Art expedition

The other day I took the afternoon off and went on an expedition with friends for Tara’s birthday. We went to the Museum of Craft and Design first – two exhibitions, one of large pieces that kind of explored different materials, and the other of ceramic sculptures by Wanxin Zhang. I liked both exhibits. In the first I especially felt happy looking at the giant mat of tangled pink thread by Mi-Kyoung Lee. It was so viscerally soft and fluffy and I thought about how you’d make it and the skill to spread it evenly and get an interesting texture. I could practically feel the process in my hands. The coral-like ceramic extrusions with light behind them were also pleasing – going back and forth and seeing how they changed depending on perspective.

The ceramic sculptures were great. Tara remarked that she doesn’t usually like representations of women made by male artists but these were great. I agreed – he not only avoided the usual annoyances but had something interesting to say in the sculptures. The female figures were profound. Here’s one called Mulan (Pussy Hat II),

mulan ceramic sculpture

I liked studying the textures of the ceramic & how they were finished in some places and then became rough and slabby and thumbed-looking.

The museum curator or docent giving us a tour mentioned that the sculptor often creates people in this pose with their hands somewhat held away form the body but at their sides and that it is homage to the Tank Man of Tiananmen Square as he carried his grocery bags. Once she pointed that out I really saw and felt it! Wow.

We had ice cream, then went to the Minnesota Street Project galleries which are spacious & beautiful. They were setting up a very fancy looking catered dinner in the central space and as we rolled around to all the galleries (keeping in mind we were hot, disheveled, and all 4 in powerchairs and I had my boots off, attractive pedicure in the breeze… perhaps a bit disreputable) we realized that the fancy dinner was for Christie’s which had some sort of special event coming up with the world’s fucking fanciest paintings, which I admired (Renoir, Monet, other fancypants stuff) Also caught a whole gallery of amazing photos by Louis Stettner and a Ferlinghetti exhibit which were mostly trash (but, fine, homage to the beats and hippies…. ok) The only good Ferlinghetti painting was 20K but… weirdly i could have more or less afforded some of the Stettner photos. Then I thought about, if I were going to buy something amazing yet might possibly be able to “afford” it, what would it be? (Answer: Something by Francesca Woodman and/or Sandow Birk.) Fortunately our cyborg bohemianism was welcomed by the fancypants gallery people and I did not (despite great temptation) steal any of the flower arrangements from the catering carts.

It was so lovely spending the day with friends despite that we all nearly died of heatstroke and the bad pavements of the Dogpatch.

crip crew

Sturdy machines glide through the water

Swimming last week 3 times a day at the hot springs place in Calistoga really got me going. I did (slow) laps in the olympic size hot springs pool, with that feeling that if my ankles and knees would stay strong I could keep swimming forever. Also I realized that because I can really swim again instead of just slowly walking around or doing stretches, the water doesn’t have to be body heat warm, maybe.

Monday I did nearly 1000 yards (a kiloyard? what is this in meters? shall i switch my fitbit to meters???) and then later felt like i was gonna die from the ankles upwards. Today I cooled my jets a little and swam 750 yards. Headphones in, waterproofed ipod shuffle clipped to my beefcake unisex bathing suit strap, feeling like a tireless otter! Trembling afterward. Noodly limbed. Felt fantastic.

I got the KT train slooooowwwwwly going up Ocean Avenue, got out at Castro, and had a burger at Orphan Andys. The naked faerie dudes were out in full force today in jane warner plaza (I have missed them) but then I saw cops pull up 🙁 So wrong… it’s our culture! Get out of the Castro if you don’t want to see some old tanning-bed-leathery guy’s junk hanging out! Have a little respect ffs!!! Annnyway I had to work (yes i worked while having a burger I had so much shit to do!!)

