Published: September 21st 2011September 21st 2011
Today I mostly did nothing. I didn't leave the house until about 6pm. Surely this is what Sunday is all about? Anyway...when I finally did leave the house, I travelled up to a place 30 miles north of San Francisco....
If you have never experienced an american motorway, it really is confusing. There's lots of lanes, and lots of post-yoga mums driving at high speed with mobile phones glued to their ears, and lots of other stuff to look at...a huge number of fast food restaurants that seem unreachable from where you are..like a lure of obesity, and some very large birds of prey hovering above the neighbouring fields. They look a bit like the Kites we have in the UK, but obviously as this is the USA, they're bigger, faster, etc etc
When we arrived at my host's Mum's house, we were greeted by a very fluffy looking dog called "Emma". Emma is a Golden Retriever X Poodle, so a bit like a Labradoodle, but not. She seemed very excited to see us, and was slightly wary of me to start off with, however, couldn't stop licking my hands (I hadn't washed them since last night, so I wondered what it was that she liked). After a short wait we made our way out of the house to take Emma for a walk..it took approximately 10 minutes to walk to the "dog park" and before I saw it I had imagined that there was some kind of park ONLY for dogs (which makes sense when you think about it, you wouldn't want kids running around in dog shit after all) but it was actually just the local playing fields. There were 2 baseball pitches; one occupied by what looked like a team of 40 somethings all dressed up in tight fitting trousers, and perfectly curved baseball hats. They all acted very keen, and huddled around their coach in a sort of prayer stance. I could only think of one phrase..."you're fucking out". (For those of you who have no clue what this means I urge you to watch "Eastbound and Down").
On the opposite side of the park was another field/square/baseball pitch where there seemed to be a sort of Latino BBQ going down. I really wanted to go and see what they were doing, as there seemed to be a lot of fuss over one of their party eating a little bit more (mo') than the rest of the crew. But I couldn't work out whether this was all in light spirited humour, so stopped looking, as I thought they may get the wrong impression and beat the shit out of me.
As I stood there with a dog lead and a shit bag in my hand, I watched Emma run around all the other (well-behaved) dogs, and wondered what it would be like to be a dog...imagine if the world changed, and dogs took their humans out for walks so they could socialise...You'd be so happy to see everyone, it would be slightly hard to control your temperament, and I suppose this is why Emma acts the way she does...reminding me of my family dog Dennis' early years.
We managed to get Emma to calm down, pass a stool or two, and returned to the house. As our stomachs were empty, we decided to make it to a restaurant. Ending up at place called Dempsey's, I enjoyed a Pale Ale, brewed on-site, and a Pork sandwich with a bowl of black beans...it was delicious.
After a small amount of gardening, and playing 'interior fetch' with Emma, we made our way back to Berkeley, first stopping to grab some cigarettes in a 7/11 where I was served by a Sikh man with a USA flag pinned onto his turban. I imagined a bollywood version of the Terminator called "The Turbanator", but didn't share it with him.
My first port of call was a cafe approximately 15 metres from the house i'm staying in. It was about 85 degrees fahrenheit, and as I paid for my Latte to go, I realised that I should have got an Ice Latte...holding my boiling hot refreshment I left with a slight feeling of "I wish I was as cool as everyone else, and knew what to order at a coffee shop", to add minor insult to injury I burnt the roof of my mouth and my tongue taking me first sip. Meh.
On finishing my coffee, I went to a Laundry a block away to pick up my freshly clean clothes...my clothes and Jessica's were sort of thrown in together, so I can understand why the (very pretty) asian lady asked me if the girl I came in with the other day was my girlfriend...I think she was happy when I explained we were 'just good friends' and that I was in town for a while. Who knows, maybe next time I visit she can show me the inner workings of her laundry, and possibly iron out a few creases in my libido.
Jessica, and her friend Jonny, had been trying to fix 2 broken mopeds that had been taking up residence for while in her garage. As I sat indoors quietly, collecting my thoughts, and discovering free things to do in the Bay area, my silence was intermittently interrupted with the sounds of an engine failing to start, and every now and again when the engine did start idling, a whooping (reminiscent of certain scenes from Deliverance) would fill my immediate environment.
