I always gravitated more towards the mystical medicants of Market Street and recall two in particular. One was the black gentleman who stood in front of Woolworths with a toy pink plastic princess telephone and offered a "hot line to God." His chickenbone necklace was the real thing with more mojo than a pool of muddy water. I'd toss him a buck but always seemed to get the answering machine.
The other prophet of profit was a Hasidic Jewish man who would sit by Macy's on Geary, drawing countless kabbalistic sketches while talking in tongues...English, Yiddish, Hebrew, you name it.
In 1986, when my nephew was about to be bar mitzvah'd, I took him down to Brooks Brothers to get him a navy 3 piece and a white dress shirt but then took him on a tour of another side of reality...I took him through the Tenderloin and up to Chinatown and let him see and smell everything from wino's doing the St. Vitas' dance to ducks hanging upside down. We had a good chuckle over some Chasu bow at Dick Lee's bakery. I wanted him to know there was a whole other world that was no less blessed, just less affluent than he. Our final stop was the old Jewish man who drew him a special picture and bestowed a blessing on him for becoming a man.
That blessing may have come true! If you watch "Million Dollar Baby," my nephew is the deadbeat brother who asks Clint Eastwood, "hey old man, are you a part of this family."