In Search of Mathew, Mama, Fia. Also FREE PIANO on Page at Steiner.
Yesterday, while walking the long way home down Page St in San Francisco, I saw two small blonde dogs on the sidewalk. They had pointy ears and the kind of coats that remind me of tablecloths. Their leashes were tied together and they seemed to be thinking about something. As I got closer I heard piano music. It was loud. But I couldn’t see a piano. Or a person playing it. Or anyone at all with the dogs.
Then I saw it. Behind two large trash cans, one for compost, one for recycling. In front of the old food bank.
I stood and watched for a while. Passersby stopped to pet the blondes. They ambled about but didn’t leave their spot on the sidewalk. Eventually the playing stopped and a man stood up from behind the cans. His name was Mathew. He introduced me to the dogs: Mama and Fia. Mama is the mama of Fia. Fia is a bit of a fighter and likes to play tug-of-war with Mathew’s sleeves while he’s talking. Mathew said that he’s been walking the dogs down to play the piano for them since the food bank put it out on the street. He also says he feeds them chicken though it’s gotten hard because his rent was raised to 830 dollars a month and affording chicken on top of this is difficult and he’s not sure how long he can do it.
I didn’t have my video camera or a sound recorder but I asked Matthew if he could come back today. We said we hoped the piano would still be there and that it wouldn’t be raining. He gave me his card, said he no longer had a phone. We agreed on 9am.
This morning at 9am it was raining lightly. When I showed up the piano was still there. A bag of human shit was next to it. A broken umbrella and a muddy comic book too.
The man who used to run the food bank said no one with dogs had been there. And the only person to play the piano so far was a man who walked around the city looking for pianos to play.
If you see Mathew, please tell him I’m looking for him.