S.G. Browne

Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – Lombard Street

Most of the places we’ve visited on the Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour have been of the more obscure variety and not exactly places you’d find in your Frommer’s or Lonely Planet travel guide. So don’t get your hopes up that Nick Monday will take a ferry to Alcatraz or race across the Golden Gate Bridge or hang out at Pier 39.

However, the one iconic San Francisco landmark that does appear in Lucky Bastard is Lombard Street, otherwise known as The Crookedest Street in the World. (Though there is some debate that Snake Alley in Burlington, IA holds that distinction.)

But for the sake of argument, we’ll say Lombard Street has the title. The one-way section of brick-paved street in Russian Hill runs for one block from the Hyde Street cable car tracks down a steep grade through eight terraced switchbacks and residential homes, ending at Leavenworth. The famous street has appeared in numerous films, hosted an Easter Big Wheel race (which I attended), and been turned into a giant Candyland board to celebrate the board game’s 60th anniversary.

And occasionally, if you look closely, you can spot one of San Francisco’s famous Wild Monkeys of Russian Hill.

The scene in Lucky Bastard that takes place here occurs in Chapters 12 and 13, when Nick arrives at the top of the street after a failed luck poaching. He’s surrounded by tourists, looking for a mark— someone who exhibits behavior that indicates they were born with good luck—when a sixteen-year-old kid races down the twisting road, maneuvering between cars:

I watch the kid on the skateboard glide between fenders and curbs, past bumpers and hedges, oozing teenage bravado and confidence. Halfway down the hill, the kid gets clipped by a Volvo, rolls over the hood of the car, and lands in some bushes blooming with pink flowers. Then he pops up and gets back on his skateboard unscathed and continues down the street with a smile on his face and a triumphant middle finger raised in salute for the driver of the Volvo.

And behold, I think I’ve just found my mark.

He takes off after the kid, racing down the 250 steps, only to run into trouble when he makes it to the bottom. What kind of trouble? That would be a spoiler. But I will say that I reference Cory Haim and Cory Feldman and someone ends up with a bloody nose.