senses

SOUND: It’s early and I’m sitting at my desk,  listening to the garbage truck empty our three trash cans. One for yard waste, one for household garbage and one for recyclables. It’s easy to tell when he gets to our recyclables. The clanging of empty wine bottles is enough to wake the neighborhood. Luckily, they’re already up because other people’s cans sound similarly populated.

SIGHT: I just started reading Big Sur (Jack Kerouac). It’s about his trip to Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s cabin in the woods (near Bixby Bridge). He’s trying to deal with the letdown of life, post On the Road. His mental state comes through clearly in his description of Big Sur. It sounds like a frightening, cold and overwhelming place. And though I feel differently about it, I still recognize it. The reason I mention the book is this passage made me chuckle:

I’m absolutely alone for weeks on end (because later in August when the sun conquered the fog suddenly I was amazed to hear laughing and scratching all up and down the valley which has been mine only mine, and when I tried to go to the beach to squat and write there were whole families having outings, some of them younger people who’d simply parked their cars up on the high bridge bluff and climbed down) (some of them in fact gangs of yelling hoodlums).

I feel you, Jack. I feel you.

TASTE: When I went to Boston, I ate something called a Butta Burger. Oh, did I mention James and I are eating meat again? Mostly just on the weekends (and mostly just burgers). Like riding a bike. Anyway, the burger came from a place called Tasty Burger, and it was right next to my hotel. The Butta Burger is a bun that’s been toasted on the grill (and buttered) gently holding a meat patty topped with caramelized onions (and a gilding-the-lily pat of butter). Too rich to finish, but it was a damn tasty burger.

The place I stayed in Boston is a renovated HoJo from the ’50s (it’s now The Verb). While I’m not big on themes (theirs is rock-n-roll), I thought this place was pretty cute. And it offered the occasional unique experience. Like, when I was bent over in the bathroom drying my hair, this is what was looking at my backside. (It’s the sliding door to the bathroom.) Also fun whilst sitting on the loo.

who knew hair drying could be so exciting?

you like the way I dry my hair, ladies?

TOUCH: I flew JetBlue to/from Boston. First time on that airline, and I liked it. You can choose your seat when you book your flight (and I was able to move to a better seat when I checked in), and their planes have the most legroom in coach. I didn’t feel like I was stuffed into my seat, which was good since the flight was around six hours. This was my first trip as a Californian, and it made me realize how conveniently located Houston is for travel.

My only complaint: We hit what felt like a speed bump an hour or two out of San Francisco, and it would have been nice to hear that calm pilot’s voice say, “We just fucked up a flock of birds or some shit, no worries.” Instead…silence. Which kind of freaked me out, so I would have appreciated a little more communication from the cockpit. Oh, and this young guy kept hitting on me the whole way back from Boston and no one seemed to care. In fact, they were egging him on.

come on, man, I have a boyfriend

come on, man, I have a boyfriend

SMELL: The Pacific smells a little fishy lately. And there’s been some foam on the water. And I don’t know what it all means, which makes me realize I have a lot to learn about where I live. And that makes me happy.

Big Sur Saturday

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we got up early and drove a couple of hours south to Limekiln State Park – it’s fewer than 60 miles from our house but takes a while to get there because Highway 1 is so curvy – the roads and parks were blessedly empty of people, so we thought maybe tourist season is over and Big Sur is back to quiet mode – ends up, we were just ahead of the crowd – if anything, there were more people crammed into turn-outs than ever on the drive home – gah, why can’t these people go back where they came from and leave Big Sur to us locals? (ahem)

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though I collect pictures of the memorial benches we see on our hikes, it’s nice to run across some tree hugger bullshit too

