Tuesday, August 26, 2008

i've been reading

mcsweeney's 28
reviving the fable

enclosed are eight individual books, fully illustrated,
which resurrect and reinvent the art of the fable—
simple, surprising, and morally direct.
more or less.

the box - sarah manguso
virgil walker - arthur bradford
la keisha and the dirty girl - tayari jones
the guy who kept meeting himself - ryan boudinot
poor little egg-boy hatched in a shul - nathan englander
the book and the girl - brian evenson
the thousands - daniel alarcón
two free men - sheila heti

an annual subscription to mcsweeney's quarterly (i think) is $55.
an individual issue, purchased at a newstand, is $25.
do the math and tell me, please, how stupid i am
for continuing to pay twice as much per year!

whatever became of you?

silly ideas for websites:

(no. 1)

possible title:
architectural upskirts

this photography-based website will focus indirectly
on the relationship between architecture and its immediate environment
by seemingly removing the subject from its surroundings and placing it within a new context.
all photography will be shot digitally. however, no image will be digitally altered.
use of extreme angles (i.e., looking upward) will intentionally force
visitors to reconsider a structures architectural importance.

(a) carry camera at all times.
(b) look up!

(no. 2)

possible title:
the sacramentolist (no, i hate it!)

taking queues from well-known website the sartorialist,
this website will contain photographs of "people on the street", but
focus less on the subject's style and more on their character and background.
a short list of not-too-personal questions will be asked of the subject, identifying their:
name, age, occupation, hometown, what brought them to (name of city), and aspirations.

the author will request the participation of only citizens and travelers
that possess and convey the values that are congruous with the websites premise.
the author's own perceptions and (lack of) values will most certainly
impose an obvious bias toward individuals of certain character.
i.e., people the author thinks are cool.

so, what do you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

deeds were done

the following notes were transcribed from my moleskine, exactly as i wrote them as i rode the train, ate my donuts, sat at a picnic table and observed. they aren't very intesting, but here they are. that's your warning.

18 august 2008

— apparently the train i meant to catch at 9:20 AM didn't show up. for some reason. so this train is filling up w/the people who've been waiting an hour.
— we've stopped in 'suisun-fairfield' and i've managed to keep the seat next to me open, despite having put my bag at my feet after the lady conductor instructed the passengers to do so.

— the metro ride down to the beach was uneventful. there weren't any vomiting asian dudes. there was a large pack of foreign teens that got on in the upper sunset. some french kids sat near me. extremely obnoxious and loud. in a french way. maybe not obnoxious, but french!
— i stopped in at the java beach. got a white hot cocoa this time. and 2 old-fashioned donuts for the road. then walked along the running/bike path.
— just barely caught the about-to-depart metro going back up the sunset district.
— it's a little after 2 PM and i've made my way to cole valley. via the sunset and ocean beach. i didn't want to go straight to brakfast, knowing that it would be crowded for brunch/lunch. don't know if that strategy was even needed, but i assume it was. anyway, i'm here now. i forget the name of this place. zayzie? it starts with a z and it sounds french.
— i ordered the 'french toast tahiti', an o.j. and water. the water comes in chilled clear wine bottle with a rubber stoppper. quaint.
— after brunch, i walked from cole valley to a bus stop at haight & masonic. took the 43 to california. crossed the street & caught the 1 to fillmore. this proved to be a seriously huge mistake.
— got off the 1 at fillmore. crossed the street and immediately went to peet's coffee. i bought a medium in a large cup, but really just needed to use the restroom.
— afterward, i went to the little bookstore next to peet's and bought more murakami. sputnik sweetheart and blind willow, sleeping woman. score!
— okay, so it's 6 PM right now and train 542 should have arrived at 5:45 PM. but for some reason... the announcement just now said that 542 had engine problems, so now 'train 542 is towing 544 to the yard and should arrive here shortly after that'.
— i'll be patient and find something to draw outside, at one of the picnic tables under some shade trees. there're bees in this tree! freaking out. not a fan of bees. traumatic childhood bee incident!

