...being the observations and navigational extracts
from the ongoing expeditions of San Francisco Piano Pop trio
True Margrit

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Smokies

I am in in Tennessee with much family for the giving of the thanks and the eating of the buttery bird, pie, stuffing, yam, and the ritual sauce of tart berries. OH yes and yum.

The day before the feeding frenzy we drive through Pigeon Forge (home of Dollywood, plentiful outlet malls, and an array of country music dinner theatres--rather like a mini-Branson Missouri on nitrous oxide) and up to the Great Smoky Mountains. There is some shallow snow that increases in depth as our altitude rises. We choose the Alum Bluff trail and start a jollygood slog through some slushy muddy trails. As neither Sarah, nor Elan, nor Karen, nor I have the ideal footware, no amount of dainty stepping can avoid the puddles and soon all our feet our soaked. Dan's Reeboks are mysteriously impervious to moisture and he alone remains dry-footed. But it isn't terribly cold, so we are in no real danger of frostbite (though there is ridiculously pretty snow on the ground between the naked shapely silver birches). The air is cool and delicious and the river is quartz-crystal clear, babbling merrily as hell. We tromp upwards to Arch Rock which is a tunnel and steep windy staircase that looks like a section of Shelob's Lair that Gollum would be inclined to send Frodo through.

"Master must go in!"

We do. The steps are quite icy and we grip the cable provided by the Park Service and go ever so gingerly. The trail follows steepening switchbacks and then leads to an opening in the trees. The sky has cleared now and we are on an outcropping of slanty shale that affords an excellent vista of the thickly forested valley and surrounding snow-dusted ridges. This is--roughly--the tenth time I have hiked to this point and it feels good to be back in the Smokies sniffing the autumn air and sweating cheerfully after a good hike. The trip back down is swifter with the help that only gravity can give, and soon we are piling into the car and heading for Knoxville.

Now we are ready to feast.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bachelorettes on the Bay

Judea picks me up and we tool north to Russian Hill to gather Sally up for her bachelerette fest--her wedding is coming up in December. We are all too hungry for predinner cocktails so we end up first at Mangorosa: a newish & fine fancy restaurant in North Beach. Everything we get is wicked delicious--mixed green salad with goat cheese and polenta/cheese fritters, fried calamari, lambchops, halibut, gnocchi with mushroom & creaminess. And a wee warm center chocolate cake (ooooohohohohohoihoiho)-- that turns out to be on the house to toast Sally's impending nuptial condition.

That's (more than) a mouthful, and thus an appropriately celebratory feast. We then go to Romolo's for the deferred cocktails which are now playing the role of aperitifs. Then it's down the street to Enrico's, our appointed spot to meet our other bachelerette compatriots. But Enrico's is boarded up. No one home. We ponder this turn of events. The companions will never find us. Oopsie.

"Didn't you say they still have a website?" Judea asks. Sally nods emphatically.
"Absolutely!" So we end up at Crowbar farther down Broadway. It is a friendly bar with a fun, punk-centric jukebox and pool tables. We meet Eddie from Wales who takes great exception to Sally calling him English, and as he was already touchy about complying with her demand to take off his hat if he wanted to sit at our table, he soon wanders off. We make new friends soon enough at the pool table, as we play game after game of spectacularly shoddy eight ball. We meet DJ who is on business from New Jersey. When he hears that Sally is soon to be wed, he edifies her with the "recipe" he and his wife used to conceive on their honeymoon, stressing that is it failsafe. These guidelines mostly entail limitations to the male's "output", so that the maximum amount of sperm, and promotion/ protection/ implementation therof are ensured--no hottubs, no pot, etc. And conceive DJ & wife did indeed (however, he admits the accuracy isn't dependable: they had a boy even though they were trying for a girl by only having sex right when his wife ovulated, and other techniques that suppposedly encourage a female fetus. Spare the seed and spoil the zygote...or store the seed, rather). We play more dismal pool and Dj, who is clearly a pool shark, nonetheless humors us good-naturedly. We mingle with other friendly and drunken faces, many rounds are bought for Sally, a fight almost breaks out & the bouncer somehow masterfully defuses the tensions (we need this be-mohawked man with the piercing blue eyes in foreign policy!), and soon it is time for the properly inebriated bride to get her beauty sleep, and we slip out into the autumn night.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

