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Under Construction
Lake Merritt, Oakland

September 14th, 2002

Where This Started
Man, am I out of pictures. This may drive me to attend the Renaissance Pleasure Faire opening out in the hinterlands this weekend. I have a complementary ticket taped to my kitchen cabinet on the off chance I'll get it together and go. Could be a simile for my life: I attended the first of the Renaissance Faires in the early 70's with a group of costumed anarchist friends, a planned get together to get out of the city and raise hell in floppy hats and wooden swords, the ladies testing the temperature in bra-less see through blouses and plenty of decolletage. Good 'ol decolletage. For whatever reason, I've never returned.

Nah. I was going to say my life got off track at about the same time in the same way my Renaissance Faire attendance ended, but I'm not sure my life ever got off track, if it has a track, and a Renaissance Faire is, after all, just a Renaissance Faire. The comp ticket came from a friend at the office who once not only participated in these Faires, but flew down to LA every weekend to participate in another when the one up here closed for the season. Faires obviously mean different things to different people. I guess I'm one of the come once and go kind. Or twice, maybe, if I make it tomorrow.

I've been thinking about some comments made in an interview by a writer on a recent public radio program, his description of his reality being a combination of something that lives on the page, a reader-writer reality, as well as the day to day reality of whatever kind most of us call our existence. He suggested writers start as readers at an early age and learn, for whatever reason, who knows - loneliness, boredom, an affinity for the exotic - to enter a written world and this written world remains a part of them as they grow to become writer adults.

What little writing I've done, an unfinished book in the 70's, now this journal, has made me notice my own day to day awareness, whole sections of which seem to involve listening, just listening, for a thought or a phrase or, I don't know, an idea useful to write about. With him, it was stories and characters. One minute he's looking in the mirror shaving, the next he's in Bombay in the age of the Raj. I'm more into words and phrases. And thoughts like this.

I think, well, it would have been nice to have had this thought or understood this ideaBerkeley Solano Stroll at a much earlier age, say when I was in high school. I had not a clue what I was going to do when I came out of high school. I was lucky, I think, at least in the fact my parents had the money to put me through college. I had not a clue in college. I was surrounded for the first time by all kinds of people, all of them students, of course - there was some predictability in that, students are students, after all - and some of them seemed to have a clear idea where they were going - career, wife, children - while others were bouncing off the walls, no idea whatsoever, feeling the fear. I was attracted to the fear, the writing and the alcohol.

I understood the concept I should be preparing for something, there should be some kind of end in sight. My father was an architect, after all, a fairly exotic halfway off the wall profession, something he had come to like a moth toward a flame, where was my flame? Write for a paper or a magazine? I thought about that. I'd written a humor column for the college paper and started a magazine. I didn't want to sail around the world. Didn't want to sail at all. Hide out with the underground press people I knew in San Francisco? Tried that, it was OK for a while. None of these thoughts ever really gelled, as if the questions themselves didn't really count, so why sweat any answers? Has this changed? Have I changed? I don't know. "What does it all mean, Mr. Natural?"

Early on in San Francisco I asked a friend at my very straight three button vest financial district office if, given the chance, who would he want to talk with over a few drinks if he had the choice and he replied the CEO of General Electric. And I thought, "General Electric?" My idea was Kesey or (later) Hunter Thompson. General Electric? He looked at me and wondered out loud if I shouldn't rethink this job choice of mine writing real estate investment brochures. (Well, you know, you're walking down the street, you bump into this guy you've recently met through an old girl friend, you have fifty cents in your pocket, you're offered a job and suddenly you've got a Brooks Brothers suit and a Nob Hill apartment (without a view). A nice Nob Hill apartment (without a view). Or a clue. But that's where this started.

The photographs were taken near Lake Merritt in Oakland and at the Berkeley Solano Stroll.