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Posts Tagged ‘Wilco’

The San Francisco Treat

Posted by evankessler on June 18, 2009

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It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve indulged in a portion of Chicken Rice-a-Roni, but I had an odd craving for the entree accessory as my plane touched down at San Francisco Airport early afternoon on Thursday.  It had been a largely uncomfortable experience on my flight.  Either the seat in front of me didn’t  have much in the way of working mechanics or the guy in front of me was really heavy, because he did a good job leaning well past the upright and locked position before, during, and after takeoff.   I thought American Airlines had limited personal space, but my this journey via Delta took the proverbial cake.  Oh well, I guess I can’t complain.  To paraphrase Louis CK, the ability to travel via airplane is kind of a miracle.  I got the opportunity to fly in the air and 6 hours later I was somewhere else.  That somewhere else was a place I hadn’t been in around 24 years to see a friend I hadn’t seen in, well, several months.  All of that aside, I was near all sorts of interesting things, the San Andreas Fault being one of them.  I was secretly hoping to experience a low magnitude tremor, but was glad it didn’t strike the moment the landing gear made contact with the runway.

As I left the plane and headed towards the pickup gate, I was met by my old roommate and cue balled confidante, Sean M. Months prior whilst enjoying a beer in NYC my good friend and his wife had invited me out to their humble abode to take part in their major BBQ festivities during the 2nd weekend of June.  Who was I to turn them down?  Well, I was one broke Hebrew, but that didn’t stop me as I wielded my skymiles with panache and ultimately set foot on West Coast soil.  I was glad to be there and ready to take the Bay area by storm.

The View of The Golden Gate Bridge From Sean's Apt.

The View of The Golden Gate Bridge From Sean's Apt.

The Twists and Turns of Lombard Street Off In The Distance

The Twists and Turns of Lombard Street Off In The Distance

Sean and I made bee line for his apartment, a one bedroom with an absolutely breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard St amongst other things, in the North Beach section of town.  He quickly  informed me that he wouldn’t be able to immediately perform his hosting duties as he had to take his lovely wife Masharika for a haircut, which he would be on hand for for moral support.  I was none too put out by this, as I had some San Francisco plans on the horizon anyway.

First order of business, make a visit to my friends at OneRiot.  Funny thing was, the moment I got to Sean’s apartment, I sort of knew where I was going.  I had looked up the start point and the finish point on the map prior to going to California and already determined that I would take the scenic route.  All I had to do was walk up the hill on Sean’s block and walk down the other side to The Embarcadero and follow it Southeast, which was to say make a right when I got to it.  Then, when I got to Brannen St, all I had to do was make a right and I’d be pretty close.  Sounded easy enough.

No Hill Too Steep!

No Hill Too Steep! (Well It Wasn't That Steep Yet)

So with that I started up the steep hill, which may have been “Telegraph Hill” but I could’ve made that up.  All the while, I was making a few phone calls which ended up accompanied by heavy panting as my calves propelled my body toward the top.  When I reached the end of the road, I was met with even steeper stairs.  From afar the end of the road look as if it could have been the high point of the hill, but it was not so.  It was another couple of minutes of upward trajectory, before I found stairs going the opposite direction.  There seemed an endless array of stairs heading down prompting me to think they should’ve made an 70’s era show called “The Stairs of San Francisco” instead of “The Streets…”   As I walked downward through thills with the waterfront and The Bay Bridge in sight, I noticed that I was surrounded by residences.  These residences didn’t have driveways and were nestled in this scenic hilly region.  I wondered how much of a bitch it was for the people who lived there to move in or get large amounts of groceries inside on a given day.  Nonetheless, they were very attractive residences and probably quite pricey.

Behold, The Embarcadero!

Behold, The Embarcadero!

As I finally found my way down to the Embarcadero through Levi (of Blue Jeans fame) Plaza.  It kind of felt like I was roaming through a college quad.  After emerging through that area and hitting the road, I walked along the opposite sidewalk for a bit before crossing towards the piers. The Embarcadero was a wind tunnel of sorts.  I felt sort of nerdy liking the fact that I was walking along the “Embarcadero” since it was a word in one of my favorite songs.  I was listening to other things on my iPod but I couldn’t help feel cool thinking the lyrics, “dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies, I sat and watched you bleed.”  The view was rather nice and I enjoyed looking at the ocean and the piers.  I couldn’t imagine such harsh occurrences as Jeff Tweedy sang about happening there.

These Skies, I Find, Are None Too Daunting

These Skies, I Find, Are None Too Daunting

Soon enough I came to the street where I thought the park where I was supposed to meet my OneRiot editor, Carmel.  Only, I for some reason thought the park would be a major deal right off of the Embarcadero.  I was a bit off.  After a few phone calls we finally straightened up the directions and we encountered for the first time, despite having known each other somewhat since 2007, in a little area by the name of South Park.

It was a bit of an odd encounter.  Not uncomfortable, just funny in the way that you have such an online rapport with someone and not really being sure what to expect of them in person.  That being said, she was perfectly lovely and inviting.  She invited me into our site’s office, which was actually a shared space between several sites with two desks allotted to our operation.  We sat and talked for a bit and had a few moments of awkward silence while she edited a post. Shortly after that it was off for a friendly drink at a pretty sweet bar called the 21st Amendment.  We enjoyed some more getting to know you even though I sort of already know you chatter and she picked up the tab as we indulged in some beer and tempura string beans.  Though, during our talk I received a call from Sean and I figured that Carmel might have to get back to work anyway.  So after our brief, yet lovely meeting, we said our goodbyes and I took off again down the city streets.