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morning woods

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when we were here last November, the water was barely a trickle – in the midst of a historic drought, it’s nice to see so much H2O flowing

here's the image that's on my phone

the first time we visited this park, the guy in the ranger booth said to be sure to walk down to the beach to see the old troll – he didn’t provide more information than that, but he didn’t need to as we saw what he was talking about as soon as we got close – the face of the old troll stood out starkly in the rocks on the edge of the ocean

no troll

when we got to the beach today, the troll was gone – it was one of those situations where you think maybe you dreamed the whole thing – thankfully, though there’s no cell service in Big Sur, you can still access your photos and confirm your sanity

so here's a shot of the troll "before" on my screen and the very flat "after" - when we left we asked the ranger when his face fell off - it was February 1, 2014 - bet it made a helluva splash

all that remains are the chin and bottom lip – we asked the ranger when his face fell off – it was February 1, 2014 – bet it made a helluva splash

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after Limekiln, we headed another few miles south to Sand Dollar Beach – last time we were there it was cold and rainy – today was beautiful, and the beach was packed – those dark spots on the water are surfers

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waves

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surfing seems so fun, in theory

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a boy and his matching dog

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the man in blue fled across the beach and the wordslinger followed

the play

(I would have written about this experience sooner, but I came home from Boston to a sick dog, Dali, who is hopefully on the mend now.)

It’s hard to describe the emotions you feel when you see a production of your work, especially if you’ve never seen it staged before. It’s an ass-puckering combination of fear, excitement, fuck yeah!, potential humiliation, existential angst and gurgling intestines. Or maybe that’s just me.

Other than the Science Fiction Theatre Company people, no one knew I was in the audience until after the show. So I was able to eavesdrop. It was no surprise to learn that some folks found the abundance of semen in the play (yeah, that’s right) to be a bit disgusting. Good. My favorite thing other than the laughter was seeing people bend over and clutch their heads in embarrassment/horror about what was happening on stage. If they didn’t care about the story, they wouldn’t have been reacting. At least, that’s what I’m going with.

The first night I was there a physicist came up to talk to me, and the night before that an astrophysicist who discovered something related to Uranus (no joke) saw the show. In addition to a couple of theatre blogs, a local science fiction writer reviewed the production too. So there was interest from those communities, and they must have gotten headaches from my shitty science. I did do some research when writing about dark matter for the first part of the play but took huge liberties with it later on. Which I can do because this isn’t my thesis.

Actually, maybe it kind of is.

Let’s talk about the cast. Holy shit, they threw themselves into this ridiculous play. I can’t imagine a more game group of people. There are lots of awkward/inappropriate/gross lines, and each was delivered with no shame. Right on.

I can tell that Cait Robinson, the director, ran a tight ship because the show was pitch perfect all the way through. Set changes were flawless, tech was right on time and not a line was dropped or altered. Though I was tense when the lights went down, just a few minutes into the show I relaxed. They had this bitch on cruise control. After a while, I quit thinking the lines along with them and just watched the story unfold. There was a lot to see. I wish I lived closer to this theatre company so I could see all their work.

(image by Kyle Perler)

Matthew Zahnzinger as NURSE and Kathy-Ann Hart as ASTRID (image by Kyle Perler)

Hoping to get a few more pictures so you can see a little bit of the show and the rest of the cast. I took a picture of curtain call with my cellphone (bad theatre behavior), but good (theatre) manners keep me from posting it.

Boston

GETTING HERE
I barely made my flight. The drive from our house to the San Francisco airport with no traffic should take about an hour and 45 minutes. It took three hours with traffic. Then I had to dick around on the bus from long-term parking for a good 20 minutes before arriving at the terminal. Fast walked just one click under jogging to reach my gate (which was not only the last one in the terminal, I actually had to go down a floor to reach it) (that was weird).

Once seated and seat-belted in, I offered my neighbor a piece of gum. She couldn’t have been more rude as she said no. Then the b proceeded to cough the whole way here, and I’m worried she might have the ebola. Almost asked her if she’d recently come from Liberia but thought it a smarter tactic to dramatically turn my head every time she started coughing. I’m sure she appreciated that. Maybe next time she’ll take the fucking piece of gum.

