-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
Last week I was in San Francisco visiting Adam and Sophy. I haven't had a real vacation in, well, forever, so I was looking forward to spending a week or so with some friends and no responsibilities. It was sort of ridiculous, but Adam was in town for a talk on Tuesday, and I flew out on Thursday. Very pomo, no?
The flight was mostly tame, though there was some pretty awful/amusing drama moments before we took off. Some South Philly couple apparently screwed up their tickets somehow, got dumped into coach instead of first class, and had a row with the desk people and the flight staff. Now, US Airways sucks a fatty, but screaming at people and then yelling "bitch" repeatedly when you finally do get on the plane is perhaps not the best thing ever. But considering the size of the woman's hair, I suspect logic was not exactly her forte.
Anyway, so a flight attendent comes back while the woman is hissing like a cat, big hair all frizzed up, and asks that they come out to the jetway to talk about the "situation". They refuse, saying there's nothing to talk about. Blah blah, US Airways (though note they say "you" instead of referring to the airline), blah blah, not getting off the plane, have people to meet in San Francisco. Finally, the Security Operations Ground Chief for Security Operations Guy comes out from nowhere, all six and a half feet of barely controlled goateed rage. It was a great act. "I am not explaining this to you again. You are getting of this plane Right. Now. The authorities have been called."
The woman starts howling, big tears messing up her caked mascara, demanding to know why they're getting kicked off, if they're going to be allowed back on, and then she sobs, SOBS, "We're not going to get to go to California?!"
Apparently her boyfriend flies twice a week (or so he claimed). You'd think he'd know better. He also claimed that they were going to be scapegoated because the plane was running behind (in fact the captain came on and apologized for the delay, saying that they were still loading cargo -- in fact not stating that some crazy fucking hicks were holding up take-off because they were crazy and hicks), and a bunch of other nonsense.
So finally they get off the damn plane, and a few minutes later a guy in a US Airways pilot uniform comes back and sits down. He looks around for a minute and says "Ah, I had to get them out of my seat somehow."
Everyone in the freezes, then laughs their asses off for about five seconds until they realize how fucked up that was, even in jest. Hilarious.
Anyway. Finally we get off the fucking ground and five hours later I take a cab from SFO to the Castro. Cabs in San Francisco are interesting. There's no divider, no safety glass. No little hinged door that people use to put their money through. I take it that not many Frisco cabbies get GTA'd.
We dump my shit off at his apartment, then head next door where his neighbors, The Roberts, hook me up with some wine and cheese. We sit around chatting for a bit, then it's off for dinner (more wine) at Home. Very tasty food. We got there just as they stopped serving, but Robert managed to convince them they really wanted to serve us because we were such nice people.
Then off to Zeitgeist, which is a bar somewhat resembling the one I got punched outside of in Wichita a few years ago. We met up with Adam's friend Josh, who regaled us with some hilarious-but-awful stories of California On Fire. By this point I was pretty much destroyed and just wanted to sleep, so we all headed on home.
Lots of SUV cabs in SF, too.
Friday I woke up, eventually, and wandered down the street for a toothbrush. I had packed my diddy bag, but hadn't actually put anything in it. Genius. So Sophy pointed down the block and I headed out. Of course I missed the obvious turn ended up having to walk up to giant hills. Not like "Oh, you had to walk up a hill, wah", like, "Oh, you had to walk up Mt Fucking Doom with the One Ring dragging your ass down". So I get to Walgreens and all the toothbrushes are locked away. It confused me enough that I just bought some mouthwash that came with a free toothbrush, because hello, surreal enough. Are lots of bums in the Castro concerned about dental hygiene or something?
Also stopped in at a Sunglasses Hut on Castro. I hate shopping for sunglasses. Thankfully, shopping for things in the middle of the gayest part of the country means you don't actually have to think a whole lot. "I'm looking for something moderately inexpensive that doesn't make me look massively retarded" gets you *exactly* that. Rock on the Ray Bans. I managed to distract Sophy with Meteos for a while, but I think she discovered the trick (dragging the stylus randomly over the screen until you win) and got bored with it.
I hopped a cab across town to Cloudmark and ate some decent Japanese food with Adam's co-workers. An entertaining bunch, though the lack of fart jokes was somewhat disappointing. Afterwards, Adam, Chip Salzberg and I wandered over to the library to pick up a Crap Porn Vampire book for Soph (sigh). The library was pretty neat stuff: Reserve a book online, wander in, pick it up off a shelf (where it's labeled), scan it, and walk out. No interaction required. Oh, computers, destroying society one time-saving invention at a time. After picking up my junk from the Cloudmark offices, it was back to the apartment for a much-needed nap. I was going to need all my bountiful reserves for bar-hopping with Adam's co-worker Jeremy, his friend Elias, and uh. I don't actually remember much of that night, shockingly enough. I recall "Blade Runner" being on the TV at a bar where Adam and Elias were shooting pool, and demanding that jdm see "Brick". Oh. And there was some place with ultra-tasty sausages and some damn fine pickles.
I also got to trade some military-brat stories with Adam's co-worker Mario. It's good to know it wasn't just my friends doing dumb shit on (and off) base.
