26 Parrots

With a slow sigh, Mark Bittner relaxes into the bench of Caffe Trieste, a famous North Beach coffee house. In the fifties, he explains, this place was the living room for many poets, musicians, and artists. “The neighborhood at that time was filled with people like me,” Mark says. “They didn’t know where else to go.” Back then, the dingy town was a welcoming haven for the homeless, the wandering who had lost their way—and some of those wanderers were animals. The famous South American...