Wednesday, 10 March 2004

AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY - PART 4







I would have rather awoke at the Astoria. Instead, I find myself in an eight-man dormitory, hot, bothered, hungover. Then I remember that I am camera-less and the means by which I can retrieve my Lomo LC-A has been facilitated by me being here.
            I don’t mind hostels actually, and have generally found the standard of cleanliness in them to be of a reasonably high standard. This is most welcome when one needs to go about the business of laving and evacuating, which after last night’s carousing is at the top of my list of things to do. I notify Nathan of my intentions and we agree to reconvene in the common room.
            When we booked into the Green Tortoise just yesterday I suppose we’d anticipated spending more time here than we did – I assumed we’d return from Haight-Ashbury, kick back for a bit, freshen up, and then go out again. This didn’t happen so now’s my chance to have a proper look around. Yes, I think I like it here: people sitting around reading, making their breakfast, drinking coffee, and smoking – it’s all very civilised.
            Despite last night’s roistering we had the presence of mind to arrange a time and meeting place with our Mission based buddies: 12:00 a.m. at the bottom end of Chinatown. Nathan and I are a little late, but nobody minds. We all look frightful, and feel it too. In this respect the shade of the Financial District is a good place to be; although it’s nice to feel the warmth of the sun, its glare is too severe right now.
I pick up a free local paper from one of those archetypally American street dispensaries in attempt to follow up on the seaside dispute we witnessed yesterday.

‘Deadly Gang Fight at Ocean Beach: An unusually steamy day at Ocean Beach turned deadly on Tuesday afternoon when a man was killed and another injured as gangs clashed at the parking lot between The Great Highway and the beach.
            Police received a 3 p.m. call that two men were hurt during a brawl between Fulton and Lincoln streets, at the Great Highway. When police arrived they found one victim dead and another wounded. It was still unclear whether the victims had been shot or stabbed…’

The article went on to describe the casualties as being Hispanic males aged between 20 and 25 years, but did not establish what might have been the cause of this altercation.

Charlie has with him a handheld digital camera and our crapulence does not stop us from making use of it, albeit in a frivolous and very random manner. Bored with the tall buildings and the lack of anywhere appetising to eat, we decide to walk up to Fisherman’s Wharf. My hangover’s a stubborn little malady so I buy myself some grilled prawns, while the others indulge in the greasiest fare they can find.
            After pondering over the sea lions and a possible trip to Alcatraz, we concur that it’s probably time to go and pick up my camera. I offer to do so alone but everyone is very supportive, although they don’t very much fancy the bus ride. No bother, we’ll get a cab.
            The taxi driver is a friendly kind of guy, real talkative. We tell him how pleasantly surprised we are by the weather and he tells us it’s real unusual for it to be so hot at this time of year. “It’s real unusual for it to be hot like this at this time of the year,” he tells us. “Any of you guys play golf?” The taxi driver has been to Scotland, like many golf-loving Americans are want do, and he loved it there – the whiskey especially.
            And talking of booze, we may as well pause for a drink while we’re here. For starters, we need to thank the people at Delirium for holding onto my camera. That aside, it is only way we’re ever going to get shot of our hangovers. We stay for two and then go our separate ways.
On the walk back Nathan and I stop off in a thrift store (which I vow to return to but never do), then for a quick drink in a place called Harrington’s (a faux-Irish bar in the Financial district), and finally for something to eat, in McDonalds of all places, which will do for our dinner.






The ensuing night is a relatively quiet one. Max and Charlie come to meet us in the Italian Quarter, we take them to Vesuvio and then Fuse before acquainting ourselves with a few other bars along the strip. They don’t seem to offer much in the way of entertainment, these other bars, but maybe that’s because it’s the middle of the week.
The highlight of the evening is being gate-crashed by some large fellow whose opening gambit is: “It’s 1972 and I’m with John Lennon,” in a cinema apparently, although he doesn’t really expand on this. Next he asks Max if he’s related to Keith Moon, whilst simultaneously handing me a business card for some restaurant called La Flange. Shortly after he’s ejected from the establishment by the door staff, and then falls over comically on the sidewalk. Apparently he’s quite the pest around these parts.


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