Saturday, July 17, 2004

Wild life

There is a
tiny little park in San Francisco, told to me about natives for the view and canoodling privacy at night, that is easy to miss.

In fact, it sorta doesnt exist, but does. Its a park. Really. It appears on maps.
It has no name, it doesnt have a park bench, and its kinda 'rugged'.

Scruffy, even.

It also has one of the most amazing unimpeded views of the bay, Alcatraz in the center of the view, part of the Golden Gate to left, Berkeley and the Bay Bridge to the right. I WILL come back to for a panoramic project.

Even if you know where it is, you might just walk by and through it, drawn to the other attractions around it.

But, here's the thing that had me grinning from ear-to-ear.

The hummingbirds. Ive never seen hummingbirds at play before.

The steep hill above the park is an over-grown bramble of bushes and wild-flowers and trees, poorly kept.

And thats where, if you keep still and wait, you'll see the hummingbirds frolicking.

Here's what they do...

They will swoop up, down and sideways to a hover, and then, with their amazing power-to-weight ratio (sorry, hot-rod geek speak), climb vertically STRAIGHT up.

Think like 200 feet in seconds. And there they will hover.

Then they stop flapping.

Wings closed and tucked, they then DIVE, beak first,looking like theyre scaring themselves half to death, and enjoying it, and then at last moment flick their wings out and scream into level flight, zooming past at 'ground' level.

I didnt know they were such accomplished aerobats.

I think I stood there on the stops above the 'park' for a good half hour watching doing this.

Add this to the view, it was kinda intoxicating.

*sigh* I hate to give up the location the secret garden, but it is surprisingly accessible if you know where to go.

Aright. Bay Street. Behind Ghiradelli Square, Larkin going straight up.

It is BEHIND the little patch of green park, up the steep steps, sort of a short cut to the heights of Russian Hill.

Halfway up the steps, turn around and enjoy the view.
"It's gotten so that people come here just to see the sea lions," Bell said. "I have lots of people say this is better than anything they've seen or done in San Francisco. And if they're not here, like in July, people actually get really upset, as if we control what they do."

Among the Dragon male's other character traits, mention must be made of his irascible temperament.

During his fits of boil he really recalls his symbolic animal - a Dragon belching out long flames. One would be prudent in such moments to avoid him and keep precious or fragile objects out of his reach. But his fury will fade away exactly as it came - rapidly, unexpectedly - without leaving any shade of rancor in its trail.

- Master Rao's Astrology

I was *pissed*.

For something that was beyond my control AND none of my business, my heated state seemed all the more irrational.

I marched to the little booth, went to the volunteer and demanded:

"WHERE are the Sea Lions?"

I was mad for the harbor by Pier 39 was empty of seals and instead, full of the boats of money-grubbing tour operators. I was SURE an injustice had been done.

They had driven away the famed sea-lions of Pier 39!!!

The volunteer, slightly taken aback, replied..

"Theyre all gone. It's mating season. Theyve migrated south."

The look on my face told him I didnt believe him, so he pointed to a map..

"You know where Santa Barbara is? There are some islands off the coast where theyve gone to mate. They go during July. The males will not eat as they secure their piece of the beach and collect their harems."


Still, it was disconterting. No sea-lions at Pier 39. It seemed .. empty.. even though the crowds were there looking out at the empty floating mats that they usually crowd onto.

"Oh, they'll be back, smelling up the place, making all kinds of noise as usual, in August."

Oh. Ok.

But I'll be back to check.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Naptime, a disturbing trend

In what Im hoping isnt becoming A Disturbing Trend, I find myself needing a nap, often dozing off on the bus after my excursions.

Being the hypochondriac that I am, Im thinking that this is a sign that my body is weakening cuz of some ailment, and I cant handle trekking here, there and everywhere..

Or it could be that my tiny little mind cant handle the visual stimuli that San Francisco is bombarding me with, and I need to nap to quiet the over-stimulation.

Or it simply could be that waking up at 5:30 am pretty much every day this last year is catching up with me, and I simply need to get more sleep.

Or, it may just be all of the above.
For a brief moment the other day, despair flooded my gut.

Instinctively, I activated the Jedi Mind Trix mantra:

"This is entirely out of your control. You can only deal with the things you CAN control. Relax."

