San Francisco with Daniel Henkleingreenspun.com : LUSENET : Daily Tales : One Thread
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"Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you."
---Chinese Fortune Cookie, 5/25/2002
"Saturday " - San Francisco with Dan Heinklein
Dan responds to my request for SF suggestions:
If I was going to SF I'd go the the Sunset District. That's where I lived. I'd go to the neighborhood about 10(?) blocks from the ocean in the blocks near the "Sunset Super" (a funky old supermarket). Right in those blocks are the middle eastern coffee houses and bakerys I used to frequent. I worried about that neighborhood after 9/11. I love middle eastern food.
In the North Beach District is "Mayakadeh" [sic?], a Persian restaurant and one of my favorites. I'm not sure if you've spent much time in SF.
Golden Gate park isa MUST. My favorites are the TREE FERN forest on east end of park near the Haight. Go to the Japanese Tea House not far from there. Then, in west End of Park near the ocean you will see two lakes (or is in one?) on the map. There are fat-bottomed bald cypress there, growing roots in the water. That's afavorite spot.
Go to China Town and window shop for erotic netsuke. Go to the Haight and just Window shop. If you can find a pack of my favorite Egyptian cigarettes ("Simon Artz")in a tobacconist's there, buy one andsend it to me... Go to Noe Valley and find "Common Scents", the best source of supply for essential oil perfumes in the western hemisphere. Buy a small bottle of Tunisian Amber, wear itr and think of me...
Climb or drive to the summit of TwinPeaks and catch the TOTAL view of The City (which will always be New Yory for me primarily, though the term also applies to San Francisco).
Avoid Market street. See the Presidio. Go to Sutro Park, see Lincoln Park (but go escorted, its a WILD place). Go to the Cliff House below Sutro Park and put money in the old viewers. Go in the Camera Obscura there, a moving experience (especially for a half-blind man).
On Sunday Morning eat in the breakfast buffet at Cliff House if you can afford it ($30.00 now? BUT WORTH IT, really WORTH IT). Make reservations if you have to.
Go to Baker Beach and see where Burning Man began (before my time: I met Him, and Them, in Nevada).
Do it all and help me live vicariously. I do miss it although I have a new and different andvery promising life now.
Send me POSTCARDS.
Dan Henklein P.O.Box 96 Alpine TX 79831
That's what I'd do in San Francisco!
May the road rise up to meet your feet and the energy in your lower back rise up to meet your brain.
Paleoecology bibliography attached.
"Saturday " - San Francisco with Dan Heinklein
It's 11:15 on Saturday. I'm in the bed I'll sleep in tonight, typing up the postcard notes to you that I made throughout this very interesting, very pleasant afternoon and evening. I have a glass of 1999 Willamette Valley Late Harvest Riesling, Select, from ElkCove Vineyards - saved to mark a special time, and this is it. Over the bed is a print of Sternoclyta cyaneipectus - a totem of mine. I'm not surprised. It's been one of those days.
The notes aren't always fully contexted. They're written as a thought moved me, and then I follow a 'field notes procedure' to flesh them out with enough meaning to stand on their own as a thought, but not necessarily as an adequate description. The spaces in between are for other times, other questions and other notes...
Field Notes M.O.:
See. Notice. Notate small bits on sequenced pages; key phrases. Transcribe exactly. Edit for grammar - complete sentences, punctuation, clarity of thought. Reflect and elaborate for deeper meaning. Turn the notes into phrases. Extend the chords. Add dynamics and look for the story. Stop early enough. Final punctuation.
That's how you write a Cynthony.
Pretty simple, really.
I'm at the new Burning Man offices for the first Crafts Party for 2002 Center Cafe. Our job is to make lanterns. I like the vibe F2F. There's:
Marcia - a Nimue, raising the Sword of Art up from a lake of scrap.
Decor priestess. Amazing sense of systems and pattern and how it will all go together, happily, freely, uniquely, and hopefully not end up in the fence. I thought she was good with the math. She was quick on the calculating when we rolled out the painted groundcover from "Azteca" to get dimensions for the Cafe's footprint.
"Do you think everyone will know it's from Azteca?"