Sean instructed me to follow 3rd Street down and I would run into him.  I took his word for it and enjoyed my stroll down the scenic avenue.  I even ran into Sean’s wife with her freshly lopped locks (covered by a hat) going for a jog.  It seemed kind of funny to me that I could so easily run into someone like that.  Sure we weren’t far from their home, but I was starting to like this city.  It seemed pleasant enough.

On my way to encounter Sean I stopped to take a photo of a huge California flag swaying in the breeze, which just so happened to be in front of San Francisco’s tallest building.

Two Proud Flags Swaying In The Breeze

Two Proud Flags Swaying In The Breeze

I know that because Sean told me just after I took the picture.  That’s where we ended running into him.  From there it was back to Sean’s hood for a drink.  His area was basically Little Italy, but it bordered on Washington Square and Greenwich St.  Funnily enough, when Sean and I lived together in NYC, we lived pretty close to those two things.

A Speedy Bald Blur Approacheth.  That Speedy Bald Blur Be Named Sean.

A Speedy Bald Blur Approacheth. That Speedy Bald Blur Be Named Sean.

Our first stop for a drink was the Columbus Cafe where the crowd gathered to watch the Magic-Lakers game.  The first thing I noticed at the bar though was a dude just hanging out there wearing a snuggie.  That seemed pretty stupid.  Other than that, I liked the vibe of the bar though and there was a 2 for 1 special, though I never got to use my #2 beer chip.  Sean stood there drinking our beer as we watched a little girl sing the national anthem.  A graphic flashedon the screen, “The Magic are 7-0 when ____ ____ Sings.”  For some reason we both thought this was hilarious.  Well, The Magic won the game so I guess it worked.

The next stop on my “just got into town” tour of SF was dinner at Capp’s Corner, a favorite old school family-style Italian joint of Sean’s.  We were met by a good deal of Sean’s family.  Sean’s parent’s were there, his relatives from Newcastle in England, and his godmother (also a Brit) joined us for some festive fare.  We were later joined by Sean’s brother Ian and Masharika.  I enjoyed my hearty dinner of Veal Milanese, Minestrone soup, and salad as well as the lively conversation.

After dinner Sean’s family went to catch a play next door and Sean, Masharika and I headed out to the Mission to meet up with Ian and catch a movie in Dolores Park.  First, we made a pitstop at a bodega for some beer before heading over.  With a fresh 12 pack of Modelo Especial in our hand we moseyed on over to the park and quickly found Sean’s brother Ian who was enjoying the company of his friends near the back of the crowd seated in front of a reasonably sized outdoor screen.  There were several blankets spread out over the expanse and our threesome was welcomed to the fray.  I sat next to another couple visiting from Manhattan and made some small talk about New York City before settling in with a drink and surveying the action.  Prior to the film starting they had a survey asking  “what would ‘Jew’ like to see?” in reference to the next film at the park.  It was the choice between two Woody Allen films, Zelig and Annie Hall.  I made my displeasure known to my immediate surroundings about the offensiveness of the obvious pun.  Ian and I did a little hooting and hollering, which I think was unheard in general.

Sean & Mash Settling In At The Park

Sean & Mash Settling In At The Park

Settling Down WIth an Icy Cool Modelo Especial

Settling Down WIth an Icy Cool Modelo Especial

Soon enough, it was time for the movie to begin.  The film we were to take in was Sita Sings The Blues, the director’s animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic, The Ramayana, which unfortunately can’t get a wide release due to musical copyright issues. Prior to the film actually starting, the guy doing the intro who wasn’t the director talked about how the film personally affected him, which was kind of annoying since it seemed like the kind of discussion you have after you see a movie. None of us knew what he was talking about so hearing him drone on just seemed like an impediment to actually watching the movie.

When the movie finally began, I have to say, I found it to be clever and likeable.  Unfortunately, I also found the atmosphere of the park to be uncomfortable due to my ass on the uneven ground and the brisk wind sweeping through the premises.  There was an overwhelming sense of “brrrr” that alcohol couldn’t defend us against.  Despite enjoying the content of the film, the weather forced the hand dealt by our impatience and discomfort.

Just like that, after a few trips to the darkened port-a-potty, we were off to seek indoor refuge at a bar in the Mission.  I have no idea what bar it was where we chose to down a few, but I found the atmosphere to be rather pleasant.  We hung out with one of Ian and Sean’s mutual acquaintances for a brew or two.  I think her name was Nicole.  Once that was done we headed back to North Beach for a night cap at one of Sean’s favorite neighborhood joints, a classy lounge by the name of Tony Nik’s Cafe.

My memory of our time there is a little fuzzy.  I know there was an odd conversation with a female tourist from Cleveland, but the content of that conversation is not something that I could pull from my the depths of my cranium if I wanted to.  Sean maintained the next day that she had been hitting on us, to which I say, “good for us.”