Within a minute, the pain went away and I started to enjoy myself again.

For everything is falling into place.
I dont remember where I heard this or read this, but there is a school of thought that in each life, you are living it with other reincarnated souls youve dealt with before. No matter their shape, gender or station in life, these particular people are there to assist you, and you them as you go through your lifetime.

Hm. No way to empirically prove *that* hypothesis, but Im coming to the conclusions that there are no coincidences.

Almost every day now, I find myself trekking to a spot, and waiting.

And almost every day now, I meet someone who should not be there, but is.

Yesterday, I stood in front of a restaurant in a sketchy part of town, for so long that habitues was wondering if I were a cop and the cops wondering why I was standing there so long.

The answer came shortly....

"I know you dont remember me, but.."

An aside: Why do some women think that men theyve dealt with may not remember them? My god.
Of *course* we remember. Sheesh. (Although we may not always remember the name.)

Anyhoo, here in an unlikely place at an unlikely time came along someone who had been of great help and will be in the future.

Random? I think not.

Because this keeps happening almost every day.
Today's excursion, Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth- the crookedest street in america.

It was cool, but frankly Im finding that the journey to and from these spots are FAR more interesting.

I took the #19 Polk, and I wanted to get on and off this bus repeatedly what with all the eye candy I was finding.

Yep, its not the destination, but the journey.
A tourist asked me what I thought the houses along that stretch of Lombard were worth.

I guessed maybe 3 - 5 million.

I think I was guessing low, as that would prolly be the price of a CONDO in that area.

Her response, "Yep, San Francisco sure is expensive."

Right. She hasnt priced Central Park West lately...

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Editorial comeex for the iconoclast.

In the
spirit of the counter-cultural "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers", Don Asmussen's "Bad Reporter" in the SF Chronicle has become a surrealistic favorite of mine.

It might be an acquired taste, but I find it hilarious.

Fr'instance, the latest episode:


"The City of Mine"


Yesterday, I spent far too much time online.

*giggle* The San Francisco Public Library has ethernet ports and FREE wireless, man!

Not even Berkeley does that.

This city is rich in so many ways.

But I was inside almost all day, and that isnt good. I should be out and about, exploring.

There is a lot to see and find.
Back in 2000, Karla, a former co-worker at, asked me to do something when she learned I was going to visit San Francisco.

"Say Hello to My City for me." said the San Franciscan native wistfully.

"My City"?

A few days ago, I was asking directions (a foolish thing to do here out west, I know, but I live dangerously like that..) to get to the twisty block of Lombard Street.

After thanking the man, and heading out, the man, taking me for a moist tourist, shouted "Enjoy My City, man!".

"My City."?

I guess thats the affectionate term peeps have for the place.
"The City and County of San Francisco."

The city official kept saying that all during his spiel.

Maybe thats why its referred to as "The City"?


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Joe Walker, Bus Rider

mars: so how's sf?
JPennant: beautiful
JPennant: amazing
JPennant: trippy
JPennant: dangerous
mars: and you're doing ok out there?
JPennant: oh yeah.
mars: good good
JPennant: Its better to discover the nooks and crannies of SF when youre walking around.
JPennant: although those hills are a BITCH. :-)
JPennant: and, as you know... I hate walking :-)
mars: hoo yeah.
mars: i don't think i ever really attempted those hills while i was there
JPennant: well, Im kinda punking out on those
JPennant: Im sneaking on buses and riding to where I need to be, then walk around
mars: hahaha
mars: cheater
JPennant: heee
mars: walking is good for your health
JPennant: i know, i know.. but my feet hurt.
JPennant: although there are little asian grandmothers putting me to shame
mars: hhahah of course!
JPennant: I see them walking up and down those hills like its no probnlem at all!
mars: those little ladies are insane
JPennant: LOL
JPennant: yes they are '
JPennant: but its cool tho. I'll work up to the walking around more
mars: good
JPennant: I might just get one of those collapsible walking canes. :-)

mars: how long do you think you'll be in sf?
mars: any plans of going back to berk?
JPennant: mm, dunno how long
JPennant: and I dont if I will go back to Berk to live
mars: hahaha
JPennant: you know me. when its time, Im gone
mars: good
JPennant: Its weird.. Im taking it day by day.. but its like I know whats gonna happen
JPennant: Like I know Hawaii is gonna happen, but I dont know when or how
JPennant: and Im not tripping on it
mars: =)