Then I went to Cliffs to get a diamond tipped drill bit so I can drill through the cute but deadly for the root-rot flowerpots which lack a drainage hole. And some cracked mugs that I put succulents into. But… what is this…. in the cliffs window! A hat shaped like a happy narwhal?????!!!!! I tried it on. Then a whale hat. Fun but not quite … somehow not satisfying… I looked up and BEHOLD there it was…. heavens opening and light pouring down like the gayest thing you have ever seen …. at the top of the spinning hat rack – A giant flamingo hat. Well made too with a poseable wire neck & beak, and feathery-furred wings that are flappable. Even before I got the nice bear dude who works there to get it down for me I was belly laughing uncontrollably at how this was going to roll. And yes. It was magnificent. Best thing ever. Bear clerk goes “And you know what else *wink* Inside… inside the hat… it has a SECRET POCKET!” Oh what. Someone saw into my very soul. I mean what could be better. Maybe if it were reversible and the other side was a giant satin vulva I guess. Secret pocket, good enough! “Shall I just cut that tag off for you as I think you may be wearing this out of the store?” “Why yes, ” *hysterical doubling over laughing with tears in my eyes* “Yes please! OMFG I’m never taking this hat off again!” The head and neck of the flamingo are well balanced and you can feel the weight of it bobbing gently.

Bus driver, mouth open: “What… ok now what kind of swan is that you have on your head ma’am” “A swan of ULTIMATE DIGNITY!” “It is that. Well don’t let it fly while it’s on my bus” “I just got it, across the street! What’s gonna happen, someone might stare at me, right?” *bus driver finally loses it and cracks a smile*

most people: (refusing to make eye contact because i am probably a big ol douchebag (true))

a few, good people, kindred spirits: *eyes light up and face splits into a huge grin!!!!!*

I love this hat!

flamingo hat animated

Please please let me not fuck up my legs in some mysterious screwed up way and let me keep swimming and get my legs stronger. I haven’t felt this good since 2011.

Swimming with my Camaro

When I went to leave the house this afternoon there was a crew of guys pulling (fiber) cable under the sidewalk. I had been listening to them out the window for a while as I was working, and there was clearly one guy who was the big joker, though I couldn’t hear what he was saying most of the time he was bossing the other guys around and teasing them too. Anyway, I explained I had to open the garage door for my wheelchair, they moved their stuff to one side, then the joker started in once they could see into the garage as I had 3 wheelchairs visible (actually 5 in there or more? but 3 of them obvious and ready to go…) He was like Oh, three of them, your Mustang, your Camaro, your BMW… I told him the one I was in is the Camaro because it goes the fastest. I think we were flirting? In Spanish? In any case I like being indulgently joked with by kind workmen in hard hats. It helps fulfill my lifelong wish of being a character in Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy World (I am obviously Bugdozer). Then I had the song “Bitchin’ Camaro” stuck in my head for the next half hour. Also, excited we are getting FIBER!!!!

It was pretty quick getting to Balboa Park station on the J. There were California poppies growing on the train tracks between Bernal and Glen Park. I mentioned before how the Balboa station strikes me as not being FOR people; it is for trains, and the train-ness is built around cars, as it is right next to the 280 highway in a little maze of on and offramps. At least it isn’t smack in the middle of the highway. But it is so full of fences, walls, spikey metal things, giant ramps and tracks and stairways. It is a confusing building inside and out. One thing to note if you are a wheelchair user – The accessible platform for getting OFF the J is nearly but not quite inside the station — in the trainyard itself and leading right to the interior of the station. But the platform for boarding the inbound J train is on the other side of the building.

Balboa Park itself is just lovely! All the flowers are blooming. Landscaping particularly nice. The skatepark was empty & the door was open. You know what that means!!!!!! Yes I went in and tried all the ramps. It would be REALLY fun to go with my manual wheelchair! The powerchair is less satisfying because it doesn’t go faster downhill (it stays throttled). Surely somewhere there are awesome sport powerchairs or someday…. WHILL will let folks custom program the motor controllers with more interesting options. (Or I will have another one someday and be able to hack around on it with impunity.) Feeling very pleased with myself for marauding around the skatepark…. like in reality I know it just looks a bit silly but IN MY MIND i’m aaron fucking fotheringham out there! No lie!!! Sadly there was no way to photograph this…. But here’s me smirking about it, just afterwards.

balboa park

I am trying to look up who made the sign. Maybe it says somewhere in the park. My prime suspect is Victor Zaballa who does a lot of public art and metalwork around town (he made the paper cutout (papel picado) railings at 16th and Mission). I can spot his work sometimes now, and also William Mitchell’s.

