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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Party Night!

October 20, 2012

Well, one good night out deserves another.  I woke up with the growing couch crowd in the Richmond on Saturday.  It was the first day that most of the crew didn’t have work.  That means brunch!  We went out for fancy egg sandwiches, which turned out to be fancy savory waffles.  They were good, but I can’t keep spending this kind of money for the whole trip.  I have to be smarter and not so free spirited.  Eh, we’ll see what happens.
That night we went out on the town at about 4:00 in the afternoon.  There was a festival celebration at Clarion Alley where bands were playing all night.  But first, we went to a Mad Hatter themed tea-party.  It was very welcoming and had no problem conversing like individual people who were aware of other people’s existences.  It should be weird to all of us that that is a rare thing to find in the world of today.  I have grown tired of organic balls of self-consciousness who only see the world in such a limited first person perspective.  I’m sure that’s part of the reason that sparked the move in the first place. 
They pieced together costumes for those of us who did not have one.  Everyone could look you in the eye and wanted to connect.  There was no sense of the invisible barrier between people, you know the one we assign to everyone in each passing moment that subconsciously decides how well we are going to get to know the person standing in front of us.  Of course, that could just be my euphoric state of mind.  There were several vials reminiscent of a “Drink Me” from Alice and Wonderland.  They were very dangerous.  I had two. 
A slurry of night later and we all found ourselves separated in to two parties which came back together hours later, and somehow became loosely affiliated with the most amazing party we could have hoped for.  It was full of good music, good dancing, and amazing people.  It was a self proclaimed “Queer Party” of Balmy Alley in the middle of graffiti central; good graffiti too.  There were images of the community and elements and people arranged in such a specific social commentary on the neighborhoods they live in.  I could not make out all the intricacies, but the images of cops busting kids on the street sporting SF Giants gear while simultaneously sharing a café mocha frothing with whipped cream elbow to elbow with well-to-do dog owners was not lost on me. 
The party house had two stories, clouds were hanging from the ceiling, music pumped all night in the red sweaty room, and skin was not scarce.  It was amazing.  There were costumes, there were people in just in just underwear, and there were two bars.  The early crew left at around 2.  We left at 3:30 with the party still kicking behind us.  I would like to stress that this approaches a full 12-hours of partying.  Most people have an eight-hour workday, but we put in half a day of overtime.  We work hard.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Three Days

October 17, 2012

Today I saw a humpback whale break the surface of the ocean and splash back down.  It was pretty “majestic” as they say.  Beau and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands.  It was a beautiful day, probably around 70 degrees.  The Indian summer maintains, which is ok because I still have not received my camera by post yet.  It is taking a really really long time.  Not only am I anxious to receive it, but I really want to get on with the trip.  I feel like I’m wearing out my welcome on everyone’s couch.  Last night was my last night at Beau’s place.  I had to find other accommodations.  Still, we drove over the bridge and hiked around the old military instillations.  There are bunkers from WWII and remnants of artillery stations lining the hills of the Headlands.  Most are weathered and corroded and have collapsed in on each other.  There are broken wooden beams and corroded metal supports all caving in on the crumbling concrete that used to protect and house American soldiers.  There are great steel doors sealing bomb shelters and bunkers at every turn.  I was hoping there was some secret government experiment going on behind the doors just waiting to start the Zombie Apocalypse… no such luck. 
The decomposing structures looked as if they were hit with an atomic bomb.  Turns out it was just ocean air and time.  I can only imagine the naïve sentiments when they were made of how everything was going to last forever.  We walked around a good bit, climbed on fallen structures and admired the graffiti.  Within that, a loud pop went off in the distance.  Out of the corner of our eyes, a whale shoots out of the water.  It was like a shinny grey missile as it breached, and just as fast, came crashing down.  From the distance, the splash and submerge happened well before we heard the effect.  It was loud.  It was awesome.  It was the first time I saw a whale.  Almost immediately after we spied it, two boats came speeding over to invade its space and gawk.  It stopped playing in the air, but it was a beautiful day and the whale knew it too.
I met Shamia in Mendocino a couple of weeks ago and now I’m on her couch.  She lives with Alex and her brother Patrick, who’re half Chinese and half Chamorro.  I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but it came up tonight and, well, now you know.  We all talked about racial jokes.  I find them hilarious and appropriate in just about every situation.  San Francisco first needs a few drinks to agree.

