Saturday June 9, 2001

This is in Highbury. I really liked London. I gotta give thanks to Laura and Gemma who, in addition to putting me up while I was there, convinced me to go. It was all their idea. I actually liked it better than Barcelona. Even though everybody raves about Barcelona, I think I was in a better frame of mind for London. Oh, and they speak English there.

Friday June 8, 2001

Parque Central in Havana. There was a huge shouting match going on next to these old guys -- one guy taking on a crowd of about 20. I think they were discussing politics. The last time I'd seen men shouting at each other so fervently it was watching monks debate in India.

Thursday June 7, 2001

My Snickers ice cream bar was two thirds finished when Garrick and Sam came out of 21 Lapidge. What were they up to? A coastal field trip of exploration and semi-pro geology by pot smoking boy scouts.

We were all very excited and Sam was doing his impressions of inbred Sonoma dudes. We started out with a hidden beach community just inside of Point Pedro in Pacifica. A private protected cove with houses on stilts on the beach and perfect longboard waves brought our curses down upon those lucky bastards. Then our first bout with Garrick's gourmet pot and down to Moss Bay marine reserve and the petrified whalebone, concretions, and the first real contribution to my face burn.

The boys were easy to persuade to get fish tacos at the Half Moon Bay Flying Fish Stand at highway 92. I'd rank the 3 varieties thusly: cod, salmon, mahi. The boys are fish taco types. That place has been a 10 year love affair with me, but I'm sad to report that the little paint-by-numbers paintings, including the one of the fishercat in the little boat with a yellow sailor hat, are gone. The owners have installed some more "classy" furnishings, like photos of killer whales jumping.

We drove down to Bean Hollow, which Garrick raved about. I didn't pay much attention until we got there. Holy Moses! Just over the point to the south of the beach is the most amazing erosion I've ever seen. What happened, according to Garrick, is there was all this sand and silt and some water carrying cement filtered through it. The patterns that the groundwater took hardened and became an amazing honeycombed structure when the sandy parts eroded away. It looked like rock doilies at one point. When I first saw it I said, "Aw, look, someone has spoiled it by carving designs in the rock" and Garrick said, "Sorry bud, that's natural."

We watched the sets roll in with crippled Sam back on the beach and then it was Sam's turn to direct us home. Brilliant choices indeed: up 84 to La Honda and the giant redwoods and then onto 35 and the ridge that lets you see all of Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean at once. The air smelled impossibly sweet and we were lucky as hell.

I had the best No Name sushi dinner the night I took this photo. 17th Street and Dolores.

I'm on the sun schedule now. I stayed up until 9pm yesterday and now I'm up and chipper at 7am. Part of my scheme for staying awake was not to spend 10 hours straight in front of the computer and then to go down to the financial district and skate (At one point when I was bombing Bush, a pack of rather hardcore skaters caught up from behind and it was quite exciting to be part of that rolling thunder. I felt like a guy on a moped suddenly finding himself in the middle of a pack of Hells Angels.) and then go see Amores Perros. I also spent $6k yesterday. That took a little while.

The first thing Alexis asked me when I got home was if I cried. Yes, my eyes were red and sore afterwards. I think when you're sleep deprived movies affect you more. I actually cry a lot at movies. Come to think of it, I'd hate it if my main hobby failed to make me cry - I'd probably be wasting my time watching all these movies if they didn't affect me.

Amores Perros has won a lot of awards at film festivals. I wonder if those film festival voters watch telenovelas (Mexican soap operas). I wonder if that would change their vote. In some parts, like the middle model story, it gets really soap opera-ish. Actually, the wino/deadbeat dad story was right outta the soaps also. "Por un Beso! Por un Beso!" The movie probably would have fallen on it's face except for the emotional force of Emilio Echevarría -- The Goat. His story of attempted redemption at the end bails it out for me. I thought the middle story really dragged after the bruisingly intense first story and only the "failed left-wing rebel gets to torture two asshole businessmen" scene raised the level of gratification to the point where I'd recommend this film. But, the director was very brave to try all three.