"And why not? How wonderful of them to donate this so that it can live another life!"
"Isn't that what the Burn is about?"
"Yes. There could be a Reincarnation List to acknowledge the donors of great things from past events - this gift from Azteca could be there, too."
Jordan - the Muscle
Opening the container, we find the Archives. Not the Azteca mat. It was his body mass, at just the right angle - "In and Down" we said; "In and Down" - that could press the lever hard enough to turn the metals securing the door of the wrong container. We went to the other container.
Dana - Center Cafe
She's warm, warm, warm like a tropic sun. Outside in the afternoon bright, with That Band on the flatbed playing a song that was still interesting to dance to (but would be played fifty more times after that, and only be tolerable when heard barely under Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon"), Dana was moved by strange forces to roll about Azteca's glyphic cosmogram and assume the first-layer-of-Playa-Dust position.
Marcia reminds us to wash up after connecting so intimately with god-knows-what sorts of biological organization in various states of decomposition on the floor of that revelling Azteca mat, and I reflect on the vector of Burning Man as a nexus for infection - viral, memetic, energetic - connection, and I contemplate the difference between the "in", the entrance, the penetration of the one and the "con", the with, the alongside of the other.
Rebecca makes extremely, very, incredibly, wonderfully, exquisitely good cookies.
Heather - "Camera Girl"
"You'll see two legs and a camera and a very little costume in between." I ask her about the white board in the meeting room, with "Reese's Vulnerability" and various formulas that I don't remember (though the marriage of Sucronite and Caramellium stands out in my mind, though lacking the necessary logical conclusion of "Snicker's" at the end of the reaction chain), and then I add my own quick little graffitique to the bottom corner of the board, a recursive equation and my spiraling periodic table...
The *Leave No Trace Lantern*... Will it?
It's a challenge. We've laundry hampers to transform into lanterns, and a pile of scrap to attach.
What is the sound of one person planning?
The materials at hand should suggest something. The material in greatest supply should be chosen first. There are two - one fabric I like, and one long, long, long strip/wad of foil I'm a bit confused by.
I look and cut and afix in a pattern that clings to the wire bones of the hamper for durability, suspends pieces to perform the function (obscure the bulb), and then ties everything down in order to Leave No Trace.
Hmmm. Obstacle. The donated fabric-in-plentiful-quantity has strings. Short strings. Long strings. The integrity of the matrixed weave de-warps and de-wefts into potential playa people-poo. A string theory unfolds.
I pull and strip and knot and unweave, my fingers touching every thread that may come loose, and pulling on it until it doesn't. I reach a point where I cut no more, for each scissor-cut takes more than I need, and starts a new thread unravelling. I pull by hand alone, fingers feeling for each loose thread that may come loose, and tangling it into the work, the mass, whenever I can, trapping it like kelp flotsam nets catch sea foam.
I work to be able to say, "All strings are attached". Just like when we find ourselves in a community, we may look loose, and even dangerous, but we *are* firmly attached to the whole.
I find myself making more than a hamper lantern for Center Cafe. I find myself in an artist's light, making a lantern to reinforce and thank the Earth Guardians for their efforts to look deeply and gently at the most common pattern of a peopled mass coming onto the Playa, and their continuous (witness the extensive and passionate archives of the EG list) work to discover, articulate and utilize that fulcrum place that will move them - us - to Leave No Trace.
It's time to finish. I push to comb and knot and free. I shake the lantern. Ooops, one more ragged edge. I'm not sure I can get them all, but the effort is here...I wonder if god feels this way about us?
I'm crouched at the base of a bald cypress. There's a cool wind blowing in over the lake, from the direction of the arched stone bridge I can see just over the tops of the cattail rushes.
This cypress has the bones of old ivy still twined up its lowest branches, spread taut like full veins. The knots are so old they grow into themselves, and there are no lower branches, no foliage, as if they knew too intimately a forty foot predator with shearing teeth.
