Have I really not written in here for more than two years?
I have been up to drawing on the sidewalk, seeing it faded by rain, and repeating again. Continue doing the same thing with immaculate consistency.
Life is way too much to catch you up on. Or looking at it another way, nothing really happens.
Last night I went for a walkabout... well, a walk-jog-runabout. Ended up on top of Bernal Summit, in Bernal Heights. This always feels like a mild accomplishment because psychologically, Bernal seems far away from Glen Park. But in reality it's really close, and the summit is easily obtained by breaking it down into a few short segments:
1) home to bernal cut path
2) bernal cut path to holly park
ROTATE around the circular hill of holly park like you're an hour hand on a clock that's being adjusted-- enjoy the relatively rare 360 panorama view of SF.... keep going round till you get to bocana street exit
3) exit holly park up bocana street to base of bernal summit
Here you could take the chossy path straight up, but I went against my intuitive desire (always be climbing, always take stairs) and ran downhill around the base of the summit...
4) take the trail from base of bernal summit to the top . DONE
Sun was setting, beautiful shadows. I was motivated to get off the summit fast though since it would be no fun at all to have to take the rocky trail down in the dark!
Every time I run to Bernal I think about the adult-sized slide that exists somewhere near the summit base. I can never remember exactly where it is. Sure I could look it up on google maps but for some reason that feels like cheating to me.
This time like every other I thought about the slide, and thought "one of these days I should just look it up and commit the location to memory. Ah well."
I headed back down from the summit base, picking an exit street at random. Well actually I picked the exit where there was a nice staircase down. Too dark to mess with scrabbly rock trails.
Lo and behold, guess what I came across! Bernal Slide!! Or, as Yelp calls it, Esmerelda Street Slide
The slide was gleaming. It looked brand new. Must have been refurbished since the last time I was there.
I walked over to the top and slid down, expecting a slow, herky-jerky trip down. Normally there's a lot of friction and the only way you can get a fun ride down is to sit on a piece of cardboard. (which I didn't feel like dredging up)
But to my surprise, I slid down quickly and even picked up some genuine steam at the bottom! I cackled unconsciously, for a moment truly enjoying myself. Idiot glee. The slide shot me out with speed and I landed just barely on my feet, on a rubber exit pad that also seemed brand new.
Props to whatever neighborhood association fixed this thing up!
I had to ride it one more time. It was again a thrilling ride, mainly because at the end you come out fast enough that it's a bit scary. You're trying not to sprain an ankle on the dismount.
A jogger passed down the stairs next to me in the twilight, smiling at the sight of me. His smile made me laugh again.
At the beginning and end of the walkabout, my head was filled with woes. But this brief unexpected encounter w/ the slide was a moment of pure joy.
2. Dav's bench
3. Lizzie and Raphey's place
2. Marfa Prada
3. Thermodynamic Entropy of the Milky Way
Today is Sunday. This is the first weekend after my first week at Work, which came after 8 months of funemployment. Did I use the 8 months well? I think so. I'm mostly divorced now, which was one big goal. I say "mostly" because it's still not done done. The judge has to sign off on our agreement and there's like 4 financial things left to do, which falls on me because the ex isn't exactly motivated. But it's basically done. Out of my hands. So that's good.
I ran a ton
I climbed a ton
I didn't travel, because I'm bound by kids and also just didn't feel in the mood. Did go to Cape Cod, where I swam in the Atlantic and saw Sven catch a tremendously big fish.
answers in comments
1. China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2)Delightful trash. A great beach read. Can't wait for #3.
Also looking forward to Crazy Rich Asians the movie!
2. The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s ParisI enjoyed reading about the crazy lives of Yves Saint Laurent and (especially) Karl Lagerfeld. It was really funny to see the evolution of Lagerfeld's look over the years. Would have loved to have seen his various apartments and chateaus. The man has an iron will. At least, when he's not drinking 20 Coca-Colas per day and eating pounds of chocolate cake.
The one thing this book needed was more pictures. WAY more pictures. I'm sorry, I just don't have the capacity to visualize half of the crazy outfits described in this book. This book should have 100 pages of photos.
Shout out to the NY Times article which triggered my fascination w/ Lagerfeld:
The Jet Set Life of Karl Lagerfeld’s Favorite Male Model — for Now
NY Mag's incredulous reaction to said article:
Everyone in the Times’ Brad Kroenig Profile Is Gloriously Nuts
3. Cool ToolsThis is a marvelous catalog of tools, in the broadest sense of "tools." It is opulently large-format. Will not fit in your bag. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful entries on A Pattern Language and Infrastructure: A Field Guide-- both of these classics are given the treatment they deserve. Oh also, in the cooking section they recommend the complicated rice cooker favored by Mike Williams and Angi Chau. How can a rice cooker have so many buttons?
A lot of people I know would love this book.
4. The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of HokusaiQuite lovely. This is a graphic novel, but it's short... so not really a novel... it's a serious cartoon but also entertaining... I don't know exactly how to describe it because I haven't seen any other books like it. You should pick this up just for the art. It's a quick read and worthwhile.
