Tuesday, July 31, 2007

have a pint

This is one of my favorite beverages.

Wait, let's pizazz this up a bit.

There, that's better. Guinness Draught. Mmmmm-mmmm. Two days after my 21st birthday the gang (none of whom I've kept in touch with anymore except for Emily B and even then it's only like twice a year) all took me to a local saloon called Junior's Tavern. I liked it. Quaint little poorly lit smoky place with a chalkboard in the bathroom. Junior's has since relocated and now it's less like "Junior's" and more like "June-yahs!" That is, it's all hoity-toitied up.

For my first drink as a 21 year old, and in fact my first drink ever, I ordered a Guinness from the tap. Everyone was surprised by this choice. Guinness is black, thick. Certainly daunting to the untrained eye. Truth is that Guinness is one of the mildest beers around. It's smooth and creamy with minimal bitterness. I love it.

Guinness Draught in a bottle or can holds up surprisingly well, although from the tap is ideal. Best I've ever had was in Austin, Texas of all places.

Anyway, we're not here to talk about Guinness. We're here to talk about Malta.

Last week I was rolling about town with famous blogger The Mediocre Gatsby when we stopped by the Afro-Caribbean Supermarket (a small room in a strip-mall selling hair extensions and unlabeled bags of weird herbs). I found this in the small cooler by the cash register.

There's the familiar Guinness name and the harp logo, but what is this? Goodness, Energy, Vitality? All things I could use more of. And I'm no doctor but extra vitamins of the B-Complex can't be a bad thing. Furthering my interest is the fine print mentioning that it's brewed and bottled in Ghana. You know that old saying: If made in Ghana, drink it Downa.

The bottle sat in my fridge for some time as I was a bit nervous to drink it.

For some reason last night just felt right, so it was party time.

If I had to describe the smell in one word, that word would be "not good." Imagine dry oatmeal, sprinkled with powdery chocolate malt, mixed in with cat food, covered in milk, and left out in the sun for three days.

And the taste?

Well, the taste is not as appealing as the smell. I try my darndest to knock back a couple more gulps, but it doesn't get any better.

So, Malta Guinness, good on ya!

And the end result.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lust fer Life

Finally saw Trainspotting this weekend. What a cool movie. I can't wait to read the book. Which is to say I can't wait to buy a copy of the book and leave it on my shelf and not read it ever.

Renton's speech from the beginning and ending of the movie really resonated with me.

"Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career holding down a chair in a tiny cubicle, praying that the phone doesn't ring and delay your exit by ninety seconds. Choose high definition television sets with digital video recorders, choose petrol-guzzling sport utility vehicles, cellular telephones and mp3 players. Choose unused gym memberships and uneaten fruit. Choose credit card debt. Choose renting until you die. Choose a closetful of black t-shirts and faded jeans. Choose sitting on the blue couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing reality cooking programs and late night comedy chat shows, stuffing peanut butter Twix and Wendy's cheeseburgers into your mouth. Choose sleeping all day because you were up all night reading childish fantasies. Choose your future. Choose life."

What else happened this weekend? Not much. Thursday night I went to a Bees game (Salt Lake's minor league ball team). Best view in baseball, y'ask me.

Saturday I went to a party where I ate some Doritos and got attacked by this bear.

Also, I finally finished an art project that I've been working on for a long time. I'm talking of course about my sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt that's made out of butter.

I submitted it to every state fair in the land, but the only one to accept it was the 1910 Minnesota State Fair. I'm not exactly sure how that happened.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Crossing the line?

Tonight I ate discarded pizza. Not out of the trash or anything, but I was offered a partially eaten slice that rested lukewarm on a plate, surrounded by the picked-off toppings. I put the toppings back on and gobbled it down.

Combine this with the fact that I just got a messenger bag and I'm really excited because now I can carry all my important things around with me all the time.

I think I'm becoming a hobo.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

When the lights go down in the city

I didn't intend for this, but Microsuede has become your number one internet source for pictures of random neon crap. How do you feel about this? Getting a bit boring? I don't think it is, and it is my blog after all, but my sense of self worth is directly related to how many readers this blog has, so I am here to serve you.

I really need to start carrying my camera with me all the time. If I did, I would telling all about the fracas I witnessed during the Pioneer Day party last night. Apparently Steve Young conked Purple Kobe Bryant over the head with a bottle while Blue Carlos Boozer tried to break it up (they were all wearing sports jerseys).

Oh well. This is going to be a good entry too. My last night in cool, foggy San Francisco.