--- Blackberry's in bloom - forget-me-not; yellow irises. There's the last of the broom - flowers into seed wings; maples gone samara, too. The heathers look like trees, callas are still lush and white, still opening from a mound of kin. Nasturtiums dot the south-east* slope. Seedheads of mallow and some kind of myrtle, I think. It's got a gray bark, not too visibly peeling from my walking pace, but still smooth and twisted like a Manzanita. We've a similar one up in the Cascades in Oregon ---
Spring hasn't finished here, but the first flush is faded and all the colors are mature.
Ah, I'm now at the huge cypress you can climb on, the one that leans out over the lake a bit, roots and trunks wrapped and folded into a braided cord. I sit in it for awhile, and send you a mental postcard...
I'm almost to the top.
At a fork in the path there's a shrub in bloom - a scroph? Leaves are opposite. It has a square stem and looks like a monkey flower, but bright fuschia in color. I'd get a bit to press for you but I'm high on the wind and the trees and whatever it is that's in the air, and I know it won't make it back to the car in a pressable piece. I'm too early on the trail, and no place to stash it mindfully.
It's getting dark. I wonder if I should think about my safety? It seems important to take back the night and the experience of moving freely in darkness. If we want to move through a territory, without destroying the territory, we need to occupy the territory - in a manner sensitized to its pattern.
There's no one in sight.
It's five feet tall and a single 24 inch purple spike, with lanceolate basal leaves bunching like foxglove. There are a number of them. What are they? I stare South through the cypress at the city, and North at the ridge. West. At the very top, that place where every next step is down, a principle emerges: Walk all around the top before you start the long walk down. Why go down before you have to?
--- Hemlock - Polygonum ---
Which side did I come up? I remember the time I was hiking in the Santa Ana Mountains. I wandered down the wrong side of the ridge I'd climbed - well, slid is more like it. I'd scaled a shale face by sheer stupid accident, out for a "little hike" one god-filled morning and didn't notice when I'd climbed too high and - flat on my belly on the hot western face, backing down like a cat gone too far up a tree - I missed the fact that I'd hit a true ridge, one of those deceptive sort that takes you down into a completely different canyon, whose sides cannot be reclimbed and whose way wends through boulders and poison oak and high cliff walls and a sun going rapidly, rapidly down until you hit the highway 40 miles from where you were, even though you'd only covered five. Sometimes life is like that.
I didn't observe the most pertinent features of my unmapped territory, those landmarks that could take me home.
I look for the purple spikes, the scroph, the bridge to the west. It's hard to know the direction with the fog whipping in, the winding paths and cloud cover, and the growing of so little light. I feel the breeze and it has to be from the west.
I'm glad for the markers, for it's getting dark. I think this is why it must be good to linger at intersections, to slow down for a moment, and notice the positions of things. I turn to my left, happy at my sense of orientation, this sense of being oriented, and the subsequent recognition of places once seen -- even for the first time or just moments ago - growing centered and satisfied in this feeling of knowing deeply where I am.
At the center of the bridge, I think of a Gary Snyder poem about being in the middle at the center of the middle in the center at the middle of the center of a boat on the ocean...
And I go, inside, to the interpreting center, and move, outside, from this same place. I am the interpreting center, informed by my willing wandering through this afternoon, taken to a beautiful park by a fellow I've just met who knows where to go and what to see, and so I follow his eyes and the map that he's so kindly shared with me.
It's a real gift of friendship, when one person can take another to a place that feels like a center. I've spent a number years learning how to follow another's finger and see where that goes. I'm not always able to, so this is a good day.
---I'm back to the callas and the heather. A new plant has my mind's eye, and I remember purple flowers and that it looks like a solanum, but it's woody, like an oleander. Boxwood, too? Here's the blackberry and the broom again. The rushes....Wait. I missed the cypress. Where's the cypress? Come to think of it, where's the nasturtium? And I didn't remember seeing that paddle boat operation on the way up...
I thought perhaps I was repeating my track. It's good to know that distraction has saved my ass from redundancy again.
The conservatory's under construction. By now it's too dark to take a poke around so I take a lot of rights and head toward town - the Haight - a hotel?
