Saturday, April 26, 2003

I just read my own entry, and I really have to say that words just don't do justice to the sunset on the beach. Dana, Michael, Omer, Joe and I carefully made our way out from the beach on one jumble of rocks to the next. I can still see it when I'm asleep. Craggy rocks, tidal pools, suicidal jellyfish. The wind was cold, but we all wore coats from the trip in the convertible. The air had that tang of salt that fills me with the need to sing. We all sat there for over an hour as the sun fell, and I swear I heard trumpets.
Back to the SF saga. I took the opportunity to meet my cousin Omer and his boyfriend Joe. They live near Santa Barbara, so we agreed to meet in Monterrey. Dana, Michael and I rented a sweet Chrysler Sebring convertible, spackled on the sun block, snagged an adaptor for their two iPods, and cruised out of the city. We took the Coastal Highway and the weather agreed to be basically perfect the whole trip. Three fags in a convertible, disco music, and the sun- the ingredients for a perfect road trip. Being a control freak,I drove all the way down, reverting back to my old fashioned road-rage self because people weren’t going 80 in the fast lane. The weather was just on the edge of warm, so the person in the back seat always had to wear a coat. I didn’t care, it could have been snowing and I would have kept the top down. I’ve had a lifelong dream to drive down that highway in a convertible. I’ve fantasized the feeling of a lithe convertible straining at the edges of grip around a twisty bend in the road, the Pacific ocean glimmering on one side, mountains on the other side. Poor Dana and Michael needed Zanax.

I should also mention that we looked marvelous.

Monterrey and Big Sur were everything I hoped they would be, and even had piles of cheese added on. The area is chock full of spectacular scenery, spectacular aquarium fun, and spectacular scenes of rednecks, California style. We wandered around, floating along with the jellyfish and anchovies. Omer and Joe proved to be a terribly interesting couple. Omer is currently on sabbatical doing research on plasma coming out of black holes, and Joe works at JPL doing work on a NASA Mars explorer. They’re a bit on the dim bulb side, and quite often we had to use smaller words with them. Working at mindless jobs must be frustrating for them, especially compared with the amazing mental stimulation of being a junior high math teacher.

I never knew that nightlife could be worse than in Clovis, NM, but Monterrey is pretty close. Before the sun sets, everything is brilliant. We packed the convertible, cranked the heat and headed over to the beach for the sunset. Sitting on the rocks as the ocean crashed and foamed below us, surrounded by friends and family, watching the massive sun fall below the horizon, I knew that I really needed to pee. Seriously, there are rare times when everything is good. Even rarer is being aware of how good things are in that moment. This was one of those moments. There wasn’t a lot of talk, just easy camaraderie .

Once the sun set, the real fun began. We had dinner at a Greek restaurant, had a random conversation with the waiter about the death of John Denver (he became an ocean buoy rather than a mountain boy in Monterrey Bay), and apparently offended some nasty conservatives at the next table. I have to say that the only really offensive thing were the Stepford wives in this group, even though Dana heard one of them say that Republicans were responsible for our ability to have our conversation. Apparently Democrats are traitorous flag burners, and that woman’s mutant sized SUV will save the environment, as long as her hair can still fit. Omer and Joe went to bed, then we narrowed the enormous entertainment choices down to the 18+ sports bar on the ground floor of the hotel, called Champions. Fortunately for us, we were older than 21, so we got the really huge stamp that said we were mature enough to drink. We also had the distinct good fortune of being there on karaoke night. I forgot how much fun straight folk have in their strange tribal activities. The bartender was an idiot, the lighting was on maximum, and we decided we had to leave when Sir Mixalot’s “I like big butts” came over the speakers. I’m okay with the song, I just object to the large man with breasts dance humping the big hair girl with no breasts. Michael went to the concierge and asked where the gay bar was. We pretty much knew not to ask for gay bars, but were disappointed when we found out the only gay bar had closed down months earlier. She suggested a bar called Viva, which she said was the gayest in town.

Gay has a plethora of definitions. Gay can be good, gay can be bad, gay can be really really bad. Viva was really, really gay, in the really, really bad way. Michael bought a round of truly disgusting drinks that pretended to be mojitos while 12 year olds frolicked around us. All of this nighttime magic was accompanied by a bad metal/rock adolescent band wearing matching satin shorts. Their shorts were also gay, in that really bad way. The combination of the satin shorts and the simple syrup gave a lovely unpleasant queasiness to the evening.
I'll finish up the posts about SF tomorrow, but I just have to say that I did jinx myself by praising my travel karma. Whenever you are trying to use any form of transportation whatsoever, NEVER make any comment like, "Golly, we sure are making good time!"