BOSTON
This is my first trip to Boston, and the city is just as lovely as I expected it to be. Beautiful old buildings, lots of trees just beginning to change colors and plenty of stuff to check out. Way more than I could get to in a weeklong trip, much less one that’s only two full days.

In a weird case of immediately adapting to the time zone, I got up at 7 this morning (4AM California time) and headed out shortly after. Within a few minutes of leaving the hotel on foot, a lady in an SUV pulled up and asked for directions. Guess I blend in with the neighborhood. Not wanting to break the illusion, I gave her directions. She’s halfway to Canada by now. (Okay, okay, I didn’t really give her directions.)

There were a few places I wanted to hit today, and I managed to do them all, walking a total of 9.5 miles (yes, I used an app to measure my distance–figured if the gubment is keeping track, I might as well too). Love checking out a city on foot. For instance, I saw a well-dressed man who did NOT look like he was talking on a phone of any sort. Just as we passed each other, he said, “Let’s get the drugs ready.” I overheard a number of conversations (some between two people who were physically there, but many more were people on phones), and only every once in a while did I hear that stereotypical Boston accent. Guess it’s like how people expect all Texans to talk with a twang, when in reality most people sound like they’re from TV.

LET’S GET TO THE PICTURES
First up, Granary Burying Ground. I might have been inclined to try to eavesdrop on one of the people leading the tour groups through the cemetery, but they were all dressed like pilgrims or some shit. No thanks.

A number of notable people are buried here. I wanted to check it out for that reason, sure, but mostly I wanted to see what a cemetery that dates back to the mid-1600s looks like. You know, because I’ve spent most of my life in Houston where everything is new all the time.

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most of the stones are too old to read

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I’ll bet Frank had more going for him than just the one thing

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I sent James and my brother pictures of tombstones that featured their birthdays as the deceased’s date of death – then I realized that was kind of morbid and quit looking for familiar dates

James found info on this epitaph, if you want to read what it says.

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some of Ben Franklin’s peeps are buried here (though he is not)

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this was the only Jackson I saw – guess we’re more of a southerly thang

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morbid much?

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winner of the best first name

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lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be oddly moist, which will freak Crystal out

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urban legend that this is “Mother” Goose’s grave – not a true fact, but I snapped a shot just the same (and realized as I was taking this that I was standing on top of her grave) (rude)

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mmmm…beer…

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victims of the Boston Massacre (these stones are only slightly more legible in person)

Saw a lot of other cool stuff. Here are a couple more pics.

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dig it

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I don’t know who this Brooks character is, but he seems a little full of himself

Okay, so I need to dry my hair, grab a cab and go see The Singularity. Will report more later.

The Pukening

Or, the time I went on a four-hour whale watching trip and puked into the Pacific.

The signs were there that things might not go well.

"Don't mind me, just dropping off some souls."

“Don’t mind me, just dropping off some souls.”

our ride

Sea Wolf II, pride of Amity Island and also our ride

caCAW, motherfucker!

caCAW, motherfucker!

a;lkj

The fog and the sea seemed part of each other. It was like walking on the bottom of the sea. As if I had drowned long ago. As if I was the ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea. It felt damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost.* Eugene O’Neill, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (* until the puking started – Crystal Jackson, THE PUKENING)

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beginning of JAWS

rough seas, that way

rough seas, that way

Seals and Crofts

Seals and Crofts

it was right about here when I realized my decision NOT to take Dramamine was, in fact, the wrong move

it was right about here when I realized my decision NOT to take Dramamine was, in fact, the wrong move

but, you know, DOLPHINS, so I kept my lips clamped shut and eyes on the prize

but, you know, DOLPHINS, so I tried to will the bad feeling away

at least the sun came out so we could go home with a souvenir sunburn (I brought sunblock, but it was in my bag and my hands

at least the sun came out so we could go home with a souvenir sunburn (I brought sunblock, but because my hands were firmly locked on the deck’s railing–except for the occasional picture–I couldn’t retrieve it)

whale tail

whale tail – this would have been more exciting had I not recently returned my breakfast to the sea from whence it came (assuming Trader Joe’s Kouigns Amann are fresh caught)

whale tail - zoomed in

my only consolation is that an estimated 25% of the passengers on Sea Wolf II also gave a gift to the ocean – most of us multiple times – we’d made a pact to keep it together, but then one chick let ‘er rip and that was all she wrote – it was like a disaster film, though my two traveling companions were untouched

my hump, my hump

my hump, my hump

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wow, this is so amaz–and I just puked on my braid

