Monday, March 31, 2008

Highway 1, CA: Biomimicry

We were supposed to plan out our trip on Thursday night at Cake's house but we were having too much fun so we said we would plan over email on Friday but didn't (hangovers and bruised bodies.) I met Laura, Katie and Josh (two industrial design ASGFs and one painting ASBF) instead on Saturday morning with wanderlust for the north and a few bags of food from Trader Joe's. We boarded Coco and headed for Highway 1, just past the Golden Gate. Coco is Laura's 1986 Volkswagon Synchro. She decked out the interior with a couch that converts into a two person bed and a double burner stove so that she can live on wheels during prolonged surfing trips along the coast. Coco fared well navigating the coils through the littoral mountains - we however did not do so well (barf!)

Once we hit Point Reyes we started looking for a place to pitch camp. We first tried Samuel P. Taylor State Park but it was full. We then tried Dillon Beach but were repelled by the hundreds of Winnebagos and their aggressive barbecue stations. We tried to open shop on the side of a rocky road facing the bay but it was too narrow. Finally we drove and drove and dove until we couldn't drive any further. We made it through to a large livestock farm that ended just before the Pacific. When we first pulled off-road our carriage hit a muddy gully and sunk: Coco was stuck. We got out of the van to assess the situation. In empty pasture, there was little to use for traction but Katie and I found a few pieces of old fence. Laura worked the gas while the rest of us pushed. Poor Josh got completely splattered as did Laura's face. After fifteen minutes of heave-hoing Coco gained freedom. Exhausted and dirty from the struggle, we decided to stay in the meadow and found a dry spot atop the hill with a view of the ocean. We pitched camp and geared down for the night.

Just before night fall as we were sitting in the van making dinner, starting to trip, we realized that a heard of cattle was slowly moving from the horizon toward our hill top. Within the hour we were surrounded by several curious bovine friends. They would take turns coming up to the fan to peek inside. They eventually left and settled for the night at the bottom of the hill in the very gully that had trapped Coco. It was hysterical. We stayed up late, alternating between the van and the blankets outside, listening to Carla Bruni, the Beatles, and A Gun that Shoots Knives, drinking Meade. We laughed our asses off and each one of us had tears from our eyes and bellyaches at one point.

I had only been camping outdoors once before, when Chris Wait and I went to Upspalla in Menzona last year. There is no camping tradition in my family so "getting down with nature" doesn't come naturally to me. I can reference several exurbana experiences and whenever I am beneath the starry skies I feel connected to those times. I think of Sasha's country house in Connecticut and think of my friends back home. I think of Dine's birthday in Mar del Plata and feel connected to my friends who were there. I think of the sky above the ocean in Spring Lake and miss my family. There is indeed a lot of reflection that comes along with being surrounded by absolute nothingness. This must be the attraction for people, but for me it is something I only want to do on occasion.

We awoke around eight in the morning to the sound of a rancher herding sheep in the neighboring field. Before long, someone was herding the cattle in our field too so we decided to head to town. We drove into Point Reyes for a Mexican breakfast at an organic restaurant that ironically served beef from our host livestock farm. I felt really strange back in civilization -we truly looked like a gang of dirty hippies with David Byrne blasting out of our mud covered VW, ethnic ponchos, and hair flowers - and people noticed. After lunch we went to Chicken Beach on the bay side so Josh and Laura could fly a kit and Katie and I could guzzle a framboise lambic on the sand. We then went to the ocean before heading home in the evening.

I am so happy we all went camping. I really enjoyed myself and Katie even busted me for getting totally groovy at one point. My only wish is that there could be more glamor in the whole act of camping. Perhaps a tent and sleeping bag set decorated in red, gold, and pink to look like a Venetian carnival? This is something I will meditate on in preparation for our next outdoor adventure.

Next stop: Synchro de Mayo! (I hope Lauren is in town for this)

Dillon Beach; Point Reyes National Seashore

When Coco got stuck in the mud

Camp!; cattle moving closer...

Katie with sheep behind her; the herd descends on our camp

Laughing our asses off

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tokyo A-GO-GO

I've bought my tickets: Phillip and I are going to Japan for New Years!

JUSTICE and a Potrero Van

Last night we met up at Cake's house to pose for some party photos for her senior thesis. I am so happy to have so many new art school girlfriends. Lauren will always be my original, but since everyone and their mother seems to go to CCA in San Francisco, there are so many more ASGFs to befriend!

Katie, Laura and I made it to the Justice show at the SF Design Center just as the headliners took stage. Laura snuck in through the back. I am totally jealous of her gumption (and $40 savings.) We bumped into Ben and Alex, forever skirt chasing, almost as soon as we arrived. The environment had a very different feeling than the MSTRKRFT show. First of all, the venue is about seven times larger - and was seven times more crowded - than the Mighty. In addition to the requisite hipsters, there were many more teenagers at the show. They all probably took the BART in from Daly City and East Bay. The most striking difference though was the DJ booth. Where we had total access to the DJs and the stage (seriously!) at the Mighty, the set-up at SFDC was a total product of the post-9/11 security construct. The DJs stood on stage above the audience buffered by 10 feet of space and a very tall metal fence. It was impossible to get anywhere near the stage without encountering a hulking security guard. The lack of contact between spectator and performer during the concert really detracted from the concert-going experience.

