Thursday, April 29, 2010

what the hell are you doing here...

Hold on. Just hold on a second.

It's like a little skit! For like, a pep rally or something. There are so many wonderful, safe, hilarious ways for the Mayor to poke fun at himself. But the old "I talk a lot because I care so much" is kinda dumb. That being said, you have to appreciate that they're trying. They really are trying!
Someone needs to sit down, watch 200 episodes of the West Wing for inspiration and go balls to the walls with this. Da Mayor and da nurses gives the best performance, hands down. Also, where can I buy that rockin' soundtrack?

*Thanks Marina...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

maybe she's afraid someone's going to steal it...

I am currently watching Monarchy: The Royal Family, a fabulous show on public television in which we see the British Royal Family do all kinds of shit. This particular episode is called, "Inside the Firm" which is about the "full-time job" of being a member of the Royal Family.
I've always been fascinated by royalty, particularly The British Monarchy. I'll be honest. I want in on that. As a child, we'd tour fancy castles on family vacations and I'd fantasize that a member of the Queen's Guard would spot me amidst the crowds of tourists, gasp in shocked reverence, remove his big, black fur hat and whisper, "She's returned to claim her rightful throne!"
I'm still waiting on that. In the meantime, I'm dying to know what's up with the Queen and her purse. Elizabeth II refuses to put that thing down. She carries a purse everywhere, as if there's no one to say, "You know, I can hold that for you."
What, I ask you, is in that thing?

My guesses are:
1. Pictures of Diana, carried out of guilt
2. An iPhone
3. Gum

I posed the question on Twitter and responses varied.
4. An egg salad sandwich
5. A smaller purse in case the first one was inappropriately large
6. Lip balm and a comb
7. Kotex (that was Brock's suggestion)
8. A .22

My favorite Royals are the surprisingly laid back, fun-loving Charles and the deep-voiced, dutiful William. I suspect Charles was dragged through the ringer with that whole Tampon thing and as a result, has been shamed into a charming humility and desire to be liked. William seems more responsible and earnest that his frat boy brother. Plus, he seems to subtly pull the Diana card, showing up at homeless shelters at 6am and hanging out like a normal person.
Everyone else seems pretty dreadful, or at least completely out of touch with reality. And my favorite quote of this show thus far is the following:

"Of course I know your country. I gave it independence in 196o."

Monday, April 26, 2010

in sudden solidarity with suzanne sommers...

