streets over and over again, but with the observant eye and wit of a writer.