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if some topless chick with a fish tail came up to the boat at the worst of my journey and offered to take me to her undersea city, I wouldn’t have asked about the wifi connection or whether they have Tex-Mex – anything to get off this lurching, rocking boat (which, by the way, one of the crew said experienced rougher waters than usual)

he knew, and he was disappointed

he knew what I did, and he was disappointed

at the end of the trip, my glorious consolation prize

at the end of the trip, my glorious, orderly consolation prize (look closely)

A final note: I’m absolutely going to go whale watching again–properly medicated. But if you come with me, just don’t stand too close.

today is Sunday, August 24

And it’s a beautiful day on Amity Island. Here are some quick snaps I took on my walk today.

photo 1

Asilomar State Marine Reserve

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when I stopped to pull my phone out to take this, the sea gull thought I was about to give it some food – sucker

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I mean, come on

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yes, one person wrote “kill a man”

good luck, people

good luck, person who wants to ride a cheetah

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there are a lot of beautiful old churches in PG

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this one has a peace pole in the yard

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and then there’s Maude

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I’m guessing the owners of this property have a lot of cats

 

 

raising funds for The Singularity

Rehearsals for my play The Singularity are in full swing in Boston. I sat in on a rehearsal via Skype, and I’m very excited about the talented artists who’ve come together to bring this story to life. Check ‘em out.

Science Fiction Theatre Company launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production. If you have a few bucks to throw their way, that would be super helpful and very appreciated. So far, the $6,000 campaign goal is 30% funded, and there are 12 days left to give.

One of the perks that comes with supporting the show (as long as you give at least $8) is you get your very own, one-paragraph science fiction adventure–starring you! I’m writing the stories for the donors I know, and the folks at SFTC are handling the rest.

Here are a few of the stories I’ve written so far. I never said sic-fi was my strong suit.

You’re hiking through dense woods. You can hear a stream somewhere close by, can even smell the water, but you can’t seem to locate it. Which is a drag because you have all your fishing gear with you. (You always have all your fishing gear with you.) You arrive at a clearing to find it’s not a stream you hear—it’s a lime green 1957 Citroën H Van. It’s just sitting there—shiny and comfortably idling like it rolled right off the factory floor—in a small clearing in the middle of a big woods. When you peer through the driver’s side window, you see a dashboard with no steering wheel, no place to insert a key, no gas gauge or speedometer or turn signal. Just a dial with a bunch of years on it. All the years, in fact, including a bunch that are ahead of you. The door is unlocked. You slide into the seat. The dial lights up, encouraging you to pick a year. You do. And you’re off. (for Tohner)

You’re driving back from the beach when it happens. In fact, your hair is still damp from your nighttime swim. You don’t bother to towel off the nuclear waste because it brings out your pink highlights. (Plus, those environmental sissies are always complaining about things being “bad” for the earth when most of the time they’re “not that bad.”) The juice cleanse convention in town is causing everyone to cram into the parking lot of the only place with a bathroom open this late (it’s a Dairy Queen), and there’s traffic ahead. You try to downshift to second, but your legs aren’t doing what your brain is telling them to. They feel like they’re stuck in a vat of cement. Your car is momentarily illuminated by a passing street light, and you see the blue-green scales where your legs used to be. You steer your quickly slowing car to the side of the road, tear off your shirt and bra and flop onto the hard ground. With a few strong flips and twists, you gracefully arc into the ocean to join the other mermaids. (for Julai)