For all of my bitching about my dreadful high school experience, when Genesis, my glossy high school alumni magazine called for an interview, I couldn't get over there fast enough.
The piece in Genesis is about SI grads who now blog, obviously. And it will feature the writers of We Haight Cookbooks, Annie Wilson of Poetic & Chic, Elaine Santore and me.
So, maybe I've mentioned, high school was a 4-year slice of hell for me. San Francisco's 150-year old St. Ignatius College Preparatory felt like Dead Poets Society meets Heathers. My mother went to high school with Suzanne Sommers and in her autobiography, Suzanne made it seem like everyone at Mercy Burlingame was dropped off at the front doors by limo drivers. My mother took umbrage with this, and I'm sure those I with whom attended SI will disagree with my description of our alma mater. But Dead Poets Society meets Heathers is what if fucking felt like to me. So that's the description you're getting.
Each quarterly issue of Genesis features not only articles about how terrific SI is, how much money everyone gives back and how amazing certain alums are, but the hotly devoured, "Keeping in Touch" section, where folks offer breathless updates about how fantastic their lives have turned out.
There's lot of, "Hannah Jones graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, turned down several job offers from Google, the Clinton Foundation and the United Nations and is spending the next year digging ditches in Guatemala, living in the very same small village in which she founded an orphanage her freshman year at SI for extra credit. She's excited to be back to work on her historical account of Harriet Tubman after donating her right eye to a blind baby she found abandoned on the side of the road, rescued, personally nursed to health and named after her favorite AP Latin American Studies teacher at SI."
Seriously. Every single one of them is like that.
Well, either that or, "Jerry Brown, Class of '55 is running for Governor of California. Again."
A lot of SI alums speak of their experience at the prep with glowing, sepia-toned words of reverence. And good for them and their block club cardigans. But I spent four years hiding by the dumpster behind the cafeteria with KG, killing time until I could get the hell out of there. I'd never really felt very welcome, to tell you the truth. And I haven't been back since I graduated in 1996...until today.
I was nervous driving over there. It only took 14 years, but I'd gone from sitting next to the dumpster to agreeing to a photoshoot in front of the chapel. I figured if I played this interview just right, all of those gorgeous, popular people who ignored me in high school would smack their foreheads and mutter aloud, "Shit! I should've invited Beth Spotswood to a party."
But they probably already thought that a few issues ago, when another member of our Class of '96 AND I QUOTE "saved the internet." Dan Kaminsky was just as nerdy as me in high school, if not more so, and he fucking saved the internet. Me and my stupid blog are small potatoes, potatoes on the internet Dan had to save for everyone. Everyone of Earth.
I waited in the lobby of McGucken Hall, which is, among other things, the priest residence, and stood next to a big picture of His Holiness. Gilded frames on the wall held past Genesis covers, and in the corner stood a scaled model of the entire campus.
Editor of Geneisis, Mr. Totah came out and met me. I never knew him as a student, and as we sat and chatted in his office, I wished I had. He was lovely, friendly, irreverent and normal. I've vilified my high school experience for so many years, I'd forgotten that St. Ignatius has some wonderful people.
We chatted for nearly an hour, with Mr. Totah asking me questions like, "What does Mayor Newsom think of your writing?" and "What's going to happen to journalism?"
How the hell should I know?
"Well, I covered this event called the Cougar Convention..."
This is not the kind of thing Dan Kaminsky had in mind when he was busy saving the internet. This is not the kind of thing that should really be appearing in the glossy, highly important high school alumni magazine Genesis. And this is certainly not the kind of thing that would make anyone that got a Land Rover for their 17th birthday wish they'd been friendlier to me over a decade ago.
I have no idea what I said. Honestly, when I heard the word "rehab" come out of my mouth, I considered jumping out of that 2nd floor window just to stop myself from talking. Mr. Totah took it all in stride, typing out notes as I spoke, treating me like a relatively interesting person and asking to take my photo outside by the chapel.
I have no idea what that article is going to say, nor do I have any idea when it will come out. But obviously, I'll keep you posted. After the big photo shoot, Mr. Totah invited me to join him and his next interviewees, the kids from We Haight Cookbooks. Contributors Ariel and Liam graduated sometime last week (2002/3) and we sat with their third contributor, Karina in the faculty dining room. It looked a little like that scene in A Beautiful Mind when everyone gave Russell Crowe their pens. That was the vibe at least, and I was shocked to learn that I was oblivious to a white table-cloth dining experience going on during high school. Their were intense religious pantings on the walls and teachers I vaguely recognized. Apparently Monday is taco day.
Suddenly, Mr. Totah called over Fr. Sauer, who was president of St. Ignatius when I attended and revered as powerful and influential in ways I may never fully understand. I'm sure every high school has the administrator that's kind of a big deal. At SI, that's Fr. Sauer. People who call Fr. Sauer by his first name, "Tony" remind me of the F-list actors that refer to Robert DeNiro as "Bobby."
I've never really spoken to Fr. Sauer before and as I was formally introduced, he went on and on about what a distinguished alumni my father is. While I adore my father, it was all I could do not to say, "Amazingly enough, I've been asked here due to my own accomplishments."
But then I remembered my accomplishments involve a Cougar Convention and making fun of the Mayor's ex-girlfriends and decided to keep my mouth shut.
As we finished up lunch, Mr. Totah walked me down the main hallway to the front door. We passed a huge, framed photograph on the wall. The picture was of the school's library packed with students all studying, staring at computers or reading Les Miserables in the original French.
"Oh look!" I said. "These kids are all my class. There's John Gavin!"
"This is your class?" asked Mr. Totah. "How fun!"
"And there," I pointed to a kid sitting at a computer, "is Dan Kaminsky."
"That's Dan Kaminsky!?!" Mr. Totah turned and looked at me. "You know, he saved the internet."
Yes. I heard. I read all about it. In Genesis...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

got cy...

I'm perfectly happy at a sporting event. The people watching, the forced sitting, the abundance of Diet Coke is all right up my alley. I can even get into the game, while I'm there at least. It's like being on safari. I can care about animals if they're right in front of me.
So when Melissa and I were looking for something to do on Saturday night (I know. Shocking), I suggested the Giants game. "Oh, that's an idea!" She said, and immediately procured us some seats.
We parked in the lot and walked into the park with thousands of baseball fans, all buzzing with excitement about some bobblehead give-away. Many wore "Got Panda" t-shirts and panda bear hats.
"I thought the mascot was a seal." Mel said.
"I know. What with the pandas?"
Apparently someone called Pablo Sanchez Sandoval looks like a panda. I didn't really see what the big deal was, but I enjoyed the video montages of his fun dance routines on the jumbotron. Also on the jumbotron was American Hero, Sully, attending the game in a "luxury suite."
Met with a standing ovation as the Giants officially welcomed him, Melissa screamed up at the boxes, "Hey Sully! Remember us?!?"
He did not.
Sitting behind us was a group of middle aged drunken gentlemen. And as culture dictates, one of them had to be an obnoxious asshole. The entire game, he kept trying to get a cheer going. Whenever he deemed a moment opportune, he'd scream, "Let's go, Gi-Ants!"
No one responded. Shit, I don't even know the response to that one. Is it some clapping sequence? I suspect, based on some half-assed reactions, we were supposed to break into "Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap."
Other times, Superfan would scream encouragements at the players. I couldn't help but wonder, "Do they care? Does this help? Would the Panda strike out without Superfan screaming positivity at him?"
And when a St. Louis Cardinal player came to bat, Superfan would scream the bizarre, "How many Cy Young awards you got? That's what I thought!"
He said this often and repeatedly, asking the question several times in a row like maybe the Cardinal didn't hear it the first time. I wanted one of them to turn around and say, "None. I have no Cy Young awards. Okay? Have you made your point? Or should we pause for a second and everyone can count each others Cy Young awards?"
Everyone in our section pretended to ignore the Cy Young question, so when it was followed with uncomfortable silence, Superfan would begrudgingly offer, "Let's go Gi-Ants!"
Clap. Clap. Shut the hell up...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

shocker. the joke was on me...

Worlds colliding!
At least that's what I expected when I agreed to bring Big Chris to a cocktail party at Gump's, the very cocktail parties Brock and I attend to feel special and fancy for 20 minutes a week.
"How come you never take me to your high class parties anymore?" Chris asked over a PBR at Dirty Thieves.
"Because you're socially awkward and refuse to pose for pictures."
"I'm incredibly debonair." He replied. "And I will pose for fo-toes."
"Well, you could come with me to a party at Gump's." I offered.
"Wonderful. Please email me the information and I will be there."
We discussed what Chris might wear to this soiree and agreed on "big boy shoes" and something Jude Law-esque. As we walked home, Chris announced. "I don't see what the big deal is about some touristy seafood place at the Wharf."
No Chris. Not Bubba Gump's.
I informed Brock that Big Chris would be joining us last night. "No!" Brock gasped, thrilled. "Really? Oh, this is going to be wonderful."
We thought that our including goofy and blunt Big Chris in a high-end gay decorator event would be wonderful because Chris would entertain us with the perspective of someone who spends thousands of dollars annually on Nike Air Jordans. We were practically philanthropists, reaching out into the community, plucking a little inner city child from his crime-ridden basketball court and showing him a Renoir.
And really, some of those cocktail party attendees need a little Big Chris in their life.
We met at Otis first, enjoying cocktails and admiring Chris "fitted" jeans which were apparently killing his sperm as we spoke. I told Chris he should tuck in his shirt, Brock just about had a heart attack at the notion and we were off.
Chris does not really chat with strangers. Standing near a $24,000 coffee table, we struck up a conversation with a woman who seemed to be friends with incredibly important people, or so she claimed. Chris smiled and nodded along until I asked the woman where she lived.
"Here. In San Francisco. I have a Loftiminium."
From under his breath, I heard, "You've got to be fucking shitting me."
Brock and I headed towards the fancy lotion section and systematically covered ourselves in something called, "Opulence."
"WHAT IS THAT SMELL?" Chris arrived to find us smelling our hands. "You smell like a rich old lady."
"We do?!?!?!" I mean, honestly. That's the whole point of Gump's!
I confessed that my hands were starting to burn from too much opulence. Chris couldn't drink any more white wine and Brock can only stand still for 15 minutes at a time.
It turns out, Chris spent far more time making fun of us than the homosexual, overpriced splendor we'd provided. People carried actual dogs, candles cost $80 and like, seven men wore ascots, but Brock and I were the butt of every joke, the origin of every eyeroll.
It drove me fucking nuts until I realized that my creepy, sad, psychotic dream had come true. Chris was making fun of us like we make fun of socialites.
Brock baby, we've made it!

This photo was taken by Stacy Alo Cahill, of Drew Altizer who went to high school with my brother. As happens at these high society functions, after your photo is taken, the camera is then held to your face so you can scream your name into a little recorder for the editors of 7x7, San Francisco Magazine, etc. Stacy held her camera to Chris first, who stared at it, then at her. Confused, Chris thought Stacy was showing him the digital image. He kept saying, "Yeah. That's great. Uh-huh. Real cute..."

proz, wiener and rafi...

I finally finished my little project and dug through District 8 Candidates Facebook Pages in Today's Culture Blog! Some stereotypes are true...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

he struck me as a hot tub time machine kind of guy...

