Monday, November 19, 2012

Now I Know the Way to San Jose

Note to self: do not ever drive to San Francisco again.

No, that's not exactly the note. More like "If you choose to drive to San Francisco, realize that it's not an interesting drive and that six hours is longer than you think." As you may know, I love long drives and car-based adventures. But the scenery wasn't especially good in this part of California (or perhaps just at this time of year; lots of yellowish hills and fog and rain) and we (Matt and I) passed numerous astonishingly smelly stockyards. Utah it was not.

Fortunately, there was a marvelous reward at the end of the drive: I got to meet Kathleen, who is nothing less than an artistic heroine of mine. In real life she seemed suspiciously like a mortal human. It may have been a glamour. But I did get to watch her draw something in real time, which was fun. We all went to Alcatraz together, ate extremely good Chinese food in Chinatown, and saw a real live San Francisco protest. (Against the Israel/Palestine conflict.) We even got the full experience of being unexpectedly rained upon and having to buy plastic tourist ponchos.

I also did some very lazy observational research for the KUFC book, because I'd kind of had San Fran in mind when I invented Ortassi, the city in which the book takes place. It was irresponsible of me to do this when I'd never been to San Francisco, but I needed a city on the west coast of America that had been a real city (tall buildings etc.) since the Victorian era, and SF is the only one I know of. Fortunately, I discovered that the architecture of San Francisco (which, OMG! Never seen so many interesting buildings from different eras all smooshed together, so cool!) fits nicely with my intentions in the book, and that it's sprawly enough to meet my needs without being too similar, which is just right.

I hadn't expected to care much about Alcatraz, but it was captivating. The Park Service has wisely allowed the buildings to decay instead of keeping them pristine and pretty. It's like visiting an old forgotten cemetery in Europe, rather than a fancy manicured one. It's a sad place, to be sure, a lost place. But it feels real, not manufactured for our amusement.

For the record, this is the fourth blogfriend I have met in person this year. I think it's just fortune, not any effort on my part, but it's terrific.

Methinks this will be an interesting week creatively. Or, at least, mehopes. I leave you with this:
More Hamlet
(by Jessica Hayworth, whose work is interesting, in an Augusten Burroughs-Francis Bacon kind of way) 

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