September 26th, 2000


Jamaican me crazy

On Saturday Elio, Jenny and I spent most of the day buying things. I was going to write about this but then realized that buying things is a boring thing to write about. Nevertheless, for informational purposes, Appendix A will detail the things I bought.

We got to Sandeep & Triet's housewarming party around 6. They were making Jamaican veggie burgers and Jamaican potato salad. (Arnie's take on this Jamaican-themed fare: "Jamaican me crazy!")

There was drinking... there was smoking... the night began to swirl like water down a drain. Some random notes:


At one point Moritz walked into Sandeep's bedroom. Sandeep, Triet, Angi and Jenny were sitting in the dark licking batteries. The explanation was that Sandeep licks batteries to see if they have charge-- you get a mild shock if they do. Someone saw him doing this and naturally inquired, and next thing you know they're all doing it. But I love the image of Moritz (a mild mannered German guy) walking into this room and thinking he'd walked in on some unspeakably depraved drug scene... like in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Hunter S. Thompson walks into a bathroom to do a blotter and some of it spills on his shirt and some other guy walks in and says "what's that on your shirt?" and Hunter S. says "LSD" and the guy says nothing, just walks over and starts sucking on Hunter's shirt, and then some other guy walks in, sees them, goes "whoa" and walks right back out, for the rest of his life wondering what other unspeakable practices are going on in public bathrooms all around him. Would he dare to suck a shirt? No, better not. Play it safe...


At one point in the party, late, after we'd been carousing for some time, Elio fainted. It scared the shit out of me. I saw him kind of fall/sit, backwards against the wall, and then for several seconds that seemed to last much longer, he was just staring into the space ahead of him, completely gone. I looked in his eyes and saw nothing. I had no idea what had just happened, stroke? Concussion? Embolism? It sounds funny now but those were seriously things I thought about. His eyes were looking straight ahead without seeing, soul departed. Some crazy music was playing (possibly Cindi Lauper at the wrong speed, see next note), and I was not altogether there myself if you get my drift, and it was just terrifying. I had never seen anybody faint before. He came out of it after a minute and was ok.


Someone (maybe Noel?) put on a Cyndi Lauper record. Sandeep & Triet are both producers and they have the phat DJ setup in their living room, with turntables and mixers and mysterious blue sequencers and all that. For a while we'd been putting on hip hop, techno, the usual. Then Cindi Lauper. Ok, I like Cindi Lauper. But they were playing it at nose-bleed gabba speeds-- 45 for a 33 speeds. And they played it for a *long* time. I think after a while they switched to playing it at a much slower speed-- her voice low and distorted-- did this happen? The end of the night was a mutated C.L. blur.


I came back in from smoking outside, and there was an Asian girl wearing a tight, green Rawkus shirt. I was drawn to her, as if she were a vacuum and I was dirt (or perhaps cat hair, which is the primary thing I vacuum up when I vacuuum, which is rarely). Jenny and I started talking to her. She was really into hip hop! I'd never met a girl who was so into that kind of music. We were talking about Mos Def and Big L and freestylers at concerts we'd seen... it was cool. The only mildly disconcerting thing about her was, she talked in total hip-hop parlance. I mean we (baycrew, the usual suspects) drop an occasional 'word' or 'peace' or something, and sometimes it's not ironic, but still for the most part we still talk like middle class college educated kids, which is what you'd expect. But Julie sounded like she'd just walked off the set of a GangStarr video. It was fresh, don't get me wrong, but I was trippin' on the slang she was slingin'. If you dig.

(note to self: "dig"? ok, "daddy-o". utter rubbish-- excise in final draft)

This incongruity (petite Asian girl talking like Harlem) was even more interesting because I ended up borrowing this Big L cd from her that night, and the one Big L song I'd already heard was this *awesome* song called "Ebonics" in which Big L. breaks down all kinds of street slang to amazing effect.

But anyway, I liked her, and we all said we'd meet up again some time. It will be interesting to meet her in a straighter frame of mind. I've never met somebody for the first time while lifted before-- not sure how that colors the picture.