— wow! that sketch made time fly by! i didn't really think i'd be waiting for the train that long. the 544 came and was already getting tight from people getting on here and in oakland earlier. so, i waited 10-minutes for the 546. that's how behind these trains were. they probably have an empty 548, if there is one.
— i'm afraid that i'll get mugged on my walk home tonight. bus 30 and 31 stop running kind of early, so i'll have to hoof it for 20 blocks. or i'll find a kind taxi driver that'll take me home for $6. maybe. maybe not. i'll offer him $5 w/a $1 tip. is that insulting? is it worth it to him? who else in sacramento will need a taxi at 10:30 PM on a monday night? nobody. i'll probably end up walking home.
— i walked home. didn't get mugged. but very tired. it's 11 PM. fuckin' a, man!

the addition

time magazine
july 2, 1956

"the greatest progess has come in a land not otherwise noted for its leadership in the world of art: the u.s. from beacon hill to nob hill, modern architecture has squalled and tottered through its awkward, unruly, early years, but it has begun—if only begun—to mature. in paris, architectural students eagerly follow the new work of younger u.s. architects with all the fervor that left bank jazz addicts reserve for dizzy gillespie and satchmo armstrong. said a young french architect: 'when we have a chance to see what your architects are doing, we have a picture of what the future can become. we have something to believe in.'"

Monday, August 18, 2008

where upon sixty-seven...

i'm heading to san francisco tomorrow morning (i guess it's tomorrow already), to start my search for the perfect french toast. and to find inspiration in a city that has sparked the imaginations of thousand of artists, designers, and dreamers.

it's almost 2 AM and i jumped out of bed (i couldn't sleep) to share with you one of my favorite short stories, written by haruki murakami from his book the elephant vanishes.

On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she's not that good-looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl - one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you're drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I'll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can't recall the shape of hers - or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It's weird.

"Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl," I tell someone.

"Yeah?" he says. "Good-looking?"

"Not really."

"Your favorite type, then?"

"I don't know. I can't seem to remember anything about her - the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts."


"Yeah. Strange."

"So anyhow," he says, already bored, "what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?"

"Nah. Just passed her on the street."

She's walking east to west, and I west to east. It's a really nice April morning.

Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and - what I'd really like to do - explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.

After talking, we'd have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

"Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?"

Ridiculous. I'd sound like an insurance salesman.

"Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?"

No, this is just as ridiculous. I'm not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who's going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. "Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me."

No, she wouldn't believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you're not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I'd probably go to pieces. I'd never recover from the shock. I'm thirty-two, and that's what growing older is all about.

We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can't bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She's written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she's ever had.

I take a few more strides and turn: She's lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started "Once upon a time" and ended "A sad story, don't you think?"

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.

"This is amazing," he said. "I've been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you're the 100% perfect girl for me."

"And you," she said to him, "are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I'd pictured you in every detail. It's like a dream."

They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one's dreams to come true so easily?

And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, "Let's test ourselves - just once. If we really are each other's 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we'll marry then and there. What do you think?"

"Yes," she said, "that is exactly what we should do."

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.

The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other's 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season's terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence's piggy bank.

They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.

One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.

A sad story, don't you think?

Yes, that's it, that is what I should have said to her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

lazy sunday, except it's saturday

beyond the noodle factory

do you mind if i close the door?

the following notes were transcribed from my moleskine, exactly as i wrote them as i rode the train, ate my roast beef sandwich, sat on a bench and observed. they aren't very intesting, but here they are. that's your warning.

7 August 2008

— walked to bus stop at 7:55 AM.
— bus came a few minutes late. i think i might miss the train leaving at 8:30 AM.
— after a brief stop (not so brief), bus got me to amtrak.
— i let a woman go ahead of me in line. she took forever doing something, not buying a ticket. another ticket window opened up just in time.
— don't know why i sat backward. normally, i'll sit at a table and face forward (to see what's ahead?). don't really know.
— listened to the arcade fire when i left my apartment. right now, it's bonnie 'prince' billy. kind of fitting, for these views. beauty...
— that bridge they were building the last time i rode the train, is now complete. i'm unimpressed with it. it's just another freeway bridge. nothing special. unfortunate.
— they knocked down that really really old bridge at crockett.

it's 4:01 PM. i've been so busy walking around, i forgot to keep writing in here. so let's back up a bit. i'll summarize:

— got off train at emeryville. bus took me to the ferry building.
— walked around the ferry building a bit. bought a few macarons & a cupcake. i've heard a lot of raving about these cupcakes. my cupcake sucked. the macarons were delicious, as always. i love em. didn't eat any until i got to the beach.
— stopped at java beach for a cocoa (and two old-fashioned donuts!)
— walked along the running path that parallels the great highway. crossed the highway at the promenade. onto the beach. walked back along the tide. nice and quiet. just me, joggers and the birds.
— caught the n judah. got off at cole valley. ate a chicken pesto crepe. tasteless. even ketchup couldn't save it. too crowded to even read comfortably.
— was going to catch the 43 masonic at cole, but hoofed it over to haight & masonic, before the 43 arrived. just barely made it. kinda crossed ran across on a red hand.
— got off at california. and caught the next 1 california.
— got off at fillmore. bought a 'smarge' at peet's coffee. walked over/up to... what's the name of that park up there? the battery on the rebel died at the top of the hill. started using the a80. took several really cool shots of buildings/angles.
— walked down and then up washtington. and up clay to lafayette park. more cool photos.
— walked down to franklin. re-caught the 1. took it all the way to embarcadero center.
— started walking to the ferry building, but i didn't want to leave so early. all the cummuters are gonna crowd that bus/train anyway.
— walked around soma near the gap building. took a photo of a long row of parked motorcycles/scooters. and more buildings. new highrises.
— stopped at a place called the toaster oven. that's where i am as i write this. got a roast beef, but not really hungry. just killing time i guess. also got a yogurt parfait. not bad. i just asked the guy at the next table what street we're on. spear street.

(wow, this is all very exciting stuff. going home.)

+++ while riding the metro to the beach (backward again. this might have some deeper meaning), some asian dude w/a tall can of bud in his hand, jumped off and proceeded to try to make himself vomit. he stuck his fingers down his throat (to the knuckles. he's a pro). people on the street watched with disgust and curiosity.


late start. long drive. warm sun.
no cops. ninety all the way. twenty on number three.
bay bridge one-eighty. oakland pots. three-dollar tolls. clean. clean. clean.
hot shower. clean clothes. free beer. shitty wine. boss's credit card.
liquor store run. grand opening party. uncomfortable. out of place.
sit down. walk around. more free beer. pretty girl. vintage dress.
the great sushi debate. san francisco taxis. and she's gone.
pizza delivery. beer, beer, beer. cellphone calls.
pretty girl in tears. i'll be right there.
drunk driving. text messages.
foot meets mouth.
feel like shit.
bay area poets.


chilly monday mornings.
four-thirty -hot shower.
five-thirty -private interstate.
six o'clock -warehouse. 30-min wait for co-worker.
20-min search for a fucking table. six-thirty -supercommute.
east bay gridlock. heavy eyelids. satisfy caffeine addiction.
shell station restrooms scare me. exit ninth to market to
fell to franklin to union. garage duty for two!
chinese lunch. early start, but an easy eight hours.
union square traffic. leftover chinese.
cheap motel showerheads.
early to bed, early to rise.
the six a.m. shift. make room by eight!
two-hour wait. three kitchens, one garage.
accessories, accessories, accessories. pull transfer.
load the transfer. two-thirty -supercommute.
the diamond lane all the way, baby!
four o'clock -warehouse lights.
five o'clock -j street rug.
find large coffee.
go home. early start,
but an easy eleven hours.
(no lunchbreak!)


nine o'clock -drive to granite bay.
it's the most wonderful greeting ever!
assemble the paso table. gotta call the boss.
apply for medical insurance. eat a delicious chicken panini.
hang pendant lighting. make store pretty. milk the clock.
six o'clock -close the store and go home.
i like her a lot. it's killing me.


"It's really coming down outside," she said.

I turn and look. "Wow! It sure is. Hopefully it'll let up before we leave."

"I like that saying... and people that say it."
She says it again in a lower tone, "Boy, it's really coming down outside!"


Friday, August 15, 2008

bacon tastes good, pork chops taste good

this morning,
i'm at least one of these things:
i'm too nice, i'm a pushover, or i'm too lazy.
i waited about 15- or 20-minutes before i was asked
(nay, actually, i had to stop and tell a passing waitress)
if i was ready to place my order for my usual breakfast.
i think it was a combination of those three things.
at first, i was being nice, then i was being lazy,
and finally, i was a fucking push-over
not getting proper cafe service!

but then again,
it's not the kind of place
you want to complain or under-tip.
you'll be freaking out each time you go back,
hoping that the cooks and waitress don't take turns
spitting in your omelette & potatoes.
i tipped $3 on a $10 bill.

Monday, August 4, 2008

old amber red

i feel bad that our group of 7 left a $7 tip for drinks/dinner, but
the girl was just awful. seemingly sweet, but blatantly awful.