The next morning I awoke feeling a tad bit hungover, but I didn’t fret, because the chalkboard on Sean’s bathroom wall alerted me that this was the Summer of Fun.  So I knew my slight pain would fade away and be overtaken by good feeling.

The Fact That This Sign is In The Bathroom Just Speaks Volumes About Sean

The Fact That This Sign is In The Bathroom Just Speaks Volumes About Sean

At Sean’s behest I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios after which I stared blankly and wondered just what the day had in store.  Sean was leaving to pick up some essentials for the next day’s BBQ.  Just after finishing up with showertime, Masharika walked in and asked if I was up for breakfast.  Despite having just partaken in some cold oat O’s, I thought I could use some more sustenance to chase away the hangover blues. And just like that we were out the door to meet Masharika’s friends in town from DC at the Buena Vista down by Fisherman’s Wharf, a spot renowned for it’s Irish Coffee.

When we got there we were greeted by Tanaz, Janine, Danilo, the latter two of which I had met several months back at John’s Pizza in New York.  I was pretty much against drinking for awhile that day, but when everyone sat down and ordered a coffee drink that included alcohol I felt compelled to join in.  I ordered the Baileys Irish Cream Coffee as a tribute to my British friends. After taking our order the waitress returned with the coffees and as we pored over the menu joked that she’d be back in 20 minutes to take the rest of our order….at least she thought she was joking.  It may have taken longer than that as I was nearly out of water and my coffee drink was all but done when I finally got to order my cinnamon french toast.  By the time our food was brought out in a casual fashion, Masharika had made the decision to join her husband in running errands for the next few hours and our party of five had dwindled to four.

The food itself was utterly pedestrian.  My french toast came drenched in butter and was rather bland.  Everyone else seemed equally unimpressed.  Once we finished our meal the waitress took what seemed like another half hour to get our bill.  Once we got the bill, it took her another ten minutes to actually let us pay it.  As the spanish say, “Que riduculo!”

It was probably somewhere around 1pm when we finally got out of there and started heading back towards North Beach via the Wharf.  Janine, Danilo, Tanaz and I met up with their friend Anya with infant in tow and moseyed along the water taking in the view of Alcatraz and eventually the masses of  blubbery sea lions lazing about on wooden docks “ort ort-ing” and flapping about ’til their heart’s content.

Kings of The Sea Jungle...Or Something

Kings of The Sea Jungle...Or Something

At some point one of us received a phone call becking us back to the North Beach area to meet up with our hosts and partake in some delicious california style burrito deliciousness, but having just finished up some mediocre eats, we were not in a rush.  Instead we slowly made our way towards little Italy, stopping for some tasty Italian pastries along the way at a shop called Mara’s.  I stood in line wondering what to get, when a helpful woman seemed to appear out of nowhere and suggest a circular raspberry treat.  I couldn’t deny an out of the blue recommendation, so I indulged in fruity yet flaky goodness.

Italian Pastry Goodness

Italian Pastry Goodness

Once we all finished with our snacks we headed back up to Sean and Masha’s where we snagged a beer.  We were also met by their friends Mike and Barbara, whom I had also met in NY at some point during my tenure with Sean.  The next stop was Pancho Villa’s in the Mission district.

We pulled up to a spot in a seemingly questionable part of town with a playground and some rather sloppy folks hanging around it.  Regardless of the seedy characters hanging about, we floated right past them with the thought of burritos on the brain.  The entrance to Pancho Villa’s was graced with a security guard, and just inside a mariachi band belted out Mexican tunes to a lengthy line of hungry locals.  Despite the cafeteria-esque atmosphere, there was a feeling of overwhelming pleasantness that filled the air. Maybe it was the fact that we were about to indulge in some ultra-deliciousness.I ordered from the vast menu of burrito options.  One Chicken Burrito Especial.  Perfect.  I waited in line and got a Modelo to compliment my meal and sat down with the crew ready to taste a sublime San Francisco treat.

Pancho Villa's Chicken Burrito Especial: The Burrito of Champions

Pancho Villa's Chicken Burrito Especial: The Burrito of Champions

I was not at all disappointed.  Not only was this concoction pleasing to the palate, but it was wrapped with what could best be equated with German-style engineering.  This this was not leaking fluid.  It was an air-tight package that kept deliciousness in and drippage from seeping out.

Following our tasty outing, we took a brief walk through the seedier section of the mission only to realize that our parking meters were running out.  It didn’t really matter though as the group split up.  I went back to Sean’s and Mash’s place though and hung out as they readied their apartment for a big adult dinner with visiting friends. As they did, we enjoyed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and a Pittsburgh Penguin victory.

Slowly but surely people piled in.  There were some familiar faces as far as people who had visited back in Bleecker Street days.  There were also children, running about, wrestling, and ultimately learning lessons about how it’s not idea to bounce your head on the couch as it will sometimes throw you in a direction where you might ricochet off into a table.  That’s the magic of having kids around; you get to watch as they learn what not to do.

Dinner itself was absolutely delicious.  Despite having previous stuffed myself several hours before.  I took part in three carnitas and some tasty dessert.  This was not a good idea as I was also drinking at the time.  I didn’t feel nauseated or anything.  It just felt as though my body had been filled with meat and beer to it’s maximum capacity.

