Friday, May 25, 2012

Jack Kerouac brooding in a corner at City Lights Book store


5/25/12 08:50 at the Marriott in Burlingame The wind in this area has been incredible, it’s chilly. Each day after the trade show we’d leave the hotel and feel the hit of the fierce winds, but the jets are still taking off and landing and life continues in this valley. Yesterday was one of those long days. Even after a decent night’s sleep my legs are weak. Earlier I had my shoes polished by a woman in the lobby, I’ve seen her day after day and we passed pleasantries, last night she said it was a slow day. I promised her I’d be back in the morning for a shine, and I am a man of my word. I gave her a great tip since it sounds as if her and her husband are having a tough time with the rent and bills, and they have a little girl. When I asked how much, she said $8 and I handed her a $20 and said thank you. Another man took a seat and she had another customer, hopefully she is busy for the rest of the day. So why am I tired? I went for a run early yesterday, facing the sun rising over the bay, running at a decent pace behind two runners on a trail that borders the bay, watching jets land at San Francisco airport. Worked out for a little while and had breakfast up at the concierge level. After my shower I answered some emails and met Terry downstairs and we were off to the Hyatt where the trade show was. Jim and Kevin, both salesmen from one of our clients invited me to dinner with them. I had time to relax for almost an hour before they picked me up. Traffic on the highway was horrendous; the commuters were getting a jump on the memorial day weekend. We passed Candlestick stadium where Dave and I saw the Giants VS the Mets in the late eighties. After twenty minutes we were driving in the center of San Fran. I was impressed with the modern architecture, the simple rectangle frame condo buildings. We passed the new baseball stadium which is right on the water, and parked the car, and headed into terminal, where we ate in the Crooked Door. Jim graduated from a local culinary school and picked the restaurant. The place was packed and the food which he picked was incredible. They were family dishes, and the various plates kept coming, fish, beef and chicken as well as steamed clams and raw oysters. We had local beers which had a heavier consistency compared to the Anchor I requested and the name I forget. Jim was nice enough to switch seats with me so I can look across the bay to treasure island and watch the swift tide swell up. After dinner we made it to the place I really wanted to get to, City Lights Book Store. The link between Keroauc, Northport and Bukowski is significant enough for me to find a way to walk through the doors. When Jim invited me to dinner I was reluctant, I was ready to take a local BART train to the city and find the store on my own, but Jim was open to the idea of going there after we ate, maybe since I bought dinner for them? I accomplished one of my objectives for this trip to the area. Once I was outside the store back in the late eighties when I lived in Los Gatos and came to the city for a show, but it was closed by the time we got there. This time, I knew it would be open. We drove up a hill, is that telegraph hill I asked Jim who grew up in the area, yes it is. Nice. The neighborhood where the store is in is grungy. There is a Beat Museum catering to the beatnik tourist which was closed. There are topless bars where men in cheap suits stand outside and try to entice you to come in and see the show. We spent a little time in the book store, I knew the guys were not interested spending anytime in there. Over dinner Jim said the best president he experienced was Ronald Reagan, I kept my mouth shut. The store was cleaner than I imagined. There were more paperbacks than hardcover but their poetry section which was on the second floor was extensive. There are paintings which Ferlinghetti made which are more like statements, read books…and other notions, but the sense this place was and is a tourist magnet was obvious from the $2 City Lights bumper sticker and the T-shirts for all sizes even for infants…I confess I bought a t-shirt. After the store we walked to a small restaurant, called Bix, it’s in an alley and can be easily missed. The place was intimate, classy, and I was given a lesson on scotch by Kevin who graduated from Annapolis. It was sipped and savored, I drank 21 year-old scotch and enjoyed it. I am a beer drinker by design and attitude. I drank scotch years ago but it was always, on the rocks which Kevin said deadens the taste buds on the tongue. So, I made it back in one piece. Kevin asked if getting to City Lights was on my bucket list, and I should have said yes. I explained it was one of the places I wanted to make it to before leaving. In a few hours I will fly out of here and meet Jason in Los Angeles. I’m looking forward to seeing him and his family…but I need to wake up!

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