Later on, I took a mild stroll to the nearest supermaket "The Berkeley Bowl" (which got its name as it used to be in an old bowling alley) and bought some toilet paper. Toilet etiquette here follows a simple rule "If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow." Since I have been visiting the dunny quite regularly this week, I thought it was only fair that I compensate for my frequent abuse of valid 'poo coupons/shit tickets'. Whilst returning to my place of residence, I stumbled upon a food outlet that smelt terrific. Through the windows I could see some plump chickens being broiled (another term I have recently learnt) and the smell of BBQing meat was too much for me to ignore. The gentleman serving convinced me to by a whole chicken by explaining the process that goes into making his chicken so tasty. Basting them with an apple sauce based topping every 30 minutes whilst they are cooked at extremely high temperatures.
I was 'over-the-moon' when I finally sunk my teeth into the delectable poultry. It really made me wonder why I rate KFC so highly in my assumptions, when such amazing cuisine is cheaper, tastier, and remarkably good quality. For the fiscal equivalent to a KFC Variety Meal (large, with 2 extra hot wings) I had eaten one of the tastiest chickens in my whole life. I won't even mention the garlic roasted potatoes that accompanied my meal, as they raised the levs beyond my ability to explain how good they were.
On retiring to the lounge, I watched "Where the Wild Things are" which I was confused and irritated by, then wondered how I could get those 90 minutes of my life back. Then I remembered my plans for Tuesday, and softly fell asleep.
Today I woke up earlier than everyday since I have been here. My alarm was set for 10am, and 3 minutes before it went off, I woke up...after a fumbled shower, and a avocado bagel, I swept my hair into shape and promptly left the house to get the BART into San Francisco. At the Public Library was a discussion open the public about "Architecture and Acoustics". There were 4 speakers, firstly a man who looked like a pre-accident Christopher Reeve who was an acoustic consultant for local government. Next, a really mellow looking bloke, who is a jazz trombonist with a very clear knowledge of the SF jazz scene and venues. Penultimately, a man who looked like a character from The Simpsons (who's name escapes me) that described himself as an "acoustician". Finally was the discussion leader, who didn't know anything about acoustics or architecture, and looked like he'd just left the set of Happy Days, or was an extra in the control room of Apollo 13.
They discussed lots of venues that I've never been to, and made some light jokes about the capabilities of drummers as musicians...but never really talked about anything extremely technical. Led by the Apollo 13 guy, the discussion wasn't slightly interesting until the opportunity arose for the audience to question the panel...
A bald man, who was sat in the front row, asked a question that I shall not repeat as it had no connection to anything relevant. After his question was reluctantly handled, he walked out of the auditorium. Then a man sat behind me, who obviously knew the panelists, asked another inane question, which evoked some reasonable chatter about the use of venues for multi-genre shows. Finally, a very good looking young lady, asked a question that I believe has no sensible answer. Her question was "do you think that the acoustics of a certain venue are improved or weakened by the social and political climate of the neighbourhood that it inhabits?". Shortly after this, I left.
After polishing off a burger and fries at the nearest $10 burger joint, I made my way back to the BART station, passing through the Civic Centre, which has some of the biggest and elaborate buildings I have ever seen. Hanging around outside of these buildings are some pretty interesting looking vagrants...as I made my way across the road, I noticed a large lady sat on a wall, legs akimbo, with a rough looking bearded man stood between her legs (I recognised him from earlier as he had asked me for change). His hand was placed between the woman's legs, like he was searching for something in a secret pocket...but what I soon realised is that he was openly pleasuring her in the middle of downtown San Francisco, the look on her face was of menacing delight, and quickly I averted my eyes from the gory details.
This evening I went to see a self-proclaimed jewish blues guitarist from Portland called David Jacobs-Strain, in a Jazz & Sushi bar in Oakland called "Yoshi's"...that was quite good, but what really made my night was seeing a train make its way down the middle of the street after the show. I made a very dark video on my blackberry, and will upload asap.
I now lie in my bed @ Piedmont House www.berkeleyhostel.com, in a 3 bed room with a english bloke called Joshua, who is interestingly producing a documentary on space tourism, and hopes to organise the first ever music gig in space. There is also an italian who's name I have already forgotten, so when I wake up tomorrow, I shall make sure I learn it.