As the party filter out, a few of us were left standing.  Sean wanted to go out to the bars.  I wasn’t sure I had it in me since my stomach felt as though it could explode with further alchoholic endeavors, but seeing as I was in SF for the first time in 24 years, I went with the flow.

This Bavik's For Me!

This Bavik's For Me!

Our first stop of the night was a laid back lounge/bar called ChurchKey.  They had a great beer selection and a cozy upstairs.  I couldn’t help but feel out of the conversation.  I wasn’t out of my element or annoyed at the company.  I just couldn’t help but think how full I felt as I casually sipped my Bavik.  We didn’t have time to get comfortable at the first bar though, as soon after most folks finished their drink, the party raged on to bar #2.  Our next top was a club/bar called Mojito.

Upon entry, I immediately opted out of the alcohol sweepstakes, preferring to sip water and watch the slightly above average live hip-hop act performing.  The real performance to watch though was that of a particular white couple who were really grooving on the dancefloor.  I was transfixed and I’m pretty sure my friend Summer would’ve been too as she recently alerted me that she really enjoys watching white people dance.  With this display of robotic movement and arrhythmia, I could not blame her.

The night didn’t last much longer after that.  Two drinks into our stay at Mojito it was time to call it quits.  We were back at the homestead ready to say goodnight…for Saturday would be a big day.

When I woke up the next day wheels had already been turning at a feverish pace.  Sean and Masha were back and forth seemingly prepping for they huge BBQ in Krissy Field.  I slowly rose to an alert state and with my two hosts gone, setting up their station in the Park, I took a stroll down to Washington Square (the very same square where Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe as was jokingly repeated all weekend) to take in a bit of the North Beach Festival occurring there.  I wandered around the grounds a bit marvelling at the differences between East Coast and West Coast events.  Not that there were many, but there was a granola stand which seemed more West Coast hippie to me and a big featured food tent trumpeted their specialty of Garlic Crab Fries.  Interesting.

I Guess Every City Has Their Thing

I Guess Every City Has Their Thing

I took in some female singer’s performance and continued my direcitonless pacing kind of hoping I might run into someone I knew that I didn’t know lived in SF.  While that didn’t happen, I ran into Mash’s friend Anya and her son who were in the company of another friend named Cassie.  I sat with them awhile, but I had already put a call in to my friend Katie from back in my days at Ramapo.  We had plans to meet at the big Krissy Field BBQ.  Katie called and asked me when she should leave.  I told her the later of the two options as I had not yet begun my walk to the party site and Sean’s wife had said that it would take me 30 minutes.

At around 12:35, I headed out of the park towards another.  I went up Sean’s street, up the hill, down the hill, over Levi Plaza and out to the Embarcadero, just like two days before.  Instead of making a right however, I made a left in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I walked past the wharf feeling like I was almost where I needed to be.  I saw some greenery up ahead, but alas when I looked at the signs, I was not at Krissy Field.  I stopped into a store to ask a girl how far I was.  She had no idea where I was talking about and told me walking would take me another three hours.  This couldn’t be right.  I completely ignored her advice to take a taxi and stopped into the next store.  They told me it would take me another 20 minutes.  Ah…much better.  I was on the right track.

I kept walking towards the bridge, but it still seemed really far away.  Every time I thought I was there, it turned out I was not.  Fort Mason was not Krissy Field.  Further along Fort Mason was not Krissy field.  Then I came to an area that was covered in tents and seemed bustling with people.  I thought I must be just there.  Unfortunately, this was not Krissy Field just yet.  Rather it was the setting for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.  How long til I get there?  I called Sean, he told me I had another mile or two to go.  I was starting to think that the girl in the first store was right.  I worried about whether Katie was just standing in Krissy field wondering where the hell I was.

Not There Yet!

Not There Yet!

FInally, after jogging a bit, I came to the very beginning of Krissy Field.  I walked through some grass and came to a path and just as I did, my phone rang and I looked off in the distance and saw Katie standing there.  Wow, finding her was easy.  Apparently, she had just gotten there as well.  It had been several years since we had seen each other , but she didn’t look very different.  Maybe she did, but I think once you know someone, you kind of always do.  Just like that we were hanging out, though I was slightly distressed about finding the right place.  We were still able to do some valuable catching up on the way.

Sean had told me he was near the picnic house and we were near a picnic house, just not the right one.  Finally after a phone call or two, we straightened out that we had ten to fifteen minutes left to walk.  This wasn’t a huge bother as it was a nice time for more walk and talk catchup.  Finally though, we came to the end of our journey near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was about 2:15, and the party had been raging for an hour or so.  There was a huge crowd of people present, again, some people were familiar and some were not.  I indulged in the tasty but deadly Maddison Juice also known as Sean’s dad’s Sangria and we grabbed some food en route to finding a spot to sit on a hillside where nearby Sean’s friends were indulging in the game some call Cornhole.

Katie and I Relax On Our Hillside Perch

Katie and I Relax On Our Hillside Perch

Our View of Cornhole

Our View of Cornhole

My View of Katie

My View of Katie

That was pretty much our spot all afternoon.  We sat around talking about friends, dudes, broads, cities, families, jobs, pants, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and general whatnot; stopping only for refills and watermelon unknowingly soaked in vodka precariously placed  in reach of small children.  There were a few moments where we stopped and mingled with others, but our afternoon was more or less a two person operation.

