Tuesday, 27 September 2011

San Francisco - days 25 - 28

Day #25
My day of tattooing was here. Got up early, left Tim in bed and went to Dennys for a largish breakfast, so I didn’t get hungry during the session. Got to Tattoo City half hour before kick off and chatted to Mary and Aleph for a while (the only people working that day). Aleph was DJing in the studio, and as usual, the music consisted of some kinda 80s goth-slash-hardcore crossover band. Got down to trying the design out on my arm, and all fitted nicely, although I was a little worried about the skull in my armpit. To be quite honest, I was quite nervous about this tattoo – my last three have been relatively painful, and this was gonna be in an awkward place. As I turned out I had nothing to worry about. I’d forgotten what a gentle tattooist Mary was – and although the armpit was fairly unpleasant, it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. The whole sitting went like a dream, and Mary finished it in good time. Was a really great session, and such a great laugh – I always have a good time with Mary, and although we probably shouldn’t chat non-stop while the tattooing is in session (so she can concentrate!), we don’t stop talking about bands and films. Her little tattoo room is pretty inspiring too. Her artwork is amazing, and she has up all the line drawings of finished work, and its amazing stuff. I wish I had more time to get more stuff off her!

After the session, we head over to Marys house, pick up Little Jack (her son) and go for pizza. Unfortunately Big Jack is on tour with Swingin Utters, so I don’t get to meet him again, which is a shame. The Inner Richmond is a really nice area, very quiet, with lots of small shops and restaurants. Giorgios Pizza (where we go), is another of these fantastic pizza places, like the one we had in Brooklyn. Little Jack bounces around the restaurant, talking to whoever he feels like and generally being the little performer he is, while we have a great huge thin base pizza. Was so cool getting to hang out with Mary outside of work, and made a change from the pace of the main city of SF. Once we’d finished, the guys dropped me off at the hotel, and Mary took Jack home to bed.

Day #26
This was Tims last day. 26 days on holiday and was weird to leave him behind and now be on my own (apart from a few days in LA), but to be honest, it seemed like he wanted to get out of SF. We’d had a good run of it and had been a mega trip so far. I had to get up early to catch a coach for my Monterey To Carmel trip – which turned out to be a big disappointing pain in the butt!

Got to the wharf and caught the coach – and I was the youngest person by quite a lot. The drive to Monterey was amazing, but was gutted we never got to stop at any of the incredible beaches and cliff faces on the way down. Instead, I sat in a rattley mini coach with no suspension, getting more and more disappointed as the scenery shot past me. We had a toilet stop in a little redneck town called Davenport about 45 mins out of SF, when Suzanne texted me to see if I wanted a day out as the weather was lovely in SF. I was seriously tempted to get a cab back. The weather stayed gloomy for the entire trip, and as the trip went on, I got more and more frustrated.

First stop – Fishermans Wharf in Monterey. Forget that Monterey has some pretty stunning coastline, we ended up more or less exactly where we started. A tacky tourist spot we’d already left behind in SF. I ran off to find the nearest beach, and after an hour found some great rocks and loads of seals. This was more like it, but I had to go back and catch the coach. The rest of the trip was awful. A drive along a road full of expensive houses (bothered!), a stop at a golf course (really?) and a shopping centre in Carmel. Again I ran to the beach, took some photos, got sand in my shoes and got wet. Me 0 Pacific 1! Best part of the day!

The drive home was excruciating, and I was finally dropped off about 10pm, the last of the passengers. I immediately cancelled my Yosemite trip on Monday (no way could I do that again), cleaned my fresh and sweaty tattoo, then went to Hooters on the Wharf for beers and wings. That made up for the day big time!

Day #27
Get up late and have time to kill before an evening meet up with Suzanne. Get to the cable car turnaround and jump on a cable car to Union Square. Get some wicked new jeans from the Levi store (514s – best fitting jeans I’ve ever had), wander around Rasputins record store for an hour (and buy nothing!) then decide that I might go to the cinema for a few hours. Grab the afternoon showing of the Straw Dogs remake. Which I really enjoyed, but might have to write a whole separate blog about. It was pretty much a word for word remake (even down to the characters names), they’d just transferred everything to the deep south. I must say the bear trap scene was done brilliantly though.