Instead of immediately going to swim, I trundled down past the park to Red Sea Pizza & Mkt, conveniently also a pokestop and Ingress portal. I had marked it down on the map along with Pineapples as a Balboa station thing to do. The yelp reviews didn’t lie — this is great pizza! 4 bucks a slice, and i got a fucking giant, fabulous piece of pizza covered with garlic and olives and 2 kinds of pepperoni. The crust was perfectly crispy. They have some sort of crust miracle going. How is that?!!!! I sat outside at their tiny tables to watch people go by someone catcalled me from a car. I looked up from my pizza & it was a tiny woman a little older than me screeching out her car window “LET’S HEAR IT FOR PURPLE HAIRED LADIES!!!” Her hair was a rich deep purple. “PURPLE SISTERRRRR!” I screamed back. We did thumbs up at each other and giggled and then it was a little awkward because the light didn’t change and we didn’t know what to do next except continue giggling. Let’s hear it for being catcalled by cute silly haired women in mini coopers! Entirely pleasant. Some teenagers came in and then suddenly ran out yelling at each other – they were running for the train. The market owner (super nice!!!) came out and laughed with me about it and said he likes to place bets every morning on the kids running after the J train. A nice place to hang out.

I am eyeing Tasty Coffee as a nice place to work after a swim… Next time. That and the dole whip at pineapples…. calling me.

Onward to the pool. It’s big, it’s new, it’s lovely! The building is just very pretty (inside and out). It’s still a giant slab of concrete but somehow is like the friendly little brother of the loud, stompy, spiky, fortress train station.

There is an accessible shower stall. Bring a lock (unless you are me and can just stuff your clothes under your wheelchair seat). The water is much warmer than any other public pool I’ve been in (thank god!) at 82′ which is the maximum they’re allowed to set it. (Says the super nice lifeguard. ) The air wasn’t bad either, and it was a chilly, rainy day. I got into the water without even a squeak! There are huge picture windows – even while swimming i could see the water tower in McLaren Park and some trees and hills & houses and a ton of birds flying by (the seagulls who love to hang out at the dump, I guess.) All the staff was so nice.

Minor complaint, the door opener buttons don’t work. . . But people sprang up to offer to open them so if you can’t handle heavy doors, don’t worry too much. (And you can bypass the locker room doors easily by just going into the pool area and entering from that direction.)

My waterproof ipod shuffle and headphones worked great and I swam a zillionty laps very slowly in the slow lane shared with a businesslike 80 year old who was there when I started and seemed ready to go another half hour after I quit.

Very different from swimming last summer when I was still not quite able to do laps. I feel stronger! My calves and ankles are definitely stronger. I can trace back over the years to 2012 when I couldn’t even get into water without ankle braces because the little currents of the water moving my ankles around ever so slightly made me want to throw up from pain. Oh man. How I ever endured those times I don’t even know (not the pool, just the whole terrible year of my ankles going kablooey in every tendon. Like being squeezed by evil snakes on the INSIDE.)

Anyway now after my epic 20 minute swim, my legs are all wobbly and wibbly & my knees hella hurt right now but I dont think it’s the going to be injured for weeks sort of hurt – I will take some pain meds and take it easy tomorrow. Feeling very optimistic about swimming a few times a week and gradually increasing the time/laps. Remind me of this optimism tomorrow when I wake up and can’t move out of bed before voltarening myself for an hour and whining a lot.

The hours for lap and rec swim also looked just great for me, big chunks of the afternoon and then early evening. I’m so excited, I’m going to swim all the time…. I remarked to the lifeguard that Garfield Pool is closer and seems to be the next in line (it’s closed for renovation) and he said he thought it was going to be really nice. Yay! Pools!!!!!!!

