Literary legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti dies at 101 / School district proposes return schedule

It's Tuesday, February 23rd.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

Our city (and our world) has lost one of its great literary figures. 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poet and co-founder of City Lights Books in the North Beach District, died on Monday. He was 101 years old. 

Here’s what Washington Post reporter Emma Brown had to say

When not tending shop, Mr. Ferlinghetti retreated to the attic of an old Victorian house, where he had a typewriter and an expansive view of the city. He wrote dozens of books, including one of the best-selling poetry volumes in American history: “A Coney Island of the Mind” (1958), a plain-spoken, often wry critique of American culture. 

“Christ climbed down/from His bare tree/this year,” reads one poem, “and ran away to where/no intrepid Bible salesmen/covered the territory/in two-tone Cadillacs.”

His own writing aside, Mr. Ferlinghetti was more widely known as a fixture at the center of the whirling counterculture that helped shape the nation’s social landscape since the 1950s. He was the bearded guru of San Francisco’s art scene, as closely identified with the city as summer fog and the Golden Gate.

In 1956, Ferlinghetti famously published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” a controversial poem at the time. Ferlinghetti was arrested for doing so, but later a judge acquitted the publisher, saying that the poem couldn’t be ruled obscene if it had “redeeming social importance.”  

Brown writes: 

The trial helped create a lasting impression that Mr. Ferlinghetti was one of the Beats, a notion he always shrugged off. He was older, he said, and more interested in tradition and technique — “the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.”

Bohemian or Beat, San Francisco’s first Poet Laureate will be deeply missed. 

And now, onto some more news: 

San Francisco school officials revealed their proposed schedule for school reopenings on Tuesday for the district’s lowest grades (K-2). At its max, the school board schedule would have students return for five hours of in-person instruction five days a week, or 25 total hours. 

Meanwhile, the teacher’s union proposal, according to Superintendent Vince Matthews, would have four days of in-person instruction for three hours, along with a fifth day that was virtual. In total, the union’s schedule would offer 14 total hours of instruction for students. 

Negotiations between the district and union have been taking place over the past five days, though talks appear to be at a standstill. “At this point, we believe there needs to be a trusted mediator to intervene, as we have lost confidence in the Superintendent to manage this process,” union president Susan Solomon said on Tuesday. 

For children to return to the classroom, the two parties will need to agree on a schedule, which then needs to be approved by the city’s school board.

Volunteers in the Mission District have been knocking on doors and helping residents sign up for vaccine appointments ahead of Wednesday, when educators, food industry workers, and emergency service workers become eligible to receive their first dose. On Saturday, two of the volunteers with Unidos en Salud (a partnership with UCSF and the Latino Task Force) walked into Taqueria San Francisco on 24th street and helped three employees sign up in five minutes. They also helped a 91-year old woman sign up, who had previously been unable to find an appointment. 

“I am so happy you guys are going door to door,” one person said, according to Mission Local. “Me and my friends have been confused where to get it, and it seems like you have to advocate for yourself.” 

As a reminder, you can sign up at for appointments at one of the mass vaccination sites in the area. On Twitter, people have said more and more appointments have been available on Walgreens’ website as well. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🛬 San Francisco has lifted its 10-day quarantine requirement for those who traveled outside of the area. (Chronicle

  • 🚍 Muni is offering free transportation to-and-from vaccination sites with proof of an appointment. (Examiner)

  • 🚲 Some low-income residents can now trade in their older cars for a $7,500 prepaid card to purchase one or more e-bikes, as part of the city’s Clean Cars for All program. (Examiner)

  • 😔 A stabbing at the SoMa West Skatepark (under the freeway, at Duboce Avenue and Otis Street) left a 24-year-old man dead. (Mission Local

  • 💃 The San Francisco Ballet’s current, virtual program features dancers performing in Golden Gate Park, Yerba Buena Gardens, and through the empty rooms of the SFMOMA. You can stream it online for $29 through March 3rd. (Datebook

And finally… Back in 2007, the New York Times put together an 11-minute video that touches on the life and legacy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It’s worth a watch whether you’ve been a long-time follower of his work or knew little about him before today.

That’s all for today! As I’m publishing this, the school board is starting its discussion on reopening plans, so I’m sure we’ll cover more on that tomorrow. Here’s a link to the Zoom meeting if you wanted to watch it live. Have a great night! - Nick B.

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