JPennant: soooooooooooon :-)
mars: 3 days
JPennant: heh, Im getting all verklempt and gay :-)
mars: hahahaha
mars: so silly
JPennant: heheh
mars: ok..gotta go get the ring cleaned and then i'm meeting up with my maid of honor and then my final fitting
mars: yay!!!!
mars: so much fun
JPennant: it'll be over soon. :-)
mars: i hope i can talk to you again soon jp
JPennant: you will :-)
mars: =) take care of yourself ok?
JPennant: you too m'dear
mars: =) bye

*sniff* *dab dab*

Just yesterday, she was a teenager. :-)


JPennant: hey Ms Tracy.. hows tings?
MamaHell: crazy as ever.... hows Cali?
JPennant: fine, fine. Im in San Francisco proper now.
MamaHell: Is berkley far from there?
JPennant: nah, just directly across the Bay
JPennant: 8 miles distance wise
JPennant: 25 minute subway ride
MamaHell: so you swam across?
JPennant: nah, took the bus ;-)

JPennant: hows the artist part of you coming along?
MamaHell: been too stressed to write...
haven't been dreaming...too busy trying to find the right is the first day I am 1/2 assed inspired
MamaHell: it would be a goood Idea to just read
MamaHell: today
JPennant: hows the weather?
MamaHell: muggy/cool (if that is possible)
and the flirt of misty rain
MamaHell: kind of what I imagine it is over there
JPennant: yup, its exactly that, minus the rain
JPennant: the sun isnt scheduled to break through until *looks at watch*
JPennant: 12:30
MamaHell: and kita is cute as she nuzzles into an old easter basket
JPennant: heheh
MamaHell: hmmm they have it down to a time
JPennant: nah, Im just figuring
JPennant: sounds like a good day to jes kick back
MamaHell: weather man joe
JPennant: one of my many hobbies :-)
JPennant: its cool tho
JPennant: although this morn
JPennant: as I was buying my half-caf, half-decaf
JPennant: a drug bust went down two feet away from me
MamaHell: a big one?
JPennant: two undercover cops body-slammed some dude to the ground
MamaHell: woe
JPennant: what was funny
JPennant: is that they didnt bug him as he openly smoked weed
MamaHell: then what was it?
JPennant: crack rocks
JPennant: weed is a ticket offense here, you kiddin?
MamaHell: Mmm yeah thats the bad one
MamaHell: well How should I know I have never been
MamaHell: YET
JPennant: *sigh* Ive gotten an education here
JPennant: its not that everybody I know is a user.. but I have to ASSUME everybody is
MamaHell: as most people are
JPennant: Cali is a trip. literally
MamaHell: I am reading about the hills on fire there
JPennant: south of here
JPennant: well, everyone has issues they have to deal with. Something else I learned
MamaHell: still...Big HOLLYWOOD at risk
MamaHell: could you imagine?
JPennant: burn baby burn :-)
JPennant: it'll be a movie of the week :-)
MamaHell: then all those reject actors would move here
JPennant: heheh
MamaHell: well Joe I gotta run....Sorry so short
Take care out there weatherman
JPennant: you too Lady Dragon :-)

Was wrong. The sun appeared at 10:30am.

The weather man is never right anyway.
JPennant: you see, in July, my brain doesnt work, so ..
Mister B: hahaha
JPennant: happy boithday
Mister B: tanks, sir! :-)
JPennant: yahoo didnt remind me :-)
Mister B: doh!
JPennant: eh, it never does
Mister B: one of my friends called this morning, thinking to day was the 13th!
JPennant: heh
JPennant: gooood lie :-)
Mister B: hehe, i KNOW he's like that, so it wouldn't be a lie!!!
JPennant: LoL
JPennant: looks like you had a good day. :-)
Mister B: it was very nice... well, not counting having to work
JPennant: ok, assuming work was an unpleasant dream ;-)
Mister B: hehe

