Sunday, October 07, 2012

we left work early friday afternoon.  a quick bite to eat, a brief outing for sophie the hound, and a change of clothes and we jumped into the prius, headed west on hwy 80 for oakland and a show.  the band: new order.  the venue: the fox theater located on telegraph ave. 

a million things were happening in the bay area this weekend, all at the same time.  the traffic predicted to be a circle of hell of such horror that dante could not have envisioned.  baseball and football games, castro street fair, a music festival in golden gate park, and fleet week attracted somewhere around two million visitors.  and so we left friday night around 4:15 pm.  we were prepared.

but no.  traffic was very close to next to nothing.  we made the carquinez bridge in no time.  we had about an hour to kill so we stopped in berkeley and did a little shopping on fourth street.  we bought a little doo-dad for nick at crate&barrell, a tool, a little tape measure, a thing that nick loves.  the name tag on the young woman ringing up my purchase was sappho.  a portent for the middle-aged poet buying a gift for his son, or the daughter of literary parents?  i don't know.  probably neither.  i was going to ask her about her name, did she know the work of the poet of the same name.  but then i decided against it.  it was time to go.

we got into oakland a few minutes later without incident.  that is. . .telegraph ave. was blocked off.  we could see orange cones and police cruisers with their lights on blocking the roads.  and thousands of people.  we thought: occupy protests?  oakland is ground zero for the still nascent movement.  instead it turned out that the occasion was a monthly street fair.  sac has its own monthly art and street fair held in midtown every second saturday of the month.  for oakland they do it on the first friday of the month. 

thousands of people.  food trucks.  people seeing and being seen.  and then there was the fox theater, a refurbished 1920s movie theater of moorish design.  a gorgeous building.  our seats for the show was in the noesbleed section.  it was okay.  the view afforded greater latitude of the stage, light show and the audience who were for the most part on the mobile devices either for part or all of the concert.  anna asked did any of us ever think of the future growing up that we would be welded to our own personal computers.  the rise of mobile devices and broadband internet is mind-boggling.  what did we do before these inventions existed.

omigod!  new order was fantastic.  played most of their famous 30 year plus catalog.  for the encore bernard summers mumbled something about joy division.  the band suddenly launched into 'atmosphere'.  i got chills.  then new order concluded their set with 'love will tear us apart'.  i can die a happy man.  seriously.  the ghost of ian curtis appearing on the stage to sing these songs could not have made the show better.

we got home around 12:30 am.  i was wide awake.  nick was staying with his grandmother.  i had a beer and turned on the tv.  i watched part of what looks like a magnificent john travolta vehicle a love song for bobby long [2004].  travolta is long, a poet and ex-professor, living with is ex-protege, another drunk in a dilapidated house in new orleans.  these reprobates lives are unmoored by the arrival of the daughter of the once-lover of long who passed away and who owned the house.  travolta is a dynamic, charismatic presence.  i have a soft-spot for louche intellects and travolta's long looks the part, white-hair, clear-eyed, keen mind, if more than bruised by hard knocks and hard liquor.  i fell asleep watching the flick and am looking forward to watching it in full.  there was a scene that had me on the floor with its measure of sweetness tarred with more than a bit of licentiousness.  long is riding a street car with his house mates.  a teenage couple are staring at long and giggling.  long charms the couple and says his face was broken.  he takes the girl's hand to his cheekbone.  the girl feels the broken bone.  long says, is my face so awful?  the girl says [bashfully], i think you are so handsome.  then long asks, are you two having intercourse?  aw man!  there was a sweetness to travolta's character that made the ickyness of his inquiry hospitable to our human foibles and waywardness.  it is singular mark of travolta's charisma and his character's obvious goodness that made me fall over laughing at that scene.

the weekend concluded with a trip to barnes&noble.  i wanted to get the october issue of rue morgue magazine, a horror publication that always has a bumper halloween edition.  the store hadn't stocked it yet.  i did what i usually do when i'm looking at magazines:  look for lit and art journals and movie pubs.  i picked up the newest poets&writers.  i am usually allergic to p&w.  too slickly professionally organized to the career of writing rather than a life in writing.  however i bought the issue because of a profile of poet larry fagin.  a wonderful piece and a couple of fine photos of the handsome 75 year old poet within the pages.

but what got in my craw was a piece by a novelist who works as a civil servant in the same issue.  the novelist compared his rather stable life to the bohemian life of geoff dyer.  which is the better choice, dyer's romantic stations or the civil servant's constancy?  there is no answer.  and our lives are rarely either/or.  i think the time of romantic bohemianism is long past the shine of its stereotype.  a life is a life.  no better or worse than any other.  if you choose one path over another don't bitch about it.  just go.  and do.  doubt comes with the life in writing.  whatever your path.  deal with it. 


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