Once again I have set out into the streets. I spy a nice neon sign and go in for a closer look.

I have about a hundred other pictures of this from various angles so if you need them let me know.

I passed this on the way there. My brother is a Green Apron at Starbucks and when I told him about a 24-hour Starbucks that offers free wi-fi he didn't believe me.

(photo is blurry because of all the wi-fi floating through the air)

Just up the street from Food Fair Market Liquors I see a simple, battered sign that says "Chelsea Place" over a painting of an olive with a toothpick in it. The door swings open as someone stumbles out and I get a peek inside. This is the place for me. I think this is what I was hoping to find the night before.

It's narrow and cluttered. The sparse crowd is comprised of men hunched over their drinks. This place really feels authentic.

The decor is strange and thrown together. I like that. Not one of those "look at the crazy crap on the wall" kind of bars, but the random mementos scattered about seem sincere. There's a loving shrine to what I gather is a deceased regular plastered on top of a glass enclosed dvd collection (?) There's a bit of memorabilia from the the English soccer team, Chelsea, and I wonder which came first. Is the bar named for the team, or did these Chelsea souvenirs find there way here because they bear the name of the bar?

There's also a lot of art, like the tasteful painting you see here.

And a painting of the bar, in the bar. Whoa.

There's a dartboard and a fireplace in the cozy (cozy=tiny) backroom.

This, combined with all the soccer stuff it feels like it'd almost trying to be an English-style pub. There's a lot of Asian stuff there too, including the cute Chinese bartendress.

You can see "Ginger's" silvery hair in that picture. Ginger is just her Americanized name. She tells me her real name and I pronounce it really well. I've always been good at pronouncing. Ginger is a blast. Dry, deadpan sense of humor, just the right combination of innocence and sass.

I make a lot of temporary friends. The Old Drunken Dane, Howard the Lonely (a dead ringer for actor Harold Ramis), and the two L.A. dudes.

I really like Chelsea Place and I think it will be a regular stop on future visits. If I happen to be walking by it, that is.

After last call I need me some food. I can't find the diner from the night before but instead I see this place, slightly more upscale.

This is what it looks like inside.

I have another steak sandwich and watch The Wire on my ipod.

Walking back up the hill is a nightmare. My legs were burning. I wouldn't have lasted five minutes on D-Day.

Look, someone got toilet papered. Not something you expect to see in an urban environment.

That's about it. The next day I had lunch with Wayne and then hopped the BART out to the airport. It's cool that mass transit goes all the way to the airport, but once you get off the train you really have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to the terminal. Tunnels and parking garages and more trains until finally you get to this retro-futuristic neon walkway.

The end.

Monday, July 23, 2007

not to be

I was going to go to the Shakespeare Festival this weekend down in Cedar City (about a four hour drive). Didn't though. The trip got cancelled, which is cool because I wasn't really feelin' it anyway. What'd I do instead? All sort of wonderfull things.

For example, behold this list of tv shows I watched on Friday with frequent Microsuede commenter Emily:
  • Sin City
  • Extras (the one with Patrick Stewart)
  • Thank you for Smoking
  • Scott Baio is 45 and Single and Bitter and Acts Like a Jerk All the Time
  • World Series of Pop Culture (Twisted Mister won. Dorks)
Sounds uneventful, but did I mention that we had chocolate donuts? Well we did.

Saturday night a few of us went to the Asian Buffet in Draper (about a twenty minute drive) for my friend Scott's birthday.

Look at this Jello. It was disturbingly solid. I could pinch it all the way through and it wouldn't pop. Also it smelled like a well-used chair.

Sunday I saw a certain boy-wizard movie for the second time, but in 3D!!! I liked it even better this time. I've been sucked in, just like the rest of you. Last night I had a dream that I was enrolled in Wizard's School, but it wasn't Hogwart's, I was just taking some night classes at the Community College.

Tomorrow I'll have one last update to my San Francisco adventure. After that I've got nothing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Discovering the Giant within

Foggy morning in San Francisco. I'm on my way to Beckstead's, from which we will make our way to The Park Chalet for brunch with the gang. Walking down a hill I see this. Might make a good Christmas present for your favorite blogger (HINT HINT!)

Alex Becks is out grocery shopping and champion wiener dog Milo awaits his return.

I had no idea what was in store for me when I woke up, but this morning I will fall in love with tv cooking show host Nigella Lawson.

She's making chili and cornbread, and even though there's something very wrong about hearing the world "guacamole" pronounced in a distinguished British accent, I am entranced.