Around 5pm the party started to disband and I pondered my next stop.   Katie nipped that in the bud though when she asked if I wanted to go with her to meet a sort of ex to get some pants back.  Just like that we were off walking down the road back to wherever we were walking.  I more or less had no concept of where we were.  We ended up at a place called Bar 821, with a bartender named Juan slinging drinks.  Conversation continued interrupted only by the appearance of her ex, whose name currently escapes me.  He stayed for a drink or two.  We had one more there before deciding to tie another on at the establishment next store, one Mini Bar SF.  It was there we ran into a few of Katie’s friends and I took a brief sojourn across the street for a slice of pizza before rejoining and ultimately going back to Bar 821 where we basically closed the place down.

From there I decided it would be best for me to head back to meet up with Sean, Masharika and the rest of the party across town.  I said a brief goodbye to Katie and  hopped in a cab.  I don’t quite recall where I met up with them but I know the name of the bar had a particularly feminine quality.  We stayed there for one beer, though they’d been there for  longer and had worked themselves into quite a drunken lather.  It wasn’t time to go home just yet as we made one more stop at a dancy joint near The Cannery for a bit more booze and to give some people the opportunity to shake what their mother gave them or deprived them of. It was a rather lively end to the evening, but it closed things out with a bang loud enough to make waking up the next morning an arduous task.

Mash...Semi-Shaking It

Mash...Semi-Shaking It

By the time I came to on Sunday, Sean and Mash were gone.  I was most distressed about Masharika’s absence as I knew she was meeting up with her friends for some early morning donuts….and not just any donuts. Her friends had heard about a place called Dynamo Donuts whose specialty was an artery clogging confection with maple flavor, apples, and bacon drizzled on like sprinkles.  We had discussed this two days before and I had completely missed out.  My heart is probably happy about that one, but my taste buds are still curious.

Seeing as I took my sweet ass time to actually face the world, Sean was back shortly after I got out of the shower and dressed.  He recommended that I go down to the AT&T Park to check out the stadium, but first we took a stroll through the North Beach festival yet again and I stopped for some tasty sustenance at Golden Boy Pizza.  By the time Sean got me down to the ballpark  the game had already started been in progress awhile, but he told me there was a spot in the outfield where fans could stand and watch the game for free.  I wasn’t sure what this meant, but I said I was game and Sean had to return a host of materials from the previous day’s party to the burbs an hour north, so I didn’t have much to do otherwise.

With that Sean dropped me off by the stadium and I slowly shimmied past the Giants Wall of Fame and statues of Juan Marichal and Willie Mays until I reached the famed McCovey cove where Roid Raging Barry Bonds belted several four-baggers.  I was glad to see several boats with flags showing their allegiance to their hometown team.  A few kayaks roamed the waters also hoping for a long fly ball to rightfield.  As I walked further along the water staring at plaques denoting team and individual (Bonds’) accomplishments, I came to a gated area with a security guard with fans inside.

A's And Giants Fans Alike Await Home Runs At McCovey Cove

A's And Giants Fans Alike Await Home Runs At McCovey Cove

This area was basically inside the right center/right field wall.  You could spit onto the warning track and if a ball rolled to the gate, you’d be at eye level with the outfielder assuming you were the same exact height.  The best part was, it was all free.  Not a ton of fans, but rather a pleasant few filed in to watch some of the game through the fence.  It was kind of enjoyable listening to the radio play by play being pumped through the speakers.  You really got the feeling that the San Francisco Giants really loved their fans to throw this pleasant enough bone to those who might not be able to afford going to the game.  They also had a concession stand open for people standing in this section.  It warmed the cockles of my baseball-loving heart.  I stood in this section for about three whole innings.  Never really getting a great view of the action, but I did see a few hits and a run score.

Giants Outfielder Nate Schierholtz Looks To Adjust His Wedgie

Giants Outfielder Nate Schierholtz Looks To Adjust His Wedgie

I took off heading into the 9th inning as the Giants were up by 6 and I didn’t want to get in the middle of fan-demonium upon a mass exodus from the stadium.  I wandered around the area unsure what to do.  I had been left no explicit directions as to where anything was.  After some unmotivated hanging around, I started zig zagging down 2nd and 3rd streets.

Eventually, I came to the Moscone Center.  I sat on a bench there for a few minutes unsure of what to do.  I flipped through the San Francisco Chronicle and then continued on. Walking along 3rd I came to a sign that said Yerba Buena Gardens.  I followed the arrow and came to an absolutely breathtaking little park area with a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. in the form of a waterfall sculpture adorned with quotes from the slain civil rights leader.

MLK Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens

MLK Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens

I took it all in and then walked on through a passage I spied which brought me to the Contemporary Jewish Museum which I had seen advertised.  The museum had an impressive facade, but the only area open at the moment I arrived was the store.  I decided to go inside, but as a result of the recent Holocaust museum shooting I went through an extensive security check.  The store itself didn’t impress me much, but I was amused by the series of Jewish Baseball Cards, trumpeting the history of Jews in baseball. I think they were missing a few more prominent members of the tribe as I saw no mention of Sandy Koufax in the deck.

