A Preacher at Powell Station


I’ve been coming upon this scene above Powell station during my Wednesday afternoon commute every week.

A neatly dressed, middle aged man is standing on a small stool. He has a headset microphone which is plugged into a small amplifier which hangs around his neck. He is alternately reading passages from the bible and making antagonistic comments to passer’s by. A lot of people take his bait. Somewhat surprisingly, not a single person in the crowd can hold their own with him in debate. He is a very organized and persuasive speaker. Keep in mind that the god that he is talking about isn’t just some benevolent, ill-defined omnipresence. His God is a wizard who lives in outer space and he hates you. But still, the preacher dominates every round.

I watched the show for about an hour and doodled in my sketchbook.

1. The Preacher. I took notes on every item of personal information that I caught during this guys sermon. He is 50 years old. He has a wife and 4 kids. He is a mortgage broker who does this in his spare time. His oldest brother is gay.

2. This guy. This fucking guy. He was the first person that I saw engaging in the argument. And he was by far the worst. He quickly identified himself as an atheist. For the record, babe, I’ve never met a group of people who are MORE pushy with their religious views than atheists. Not Jews, not Muslims, not Christians. Atheists take the cake by far. Of course I’m just talking about being pushy in conversation. They don’t crash planes into buildings to prove there is no god or anything. No crusades in the name of the big Nothing, for sure. But they are really fucking obnoxious in conversation. 

He also stated that his name is “Seven”. If this guys' parents named him Seven, then they got just what they were asking for. Their kid is a douche bag in toe shoes who debates theology with strangers in front of Forever 21. His parents should be arrested for their role in creating this ass. 

He eventually mumbled some stupid comment about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Rev just ripped him to pieces over it. Seven (7? Sevin?) threw his hands up as if to say “I don’t have time for this!” and stomped away, thoroughly defeated. 

3. Occupy Kid. I honestly couldn’t tell if this was a 12 year old boy or a 15 year old girl. Either way, they were wearing the clothing of an adult man, and pretending to be homeless. Dirty jeans but clean skin and hair. Rock Stone doesn’t miss that shit, babe.

The kid ran up and started to rant and rave about the power of love, then looked around for a round of applause from the gallery, which did not come. The preacher spoke to the kid exactly as a concerned adult ought to address a child, and the kid defiantly sulked off. 

4. The Bears. These guys were walking by as the preacher was making his thoughts on homosexuality clear (he is firmly against it). They were both large, sturdy fellows with well groomed beards and shaved heads. One of them stopped to flip him off. The other was clearly annoyed and wanted to keep walking. Rev got him with the line of the day, babe:

“Sir, please remember that the Lord is with you—he is literally in the room with you and he is watching you—while you sodomize that gentleman. And he is weeping.”

Both of these dudes went nuts. They were big guys, too. Kind of intimidating. But the Rev didn’t show one ounce of fear. He just kept preaching. The bears stormed away, furious. And I laughed my ass off, because I was picturing these 2 guys sodomizing the shit out of each other while Jesus stood in the corner of the room, crying. Will you be mad at me if I draw that and put it up on the main page?

5. Dancing teenagers. They were warming up and stretching a few yards away during the sermon. They were all sinewy and muscular and bombastic looking. The sermon was taking place in the prime busking real estate in front of the Cable Car turnaround, and they were waiting for him to wrap up so they could perform. 

He addressed them once, when he turned around and said “Are you gentleman born again in the Lord?” 

They just said “No thanks” then “How long you gonna be?”

“About 30 minutes” he said, then went back to working the crowd.

6. Old Smokey. Sad looking homeless guy. Barefoot and wearing swim trunks over sweat pants. It’s not a good look. He  didn’t have much to say but he seemed to enjoy the whole performance as much as I did.

He didn’t do a grand finale, which I was hoping for. He just sort of stopped, eventually. Got off his perch, turned off the mic, packed up his backpack, and went down into the BART station. The teenagers turned on some music and started dancing. I wandered off.

It was a great show, even if the ending was a bit lackluster. I like when a show ends with  a cliffhanger, like on Game of Thrones. Still, I’ll tune in next week. I think I’m going to try to get an interview with this guy.