It’s bedtime. You kiss your fingertips and touch them to the Lionel Richie poster above your bed, grab a well-worn copy of Wait Till Helen Comes and settle in for the night. You only make it a few pages before sleep overcomes you. You’re awakened by the sound of your name softly spoken by the man standing at the foot of your bed. He’s dressed like a butler, only without a shirt. 
“Good morning, Ms. Leah,” he says. 
“Good morning, Rocky,” you say. “Assemble the men in the courtyard. I have a long list of things for them to do today.” 
“Yes, Ms. Leah, right away. You’re the boss. Of all men. In the world.”
“That’s right, Rocky, I am.”
“Thanks for fixing everything, Ms. Leah.”
“You’re welcome, Rocky. Now march those tight buns out of here and get to work.”  (for Leah)

 

sometimes it’s nice not being on the inside

This blog has frequently hosted my ramblings about Houston, both positive and negative. The negative usually focused on the things I felt Houston was losing to the ever-present push of “progress.” Tear down the Astrodome and install a monument that “celebrates the Astrodome.” Tear down a burger joint that’s been hopping for 50 years, pave the whole thing and make it a parking lot. Tear down my grandparents’ 3/2 and replace it with a 4,800 square foot faux Tuscan with a fucking elevator (true story). Tear it down, tear it all down, and let’s get us some luxury-living condos on this b.

History–and Houston–marches on. So do we all.

In a way, it’s been an emotional relief to live in a place where I have no history. I can’t be sad about what Pacific Grove’s lost because I  don’t realize it’s gone. And physical change, if it comes, comes slowly here.

That constancy isn’t an accident.

I recently joined a Facebook group for Pagrovians (you know, like Houston = Houstonians). Where I’ve found the locals to be nice, almost to a fault, in person, the people in this group are a little more razor sharp. And often angry. About things that seem to my outsider’s eyes to be insignificant. A recently controversy was about a restaurant taking up two parking spaces to install a parklet. That battle raged for weeks, and I had to bite my virtual tongue to keep from making a snarky comment.

Here’s a picture of the parklet.

parklet

I recognize I’m new here and don’t have a sense of place yet. And I also recognize the unwavering efforts of people like this are why PG has very few buildings less than 50 (or even 100) years old. They’re why stately old homes on the main drag have been turned into restaurants or B-and-Bs instead of torn down and replaced with something shiny. They’re why there aren’t tacky souvenir shops littering the coastline. In fact, you can walk along the coast from one end of town to the other without having your way hindered by a building, parking lot or fence. And not because people haven’t wanted to build all kinds of shit here. Because they haven’t been allowed to. That’s the thing about a small town. The vocal minority can wield power. Unlike in a city. When Walmart’s coming, best get out of the way.

Except San Francisco. You can’t do shit in San Francisco.

Maybe I’ll join their efforts some day. For now, I’m happy to leave those battles to them while I enjoy the view and luxuriate in the kind of stuff that makes it into the local crime log (as reported in the Carmel Pine Cone).

Man reported opening his wife’s Forest Avenue business and finding a handwritten note tucked in the doorway. He stated that a subject known as “Joe” has repeatedly left handwritten notes at the place of business. He said “Joe” stopped writing notes for approximately eight months but recently started again. The handwritten note is not addressed to anyone in particular and does not threaten or harass. The letter was addressed from “Joe” stating he was going to make dinner, spaghetti and meatballs. Officer advised the man to let “Joe” know his letters are not welcome and to to stop writing notes.

 

1st Dallas One-Minute Play Festival

OMPF

A quick post to let you know about a cool play festival happening at my favorite theater in Dallas, Kitchen Dog Theater, tonight through Monday. It’s the 1st Dallas One-Minute Play Festival, presented by Kitchen Dog and the national One-Minute Play Festival.

