Here I am getting my Homer Simpson on in Chester on a Saturday morning reminiscing on my trip to the Left Coast last weekend. From ‘Frisco and Oaktown one weekend to Chester the next – another “reality is a bitch” moment brought to you by “all good things gotta eventually come to an end”.
Anyways, my trip to the Left Coast was like butter (a good thing). It was my 1st time out on the Left Coast – and I loved it. The entire trip started out with me and my cousin arriving in late on Wednesday night at the San Francisco Airport. We hurried over to a Mexican joint in Alameda (La Pinata) and grabbed some grub before it hit midnight (because I fast on Thursdays). The next morning, I woke up and took an early morning jog around a lake my sister lives about 2 minutes away from. My sister and her husband (it still feels weird saying that) live in Oakland across the bay from San Francisco. So, later that morning, me and my cousin from the Armpit of NYC (Jersey City) headed out to get our penitentiary on and go visit Alcatraz. Alcatraz itself was so-so, but it’s one of those things that you have to go see for yourself, even if you may leave feeling slightly disappointed. Nevertheless, it was cool being inside such an infamously known maximum security prison.
Later that day, we met up with a friend of my sister who we had met during the wedding. Now this girl, her name is Mel, is a cool Asian cat. She showed us a lot of love during the wedding and did the same during our trip to ‘Frisco. I find it kind of odd that two of the cooler females I’ve met over the past few years are fwied wice. Go figure.
Anyways, Mel took us to the epicenter of hipsters and independent minded folks in ‘Frisco: the Haight-Ashbury area. For those that are familiar with Little 5 Points in Atlanta, this area was an amplified version of that. I couldn’t help but feel like I was traversing through the streets of Euclid and Moreland again. In general, the entire city of San Francisco reminds me of a large ass midtown with slightly less bourgeois people. In general, I feel like the people of the Bay Area are laid back and a little more rough around the edges. I know that sounds like a diss, but it isn’t. A lot of the people dress like regular folks and not like every minute of their life is a fashion show. Overall, people didn’t appear too pretentious out there. I like that.
Anyways, after doing a little shopping and even less purchasing, we headed back to meet my sister and my brother-in law for dinner at a Burmese joint in Alameda. The food and the samosa soup was good, but unfortunately, the soup didn’t live up to the monumental hype (mostly my mom and sis talking my ear off about how bomb it is). Although, we did have a tea leaf salad that was beyond the scope of delicious.
The next day, we headed over to an old naval base in Alameda where a vodka tasting was being done in an old naval hangar now used to produce Hangar One Vodka. For like 10 bucks, they let you taste about 10 different Vodkas and some Absinthe. For those who have never had Absinthe, it isn’t for the taste intolerant. It has an OVERWHELMING taste of licorice (or for my brown folks out there, it literally tastes like a concentrated dose of valyari). That evening, after munching on some homemade paninis, we went to a biergarten in downtown ‘Frisco called Zeitgeist. Now, my friend, that place was flippin’ poppin’. It was a small bar that opened up to an outdoor garden (more like an outdoor cafeteria) where people could sit down on elongated benches and sip on foreign brewskis they couldn’t even pronounce. You have got to LOVE that!
I could even discern the faint scent of that fie fie, that sticky icky, that ooh wee, that green scattered throughout the joint. The garden was packed with at least a hundred folks. We took turns buying rounds of Franziskaner (German beer) while I sipped on my disproportionately strong crown and coke. That night ended with me grabbing a slice of pizza at a place called Cable Car Pizza and talking to a guy who was oddly enough from the same suburb in Illinois (Schiller Park) as my ex-girlfriend was. Small world I tell ya, small world. We even had a pseudo argument about which pizza was better: NYC or Chicago. I sided with my newfound friend from the Chi while my cousin obviously sided with the Big Apple. I mean, really, how in the world can pizza get any better than the deep dish you can find in the Windy City? Really, am I even discussing this?
We hit up Sonoma Valley the next day for wine tasting. Sonoma Valley is the lesser known and lesser commercialized valley of the two major vine valleys in the Bay Area (Napa being the other). We went to about 3 or 4 different vineyards there (Kenwood being the cheapest and therefore my favorite). Every vineyard we went to, we encountered a bachelorette party. Apparently men like to go to strip clubs for their bachelor’s parties and women like to go on wine tours for theirs. Certainly seems appropriately obvious enough, huh?
After the wine tour, we headed back to the city to catch a poetry slam at the San Francisco Opera House. I had not been to a poetry slam in a very long time, but that one was amazing. It was a youth poetry competition to select who would represent the Bay Area in the national competition – so everyone was under the age of 20. These were some talented teenagers. I was absolutely floored by how creative they were and how well they presented their poems. It was crazy. I have got to go to more spoken word events and stuff like that in the A. My cousin wasn’t too into the slam before we went, but he was raving about it afterwards.
There was one poet who I particularly liked. Most of the poets talked about serious issues like the war and the ‘hood, but this one cat waxed poetically about nonsensical stuff in a witty and humorous way. It wasn’t as if his poems were lyrical genius, but the way he delivered his poems was unique and it definitely played to the audience. Another poet that I liked was this girl who wrote about writer’s block. There was a line that she said, something that went like “I want to feel it…I want to eat it…digest it…shit it out…and…WHAT’S THAT SMELL?! IT!!” . She was talking about trying to find an idea that would solve her writer’s block. It was great stuff.
The next day we had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (Cafe Colucci I think) near the infamous Colby House (where it seems like my sister, her husband, and seemingly all of their friends have lived in at one point or another). I love Ethiopian food – and this place offered more vegetarian options than I’ve ever seen at an Ethiopian restaurant.
Oh yeah, one other thing I want to mention before I forget. The people in the Bay Area are EXTREMELY environmentally conscious. Not only that, but there are a TON of vegetarians out there. I have never in my life had so many veggie options to choose from at restaurants – I LOVED it. Everybody is tofu fighting and soy swashbuckling out there. Let me reiterate, I LOVED it. That is my kind of town. We went to one veggie place near Berkeley called “Herbivore” where I ordered a potato soy pie, my sister ordered a lentil pie, and my brother in-law ordered a veggie kebab. And people say the only way to heaven is by praying…
We even ate at a veggie joint in Sonoma Valley that had silverware that was made out of potatoes, which are apparently extremely biodegradable and therefore environmentally friendly. I mean, you couldn’t actually eat your fork and spoon once you were done using them, but that would’ve been cool. That would’ve popped my top off completely.
Another thing, no one in the Bay Area calls San Francisco ‘Frisco. Folks were looking at me like security looks at brown folks at the airport. But, like I told all them folks out there, I’m bringing it back. Oh yeah, and instead of San Francisco, I started calling it Subtle ‘Frisco, because the food tasted so subtle to me out there. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but the flavors of the food in the Bay Area were not very bold. You had to let the food marinate in your mouth just long enough to discern the different flavors.
Anyways, I even got to eat a crepe for the first time since I went to the City of Lights a few years back. It was great – even though I wasn’t really feeling the eggplant in it.
Man, I’ve written SO MUCH about my trip, yet I probably haven’t even touched on HALF of the stuff I did and the great moments I shared with my sister, my brother in law, and my cousin. I’ve vowed to myself not to ramble on too often incessantly, so I will end this post the way I began it: reminiscing on the Left Coast. Did I have to come back???