Max Johnson sits on the sidewalk on Bartlett Street playing his mandolin
Max Johnson bought his mandolin at Mission Thrift during its closing sale. Photo by Juan Carlos Lara.

Max Johnson, a Mission resident for nearly two decades, said the stretch of Bartlett Street between 21st and 22nd streets gets some of the best sunlight in the neighborhood. 

“Because of City College and how the buildings are all set back,” said Johnson, who was there on Thursday during the Mission Community Market’s hours.  

That sunlight was part of the reason Johnson regularly visited the Revolution Cafe, and part of why he was devastated to find out the cafe recently closed

As we talked, he recognized a passerby going to the market. 

“What’s up, man?” Johnson said. 

“Chillin’ like a villain, posted up like a lightbulb,” the man replied. 

Johnson, a semi-retired chef, was at the market to pick up some green garlic, fresh spinach and gem lettuce. 

“I’m going to saute it with garlic, butter, salt and pepper and use it on lots of stuff; omelets, whatever. Sometimes I even eat it cold,” Johnson said. With a laugh, he shared that he especially likes drinking the juice that remains when he cooks lots of spinach.  

Before heading home, Johnson stopped on Bartlett Street to enjoy the sunshine, smoke a cigarette and play the mandolin he bought at another since-departed local business: Mission Thrift.

“They were just selling everything, and it was $150, so I said, ‘why not?’” Johnson said.

On this particular day, the 57-year-old was playing “Henry” by The New Riders of the Purple Sage, a San Francisco-based country rock band from the 1970s, and lamenting that the band’s pedal steel guitarist died in February.

Though Johnson’s thoughts linger on relics of the past — closed businesses and songs recorded by departed musicians — the sunshine will always be there. 

“I’m lovin’ it all out here,” Johnson said. 


Follow Us

Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

Tips can be sent to
Tweets can be found at @jcl_scoop

Leave a comment

Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *