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Art & Life

Today at the pump

The Sole Prop's Sister?


Under here.

March 28, 2010

None At All
Sunday. It was an excellent dinner last night. I was at some level apprehensive, Mr. Y and Mr. E cooking dinner (it turned out Mr. Y did all of the cooking) with three of us bringing bottles of Scotch. Five people, four bottles of Scotch, a batch of home brew Mr. S and Mr. E had put together and delivered in two small kegs to Mr. Y's on Thursday and various wines (from Mr. Y's cellar) had, in my opinion, possibilities for disaster. And I was driving.

Still, yesterday started well. I picked them up at Mr. S's place in the Oakland hills and we drove to Sacramento Street out near Van Ness in San Francisco. I know the area, but not all that well. I talk about city life here in Oakland, but this section of San Francisco was one long line of interesting bars, eateries and shops inhabited by crowds of younger folks, a bit like North Beach, a place I myself might like to live if I could but afford it. My guess is I couldn't and, what the hell, for all the color and activity, was it really my kind of neighborhood? Anymore?

Mr. S and Mr. E knew of a parking garage close by, eight bucks to park until midnight, so we parked the car and headed down Sacramento passing a small bar called the Bigfoot Lodge. We were early, of course, thirty minutes early, and I was thinking it's best to not arrive early to a dinner party when you've been invited to the home of a couple. You're in dicey territory as it is as a bachelor.

Couples, when they become couples, often shed their old male bachelor friends, in my experience, probably for good reason. Nesting instincts and such, a certain amount of danger in disrupting the relationship (the stuff of soap operas), best to be on your best behavior when invited to dinner. Bring a really good bottle of wine or, in this case, bottle of Scotch. Normally couples don't suggest whiskey when they're entertaining, at least in my experience, but there is indeed some history here. Scotch whiskey history. Still, “everybody bring a bottle of whiskey” to dinner is, well, novel. Unknown territory.

But back to Bigfoot. We entered. Bigfoot had Guinness. We had a Guinness. I took a picture. And then I wandered down the bar and took another picture. What kind of a bar was this, exactly? Where were these people's heads at? I for one am not happy around the stuffed and mounted carcasses of small furry animals. Yes, raccoons can be a pain in the ass, cute can only go so far. I know, we have them here in the suburbs, but ever since I was eight years old living north of Seattle and caught a woodchuck (not as cute as a raccoon, but still, a small furry animal) in a trap and saw close up, looked into the eyes of a fellow long whiskered mammal with a broken front leg, I realized I'd fucked up. What I'd done ceased to be fun. I haven't trapped, shot or drop kicked anything small and furry since.

Still, the music was good, the bar lady was quick on the uptake, there were others coming in and leaving who seemed comfortable enough with the decor.

Mr. Y shows up (complements of mobile phone magic) and joins us for a quick Guinness before we head to a local cheese shop. Mr. E wanted to add cheese to the mix since, for reasons overly dull to relate, he wasn't cooking the fish entree to go along with the lamb. It took thirty minutes for the three of them to examine, taste and buy the cheese, so I sat out front at one of their tables and comfortably watched the stream of pedestrians pass by. My, my.

Arriving at Mr. Y's apartment I learned Ms. Y had left on a trip Friday and it was just us five for dinner, Mr. H arriving (with another bottle of Scotch) later: a boys’ night out, in other words. Hmm. Did I mentioned three of us had brought bottles of Scotch, a fourth bottle of 25 year old something or other provided by Mr. Y sitting beside them on the base board, four bottles in total? I believe I did. Still, I'd had a Guinness, felt fine, we were all in a good mood in a very nice apartment with comfortable chairs and couches, an elaborately set (for a crusty old bachelor) table, so while they set about opening the first keg of the home brew I sipped the bottle of Guinness offered in a glass by Mr. Y.