She's married though. Dammit. That's the only thing keeping us apart.

The Park Chalet is pretty cool. Nice location in the woods across from the beach.

I know San Francisco has a progressive attitude toward a lot of things, but some children are too young to be riding bikes.

I enjoy my food. I get the eggs benedict because I have to order it whenever it's on a menu. 9 times out of 10 it's awful, but when done right, oh baby. These were done right. Everyone else's food looked really good too.

Then I departed to go to the Giants game. I have proof, see?

Here's McCovey Cove, where the kayakers bloody each others noses over the chance to snag a Barry Bonds homerun.

Not many Kayakers out today, which is good because Bonds goes 0-4. What a jerk.

After the game I spot a Wild Dodger, which is unusual because you usually don't see them this far north.

I don't know if you can tell what's going on in this picture, but it's a limo driver that looks like Sayid fighting a cab driver that looks like Super Mario.

R2-D2 Mailbox! One of this blog's oldest storylines finally comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Don't forget about this.

Went back to the Beckstead's for dinner with Wayne, and you can sort of read about that on their blog here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

People pushing by, they're walking off into the night

EDIT (10/25/08): Hi. You probably found this by googling "people pushing by, they're walking off into the night." Was that because you're wondering what song that line is from? It's The Streets, "Blinded by Lights," from the album "A Grand Don't Come For Free."

As it happened, I had scheduled some time off work months ago. No reason, but sometimes it's a good idea to leave doors open. You never know, am I right?

As it happened, I badly needed a quick getaway, and as it happened an airline was offering some crazy cheap airfare to San Francisco, and I have some friends there so it seemed like a good idea.

I dilly-dallied a little too much before my flight and ended up short on time. Halfway to the airport I'd realized I'd forgotten my hoodie and got really upset. It was 106 degrees in the Valley that day, so a naturally a hoodie was far from my mind, but I was going to need it in San Francisco.

Business at the airport went smoothly, but when I got on the plane there was some dude in my seat. I mentioned it, but he was in my seat because some lady was in his seat because some guy was in her seat because some people were in his seat because they were idiots. It caused a lengthy delay and a bottleneck in the aisle. The Amy Sedaris looking flight attendent did her best to straighten it all out, but ultimately failed.

I ended up not in my own seat but in some random aisle next to an older Dracula woman.

Pleasent view outside, but this was the shittiest flight I've ever been on. Literally. The air smelled very fecal.

In the airport I spot one of those scary dead horse things from the Harry Potter movie.

Uneventful shuttle ride from the airport. Last time I was in SF I listened the The Streets "A Grand Don't Come For Free" the whole time, and now whenever I listen to that album I think of that trip. This time I listened exclusively to The New Pornographers, but I don't think it will stick. I know this music too well and I already have many memories associated with it.

I check into the hotel and they put me in a disabled access room with a hissing air vent on the street level across from the housekeeping closet. Oh well. A grand don't come for free.

A couple of my Bay Area associates, Shawn and Wayne, come to pick me up to hang out with the rest of the gang.

Crossing the street is awkward because the light seems to be broken. I wait forever because the last thing I want is to be destroyed by an out of control cable car. (you can kind of see Wayne standing to the left of that little booth thing).

It was great to see everybody. I don't want to be a name-dropper or anything but noted rock band Love is Chemicals were there. That's right, I'm friends with them. That's who I roll with.

Also appearing at the gathering: fresh baked cookies, an argument about the merits of the last song on The Smiths "The Queen is Dead," talk of Dodgers and Giants, a sad report about a lost Mini Cooper, and a tiny dog. Guitar Hero 2 did not appear due to a cable miscommunication.

The gathering ends and Shawn n' Wayne n' Robyn take me back to the hotel.

Barely 11:30. Good thing I’m nocturnal. I don’t even step into the hotel. With no idea and no purpose, I walk. I see lights and I head for them.

Down the hill. Left, right, straight, left. I see crowds. I walk toward some, I avoid others. I’m lost now, which was my intent.

What am I looking for? I’ll know it when I find it. The City envelopes me as I disappear into the fog. No hoodie, that’s okay. The cool spray of the fog and rain feels too good.

Crowds. Guys with New Yawk accents and neckties. Persians in shiny silk club shirts. Beautiful women in mini-skirts pulling their jackets tight. Homeless bearded men selling newspapers. No familiar face, no stranger that I can identify as an ally. T-shirt and Jeans and Glasses Guy must hang out in a different part of town.

