sf

IMG_9595Early morning in San Fransisco I was stumbling the streets looking for any semblance of coffee.

IMG_9388First night we were in line for rush seating when the door usher gave us free tickets in the fourth row. A regular patrons friends had cancelled. Not that I would dress any differently but in my torn up jean jacket, ripped stockings and wind battered hair I felt a little out of place in this $150 seat. Darby however became best friends with the elderly lady next to him who had forgotten her glasses and asked him to read the program to her. This might have been a ruse to flirt with him all night in front of her husband who didn’t say a word.

Shostakovitch’s Ninth symphony is wild. Written in 1945, it was anticipated he would write a piece glorifying Stalin and the Red Army’s success against the Nazis. Instead the Ninth was banned for being what the Russian government called childish, circus music. It is over the top and bombastic, completely comedic. Shostakovitch was said to be a lover of satire; it can be read as a big symphonic joke. The third movement was so fast and gypsy like, players in the string section started laughing as they kept up with the runaway pace. It’s surprising that Shostakovitch wasn’t executed. He was lucky having survived The Great Purge of 1937 but also spent everyday under creative oppression and fearing for his life. He continued to write music that some scholars claim contain coded anti-government messages within them.

IMG_9452Blue Bottle coffee. The difference between single origin espresso (top) and a espresso blend (bottom). I should have paid the buck more for a single origin instead of the blend,  it was so much better.

IMG_9453Darby was very sad the vegan donut stand was only open on weekends. It was Friday. We returned on Saturday. I was sad they haven’t developed a gluten free version.

IMG_9447Note to city dwellers that have conservatories close at hand: Recital concerts are usually, if not always, free! We caught several evening graduation recitals that were outstanding. This is often the case for theatre as well. The theatre school I graduated from has dirt cheap prices and usually program more progressive/transgressive work.

IMG_9454City Lights was cool, though I was more smitten by the selection at Green Apple Books, the extensive Semiotext(e) Press section in Dog Eared Books and the anarchist collective Bound Together where I found a used copy of my favorite vegan cookbook zine Please Don’t Feed the Bears but resisted buying a second copy of it and the sci-fi, horror bookstore Boarderlands where I pawed at rare editions I couldn’t afford. When I think of City Lights I remember we were sixteen and my friend Darren had just come back from a trip to San Fransisco. He was practically trembling as he showed me the poetry book Lawrence Ferlinghetti had signed for him.

IMG_9483 Musee Mecanique. I plugged quarters into all the guillotine games and there were many.

IMG_9458Climbing to a look out I was overcome by the smell of eucalyptus. Possibly my favorite scent ever, it immediately places me in Australia. I thought eucalyptus was only native to Australia and technically it is but it was planted in California during the 1850’s gold rush. They hoped to harvest it for lumber and oil but turned out the lumber from juvenile trees wasn’t as good as the established trees back home. Now it’s considered an invasive species and the groves are routinely culled. I gathered up gum nuts on the ground and filled my bag and pockets with them, wafting eucalyptus everywhere I went and rolling the seeds in my hands the rest of the trip. I also accidentally brought some back into Canada.

IMG_9528 (8)I grabbed this from the Haight Ashbury  whole foods a couple times, it was kind of greasy but still good. Made in Berkeley. I love taro root but the leaves I’d only tried once in Fiji and it was a total disaster. I’d ordered a taro leaf soup out of curiosity. I took one spoonful and my mouth & throat lit up like a thousand burning splinters. I thought I was having an allergic reaction -which I don’t have except for the rash I get when I eat gluten now. Water didn’t wash it away. I asked what was in the soup and told her about the sensation I was having. She furrowed her brow and rolled her eyes towards the kitchen. She said I’d be fine, that the irritation I was experiencing wasn’t anything to worry about. It happens when the leaves are too mature and/or not cooked properly. She took the soup away. I guess it has something to do with oxalic acid which you can boil or steam out.