I generally have Mondays off from work, and spent yesterday trying to enjoy Target which has been overrun with fancy designers who've never been in a Target before. The Liberty of London stuff was all gross and flammable, other than the lingerie which was adorable and the Jean Paul Gautier? My God, there is no such thing as a Serramonte shopper who would ever wear this.
While I was out there, I swung by my favorite anonymous cineplex and watched Date Night, curled up by myself pretending I don't want to bear Steve Carell's children. As a teenager, I regarded going to the movies by oneself as social suicide. Even if only strangers saw you, those strangers would think you have no friends. But now, on a Monday afternoon, with a bucket of Diet Coke and a virtually empty theater? I'm in absolute heaven.
So there I sat, ignoring any responsibilities and wasting a perfectly good day hiding at the movies, when the solo man sitting directly behind me props his BARE FOOT onto the arm rest one seat away.
I have certainly rested my feet on the chair in front of me. I may have even kicked off a shoe or two in my day, although I was probably drunk at the time. And while my feet are tended to by the lovely ladies of Holly Nails, I don't subject them to strangers in public places.
But this guy tosses his cave man foot around like it's never occurred to him that both he and the arm rest could be incredibly gross. I mentally measured the distance between his foot and my face and by my calculations, we were 14-17 inches away from each other. My shoulders tensed, I moved my Big Gulp to the other side of me and turned myself all the way around in my chair, giving him a solid and silent, "What the fuck?"
Man foot stared straight ahead at the screen and chuckled out loud. Stumped as to what to do, I considered confrontation. I envisioned each of the possible reactions to "Excuse me. Your bare foot in my face is disgusting."
Each option seemed like it would prohibit the continued enjoyment of my 90 minute cinematic vacation.
Eventually the foot and the man it was attached to departed. He was only there for 20 minutes or so, perhaps killing time for what he really intended to see. Century 20 Daly City is marvelous for sneaking in and out of movies all day. I just hope he kept his foot to himself.
We'll see if Man Foot makes an appearance when I'm back at the movies next week. I have no choice but to attend. After all, Zac Posen is coming to Target...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

shout out to the jogger in black...

Gavin, it's been too long!
Honestly, I'm still feeling fucking dissed from our moment at Credo followed by my apology I agonized over followed by jack shit. That's the last time I ever take anything back, Gavin Christopher. EVER!
That being said, I received a request (from Devine, standing over my shoulder) for another Mayor video recap, so here goes.
This weekend, the Mayor comes to us from historic Kezar Stadium. Dressed in a suit and open collar in the middle of a sunny park, the Mayor points out that Stanford will be playing football this weekend (where have I heard that before?) and just in case you went to Berkeley, they're invited too. No mention of the Mrs. who attended Stanford, although Gavin does mention his alma mater, Santa Clara from which he graduated with a Bachelors degree. I point this out because someone was trying to tell me the Mayor had a Masters.
Oh really? In what exactly?
The video continues with Gavin going on and on about some concert the late Bill Graham threw in Kezar, complete with Marlon Brando in attendance. You've really got to savor the way he delivers, "Marlon Brando" at 1:29. I suspect someone's been studying Mr. President's delivery.
Gavin listing off band names = uncomfortable.
Then the Mayor again invites everyone to come down to the coin toss and tip off for Stanford's FOOTBALL game, which, as the former starting center (obviously) for the St. Patrick's 8th Grade CYO Girls Basketball Team, I know for a fact does not include a tip off.
The Mayor quickly corrects himself, kinda, but since I'm still mad about the lack of floral recognition of my recent apology (not to mention birthday, soberversary, TV appearance, etc.), we're nitpicking today.
At 2:12 we finally get to some shit voters care about.
Gasp! Stop! Hold on!
The video cuts away to pre-filmed footage as the Mayor continues to talk. Oh my God, what is that? Final Cut Pro? Thank you teenage intern who edited this together. Thank you.
The pre-filmed footage includes a radiant Fire Chief Joanne Hayes White giving a speech while the Mayor dances side to side, bored out of his incredibly complex mind.
Hey you guys? Um, "We live in a perilous state, lit'rally and figuratively, pa-tickalarly out here in the Bay Area."
We also live in a state that has free speech therapy. I'm sure. We must. Gavin and Arnold could go together!
Moving right along, the mayor starts to talk about how we're all going to die at any moment, falling into the earth as it splits open and swallows San Francisco. And he's squinting into the sun, one becomes desperate to give the man some shades. How fabulous would that be? Gavin should present all of his outdoor (and indoor!) videos with sunglasses on.
At this point, my boo encourages us to all work on our earthquake plans at THIS website, and I can't help but wonder where the Newsom Family emergency rendezvous location is.
(The Spotswood Family's' was at the fire hydrant down on the street below my parents' home, but that seems a little ridiculous now. I'm officially changing it to Spruce.)
Next, apparently the launch of some green thing was "too successful."
Oh, Gavin. How do you do it?
We cut away again (!), this time to the Mayor and some awkward-looking friends sitting at a folding table in front of what would appear to be Sunday Streets-style programmatic displays. How could this gripping panel not be successful?
Green finance is blowin' up!
Has anyone heard of the "fields program?" Not the fields medal. The fields program? Anyway, it's very important to the Mayor because people are spraining their ankles on the city's shitty fields.
What is the world coming to? Let's revitalize these fields, and let the ace bandage industry chips fall where they may. This is a "world class city." Sprained ankles are unacceptable.
I can't help but think, aren't we at war? I mean, peoples' lives are falling apart, folks sleep on sidewalks and someone just got raped/shot/beat. Is this leadership opportunity best spent on sprained ankles? I'm curious, that's all.
In the midst of all this, the Mayor calls the Board of Supervisors wise, which is very fair-weather friend if you ask me. They're brilliant if they support his greening idea. But otherwise the board is apparently a bunch of retards.
In other observations, the Mayor is working the hand jive pretty hard in this video, really expressing himself with his limbs. I found the whole thing exciting. He used, "y'all" and seemed in a pretty good mood the whole time, both pluses. Bonus points for the fancy editing. What with extensive body language, I give this week a solid B.
That being said, I don't know that you really need to watch the whole video right here...

Friday, April 16, 2010

i'll need a full report on monday...

What is UP, Weekened? There's actually a ton of shit going on this weekend. Check it out RIGHT HERE...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

come here often...

I recounted a rather embarrassing experience to my mother, who thinks it's the funniest thing she's ever heard. Perhaps you'll enjoy it as well. I, on the other hand, need to stop typing every few seconds to cover my face in embarrassment.
My flight from Atlanta to San Francisco on Monday was late at night. We left Savannah at 10pm, and I was smack dab in the middle of our plane in my standard window seat. Next to me was a United States Marine who was flying home to surprise his family, whom he hadn't seen in a year. And next to him was a gorgeous young woman who promptly fell asleep.
The plane was very dark as we flew across the country. Everyone was either fast asleep or watching the little TV screens on the backs of the chairs in front of them. Very few people had their reading light on and of course, it was pitch black outside. 2 hours into the flight, midnight Atlanta time, I tried to fall asleep. I was wildly uncomfortable, I felt gross and cramped. But my whole row had fallen asleep and there was no way I was going to wake up this American hero so I could stretch by the bathrooms.
The Marine, by the way, was Filipino with very big muscles. He sat in that center seat with his feet square on the floor and his hands in his lap, as I imagine he'd been trained to do. And he looked a lot like my burrito buddy, Big Chris. Also, I'd like to point out, I've spent most of my life travelling with my brother. Flights of any real length have historically been spent next to Alex, and we're used to taking care of each other as we travel.
Ugh. Okay. Here goes.
So with everyone on that plane asleep and finding myself stuck, really in my cramped window seat, I balled my Windbreaker up into a pillow and tried to rest. I slipped in and out of consciousness for about an hour, and when I woke up, the man next to me had shifted forward, resting his elbows on his tray table and sleeping with his head in his face.
In my haze, confusion and general disorientation, the man next to me seemed like Big Chris or my brother. His presence felt very familiar and the poor guy was uncomfortably trying to sleep on his elbows.
I reached over and lovingly scratched his back.
I know. I know, I know, I know.
The second I did it, I woke the fuck up and realized that I just molested a United States Marine somewhere over Kansas. The Marine sat right up, unsure of what happened and looked over at me.
"Oh my God." I whispered. "I thought you were my brother."
I started laughing a little, out of sheer horror and shock at what I'd done. The Marine didn't say anything, but sat back in his chair and stared straight ahead. And then we sat like that for another 2 or 3 hours. I have no idea how long it was. It fucking felt like 10...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

things i learned the hard way, part 927...

