In-N-Out Burger. The food was more fresh that fast, so I would be all for renaming the chain In and Plan to Stay for a While Burger. But it was tasty and the chocolate milkshake hit the spot in the way that my samples of Kombucha never did. However the Kombucha guy was a lot easier on the eyes than any of the people working at In and Plan to Stay for a While Burger.
I don’t know how I landed on the idea of a VW bus tour of the San Francisco, but it seemed like great fun especially since R. and her husband David are Volkswagen bus aficionados. As in, they actually own one. And no, they are not Deadheads nor do they smell of patchouli.
Painted Ladies Tour Company. What could be more San Francisco that a possibly transgendered Volkswagen bus? As my mother used to say, “When in Rome, shoot Roman candles!”
After lunch, we walked a couple of blocks to catch our tour. The driver, Antoine, greeted us warmly and we piled into the back seat of his orange bus. There were already folks planted in the middle seat.
The three people in the middle seat were clearly from the sweet tea part of the country. However, I would venture to say that they did not enjoy good colon health since they were not even close to the life of the party. Even being photographed by Japanese tourists did nothing for their grim demeanor. They hardly said a word on the entire trip and they didn’t even get out of the bus at some of the photo op stops. AND they treated that middle seat as if were their church pew: Jesus himself assigned it to them and by damn, they weren’t moving. EVER.
Tales of the City, San Francisco is filled with all sorts of interesting folks doing all sorts of unexpected things.
Although the windows fogged up (weather happens) and it was sometimes hard to hear Antoine over the spinning hamster wheel that passes for a VW bus engine, the tour was fun, and a great way to get an overview of San Francisco.
Tex Avery (which he pronounced Tek Zavery) in conversation, seemingly certain that we would know who he was talking about. And, just a few years ago, he was the top crepe maker in San Francisco. He didn’t explain how he earned this this title, but it sounded better than being the top bûche de Noël maker in the city.
One of the first spots that Antoine pointed out was the former San Francisco Armory. Nowadays, it’s where Kink Video makes its kinky pornos (It’s only kinky the first time!). This bit of local color elicited NO comment from the slugs in the middle seat. Had it been later in the tour when I’d had enough of their non-responsiveness, I would have mentioned seeing someone I recognized as a musician from my church in the trailer for one of their videos. (True fact!) Had I consulted Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior (Freshly Updated) before the tour, I would have realized that this would have been an excellent ice breaker for chatting up the other folks on the tour.
web page. My post-flush verdict is that the experience is better than holding it for three hours but not really worth of its own web page.
Alan Ginsberg, sitting there with a cardboard sign that said “Hungry as Fuck”.
Have I complained enough about the people in the middle seat? DO NOT GO ON A TOUR IN A VOLKSWAGEN BUS WITH THEM. If we’d been having an orgy, they would they would have brought the erectile dysfunction.
At the end of our three hour tour, we dropped the slug family off at their Holiday Inn and Antoine took us back to Union Square. This meant another trip down Lombard Street. Perhaps it gets old if you do it all the time, but it twice in one day in Volkswagen bus with an award-winning crepe-maker behind the wheel was pretty cool.
While we searched for the rest rooms, we shared a Thorstein Veblen moment, agog at the temple of consumption. We both wondered who bought all those glitzy, flashy, expensive things that we seem to be doing semi-OK without. Apparently, even in San Francisco, there are tons of folks who aren’t interested in picture perfect artisanal free-range non-GMO heritage stuff but want something glitzy and flashy and marketed under the name of some designer whose name meant nothing to two old farts from Pennsylvania.
After our day on the go, we were pretty tired by the time we got off the BART train back in the East Bay. We walked into the garage and I had that WTF moment when you figure out that your car is not where you left it. We walked up and down the ramps of the mostly empty garage. Interestingly enough, this course of action did not make our car appear. Rebecca asked if there wasn’t another parking garage.
Of course I was sure there wasn’t another parking garage.
Men who are a teeny-tiny part Native American don’t make mistakes about things like this.
I had actually considered calling 911 before it dawned on me we might indeed be in the wrong parking garage…which is what Rebecca had been saying all along.
And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we walked back to the station and went out the other exit to the garage on the other side of the BART station, there was our rental car, right where I’d left it.
So much for my partially native American incredible homing penis.
Obviously that was enough cultural tourism for one day.
First Church of Christ, Scientist. Yes, this was definitely an architectural history nerd thing to do. You're shocked, I know.
So, alas and alack, I was left with going to church on a Sunday morning in order to see the place.
Our GPS took us right to the church, which is just a few blocks from the University of California campus. We parked in a garage and my special homing penis took special care to remember where we’d parked the car. The steady San Francisco fog made think that our $44 investment for ponchos and umbrellas wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
There were some homeless guys sleeping under the eaves of the church, which was still locked 30 minutes prior to the start of the service. I noticed a woman come out of one of the doors and asked if she could let us in. She obliged right away. We chatted a bit—it turned out that she was the one who’d forwarded my email to the folks who never responded. We had some time before the service started and so we were able to poke around without benefit of museum docent.
I kept expecting people to arrive for the service. I knew that there were not a lot of Christian Scientists but I still expected 20 to 50 people. Berkeley’s a big place, and the church is a national landmark. California seems as if it should be a hotbed of Christian Scientists.
As it turned out, there were just seven of us. One for each cacti vendor at the Renegade Craft Fair. It was if I’d stumbled into a Shaker Village just before the death of its last residents.
The service started with a nice organ prelude including Elgar’s Nimrod, a favorite of mine. And then there was a female vocalist. She sounded classically trained and to my mind at least, WAY better than you’d expect singing to a congregation of 5 regulars and two guests.
The First Reader led the service and read from the Christian Science text, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the denomination. The Second Reader read from the King James Version of the Bible, which, interestingly enough, seemed to have nothing to do with LeBron James.
When one of the readers welcomed those who were attending via the telephone, I wondered if stereopticon slides might be part of the service.
Christian Scientists say that the passages from Science and Health textbook are meant to help explain the spiritual meaning of Bible passages. Frankly, I thought the passages from Science and Health needed to be followed by an explanation from Science and Health for Dummies. Presumably the dim light under my bushel basket one of the reason why I’m a Presbyterian and not CS.
At the end of the service there were smiles from the other congregants and we had a brief chat with the woman who let us into the building. The readers never came out to speak-chat to us, as they would have in most Protestant churches. Perhaps they were lost in a correlative passage in the back of the church.
Sather Tower, or Campanile instead.
The admission was $3 and no they don’t take plastic. I made a snarky remark about how unusual it was for a place near the center of the tech revolution to not accept credit cards and the student worker gave me the who-invited-you look. Clearly she’s not in the running for anyone's Associate of the Year award.
The cashier directed us to walk the three feet to the elevator, where an sullen elevator operator with a manbun took gave us a lift to the of his shaft. We walked up a flight of stairs to the observation deck.
Lady of Spain.
On the way back down in the elevator, I asked the still sullen manbun sporting operator if people remarked that his job has its ups and downs. He groaned. People say it all the time, he said. For once in my life, I felt very mainstream.
We made it on time (barely) to the memorial service, the whole point of our trip to California. All that tourist stuff was great (with the exception of the Slug family) but doesn’t even begin to compare to being with your closest friends at a time when you really need each other. I believe that everyone deserves a great funeral, and Zan had one of the best. There was only one thing wrong with it: it came at least 50 years too early.