Instant karma switch to the travel from hell. By commenting on my good travel karma, I lured myself into a nightmarish 2 hours and fifteen minutes of bus and train time last night once I arrived at JFK Airport. I almost missed my flight out of California because of my chronic lateness (plus Michael's terrible check theft scandal) but managed to get home with suitcases. I looked for taxis, but the only ones at the airport were private cabs and they wanted 35 bucks for a ten minute ride across town. I opted foolishly for the $1.50 subway fare, and spent the next TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES trapped in an A train with a flatulent drunkard.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I don't want to jinx the situation as I have only one day to go, but I've had a blast so far in San Francisco. Normally I have some misadventure getting to the airport or something, but even the flight over was good. I used up all of my good public transit karma traveling out to JFK, as every subway train or bus appeared instantly across Brooklyn. I arrived exactly one hour before the flight, the flight was on time, and checking in my bags went without a hitch, as I remembered to surrender my pocketknife.

Jet Blue is absolutely lovely. Service was good, the seats were fairly comfortable for coach, and there were no screaming babies. And cheap. Never forget cheap. You just can’t beat their prices, or the wild amount of television. Since I don't really have cable at home, the Direct TV was amazing. I had 25 channels to choose, a little remote on the armrest, and some absolutely ridiculous headphones. When you have a shaved head, I really don't recommend wearing something with a metal strip that divides your head into two hemispheres. It's the same as the weird aurora that floats around my head after wearing a baseball cap. I surfed endlessly, as I am wont to do, but kept gravitating back to VH1 Classics. I watched for hours, as I was unable to sleep. This one girl who was about my age sat next to me, but I think she had hemorrhoids. She kept tossing and turning all night, making heavy tisking noises and heavy sighs. I finally gave up trying to sleep and turned the TV back on. After a few minutes, she turns to me and whispers tersely at me to turn down the volume because it is too loud. I’m actually certain it was hemorrhoids, or at least I hope she has them now. I was basically fine with it, I think I saw about six hours of videos from the eighties that I haven't seen in forever.

Dana L was at the airport and I was quite grateful for that, as it was 1 in the morning. All of my other friends were like, “Uhhuh. One in the morning. We’ll see you for brunch.” Dana and I had never actually met, as we had been communicating via my blog. This made his offer of picking me up extra special, and then he further impressed me by driving around the city, giving me a night tour of the city. We went down to the Castro district,out to the beach, and up to these two hills for a view of the whole city. The two hills are called the Twin Peaks, but the Spanish called them the Two Breasts. So we’re traveling around these two mammoth boobies like a Subaru trail of sweat to the nipples for a view from the top. Just like real Triple D’s, the view was magnificent and unobscured. We went to a pizza place with all sorts of froo-froo toppings like hummus and roasted veggies. Dana is a vegetarian like so many of my friends, but he knows that meat always be an option. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a poster for Mike Albo and Unitard, one of the funniest sketch comedy troupes I’ve ever seen. He arrives from NYC the day I leave, and the city will trigger an earthquake from all the laughter.

The first day I spent wandering around with Dana and Michael Lopez. We did some tourist things, most of which involved horribly obese tourists. Even the seals at the piers were horrified by the rolls of blubber attached to adults and children alike. After a certain amount of time with tourists, I couldn’t even bear the thought of getting on the cable cars. That evening, we went to a gay bonfire beach party. It was hysterical because it was very cold and everyone was huddled around this huge bonfire. There were all these butch guys bathed in the glow of the firelight, making butch noises, when a mutant wave pushed all the way up to the bonfire with no warning whatsoever. Girlish shrieks pierced the air as the manly men frantically did the dry shoe dance toward higher ground. So much for stereotypes.

As far as beauty goes, I can see why so many people fall in love with this place. I’m in love with this place. I continually was amazed by the uniqueness of this place. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. It is liberal like NYC, but it goes a step beyond. All the public transit is electric, everyone recycles, and people apologize to the beggars that they can’t give money. Nature erupts in some spectacular way everywhere you look; gardens, mountains, and the beaches give a totally different aesthetic than NYC. Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC, but Michael Lopez hit it on the head when we were directly underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. He said that the Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t have such spectacular scenery at each foundation. NYC is a city that spits on nature, covers it up with a grid system. San Francisco takes a grid system and shakes it up, usually as a result of an earthquake. Yes, Market Street divides the city, otherwise it grew organically, spiraling outwards. I’m continually getting lost here, but if you just chill out, you eventually get where you need to go. It's a philosophy that covers the city just like the fog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I'm having a lovely time here in San Francisco, I'll be posting tomorrow.