The second Friday hike in a row meant returning to one of the quietest spots without cell phone service within city limits. It took us a little bit more than two hours to amble and stumble four and a half miles along the Chown, West Ridge and Orchard trails before getting back to where we’d parked at the staging area. A woman paused as we passed her at one point and apologized for her dogs, who kept jumping up and down. I told her it had taken me a while to give up the habit. She asked how I did it. “Treats,” I said.
Then, after a shower and some lunch at home, we went over to the Grand Lake Theater to see “Blindspotting” make a portrait out of the landscape and turn some talented performing into a mostly but not completely recognizable Town tale — not that I was supposed to recognize everything, but certainly a lot more than I expected.
Nothing about these little ticks of time, these pockets of space, should surprise me. I don’t feel surprised in the moment, only after when I look back and behind me. There is just enough time before my shift, so I call ahead and make an order for pick-up. The person who takes it recognizes me, and I recognize her.
I drive over and find a parking place, get out of my car and walk in, mouth the words to the same early-1980s hit song I remember enjoying years ago and screwing up so badly at karaoke last month. I pay for my order, pick it up and head back out where people with the ability to drink a pint glass of cold beer outside in the early spring midday sunshine do just that.
Today, after reading a few people talking about this early-morning fire on Twitter and Facebook, and after watching a couple of videos from The Specials, I wrote these lyrics:
It's the morning after the fire on 73rd and MacArthur on the deep East Side Everyone is bewildered and nobody saw it coming until the place got fried Not every block blaze is suspicious But not every flame can be innocent When criminals parade waving contracts And it's harder every day just to make rentOne block over there's a robbery going down don't try to protect The terms of the exchange are exactly what you would expect in this townNow flash forward years after tears run dry on the deep East Side Abracadabra hey presto there's galleries and bistros it's been gentrified Not every new neighbor is nameless But not every old one gets to linger When you're shoved by an invisible hand And insult to injury is it gives you the fingerOne block over there's a robbery going down don't try to protect The terms of the exchange are exactly what you would expect in this townNot what we mean when we used to say town business It's a sad tired scene When you get to see town business
I thought something might come together. I did some of the things might help. I waited to hear back. Today I learned it didn’t move forward. It wasn’t me, it was them. It’s their rules, their board, their game. I thought about these two gentlemen sitting outside the shuttered neighborhood fast-food spot. They have their own time to spend, contemplate moves, talk in between and even during if they feel like it. They could be in one park up the road, the other park up the road or the other one two blocks along the avenue, or beside the lake. But they play where they are because they like it, until they feel like doing something else. That was what made them caught my eye while I waited for the light to change at the intersection, and what gave me the time to capture them.
I go to these things because I’m happy that they can happen. I also go because I have time to drop in after getting off work nearby. Goodness knows that’s not a given. So many events slip though invites and e-mails and social-network queues. I forget: Is “it’s complicated” a possible response yet?
It’s not just the venue, where I can have a drink and look out one large window onto a main drag, or out another onto the jewel of the city skyline, ever more beautiful and obsolete. It’s not even the guests, though they’re pretty and pleasantly dialed in.
I go because I know sometime sooner than I’d like that I won’t be able to, and I’d like the comfort of having been. Was that a little dark? Well, okay then.
I'm sitting in a conference room on the first floor of a building near downtown Oakland. Afternoon sunlight slants down from clear blue sky onto sidewalks and streets and windows. Buses groan and cars sigh around corners after waiting impatiently at signals.
A new co-worker was at my desk when I arrived. She didn't look anything like me, so I was worried about crossing paths with my doppelganger (or worse).
Another co-worker's recommendation of a social search engine brought me here. This LJ account was among the first page of my own results, so I figured I'd better log in and change my password and blow the dust off things.
There was a post-apocalypse theme party in honor of one Oakland Soft Rock Choir member moving out of a building and another member moving in. The party started yesterday evening and ran into the wee hours. Attendees were invited to dress up (“Tank Girl,” zombies, steampunk) but the only costume that made sense to me was to dress down, don all black, carry a Good Book (the King James version of the Original African Heritage Study Bible that my mother gifted me with for Christmas in 1993), walk up on people and ask if they’d accepted Jesus Christ as their one true Lord and savior — not that there aren’t people doing that sort of street-preaching now, just that it seems like a post-apocalyptic growth market. After about ten choir members performed a brief set, some of us wound up on the roof quietly talking. I couldn’t help noticing the Elihu M. Harris federal building sitting just blocks away from us.
The only annoyance? The guy squeezing in between me and his date who leaned over when he saw me and asked if I was a Fleet Foxes fan. “Yeah,” I replied. “Are you?” Ask me again if I’m a fan again, superchill beer-sipping indie-rock bro. Ask me again, I dare you, I double-dare you. Ask my Last.fm queue, why don’t you? sigh
I didn’t plan on visiting another office so soon after last month’s visit to Mountain View. But when one notices a Google Places tweet and responds as directed, any manner of strangeness may result. So it was that I found myself exiting the Embarcadero BART station and walking down to Google San Francisco.
I had a good time meeting other lunch invitees (the developer who likes to hack on the side; the DJ with ideas about music storage; the Spanish-language journalist and organizer), filling my plate and taking a walk around the place and pinching myself a little. I never forget that this stuff doesn’t spring into existence out of the ether.