When I drive past the kids
They all spit and cuss
‘Cause I’ve got a bitchin’ Camaro
And they have to ride the bus

Rescued by Love and Magic

Well it finally happened — I ran out of wheelchair battery! I left the house with 21% and figured it would be fine. After getting groceries I was at 10%. A block from the top of Cortland (a huge hill that I live at the bottom of) the battery indicator suddenly dropped to 2% and then stopped me dead! I was laden with bags of groceries as I was shopping for my friend who is house-bound at the moment and doesn’t have anyone coming to help him till Tuesday. anyway, I sat there pushing the “on” button and going about 2 feet, then the battery would die again. I was probably cursing and distressed looking but I can’t even remember — I was so discombobulated.

A young couple walking by asked if I needed help. Incredibly flustered, I explained maybe i could coast from the top of the hill, or get in a cab. They said they lived just a few houses down and I could charge the battery, or they could push me!

We fiddle around to disengage the motor and I let the guy push me uphill for a block.

Y’all I was blushing. But it was so nice of them both.

At the crest of the hill the battery indicator suddenly said 4% and I was able to motor very slowly down the hill. “OMG thank you. What’s your name?” “I’m Magic.” I’ll say! “And your name?” “Um, I’m Love.”

I was literally rescued by Love and Magic today!!!!!!

Even my bad adventures have a good side sometimes! I’m a little teary eyed right now and going to lie down and experience some feelings while my powerchair battery charges up.

Wandering around

In the morning I did some house cleaning and then worked at looking at my expenses and money to think about how to save more and all that kind of thing. Then off to Rockridge BART which I will review later. The ride over was enlivened by some kids with their aunt, going to Antioch which was going to be a long ride. I showed them Pokemon on my phone and then let them play it (they did trainer battles while I provided a running commentary) And they were just adorable – the younger one, maybe 5, was very into trains so we had discussions about which station we were at, excitement at coming out of tunnels, etc. and he liked he BART stickers (old boi, new boi) on my chair. Their aunt was nice and also hilariously trying to get them to bet her money they weren’t going to stand up for the entire hour and a half long ride. “How much do you want to bet?” “A thousand dollars” “Show me…. show me that thousand.” “A hundred dollars” “OK, show me that hundred” “5 dollars” “You’re gonna show me the five, right? Lay it down” Super charming kids.

I wandered around Rockridge & then over to my sister’s house, ate more cake, went through some piles of stuff for donating and had a fish taco & then back to the city for a party at Queerious Labs which is a new hackerspace in SOMA. Had nice conversations with people about hacking yeast to make it produce insulin, inserting genes into plants to make them glow and how you can special order send stuff off to labs to have them insert stuff with CRISPR (??!), some people having a meeting about their Julia project which uh, something LISPy that um something with AI or I couldn’t really hear and it was over my head anyway, but neat and I think it was tentatively called “Fifth”; lee’s monome and accompanying norns gadget which was extremely beautiful, and which you can program with supercollider; another sound and light project which I don’t remember the details of; icelandic sagas (!!!!!! ) me and claire being very excited to find anyone who would talk about sagas at all !!! (That giant red book with the eagle thing on the cover with all the norwegian ones! Grettirs saga! Njal’s! I enthused about Freydis and her beating her breast with a sword in battle while she was like 9 months pregnant. We then all talked about culture and dreams and how queer migration is with san francisco and the bay area in general and the sort of tech dreams people pursue or just wanting to be in a center of culture and art and creation and how to be a good home for that.(kill rock stars; no gods no masters)