Almost 30 playwrights (including me) were commissioned to write two 1-minute plays. That was both easier and harder than it sounds. Our instruction was to write about what’s happening right now–in Texas, the US or the world. The idea is to capture the zeitgeist, one minute at a time.

I’m excited to watch the live-stream of the festival tonight on HowlRound to see how the show comes together. If you think you might like to check it out, here’s more information about the festival, and here’s the link to watch the show tonight (Saturday, August 16) Sunday (August 17) at 8PM Central.

the little car show

This is Monterey Car Week, something I hadn’t heard of until a few days ago. There are car auctions, rallies, races, film and arts festivals, fancy dinners and events all over Monterey, PG and Carmel. Most have d’ in the name, as in Concours d’LeMons Monterey, Crash d’Concours, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, etc. (the d’ = $$$). A free event, the Little Car Show, was held in downtown PG. We strolled over to check it out. It gave me the chance to test out my new camera and also visit my dream car for the past 30 years (Karmann Ghia).

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we crested the hill and saw all these people milling around downtown – from a distance it looked like the zombie apocalypse (but that’s what I say about any large gathering of people) (I both fear and welcome the eventual/inevitable zombie apocalypse)

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Peel Trident (“the terrestrial flying saucer”)

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Peel Trident, pod open

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BMW Isetta

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Datsun – for sale $9,900

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Austin Healy Sprite (looks so happy)

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1959 Morris Mini

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loved this little green machine (notice the tree reflection)

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this was one of my favorite cars – it reminded my of my favorite Crayola color when I was a kid (periwinkle) (I think part of the reason I liked the color is because the name is so great) (it sounds both cheerful and maybe a little nasty)

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Alpha Romeo Spider

this dude has it under control

this dude has it all under control

fff

I love living near the water and seeing mountains in the background

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Ferrari, driven by retired sheriff

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Citroen van

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nice little camper – the two seats up front looked like lawn chairs that had been somewhat secured to the floorboard

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someday, my sweet little KG, someday

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I could totally afford one of these at 1973 prices

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four little dogs (at the little car show) being walked by the same person – what could go wrong?

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one of George’s Birds (George and his birds are on Fisherman’s Wharf every weekend posing for pictures with tourists)

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what’s up, bitch?

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this Pinto lives a few blocks from downtown – if I owned it, I totally would have taken it to the Little Car Show

 

life after the DOG PARADE

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huh, the sun really does set in the west

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big fucking oysters (more than a mouthful’s a waste)

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the trail along the shoreline in PG

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the final event of the weeklong Feast of Lanterns is a surprisingly large fireworks display – seemed like the entire town was there – taken with my phone, this picture almost looks like a painting

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some came by boat

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others shared what they thought was a private moment

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then there’s this guy

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and this jackass (James let me borrow his camera) (also, ghost leg on the right)

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boom goes the dynamite

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yes

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they only do fireworks in PG once a year

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flowers are constantly in bloom – when one goes to sleep for the season, another wakes up

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brave, non-wetsuit-wearing people at Lover’s Point

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oops, busted

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trying to stir up some shit

what did I do today? not much–just went to a DOG PARADE

If I ever had doubts this was the right place for us to move (haven’t so far), they would have been squashed today under hundreds of furry little doggie paws. Yes, the annual Feast of Lanterns celebration features a DOG PARADE (has to be written in all caps because DOG PARADE) through the middle of downtown Pacific Grove. Tomorrow night they shoot off fireworks, another of my favorite things. Cannot wait. But you came for the pictures. Apologies for the quality—camera phone + over excitement + laughing. IMG_3956 IMG_4055 IMG_4061 IMG_4034 IMG_4017 IMG_4045 IMG_3948 IMG_4056 IMG_4074 IMG_4005 IMG_3926 IMG_3917 IMG_4072 IMG_4040 IMG_3991 IMG_4037 IMG_4059IMG_3945IMG_4076IMG_3963

the view from here

office number two

outdoor office is set up – now I can spend my work day hoping a bird doesn’t poop on my head – it’s worth it for the view of the Santa Cruz mountains and the bay

