How long have you been selling STREET SHEET?
Over 20 years—started when I saw my niece selling them. I couldn’t believe it: People would just give me money for this paper! It makes me feel good because I like talking to people, and they’ll actually listen to you. You can tell them what’s happening in the Bay Area, you know what I’m saying. I tell them stories about my life.
What makes STREET SHEET unique?
It’s like you’re looking at the real people who live on the streets, you get smarter just by knowing the area and seeing what you’re gonna go through, what we go through, day by day.
What stories do you like to tell your customers?
I tell them about when I played pool against Minnesota Fats. Okay, I used to be the number one pool player in San Francisco. I’ve been playing pool since I was 14. I’m turning 68 this May. I won world championship poker tournaments, Texas Hold ‘Em, Low Ball, Five Card Stunt, and they called me “Action Jackson” because I like action.
So you played against Minnesota Fats…Did you win?
Did you grow up in San Francisco?
I grew up in and out of Frisco. I was born in Oakland, CA and between 16 and birth I lived in Oakland and Frisco. I lived in Potrero Hill when I was like 8. I’ve always loved San Francisco. I moved here permanently in 2000. That was when I got my first SRO.
Can you tell me a bit about what homelessness has meant to you?
Well I became homeless because of my pool playing. I wanted to play in a bunch of different areas so I just took off, you know what I mean? I’ve been to 47 states, sold papers in Denver, Seattle, and Portland. I’ve been around; I like to travel. And my papa was a rolling stone. I never made no place my home.
Since you were a kid, how have you seen San Francisco change?
I’ve seen San Francisco change from like day to night, you know what I mean. I remember like back in ‘69 everything was alright. Then, I don’t know, everything is getting too expensive. They used to have a thing called Hot Bed here, where they would give you a hotel room for a week for free, every week. I think now-Governor Newsom changed the law [back when he was mayor] where he went from “cash” to “care,” where he only gave you a shelter instead of the $400. A lot of people don’t want to stay at a shelter, and they get nothing, almost, they get like $60 a month. How could you live on that?
If you were mayor of San Francisco, what would you change about the way San Francisco addresses homelessness?
I’d say build more homeless Navigation Centers. Because at the Navigation Centers you can go in and out as you please, you know? You don’t have to go check in at 5, and they have people to help you with medical [needs].
Anything you want to add?
Remember, the greatest nation is a donation!