On my way out of 24th St. BART going home at midnight, I was rushing to go across 24th and so were 3 other people, a young woman and 2 guys with her and they were saying “we won’t make it and she was saying “we’re gonna make it!” As I whooshed past them I said “We’re totally gonna make it” and we did. She then (a bit drunk or high, joyous, anyway) was like “SEE! SHE KNEW! SHE BELIEVED ME” and the guys were like, . . . wut ? She then veered off laughing like she was going to cross the street with me where I was about to cross mission while they were continuing down the sidewalk. “We don’t have time for this!” they told her. “I’m just saying there’s a GENDER THING” she yelled, giggling. “RIGHT!?” (turning to me again). I started laughing. Dudes faces were so confused. This girl is sick of their bullshit! hahaha! I was like, “Don’t worry, you’ll teach them how!” She high fived me as we crossed the street. “Well yes I will but i’t going to TAKE A WHILE” she yelled into the night to the dudes who were confusedly following us across Mission. “What… are you insulting us? What is this? What??” said the guy who was probably her boyfriend. “HAHAAH!” she said. “HHAHAHAAHAHAAH” i cackled uproariously, veering off to get into position for the approaching 49 bus. Argumentative whinging from both young men. “CACKLING WITCHES IN THE NIGHT, YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!” I hollered cheerfully, still doubled over in wild laughter. “WEIRD LITTLE PURPLE HAIRED CYBORG LADIES! IT’S WHAT THIS CITY IS ABOUT!” “THAT’S RIGHT!” yelled my drunk friend in our amazing consciousness raising session!!! (another high five) Giggling bystander getting on the same bus as me thru the back door: “Oh my god. Thank you for making this city fun.”

I can rest easy tonight knowing I have nobly done my part.

Calle 24 Cultural Crime #9823468

Really hating how the McDonald’s at 24th and Mission blasts classical music all hours of the day. It ruins the beautiful soundscape of both BART plazas which normally have several flavors of latin music going at once.

They’re doing it to discourage “loitering” but this is a public space specifically designed for people to enjoy being in! It’s extremely obnoxious – offensive!

I kind of get doing it at midnight but…. just no!

MUNI poems!

I was so excited to see on Twitter that this guy Mc is writing a poem for every MUNI line in San Francisco! They’ll be in the Bay City Beacon. He then said he was going to read poetry on the sidewalk over in Cole Valley on Sunday morning. So I hopped on the J, then the N, went through the cute little East/West Portal tunnel, and found him declaiming some Mary Oliver outside Cafe Reverie.

He had a whole foot locker full of books & read me his poem 37 Corbett. I was squawking with delight to find it was not only a good idea but he is also a good poet. (whew!) I also liked his elevator repair shop poem. Read him back one about a road trip from My Lai and then we talked about loving and seeing beauty in city infrastructure. “I LOVE SIDEWALKS…. I mean…. they’re so beautiful… ” *wild poet babbling* He listened to me talk about my BART game a bit & my feelings about getting people to see all the layers of history and future and stories in their daily experiences. Felt nice to meet a kindred spirit.

sidewalk poetry reading

We promised to send each other some sort of links but if I could only remember what it was… O yeah! Diamond Dave’s & Global Val’s Friday afternoon pirate radio show from Mutiny Radio. And he was going to send me something on the spot in the Dogpatch where they launched the pieces of the BART tunnel under the Bay.

Bus poetry

Very excited about this bus poetry project by Mc Allen:

“Some news: I have been given a poetry column in the @BayCity_Beacon. I will write a poem for _every_muni_route_ in San Francisco. If you followed #TotalMuni2018 or #SummerofMuni this will be up your alley.”

I’m so going to show up on Sunday on the sidewalk and check this out. And maybe bring my own Ode to the 14 and the 49 (it needs to be written!)

Anyway …. I just wanna be friends with all the bus poets. So much love!

The logo is so clever, too, it’s the gorgous, swoopy MUNI logo but reworked to get the letters POEM into the swirls!

