Five weekends in July led to a lot of productivity. I took advantage of each weekend working on eliminating our belongings. The first two weekends were bright and sunny with a lot of foot traffic. We took the third weekend to donate clothes to Walden House and books to the Prison Library Project housed in the Bound Together bookstore. Week after week we made a cull. Pictures came off the wall. Knickknacks left islands clear of dust on the mantle and shelves. The last two weekends left us to work under temper mental skies with fog always nudging the edge of our neighborhood. We met more of our neighbors and learned more about our neighborhood on those five Saturdays than in my five, K’s eighteen, years at Page and Divis. Again, I must lament the end of an era. I remember standing in a phone booth in IVBC accepting an offer of a tiny room in the Castro. If there had been cameras at Triple 8…well, let’s say there were good times and there were bad (just a few) times. We took the Halfway House to the gay level. You have to wait for the book.
I wish I could leave my apartment in the care of a loved one, but I have noticed a large change in the vibrancy of the building. There’s a couple that fight a lot right above us. Then there are the snotty French who live below and have their laundry delivered. Who cares about the laundry, but a hello after a stare down in the entry way would be appropriate. I hardly ever see the few others who are friendly.
I wonder what our new place will be like. I hope it has air conditioning and a western toilet. I think that is my only requirement, so far. I’ll figure it out. I’m up for living with other people until K meets me out there. (We figured out that she will be there just in time for Tet.) I wonder if we will live in a house or an apartment, what the furniture will be like, what kind of scooter parking there will be, if we will have a garden to sit in, and will it be near food.
Page and Divisadero has to be in the top ten area to live in San Francisco. We have watched the neighborhood go through a lot of changes and god bless those who have stayed the same. I hope they will be there when I come back. I hope the cheese monger gets his ass back in cheese gear. I have missed the soy Gouda and sesame treats. Being a former Castro resident, it was easy to move the few blocks to the Lower Haight. I loved living in Oakland, but SF is the place to be.
DREAMS OF DA NANG…
Hot, balmy days, nights. Thick jungle untangles on terrace below. Cool rain on the skin, suffocated by the moist breath. Sweat…
Hot bowls, chilies on tongues, broth, sweat, transistor tunes over char-coaled meat.
The one and only Anthony Bourdain graced the cafe with is presence and introduced the world to its bacon latte. The cafe is smaller than it looks on TV, but it is definitely funky. Definitely, San Francisco. It could have been any late spring day in the Mission District. Any Friday. Aaron slid the car into a nice spot on Florida. The sun glared off big white trucks that had pink stencils of a skeletal Mother of Guadalupe displayed on their tinted windows and blared Ranchero music for the taco stands on opposing corners.
The warm spring day was open for the talent who would put their voices to the microphone. A slight buzz of energy emanated through the cafe’s door onto the street. Aaron carried his loop equipment and trumpet into the 1/2 cafe and 1/2 radio station. Because of some drama, unbeknown to me, has shaped the radio station into a collective, which is totally better. We sat next to the espresso machine. I claimed my view of the stage and the booth window. I kicked my leg around to find some room for my feet and watched as people came in and signed up on the sheet.
Diamond Dave was definitely a recognizable character. Grey hair to his shoulders and a grey beard to his chest. He wore a flannel over a frayed t-shirt. He introduced himself and Aaron revealed he would be kicking off the talent part of the show. I made an attempt to see the show before, but April Fool’s Day made it one to remember in other ways. A day when they had nothing, no bacon for the latte, no vegan donuts, no ice…damn. Today was a different story. They were stocked and my fierce friend with a creative mind was going to get down as Diamond Dave’s co-host.
Val. Think San Francisco native…political mind…creative writing…education…PARTY. Think super long brown hair floating over a slow cool voice that vibrates with energy and cool…http://globalval.blogspot.com/
She walked in with a cool breeze and Sunshine behind her. Sunny, Sunshine was indeed that. Bright, curly strawberry blond hair that ripened to red in certain places. Her curls were tight, but her movement were loose. Tall, lean, and shapely, she wore a dress cut to flow down her legs and it was covered in bright colors and shapes that resembled paisley. The open shapes made it look like a psychedelic garden. Her soft white skin kissed the air. She glided into the cafe after Val as the sun would follow the moon. It made sense so. She passed off her affection as if you really deserved it, but she didn’t know you yet, or did she?
Sunny reminds me of Maupin’s Mona. Flowing dresses, freewheel love and energy…Sunny may even have a wooden Tibetan box that held the last two Quaaludes left in existence on a shrine in the corner of her Tenderloin apartment. She called herself a Tenderloin Princess. She called me Darlin’. She drank her tea as I imagined the hookers along Polk Street as her ladies in waiting. The johns were a regular rotation of court jesters…Her prince would be solid, but flexible. Together they would rule over the Tenderloin opening our hearts to the flowers we miss walking over them as they grow from the cracks.
The idea of Sunny solidified in front of me. I was intimidated by her youth. I reveled, at the same time, in the creative glow she wore proudly. She wasn’t the regular Earth Mama. She eventually entered the booth with Dave and Val. She took a part of my life in there with her. I just hope she gives it back as a memory. I sat in Pirate Cat Radio Cafe feeling on of those San Francisco moments, watching a radio show on a warm spring day in the Mission, drinking maple bacon lattes…I was feeling like a cool kid.
Once the show began more and more people with guitars began to show up and sign their name on the list. No one drank coffee. As an interview was proceeding I heard a fiddle warming up outside the door. Mark Christiensen? Ever heard of him? Well, recently he wrote a book called Sometimes a Great Notion and the Kesey Legacy (2008). He was interviewed by Val and Dave before the talent got their talent on. The banter in the booth was fun. Everyone was mainly of the same mindset, but different generations. All could relate. There was talk of weed, acid, the government and conspiracy theory…these are the kinds of conversations we have in San Francisco…
It got hushed as Aaron prepared to play. It was quiet as he professionally brought out his equipment and set it up. Mellow, he was ready to lead the parade. It’s hard to describe Venus Loops. Ethereal? Abstract? Vocal? It’s creative and sometimes unreadable, but mainly it is moving. It makes more sense when you know the song title. Diamond Dave called it psychedelic and in most moments I can see how he came to that determination. There’s no reverb, but echos sound a little haunting before they are cemented into the loop. I love the trumpet and I love Aaron.
I don’t know if getting to know Aaron’s music will help you get to know him, but knowing him makes the music sound better. Every time he blows his horn he blows me out of the water. The music is organized and complex. His loops station creates a certain depth to each song. Aaron is doing what Miles did to Jazz, he is creating a buzz in our ears and it sounds real good. Done
I’m not really done. There were a lot of talented me that performed at PCR. There wasn’t one female singer, but Sunny read from her blog, Diary of a Tenderloin Princess. All were good on the mic, but I especially liked one dude who sang a song about wasting time on Facebook…
Would I ever read? Val’s invited me a ton of times. I don’t know. I’m a writer, not a reader. I’ve always preferred my words to be read, mulled and commented later. Breathing life immediately to my words seems reckless. I shouldn’t stress the meaning of the words anymore than anyone could understand their order. I definitely should encourage others to sign that sheet and play their hearts out. The Cafe/station was full by the time the second hour began. Aaron set a high bar for the rest to reach.
The afternoon persevered into a bright evening. Small crowds shaped around taco stands. Happy hour crowds skipped from their warehouse offices to the watering hole next door. The innovative day worked into my subconscious. Sadness swept through me quickly at the thought of leaving this…friends, the city gems, community…I am bolstered at the thought that I know I will be back for it all. If not, then it is one of be best memories of San Francisco