Sunday, August 05, 2018


There are evenings when I wish to enjoy some tobacco. But my apartment mate is a very nice non-smoker, who this year particularly is bothered by allergies and respiratory distress, and consequently the open street beckons. During summer in San Francisco the open street at night can be cold and windy, and I am not as resilient as I once was.

When I was in my twenties, full of piss, and often undressed.

Please don't mentally picture that.

After ten I sometimes head out with a pipe.
Peace and quiet are in order.
Perhaps whisky.


They both look like they need a little reaming. I left with a pouch of aged Virginia (smidgeon of Perique), one pipe in my mouth, one extra briar in the right-side coat pocket. Both Petersons, one older than I am. At the bar was a very drunken black man. Whom I know. Possibly despondent because his cousin had passed away recently, whom I also knew. He has my complete sympathy, I likewise regret the passing of a brilliant man who had wit, compassion, and talent. Both men moved to California long ago.
But I am not capable of being very human.
So I said some kind words.....
And went outside.

Several potheads a little distance away were mumbling indistinctly, three people nearby were talking about first memories. The woman from New Zealand was recalling when she was four, and the wall in a house her family had moved into was being taken down. Among my earliest memories is wanting a band-aid because Tobias (my older brother) had one, my dad painting his initials (W.E.M.) on a moving crate while I could not escape (child-proof barrier), and a storm somewhere in the North Sea near Norway. Several memorable moments after that, there was the time I got into trouble at grammar school because I mapped out the human urinary system.
Very symmetrical, with mirrored images.
In second grade.

One man holding his privates wandered past. Then another doing the same. Followed ten minutes later by a small scholarly woman with spectacles and a neat bouncy pony tail. Who probably had nothing to do with the men clutching their testicles. Testicles are very reassuring.
By then I was having my second Scotch.
And enjoying the second bowl.

We all miss Lovalle.
He was a good man.

When I got home I fixed myself another Scotch and water. It was too early to go to bed. Not even twelve.


Bitter cold. The end of July is proving itself as lovable as a hagfish. I had to go back inside for an extra sweater over the one I was wearing, and relight my pipe once I got out again.

This blend will absolutely require another batch: approximately three percent Perique, mostly aged red. Delightful, once it settled down. Mixing with the Louisiana leaf requires a week for everything to stabilize.

It may trigger passers-by. But there are very few of them after midnight, and either they are plugged-up, or potted. Some are both. A driver for Uber cruises slowly past, going the wrong direction on a one-way street.
Which is not confidence-inspiring.

Two people walking, animatedly in conversation. Woman: "I nearly killed myself because she wouldn't have sex with me". Now that right there is a lousy concept, and utterly ridiculous! If I killed myself because of all the people who haven't had sex with me, I'd be a right mess now.
My teenage years would have been horrid.
But you, okay then.

A delicate whisp trails over the rim, and slowly dissipates, leaving a ghost of a fragrance. Despite not being able to feel my toes, coming out was worth it. Who needs toes anyway? Hah, let them freeze.

I hope the tobacco nazis rot indoors.


Spofford Alley is newly paved, very clean looking, and nearly rat-free. Which is sad. There had been a lively colony living there when it was still torn-up and filled with holes in the ground. It was quite impassible for garbage trucks and trash bins, and the human residents would drag their sacks to either end. Which, of course, sustained the rats.

I rather like the new surface of Spofford. Regular paving bricks, grey, rows. The weird short pillars placed along the sides to prevent parking don't really work for me. I suspect the residents are somewhat disdainful too. The rats are gone, and do not care. Except for one lively little fellow.

Later that evening I stepped out of a bar, and a block later decided I needed a taxi. No, I wasn't intoxicated, I was damn' well freezing. My circulation and my muscles just went wanky on me because of the wind.
Normally the bookseller and I walk home over the hill.
Not that night.

I lit up another pipe-full in the kitchen when I got home. There was no more Scotch left, so I had ginger tea instead. Probably better for me.


The night ended as it had started: with cheese. Earlier I had witnessed the spectacular public break-up of two winners; the successful golden people we should emulate. Which was on the public street, in full view of the lone pipesmoker out in the bitter cold and fog. San Francisco in summer tends toward frigidity, which benefits those of us who appreciate tobacco; the meanspirited anti-smoking puritans stay indoors.

Across the intersection a street person flapping a blanket stumbles past.
It may have been the same guy I to whom gave a long disquisition about Luxury Bullseye Flake the other night. To prevent him telling me anymore about his ex-girlfriend. Nobody wants to hear about his or anybody else's ex-girlfriend. The only exception to this is MY ex-girlfriend, who uses stuffed animals to speak for her and say outrageous things.

McClelland's No. 24 Virginia, after eleven years in a tin, is perfect for a night when there are droplets in the air, and spectacles refract light.
And a passing dog found the smoker fascinating.
I came back inside regretfully.


Last smoke of the evening: Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls in a blasted Canadian, outside the pub two streets away. With two shots of Scotch inside of me, the horrible pain from my right leg is no longer noticeable. Single malt is a marvelous anti-inflammatory. I am not surprised that the British took it wherever they went. Three drinks and I wouldn't feel my feet either, but I would be insensate at that point.

The tobacco smooths out the end of the day nicely. A young gentleman with a huge teddy bear on his shoulder strolls past, fog swirls around him. The trees halfway down the block are nearly faded into the silver haze. It isn't cold, but it's hard to imagine summer elsewhere in the state. Inland, the temperature has hit ninety or a hundred, but here at this time it is mid-fifties. And densely foggy. Perfect.

I've nearly finished the tin of Navy Rolls. Should I rub out the Dunhill Dark Flake for next week, or the extra tin of Cabbie's Mixture? Maybe simply rely on generic Danish blondes for the rest of the month.

Six hours ago, while puffing a Sumatra Corona on my front steps I saw Mr. Sieuw across the street with a cigarette. Both he and his wife smoke, though not inside on mahjong nights. There's probably a spread of Maccanese food for his friends. At around eleven o'clock I had the last of the Portuguese Chicken Rice I had prepared a day earlier (a Hong Kong interpretation of a classic from Macao). He and I should compare recipes; he probably has pointers. I simply dump extra hotsauce on it if it didn't turn out well and call it a day. My version probably isn't half as good as his.

After scooping out the ashes and unsmoked shreds I smell my finger tips. Perique. I go in and put the now empty glass on the counter, bid farewell, and head home. On the corner of my block a big bearded giant is hugging a shrimp of a man. Maybe I should have another smoke .....
GLP Fillmore in a GBD squat bulldog.
Later, on the steps.

Last night I was up too late, and did not get enough sleep. So I really should go to bed early. But I don't feel like it. At work I only smoked two and a half bowls, and I've swilled enough tea during the day that I'm wired to the tits.
And I really don't need the cup of coffee on the stack of books to my left, next to the chair. Strong coffee, one cardamom pod.

So yes, I'll probably head out in a little while to have a smoke.
I need to see if the black man has recovered yet.
Betcha he still looks bleary.


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