San Francisco. Steep hills, lights, cafes. A cool breeze from the bay. This was our second visit to Frisco within a year and this time it was no less memorable. We sat around in parks and watched the myriad personalities perform. We checked out the Beat Museum and learned more about Kerouak, Burroughs, Ginsberg and those guys. We ate great food and browsed hip thrift stores. Yup, San Francisco is a cool place- but it is an expensive place and also one of the more stressful cities on the planet to park a car in (try squeezing into a compact spot sideways on a 60 degree uphill).
Despite its many wonders, the best part of visiting SF this time was being able to reconnect with some good friends, whom we hadn’t seen for a long time. We stayed with fellow Framingham State alumni, Lindsay and Roger, who had just moved into a new pad in the North Beach neighborhood. Lindsay had previously lived in the Mission for almost a year and already had a job at Golden Boy Pizza, which we got to sample and thoroughly enjoy- killer veggie pesto pizza! Roger, on the other hand, had just boldly migrated from the east coast with naught but his collection of musical instruments and one pair of snazzy but well worn shoes. Since Rog (Rodge) didn’t yet have a job, he was free to explore the city with us. Our first night in the city was awesome- good friends and many laughs. We also met up with Jae, another Framingham friend of old (and darkroom buddy), and we all went up to the rooftop of Lindsay and Roger’s aptartment to watch the sunset before a delicious and odorous dinner at the Stinking Rose, a restaurant with a fetish for all things garlic. We all woke up the next morning with death breath, but it was worth it. Jae most honorably bought our dinner and he had earlier found us a parking spot when we were about to do ourselves in out of frustration, so he earned MVP of the evening. He was hilarious as he ever was with his deadpan sense of humor and scathing wit. He seemed to be happy with a new lady in his life and genuinely happy to see us. We sat at the Stinking Rose thinking how funny it was that five kids from Framingham State College had randomly convened in one place on the west coast. We talked of old professors, particularly Bob Alter, a legend and mentor to us all.
The next day we spent some time in the Castro for Jae’s birthday and indulged in a little ice cream and people watching at Dolores Park. It was really awesome to spend some time with Jae and his really sweet girlfriend Jenny. Oddly enough the world can some times be a small place and we saw a familiar face – Kevin O’Connell – a friend of old from the Cape who we hadn’t seen in quite some time that had recently just moved to SF. Later we went with Roger over to Berkeley to see yet another FSC pal, Sean, who is living the bohemian dream. Sean has seemingly forsaken nearly all worldly comforts, save beer and cigarettes, and has been residing in a tiny, tiny little closet of a room, living cheaply in order to concentrate fully on his music. He could be a character plucked from The Dharma Bums in that his priorities are so attuned that he is willing to go without all that is superfluous-a totally simplified life dedicated completely to his creative drive. Very admirable. Sean’s asceticism has been paying off. Whilst we were all hanging out, Sean took me aside and asked me if he could show me a new song he’d recorded. I followed him to his room/cell, which literally had enough space for only the typewriter on one side and the stereo on the other. No bed. No chair. nothing. He plugged in headphones, hit play on the 8-track recorder, and left the room. The music was layered and sophisticated, but made cohesive by an apparent passion and care. Definitely his finest work. I felt honored and inspired to be standing in this humble room listening to such a labor of love and felt that I was given a chance to see Sean more closely. Later, Sean’s roommates began a little jam session in the living-room and eventually every one of us had an instrument in hand and was playing along. Jess played a fine tambourine and I percussed on some cookware. Check out Roger & Sean’s band, The Bright Hours & Sean’s music, The Lotus Moons.
Our last day in the city we spent poking around town with Roger and we eventually settled back at the apartment when Lindsay got home from work. Lindsay made a delectable baked rigatoni dish and we had some wine while Roger played some tunes on his guitar. Like Sean, Roger has been focussing full throttle on his music and you can tell. Since our days playing together in Framingham, Roger has improved immensely. His guitar chops are formidable and his voice is powerful. He showed us some new material of his own that he had recently recorded and we were blown away. After dinner we chilled out and laughed a lot. It was really great to have a place to kick up our heels while we were in the city and even better to hang out with some good friends.