Wednesday, April 30, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO ROUND-UP
Hopped aboard JetBlue this weekend for a mini-getaway. And by mini, I mean 24 hours. I've never been on JetBlue before, but now I understand why everyone loves that airline so much. I get on and the first quarter of the Raptors/Magic game was on. I watched and didn't even realize we took off or landed. In fact, I was kinda bummed when we hit Oakland because the game was at a crucial point. Flying three times since December has made me something of an expert. I used to be very afraid of flying. Not anymore. Now I'm one of those assholes who acts likes every step of the process is a burden because I'm so well traveled. But I gotta say this: The Long Beach Airport is the best in the nation. Get there an hour early? Hell no. Try 30 minutes. Of course, you'll wait for 20.
God bless public transportation in the Bay Area. I got on a bus that took me to the BART station near CENSORED (they can buy an ad if they want me to mention their name) Coliseum where the Raiders and A's play. I busted out the ol' digital camera and snapped a few shots. It was an absolutely beautiful day, much nicer and cooler than it was in Long Beach, aka the home of global warming. Fuck it's getting hot here.
The BART is something else. While waiting, I saw this beat up white guy wearing an old Jason Kidd jersey and a red shirt underneath. His pants were way too big, he had an out of control goatee and was rocking a beanie. I'm gonna call this the Oakland look because only people in this city dress like that.
Here people are very quiet and reserved on public transporation. Not up there. It's like a party on wheels, except the BART doesn't run on wheels. It's like a party on a track, how's that? I left my sunglasses on for most of the trek through Oakland because there was a family -- father, mother, daughter -- sitting across from me. Now, she looked at least 18, but however old she was, she was fucking gorgeous. So gorgeous I HAD to leave the glasses on. I knew her dad was hip to what was going on. I mean, how many times could I pretend to look out their window when I had the better view from where I was sitting? Hey pops, don't make 'em if you can't take it.
I exited Civic Center and walked up Hyde to my cousin's apartment. This part of town is a trip. There's an intersection three blocks from where she lives where a bunch of dudes lean against a chain link fence that surrounds an open field. These guys were selling bootlegg DVDs. One was drinking a large Colt 45, no brown bag, just chugging it. At 3 p.m. Gotta love this town.
My cousin lives in a killer building that probably used to be really cool. Now it's in the worst part of town I've ever seen in SF. Her place overlooks the intersection of Hyde and O'Farrell. Now don't go stalking her. For starters, she doesn't look anything like me, so you won't know it's her.
I got there and felt kinda bad because, as much as I wanted to catch up, the Lakers were on. Turns out she's a basketball fan and we watched as we shot the shit. That's what they call killing two birds with one stone.
We talked until the Lakers destroyed the Nuggets. Then I went around the corner to buy some medicine. Same as it is in Long Beach. Got some stuff called King Kush. Three js later, I was on my way.
I couldn't not get some. It's San Franfuckingcisco for Christ's sake. There was a guy puffing a doob near the entrance to the place. He wouldn't be the only public pot smoker I'd encounter that day.
Got back and talked some more. Then cousin needed to shower, so I took a walk around the city. I got lots of good ideas. I need to start bringing a notebook with me on these walks because shit just starts pouring out of my brain when I do things like this. It's been four days, so lemme try to rememer what I saw.
Old black guy yelling "Shoeshine. Shoeshine." I walked behind and saw him checking out my kicks. Sorry, winos don't get shined. They get vomited on, then you buy new ones. I talked to him and asked what was going on that I should check out. He told me he liked pussy and gave me directions on where I might be able to score some of that. Then he tried to sell me weed. Told him I was cool, then he asked for money. I lied and said I didn't have any. HA! I did.
Walked into a store called the Magazine. Hey, I like magazines. Why not? The front of the store was your average newsstand with Details, GQ, Sports Illustrated. Then I got deeper into the store and saw it was damn near packed to the rafters full of porn. Gay porn. Where's the exit?
Left the Magazine and started walking behind an art student carrying some sort of supplies under her right arm. Over her left was the obligatory bag that all hipsters must carry. If I could draw, and someone asked me to draw what I think of when someone asks me what women in San Francisco look like, I'd draw her. Hair dyed blue-black. Boyish haircut. Faded jeans. Tight striped shirt. Puma tennis shoes. People have to be aware when they walk in SF, especially women. She turned to see who the guy walking three steps behind her for eight blocks was. We exchanged glances and my heart melted. If I lived in the Bay Area, I'd date all sorts of girls just like her. Kerouac-ian thoughts of getting lost in San Francisco filled my brain. Ah, to be a young white hipster.
One cool thing about SF is how people cross intersections against the red. It makes sense. I do it here and people give me dirty looks. But not San Franciscans. They've got places to be.
Walked down Van Ness toward Washington. Three teenagers approached. They were passing a joint between them. More Kerouac-ian thoughts.
Got back to cousin's place. I watched the Celtics/Hawks while she got ready. Then we hit the bus to go to an Italian restaurant whose name I wouldn't remember if someone said it right now. Again, public transportation is odd. People are loud, they have no qualms stretching their legs into strangers' comfort zone amd plop down in unoccupied seats by bumping into the person they are now sitting next to.
Food was good, but having just been to Italy, it wasn't all that special. What was special was a vegan ice cream shop named MaggieMudd. Holy shit was the place heaven on Earth. We were the final customers of the night. I had no idea what to get, so naturally I got the largest, most expensive thing on the menu. It's called the TarMack Fan. Chocolate brownies covered in chocolate ice cream with peanut butter dressing, chocolate dressing and whipped cream. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was served in those cardboard boxes that used to come with taco boats in elementary school. Of course it was windy outside and the ice cream didn't help with that, but I was a trooper. I ate as much as I could, but I am sad to report that I finished only half. On our way back to the busstop, we went into a bookstore and discovered Neal Pollack read earlier that night. Bummer, that woulda been cool.
Cousin took me to the Mission, where the law states every tattooed, pierced, dreadlocked, cigarette smoking drunk (shit, I just described my friend Chris) must go out on Fridays and Saturdays. There are also a bunch of Mexican dance clubs with real long lines to get in. The hipster shit was cool, but I'd rather check out the oompah bands. We didn't actually go in any bars because it was midnight and we would have waited til last call to finally get a drink. I was thinking of Jawbreaker as we passed Valencia and headed toward Mission on 16th. This area is a clusterfuck of people, but it's exciting to see nonetheless. People sure love their booze in this part of the world.
Got back on the BART to get some rest. My legs were sore and I needed to be up early to get back home the next day. Plans are in motion to return a few times this summer. It's too cool of a city not to visit regularly. But I'll say this: That early 20s whiteboy hipster who romanticized the life I'd had if I lived in the city is dead. San Francisco, you're a great place to vacation, but I can't handle you full time. This is merely another unnecessary example of how I am getting old. Maybe I could be convinced otherwise. Anyone out there wanna give me a reason to move there?