It was only noon, but half-empty glasses of wine lined the tables at Cafe La Boheme as poet after poet stood in front of the packed room Sunday to say goodbye to a dear friend, colleague, and true Mission personality. Some were also there to say goodbye to a way of life they see as disappearing.
Alfonso Texidor was known in the community as a poet, translator, and activist. He passed away in hospice on Christmas Day at the age of 68. His memorial was a testament to the many San Franciscans he has inspired since moving here from New York in the 1970s.
Many said their goodbyes in the only way they saw fit: through poetry.
“Many a merry night in the Mission, I can remember carrying Alfonsito home on my back…He would curse me, ‘You f**king hippy,” Jerry Ferraz, a local poet a musician, recited from a memorial poem he wrote after his friend’s death.
In between poems, Jorge Argueta, who emceed the event, would interject memories of his friend, who was born in Puerto Rico.
“We spent hours drinking, smoking, and reading poetry…He joined this neighborhood and gave it everything he had.”
Francisco Alarcón, a Los Angeles-based poet, echoed Argueta’s sentiments in his memorial poem: “Tonight, the Mission looks so empty.”
As the memorial progressed, it became clear that attendees were saying goodbye to more than just their friend. They were saying goodbye to the neighborhood they have always known.
“We are struggling to survive in this city of San Francisco, and you know what I am talking about….Let’s keep this city going in the way we want it to…We are the trouble-makers union,” said Jorge Molina, a Peruvian-born human rights activist.
Between the service and following reception at Mission Cultural Center, many shared their memories and thoughts on Texidor and what his death means.
“I saw Alfonso all the time in the neighborhood. He was such an essential part of the culture. We are losing those people to death and gentrification,” said Christopher Cook, a journalist and activist who met Texidor while the two worked on local political campaigns.
Leticia Hernandez, a Mission resident and poet, was one of the younger members of the crowd. She brought her young son to share in the experience and said she was leaving feeling inspired.
“The most important thing we have in this community is each other…It shows me that no matter how many developers come in, they can’t crush our spirit and community,” she said.
Paula Tejada, owner of Chile Lindo, also read a poem she had written for Texidor in 2011. At Mission Cultural Center, she also spoke of the sense of community she felt at the memorial.
“It fortifies you to remember that there is a community that survives in spite of it all,” Tejada said.