You know how I'm always telling Jenny I'll eat crazy things for a dollar? She finally called my bluff. So I ended up downing a shot (capful) of the Jamaican me-crazy hot sauce I'd bought for Sandeep/Triet/Suman as a housewarming gift (see appendix A). It was a slow burn, prolonged and somewhat painful. After about 2 or 3 minutes the initial pain had subsided and I was feeling almost euphoric-- clear and light-headed, like Homer Simpson in that episode where he eats the crazy hot chili and starts chasing talking animals around in the desert. My brain must've been swimming in endorphins. I don't advocate abusing the hot sauce-- use it responsibly. Friends know when to say when. (You hear that Jenny?)

Incidentally, Elio also downed a capful of the stuff, and he got $3 to my piddling $1. That's always how it is-- the innovators get robbed, imitators make bank. (Are you listening, Fatboy Slim?)

Eventually the night ended. Angi and I drove home. There were hardly any cars on the highway-- it felt like we were moving very fast through the darkness. When I got home thoughts were still bouncing around in my skull at a furious pace. I stayed up till 6 in the morning reading "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men".


  1. One "short stack" with coffee and two scrambled eggs, about which the less said the better.

  2. One pearl ball iced tea (mint) -- and let me just say if you've never tried it, it is "da bomb". (See, I still have to put quotes around that stuff. Julie could say it convincingly.) The sensation of tapioca balls slithering up your straw amidst milky sweet iced tea is something everyone should experience.

  3. Two pairs of phat sneakers that Jenny helped me pick out. The Filas are very modern looking.

  4. One pair of jeans that were both phat and on sale. I wore the jeans and Filas to work on Monday and it felt like the first day of school. Kind of embarrassing, but I did turn several heads with my dashing profile)

  5. One bottle of fancy olive oil, one bottle of Jamaican hot sauce, one bottle of "burnished white nectarine" jam (I don't remember what kind exactly, something all frou-frou)

    The olive oil would have been a great gift if it wasn't for the fact that Sandeep Suman & Triet already have like seven bottles of the stuff! Sandeep opened up a cabinet and it was filled with half-empty bottles of oil. These will undoubtedly come in handy if they ever need to fill a boiling cauldron and scald people trying to beseige their house, but for everyday cooking it seems a bit much.

    The Jamaican hot sauce was appropriate given the Jamaican themed dinner, but far too hot to actually use. Maybe if I'd brought an eyedropper as well.

    The "rosewater plum" jam (or whatever) remained unopened.


Yoshi (not toshi)

I floated through most of the day. Woke up at 2, wandered around Pacific Heights with no particular place to be. I love Sunday afternoons in San Francisco. It's my favorite time of the week. The sun is usually shining, and there are people walking around... cafes everywhere... streets you can walk through, hidden treasures to find. I usually have a good book or a magazine (there are so many good books and magazines), or else new music, or if nothing at all then just the art in the world around me.

At Royal Ground I spent some more time staring at the strange paintings for sale there. They're all by a single artist, whose touchingly pathetic typewritten biography is posted on one wall. I think of it now and the main thing I remember is that he misspelled basically "basicly". But it's not just the spelling error, or the crazy old school typewriter look of the note. It's the way it's written. In this naive, almost childlike tone-- and yet the guy says he studied art for a few years at San Francisco State, so he's obviously not a kid.

The paintings, how to describe them. I think they fall into the "outsider art" school, "naive art", I don't know the exact name. I've seen art like this at some of the modern art museums I've been to in the last few years. Art that is executed seemingly without artfice, no postmodern meta-commentary or conceptual malarkey-- just plain old art. Like most of this guys paintings are of a blues singer or else neighborhoods in Paris/New Orleans. And they're not bad, but they're not good-- I can't TELL if they're good, maybe that's what maddens me. Like just when I'll have decided, ok, once and for all, this guy sucks, something in the sad yet determined expression of his clumsily rendered Blues Singer will strike me. I looked at that expression for maybe 5 minutes. His colors are washed out and possibly beautiful. He doesn't do depth well at all-- so bad that it looks like people are floating above the tables that they're supposed to be standing behind. But is it on purpose? Is it coming from somewhere beyond purpose? I wish I could describe these paintings better. If you even get down to the Royal Ground coffeehouse on Polk and Vallejo, maybe you can tell me what you think.

