I’ve been to this Bookstore perhaps 30 times in my life. It’s a classic. Not the biggest or even best bookstore in Bay area, but definitely the most famous. Kerouac, Cassidy, Ginsberg and Kesey used to hang out here in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Others came through at times, including Bukowski. So I always come by when I am here. I would guess I’ve bought perhaps 100 books here over the years. I picked up 3 today.
Just down the street is the ‘Beat Museum’. I did not go in. I was never much of a fan of most of those guys, although I generally respect their political views. Aside from Kesey, whose writing I greatly respect, I never gave much time to Ginsberg or Kerouac. I read ‘On The Road’ years ago and found it lacking in both substance and style. A few years ago I tried to read it again, thinking maybe I just missed something, but no, I still found it boring and unimpressive. As far as Casady goes, I could never figure out what he ever really did except hang around some famous writers.
On this trip I bought ’Post Office’ by Bukowski—which I have surprisingly never read because I thought I had covered all the ground with him. ‘They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us’ by Hanif Abdurraqib and ‘National Insecurity’ by Melvin Goodman. All different and all look good. So will add those the massive pile of books awaiting my time and attention.
After visiting City Lights I had a beautiful Italian lunch with wine, grappa, and espresso. I started reading Post Office but mostly people-watched. I chose an outdoor table that had a view of a beautiful church, but I was there during prime food delivery time and the delivery trucks parked directly in front of me. So mostly I watched men unpacking and delivering food. The first truck was ItaliaFoods, followed then by Sysco, UPS, and then Chef’s Warehouse. The ItaliaFoods truck was delivering to several restaurants on that block and there were 3 guys. One was clearly in charge as he was pointing and barking out orders. He was chatting with one of other delivery company guys and at one point said “we’re on the front lines brother—if not for us, people go hungry in this city”.
My waiter was good. Attentive. When he waited on me, he exaggerated his accent greatly. But later, he came out of the restaurant to talk on his cell phone and spoke with no accent at all. He was working me for the authenticity angle.
I also took the time while sitting at Mona Lisa to skim the news, and I became reminded of a cute short story about Mandela. I was reminded of the story because some of the news is covering the flooding in New Orleans and the pending storm headed that direction. This is a story that a newsman might have written 100 years ago and just re-submitted every 3 years or so. This is not a news story but a sad tale of predictable suffering enabled through ignorant city planning and a stubborn refusal to admit that nature has a stronger claim to this territory than humans.
Anyway. That is not the story.
While I was waiting to be divorced, I spent a few months at our condo in New Orleans. Mandela and I spent our free time walking the streets and occasionally stopping here or there. I would read or write in the park or at a coffee shop and she would mostly nap, but of course, always diligently on the lookout for an interesting smell or sight. There was a great neighborhood bar we would visit sometimes. We would sit outside and I would have a whiskey and a cigar and Dela would lay at my feet and look out at the street. There was a beautiful young Jamaican woman who worked there and who I loved, but she fell in love with Mandela and every chance she got, she would come by and love on Dela a bit.
If it’s possible for a coffeeshop with poor coffee quality to make the shortlist of best java places around, Mojo fits this description. It was a few blocks away from our condo in Lower Garden District. The coffee was served by bearded dudes with man buns and brewed to an impossibly unnatural strength and to my taste, basically undrinkable, without intervention. My order there was a medium cup of 1/2 coffee and 1/2 hot water. That was about right.
Mandela and I then sat outside and I would read the paper while she people-watched and snoozed.
This was our daily ritual.
On two occasions in a single week, while we were sitting outside doing our thing, John Goodman came riding up on his bicycle. He’s a big man, and a big man riding a city cruiser is just something you notice. He rode by our usual table, pulled up on the sidewalk and locked up his bike in the bike rack.
On both occasions then, as he walked towards the door, he stopped to pet Mandela. He took the time to lower his large frame to the ground and set about petting. Dela, as was her way, made herself available to be petted. She looked up at John as he scratched her around the ears and her neck and they had a moment. At no time did John acknowledge me or even make eye contact. His concern was Dela.
After a couple of minutes, he launched himself upright and walked on in to the shop.
There was a rumor around that he was an investor in the shop, but I have no way of knowing. I do know that I never saw him inside the shop; the times I saw him go in, when I went inside to get another cup or take in my dishes, he was not to be seen. There were some stairs in back that were closed to the public, so presumably that was where he went. Maybe to talk business or who knows.
Interesting how people that fly the most are the most inept and/or inconsiderate when boarding a plane. First class people just take their time putting away their bags, getting out their pillows and books, all while standing in the aisle and not letting anyone pass.
So here’s Thursday’s plane story.
I was in a frenzy to get a powerpoint deck off to my boss before they shut the door of the plane. So I am sitting in my seat working frantically while everyone is boarding. I noticed some commotion and grumbling but paid no attention. Then I feel a tap on my shoulder. A man has fought his way upstream against traffic to ask me if I would switch seats so he can sit next to his wife. I was in no mood for nonsense; I wanted to get my work done. So I tell him wait until everyone is loaded. So he sits down. And then I forgot about it. After everyone is loaded, sure enough, here comes the wife all ready to sit next to her man. I still had not been able to send off the slides and now had to stop working to gather up my shit and change seats with this lady. Here’s the thing—they were 5 seats apart and it is a 25 minute flight from Cleveland to Detroit. They were completely okay disrupting the flight (and me) because they could not bear to be apart for 25 minutes.
So, we fly to Detroit. I am now sitting 5 seats behind these dipshits. When we land, the lady pops up and comes back to retrieve her bag from the overhead (which is over my seat). But now, all the passengers between her and her seat are up getting their bags and waiting to de-plane. Does she now relax and just wait until everyone ahead of her is off and out of the way so she can get the rest of her stuff, join her man, and get off. No, she pushes and shoves her way through to get back to her seat—again, making people sit back down and generally just being a nuisance.
It could be the end of this story. But no, it is not.
I had very tight connection and had to hustle from terminal B to terminal A. I got off the plane and was walking briskly with my things. I make it to the first moving sidewalk and am walking on the left side, passing the people standing on the right side. Exactly as designed. I then come to a couple, both standing, not walking, standing, side-by-side and blocking the entire walkway Just taking up the entire lane laughing and chatting. And yes, it is the Dipshits.
On the long flight from CLE to SFO, I got upgraded. Which was nice. Two flight attendants in first class, one male and one female, had 37 years and 42 years of service each. Imagine that. 42 years for the same company. It was the lady. She was Asian, and as one may suspect with 42 years of working, not particularly young. And…..she had a very prominent tongue piercing. There is something oddly disturbing about a 65 year-year old woman with a big gold tongue-stud poking up its head every time she opened her mouth to talk. Nice folks though.
I helped an African woman board who was with her young daughter and they had way too much stuff to carry. The little girl was wearing a crown that said Happy Birthday. So about half-way through he flight, the flight attendant’s gave me a piece of chocolate cake to take back to her. It was sweet.
One last funny story for Friday. Eileen and I met for coffee and pastry before she had to go to her law conference. I went to use the bathroom, but it was locked. When I went to get the key from the lady at the counter, she said I had to leave my ID, or something, to make sure I returned the key.
I offered my chapstick, and she accepted. So I was able to visit the bathroom.
No other news of note.