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.
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.
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.
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.
Whoa, close parking space. Do I feel thirsty? No, don’t think so. I wish this place had beer. Ooh, there’s a couch, I’ll just lean my guitar against the edge there and land right there.
Right, then, there’s a lot of people ahead of me. I had to be here at 6 p.m. to sign up. Lesson for next time. Been a minute since I’ve done this. There, that’s my name on, after Roxanne. Now to sit back and take it all in.
Breathe. You’re not the only guy with a guitar here. See how they sing and play. You could learn something, you know.
So much love in the room tonight. People are still filtering in. They greet each other warmly when they recognize. When they don’t, they sit companionably. Now everyone’s introducing themselves. We each have to say what we’re bringing into the new year. I stutter something about a sense of mission. Maybe I add on something about being more present with people’s needs. I resolve not to fiddle with my phone as much as usual, just for tonight. Others talk about success, goals for activism, forging broader connections.
Then comes the music and words.
Nothing that high and towering an achievement, even one that puts millions of people in orbit around their own planet alongside movie stars, can avoid catastrophic showers of debris. But since it’s all, you know, a movie, then we can sit back and watch it on screen without geting super invested or super-disinvested.
But I guess it’s one thing to know how the trick is being done, and another thing entirely to have the trick undone, turned inside-out, laid bare and made harmless and you and all your friends foolish for Having Believed.
Probably no more than a weekend or so ago, I’d managed to figure how to see “Children of Men” again. I don’t think what reminded me was having seen “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” though I’d seen that with a friend no more than a couple of months ago for the first time in ages. No, what sent me forward into the Britain of the late twenty-twenties was the press that his upcoming film was getting, and the praise it appeared to be all too easily and deservingly garnering.
So I found my way into a theater to see it, and it was bleak and ridiculous and larger than the screen I saw it on, and I can’t wait to see it again, and it may not win more than a few awards for special effects, but it’ll make a metric ton at the box office.
We wake up, and one of us gets out of bed and pads off to the kitchen, dodging the cat underfoot suddenly and plaintively meowing her cupboard-love callouts. Our faucet fills the kettle, the electric burner glows orange, a steam-powered whistle fills the air, and hot water spills into cups containing black tea.
Then comes breakfast, often scrambled eggs with a few ingredients like mushrooms, or sage, or onions, or even tomatoes. Most often though? Bacon, nitrate-free, hard-fried and filling the air with its aroma, and not a little bit of smoke.
This morning I saw some of that smoke hanging around in the air, even though you might have thought that the partially open window would let some of it out through the wire-mesh grate. But it hung around, so I took its picture.
Stopping at a gas station on Foothill Boulevard in Hayward, waiting and watching the numbers spin higher and higher on the pump beside my car, and thinking: I’ve never been here before, this is not my usual stop, so this is what traffic looks like at this hour as it surges toward the westbound and eastbound entrances to Interstate 580.
So I hear the pump click, the gas stops, and I hang up the pump and turn my face toward the back edge of the station, and there are those birds up above, minding their business, clustered along those wires, taking in a better view than any ground-bound human.
I saw blue and purple and orange, bright and light and inviting, easy to pick up and arrange, within reason, until you notice the thin metal cables attaching everything to the concrete, and the absence of bodies in the area that aren’t walking briskly in some other direction, like toward a bus or somewhere else in the neighborhood.
When would I come out here? To hang out, to stretch my legs and take in some air, eat my lunch or sit and enjoy coffee or tea from somewhere nearby? Would I have the nerve to bring my guitar out here and busk?
It’ll be interesting to see what uses the street develops.