IMG_9500Cellist master class graduate recital. I avoid taking pictures of the performers. It’s the same courtesy expected in theatre.

IMG_9515I don’t take a lot of ‘pictures’ when I travel but I do take a ton of pictures of books I want to remember to pick up when I get home. This one has actually been on a list I’d long since misplaced. I haven’t read Joan Aiken but often see her compared to two of my favorite writers: Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter.

IMG_9404I also rarely take pictures in museums but this glass piece and the incidental shadow play around it haunted me.

IMG_9514I stood long and contemplated what clothes I could leave behind to fit this in my carry on bag. The answer was none. I barely brought any clothes to begin with. I travel light in anticipation of buying zines and books but always groan about how much I’d bought as I lug my pack home through the airport or on the bus. I’ve wanted the Isten: Don’t Break the Ghost anthology for some time. It’s no joke at 804 pages. Svart Records distributes it out of Finland, they say it weighs 3 kilos. I’m still seeking a decent used price cause the shipping on this is a beast.

Heavy metal is not even a genre. Heavy metal is a realm.

IMG_9402We drank a lot of coffee. He enjoyed this siphon method. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between it and a pour over but I only had one sip.

IMG_9535I totally missed that Cronenberg put out a work of fiction in 2014 but I definitely want to read it.

IMG_9497Oakland artist Amy X Neuburg’s Hunger Strike with the SF chamber orchestra. This work explored Americas Industrial Prison Complex. It was also a free show.

IMG_9513Late brunch at Citizen Fox *. I was a bit stuck with few gluten free options and normally wouldn’t think to pick a bbq bowl but holy shit was I glad I did! Tempeh, house made bbq sauce, grits, green beans and brocolini. This was so good. Happy to see a new vegan restaurant packed and busy with a Sunday crowd, the people there were awesome too. We also went to Indochine and I had the best kimchi ever. Gracis Madre for tacos. Shizen twice cause all vegan Japanese and the iconic Greens. *I just discovered we basically caught Citizen Fox’s last Sunday in operation because of ongoing building permit trouble.

IMG_9579Last night on route to Taka Kigawa’s piano performance of the complete piano etudes of Gyorgy Ligeti, I had to pause and appreciate this Vaughan Bode inspired mural. We grew up on Bode’s subversive underground comics. As teenagers I horrified my brother when I came home with a skateboarding shirt that had co-opted an image from one of Bode’s comics. I thought it was cool cause it was referencing him but my brother was pissed at the appropriation. I cut the image off the shirt and sewed it on a bag.

Quick & busy. A burst of city life. We walked the distance of a marathon or more each day. That’s one of the reasons we can drink so much coffee and not feel too fucked up off of it. Though I always go through a detox period trying to rescue the last gasp of my adrenal glands from these trips. Next one for me, other than work related, probably won’t be till the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in the fall. I await with bated breath.

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8 comments
  1. oooh those were good tickets to score! I keep meaning to look up the free recitals, I know the university nearby has them quite a bit but I’ve slacked off this year. a HP Lovecraft film festival!!!!!!

    • lysette said:

      Yes! and you get the free concerts in the park. Some of the best theatre I’ve seen has been in Melbourne. I’m sure your options are limitless.

      HPLFF is so much fun! One of the highlights of my year though oddly I’ve not really talked about it much on here, vaguely at best. There’s writers and artists in the genre, literary panels and a whole Cthulhu-Con aspect but I’m not into gaming so I don’t bother with any of that. The best (and I’m sure you’d love on this too) is (was they’ve only done it a couple times but I’m always hoping they’ll do more) live performances from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society: Dark Adventure Radio Theatre!! They’re such a cool theatre troupe doing the kind of theatre I really wish I could do full time but I would include shadow puppetry… I should just start my own company.

