Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Holidays in the fog

It's my first summer in the States in 11 years. My last July 4th was spent at Naropa's summer writer workshop, listening to Tibetan monks chant to Gamelan, and having Allan Ginsberg kiss my tattoo. (On my back, you pervs.)

On Saturday, Ben and I hooked up with CLo among others and drove to Mill Valley. A friend of Mike's lives up there, commuting the 90 minutes by bike down to CIIS in the city. Sean and his wife are awesome people, introducing elements of their Indian heritage into their life, such as the tent on the front patio under which he meditates and does yoga, a mid-70s Zakir Hussein (live at Naropa, in fact) LP spinning slightly warped in the sun.
After chai, we followed long narrow wooden staircases up to the top of the ridge, and into a forest which was the setting for Endor in "Jedi." I didn't see any Ewoks, but I did see a beautiful Moon gate, passing on the left Tibetan style, humming a slightly different version of a Monty Python ditty. "Always walk 'round the left side of life." The trail went behind some houses and along grassy slopes. We passed a small shack, and CLo joked that this was where an 8 year old had been chained until it was ready to accept the validity of cultural relatism, in some kind of horrific Marin County sub-urban myth. In fact he and I did little more than joke, having years ago created a bizarre hybrid language of our own, consisting mainly of song lyrics, film quotes, and ridiculous triple layered puns in multiple languages. When we hang out, I can't ever seem to be able to write, the words coming out in this twisted lingo of Asa Nisi Masa. ("Culture of two? Smoking or nonsmoking?")
We were heading toward Mt. Tamalpais, but stopped part way, at the German Tourist Club, a huge Bavarian-Tibetan-Korean thing in the shade above the grass hillface. We sat out on the deck and drank the dark full bodied beer that only European monks seem to be able to make, in their attempt to ignore crushing sexual frustration. And at 8%, ALC whew! On no food, it was a spike to the brain. Despite this, our picnic table was a heady place, Mike and Romanian Alexandra talking psych at one end, Sean espousing on the hidden Vedas down our way. Two-year old Noni drew goldfish on the napkins in between. We'd occasionally pull out a trivial pursuit card to show off, though I had my own version where I played my Shak. Later the guitar came out too, I harmonizing in barbaric yodel yawp. Good stuff all around, with a trekker's hostel vibe. It's an incredible place, but I want to keep it myself for awhile, and won't spill the beans on location no matter how large the bribe. So there. (Where's the goddam extended tongue icon?)
Our party headed back down the mountain in a drunken samba line, to Mill Valley proper. We ate cafe food, downed coffee,then parted ways. I had a wonderful veggie chili, which I came to regret later. I was sleeping in a high loft, a few feet below the ceiling. Usually a person doesn't mind their own brand, but that night was murder.

Sunday, Ben, Mike, Emiko, CLo and I went to Mission Delores Park to see the Mime Troupe put on their annual July 4th play. I am a sucker for old glimpses of hippiedom, and this day was no exception. I had a great time people watching. The play was decent, but the music was better. That band really knew their licks and had immpecable timing. There was even a Balinese dance of sorts, not 100% authentic, but not bad at all. After it was all over, we continued to loaf in the sun, watching people playing soccer and dogs jumping high for frisbees.
Ben and I walked back up to Valencia with Jack, an old radical who is a fount of Mission history. It's always a pleasure.
After a quick caffeine blast, Ben and I went back to the house for dinner and a video. Over a pasta made atomic by Chinese chili sauce (try it!), we watched "Suzhou River," a recent update of "Vertigo" set in Shanghai. It was a fantastic love story, erratic handheld camerawork helping to create tension. The lighting and sound were equally clever.

Monday, the 4th was mellow. We had planned to head up to Mill Valley again for Sean's party, but our borrowed car fell thru. Buses seemed a hassle, so we blew it off. In fact, we had a choice of three parties (two more in Oakland) but were in incredibly apathetic moods. It was starting to feel like teen angst,but we finally got it together, walking down to Rainbow foods for lunch, then continuing on toward the Bay. At Yerba Buena Park we sat awhile in the sun, watching shirtless kids chase each other around. Then a long hike back to the Mission. Emiko came by, cheesecake in tow. She made okaiyu which we downed with a cheap red while watching "Henry Fool." I forgotten how good a director Hal Hartley is, his ear for dialogue, his eye for blocking. (I hadn't seen a Hartley film since "Amateur" back in Kyoto in the mid 90s, CLo and I taking a time-out from Gion Matsuri craziness, accidentally jumping an express train all to way to Saidaiji. But that's a whole other story...) On this night, we had the sound up loud, to drown out the sound of the Mission's residents recreating the attack on the Alamo, fireworks engulfing us with noise. The smaller cluster pops like typewriter clacks, the large thuds filling chest cavities and setting off car alarms.

Around two a.m., my cell phone rang. Not everyone knows I'm in the States, and this was the second time it's gone off in the late hours. It was a person I really enjoy talking to, so despite the time, I babbled away in the dark, enjoying the stillness of the city, until the batteries ran out. It was only the next morning that I realized we'd talked over two hours, and my rate for recieved calls is $1.80 per minute. Zoinks! Worth every penny...

On the turntable: Blue Merle, "Burning in the Sun"
Ont the nighttable: Susan Vreeland, "Girl in Hyacinth Blue"

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