October 18-19, 2012

Today was a bad day.  I said that both days.  I was just tired and cranky and pissed about my shipping problems.  As you may or may not know, I ordered a camera on the internet.  Almost a month later, it seems that it isn’t going to arrive.  I had to scramble and make it happen another way, which cost a lot more money and time.  This whole waiting process has kept me in San Francisco for way too long.  I am starting to see the weather change and in the realm of the North West and Yellowstone that means feet of snow on the ground.  I’m working on my brave face and still think I can bear it.  I can, right?
I was just beat… it was a rough day.
Thursday night was kind of a savior though.  We all went out for a show.  A music show.  A friend of everyone’s was playing at a mock antique shop slash art studio slash store.  It was the kind of place with a red cast iron tub filled with faux fur and bars of soap or twelve hundred dollar antique typewriters.  They had a very impressive electric organ with all the switches and a full row of foot pedals.  The bathroom was the most spoken of room, as everyone had to compliment it to their friends when they rejoined their respective groups.  Downstairs was the venue.  It was a twilight antique cabin look, all wood with hipster lighting.  There was a surreal noir mural taking up a huge space on the wall next to the bar.  It was like a black and white ball in the VIP sections of hell where everyone looks like a creepy Peter Laurie…well creepier.  Anyway, we went to watch the Slow Motion Cowboys, a country-folk four piece consisting of an acoustic guitar, lap steel, stand up bass, and mandolin.  They were impressive, I bought a CD. 
After the show we all went to get a drink at the next place with Pete and Dan, the front men of the group.  While waiting, Leslie and I watched a haggard, drunken man stumble across the street.  It was a slanted, technically jay walk right towards are group.  We silently watched this display.  It was a typical Haight Street bum of the hippie/punk variety; he was drunk and a little bit crazy.  Well, I’m not making fun, but it was an ethereal observation that the cosmos compiled for me.  I felt it instantly.  He walked right towards us and in the most comically slapstick way and tripped on the sidewalk up.  He didn’t fall over; he caught himself and stumbled on, mumbling to himself.  But I thought, that in every version in every universe, that happened in all of them.  It was a good night.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Move, Jagger!

October 14, 2012

This morning I woke to the sounds of “Moves Like Jagger” blasting from a PA near by.  I assume Golden Gate Park, but I cant be sure.  The song is ok, but it has been playing back to back for hours now.  I’m not sure the fascination or the event going on in the distance, but one thing is for sure, they’re pop song fans.  I know the song, and as I said, it’s ok.  It is not close to my favorite but definitely one of the few parts of pop culture that connects me to the masses.  I rarely go with the grain and it stands out in my mind when I can identify with other people’s fascinations concerning pop culture.  Just before leaving Los Angeles, my friend Jon introduced me to a show called the Voice and one of the judges, Adam Levine.  I had no idea who he was and why he was so popular (other than being a tall tattooed good looking white guy).  He says, “you know that song, Moves like Jagger by Marroon 5, that’s the lead singer”.  Everyone knows that song even before it played dozens of times back to back this Sunday morning.  So, now I know who this Adam Levine is, why this show called the Voice is popular, as well as a song that’s still hitting the charts since mid 2011.  I may be able to connect to the masses for another year or so!
This morning I woke as I did everyday this week: on my friend Beau’s couch.  If you may remember, I met Beau at the beginning of this month.  I have no doubt that having our mutual and sorely missed friend, Ken, must have greased the wheels.  San Francisco can be a kick ass place.  The people and friends I’m meeting are all pretty amazing.  Last night we went out to the Mission for Leslie’s birthday and had tapas and drinks.  I also had half a dozen oysters, which were really cheap and friggin awesome.  All of these people are new to me.  I haven’t really known any of them for more than a couple of weeks and I’m partying with them like one of the crew and staying on couches with open arms.  It is really an amazing feeling compared to the daily paranoia living inside the people of LA.  All this camaraderie makes me wonder what my old friends are doing.  Nate has been MIA this whole time!  We hung out that one time and it seems he has been busy for weeks.  It is strange to be in a new city where I am melding so well with strangers and find it so difficult with old friends.  Is that the way life works now?  Either way, I am taking it in stride and keeping only positive feelings, and I am having a great time.   Also last night, I met an older black man with really rough hands.  Derek was a chef and like so many people these days, he was looking for work.  He randomly sat down at our party and at first glance seemed to have a bad attitude.  He plopped down in the chair with a grimace and started silently eating a cupcake with his beer.  He certainly looked out of place in this late 20 something crowd filled mainly with white coeds, with the exception of myself, Yusef and Shamia.  Searching for a spot to drink his beer, he found us.  We got into a random conversation about people and culture, Los Angeles, Portland, and even South Carolina.  There are real people everywhere, you just have to look through the façade.  He was a good guy and I hope he finds work soon. 
My new friend Beau is a musician and singer/song writer.  He’s at band practice right now, but plays with multiple groups with stark professionalism.  He used to front The Dead Westerns and now plays organ for a band called the Bad Backs as well as works on his own latest project under the duo, Betsy and Beau.  It’s all solid stuff. 
San Francisco seems to be a small town.  Everyone seems to know each other or a mutual someone.  There is a ton of music and they all know each other’s struggle.  In this city, there is definitely a division line between the struggling artists and the smugness you may recall from a certain South Park episode.  I have only been immersed in the gritty artist side, and I must tell you, I fit in pretty well here.  Maybe I’ll look for a job.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