    • lysette said:

      Do you have eucalyptus in the VI, Shen? I’d love to know what the air is like there, it must be sweet all the time with those crazy flowers ❤

  2. This is such a nice post! my brother lives in San Francisco now but I haven’t been to visit him; i’ve only been to the city once when i was 10 or so.
    All that fancy coffee is making me swoon. There’s a Blue Bottle here but I haven’t been. I’ll send you my new zine when it’s done, but there’s a rant about this horrible coffee shop i end up going to sometimes, which makes me appreciate when coffee is actually well done.
    my old manager at the bookstore came from San Fran and worked at Green Apple. City Lights sounds interesting for the history but i think GA probably has a better selection. Ha, this coming from me who has been to neither. Have never heard of Joan Aiken but I love, love Angela Carter! I’ll have to look for Aiken’s stuff.
    The Citizen Fox meal looks delicious! I want to make grits, but never really think to and am not sure I would know how! But all about the BBQ tempeh, for sure. Crazy about the taro leaf soup, though. Not sure I knew they were edible.
    The museum piece is really haunting. What museum is that in?
    I never thought to visit recitals but I do enjoy classical music. Isn’t it insane what governments commission and censor from artists??
    Anyway not to leave a manuscript of a comment, but this looks like a really fun trip!

    • lysette said:

      Maud you can manuscript here any time! I can’t wait to read your next zine!! I could ramble off a list of all the great coffee we drank in SF, the third wave game is strong there. Our daily limit is five each: a couple espressos and a few pour overs.

      I kept forgetting we were in California. I guess I think of CA as being desert and Los Angeles. The city was so dreamy. Though the gentrification and housing crisis there is really crazy, even from an outsider perspective it was really apparent. I’m sure your brother has a lot of thoughts on that.

      I hate to say the hype left me underwhelmed by City Lights but oh god how I loved Green Apple! It felt a lot like our store (though nicer and better stock) Went back twice and still didn’t feel like I had enough time. Walked around clutching so many books and kept putting them back cause it was the end of our trip and I’d already maxed out the space in my bag. Took lots of pictures of books, haha even ones I already had to remind me to find it on my shelf and read it! *rolls eyes*

      I know! I’d heard Holly talk about Citizen Fox on Rise&Resist and how much they were loving that place and it totally stood up to the hype. I was so surprised when I looked up their website to link back to them and found out they’d closed -again the ugly side of real estate in San Fransisco. I’d never really eaten grits before but these won me over. I want to make them at home now too. I bet Cooking Crunk has a solid recipe for them.

      That glass sculpture was at the De Young museum. Same museum as the ‘curious’ marble statue. When I was staring at it Darby came in and I said ‘Look at this!’ He replies ‘She’s holding a wash cloth.’ My response was the driest gaze. Seriously I’ve searched all over for more information on that work and no one mentions whats in her hand. I think the glass sculpture was by an artist named William Morris and not the famous illustrator Morris.

      Yes! Check out the New Mannes School of Music. It’s down town in the main building now. The program we saw (for free) there back in the spring was un-freakin-believable! And there was hardly anyone there, like we were literally the only wildcards in the audience, everyone else in the audience were the performers and composers themselves. It might be a bit of work to sleuth out, I’m lucky Darby knows what to look for.

      Haha I manuscript-ed you back.

  3. Jenny said:

    Ahh I will definitely check out Joan Aiken; I’m reading only female authors for 2016 and love Shirley Jackson so hard. I’m reading my way through her back catalogue, but spreading them out so it’s not too cheaty. Off to pick up a short story anthology from the library today, along with an Edith Wharton. Any other suggestions gratefully received!

    • lysette said:

      Yeah there’s something I’ve always loved about the short story too. Haven’t read Wharton but I’ll have a look at her books today in the shop. I also love transgressive writers like Mary Gaitskill and Kathy Acker. I’m reading Poppy Z Brite right now but Poppy’s transitioned so I don’t know if I’d label him as a female author?And on the opposite spectrum Canadian writer Ivan E Coyote. I also have a pretty big crush on Natalie Goldberg 🙂

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