Wednesday, January 28, 2015

But when it works

I read this via the ever excellent Meg Fee, who always manages to pluck out just the right words whenever I need them - this is a snippet from an essay by Rachel Syme, which after some snooping I found is in 'Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakeable Love for New York'.

As a friend was moving away, he told me he wanted to go somewhere where he can still build things.  "What," he asked, "am I building in New York?" I didn't know what to tell him then, but this is what I would tell him now. 

In New York, you are demanded to build yourself. The environment calls for it. You build on pure speculation, a foundation up from the salty bedrock built upon something that was there before, as many stories high as you want to go, as fast as you can get there. It is possible to fail, possible to outpace yourself, to not turn a profit, to remain empty inside with your lights still blazing for show. But when it works, what you build becomes a beacon. Here is our poetry. Here are the stars bending to our will. Here we are touching them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stand up what

Those who know me well are familiar with my principle that you must pursue any idea that persists with you; if you have even a wink of an inkling that presses at you over time and just will not go away, then this your heart's way of saying 'hey, let's give that a go'.  I've felt a nudging towards stand up comedy since I read an article about how you can take classes on it years ago, so in a bid to stick with my own advice, this is what I've been doing for the last few weeks (with holidays in between).
There are worse places to be on a Tuesday night.
The beginners class went for four weeks, we formed a little band of newbies who after class would go for (far too many) drinks and perform for a few minutes each, in the basement of an Irish bar in North Beach.  These were off-the-cuff three minute slots at a time, on a Wednesday close to midnight, so we often made up half the audience ourselves.

Having wrapped that up late last year, tonight was my first week of 'advanced' class - these evening sessions are run by giving each member 7-8 minutes each, standing up in front of a group of other aspiring comics, trying your stuff out and getting critiqued.  Coming fresh out of the holidays I was wildly underprepared and just threw some brain fluff out there.  As always, I got more laughs than I expected, in all of the parts I didn't expect them, but it was still the roughest 8 minutes I'd had in awhile.  I'll spare you the details (largely because I can't bring myself to relive them by typing them), but there is something about standing up and trying to connect with a group of people you don't know very well, and telling them stories which you ruin by trying to be too clever and then having these strangers say you're still funny and you are still enough that is very emotional.  Anyway, this is how I ended up eating a tuna melt downtown, close to midnight on a Tuesday.

I wanted to stretch out a reflective journey home, so I opted out of calling an Uber and hopped on the muni instead.  The bus driver who happened to pick me up was quite amazingly the same driver who first taught me how to flag a bus down (i.e. you don't have to), buy a ticket and use the 3 line to get home when I first moved here two years ago and kept forgetting my cross streets.  He remembered me, and I told him all about how I've settled into San Francisco, including my latest comedic trials.  There has been a lot of growing up between bus rides.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

She is looking for it

“I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.” 

Taken from Lena Dunham's book 'Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"'.  I got a lot more out of that book than I was expecting, this being is one of my favourite snippets from it.  No, I can never be who I was, but I am looking for it.  Here's to 2015  :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Nesting, Part 10

You guys, it's the holidays.  Hmm, that's all I've got for now - but here's some snaps from around the hood and home of late:
Lotta's Bakery is a most excellent and unique little spot up the road from me - it's a cosy, old-school bakery and vintage store (?) catering to the divergent interests of the couple who owned it.  Also home to hands down best, blackstrap molasses gingerbread in San Francisco - a moist, dense brick of ginger goodness.
Early morning pastry rolling to bust out another one of these puppies for the slew of Christmas parties ahead.  A fair share of the grated fontina made its way into my mouth during the process.
Gigantor wreath up at our building entrance - not pictured is the huge Christmas tree in our foyer.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Latest subculture discovery: HK cafes in San Francisco - I love seeing how 'fusion' foods go from this perspective, Smile House Cafe is a particularly great spot, this was my Tom Yum soup with a fancy puff pastry hat (of course).
I snuck out onto our fire escape one night to get this view of our beautiful Golden bridge, end to end.  Never gets old.

Hope your weeks have been just as well  x

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Oh, hey N'awlins

I've been lax posting here, slowly catching up - first cab off the rank is reporting back on a most wonderful few days in New Orleans.

In an expat effort to get the most out of America, a buddy and I booked a last minute trip to spend three nights there.  Given that 'seeing New Orleans' largely comprises of eating and strolling the streets with a beer in hand, it was the perfect amount of time to cover this little city; and with San Francisco's weak summer, the hard beating heat was a welcome change too.  Some snaps of where our four day adventure took us:
The brass band playing onboard the last remaining authentic Steamboat Natchez (sounds like 'nachos'), a wonderful sunny afternoon floating down the Mississippi.
Mandatory beignets and cafĂ© au lait at Cafe Du Monde.  I'm not typically a fried sweet pastry fan, but these were powdery puffs of deliciousness!
An uncharacteristically tamer picture of the legendary Bourbon Street - although note that people are still wandering the streets drinking publicly from bar to bar.  Overall, I definitely recommend Frenchmen Street for authentic live jazz and a more local scene, but with the college football on and its proximity to our hotel, we always found ourselves wandering back to this frenetic strip.
Some of the prettiest balconies I'd ever seen!  I couldn't get enough of the pockets of greenery spilling over them, and just imagined how lovely it would be to sit out rocking on one of them, watching passers by - ditto the gorgeous porches which I regrettably have less pictures of.
A Sazerac at The Roosevelt's bar of the same name - apparently what many consider to be the world's first mixed drink.  It was certainly potent, but at least legions away from the Hand Grenade and Hurricane, which definitely did not need to be repeated.
Shrimp po boy from Johnny's Po-Boys in the French Quarter.  The fried oyster po boy was originally recommended to me, but this was a brunch and wasn't sure I could stomach it - this was damn tasty nonetheless!
Not pictured but recommended: catching a streetcar through the beautiful Garden Distrct for aforementioned porch-drooling, dinner at Commanders Palace (including turtle soup), the best meal by far at Cochon (book ahead of time!) - apparently anything that Donald Link does is excellent, the Frenchmen Street Art Market and the above-ground city cemeteries (note the early closing hours, which we didn't).

Another city off the list, and what a fine little one it was.  I have always believed in the kindness of strangers, thanks for your southern hospitality N'awlins.