October 9, 2012

I just spent the most amazing weekend in Yosemite National Park with some of the best people in Los Angeles.  Some really great friends met up with me at the campsite on Friday night.  First, I had to stop at the mountain store to pick up supplies.  I remember being shocked as soon as I left the city and made a stop.  I forgot… Hill People!  As I may have mentioned before, I am from South Carolina.  We have our share of rednecks and hill people; I just wasn’t expecting them so far from the south.  Apparently, every mountain town across the US has them.  I’ve been living in cities way too long.  But there is a difference between the rednecks that I grew up with and the hill people that I ran into.  The rednecks that I’m referring to are not the ones that dress up in white cloaks or hate people indiscriminately.  They may not be the most educated or classy, but they’re good people.  The hill people up Yosemite way struck me a little different.  They were very skeptical and untrusting.  I'm sure they see their fair share of tourists and people from all over, and let's face it, people are idiots.  So, I may have had some of that same air about me when I approached.  
When I entered the market, there were two cashiers: one older lady with white hair and another woman with bad teeth.  I walked in with a big smile and looked them both in the eye, like my momma taught me, and gave a proper greeting.  I asked a few questions about supplies and they were quick to get rid of me, no time for chitchat.  At home in small towns, people always have time to chew the fat, especially if it’s their place of business and you’re a customer.  Anyway, I pay it no mind and get to shopping.  Being out of my element and running behind schedule, I had to go back to the checkout three times.  No biggie, it’s not like there was a line to wait for.  But nonetheless, on the third time with the same cashier and she had no sense of humor about it at all.  I seemed to think it was kind of funny and my silent smile tried to say it all.  This time, I was buying the beer.  She asks for my ID and I oblige.  She gives it a good hard look, and then looks at me.  She says, “it doesn’t look like you”.  Taken aback, I wasn’t sure if she was serious.  She was, and didn’t look like she was going to back down.  Here it is minutes from closing time, dark outside, I have to set up camp, and this woman is giving me grief about my ID.   “Well, I’m 31.  There’s no way around that.”  She ultimately scans it and I’m on my way.
After securing some bacon, fruit, bread, marshmallows, and of course beer, I arrived at about 9pm.  The nighttime did not scare me away from setting up camp like it did with the two parties that showed up early next morning.  Tim’s car showed up carrying four at 3am.  Nicky and Alex get there an hour later.  Somehow, sleeping in the car was ok for six people.  I woke in the middle of the night expecting them, but not expecting them to be sound asleep.  Now before I admit to being a dick, I just woke up, I have not slept a whole lot in a couple of days, and my senses were playing tricks on me.  What I thought was happening, was that Nicky and Alex just rolled up and everyone was making their “hellos”.  I got some warm clothes on and unzipped my door and faced the cold.  While crossing camp, it was pitch black, freezing cold, and quiet as a dead mouse.  I saw the second car had arrived and I wanted to welcome them.  I shined my light through the window and didn’t see anything.  Then, for some reason, I started rocking the car back and forth.  In simultaneous laughter and regret, I must have scared the shit out of them.  They couldn’t tell that it was me and in a waking panic didn’t know what to do.  As Alex put it the next day, “We were thinking, it must be Matt. It has to be!  But it clearly isn’t!” 
Oh well, lesson learned… maybe. 
The rest of the weekend we were “Action Packed!”  We explored Yosemite Valley by day and partied all night.  There were seven of us total and not a single bit of negativity the entire time.  The Yosemite Valley is beautiful.  We were given glorious days to run around and adventure.  We hiked mountains, searched for waterfalls that have already dried up (it’s late in the season), and picnicked in the forest.  Back at camp, we made a bunch of food, maybe too much.  We didn’t even use the three red peppers that Tim bought (what were you thinking:).   The nighttime opened up and left us abusing our brains, burning wood, and telling ghost stories.  Not the scary classic ones, more like the rants from Kevin about how ghosts don’t pay taxes anymore and are freeloaders on the rest of us and all operate on Dragon years.  You had to be there.
They all left Sunday after a hike through the Sequoia trail and left me for one final night.  It was a really sad ‘goodbye’.  Tim's car left first.  It was sad.  Kristina, Tara, and Kevin all rode back with him, and I'll have fond memories of them all.  I had said goodbye to Nicky and Alex in Los Angeles, but this time was for real.  I knew that I was going to meet them in Yosemite and now that it's over, our time quickly becomes the past.  Great times!  Good Friends!  I’m going to miss all of you!  Maybe see you in Austin?
Now back to San Francisco to wait for my friggin' camera.

Here is a link to Nicky's photos of Yosemite: 

This is totally real!