I see a girl I like, and I see her many different times. Ipod and Backpack Girl. Walks fast, arms folded. She makes this walk every night. Can’t stand the crowd of drunks and yuppies, but the homeless don’t frighten her anymore. The city has affixed on her a scowl, She misses her car and her cat and shopping with her mom, but on Thursday nights when she’s having her second beer at Rye surrounded by her classmates she thinks to herself “I am living it.”

I keep walking, much slower than her. I stop at every bar and peek in the window, wind bringing me second hand smoke and just as quickly taking it away. The bars are too crowded, the people aren’t my friends.

I stand at the corner, the light changing from walk to don’t walk and back again. I can’t decide where to go. Sensual massage awaits to my right. All night curry to my left.

It’s getting later, and colder. I stand on a new corner and I watch. The crowd is thinning. A girl in a patched up hoodie leans against a railing. She asks me what time it is and dashes across the street to a payphone. She comes back.

Probably my age, but her tired eyes make her look older. Her ethnicity is vague.

We stand beside each other, staring at the street. I lose this game of chicken and ask “Waiting for something?”

Turns out she was eager to talk. Not to me, but at me. I am more than happy to listen, for no reason other than to write about it later. Maybe this is what I was looking for.

Her friend borrowed her keys and her cell phone and is forty-five minutes late returning them. She works as a bartender at a Pan-Asian California Fusion restaurant. It’s a corporate gig and might look good on a resume, but the money is weak. She rattles off a list of bars in the area, listing the pros and cons of each. Blow is not her scene. She’s a student at FILNA or some place that sounds like that. Grew up in Sunset, lives in the Tenderloin now. She doesn’t understand why people that live near bars complain about the noise. Sometimes her neighbors play house music at 3am but she just tosses a ball at the ceiling. Her and her boyfriend have an open relationship. She has a temper, she’ll admit it. More hipsters need to move into this neighborhood. It needs to be cleaned up. It needs more artists and students and young people. The city is no place to raise a family, but a lot of immigrants try. Bars should stay open later. This ain’t New York. Her name is Quila, like Tequila, that makes it easy to remember.

She takes off, says it was nice to meet me.

More walking, find another corner to stand on. The clubs just closed and there are crowds everywhere, people trying in vain to grab a Taxi. If any of them had bothered to ask I would have told them that their were a ton of cabs at the hotels one block over, but I guess these fools would rather play in traffic.

Frenchie asks me where the after hours clubs are. I tell him I have no idea, but he presses. Poor guy is drunk and desperate. He hasn’t hooked up. He’s hoping there’s a lonely girl waiting for him at an all night rave. I wish him a “bonne nuit.”

It’s late. I know that in my travels I had passed a 24 hour diner. Trying to remember where… More walking and I find it, situated across from the Walgreens. It takes me far too long to decide if I want diner food or drug store snacks. The diner wins. I sit at the counter and realize that I have nothing to read and no one to talk to. Time to delete some old texts, I suppose. Little Fella in the Paper Hat announces that they are no longer serving beer. Alma comes to take my order and I make a wisecrack about the beer. Not my best work, but it gets the job done. Alma cracks a smile and Lou Diamond Phillips at the end of the bar has a laugh. That guy’s alright. He’s Alma’s boyfriend. Nice of him to hang out while she wraps up her shift. After much deliberation, I decide on the New York Steak Sandwich. Not something I would normally choose, but it sounds good. I’m joined at the counter now. Horseteeth sits to my right, and the Boston Retahds sit to my left. Boston Retahd #1 says he would order the Steak Sandwich is only it was called the Boston Steak Sandwich instead of New York. Boston Retahd #2 hassles Alma. He wants her to guess his name. Both guys confide in me that they are so fuckin’ wasted.

Horseteeth complains about the lousy service while BR#1 reaches over the counter and grabs the aerosol whip cream for the milkshakes. He politely offers it to me first. “Hey buddy, wanna do some whipits?” I decline. The guys take turns inhaling from the can. I pray that the Little Fella in the Paper Hat doesn’t come back and put whip cream on some innocent’s milkshake. Little Fella does come back, and the guys offer to buy a can of whip cream. They pay $20 and he happily obliges. By night’s end they have six empty cans lined up. They won’t shut up about how they need some nitrous, this shit’s weak. Horseteeth tries a whippit and ends up with cream all over his face. He did it wrong.

Steak Sandwich hits the spot, but the long uphill walk back to the hotel does not.