Outside The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Outside The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Once I realized I was none too curious about Hebrew curios and history books I made my way further through the alley and continued down the street.  I noticed I was surrounded by rather ritzy stores all of the sudden.  Sean had previously told me that the Union Square was full of upscale shops.  This made me figure that I was in said area so I ventured further in to look for the actual square.  Lo and behold, I happened upon the aforementioned area marked by an artistic heart rendering and a rather tall monument to Admiral Dewey which is blinding to the eyes when the sun is in full effect.

Approaching Union Square

Approaching Union Square

I did not stick around that region for too long.  I briefly lost my sense of direction though after stepping out of the square.  I regained my composure rather quickly though and continued back towards Sean’s apartment.  On my way though, I happened upon anothe curious sight walking down Kearney.  I looked to my left and noticed the street signs were mostly written in Chinese.  I thought I must be nearing Chinatown.  It was time for another detour.  And with that I took a stroll through Chinatown, ultimately culminated when I figured I had seen enough of the same tea shops and sword souvenirs.

Is This America Or China? Make Up Your Mind Chinatown!

Is This America Or China? Make Up Your Mind Chinatown!

I hung a left and headed back towards the avenue I had been on only to stumble upon another landmark; an alley formerly frequented by the beats that had since been renamed for Jack Kerouac.  This area housed the famed bar, Vesuvio and the City lights Bookstore.  These two stops were recommended to me by my good friend Jess I.

The Street Sign Says What It Has To

The Street Sign Says What It Has To

I felt my accidental sightseeing was nearly complete, but I did a little more street staggering, stopping to gaze briefly upon the beat museum and the row that housed houses of ill repute along my way back to Sean’s.

Billboards of Ill Repute

Billboards of Ill Repute

They've Got The Beat, But No Go Go's Albums

They've Got The Beat, But No Go Go's Albums

Finally, I walked back through North Beach street fair on my way back to Sean and Mash’s for dinner.  We enjoyed some tasty tacos and called it a weekend.  I hadn’t any desire to hit the town that night.  I was all worn out and ended up just watching Hannah and Her Sisters, under their “Free Movies On Demand” as they packed for an upcoming trip.

Monday morning I woke up bright and early.  Sean drove me to the BART and I took it all the way to the airport, where I caught my Delta flight all the way back to NYC.  The day didn’t end without a few whimpers though.  Upon landing at JFK Airport an hour early at 5:11, we proceeded to sit on the runway for two hours before making our way to the gate.  I understood the bad weather kept some planes from taking off, thus stopping us from having a gate to go to, but the Delta crew couldn’t have been more obnoxious about it.  They treated some of the passengers like petulant children.  Instead of asking them to please stay seated they announced that unbuckling your safety belt was “unacceptable.” When people questioned the crew about their connecting flights, which is usually well within reason, they chided the passengers and made an announcement to not bother them with their concerns because they had “no idea.”  While I remained patient, some people had to catch connections and they were treated very poorly.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such poor customer service.

In any case, when I finally got off the plane, it was quite a relief.  I felt bad for those who had missed flights, but I was glad to be back home.  I was also glad to have been gone for a few days as well.  San Francisco, I just may have left a piece of my heart on adrift in the wind blowing through those Embarcadero skies.

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All Without Fight At The Crush of Veils and Starlight: Jay Bennett 1963-2009

Posted by evankessler on May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett: November 1963- May 2009

Jay Bennett: November 1963- May 2009

Jay Bennett’s heartbreaking, feedback-laden guitar solo on “Via Chicago,” the ninth song on Wilco’s third album Summerteeth, bears a heavy burden on the very soul of my music fan-dom.  I remember the first time I heard the song in question on my 3-CD AIWA changer, sitting in my 2nd floor dorm room at Dellplain hall at Syracuse University, staring blankly at my computer so as to soak in the music.  Following the lovelorn whimsy of “Pieholden Suite” which reminded me somewhat of the Beach Boys “Surfer Girl” and the contemplative “How To Fight The Loneliness,” I felt as though I had been set up for the devastating blow at “the crush of veils and starlight” when Bennett’s musical mastery seemed to be beckoning me to weep along gently with his guitar.  And you know what, I did.

So when I read early this morning about the passing of such an integral part of the music I felt so deeply connected with, I was inclined to shed a tear for old time’s sake.  Here’s to you Mr. Jay Bennett.  I hope you’re in a better place.

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American Roommate Idol

Posted by evankessler on November 9, 2004

I overslept this morning. I woke up at 10:05. I looked at my clock and thought, how much longer do I have to sleep and then realized that I’m supposed to be at work at 10. Way to go Evan! I rushed to take a shower and sped off to work for a day of taking chyron information and watching movies. For those of you not aware of what chyrons are they’re the graphic of the people’s names of who you are seeing currently on screen. Good, now that that’s cleared up I don’t have to talk about it.

I had to rush out of work at 6pm because we had interviews with four potential roommates. For those not aware, my brother is moving out of our apartment which he has lived in the previous six years, so it is the duty of Sean Maddison, Sebastian Nicolas, and myself to replace him.

