Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vesuvio's Cafe

Now a landmark!  The quote above the door reads, "We Are Itching To Get Away From... Portland, Oregon."  How awesome is that?
Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown, and the Cameo... ain't got nothing on Vesuvio's Cafe.  Sorry, my beloved P-Town.
The sheer breadth and depth of Beat memorabilia and artwork in this little cafe... the crazy number of writers and artists that have called this place home...
Stepping through the swinging doors, I almost felt ridiculous... but, what else you want to do on a Thursday afternoon?

Alcatraz Travel Warning

Did you know... that tickets to Alcatraz Island must be bought on-line over a month in advance?  Who Knew?  In fact, on the day we showed up at the boat company at Fisherman's Warf, the waiting list to step onto the ferry boat was over six weeks long?  The woman in the window told me that Alcatraz was one of the most sought after tourist destinations in America.  I guess she's right.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bukowski at City Light Books

“Some people never go crazy.  What truly horrible lives they must lead.”  -Bukowski 

You can't be afraid of books.  There's a fearlessness in raising your children with a love of literature.
“Do you hate people?  I don’t hate them… I just feel better when they’re not around.”  -Bukowski

It's war.  Bombarded on all sides by distractions and estrangements.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift.”  -Bukowski

Just to arrive at that moment, sitting quietly in a still place, ready to read.
“There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first.  We are ripe and ready to be taken.”  -Bukowski

There is nothing like a room full of books.
“Endurance is more important than truth.”  -Bukowski

And if one is good for you, then all are good for you.  Because a book on the shelf doesn't mean you will become depraved or destitute.  There is no ring of hell for those who sought a life of stories and human truth. No matter the author.  No matter the subject.
“There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first.  We are ripe and ready to be taken.”  -Bukowski

What times is wasted on the unimaginative, surrounded by imposing wills that ban expression, criticizing for even reaching for something beyond a meager self.
“You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”  -Bukowski

Books push you toward the one true and selfless aim, to find someone in a world where no one listens, no one cares, where ego dominates, where submission is rule.  Books are the hidden soul of our world.  What fear lays in another's soul?  None but fear of our own.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Go Moan for Man; Go Moan! -Beat Museum, San Francisco

“A lot of people have asked me why I wrote that book or any book.  All the stories I wrote were true because I believed in what I saw…”  -Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Saw this one coming, did you?
“I was traveling west one time at the junction of the state of Colorado…and I saw in the clouds, huge and massed above the  fiery golden desert of eveningfall the great image of God with forefinger pointed straight at me, through halos and rolls and gold folds that were like the existence of a gleaming spear in His right hand, would sayeth, “Come on boy.  Go thou across the ground; go moan for man; go moan; go groan, go groan alone.  Go roll your bones, alone…”  -Kerouac, Visions of Cody

This is my guy having a Saul on the road to Damascus moment.
“Go thou.  Go thou die hence, and of this world report you well and truly…anyway, I wrote that book because we’re all going to die…in the loneliness of my life… nothing here but my own tragic hands that once were guarded by a world in sweet attention, but are not left to guide and disappear in their own way into the common dark of all our death, sleeping in me raw bed alone and stupid with just this one pride and consolation, my heart broke in general despair and opened up inwards, to the Lord…”  -Keroauc, Visions of Cody

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Papas and Popcorn Twilight Zone at the Golden Gate Bridge

The “Where Am I?” moment can happen to anyone.   Driving down a well known road, you take a detour and suddenly the surroundings turn lush and rich and you think, “How have I not discovered this route before?”
It’s the same with your children.  Arriving downstairs on a Saturday morning to fresh pancakes left to cool on the counter under gobs of syrup and little faces in costumes constructed of cardboard boxes and magic marker’d toilet paper mache’d swans dancing to The Nutcracker Suite and you think, “Have I traveled into another dimension, not only of sight and sound but...of mind?”
Living in Asia is like this.  Every day something happens that is so bizarre and unexplainable, familiar yet queerly straight out of the Twilight Zone.  Yesterday, it was Papas with Popcorn.
Papas with Popcorn is a lovely idea cooked up by my youngest daughter’s kindergarten teacher where fathers come in and read a book to an captivated audience of six-year-olds seated on the classroom carpet munching popcorn and listening intently.  Mr. Hartenstein was on the docket for yesterday and I was ready.  Of course, Asia threw me a curve.
Foolishly I thought, “Certainly the 7-Eleven across the street from the school  will have microwavable popcorn!” And so I passed a dozen or so convenience stores before entering my selected shop, only to find…they don’t carry popcorn!  What?  So I throw together a weird Charlie Brown labeled synthetic sugary substitute and head inside.  The class is fine.  Such sweet little faces...
But immediately after the reading, all the rich Taiwanese mothers were allowed back into the classroom for a birthday party which was catered by McDonald's.  Yes, Asian McDonald's caters.  And so every child was given a Ronald McDonald Happy Meal with cheeseburger and Mc-corn soup and toy Grimmace pencil case to assemble and a wall of cell phone and tripod and iPad tablet cameras came out to capture the precious moment of their child sucking down a Mickey Mouse cookie and there was a video of a flying Jesus in a Superman costume playing on the projector and a Philippine housemaid wiping the mouth of a little boy who was throwing a fit on the floor and all the parents were chattering in Chinese and I stepped back and watched and steadied my dizzy head and thought… well, you know what I thought.

