Monday, July 30, 2007

San Francisco: That's Weird!

I made a trip up to San Francisco last weekend, rendezvousing with Tina, and visiting Trevor, Pam, and Brian. Truly, we were a mighty cast of HLS Drama Society All-Stars. A post is long overdue, but I was waiting for Tina to provide me with pictures so that it could be properly illustrated. The theme of the weekend? "San Francisco: That's Weird!" So rather than going through the week chronologically (boooooring), let's list things that are weird in San Francisco. Some are things about the city, and some are just things about us, and we just happened to be in the city.

The Smells

It really seemed like every 50 yards of sidewalk brought you to a new and uniquely awful urban aroma. Living in New York City for 3 months, I was eventually desensitized to just how many unpleasant smells one can come across in a single city block. But I'm out of practice, so I was fully aware of all of them in San Francisco, and they all had incredibly distinct, yet equally distasteful, characters.

The Streets

If you're ever walking the streets in the Mission area of San Francisco, don't forget to look down, because there is a Choose Your Own Adventure story written into the sidewalk.

As you walk down the street, you pass these little messages. Often times they will give you a choice of what to do, and a different direction to walk in based on your selection. The story is apparently some kind of romance, and there are both red and blue messages on the ground that represent two different paths. Our understanding is that two people can go through the story simultaneously, and if they play the game right, they end up meeting at the end.

Now that is weird but awesome.

The Food

Not so much weird as decadent. Truffle omelette for brunch? Yes please! I'll take mine with a side of everything. I'm quite proud of us, because were able to clear that entire table. Way to go, Team Gluttony.

The Parks

Our venture to Dolores Park in the Mission had to be the most successful trip to a park ever, perhaps because this is the quirkiest park ever. The park sits on a huge hill that provides a great view of the city. We entered from the top, which is apparently affectionately known as the "Man Shelf," where dozens of hardbodied gay men take to sunning themselves and observing other hardbodied gay men sunning themselves. If you don't like "Man Shelf," you can also use its other name: "Speedo Ridge." No pictures of that. Sorry.

From that decidedly immodest entry point, we proceeded to the playground area, where we indulged our more juvenile instincts and took lots of fun pictures on swings. If you've never seen a 6'5" man on a swing set designed for elementary schoolers and younger, you really should recruit one and try it. Thanks, Trevor.

We then moved into the interior of the park, where we discovered that a few enterprising twenty-somethings had brought a Slip 'n Slide into the park, with a healthy supply of beer and barbecue food, and started competing for distance records on a downward-sloping run. Since Brian lived nearby (and therefore had a change of clothes at hand), we designated him our official representative. Even if he didn't set any distance records, he did us proud.

Upon closer inspection of the distance leader -- who was donning a stylish 80s windbreaker to improve his slipping and/or sliding potential through the grass -- I realized that it was actually my high school classmate, Brandon Chalk. Unsurprisingly, Brandon was responsible for the whole (genius) concept. Well done, Brandon.

The Fashion

Here's a little bit of weirdness that I brought to San Francisco with me. For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to bring a jacket that I had never worn as my only jacket for the weekend. And in a still more inexplicable twist, I had purchased this jacket at a clearance sale without ever having actually tried it on. Little did I realize that this innocuous looking gray blazer was in fact cut so that it does not fit anybody properly. Observe:

Too big in the shoulders. Too small in the stomach. Too everything, and not anything enough. This is the worst-designed blazer ever. Seriously, if you are totally awkwardly proportioned -- bigger than me, and yet not -- and this blazer fits you well, it is yours for free. Andrew, I am looking at you.

Of course, a jacket that doesn't fit properly is one thing. That merely looks foolish. But Pam's shoes didn't fit properly, and that meant injury. For a while, she braved the streets of San Francisco barefoot. While this was admirable in its audacity, it was also a really bad idea for really obvious reasons. But never fear! Trevor and Brian simply took turns carrying her all the way back to her apartment so that she could change into more sensible flip-flops. It's the kind of thing you'd assume a camera could never truly capture the magic of, but actually, this one special time, a camera could and did:

The Urban Art

Sunday was dominated by a long stroll along the Embarcadero, setting of the world's greatest commercial for pants ever. It was an incredibly sunny and perfect day, tailor made for meandering up a nice long boardwalk. And everywhere we went, there was something to take a picture with!

There was the bizarre bench/saddle/I have no idea how this thing was so comfortable, but somehow it was. It's not especially conducive to interacting with your fellow bench-sitters, but it's surprisingly conducive to good posture.

A little further down, somebody had inexplicably left a large green screen unattended. So of course, we did what anybody would do in our position: we made the members of our group who were conveniently wearing green stand in front of it!

I don't know what it was about the Embarcadero, but for some reason, no matter what we saw, we felt compelled to
take silly pictures in front of it. Think a simple roadside advertisement for a circus is safe from our rampant jackassery? Think again!

Thank god my friends are as totally nerdy as I am.

The Pets

In San Francisco, it seems that even the pets have a liberal political agenda. Case in point: Brian's roommate's pseudo-girlfriend's dog, whose favorite chew-toy is a likeness of our very own Commander-in-Chief. And what can I say? It's hard not to get caught up in it.

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