At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

LIFE IN THE BICYCLE LANE

Since acquiring another computer, I now sit on the left side of the teevee room table. Which means my point of view is entirely different. For one thing, instead of looking at the tall bookcases with the anthropological stuff, foreign language dictionaries, and tins of McClelland tobaccos and Smoker's Haven, what I see is the two shorter bookcases with obscure Sinitica, Rashi's Torah commentary, pirates, Bernard Maybeck, and The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet, by Georgius Everhardus Rumphius. Plus MacBaren (various mixtures) and many of my own blends.

My apartment mate still uses the computer on the right side.

We are presently a five computer house-hold.

The internet changed everything.

Definitely better.


Personally, I don't like change that much. It's good, and gradual enough while it happens, but then you look at your most recent passport photo and go "oh sh*t I'm old! I look like a fart!"


The nightclub on the corner became a super-busy singles bar in the last month. Like the nearby grocery store, the Red Devil Lounge had been a fixture of the neighborhood for many years, then within a span of mere months of each other they closed. One possible conclusion: music fans like vegetables.
Either that or they buy insta-noodles before listening to garage bands.

The noise from the super-busy singles bar is staggering, and it's only insane chatter, no music. From half a block away you can follow idiot conversations word for word wether you want to or not.
It's called Harper & Rye, by the way.
Crowded, loud, designer-rustic.
I have not been inside.



Sure, I like drinking holes. I grew up in Northern Europe, where the neighborhood cafe is the public living room, and all classes end up visiting the local alehouse, except for the constipated arch-Calvinists who disapprove of pleasure and public cheerfulness.
Not going is for anti-social types.
I am VERY social!

Evenso, the places I prefer are generally peaceful. No loud music, no roaring mobs, no wild dancing or sports, and no public rutting. The only reason to visit a bar is to dawdle for an hour or two while enjoying a good conversation, or a book.

There were bars in Valkenswaard where one went specifically to read the newspapers or the novels along the wall. There was a long reading table, brightly lit, with a rack down the centre holding several issues of all the dailies including two or three German ones and a French feuilleton, plus magazines in Dutch, German, and English.
Tall ceilings and a fan, so the smoke could rise.
Coffee, shot of jenever, ashtray.
Stay a while; it's quiet.

Places like that could not possibly survive in San Francisco. The rent is too high, and all those shallow consumerite MidWestern e-yuppies would trash them in no time.


Often, after school, I would go to any one of the cafes that rimmed the market square, and wile away an hour or two reading on the terrace under the long deep awning. Even if it rained in summer, the lights that were then lit alleviated the darkness sufficiently, and the water never reached that far. One could observe the streets from one's shelter, grey-hazy through the downpour, with bicyclists calmly wheeling past, holding umbrellas over their heads with one hand.

A hint of smoke would drift out from the bowels of the cafe -- elderly farmers probably talking about goats -- and odours of grass and fresh green things would meld with the ever-present fragrance of the cigar-factories that, in that day, still dominated the town and its commerce.
Of course I drank coffee while sitting there.
No alcohol before evening.
Moderation.

I still like dawdling over warm beverages, some things just don't change. But white Americans are a very loud bunch, and coffee shops are barely any quieter than singles bars and yuppie dives. And out of the question besides; all the caffeinated beverages are hoity toity barrista specialties made with low-fat non-dairy milk-like health-product, vanilla-hazelnut syrup, and responsibly farmed free-trade beans from deep within a Guatamalan insane asylum. In tall, grande, venti, and trenta format.
Starry bunkum or its karmic equivalent.
Served by snooty pimplers.
Mega hip.

Pretentious Bohemian types with attitude get my goat.
As do beatniks and faux-intellectuals.


At present there's a small tray with a cup of regular coffee to the left of me, on a stack of books. An ashtray is on a shorter stack, kind of out of sight; it's in reserve for those days when I am in the house, and my apartment mate is at work.
This place is rather messy, but it's nice and peacefull.
There are no party blondes or programmers.
Nor boozy business majors.
No noise.



In another two hours I shall be on my way to Marin, where for the rest of the day cigar smoke will surround me. By the time I return to San Francisco, I will have drunk several cups of tea, and smoked three or four bowls of tobacco. I won't have been anywhere near tofu, e-yuppies, or designer beverages.

Tomorrow, in mid-afternoon, I'll have a snack in Chinatown.
I'll watch the chess players in Portsmouth Square.
Pigeons crapping from the eaves.
Plus wild parrots.
Crows.


I seldom look at my most recent passport photo.
Instead I prefer to think that nothing changed.
It happened so gradually I didn't notice.




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