Two hours in Chutchui

Though I’ve been here on and off since 1991 I have never been to the actual Mission building in the Mission. I set out in the late afternoon to visit, feeling sad and solemn. I wanted to see the grave markers for Jocbocme and Poylemja aka Obulinda and Faustino. I hadn’t realized they are thin slabs of redwood and not gravestones from 200 years ago. The building, well, it was an old adobe church, I’ve seen a few and it was just like the rest of them. The big church, I couldn’t get into. There was a tiny kind of sad museum with minimal signage and a diorama uneasily juxtaposed with gilded religious things – in separate glass cabinets. The cemetery was a moody place with an untended air; the Ohlone tule house replica and “indian memorial” was full of water and trash inside. I read the gravestones, and a long list of all the people with grave markers there. Some were marked as killed by vigilantes. There were some french names, italian, lots of irish, many spanish including De Haro, José de Jesús Noé, the Bernal family, Captain Arguello. I was wondering if there would be a grave for Francisca, one of the first to die at the Mission (no.) Of course, the entire Dolores Park was a giant graveyard as well. I wandered around and thought of the unmarked graves of the thousands of Ohlone, Miwok, and other indigenous people who died at the Mission. The little statue of Kateri Tekakwitha, engraved “In Prayerful Memory of the Faithful Indians.” (WTF?!!??!!) Moss and grime on all the names in stone. As I went around the streets outside, I tried to see the landscape without rows of houses and pavement and see the landforms, creeks, arroyos, dunes, reed beds, and oaks that were there and the villages or camps of the Ramaytush people moving around the peninsula, including Chutchui. The banks of the creek were familiar to people, particular trees, good places to sit and look out from the hills, all familiar and homelike. As I went past the Maxfields cafe I was debating going in to write up some of my notes and also do some more work for the day. Ada and her friends were inside & ran out to fetch me! A nice surprise. They continued working on their D & D game prep while I got some work done. It was just nice to be around them. Waiting for the J, I was still looking around trying to see into the past several layers deep, my mood quite strange as well from having been reading the book “Ishi’s Brain” on top of the creepy Mission visit, when I realized the next train wasn’t going to come for 40 minutes (weird) so we trudged up to Castro to get the 24 home. The kids got on the back of the bus but the front was too crowded for me to get on. I tried to yell to them to just go without me but they hadn’t noticed so all was well – I would just get the next bus and use the interval to keep thinking my thoughts and take more notes. On the ride over the steep hills of Castro I was trying to re-think Chutchui into an alternate modern existence. The creeks open to the sky and rather than parks, camping sites as part of the infrastructure of the city, interspersed with buildings, the transport mostly underground, marshes and cultivated reedbeds and dunes still there, and people magically inoculated from disease, coexisting messily, much like now but with some different foci, different languages, power centered differently. As we turned onto 30th I got a phone alert on the Citizen app that a man had been stabbed in the back at the bus stop that I was about to get off at (30th and Mission) and traffic was stopped and would be rerouted. People were streaming live video of a woman in a red hat screaming at the police. Two men had run away from the scene, leaving in a white car. As my bus neared the scene we could all see that the block was swarming with cops. At least, I knew the kids were ok. It was their bus empty and parked a few blocks ahead at the corner of Mission and 30th. I got off the bus (explaining to the driver and the people at the front what was going on) and went home, skirting the cordoned off block and feeling so glad for my leather jacket covering the itchy places between my shoulderblades and more moodiness underneath as I thought of my girlfriend who was stabbed there in the 80s. Violence & ghosts are built into our landscapes as familiarly as anything else.

Dinner with friends

I had dinner with seelight and friends and her parents last night at her parents’ awesome condo overlooking the Bay. Delicious food! Whiskey soaked cake! (Make a gluten free cake mix, Bob’s Red Mill preferably, then make a syrup with a quarter cup of butter, a half cup of bourbon or whiskey, half cup of sugar. Take the cake out of the oven when it has about 5 minutes left to cook (it should still be soft in the middle), poke holes in it with a chopstick, pour the syrup on, put it back in to finish cooking. (I think. Or, just take it out and poke the holes and then let it stand after you pour in the syrup.) I’ll have to experiment with that.

At one point while we were discussing trees on the sidewalk which while they may be nice, may also not be nice, as they are cracking the foundations of the house and/or completely shadowing a building from any sunlight, seelight’s mom went, “Easy. Put a little poison every day, no one will know. Not all at once, just a little. Listen to your mother.” Very dryly. We kept doing callbacks to it in later conversation (applied to cars, people, etc) and every time it just got funnier.