Grabbed a cab and headed to Zeitgeist for a quick beer to wait for Suzanne. Didn’t get ID’d due to my Black Flag shirt, but then got slapped on my brand new tattoo for my trouble! Had a beer then headed down to Casanovas (on 16th @ Valencia) to meet Suzanne. She was already on the margaritas when I arrived and got informed I was being dragged on a Mission area pub crawl. Which I’ll say now is the best pub crawl Suzanne has ever dragged me on! Casanovas I’d been to on my last trip briefly, and after one beer, was dragged out to the 500 Club. This place was great- nice punky dive bar, big bar, great jukebox, and had the best sandwich shop ever next door. Clares Deli was incredible. I had a meatball sub, which got delivered to the pub, and was so good, I had to go back later in the week. Brilliant place and great that the bar and shop are next to each other. After chatting to some of Suzannes friends, she took me to Benders for a quick drink, then onto Dirty Thieves for a couple more drinks and a chat with one of her friends who bartends there, and is also a cracking artist. Talked punk rock, knocked back some Old Styles, then was taken to Pops, a bar that I’ve been threatened with many times before, but not managed to get there.

Pops is deep in the Mission, and is a great little neighbourhood dive bar. Total punk rock clientele, wicked jukebox, and plenty of room. Saturday night is 90’s night, and they were playing all sorts of alternative stuff, from Jawbreaker and Kid Dynamite, to whatever other 90’s emo they could get their hands on. We got free beers all night from Suzannes bartender friends, then she dragged me up to the DJ area. They were gonna play “Boxcar” and I was gonna be singing it! I had no idea they’d been doing karaoke, but the DJ area was carnage – 30 people grabbing the mike, singing their heads off and crowd surfing in an area about 15 ft square. I was given the mike, and the song started, but to be honest it didn’t really matter what I was singing. I had a couple of helpers, and the crowd went mental to the song. They played “Dammit” by Blink 182 next, Suzanne crowdsurfed, then it was time to go home! She’d surpassed herself with this pub crawl, and was an incredible night. It also opened up more places to hangout in SF, and once again, I felt more at home than I’ve even done in this city. Brilliant.

Day #28
Woke up with a mini hangover, a grin on my face from last night and for what I was gonna do today. I’d already decided I was gonna go back to Askew Grill after last Sunday, but on Weds, I’d popped into the next door pub Hobsons Choice for a quick beer before I met Tim. HC is a pub I’ve been to everytime I’ve been in SF, as the first time we went there (in 2002), the barman Chris had entertained us for the afternoon, getting drunk with us and being a bit of a loon. Turns out he still works here, and after meeting him briefly on Weds, I promised I’d come back. It’s a really normal no frills pub, with massive windows and a ridiculous vodka selection. Jumped on a bus and got to the pub for 1.30 and had my breakfast – an anchor steam. Then I decided to partake in the bloody mary bar – Chris pours a massive vodka with ice, then you fill up and make your own bloody mary with whats provided on the help-yourself bar. It’s a brilliant idea, and mine was particularly yummy.

Had some food at Askew Grill, then another quick CD stop at Amoeba Music. Then a final beer at Hobsons before going back to the hotel. Then things went a bit wrong.

Desperate to cut my hair, and having not found a decent barbers anywhere, I thought I’d cut my hair with my beard trimmers. Turned out it took 12 hours in the end, as the things kept running down the battery! I must say I did a good job in the end, but I had a fairly miserable evening mid-haircut in the Wharf that evening. Wearing my beanie to cover the half head of hair that was left, I ended up in Tiernans, a shitty tourist bar in the Wharf. I had a couple of Anchors and a nice pulled pork sandwich, but was surrounded by old tourist couples, and was subjected to the worst ear shattering teeth grating karaoke I’ve ever heard. I know karaoke is meant to be bad, but its good when its entertaining. This was just painful. X Factor rejects through and through. Not one person realised they couldn’t sing. Luckily the barmaid was on my side, and eventually got the guy to turn them down. But it broke me. I sloped back to the hotel thoroughly dejected (after ruining an ace day with more Fishermans Wharf!), and worked through cutting my hair on and off for the rest of the evening/night!

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