Friday, 12 March 2004

AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY - PART 6






Two consecutive nights of mild(ish) drinking have done wonders for my appetite, but it will take more than an Italian B.M.T.® to satiate me today. It is Nathan’s turn to feel jaded, so I spend about an hour alone in the common room, drinking coffee and stuffing my face with ‘Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar’ Kettle chips, waiting to see what the others feel like doing. Turns out that Max and Charlie are similarly voracious, and they’re also all very keen on taking a trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
            The weather’s still holding its own as we descend into the bowels of San Francisco, through Belden Place and toward Market Street, where all the high-street retailers and familiar fast-food outlets ply their trade. We hesitate ridiculously before settling for something we assume the locals might go for. We are not disappointed. The place resembles some pre-war hotel lobby, with high ceilings and shabby oil paintings. The clientele appear slightly downtrodden, the food is suitably greasy. And then off to the SFMOMA.
            I shan’t going into any great detail – the point of galleries and museums is to interact with them on a personal level – but the SFMOMA is worth the trip. The building itself is quite interesting, and the contents too. I was particularly impressed by Mark Rothko’s ‘No. 14’, a powerful canvas of blue and orange that sort of glows at you. Its impact surprised me, and when viewed from an angle it possesses the ability to disorient.






On our return to the hostel we discover the staff are laying on a free spread. It’s basic fare – a sort of vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise – but probably the most nutritional thing I’ve eaten all week. What’s more it’s free.
We then relocate to Vesuvio for the first drink of the day, followed by some random ‘Irish’ hostelry around the corner. Where next? We decide that we’ve probably exhausted ‘the strip’ on Broadway and so hail cab to take us to Haight-Ashbury to touch base with Mad Phil in the hope that he might provide us with inspiration.
It’s alarmingly quiet back at Haight – it is Friday – but Mad Phil’s female companion reckons that Lower Haight is where it’s all at. Another cab and... nothing. What was that woman talking about? We get chatting to an English bouncer, but he seems as nonplussed as we are. Oh well, there’s always Delirium. We wave down another cab, and when we arrive the place is jumping.
On Fridays a self-confessed Anglophile spins an eclectic mix of Punk, Garage and New Wave; he will even play ‘Terry Waite Sez’ by The Fall on my behest. It is here that I discover the joys of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers for the first time. Alongside that there’s a bit of DEVO, some Talking Heads, possibly Gang of Four, certainly The Cramps, some Sex Pistols too, and a load of other choice tunes wholly befitting of the environment. We proceed to get just as smashed as we were on our previous visit, Max narrowly avoiding a fight along the way. I’d tell you more about it if I could only remember.






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