Saturday consisted of playing the tourist, I suppose. We wandered around town for a while, stopped by a couple clothing stores and the SF Apple Store (very nerdy). A boot polisher pointed at my boots (and undone BDU bootstraps) "Clean that shit up!" I spent a chunk of change at Amoeba Records, though evidently nowhere near what binary did while he was there.
We got some breakfast/lunch at a Sit and Gobble on Haight St., which was quite tasty. A couple of tourists from the sticks sat beside us and wouldn't shut up about the Massive Attack show (going to see them Saturday with Cronin and Gaurvash, hopefully I behave better afterwards than those other yokels), and loudly denouncing anyone who says they've never heard their music as ... having heard their music. "I just want to beat their head in and say you fucker you've heard them, duh!"
The best part of the afternoon was walking down lower Haight and hearing "Fuck Bush! Fuck the Bush Administration! On (some date) rise up! Protest! Walk out of school, your job, --" yadda yadda. So we're looking around, wondering what the hell this is all about, and see a BMW with a loudspeaker drive past, with some girl who would be in a BMW ranting into the mic. It's nice that people are taking an interest, but ... y'know? So I lean over to Adam and say: "I don't really trust a revolutionary in a Beamer."
Adam, being Adam, yells "Yeah! You go! You fight that revolution from that Beamer!"
The girl goes: "Shut up!" and back to ranting.
Oh, San Francisco. Your flower people have all dried up and their children are driving their expensive cars around wasting gas vainly trying not to sell out.
Sophy made some totally awesome sausage and peppers that night, before we ended up going to a house party in the North Castro that night. We took a cab and at a stop light, a group of mimes were ... being mimes. A hot mime chick strolled over and handed us a pamphlet. Obviously she just smiled prettily when thanked. Hot or no: Mimes are freaky.
The housewarming party was an excellent time. There are pictures, taken by the gracious host, Jake. The orange-backed portraits are very cool. The party was a somewhat typical mix of goth and hacker, evidently full of super-great people, or so the gin and tonic I had Sophy mix me up insisted. By "mix me up", I mean she poured a bunch of gin into a big red plastic cup and said "here, now shut up."
I recall telling some Texan he was the spitting image of Stephen Colbert, some Ohio-er, n, he looked like my friend Ryan from back home, and some other guy who is very blurry insisting that HP BladeServers were both economical and practical. Vipul and his girlfriend (wife? fiance?) showed up and hung for a bit, then we all wandered on our way. On the way to the street, we ran into another of Adam's friends, and of course we got to hear about his double-cock-piercing that afternoon.
The phrase "trans-urethral" was used and I drunkenly made the obvious. In San Francisco, it seems that "How's your cock?" is as acceptable a greeting as "Yo, where you at?" in Philly or "sup, puta?" when I was growing up.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. The day that people had been pointing at me and saying "Just you wait!" The Folsom St. Fair, an age-old meeting of ... well. Not minds. Mainly flesh and leather. Or possibly just mainly flesh. First we stopped at Escape from New York Pizza for a couple tasty slices. The clerk and I both somehow managed to forget to have me pay and when the oversight was discovered she used the term "brainfart", which I don't think I've heard anyone who isn't my mother say in at least a decade. Afterwards Adam and I hung around on the couch watching a Dirty Jobs marathon. That's some good shit, yo.
Anyway, so onto the dong-fest. Walk in: dongs. Walk around: Dongs. It's sort of Leather Love Parade with spanking stations.
The final tally was:
- Most everyone naked in leather.
- Twelve swinging dongs.
- Three spanking booths.
- Six gimps on leashes.
- One phrase overheard I though I wulid never hear: "Haaaay, don't step on the guy masturbating!"
- Two guys in gimp masks masturbating in the middle of the crowds. (Not on leashes.)
- Lots of unattractive boobies.
- Only one nice, uncovered rack.
All in all, it was far more tame than I thought it was going to be. The Interwebs are way scarier.
Adam and I had a brief discussion about it after, how theoretically things you see on a screen and oh, a big black cock in your face are nominally going to elicit different reactions in you. But it didn't. We were completely indifferent and unphased.
I guess this means that Jack Thompson and the anti-game industry people are right. If I start playing lots of GTA it is highly likely I will start running over hookers with semis.
After about twenty minutes the crowd started getting on my nerves, so I was quite happy to get out of there. We headed back to the apartment and just chilled out. We watched "The Jacket" (which was really good), and then it was time for me to take off.
The flight from SFO was pretty awful, but well, it's flying. What do you want. Got in a 0600, got home at 0730, asleep by 0800, awake at 1700 and then out with the local crew to Doobies for beers and burgers. Caught up with Evan and Maggie, Cronin said about zilch as usual, and Nick K. came in from a trip in Vir-freakin-ginia for a pitcher.
The rest of this week has been fighting fires and trying to get back into the swing. Thankfully the weather is starting to edge towards Actual Fall instead of Fall-Ha-Ha-Fooled-You like a couple weeks ago.
In short: My vacation was awesome. The weather was gorgeous, the friends were good, the booze was cold, and the adventures, chock-full-of-cock though they sometimes were, were amusing. I certainly wouldn't mind going back next year for another few days. Though, y'know, not the next year.
Because those two punkasses had better be moved back home by then.