“The Thin Checkered Line” is the fourth installment in the Behind the Wheel series – a week in the life of a San Francisco taxi driver, erstwhile Angeleno living in Oakland, newly minted father and newspaper columnist who’s always on the prowl for a good ride and an even better story …
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Pt. 1 – The Way of the Taxi
Pt. 2 – A Story with Wheels
Pt. 3 – Navigating the Uber Effect
Pt. 4 – The Death of Cab Culture
Pt. 5 – San Francisco Ain’t Never Been What It Used to Be
Over the course of these five narrative essays, I document the rides that were too risqué for The Examinerand chronicle the gritty details of four 12-hour taxi shifts while exploring the rapidly changing landscape of San Francisco during the latest tech boom.
As I attempt to explain how the taxi system works, I answer the eternal question: why I drive a taxi, and describe what it’s like driving a taxi in the age of Uber and Lyft …
Along the way, I also speculate on the future of transportation and wonder where the hell we’re going, and whether or not the destination is going to be meter and a half …
This half-sized, staple-bound zine features a wraparound cover and sixty-four pages of text, illustrated with b&w images of San Francisco street scenes from behind the wheel. Also includes a “taxi driving is not a crime” bumper sticker.”
The price is $7.00 postpaid in the US.
Behind the Wheel 4: The Thin Checkered Line
“The Thin Checkered Line” is the fourth installment in the Behind the Wheel series – a week in the life of a San Francisco taxi drive. This half-sized, staple-bound zine features a wraparound cover and sixty-four pages of text, illustrated with b&w images of San Francisco street scenes from behind the wheel. Includes a "taxi driving is not a crime" bumper sticker. The price is $7.00 postpaid in the US.
Also available from the Piltdownlad Etsy store.
The Way of the Taxi
A PILTDOWNLAD Mini-Zine
“Cab to the Yard”
b/w “Gridlock Is My Business”
This one-sheet mini-zine is a preview of the next Behind the Wheel zine, subtitled “The Thin Checkered Line.” The two short pieces here describe in gripping detail the start of a taxi shift, from getting off BART and walking through the Mission to the National Yard, then heading out into the maelstrom of afternoon traffic and people during rush hour.
8.5” x 11” – essentially, one sheet of paper, folded in quarters.
Get Behind the Wheel here.
The Way of the Taxi Mini-Zine
The two short pieces in this mini-zine describe the start of a taxi shift, from getting off BART and walking through the Mission to the National Yard, then heading out into the maelstrom of afternoon traffic and people during rush hour. Measures 8.5” x 11” – essentially, one sheet of paper, folded in quarters. Includes a sticker and a taxi card (selected at random – or you can request specifics when ordering). Postpaid. (Be sure to include mailing address.)
Includes the “my other ride is a taxicab” sticker.*
Or choose one of the following:
“What would Herb Caen say?”
“taxi driving is not a crime”
“kill your smartphone”
“your uber driver hates you”
Get Sticky here.
Also comes with a taxi card.*
(Image selected at random, or choose from one the images below.)
* This is a limited time offer, while supplies last.
- Keep Print Alive!
All three issues of the Behind the Wheel zine (“A Lyft Driver’s Log,” “Notes from an Uber/Lyft” and “From Uber/Lyft to Taxi”) are now available through Antiquated Future, one of the largest zine distributors in the US.
Ladies and gentlemen!
Here’s an offer that can’t beat!
The first three issues of Behind the Wheel together for $15 postpaid!
That’s 3 zines, 5 bucks each, and free shipping.
With over 180 illustrated pages of misadventures, discoveries and altercations, you can experience the harrowing and raucous trajectory of a confused yet weary Lyft driver turned disgruntled Uber driver then freewheeling taxi driver working the streets of San Francisco.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ORDER NOW – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Need more convincing?
This is what people have written about Behind the Wheel:
Behind the Wheel #1 was reviewed favorably in Razorcake Magazine:
Clocking in at fifty-six pages of pure text, Dessaint’s accounts offer a unique perspective to these rideshares that many people forget: the driver’s point of view. I found myself worried that overly drunk riders would vomit in his car; I cringed when a couple used his backseat as their own personal makeout haven; and I clenched my teeth while reading the conversations between tech bros and conservative republicans. I commend Dessaint for his ability to navigate the waters, as these situations all seemed like torture to me. Above all, Dessaint is inarguably enamored with the idea of San Francisco: the art, the culture, the history. Yet, his experiences tell tales more of frustration with what the city has become in recent years, rather than the happiness of being in the city he’s always loved. He and his wife live in nearby Oakland, as they cannot afford to live within San Francisco due to the influx of tech workers raising rent prices. The fact that his dream city is still a bridge away is a source of bitterness for Dessaint. I’ll drive myself around, thank you. –Ashley Ravelo
A review of the first two issues by V. Vale:
If our future looks like San Francisco, what with its impossibly sky-high rents, employment at Google/Twitter et al for the 1%, and the rest of the population grimly hanging on to “real” jobs or trying out the “freelancer economy” working for Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Airbnb and other “disruptive” start-ups… one thing is certain: “real” workers are gonna get royally screwed. It’s almost as if the 20th-century advances of labor unions, more economic justice, widespread health care, are already becoming a dimly-remembered mirage […] We wondered, “If Jack London or George Orwell were alive today, what would they think of the recent headline “Being Ubered: The Unstoppable Rise of the Freelance Economy”? UNSTOPPABLE? Don’t we still have a government with a SPINE?!? Government is our only defense against the rise of the New Economy Wreckers/Law-Breakers of Civilization. We say (again): spending money is a political act. […] Send writer/publisher Kelly Dessaint cash, money order or trade for these 2 brimful-of-“truth” publications.