My flight from Savannah to Atlanta was on a plane made sometime during the Truman Administration. The seats were huge and the overhead space was like a glove compartment. You couldn't fit a basketball in there. I don't know why they even bothered.
I travel with a gigantic Timbuk2 bag Big Chris gave me. (Yep. Big Chris once gave me something!) This bag is really big. It can hold a week's worth of outfits or a small adult. And I'm really pushing my luck trying to carry this thing onto a transcontinental, double-decker 777, much less the flight of Bagger Vance.
As they boarded each "zone" or group, I noticed the woman scanning tickets told anyone with a rolling carry-on suitcase she'd have to take it. Literally everyone got a little pink ticket and seemed fine with it, their luggage going off to God knows where. My bag was over my shoulder, so on the plane it went. As I crossed into the cabin, the flight attendant greeting me announces in a Jamaican accent, "Dat bag not gonna fit. If it don't fit, you gonna have to take it back to the gate."
I looked down the aisle. Dat bag not gonna fit.
"Should I just give it to you now?"
"I'm not takin' dat bag from you! You got to take it to the gate yourself."
I should've just turned around and left my bag with all the others. But put on the spot and with a crowd behind me, I walked back to my seat, the bag banging all of the chairs as I went. I looked like an idiot trying to squeeze that bag into the tiny overhead compartment. I might as well been trying to shove a cello in there. It was ridiculous.
I had no choice but to give up and wait for everyone to board, while sitting on my bag, hunched over in my row. In the midst of the big, impatient line of people was my seatmate. This 20-something and her Marc Jacons bag had the aisle seat while I had the window, but me and my bag were taking up our row and then some. Silently, she indicated her seat.
The bag and I stood back in the main aisle to let her in.
"Hi." I sighed, exasperated. "I've got to run this thing to the front once everyone boards, so could you just scoot over to the window for a second until I can?"
She sat down in the aisle seat. My bag and I were blocking dozens of people from getting to their seats. My embarrassment was turning into panic. "I'm so sorry, but can you please just scoot over so I can let these folks by?"
She kind of leaned her body a little towards the window. I needed me and this bag out of the way and she gives me a lean. All the while, this group of people stuck in the aisle grew impatient and confused. "Seriously." I hissed, "Can you PLEASE just scoot over, just for a minute, so I can let these people pass?"
This bitch has the nerve to scooch a couple of inches over and extend her head a little more towards the window. She was now basically laying down on both of our seats. A hundred eyes are on us. In my fluster and panic, I screamed out, "Nope? No? Not gonna happen?"
I was surprised that I actually yelled that out loud but it worked. Without looking up, she moved into my window seat, let me place my massive bag on her seat and I crawled on top of it.
Everyone walked by as we refused to look at each other. As soon as the last person passed me, I ran forward with my bag, knocking the heads and shoulders of those in front of me.
With that, Ms. Employee of the Month announces over the PA system, "We now prepare for take-off."
"Wait! Wait!"
I was that lady. I'd officially become that lady. "I need to give them my bag."
With a knowing smile, she let me out the door, onto the gangplank where an orange-vested woman from the ground crew was taking all of the bags belonging to those who were lucky enough to avoid my public humiliation. "I need to give you this!"
She took the bag, handed me a pink ticket and said, "This is one hell of a bag, honey."
I re-boarded the plane, marched back to my seat and there my seatmate was, back in her aisle seat buckled in and staring at her tray table.
"Thank you so much." I sighed. "Ugh, I'm so sorry. What an ordeal."
Livid, she unbuckled herself, stood up and moved forward into the main aisle, as opposed to the standard stepping back to let someone in. I had to shimmy around her, forced to demonstrate again just what a big, obnoxious problem traveller I was. I was tempted to turn to the back of the plane and address the crowd. "Have you been watching this? Anyone? A little help here? Unbelievable."
But one of the few benefits I've discovered in my advanced age is that what I'd heard was true. I just didn't give a shit anymore. I pulled out my magazine and was over my little production pretty quickly, even though I had my mortal enemy sitting next me. Deplaning in Atlanta, a crowd had formed in the middle of the gangplank and I quickly figured out it was for those of us who'd had out luggage taken at the gate.
Oh balls, how long's this gonna take?
Five minutes! Before I knew it, a big metal door opened and there was our luggage, stacked on shelves. I jumped forward, grabbed that cursed bag, threw it over my shoulder and was off.
On that one-hour flight across Georgia, I learned three valuable lessons:
1) Don't even bother checking your luggage. Just take it to the gate and claim you didn't realize how big it is. It's practically concierge service, and much, much quicker. Also, Delta's "zone" system is bullshit. Sick of being the last to board in zone 4, I dove into zone 2 on one of my flights to see what would happen. Nothing!
2) Apparently acting like a fucking idiot is a terrific way to embarrass someone.
3) That lady on the airplane doesn't care what you think of her. You can sit and fume the whole flight, staring at her and re-living her scene from earlier. I certainly have many, many times before. But now I know. She's doing what she has to do to get from A to B. This is coach domestic air travel. It's survival of the fittest. She might be red in the face for a moment, but what needs to happen is going to happen. Trust me. I am Beth Spotswood and I am that lady...

