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Tuesday’s Haight, San Francisco

November 4, 2015

Any Given Tuesday

He’s telling me about Haight Ashbury. The Dead – that was their place. That be their ‘hood. Golden Gate Park too – they played there, he says – first show? I can’t recall what he said, but I think so.

He’s pointing out sections of San Francisco from his top floor apartment window. He has windows in three directions, on five walls. He pays four times what I pay in rent in Victoria, B.C. Four times. Average price for a one bedroom is $3,200 USD a month? I’m undercutting-it’s obscene. All I’ll say on that.

Buena Vista view

room with a view

He heads to the office for a day of meetings. He’s probably had three hours of sleep. No substances, but a rendezvous between old friends that had not yet rendezvous-ed altogether in the over-a-decade-long friendship. Makes things interesting, it does. It lends to lots of laughter, but not much sleep.

nearby hillIMG_5864I go for a really short run, trying to run up to the viewpoint we checked out last night. Feel a bit asthmatic. Don’t want to get lost. And oddly really feel like walking – and then hitting the Haight-Ashbury strip.


Haight Ashbury

I walk north to Haight and don’t get half a block past Ashbury heading west and I get a friendly marriage proposal. I smiled courteously and keep walking, as you do. Trinkets, incense, gadgets, tie-dyed apparel, cards and more – the shops remind me of the second-hand stores in Vancouver’s Gastown in the early 90s. I pass a pub with a Guinness sign – I am tempted, but have a mission to get J a belated birthday gift and possibly find some lunch.

Down on the left, toward Golden Gate Park, is this tremendous, warehouse-and-like-from-the-movies epic music store: Amoeba Music – vinyl, CDs, box sets, books, music nerds (I say this with the utmost respect – I am a music lover, professional musician and nerd).

I buy a CD and a book for J, only to find out later that his laptop, newer than mine, doesn’t have a CD slot (How old is your laptop? He half-facetiously mocks. Truth be told, late 2013. Not old!), so I eventually download the CD to my laptop and then email him the tracks. The music’s solid, eerbody’s happy.

black panther

Oh, the familiar skunky aroma of ganja increases and thickens the further east and closer to Golden Gate Park I go. Proposals light and matrimonial quickly morph into dark and drug-laden.

In the block between Amoeba and the park, I am shadily offered weed twice (Why you got to be all shady? It’s like the weed peddlars in Thamel, Kathmandu circa 2000 –It’s weed, man. It’s okay. Do your thang. Maybe clean yesself up a bit, yeah? You’re lookin’ more like a small-town brown sugar addict at the train station at dawn, but okay. Aight. There is much I don’t know. We cool.).

And people are trippin’ zombie-like (It’s not Victoria, Sandy. You have to be careful. It’s like Grateful Dead and hippies but on meth, J later advises me). And in the park, wiggy people are amassed in small groupings around a shopping cart or blankets, tents. Hungry and thirsty, I lose my will to wander through the park and head north to the next block and back up east, parallel to Haight on a street with a colourful mural trifecta: maroon, white, orange and yellow tiles creating happy cartoon kids and encouraging messages about collaboration, peace, joy, and the like. Another right turn and I am back at Haight, Guinness sign in view. Like a moth to the flame, I head into the pub.

IMG_5545Bar’s empty, it’s maybe 2 p.m. I sit at the close end of the bar and notice Modest Mouse is playing in the background. The young, brown-bearded barkeep greets me, gets me a Guinness and switches the music on his phone to Neil Young then to Talking Heads.

Talking Heads?! I strike up a conversation about the band, saying my favourite song of theirs is This Must Be The Place. That’s the one he wanted but he doesn’t have, he says. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the only song of theirs I do have. I pass him my phone and our song fills and lifts the room with sonic joy.

This Must Be The Place

California St.This is the music needed right now. I picture J drunk on Burger King last night, just givin’ ‘er and so into the music on the drive back from Tahoe. I don’t know what happened to him but he was good on grease, high on helluva-tune: Transglobal something (Underground), they were called. Pomegranate was the song he looked for, Woodward Avenue was almost it, and S—-x— (total cliffhanger – I need J to read this and remind me what song it was) was the one we liked best. It sure is something to share a deep love of music and the same music with good people.

So as I said, I got J a CD and a book that I will love, ha, but I hope he does. The subheadings slay me, they are so good! It’s a book about New Orleans. He’s been on and off for years with a gal who’s dad is there, I think he said. Louisiana anyway. References of Hurricane Katrina and shooting and countless other things have come up. But thank Amoeba – I didn’t know what to get him for a gift and after the first fail at Haight and Clayton (There was a super cool silver metal moving rotating random thingy I loved and they had the box for it in the store but not the thingy itself)…

A crew of at least a dozen suits walks in. It’s 2:30 p.m., maybe 2:45 p.m. A dark, shoulder-length, curly-haired dude walks in. Reminds me of a friend who owns a pub in Port Angeles. Very nice demeanor. He grabs plastic from the barkeep to cover his bike – it’s raining now. Heavily.

Turn It Up On a Tuesday

Godlen GateBarkeep says he’s usually hung over on Tuesday and, “Lately, I don’t know, I swear it’s cause of that song, Turn It Up On a Tuesday.” (I think it’s Tuesday by Ilovemakonnen feat. Drake – just sayin’)

The bar is rockin’… So is the soundtrack. Right now it’s Fleetwood Mac.

The bathroom’s like a prison cell. Cold dark and you can hear voices beyond the door. Billy Joel. Van Morrison. Take A Load Off Annie. This must be the place.

Barkeep’s name is M. Dark-haired biking dude is a bakery guy called A. The suits are still loitering, laughing, cajoling, having a good time. A dozen randoms, one blue shirt and one older smoker chick sipping her vodka.

By 6 p.m., after bonding over music and barfly ways, M had served himself, A and I three shots of whiskey, a shot of tequila, and me a Guinness (my fave) on the house. Way beyond my metabolism’s capacities, I try to text J, who is off work and lives only a fifteen-minute walk away, and try to nearly no avail or response to get a cab. Communication breakdown with J, but I manage to grab a cab out front (the suits had been calling for them) and back to J’s and to bed for an hour before presenting him with his book and CD.

Perhaps a personal fail on knowing my limits – I don’t get drunk on my own when abroad, but I was in the great U.S. of A, after all, and but a mile from safety (J’s abode). I surfaced and survived unscathed, lesson learned and bearing gifts. Till next time, Haight Ashbury.

air shot Murican flag



From → U.S.A.

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