My Saturday NightMarch 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
My life is normally scheduled full of Something days and weeks in advance, yet sometimes I discover I have whole stretches of hours without any obligations or plans. Last night was one of those nights. Saturday night with Nothing to do.
So I did what I often do, walk downtown to see what turns up.
As I was crossing the bridge, a young woman called to me from the opposite bank. “Hi!, hi!”
“Hi, how are you?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to a RAVE!”
“Really? That sounds fun. I’ve never been to a rave.”
“You haven’t? They’re so fun. You should go with us.” She gestured under the bridge to include her friends.
“Who are you with?”
“Just my friends. They’re under there making out.”
We shouted our conversation as I crossed over. We shook hands on the levee; her name was Jessica. She glowed, both metaphorically and with her “rasta sticks:” in green, yellow, and red cylinders that hung from her wrist.
“You should come to the rave with me, at the Catalyst.”
“I’m not sure, what would I wear? “
“You’d dress like ME!”
“What are you wearing there, is that a skirt?”
“No, it’s more like little shorts (very little), and my fishnets, and my raver candy.” Both wrists were covered half-way up to her elbows with plastic beads.
“But, I don’t have any raver candy.”
“We’ll give you some, everyone just gives everything away in there. You’ll like it, it’s so great.”
“Hm, will I need to get high first?” She laughed and looked at me out of the corner of her eye.
“Do you want to get high?”
“I don’t have any pot.”
Jubilation. “I have pot!… if you promise not to tell anyone.”
“I promise you, you can tell me anything and do anything with me and it will go no further. (Am I breaking that promise here in my blog?)
“We have a cone of silence?”
“Absolutely. So who’s the band?”
“There’s no band, there’s a DJ and they play like trance music.”
“How much does the rave cost?”
“Sixteen dollars, (she must have seen some expression from me) But it’s WORTH it!”
I allowed that it probably was, since I had never been, and now I had a friend to go with.
“Yes, We’re ALL your FRIENDS!”
“Yes, them too, but those two are, you know…”
“Ok, I might see you later in there.”
“Oh, I hope so, you’ll see me dancing….” and she walked down toward the two under the bridge. I walked down the levee bank with an alternate plan in my back pocket, in case the doing Nothing plan didn’t work out.
The 418 was hosting another dance and I overheard someone say loudly that he was going to the Jumping Monkey. It was only a few seconds later that I remembered that was the name of a restaurant. As I approached Pacific from Cathcart, I heard people shouting in the rhythms of a political chant. Too late for a political rally, and it sounded too organized for a union. Finally I could make it out:
WE love JE-sus, YES we DO. WE love JE-sus. HOW BOUT YOU?”
The twenty of Jesus’s own cheerleaders had already passed me by the time I got to the Del Mar and exchanged grins with college students, but members of their crowd lagged behind passing out postcards.
“I don’t love Jesus,” I told one of them as I refused the card. I know. I was being a pill. But they did ask the direct question.
It was about 7:30 and I hadn’t had supper yet. When I got near Rosie McCann’s I heard someone call my name and saw the warm smile of a dear friend from Big Sur. What are the chances? Hugs and more smiles. She was in town for a party and a concert, but said that when she woke up that morning she knew that she would meet someone significant and new. So she told me about a man she had met at Kinkos who was creating sleeves to contain CDs of Sanskrit mantras. I told her about Jessica. We promised to continue our evening’s adventures and tell our stories to each other later. (Hi Lisa, this is for you.)
I walked down as far as Bookshop and almost turned around, but the adventure impulse pushed me a little farther. Benten, for dinner, of course. I hope this memory is accurate, but wasn’t Benten one of the first places to open up on Pacific after the earthquake? Weren’t they the Bento box place in the Cooperhouse that then moved to the current cinder block building on the alley that was one of the few that was still standing? That’s my memory of them, anyway: dark entryway, warm welcome inside.
Unlike that stand-on-the-sidewalk zoo down the street at Shogun, you can always get a table at Benten. Perhaps the fish isn’t quite so absofrickn fresh, but it’s fine enough. The miso is great, and there are lots and lots of clever vegetarian choices. The rolls aren’t large, so you can have a few of them, they aren’t smothered in sauce, so you can taste them, and the music is the same tape I heard in the early 90s: plunk plunk plunk. Is this Japanese roots music? Or the equivalent of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling?” Came for the dinner, stayed for the mochi ice cream.
Well fed, I headed back down Pacific toward Logo’s because I had some trade credit slips that were burning a hole in my pocket. I ran into a few more postcard-bearing Christians and I’m sorry to say I was a pill to them too. “He must go unrequited,” as the song says.
At Logo’s I came away with three new books. R. Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis which I had heard about and is every bit as good as they say. Given my conversations with the Christians, why this? Because of Crumb’s art. And the stories. And how they provide the mythological grounding of the culture we live in. A notion that relates to another book I picked up from the remainder table, The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization.“The last wild frontier of Classical studies,” says The Times (UK). I hope it is not the last, but it is a wild place to take Classical studies. Perhaps young people will take it up once again. The third book was a slim 1970 edition of Huxley’s The Doors of Perception.
I decided to go home, but turned involuntarily down the alley toward The Poet. Ok, drop in for just a pint and stay if there’s someone in there you know. There was, plus a band, the Wild Rovers. It was The Poet’s 28th birthday, celebrated every year the Saturday before St. Patrick’s day. I stayed for hours. Traditional, original, silly and sad. Everything you need in a evening’s music.
How lucky I am to walk home a little tipsy from the Poet, trade-credit books under my arm, over our earnest little river. I’m not married, I have no kids, I’m not rich or famous. I will not leave a lasting mark in human civilization. But this life I’m leading is so fun, so full of love, music, art, and spirit. What a miracle that there is Something rather than Nothing, and this ordinary Something so rich.