Razorcake also had some nice things to say about Behind the Wheel #3:
In this third volume of Behind the Wheel, our author/driver has gone from Uber, to Lyft, to now taxi driver. This series is an inside look at what it’s like to be a Bay Area driver. We meet passengers seeking drugs, sex—and more often than not inebriated—and mistaking the poor taxi driver as a Lyft or Uber. I especially loved the guest stories from “Late Night Larry” because they involved either passengers who puked and had to pay up (a hundred dollar fee!) or wanted to have sex in his car, to which he seemed okay with either? The life of a cab driver doesn’t seem like something I’m brave enough to take on, but I certainly appreciate those who can do it, and the craziness that they encounter every day! –Tricia Ramos
A positive review of Behind the Wheel #3 appeared in Broken Pencil magazine:
Dessaint loves his city of San Fran but he’s seen it with its makeup off. He’s lost count how many times a young girl has gotten into his cab and passed out because she’d been roofied. Part of his vocation is keeping those young women safe. The taxi industry often runs hand in hand with passengers who use intoxicants, sex workers, and people coming back from good (and bad) dates. Watching Dessaint navigate these worlds while keeping his personal code makes for very entertaining reading.
As with any vocation, Dessaint recognizes that his career does not exist in a vacuum. He comes from a long line of cabbies whom he respects and admires. Every Sunday he goes to the cabbie BBQ in the junkyard by the cab station. He hears and tells stories, gathers advice and shoots the shit. Throughout the zine he splices in stories told by a veteran cabbie, Late Night Larry. They are some of the funniest tales in the zine. Dessaint writes strong narratives and convincing arguments against Uber/Lyft. As a result, I’m now done with Uber and I hope to be lucky enough to ride in Dessaint’s cab one day. (dustan j. hlady)
More praise for Behind the Wheel #1:
I read this zine in one sitting, but don’t let that fool you; this is a text heavy zine. The zine has over 50 pages of Kelly’s experiences as a Lyft driver. As Kelly tells us stories about the people he meets, you also learn more about him as a person. I like how he handles his shit. He seems like a cool and nice guy. I appreciate like how neat and clean the zine is made, as I can’t stand sloppy zines.
In most of Kelly’s other zines he is what is changing; in Behind the Wheel, San Francisco is what is changing. Kelly moves from LA to the Bay area and quickly finds that the SF he knew has disappeared. He begins working for Lyft, a social media ride sharing business. He documents his life as a modern day cab driver and those he shuttles around the city he can’t afford to live in. Tech companies are one of the reasons SF has changed and yet Lyft is one of those companies. Kelly recognizes the inherent conflict and the potential for being part of the problem. This zine very much captures a time and place and shows changes technology and social media have created.
I love insider information! Like, anything that starts with “Confessions of…” I’m probably going to read. Behind the Wheel is a taxi-cab confessional of sorts, from the driver’s perspective. Kelly goes behind the pink mustache and shares the highlights and woes of being a Lyft driver. Whether he’s talking about how he learned the streets of San Francisco instead of relying on GPS, or griping about the stench of alcohol and cigarettes some passengers leave wafting through his car, Kelly’s laid-back style is engaging and readable. Best of all, he recounts passengers’ thoughts about the influx of “brogrammers” and other techy people into San Francisco. This makes Behind the Wheel a slice-of-life snapshot at the height of Tech Boom 2.0. Plus, he weaves in stories about his own life, letting us get to know our narrator better. When his soundtrack (like Bad Brains and Iggy Pop) plays in your head, it helps to beat down that dread you feel when he gets pulled over. At 54 pages, this zine is rich in detail and well-worth reading. Let Kelly give you a Lyft!
Alright, I’m done. Just buy the damn zines already!
Behind the Wheel 3 is available at these bookstores:
In the Mission:
Dog Eared Books
900 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
3130 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Alley Cat Books
3036 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Needles and Pens
1173 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
In North Beach:
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Soon to be stocked:
Bound Together in the Haight
Dog Eared Books on Castro
Don Anderson, who runs The Third Carriage Age taxi blog, recently interviewed me about making zines, the Behind the Wheel series in particular, my Uber/Lyft experiences and driving a taxi in San Francisco.
Read the article/interview here.