I did love the part where one character says, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans." I kind of fit's with my rant from a couple of days back. And the music is amazing. I guess the director is a DJ.

Know what? I saw two Mexican movies yesterday. Nazarín by Luis Buñuel kills Amores Perros. You could say I like my movies delightful and subtle. Who wouldn've thunk it?

Wednesday June 6, 2001

"They're selling postcards of the hanging...."

This is Ellis street and Leavenworth -- as if it matters.

Tuesday June 5, 2001

OK, here's my favorite picture from my week in Cuba. This is on Calle Manrique in Centro Havana where I stayed.

There are so many abandon store fronts and businesses. It was really sad. This area of town, which was a glorious center of culture and commerce for 300 years, is a shell. I think of all the industrious people that would love to get something going but you know what, there isn't anything to sell. No products and nobody with money to buy them.

This is the most shocking thing that you notice walking around. Your average store has a couple of employees leaning over a glass case filled with soda, beer and cigarettes and behind them, beautiful carved antique hardwood shelves gathering dust. No signs for Coke and no Pepsi cooler and no football playing Budweiser bottles either. Everybody knows that their country can put food on the selves and they believe they can do it without the ads. The economy is in ruins and everybody blames Castro.

Monday June 4, 2001

A photograph of a London alley. I can't remember where I was when I took this. I think I was walking down Upper Street in Islington on my way to the tube.

I'm gonna whip around and come out into the light. I've had it with going to sleep when the sun comes up. I stayed up last night until noon and slept until 6pm so today I'm going for mid-afternoon. Soon I'll be on a schedule that should give me a decent number of daylight hours. I just haven't been able to get my errands done because everything's closed.

I want to write about a conversation I had with Amy on Saturday night. It was about plans. (As I write, the music I'm listening to accidentally warbles, "Gina, this isn't how I planned it") Plans and me haven't mixed much. I used to hate them because when I was younger, "you gotta have a plan" was a way for adults to make me feel like I was unmotivated and unfocused. I now know that plans have nothing to do with motivation and focus. What is a plan?

This question I posed to Amy because we were talking about what she wanted to do with her life. I will go as far as to say that plans don't have anything to do with what you want to do with your life either. Or, a good plan shouldn't.

I started off saying something that most people over 30 have figured out, that things never turn out the way you planned them -- and thank God for that. Most people will concede, when they look back, that their desires do not age gracefully and if the past is any example, what you want for yourself now is not what you're gonna want for yourself in 5 or 10 years. Amy agreed but said, "That is not what plans are for. They're for right now, so you know what you're doing and you're relatively sure what you're working toward." Ah ha! Yes. So plans are not blueprints for the future, they're a safety blanket. Plans are only a way to give meaning to what we are doing. It fits in the plan.

Well, this may be a severe distinction but is one that is important to me because it makes it alright for me not to have a plan. I don't have to succumb to societal pressure to say, "Yes, well, I'm going to buy a house and have 3 kids by the time I'm 40." 3 years ago I wanted to get married. Why? Fuck if I know now! How could I have made plans that included a permanent arrangement? When you make a plan you're saying, "I'm going to act according to my present beliefs and desires for the foreseeable future." Isn't this ruling out the potential to learn? Isn't it learning that makes getting older more fun?

So you've got all kinds of points for me to consider. Whoops, this is a one way conversation. I will concede that there is a genuine satisfaction that comes with having a plan and executing on it -- even if you never manage to achieve your goals. Any cassette-tape-slinging self-helper will tell you that. Should you make a plan and try to do it because of that? No way. You might say, "Yeah, well, getting married is one thing but what about planning to learn HTML or something? Small plans are quite functional." To this I say, "How long does it take you to change your mind? Do you want to do the same thing every day?" Short term goals are even more susceptible to getting re-thunk than big life changers.

You say, "I never get anything done! Yes, I change my mind a lot. That's my problem." So are plans the antidote to your fickleness? Think again. Or, just think harder next time. Analyze your desire. True living. No recipes. Sticking to plans, (like sticking it out for the stock options) can kill you.

Sunday June 3, 2001

Recycle Bins on Valencia. Bins will be bins.