The first guy was Doug from New Jersey. Hew was a nice enough guy, suitably laid back. He worked for a design and printing firm just ten minutes walking distance for our apartment. He seemed a little nervous to be meeting three people who were judging him which I imagine must be daunting. We gave him the 3rd degree in our laid back manner and gave good answers, part of me still wasn’t convinced. He seemed a little too reserved but I guess I would be in that situation. However, seeing as I like to make snap judgements on people I wasn’t really sure he was a good fit. He’s not out of the running yet, just I wasn’t really sure about him. GRADE: B-

The next guy we saw was Greg who works in charity event planning. The first impression was that this guy was monstrously tall and that I hoped if he lived here he would watch his head if the ceiling fan was on. Talking to Greg and asking the standard roommate questions, I really liked the guy. He was very talkative and seemed really organized and just gave really detailed description of the stuff he did that made it very interesting. In the back of my head I thought, this guy is too tall to live here. Everyone except Sean is relatively short. We can’t have another extremely tall fellow to be making me feel more insecure about my diminutive stature. Though I got over this really quickly and the, “this guy seems like a really good guy” portion of my brain won out. GRADE B+

Onward to number three at 8pm, Matt, a filmmaker from Austin Texas who also works another job in the political field. He was immediately talkative and outgoing and gave out really good vibes. Ugh, I hate using the word vibes. I feel like a fucking hippie. “I’m totally catching your vibe, let’s go see the Grateful Dead (or new equivalent Deep Banana Blackout or something) and trip our asses off fellow poser hippie douche.” So, anyway, Sean, Sebastian, and I seemed to take a liking to him immediately and we all just talked pretty much for a half hour. We had someone else coming at 8:30pm and I was afraid with all of this talking the interviews would cut into each other but I didn’t want to be a dick and cut it off. Plus, we were all getting on so well. So far, Matt is in the lead and he started pulling away from the pack. The closer it got to 8:30 the more nervous I got and the more anxious I got trying to avoid the awkward situation of two potential roommates meeting each other. I thought it would end up like in Back to the Future 2 when Marty was in danger of coming into contact with his other self in 1955. Fortunately it never came to that and Matt got out just under the wire. GRADE: A

Part 4 of the night was much shorter than the other three. The next applicant was British. We knew this from his email and I’ve always been a fan of British persons so I was looking forward to meeting Gary who worked in fashion. That should’ve been a tip off right there that he wasn’t really fitting in with Sean, Sebastian, and I. We’re all fan of sport in some way shape or form. When this guy opened the door, we just sort of knew he would not live here. Not to be mean, but he was very quiet, very proper, and gave no hint to having any personality. Not that he didn’t have one he just wasn’t very friendly and seemed socially awkward. We showed him around the place and he didn’t say much of anything, nor did he have any questions for us and his answers to our questions were extremely abrupt, leaving lots of awkward silences. We wished him luck and showed him out the door but there was no doubt that this was not the guy for our apartment. GRADE: F

Looking for roommates is fun. We’ve got some more applicants to meet on Wednesday and then we’ll make some decisions. Unless we have to meet some people on Thursday. God dammit I hate looking for roommates.

Also at around 11:34 Kristin Ertel called me to tell me that Wilco was on Jay Leno tonight so much thanks to Kristin for that one. I have to say, the wait was torturous. I had to sit through really crappy stories about Nicolas Cage going in a shark cage with his new waitress wife and his kid in Africa. I hate that guy. I don’t know why. Maybe I hate him because he hasn’t been in a good movie since Raising Arizona. Actually, Leaving Las Vegas was okay, but it was really depressing. Then they showed footage of him in the shark cage. I could really care less, and then to have to put up with Leno’s incessant ass kissing. It was painful. However, nothing could prepare me for hearing Jennifer Tilly babble through two segments about meeting her Poker player boyfriend like she was on speed or coke or something. I don’t think Leno even got a word. I’m surprised he didn’t hit her and tell her to just shut the fuck up, that’s certainly what I felt like doing. She just went on an on uninterrupted with the worst story I’d ever heard, narrowly beating out Nicolas Cage’s previous travails. She kept going on past 12:30 and I thought Wilco was going bumped. I was about to be cheated all for the sake of two of the most wholly uninteresting things I’d ever heard. Luckily, at 12:33, Jay got back from commercial and introduced Wilco who sped through a revved up version of a normally pretty rocking song, “I’m A Wheel” which in the end wasn’t really worth it because I had to sit through those awful interviews. I felt a little better that there was some sort of reward at least for having to sit through that crap. Ok, enough’s enough. Goodnight. That’s your reward for reading through this crap.

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Wilco @ Radio City 10/05

Posted by evankessler on October 6, 2004


I just got back from a wonderful evening of live music at Radio City Music Hall. Rich Burrier, Maureen Hoban, Laura Renga, and myself had tickets to go see Wilco with the Fiery Furnaces opening up. Laura and Maureen hated the Fiery Furnaces but I didn’t mind them so much. I have the album on recommendation from Ross Alvord, and I kind of like it. Not all of it, but most of it. That being said, we only caught about half of their performance.