Around 5 I met up with Angi, and we headed to Oakland for her birthday dinner. We followed Jenny's directions... which led us to a rather bleak industrial part of town. The boondocks. Literally the boondocks-- there were like warehouses and cranes everywhere. We struggled to interpret any of the buildings around us as Yoshi's ("maybe that place with the iron gates? why would they put a Japanese restaurant here? I guess the rent is cheap...") when Jenny called. A slight hitch in the directions... and then we were back on the highway going the other direction.

Not that this was an easy thing to accomplish. We drove around for a long time looking for an entrance to 880 north. Finally we said fuck it, we're just going to follow the damn highway on a parallel road, keeping the highway in sight at all times, until we hit an entrance. So we drive and drive, and I'm getting more and more perturbed (actual quote: "Who designed this fucking highway?! Why can't we get on?") when suddenly I see a train glide by on our "highway". Hmm. Ah yes, it's actually an ELEVATED TRAIN LINE we've been following for the last 15 minutes.

Suitably sheepish, we turned around and eventually found the real highway.

At Yoshi's we got sake-related drinks and listened to the Ray Hargrove Quintet. I enjoy jazz a lot more when it's live, and not too easy. I thought Hargrove struck a good balance between soft melody and flat out wailing. The drummer's hands were a complete blur... I was transfixed. Towards the end the alto sax guy played this solo that nearly broke my heart. It was pin drop silent in the room... his notes were just melting out, into the silence to make something so pure that for a few minutes I wasn't thinking about anything else.

All that, and the theme from Sanford & Son. :)

Back in San Francisco we concluded the night by giving Angi her birthday presents. A clock that says "Tic" or "Toc" depending on the angle you look at it... a Crate and Barrel fondue set (!), and from me and Jenny a Bjork boxed set. I felt happy because when I was shopping for Angi it occurred to me that I actually know her well enough to guess what she would and wouldn't like. Admittedly, Bjork was an easy call, but we saw all these other things over the weekend that had Angi's aesthetic sense all over them. Maybe this is the sense in which giving is more fun than receiving. (Nevertheless, I still prefer a healthy mixture of the two.)

So happy birthday Angela! Out of respect for you I will refrain from my usual, er, refrain.*

(* Whenever it's someone's birthday I-- and I can't help this, I just can't-- invariably adopt a hoary old man voice and croak, "Eh... one year closer to the grave." Or else I embark on an explanation of the movie Logan's Run, which is about these people who live in on this futuristic space colony type world is young and beautiful and happy, but when they turn 30 they're incinerated. After telling the story I then cheerfully remark, "So good thing this isn't Logan's Run!" This is usually followed by a traditional awkward silence.)


Automobile gets wrecked

All day my eyes have been itchy and heavy. I stayed up so late last night. Took the bus home, and when I got off and walked towards home I saw a startling sight. This car had lost control (I'm guessing; I had to reconstruct what happened from the purple flares placed by the police) going north on Van Ness, and plowed into the road divider. Right into the "No left turn" traffic sign. The sign was bent completely back, and the car was sort of impaled on top of it. None of the car's tires were even touching the ground. It was one of the worst wrecks I'd ever seen. I could smell the burning flares. I know you're not supposed to gawp and gape at wrecks but I had to be honest with myself and keep looking. It was amazing. I tried to imagine what it would feel like to plow into a traffic sign at 40 miles an hour. I half expected the cops to come over and ask me to go away, but they didn't. The streets were quiet-- I looked at my watch and saw it was exactly midnight. The traffic lights were disabled and flashing red and yellow. Cars crawled by, guided by the purple flares. There was a billboard advertising some crap movie high above. I stayed there for a long long time, trying to imprint all the details of the scene into my mind..