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.)