Friday, January 24, 2014

There is No Frigate Like a Book

"There is no frigate like a book 
To take us lands away..."  -Dickinson

Oh Emily!  The adventures we take...
"Nor any coursers like a page 
Of prancing poetry..."  -Dickinson
"This traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of toll..."  -Dickinson
"How frugal is the chariot..."  -Dickinson
"That bears a human soul!"  -Dickinson

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Man's Treasure

Cruising around San Francisco’s Chinatown looking at all the Chinese… stuff (junk) for sale, got me thinking about superstitions.  As the Lunar New Year approaches, here are the Do’s and Don’ts of Chinese New Year.
1.   Yikes!  It’s a Broom!

During Lunar New Year one should avoid brooms at all cost.  Don’t touch one, don’t even mention cleaning up.  All cleaning should be done the day before.  Any sweeping, cleaning, wiping, dusting means you are sending your good fortune for the year away.   AND… never hit someone with a broom… you’ll sweep your life’s good luck for a year.
2.   Seriously:  Scissors & Shampoo Too?

Yep!  Don’t “cut” or “wash” out your luck.  (Walking through my classroom looking at hair snow flakes…  is certainly a Winter Wonderland)
3.  Speaking of Hair…

Don’t even think about growing a moustache or beard.  An unshaven face is a lowly face.  What about “Movember”?  There’s no irony in China.  If you really want to be fashionable, grow out your mole hair.  Call it… “Mole-vember.”
4.  Dogs  + Babies  + Teeth  +  Snow  = Ghosts  &  Death

The Rundown:  Dogs barking and Babies crying means ghosts are afoot.  Take precaution.  Dreams of Teeth or Snow means your parents are pushing daisies.
5.   Magic Numbers:  Crazy 8’s and  Murder 4’s

The Chinese take lucky numbers to an art form.   The pronunciation of the number ‘eight’ and the word for ‘prosperity’ are very similar, hence 8 has great social value here.  Fights erupt over car registrations, house addresses, and bribes occur to be issued the number 8.  Conversely, the number ‘four’ sounds eerily like the word for ‘death.’    It is unacceptable for vehicles and houses to use this number.  You’ve been warned!
6.   Duh!  Moons.  Fingers.  Houses Facing North

Well, obviously… don’t point at the moon or your ear will fall off… don’t clip your fingernails at night because it attracts ghosts, and don’t build a house facing north because all your luck runs out the front door.  Sheesh!  Don’t you know anything?
7.   Turtles & Noodles

Whew!  Finally some logic:  If you start a business, make sure you are not simultaneously keeping a turtle in a cage.  It slows down your progress.  I know… you’re welcome!  ALSO… Noodles mean longevity.   Cut the noodle, cut your life!   So… slurp away.  But , if you choke… no one is going to help you.  No Heimlich in China!
8.   Red Underwear

Finally, the most important thing is… wear the color RED!  Red is blood and blood is good luck.  But if you really want to go native… slip into a pair of red undies.  Good for YOU.  Good for ME.  Happy Chinese New Year, Everybody!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Free Born Man of the U.S.A. in San Francisco Chinatown

 “This morning on the harbor, when I said goodbye to you…”  -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN

Chased Dragons...
“I remember how I swore that I’d come back to you one day…”   -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN

Ran through fire...
“And as the sunset came to meet the evening on the hill, I told you I’d always love, I always did, and I always will…”   -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN

Impossible Rain...
“Fare thee well gone away, there’s nothing left to say…”  -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN

Lifted Hands to the Sky...
“ ‘Cept to say adieu to your eyes as blue as the water in the bay…”   -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN

Got Out of My Own Way...
“And to big Jim Dwyer, the man of wire, who was often heard to say…”  -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN  

Returned to My Roots...
“I’m a free born man of the U.S.A.  I’m a free born man of the U.S.A.”   -Pogues, THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN

Found a Life Again...Better Than Ever!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hey Hartenstein, What's on TV this morning?

 WELL... funny you asked.  While YOU were enjoying the NFL playoffs in comfy living room high definition... I enjoyed my first day of Lunar New Year Vacation with... you guessed it, awesome Asian TV.  Watch and Weep People!
 Channel #1:  Sweaty Chinese Pastor.  This show is over four hours long.  Fidel Castro thinks this guy talks too much.
 Channel #2:  The Buddhist Channel
 Channel #3:  Next Buddhist Channel
 Channel #4:  Still Another Buddhist Channel
 Channel #5:  Serious Ping Pong!
 Channel #6:  Star GOLD Channel.  Chubby Mustached Bollywood Star Dancing to Michael Jackson.
 Studded Cowboy Hat and Boots...
 Yes, there was uncomfortable crotch-grabbing.
 Channel #7:  Snarky Chinese Lady
 Reason for her snark!
 Channel #8:  Totally Awesome Chinese Cyclopes Drama.
 The range of emotions this guy conveys with just one eye... amazing!
 Channel #9:  Creepy Keanu Reeves / Matrix Puppet Show.
 Channel #10:  Let Me Show You My Tiger Stance
 Channel #11:  Asian Music Channel-  Reason Justin Bieber Needs to be Stopped
 This is a Heavy Metal Band...
 I watch this show without blinking...
 Channel #12:  Asian Cooking Game Show-  Contestants eat spicy food.
 Emotions are hard to control.  Yes, that's a Panda Shirt.
I just wanted to watch a little football today, that's all.