And I reflect on San Franciscans and how hard it is for them to go left in this town. No wonder this place thinks so much about its rights. You have to be mapping out your rights every instant. All the one way streets - all the congestion - constantly making less way for others (but some), and taking more way for yourself (just enough) - leads to a city of right-handed vortices.
You just can't go easily left, often, at any old time. It's a spiralling sort of town where everyone has to spin to the right, whirled into a dervish dance on asphalt tracks through the hills - dust devils of energetic human ether, spinning right on red. It takes three rights just to go left in this place - but once you figure that out, it's a piece of cake.
Once you figure out you've got time for those rights, and that taking those rights is sometimes easier than fighting for your right to go left - by all means, make an easy left turn whenever you can.
I look for a place to record another postcard moment. "Art and Food". There's live jazz. Maybe I'll come back, maybe I won't, but I'm now officially on The Hunt again. It's been a long time since I've been in a big city alone in the late evening, and not knowing where I was going to sleep.
I head for the Sunset District. "Ten Blocks ," he says in this map of tips that I decide to follow like a topography of memory, thinking that perhaps we'll meet someday, and talk, and he can know that I went somewhere he suggested, and that I took him literally, and walked the trail he offered, to let him know that I can do that, for if we ever grow into friends it will be good for us to know that I can do that.
I'm excited, and head for the next spot on the treasure map.
I cruise down Sunset. I feel the ocean off to my right and see the streets of Pacheco and Quintara - each one straight as a nun and disappearing into the blackness of the almost-full-evening.
I feel the end of a territory, and a tug to my right. Vicente. I head West.
Hooray! I win the gold star!
The Sunset Super. Closed. It sits next to the Urban Farmer Store. I have to get out and go look, because I've learned one thing - you should look when you have the time, for you may not come this way again.
The Super's empty bin signs entice. Durian! Yumm. Durian. Yumm. Hardware and garden tools. Durian and hardware. That's a hard combination to beat.
I do feel the end of a territory. This weekend, this full moon, is the first light moon I've had in many years. My blood comes very scant, very thin - just traces of the flow, and I know that it means I'm taking my first steps of that long walk into the Crone.
Ah! More great luck. It's the Islamic Mandarin...
I'm late. It's 9:25 and they close at 9:30. We talk. I offer to get something quick and fast. We agree, and I get to eat, sit and decide I'll just hang out till I'm starting to be in the way. That should be perfect timing, don't you think? ...and Yes!!...Water with no ice! Civilization! I'm back in that part of the world that knows how to drink water.
You know, for me it's less and less about the right things showing up, and more and more about me simply knowing the right things to look at. My fortune cookie is wise beyond many things:
"Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you."
I wonder who this means?
the dune lets me rest.
the ocean air pushes me.
I wait for the moon.
He's reading the Reader's Digest - doing the "Word Power" - he likes to see how many he can get. "Geneva and San Bruno", he says, and he's a bus driver, on break, friendly and helpful to this woman who drifts over out of the dark and asks if he knows where she can find a motel for the evening, for not too much money, but safe enough. He understands. "Over by the Cow Palace. Not downtown. It's not cheap. It's not safe..."
And so I consult the map. I write out the path. I drive one last time. I come to a bend in Geneva, approaching Bayshore. Quick and to the right is a sign - the Alpine Motel. No question. I know where I belong. The license plate on the car in front of the office says "Siddhi". The hummingbird print - an illustrator's quality - is over the bed.
Thank you for the wonderful afternoon, Dan Henklein, and a delightful and unexpected evening. Dinner was good. The Motel's perfect. All the signs were clear as bells. I'm looking very much forward to tomorrow.
...to be continued...
"Sunday In San Francisco with Daniel Henklein"
It's now Monday am. I'm finishing these notes and then will send them off to you.
This morning, when I was getting ready to go out, I found a green sparkly stuck to something and I put it on my forehead like a bindi, and outlined my eyes in kohl. It's Monday am and the bindi's still here...
I look up Mayakadeh. No listing in the phone book. Nothing similar, either. I'm near the India House on Columbus. I feel close. I see a coffee spot that advertises baklava and shaawrma- I enter, and ask if there's a Persian restaurant nearby.
"Sure, there's an excellent one - just 3 blocks up and 2 blocks over."