(*Speaking of travel, TK and his wife are running around the mid-Atlantic right now and I've been enjoying their reports.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

there is, however, no wifi...

Hey y'all!
I'm visiting my Uncle Bill in Savannah, Georgia through the weekend. And mah gahd, these folks have accents. My Uncle Bill's lived down here for 8 years. He paints, he talks to strangers, he's really into his dog. And so this year for my birthday, my folks hooked me up with a flight to the Deep South.
I left SFO long before dawn, and my flight to Atlanta was boring, but uneventful. I read every single word of last month's Vanity Fair, watched a Cold Case Files and whaddaya know? I was in Georgia.
Atlanta's airport requires one to take a tram everywhere, and this is really fine with me. After all, I'm in constant training for my big break on the Amazing Race. But my uncle doesn't have kids, and he doesn't think of me being old. As far as he was concerned, his 12 year old niece was earning her Delta wings in the big scary airport.
Bill kept calling and I kept reassuring him. "It's fine. Everything's fine. I've just got to catch my connecting flight so I need to get off the...yeah. I know where to go. It's...I can do this. Really. I've flown domestically before."
I made my way to Gate T07 and waited to board. I always request a window seat, not because I care about views. But because I hate it when folks shimmy past me. I'd rather be the shimmier and have them hate me. And there, in the aisle seat of this tiny plane, was my gigantic, chatty seatmate. I generally feel like the biggest person ever to live, and this sweet woman dwarfed me significantly. I both loved and hated it.
I shimmied past her and into my seat.
"Are you from Savannah?!?!" She gushed, smiling at me as our arms and asses got to know each other.
Oh. Terrific. A talker.
"Nope. Visiting."
She took the hint and read her big Savannah guidebook. I stared out the window wondering if Atlanta's wind and rain might prove a problem.
"Hay there folks, this is yur pah-lit..." It became clear we'd have a little bit of a wait. I called my Uncle Bill, and explained the weather situation. He took the news relatively well, but I realized I'd opened myself up.
"So you called your friend?"
"My uncle."
"You're visiting your uncle?"
"Where are you from?"
"San Francisco."
And we were off! I know everything about her. I know about her kid, her 22nd anniversary dinner (she missed it), her husband, her hobbies, her career (from which she retired 4 years ago), her carry-on bag that she made (including pockets for the absolute necessities) and that she loves Tootsie Rolls.
Before we got to anything really good (like abortions or dead ex-husbands) we were cleared for take-off and my headphones went on faster than she could say, "I'm allergic to peanu..."
Our 37 minute flight from Atlanta to Savannah was incredibly turbulent, something I do not handle well. I tend to grab the seat in front of me, close my eyes, and suddenly find the Lord.
"It's like a roller coaster!!!"
Tootsie Roll was trying to comfort me, but I didn't want comfort. I didn't want to make friends. I just wanted to get there alive.
Savannah moves slow. Really slow. I've been in a hurry all week, wrapping up my shit so I could sneak out for 4 days and suddenly, trying to order a venti with a double shot at the Savannah airport was a 15 minute process, involving anecdotes and rhetorical questions asked aloud.
Bill was standing on the curb and whisked me off to his home, past stately mansions and scenes from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. When he pointed out Forrest Gump's bench, I finally relaxed and started to enjoy myself.
Bill home is gorgeous! I mean it. It's surprisingly funky. In an adorable neighborhood with the standard Spanish moss hanging from every tree, there's a screened in porch and a themed bathroom. Every wall is a different, bold color and beautifully framed art hangs from every open surface. Even doors hold framed vintage photographs of my grandparents or guilded old paintings I vaguely recall from my childhood. Rugs and sculptures and's all very thought-out and history-filled.
Folks just kinda started showing up as we arrived from the airport. Bill's planned a big party on Saturday night and a young preppy couple stood in front of the house. "Y'all want any barbecue for Saturday?"
A tattooed woman in funky glasses emerged from the porch. "Hey! You're back! Sorry, I just swung by to see where y'all were sitting at the baseball game tonight."
I cleaned myself up and sat with Bill on that popular porch, waving hello to every single person that walked past. It's just like a movie, this charming neighborhood and all these people in their faded khaki shorts and flip flops and accents.
I luxuriate in ecstasy at these heavenly accents.
Bill's next door neighbor, Gene came by to apologize for "missin' Saturday" and mentioned that his band would be 'ovah latah' for practice. Gene would be terrific cast as the unemployed, disbarred and salty best friend in a John Grisham movie.
Four of Bill's friends were over for the minor league baseball game at 7. We walked the 50 steps from Bill's porch to the ballpark and settled into our seats with boiled peanuts and people-watching far better than any sport I've seen. The Savannah Sand Gnats were playing the West Virginia Power, and by the 5th inning, it had started to rain. We ran back to Bill's place with Brian and Amy, a very friendly and funny couple and talked until the rain let up. Around 11, Bill popped out onto his porch as crowds of people migrated from his little neighborhood across the park to the stadium.
"What's the score?" Bill called out to them.
"Sco-ah? It's ain't ovah! The game's back on!"
Someone else shouted, "Par-tay!"
It seriously, truly, really exactly like the movie here.
I'm all set up in Bill's painting studio, he's purchased more Diet Coke than I've ever seen in my life and I can hear thunder and raindrops and Gene's band.
Oh, yeah. And it's midnight...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