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standing on a beach in PG and looking back toward town

birdman

(pardon the shitty quality of zoomed photos – I’m stuck with using my phone until I replace the camera I killed on that hike) the dude and the bird stared at each other for quite a while (and I stared at them) – maybe they were communicating

squirrel

beach squirrels are tame from too many people feeding them

van of my dreams

I want this to be my daily driver – as my father pointed out, I’d need a vintage German mechanic to basically move into the back of the thing

pryor

purchased at the record store in PG

stella

Stella

lanterns

this week is the Feast of Lanterns festival in PG – it’s the biggest event of the year, and houses all over town have Japanese and Chinese lanterns hanging out front – here we are, acting like locals (oh yeah, we live here) (I keep forgetting)

living room

our living room, featuring a small dog on the couch

office

I had to record myself talking about my play for an upcoming production in Boston – I was reminded of why I’m a playwright and not an actor (this is a still from the video shot in my indoor office)

fog

some pretty amazing fog in Big Sur

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sometimes we were above it and could see blue skies

fog 3

sometimes it looked like the world just dropped off into a gray void

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don’t go into the fog, dude, you have so much to live for

partington cove

in my continual documentation of how busy Big Sur is these days, here’s the road around Partington Cove – this is a little place in a bend in the road that isn’t marked – there are two trails, one going down to the water and the other going up in the mountains – we’ve been here many times when there were few, if any other cars – not no mo’

like flies on the same turd

In my ongoing search to find some people for us to drink wine with ’round these parts, I was thinking that maybe I would go to the weekly poetry slam in Monterey (they encourage all sorts of performance, not just poetry). You know, meet some other writers. Maybe we’d have something in common.

I disliked them all immediately, sitting around acting clever and superior. They nullified each other. The worst thing for a writer is to know another writer, and worse than that, to know a number of other writers. Like flies on the same turd. – Charles Bukowski

To be fair, I’m friends with a number of other writers, but we generally met in non-writer circumstances. And, regardless, friends happen organically after repeat, positive interactions. It’s not something you do. “I’m going to sell this house today!” It’s something you experience. (And I’d guess the people at the slam are too young anyway. If your liver is still pink and springy, we probably don’t have enough in common. Plus, slams aren’t really my thing.)

James and I are a self-sufficient couple. Even after 11 years of listening to each other’s bullshit, we’re still interested and still laughing. But we’re not quite ready for the unabomber cabin in the woods where it’s just us chickens and we never hang out with other people. It’s nice to hear someone else’s bullshit occasionally, especially if their bullshit can lead us to great places to eat, cool trails we’ve never heard of and things we don’t even know we’re interested in.

I had this conversation–in person–with my friend Nelson (a writer) a few days ago. He and his wife Phoebe split their time between Houston and the Bay Area, where they are currently. They drove down to PG to take me to lunch on Friday. It was great to see familiar, friendly faces, and find out that maybe James and I aren’t the only ones on this odd errand of finding new friends in middle age.

When you’re in your thirties it’s very hard to make a new friend. Whatever the group is that you’ve got now that’s who you’re going with. You’re not interviewing, you’re not looking at any new people, you’re not interested in seeing any applications. They don’t know the places. They don’t know the food. They don’t know the activities, If I meet a guy in a club on the gym or someplace, I’m sure you’re a very nice person, you seem to have a lot of potential, but we’re just not hiring right now. – Jerry Seinfeld

I didn’t think I be interviewing at age 44 because I didn’t know I’d be moving. So I’m either going to have to start getting out of the house more often to meet people, or some of you fuckers are going to have to move here.

If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is. – Kurt Vonnegut

Shared experiences are important. Even if you’re on a turd–at least you have good company.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. – Oscar Wilde (and also The Pretenders)

le menu

James and I had a fun conversation about where we’d eat in Houston if we could magically be transported there. You’ll see the abbreviated list below, and it includes places that are no longer in business. Because why not. Yes, this is a bit of homesickness creeping in (hence the focus on comfort food). We don’t miss Texas yet, but we do miss a bunch of Texans. I hope you know who you are.