Mister B: so, you've moved across the bay now?
JPennant: yup. finally
JPennant: graduated from Berkeley
Mister B: a place of your own or sharing?
JPennant: nope.
Mister B: ack
JPennant: nah, not so bad
JPennant: Im bathed, housed, fed and clothed. Im fine :-)
Mister B: thought maybe you had built up a few by now
Mister B: a few dollars in the bank
JPennant: only to get the gear I want
Mister B: nod
JPennant: Nah, Im fine. Its working for me
JPennant: cept it makes the Girl Im Dating nervous
Mister B: nacherally
JPennant: "I just cant wrap my *mind* around this homeless thing youre doing!"
JPennant: She figures its a phase and I'll be done with it soon
Mister B: she dont know you well, do she? ;-)
JPennant: I tell her im not asking her to stick around if she doesnt wanna.
Mister B: :p
JPennant: sorry, random person came up.. even in SF I know people now
Mister B: haha
JPennant: anyways, happy birthday sir. enjoy the rest of your birthday week ;-)
Mister B: heh, thanks!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

For the first time ever

I saw
a GOPHER. For the first time in real life.


Golden Gate Park, walking by the AIDS memorial hollow, I looked down by a freshly dug mound of dirt, and a brown furry nose poked its nose, saw me looking down goofily, and quickly retreated.

And back. And forth. And back. And out.

This went on about ten times, so I moved away from the tunnel opening to leave it alone, and then stood downwind about five feet to see it come out and look around.

Gophers are tiny. Tinier than I was led to believe by Walt Disney Presents and Caddyshack.

It was SO Chip n' Dale. :-)

(Dude, I KNOW Chip n' Dale are chipmunks... I havent seen THEM yet.)

"So, which bus do I take to see the 'Full House' victorians?"
"Oh! Take the #21 Hayes from Market Street."

I rode it to the end of the line, on the way glimpsing the park where yoou can see the famous view from the TV show.

The park was empty.

On the return trip, I stepped off the bus. No one was in sight.

I walked up to the top of the hill...

And 50 european tourists burst into view, tour buses disgorging the excited hordes, almost tumbling past me in their excitement, quickly crowding into the small park and right into the heretofore bucolic scenery.

Imagine the shot on the TV show, and add 50 people to it - and you had what it looked like.

The famous scenery was advertised, but with a billion people crowding the normally bucolic view, happily snapping pictures of themselves in front of the victorians of Postcard Row.

It was almost comical.

Within 20 minutes, theyd all re-boarded the tour buses and left me alone in the park.

About the view:

Its even more spectacular in person.

I spent a bit looking at the view which extends over the Bay.

Naturaly, at that point, heavy fog, cloud and a very brisk wind started rolling in.

And another tour bus rolled up, disgorging another load of tourists looking for the world famous view...

Monday, July 12, 2004

Random thoughts

I usually have my
thoughts beautifully organised in my head, but as soon as I power up a machine, they disintegrate into fragments.

- Signs on the bus "Hold on. Sudden stops are sometimes necessary."

Sudden starts will fling you around the bus too.

- The electric buses

"Daddy, why are the buses electric?"
"They're better."

He didnt answer.

I wanted to answer ... "They dont pollute, but these buggers are HELLA good climbing the hills of San Francisco, and they have that cool, eerie whine when theyre going and no noise when they stop, so you can hear the clicks and hisses of the bus at rest, and then there is that engine BRAKING coming down those hills, which cause you to hold on dearly for support, because you are at an angle, and you'd be tumbling down the bus cause youre on an 18 degree grade, which cause horses in the old days to be dragged prostrate down those hills, so much so that they had horse ambulances in San Francisco WAAAY before they had ambulances for people, and they got those cool poles going up to electrified wires in the sky, which dont spark like they used to, which is a shame, but they are so much cooler than the diesel buses. That's why."

- Entering the back of the bus

When I first visited SF in 2000, and Id see people rushing to get on through the back doors, I was HORRIFIED man.

I wanted to defend the ramparts and throw the non-payers back out the doors, except EVERYBODY was doing it. Young, old, punks, tiny asian grandmothers...

Its an honored SF tradition. The drivers rarely get pissed about it.

But Im loathe to do it. Even when I have no cash and I need to save my bus tokens.

- "San Francisco isnt what it used to be, with all these people coming in with their BMW's and treating people like dirt."

Maybe not. But it and the people are still interesting.

More later.