no light saber for you...

Today's Culture Blog is UP! Check out my first foray into the wonderful world of comic book conventions, complete with the Soup Nazi! What? Just read/watch it...

Monday, April 05, 2010

you know. like health care...

Speaking of building this city on rock and roll, my very awesome friend Art sent me these photos of San Francisco's Embarcadero before the 1989 Earthquake.I pointed out that while I knew a freeway blocked what is now a glorious, high-end, tasteful boulevard of dreams, I couldn't really remember what it looked like. What a fucking dump!
So ruined by the earthquake, the freeway had to be torn down to great controversy. Seriously. People were PISSED. I mean, really. How could you tear down this beautiful, convenient, totally necessary freeway?
I take this as an example of a very good lesson. I am learning that sometimes, very well intentioned people who have lots of facts and seem very confident and knowledgable are, how do you say, fucking wrong. And you should just do it anyway...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

i certainly wasn't driving to mendocino...

Tonight around my folks' dinner table, my family and friends enjoyed a heated debate over the official answer to the question, "Where are you from?" My mom's brother Ted, who was born in San Francisco, grew up in Burlingame, spent the vast majority of his adulthood in Mendocino County and now lives in Utah claims he is from "Mendocino."
The rest of us think he's from Burlingame.
Actually, I think he's from Mars.
I just drove home, from where I grew up in Mill Valley to my flat in the city, heading across the Golden Gate Bridge, through town in the rain.
And I am from San Francisco.
If anyone in the world had been on that drive with me tonight, they'd be from San Francisco too. The city's lit up and shiny tonight, it's crisp and clean and cold. Hardly any cars were on the roads and everything felt like mine. Every corner had a memory and every song on the radio suddenly seemed to apply.
I was just driving by myself, bundled up with the window down, thinking about my day and my family and my friends and my life. And I was driving home...

Friday, April 02, 2010

i'm going to get audited...

Much to my chagrin, I am appallingly poor. Which is why I need my burrito buddy, Big Chris to do my taxes. A former accountant, Chris mocks my income while providing me with a condescending learning experience. All he requires as payment is one (1) roast chicken and/or one (1) super chicken burrito, one (1) carnitas taco, unlimited cans of Bud Lite and a five (5) minute neck and shoulder massage (no happy ending) while he selects one (1) pay-per-view movie.
He's cheaper than Turbo Tax.
After completing various federal and state forms, Chris and I headed down to Pop's for some pops. We discussed "life and shit" for an appropriate amount of time and headed home to watch Sherlock Holmes, making our way past the raucous religious events exploding from the unmarked doorways of 24th street.
As we approached Bryant Street, I noticed a dog tied to a parking meter and next to it, a huge pile of barf, poo or a combination thereof. Passing it, I grabbed Chris' arm. "Oh my God, Chris! Look!"
Human contact caused Chris to jump, causing the dog to go ballistic, causing me to scream, causing an old man sitting in the window of the restaurant to start banging on said window, causing Chris to scream. If you were within the City and County of San Francisco at 10 pm last night, you probably heard something weird.
That was us.
The whole sequence of events set me off. I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing so hard, I couldn't move, trapping Chris in my "death grip" and stuck on the disgusting sidewalk as "the hounds of hell" tried to eat us alive.
I was less afraid of the dog and vomit/shit and much more afraid of this old fart slamming his fists against the window of a filthy Chinese restaurant at us. He was screaming something I couldn't discern over Chris' admonitions. I'm really curious to know what his problem was, as he seemed perfectly fine when I went back after our escape to take the following picture:

Do you see it? The shit/vomit/internal organ/scoop of stuffing from Lefty O'Doul's? Yeah. What the fuck is that...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

oh yeah. they're all in wheelchairs...

Actually, I will be at Wondercon this weekend. Ray and I are going to head down there and try to interview some attendees! So please swing by and say hi if you and your mom are attending...