9 Ds

A typographic tour of the neighborhood

I went for a walk last night after work, for the hour before dinner. When I got to the main drag, I found myself next to a longtime sausage shop. I was drawn to (reminded of) the typography due to my unplanned adjacency. This is some of my favorite in our neighborhood.

A short time later, another D called out to me, and I decided I’d look for Ds on my route.

This one is from a large outdoor advertisement that’s been scrawled on and ripped over and over and over again.

Many years ago, when Instagram first began, I tagged along with a group after hours, walking downtown in San Francisco, wandering around and taking pictures. (This one is from a laundromat.)

I don’t know if the person leading it was an employee, a hired hand, or a proto-influencer. The point was to encourage us to take pictures of the everyday, which I was attuned to, having grown up in a Nikon household with a basement darkroom. (Donut shop.)

I don’t know if such outreach was necessary for the then fledgling social media company, or if the outing (were there others?) was deemed successful within the company. The incident does seem like a memory from a distant and, yes, more innocent time. (Water Department cover.)

This morning, the first thing Instagram showed me was a mashup of Charlie Brown and Heavy D, the D looming large, like the overnight algorithm both got me and didn’t. And yes, it was freakish. Note to self: don’t go numb; don’t deny the eeriness. (From sticker affixed to sign.)

As for me yesterday evening, I needed the walk, the stretch, the exercise, the change in scenery, the time outside (I’m very very much a city mouse), an audiobook in my ear lending another layer to the stroll’s inputs and overlaps. (Graffiti on cover to a fire alarm.)

And even more so, I apparently needed this engagement with the written world of our neighborhood, both the seemingly semi-permanent and the presumably (though not always particularly) temporary. (Construction sign warning of work ahead.)

I didn’t intend to document these nine Ds on my walk. I just went for a walk after a particularly interior day. I think now about how Instagram’s grid didn’t so much shape as guide my route, a grid layered on the city’s grid.

3 thoughts on “9 Ds

  1. Marc, the comments are busted, homey. Not to badger you with my tribulations, but you may be missing other comments without anyone noticing.

    Wanted to be sure you saw this chron piece: https://www.sfchronicle.com/oursf/article/San-Francisco-finally-has-its-own-font-And-the-16109954.php

    Helvetica the doc came out when I was living in sf and the notion that the city’s very distinct neighborhoods might express themselves unconsciously through typeface is intriguing. Maybe it morphs into a project for amateur typographers– a sort of scrabble meets 4 square typography app? Ask me sometime about 3% milk!

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