I walk into Maykadeh. It's wonderful.
> Golden Gate park isa MUST.
Much of my day was here. The time in the Strybling Arboretum was much too brief. Can we do that again?
> Go to the Japanese Tea House not far from there.
I spend time in the Japanese Tea Garden. There's something that's much the same about pulling the loose threads from the lantern yesterday and seeing the finely articulated branches of each bush and tree of this tended place, sprouts rubbed off with the stroke of hands on bark, pruned open-centered and full crowned for the maximum gathering of light with the minimum and effort and waste.
---I identify some things in my own garden; dichroa febrifuga, Sambucus nigra, Magnolia campbellii, Araucaria angustifolia ---
Each thing's nature stands revealed, no matter its scale or its size - its age tells a fully charactered story, especially when nested in the appropriate context, as the windblown cypress attest, on a mountaintop 5 feet high.
That's always been a lesson in the tending of these things for me, and in the effort to replicate the natural. I'm at a stage in my life, however, where less is much, much more and I see so much now, in so little, that I want to touch almost nothing. This has a great impact on my arboretum and park planting that I hope to talk with you about sometime.
> If you can find a pack of my favorite Egyptian cigarettes ("Simon Artz")in a tobacconist's there, buy one andsend it to me...
Ah, the quest for Simon Artz. You, my friend, have a very exotic taste. I covered a tremendous amount of territory yesterday searching for Simon. It began early in the day, along Haight. It didn't stop - and hasn't yet, for I'll search tobacconists in Berkeley, and all the way home, till I find them.
Last night, the maitre'd at Maykadeh was kind enough to direct me to a tobbaco shop that he knew of (I suppose this was stop number 5 on the list by now). "Just 5 blocks over, easy to walk".
It's 8:30 pm. I head up Grant, towards city center. Under the tunnel, and I sing at the top of my lungs all the way through it, even though the sign at the entrance says to be quiet in the tunnel.
There's too much to describe here, and now, but it's a fat walk, redolent with lots of history and I take a picture of the New Century Club, for the last time I was here was when I was a "health chef" for my cousin on her world-wide farewell tour (the last one), a beautiful woman now in her late thirties and married to a prominent Texas attorney's son, but once "the most photographed nude model in the world."
A very long walk, finally to Polk and O'Farrell, and then to Jones and O'Farrell, and then to Polk and Post - and up, up, up, up, and through, and past, with little conversation and mostly a purposeful striding and the pleasantries of equals, for there are guys hanging and talking and hooting as I walk by, and I don't want to offend, nor engage, but just leave them with a smile and a magic touch for a really good life - and it's still Polk - back to Bay, around to Columbus and Leavenworth and Bret Harte and I've found my car.
> Go to Baker Beach and see where Burning Man began (before my time: I met Him, and Them, in Nevada).
I walked on the Beach, and sipped some more of that Willamette Valley Riesling, and thought of all of it. I went to my first Burning Man in 1994; I'll send you a photo of the Wicker Man we made. We were actually responding to the call to create our own autonomous Burning Man events, since word was getting out about the human impact of all these people on the Playa, and we were all sensitized to the needs we heard. I suppose my Earth Guardian work began then.
Actually, I've been an EG since I was a wee one - I guess I'm probably a Burning Man EARTH GUARDIAN, rather than a BURNING MAN Earth Guardian, eh? (see, I was paying attention...)
We held it in a large field, on Hamm Road in Lorane, just West of Eugene. There were about 100 people there, and we burned the Man in the field. I was just moving into the first phases of my divorce, the end of a ten year marriage, and I carried a lot of stuff up the ladder, into the Heart of the Man, for Release...
I could feel the echoes at Baker Beach.
> Do it all and help me live vicariously.
As you help me. I felt you throughout the days, and never once was I alone, or lost, or bored, or confused, or frustrated.
> May the road rise up to meet your feet and the energy in your lower back rise up to meet your brain.
It met me, friend.
See you someday. Thanks so much for writing me. I do so much alone, and don't have too many folk to talk *with*. More on this another time...
-- Anonymous, May 31, 2002