BREAKFAST

  • Pig Stand (RIP) home of the cowboy omelet, which cured every hangover it went up against – I wrote about my conflicted feelings when Pig Stand closed in this post
  • Shipley Donuts – we’ve had donuts only once since moving, at the most highly reviewed donut place in the area – didn’t even come close (in fact, we ended up throwing them away) – you can’t beat Shipley’s, except when they’re getting raided
  • Chilosos Taco House – the egg + Chappell Hill sausage breakfast taco is magic in a homestyle tortilla – they always screwed up at least part of our order, but all was forgiven after the first bite
  • Aunt Bea’s – I’ve never eaten at a restaurant that serves so much butter or hosts so many morbidly obese guests – read this about my first experience there (and the butter)
  • One’s a Meal (RIP) – anyone who ate at this restaurant likely remembers the very tall Greek waiter named John who worked there forever – you can find him at Avenue Grill, and he’ll probably remember you – he remembered James after not seeing him for years – randomly, here’s a Reddit conversation from a week ago about this very man
  • Tel-Wink Grill – the line gets so long for breakfast, it snakes its way through the restaurant (nothing like eating with a stranger’s ass mere inches from the edge of your plate) – the Houston Press weighs in

LUNCH

  • Stanton’s – though this place has been around for a while, I didn’t make it there until a few years ago – it would have been a contender for best burger in Houston during the burger journey – it reminds me of grocery/burger joints in the country
  • New Orleans Poboy (RIP) – here’s what I had to say about its closure in that fake advice column I used to write – still one of my favorite burgers of all time
  • Antone’s (before the family sold out) – if you had the privilege of eating an Antone’s back in the day, you would want to slap the fools who make the mushy bread, no chowchow version for sale today – Houstonia talks about the decline of the Houston poboy
  • James Coney Island (RIP the two-story location downtown on Main St) – I used to go to this location with my grandfather – always loved sitting at the old school desks amidst the white-, blue- and no-collar patrons – after lunch, we’d hit the tunnels and wander around, eventually capping off our experience at the 60th floor observation deck of Chase Tower, the tallest building in Houston
  • Liberty Kitchen – I used to go to the one in the Heights (in what was once a quickie mart) (Pepperidge Farm remembers), but I heard a rumor there’s a framed FIGHT STUPIDIZATION sticker on the wall at the fancier Liberty Kitchen on San Felipe

DINNER

  • Barbecue Inn – this place will always have my respect for telling Guy Fieri they weren’t interested in his greasy ass filming his TV show there – plus, the food’s delicious and there’s always a line, so they aren’t hurting for business – I had an awkward encounter in the bathroom there on my birthday eight years ago
  • Tia Maria – we moved through a number of TexMex haunts over years, and this was the most recent favorite for our regular Friday night nosh – that first sip of frozen margarita marked the end of the work week
  • Beaver’s – there’s something very “Houston” about Beaver’s – their delicious drinks inspired me to purchase a muddler
  • Spanish Village – we ate there when I was a kid, and I still remember the multi-colored chairs with straw seats and the Christmas lights that lined the dining room – luckily, not much has changed (except I became old enough to understand why the adults liked eating there–the margaritas will knock your ass out)
  • Dolce Vita – the only forced-valet restaurant on the list (you can still find parking in the surrounding neighborhood, so that’s okay) – I had some great meals there with some great people, and I credit Dolce Vita for introducing me to the concept that brussels sprouts can be delicious
  • Hickory Hollow – two words: hot tots

I think I gained 10 pounds writing this post. I hope at least one of you is inspired to check out some of the places that are still around or maybe revisit one of your old favorites.

And don’t worry about us. We might be a little homesick for our peeps, but we still have all of this to keep us company.