SFDC is huge - Photo credit Dead Art

We nonetheless pushed our way to the front. Standing in a pulsing crowd is one of my favorite sensations: music blasting, lights flashing, sweaty bodies mixing together. In a more prolific (er..less hungover) I could describe this better. Laura got on someone's shoulders and rode the crowd. At the end of the encore Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay (total DJ gods) came out to touch the crowd. They really play into the religious theme in obvious ways (their giant glowing cross logo) and more subtly (both DJs hold their hands out as if giving a blessing; the audience reaches back to them.)

After the show we caught the last hour of Afrolicious at the Elbo Room and ended up at an after party in one of those old greyhound buses in Potrero that have been converted in to squatter-living spaces. I wish I had a camera for this because Phillip and I always joke about the freegans and such who live there. This bus was pretty nice - and apparently has two jacuzzis on the roof, no thanks - though we almost got kicked out when Katie nearly took down the dude's turntables.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

¡¡¡ tu me das fiebre !!!

Ruby Fuerzy debut. More to follow:

Show: Tonight!

Costume: check!
Music: check!
Noives: uh....uncheck!


Tu me das fiebre!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ft. Lauderdale, FL: To the Sea!

(view from the top)

Today we left Sarasota for Fort Lauderdale, on the west coast of Florida. The weather is equally mild but the sight and sound of the Atlantic carries in a tide of nostalgia for a seaside youth.

Before checking into our swank digs I dragged my family to one! last! attraction! We arrived at the Sheraton Clipper - one of the more vulgar accommodations in town - just in time for the Friday Happy Hour/Mermaid Show. The "Wreck Bar" is set below the pool area and vaguely resembles a sunken ship. The tank windows behind the bar look into the swimming pool, creating an appropriate tableau for underwater entertainment. For thirty minutes, two mermaids and a guy in a scuba outfit swam back and forth in front of the windows to the delight of a dozen six year old girls and a few rowdy UConn fans (the performers were in competition with the NCAA.) I snuck up to the pool mid show for an areal shot of the ephemeral fishes.

Mermaid #1

Enter mermaid #2

Atlantica from our porch! messed up formatting!; paparazzi shot of my mer-sister in the pool (top center)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sarasota, FL: Geriatric USA

Greetings from Sarasota, Florida!

I am here with my family visiting my grandfather at his winter home on the Gulf. Sarasota is a popular winter destination for the Greatest Generation. This reality becomes apparent upon arrival. The airport here is congested with wheelchairs, walkers, and other unhurried octogenarians. Life is good in southwest Florida. My grandfather ships his candy apple red Cadillac down each January so he can drive to golf three times a week. When it gets too hot, he and my step grandmother go back to their house on the Maine coastline. This is my first time visiting them in Sarasota (this morning we could see a baby gator feet from the back patio!)

Driving from the airport I was immediately reminded of some of the sights from New Mexico: Kitsch Americana - I am so easily seduced. How disappointed (though not surprised) I was to see that my grandfather's home was not a pink bungalow with plastic flamingos dotting the lawn, but a modern house overlooking the 16th hole. In peering though the rental car company's complimentary guide I came across several places of interest: The G-Whiz Science Museum, Sarasota's Home of Mystery, Myakka Safari Tours, and the Linger Lounge ("Top 5 Weirdest Restaurants in the USA" by the Food Network.) My gravitation to such locations supports the thesis that I was indeed intended for a generation half a century before my birth. I am lucky that, without much prodding, my family generally obliges and off we go.

Highway 41

Today my parents, grandfather sister and I went to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, a few miles north of the country club. Built in the 1940s, the Gardens is a sanctuary for local and exotic animals. According to the brochure, the Gardens "will bring back the memories of Florida days gone by." Indeed. We trekked through the aging 10-acre campus, stopping at the various bird and reptile displays, including parrot with beautiful red plumage named Ruby. The highlight was feeding a flock of fairly submissive flamingos, all plump from daily visitors.

Old Florida sign; blue bird

Beautiful plumage; nature girl

Feeding; in the Tiki Garden

Mennonites come to FL!; sign

For lunch, per my direction, we went to Oleary's Tiki Bar and Restaurant on Sarasota Bay. I was expecting a Trader Vic's of yore, but it was a modern take on the theme. While there were enough tiki masks and straw huts to satisfy the motif, I was hoping there would be girls in tacky grass skirts serving mai tais in hollowed-out pineapples.

A tiki hut; Sarasota Bay

Tiki lunch; momma

Robot Goes Everywhere

My friend Dave Rand is a super genius! The man who first taught me about the neuro-wiring behind foot fetishists is now in the news:

Tomorrow Nature, a big whoop nerdfest, is publishing a study that Dave co-authored as a grad student at Harvard. The research examines the role of punishment in a game between two equal players. It turns out that those who did best in the game punished the least.

You can here Dave himself on a segment of today's All Things Considered.

You can also find Dave's rockstar (literally - I otherwise refrain from such a term) alter ego Robot Goes Here touring in a city near you.