whether the weather or not

A chilly, but less than arctic wind blows across this town. Bartenders are announcing last call and bands are packing up their gear after the glory and rock. It's a clear November night tonight and as the earth turns on its axis more nights will fly over the lawns and the parks and the alleys and the boulevards. All manner of fowls will be roasted and eaten with compliments offered to chefs. The wealthy will be sequestered safe-ish in seismically retrofitted dwellings and the homeless will shiver in doorways. Unless some quirk or byproduct of global climate change offers up humid tropical monsoons, or polar icepack, the customary seasonal weather will slide in from the Pacific. Rain will fall insistently under streetlamps. Shoppers will complain about the mysterious loss of umbrellas while venturing out to the malls gamely in the yearly rite of frenzied purchasing and gifting. Oh, how presents will be given and received. & More songs. More meals. More weather. The new year will be toasted fearfully, optimistically, or cynically depending on the company and the exellence of the liquor and / or other substance being ingested. The offhand comments that bring unnoticed tears will be uttered. Moments of truth will be applauded. A line of ants marching two by two seeking easy sustenance will adorn the kitchens of annoyed tenants. The cineplex will be frequented. Any November night of clarity would broadcast this news to the wary or wakeful whose shoulders are kinked with the weight of all mortals.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


We have a mild ant problem in our apartment...yuck-o. So, my roommate got a bottle of Raid. I don't love insecticide but I was intrigued by Raid's design choices--the spraycan sports a bold image of a capsized ant in silhouette struck down by a golden thunderbolt-- it's a portrait of a "black ant down". See! They are utilizing a type of "sympathetic magic" on the RAID can--slightly grisly and un-sympathetic sympathetic magic, perhaps. But here's the drill, my cavewomen and cavemen: draw a picture on your wall of thirst and drought slaked with rivers of snow melt, and famine broken by a harvest of lovely asparagus and beets (or your fave veggies, those are mine), and then we will have a harvest o'plenty and cold clear water... That's sympathetic magic. Like begets like. And who doesn't like drink and food for all. I am pro that.

So, is the point, ante up with your pro image of anti-ant antlessness? Or something deeper... but hey, poor sacrificial ant. Cuz, maybe sympathetic magic is more about that which can be brought into being, not what you wanna erase. Ants are a species that, after all, are here to stay (just hopefully not infesting your kitchen permanently). But sympathetic magic is more about what you're pro, not anti, right?

Like this week's election. I am pro checks and balances --it keeps a government from zooming off with nothing to stop bad decisions based on lies, bad intelligence, misinformation from special interests.That isn't functioning so very well when the executive branch has no one in congress to put up speedbumps. Yikes. But now, perhaps we got some sympathetic magic working at the polls--not to gloat, but HELL, YEAH! Demos got Congress. And we got our first female Speaker of the House!! I am SO pro that.

And I am also SO pro tolerance ( or anti intolerance which is a double negative making it positive and thus pro). Don't you know, global climate change and the lack of universal healthcare (for examples) are way bigger threats to the American family than gay marriage (which is being used for its inflammatoriness as distraction and isn't really any kind of threat to anyone ever, is it now, let's get real).

And hey, I am pro the way the statue of liberty requests the privilege of all our company. Here's the updated Emma Lazarus poem.

Give me your tired, your poor, your gays
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming ways
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden bays

We've all of us anted up with our presence here in this motley collection of cities & states. Let's play some sympathetic magic--but! we gotta use this power for pro, not anti. Let the ants fall where they may.

ps... In San Francisco we had a ballot measure recommending the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. I thoroughly savored voting for it. I am pro accountability, for reals.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Voice of Reason

Well well well.

TV ain't what it used to be--it's so much much more. Take Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica for example. The most recent episode, "Collaborators", pretty much blew my mind. If you saw it fair reader, you know what I mean. A lot of it was so very grim, but the ending was so uplifting, well, I for one got choked up, I admit. After darkness, some light. After lunacy, reason. Among other details, the plot involves prisoners being accused of collaborating with the enemy and then being denied fair trial and humane treatment. Before a cycle of misguded vigilante reprisal spirals out of control, President Laura Roslyn speaks reason, sweet reason to the Fleet....but I won't try to recreate it: just watch the show.

Oh why oh why can't she REALLY be our Prez? & OH! How often this show is applicable and /or descriptive of the scary weather in our current political climate...

Another show that is deliciously and more and more pointedly critical of the Bush administration is the L Word Season 3 (the season Sarah & I just watched from beginning to end in four nights. Heh heh). They didn't allude to abuses of the Geneva Convention, no. In this case, the L- writers take a stab at pointing out some disturbingly regressive trends threatening freedom of speech. There's a spectacular scene where Bette berates a ridiculous grandstanding senator who burns some "obscene" art. She speaks reason--but not so sweet, in this instance. But still good to hear.

It's worth seeing and hearing--reason.