Sunday, April 15, 2007

cable car

A couple of nights ago I checked out San Francisco's version of free cinema in the park. The movie was Breaking Away, the 1979 flick with plenty of bike riding sub-plot and a message about small university towns in the US, where the local kids fight with the rich out of towners who come to study there. Even at 25, Dennis Quaid is still the same actor he is now, albeit all buff and young looking. Run by a group of friends, the night is as much about bringing the community together as it is about watching movies. It reminded me of the movie nights we would hold back at home, across the road from MacKinnon Parade during summer. Only this one in SF is better organised, has a proper screen (no enormous bed sheet hanging over a cricket screen here folks), way more people and even a guy selling popcorn. Held in Dolores Park, a few blocks away from Mission street (think Smith street in Melbourne, but with more bars and music venues), the guys put on a movie on every second Thursday during the warmer months. This was the first, slightly chilly night for the season. Before the movie starts, a small band performs for the crowd, a couple of trailers usually run before the movie and then the crowd votes on the next movie to play. The options were Chocolat and the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Too many links between Chocolate and Johnny Depp for my liking) – Willy Wonker won the vote by a clear majority.

A British guy sat down on the grass next to me and we started chatting. After a couple of minutes of speaking, the guy in front of us turns around and say: "dude.. what are you doing in San Francisco?" Turns out that they knew each other in London through a mutual friend, but had lost contact since. Somehow, randomly they sat next to each other 9,000 km away 2 years later. The world isn't just small for me. As I was buying popcorn, I got chatting with one of the dudes that ran the night. After expressing my respect for the event and my envy of their operation, I handed him my email address. To this he replied: "Is that a George Lazenby reference?" Being one of the few people to get the reference, while I've been travelling, my admiration for this guy grew. He then asked "what was it that George Lazenby's Bond do that none of the others did?" I reply, "he got married". A respectful punching of each other's fists followed. We had bonded.

I drank too much wine and not enough water and spent the next day wandering around hungover as shit. Thankfully, a friend Roxanna’s (my CS host), gave me a guided tour of the suburbs around central San Francisco. We checked out a few cafes, sat in Dolores park in the sun, ate rice pudding and I was even treated to a free manicure. Later I went back to the apartment packed up my stuff and said my goodbyes to Roxanna. She’s been a cool host and showed me plenty of her version of San Francisco. One of the cool things about Roxanna’s place was I could use the cable cars as a legitimate form of public transport rather than just a hokey touristy thing to do.

Now I’m staying Lower Haight with a chick who works as an architect with a fairly strong sense of being socially responsible. She has a cool Australian mate who works for a small IT firm here in SF and they're both keen bike riders. Last night we grabbed Indian food and checked out the lobby of the SF Hyatt, a really impressive structure to look at, and I was reassured that architecturally, even though the designer is a complete arrogant wanker to meet, his designs are usually quite giving to those who use his structures. Architecturally speaking that is. It was an impressive place to see and you don't need a architecture degree to appreciate it and is worth a look. I also gained a new appreciation for the discrete drainage system used in Mission Square. Architecturally speaking, that is.

I still really need to buy some new shoes. I really don’t want to let go of the Keens I’ve been wearing for the last year. All the separate parts are still in relatively good shape, but it’s just the seams and joints have started coming apart and the soles are wearing away in typical pigeon toe fashion. This combination of footwear malfunctions collaborated in the dampening of my socks this rainy morning, at the Farmers Markets. Damn good coffee though. Anyway, I just can’t bring myself to part with them using the excuse in my head that no matter what shoes I look at and find interesting, if I don’t find exactly the same pair of Keens, I’m not shelling out for another pair of shoes. Thankfully the day has cleared up and a walk to the park is in order. A detour to the kite store in China Town beforehand may provide entertainment for the afternoon.

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