Home brew: Mr. S has been brewing beer at his place in Oakland for years. In the past we've had get togethers to sample his product, long sessions where he and Mr. E discussed such as hops, malts and starter this and that's, some of which I've been able to follow, some of which I've not, but all of which go down well as an evening progresses and the beer recedes to nada. Hmm. Home brew and Scotch whiskey. I'm feeling good, by now I've had two Guinness, the head still clear, the evening progressing. Still....

So we're sitting at the table, drinking home brew, discussing (what else?) politics and the end of the world, the first course arriving: Mussels in a cream sauce with a bottle of white wine. Quite good. Then the racks of lamb, the au gratin potatoes (really good, we ate the entire contents of the large baking pan, I need to know the cheese he used), excellent asparagus and two bottles of Ridge Zinfandel (quite nice, Zins are hard to do right, easy to get out of balance) followed by baked in the oven pie with whipped cream, raspberries over which was sprinkled a touch of powdered sugar. My, my. No, really, it was a great dinner and I was feeling just fine, alive and kicking. Well, not kicking, maybe cooking. Full of cooking. A set up for a fall now that I was off guard?

Retire to the living room, sit in the all enveloping leather couch, line the whiskey glasses up along the table and open the whiskies while talking about this and that. A sip of the Glenmorangie eighteen year old, nice; a sip of something else, twenty-five years old, nice. The evening progressing and suddenly it's after eleven and time to get to the car before the garage closes.

Do I now lay out a sad tale of excess and morning hangover? Not at all. Home last night clear headed and fine, thank you, just after midnight. Up this morning an hour later than my norm, but again, feeling good and ready for breakfast. I am, by the way, my writing here aside, serious about not overdoing the drinking. I didn't, as it happens, consume much of what I described. I rarely let it get out of hand, tales of Merlot and sake aside, our recent adventure at Harrington's reminding me why. But again a good evening, an excellent evening (hup! hup!). Even the politics: none of it coming to fisticuffs, although one or two of my companions turned out to be dumb as posts in one or two of their constructs. (Just kidding. Dumb as boxes of rocks. Sounds nicer somehow.)

This Morning. Up and out, as I mentioned, for breakfast; my waitress saying something about traffic and the marathon as I was leaving. The marathon? The one I said ran yesterday? Hmm. Possibly I've gotten it wrong? I? Me? How could that be? A drive back to the apartment, the streets relatively empty, the traffic lights for some reason flashing stop sign red. Still, it made sense with this light traffic. Later, at the apartment, I heard horns and sirens in the distance, the reason obvious. They were running the marathon and something like five or six thousand people were streaming around the lake at the bottom of my street.

I should have known. A marathon by definition is twenty-six miles and you can't run twenty-six miles by ten in the morning when I was sitting on a bus heading down Broadway yesterday unless you start before light. Yesterday I assumed they were out there in the city as I sat passing signs that said Broadway was closed. For whatever reason they had those signs in place yesterday, it wasn't for the marathon. So (of course) I grabbed a camera and stood beside Grand for an hour shooting pictures. One or two turned out, I may even have enough for another page on artandlife that I'll get together later today or tomorrow if I'm right.

So how much excitement can be had in one weekend? We are stretching the boundaries I would think. I'll admit I've been slow, not understanding or asking about the dinner party arrangements, thinking the marathon had been run yesterday morning, but these things happen.

A nice finish to the marathon photos: a walk to my café later after hitting the ATM and stumbling upon the the last remaining marathon runner bringing up the rear. There was a line of cars inching behind him as he was being followed by two police cars, everyone on the sidewalk clapping as he passed, no thought to suggest he say the hell with it and give up the ghost. I liked that. (Of course I wasn't in one of the cars.) There was a certain time allocated to run the marathon and everybody who entered got to finish as best they could. They were letting this one guy run until the marathon's allocated time ran out. Let the damned cars idle.

Home now, late afternoon, tired after all this running off at the mouth. I think I'll have no trouble sleeping tonight. None at all.

The photograph was taken at the 2010 San Francisco St. Patrick's Day Parade with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70 - 200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens at f 5.6 at 1/60th second, ISO 200.