5. Enduring PatagoniaInteresting guy, West Point to Army Ranger School to alpinist dirtbag
Does as good a job as any book I've seen on explaining the perverse appeal of alpinism
It still doesn't appeal though. Brr
Does make me want to go back to Patagonia. I've been but I feel like I never experienced "Patagonian weather" or anything like what's in this book
6. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, & the Greatest Race Ever RunThis WAS a pretty epic race! Well told. Interesting digressions on how you can scientifically measure who can run through suffering the most. Average person quits when their mind says "you're exhausted." Iron-persons run way past that till their muscles are literally incapable of continuing. You can tell the difference by measuring "control entropy" which is how spastic their gait is. If truly spent w muscles giving out, gait becomes counter intuitively MORE regular (think when you get a cramp and have to limp-- you have less degrees of freedom, are forced to run in a particular way to compensate) Anyway, these guys are masters of suffering and after a 2.4 mile open water swim and 113 mile bike ride are able to run a marathon at a 6 min/mile pace. Just. Nuts.
7. Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection Kate Beaton is the best. I LLOL'd (literally laughed out loud) many times while reading this. Also: a while back I was complaining how there's way too many comics about angsty 20-something bi-coastal urban hipsters, and hardly any comics about INTERESTING people. Beaton is not guilty of this. her comics are about literary characters, historical political figures, Ida B. Wells, Alexander Pushkin... mwah.
Also I loved the extended riff on the nasty boy from Janet's Jackson's "Nasty". St. Jude's Home for the Nasty... hahah
8. Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing DogI don't condone BASE jumping, but this book spoke to me. I guess cos of where I'm at. Gives one hope. Post-script 4/28/15: R.I.P. Mario Richard
9. Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic WondersFour stars for the data, one star for the writing. "And now, let's turn to some incidents that were truly... (dons sunglasses) off the wall." Weird moralizing about marijuana use aside, this is a fantastically researched and thoroughly fascinating compendium of fatal accidents in Yosemite, and obviously a labor of love.
Here's a chart that shows up at the end of the book, summarizing fatalities by category. I'm always amazed that people aren't more terrified by driving. Clearly getting in an car is one of the most dangerous things a human being can do.
The "homicide" chapter starts out with a bunch of Native American attacks against white people. I'd forgotten that Yosemite is named after the tribe that lived there! They weren't too fond of the newcomers trying to make a park out of their lands. It's weird to read about this bloody cycle of ambushes and reprisals that happened in the 1850's. 150 years doesn't seem THAT long ago does it?
If you're the kind of person who would read an encyclopedia of Yosemite fatalities, you will definitely enjoy The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans as well. It's a crazy, true story, told by this guy whose hobby is searching for the remains of people who got lost and are presumed dead, but whose remains were never found. ("Lost & Not Found," in the Yosemite book's taxonomy.) Contains the most chilling sentence I've ever read:
At this point they entered into a survival situation, but may not have fully appreciated that fact.Trust me, in context this is terrifying. I still think about that German family sometimes, lost in the hot desert with their young kids. They weren't crazy; they made a series of reasonable but flawed decisions, which made the situation gradually worse and worse until it was too late to recover. Could happen to you.
10. Blobby Boys #2Ever since Vice started publishing Schubert's Blobby Boys comics, I've really been into them. But if you asked me why, I couldn't really say. So it was nice to read Vice comics editor Nick Gazin's introduction to Blobby Boys #1, which I think hits it on the nose:
"Alex Schubert is one of my favorite new-ish cartoonists. There are things about his drawings that remind me of Gary Panter, like his poses and sometimes his lines, when he employs a ratty Panter line. There are things in his work that remind me of Clowes, particularly how everything in his panels is so clean, clear and intentional. I also similarities to Johnny Ryan in that he deals in characters who are fun loving misanthropes up to no good. Although his work reminds me of all of these great cartoonists his work doesn’t feel referential to them. His work references almost nothing we’ve known before. I mentioned that he shares Clowes’s intentionality. He creates everything he draws without referencing other people’s lexicon of pictographic shorthand.
For instance, in the "Cyber Surfer" comic he drew for me, me being me and the Vice website for which I serve as Comics Editor, the comic starts off with a few borderless panels of a stiffly drawn character. He then punches someones brains out and the way his brains comes out of his head is done in an entirely new way to me. Sure, he uses the cartoon cloud bubble but the way it’s portrayed is new. A few panels down from that he spies a trenchcoat and fedora lying on the ground. The way the coat is drawn is something I’ve never seen done before. He is making his own visual abbrevs.
Also, he is very funny and I love when his characters speak to each other. I realize now that I should have asked him to feature more of that in the comics he’s done for me/Vice. I think every comic he’s done for me has featured an isolated character talking to the reader. The sequence in the Blobby Boys comic book in which one of them oozes under a door to ask the inhabitant of the room if he wants to buy some drugs and the guy inside answers firmly but unsurprised, “No, who are you” kills me. So that’s why I like Alex’s work. I think he’s unpretentious, funny and his drawings are both good and original."
P.S. Schubert's other comic for Vice, Fashion Cat, is good too