Long walk to freedom

It feels strange to see this movie now. I’m glad I waited until some weeks’ time after his passing to go.

I was struck by the limited portrayal of the levels of captivity in his life and his country’s history: his initial grounding in his tribal traditions; his personal level of comfort and ease as a young lawyer and man-about-town while still getting called “boy” by whites; the shifting gulfs between his ideals and those held by his party aides, movement allies and closest loved ones; the irony of rising to power atop a state that had ruthlessly and cruelly surveilled his every move.
The truth, the true life still unrevealed over decades and documents, is undoubtedly more complicated and compelling than any two-hour production I could ever buy a ticket to see.

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What’s the group term for superheroes?

So we talked about the first volume of Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles” and drank wine and beer and water and we ate pork-and-cabbage tacos and fried chicken and oven-broiled olive-oil-drizzled green beans and vegetarian jelly beans and panicetta.

Some of us had read it years before at comic shops and intermittent installments and had insightful comments about changes in character coloring and narrative jump cuts.

Some of us noticed the presence of things like virtual reality and the absence of the Internet as an interesting storytelling element. Some of us just got lost in the sauce and failed to enjoy ourselves.

Next up? It’s looking like Matt Ruff’s “The Mirage.” Its epigraph: “When God wants to punish you, He grants your wish.”

This is not my beautiful dystopia

Not that I expected the one I was going to live in to be beautiful, mind you. Perhaps picturesque, most likely absorbing and something I could appreciate on an aesthetic level even as it was bugging the hell out of me or driving me insane.

Maybe I opted out of beauty, like something I inadvertently checked off or a mailing list I didn’t sign up for. Maybe all the people who say that Beyoncé’s visual album is giving them life are right. I wouldn’t know since I haven’t given it a listen.

My dystopia is one where a guy reading an actual newspaper on a tablet next to me in a chain coffee shop feels weird but see him turn to play Candy Crush-whatever a few minutes later seems perfectly normal.

My dystopia has a black president elected to uphold the Constitution and reform horrible abuses of civil liberties and civilian surveillance by the previous administration, but who winds up reifying them even further. My dystopia has a beer on grocery shelves produced by the Mission Brewing Company under the brand name of El Conquistador. Of course, it’s a pale ale.

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Followed footfalls and found flows

Walking around in the city I call home in the middle of the day has taken a little getting-used-to. I like it, I enjoy it, of course. Does it feel normal yet? Not with repetition, not even with practice.

I notice it when I go over to Telegraph Avenue because I feel like stretching my legs, getting something for lunch or just having a chat with nearby business owners. I come to turn around and see a cop car sneaking up behind me.

I noticed it anew today when I propped my phone up on the edge of my newsroom cubicle against a mug, pointed it onto Thomas J. Berkley Way near the entryway to the 19th Street BART station, turned on a time-lapse app and saw people move in streams and tides along the opposite sidewalk, and watched cars and buses flow past at multiples of their regular rhythm.

Why, it’s the best movie least likely to win an Academy Award nomination:

The kept change

I think this is the first time I’ve visited the new taco truck this year. Same location as the last one in the 1400 block of 1st Avenue, but it’s a new truck. Or maybe they just painted the old one all professionally and crisp and green.

I should’ve asked how they got that mural of the cowboy and the ranch on the side of it, but anyone who could’ve told me for sure was busy inside the truck taking orders or assembling tacos and burritos. So I wandered off to the other side of 1st Avenue and took a few crappy pictures of the Bitcoin billboard there and thought about how it feels when change sneaks up on you when you haven’t been through a spot in a few weeks or so.

Not a privilege, it’s a necessity

This afternoon, I went from hero to villain in about fifteen minutes. I was collecting what people were saying about Aaron Swartz on the anniversary of his passing when I got a chance to go watch “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The devil has the best tunes: “It comes down to the chant.” “But there is a unifying beat that ties all this music together whether it be ‘90s hip-hop or ‘60s blues.” “The movie feels like it’s wall-to-wall music. [...] The Wolf of Wall Street could have gone for a wall-to-wall eighties and nineties soundtrack, but instead spread its selections over decades (Bo Diddley to Foo Fighters), styles (blues to hip-hop), and even languages.”

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Sick and tired 2.0

I’m not trying to catch it. Not even if I’m nursing A. through it, not even if co-workers are valiantly fighting it to come to the office and, not even if stray sniffles and sneezes from sidewalk passers-by sneak up on me. I’m not even due for an illness until early next month.

This look around made today interesting: peeking in on the original version of viral, and following how it plays out across another platform only slightly less prone to illness — and, of course, immune to chicken noodle soup.

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Trivia, pursued

Leave it to me to get the day right but the date wrong. Soon as V. sent me an invite to the New Parkway’s pub-trivia contest night, I peeled out for 24th Street. Trouble was, I got there what turned out to be an hour early. That’s fine, I’ll order an Oaktown Brown Ale. Taps acting up? Okay, make it a Line 51 Red Ale. And I’ll take a pitcher/picture so it will last longer.

What do you mean, the team’ll be here next week? That’s all right, I’ll just play solo. Thanks to the team sitting next to me who offered to host me, I’ll just work on this slice of pizza and this bowl of popcorn. And let’s see if I can work any of these questions about 2013. I always feel guilty when the current-event rounds come around on these things. I never see any other working journalists in the room who’ve been writing what goes in the scripts and the papers.

I was a point behind in third place after one round, in the lead by one after two rounds, and ready to take it all. Then the last round: mother-daughter Hollywood-celebrity pictures. I don’t spend nearly enough time looking at the magazines in the grocery-store aisles. I don’t know anyone who puts ‘em together, I guess. Time for me to find a new racket, something easier, maybe, like an open-mic night.

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Run for the shadows

Today I learned David Bowie wrote “Golden Years” for Elvis Presey to sing. It’s Bowie’s birthday, and Presley’s too, but I chose to spend the day listening for the first-ever time to “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” with several chasers’ worth of “The Platinum Collection” greatest-hits collection.

Just like that, my former choir-mate’s preference for “Moonage Daydream” at the little Grand Avenue karaoke bar came alive and back to me, and a couple of guys I’d seen do “Five Years” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” at Nick’s just a week or so ago.

Out of the collection, “Aladdin Sane” and “TVC 15″ leaped out at me, the former never a part of the classic-rock station blocks, the latter I remember hearing maybe once or twice and thinking I’d dreamed it.

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Putting the Chinese food and a movie in Christmas

I don’t have to understand the gravity of the situation to enjoy it.

If former co-workers like our friend Jeanne want to get together on a sunny morning and wander around Oakland looking for open restaurants, we can do that.

If we pass the Alameda dim-sum restaurant we stood outside in chilly rain for nearly two hours last year and see it’s got lines rivaling New York nightclubs for length and impatience, we’re not obligated to go.

We have options: the restaurant a block or two away will serve us (after about 45 minutes); the French-themed Berkeley pastry-shop that drew us in with hot chocolate and firm chairs when the regular coffeeshop’s doors were closed by bathroom repairs; a viewing of one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films in 3-D, for every subtle shading and portrayal it lets us view yet anew.

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