I hoped to wrap up this guest blog with the description of a pleasant return home and the description of the smells of a house one hasn't been in for a couple weeks; simultaneously foreign and familiar. I once did a cartoon about the brief moment when one is able to recognize reality that isn't colored by familiarity.
But I'm still in Berkeley wallowing in distant memories of college, high school, jr high, middle school, elementary school... I once wrote a post about how we are ghosts in our own pasts (I can't find the entry or I'd hyperlink it) because we're able to see it, but not change it.
This eve I hung out with a girl I dated when I was 18 and her friend (who is the ex-wife of the guitarist for the Dead Kennedys (and when I'm shaved I look vaguely like Jello Biafra)). I introduced the ex of the ex-DK to Nouvelle Vague's version of "Too Drunk to F*ck." My cartoonist friend Sam Hurt put it best when he said, "It isn't that it's a small world, it's that the world has been folded over many times." His expression is the modern version of the "sit by a river for long enough and you'll see all of your enemies float by" (I'm mangling this quote). I reduce it further by simply saying that we live too long for our own good.
Berkeley is a funny place (but not funny ha-ha (I've heard that that's a quote from Gilligan's Island but I've never been able to track it down)). Another guy I knew from Berkeley High said that "Berkeley is a place where everyone knows everyone else and has slept with them before you have." I think I stayed at his ex-girlfriend's house when I was in LA last week and just now made that connection. Yikes.
When I tell people that I grew up in Berkeley they'll process most of the stereotyping internally. If they know the area they'll ask "Where in Berkeley did you grow up?" I'll tell them that my mom lives in the hills (the expensive (these days, very expensive) part). They'll respond with a knowing 'ahhhh'. Before they can finish their knowing exhale I explain that my mom bought her house in '71 for $26G. Why do I do this? Because Berkeley hates money. I'm trying to explain that I'm not one of the rich kids in the hills. This is odd. In most parts of the world people are trying to be wealthier than they really are. Here in Berkeley there's shame and self-hate and we have to explain that we're poorer than we seem. Cripes. How screwed up is that?
On another note, yesterday, I went to pick up a wireless router for my mom (I had to drive to Emeryville (there are no computer places in Berkeley (Berkeley doesn't allow chain stores (I really need footnotes instead of these stupid parentheses)))) so I could use my laptop from the basement instead of having to sit in the kitchen by the computer. At 11AM the streets I needed were police-taped off with news crews mid-report. Everyone seemed relaxed so I figured whatever crime had happened had resolved itself. I was annoyed at the detour but it also made me curious. I called a friend who is a reporter for the Chronicle (a local paper). She told me that there had been a major bust at the Black Muslim Bakery. The day before, a reporter from the Chronicle had been working on a bankruptcy story regarding a small aspect of the Black Muslim Bakery and had been shot and killed.
Feel free to google Black Muslims, Oakland, Bakeries, hating white devils, and Sweet Potato Pie (they sold pie at the Oakland Airport and it was really good even if they did hate whites). I'm not going to try to begin to explain the politics.
My friend went on to tell me that the assassin had taken the bus to kill his target. This is clearly not the one of the Bourne movies (or even that other weird assassin movie with Matt Damon). The killer rode the bus in a ski mask with a shotgun. Please pause here to let that sink in; on the bus with a ski mask and a shotgun. He thought he spotted his target so he got off the bus. Unfortunately (maybe fortunately?), he had the wrong guy so he got back on the bus (?) with his shotgun and ski mask. Please pause in your reading again so you can let this image sink in. Down the road he spotted his target, got off the bus, shot a man in the back of the head, and took off running. The bus drove off. Those of you who don't think this is unbelievable, please stop reading. Try and imagine watching this in a movie... now imagine yourself saying, "I liked the movie but the part where the killer rode the bus in a ski mask with a shot gun... I had trouble believing that." Okay. That's what Oakland is trying to deal with right now.
Back at the newspaper they asked who could pick up the story... The next day's article had six people on the byline. Looks like they figured that there was safety in numbers. Oakland is screwed up.
At the other end of the spectrum, I'm drinking cheap wine out of my mom's 30 yr.-anniversary Chez Panisse glass. A few years back my mom went to a tented UC Berkeley lawn party to help celebrate the anniversary of one of Berkeley's best known restaurants. Martha Stewart (before her incarceration) orchestrated the party (this will help give you an idea of the significance of the event). Each setting, and each person, got one hand-blown wine glass in commemoration. My mom wanted two glasses (what good is a single glass?) but felt guilty about stealing an extra (even though many people had left theirs). But when she saw George Lucas stealing an extra glass she figured it was OK to steal one herself.
I'm still pondering the Emotional-STD cartoon. Instead I'm doing a silly cartoon about wasting time. I was inspired by watching the Harry Potter film with my more-adventurous 9-yr-old. The movie didn't make sense because I haven't read the books and I've only seen the first of the series of movies. I did manage to get a much-needed nap during a slow part. I woke up to see Harry making out. I thought I'd missed the social-foreplay but I was told that a short dialog was the extent of their romance.
Tomorrow my kids, my mom, and myself are off to see the 'corpse flower' bloom. It's over 6 feet tall and it blooms only once in its lifetime for 12 hours and it smells like a dead body when it... obviously I have mixed feelings about this experience. On one hand I figure this will be the only time in my life I'll see something this weird. On the other hand, why do I want to see a flower, even if it's big, that smells like a dead body?
I will make it back to Portland soon. I want to be home for the birth of my sort-of-son. I donated to lesbian friends of mine so they could have a kid. I won't be a father or I'll be a sort-of-father, maybe an uncle. I'm not sure. I'll be there when I'm needed. Regardless, I'm excited and it's the next chapter of events.
This is a tchotchke I picked up in San Diego. Aren't you jealous? I'm putting it on my bathroom door.
I loved doing this guest blog. I'm sorry to move on. I'll still be blogging at my LJ blog. I'll be doing more and more 'friends only' entries so be sure and say hello.
The hot girl with the too much coffee man tattoo sent me a great picture of herself. Yowza.