Jeff Tweedy, John Stiratt, Glen Kotche, and the rest of the revolving sidemen known as Wilco took the stage a little after 9, perhaps 9:30 with the light piano pop bounce of Hummingbird complete with video monitors showing apropos images. The band rattled off two more songs off of their most recent release A Ghost Is Born. During Muzzle of Bees the monitor showed Bees (crazy!) and during Hell is Chrome the screen showed pictures of earth. Not that it’s too interesting, I just thought I would tell you more of the video images. After showing off some of their new material the crowd really seemed to respond to “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” which was followed by one of my Summerteeth favorites “A Shot In The Arm”. I thought we’d hear a long string of new songs after the band went back and played a song off of “A Ghost Is Born” but they mixed up nicely after that point. The highlight for me was “Via Chicago” which is one of my favorite songs of all time. I had never heard it played live and this was probably my 5th or 6th time seeing them. It really hit me by surprise because I heard the opening chord and I knew it but I never expect them to sing a song with the word “Chicago” in it when they are in New York, which seems really stupid, I know. Why wouldn’t they. Anyway, It was perfect. It may have been even better than on the album. There’s something about the sour heartbroken guitar solos in that song that seems to put me in this weird plane of consciousness where it’s the only thing I’m aware of at the moment.

Shortly after “Via Chicago” Jeff spoke to the audience saying that he was hesitant to play in New York when the band played Town Hall on September 26th of 2001. At first I thought maybe he was talking about “Ashes of American Flags” but then they broke into “Jesus, Etc.” and I could understand what he was talking about seeing as the lyrics are “Tall buildings shake, voices escape singing sad sad songs…” and another part which contains the lyric “…skyscrapers are scraping together…”. “Ashes of American Flags” followed immediately.

Jeff had also mentioned at one point that his family was in the crowd. I actually think they were sitting two rows directly in front of us. Unfortunately, one row in front of us were the Biologically Engineered Superfans who jumped up everytime they heard a rock guitar and drums but slumped back in their seats every time there was a slow song they didn’t know. Which managed to piss off the crowd behind them who just wanted to sit and enjoy the show.
However, Jeff passively urged the crowd to stand up before they broke into “Theologians” and the crowd obliged. He said that this portion of the show would rock and we took his word for it. It’s hard to argue when the lead singer asks you to get on your feet and everyone else stand up blocking your line of sight. The band held up their end of the bargain and burst into “I’m the Man Who Loves You” followed by “Poor Places” and “Reservations” Before finally closing out the set with “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”.

Before the band took the stage Fred Armisen from SNL took the stage and did a little bit as his Latino Comic with a drum. If you’ve seen the Wilco documentary than you know why he was on stage. He didn’t really stay out for too long, maybe two minutes at the most and then the band was back on, kicking off the encore with “Candyfloss” and ending the 1st encore three songs later with “I’m A Wheel”.

The crowd’s craving for live Wilco was not sated yet as they held out for a second encore. The band opened with “Passenger Side” off of their debut album A.M. and continued with “California Stars” which I think I’ve heard every time I’ve seen them. Jeff Tweedy then went on a short political rant about the importance of voting and passively urged the audience to vote for Kerry. Well, maybe not so passively, he said, and I paraphrase, that if you are thinking about voting for Bush, maybe you should seek therapy. The band then appropriately segued into “War on War” and closed the show with a song that they said Jim O’Rourke turned them on to. I’m not sure what it was called. I think it was called “Be Not So Fearful” or something like that. I’m going to look it up.

Overall it was a fantastic show. Probably the best Wilco show I’ve seen since the Bowery Ballroom show when Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out in April of 2002. Good times everybody good times. I really need to thank Marie Camaya for coming up huge with the tickets. You are the fucking best. I owe you big time. PJ Harvey on Thursday!!!!!

Here’s the Wilco Setlist. I might be off a little bit.

Wilco@ Radio City 10/5/04
Hummingbird
Muzzle of Bees
Hell Is Chrome
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
A Shot In The Arm
At Least That’s What You Said
Via Chicago
Handshake Drugs
Jesus, Etc.
Ashes of American Flags
Theologians
I’m The Man Who Loves You
Poor Places
Reservations
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

1st Encore:
Candyfloss
Kingpin
The Late Greats
I’m A Wheel

2nd Encore:
Passenger Side
California Stars
War on War
Be Not So Fearful (Bill Fay cover?)

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A Ghost Is Heard

Posted by evankessler on July 8, 2004


Well, another fine showing by Kristin Ertel in the fun department. Tonight we went to a record release listening party for Wilco’s new album “A Ghost Is Born” even though it was released two weeks ago. It made no sense. It didn’t matter though, Bass was free and we partook. Sidenote for Kristin, as I’m writing this “God Only Knows” is playing on my stereo, and not on purpose (see message board argument which also included an email argument). So, anyway, on first listen of the Wilco album when I first got it a couple of weeks ago I thought it was okay. Tonight I realized it needs to be listened to really loud so that it is the atmosphere of the room you are in. It’s much better in that environment. So, as a result I feel much better about this record and I have a brand new Wilco t-shirt. Great conversation, great company, good beer (it was a little warm) equals great night. You don’t always need to do something crazy to enjoy yourself. The best things are often the simplest. Looking back at that statement, I may be Buddha. Try this on for size. Everythingness is nothingness. Anyway, I may be heading out again. Arby called just as I was getting pizza and may want to meet up for some drinks. Village Idiot anyone? Old habits die hard. Oh and by the way, Kristin your name is spelled correctly in Friday’s entry. I know I could easily have fixed it but I didn’t have to.

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