Sunday, August 29, 2004

I'm tired, this weekend wore me out but it's a good tired. Saturday started early, I met a group I'm thinking about volunteering with. Afterward, I hooked up with some friends in Berkeley and we headed over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge for our North Bay mini-vacation. Our first stop was Muir Woods National Monument The woods gives you a glimpse of the ancient redwood forest of old on the Northern Coast. Muir Woods has redwood trees 100's of years old, I'm always amazed by their majestic beauty. I've always loved the outdoors and even though Muir Woods was full of tourist I can create a quiet space so I can commune with nature. Unfortunately, my buddies were driving me bonkers we went for a short hike and they were loud. Their behavior reminded me of junior high school kids, I had to separate myself from them and remind them that children were present and they needed to watch their language.

After the Muir Woods we headed to Stinston Beach, it was packed, the lot at the Beach was full and it's a big parking lot. We didn't want to park far because we had an ice chest, so we decided to try another location the Village of Bolinas. In Northern California Bolinas is known as the town that doesn't want to be found. When you drive on Hwy 1 there are no signs to Bolinas so you need to have directions or you'll never get there. It was my first visit to Bolinas it's very cute and when you drive through town you run into the beach. It was a great choice, we found parking quickly the beach was crowded but we easily found a spot. We sunbathed, listened to music, read and played in the water. It was not icy cold, I believe that was the first time I've been in ocean neck deep since I've moved to the bay area. I have to admit that If I didn't have a perm in my hair I would have body surfed. I need my braids back!!! Everything was going great but then everyone noticed that the fog was starting roll in and the beach party was over for now. My swim suit was still a little wet and I couldn't change my cloths but no problem just wrapped myself in the beach towel and we were off searching for the sun. It wasn't hard to find we just needed to continue driving north up the coast.

We had planned to checkout one of the Oyster Companies and Tomalas Bay Oysters was a few miles away North of Bolinas and Point Reyes National Monument.
Tomalas Bay Oysters Company sales oysters to the public and restaurants. It's not a restaurant but you can buy fresh oyster by the dozens at the variety of sizes and they provide grills and picnic tables for those who want to cook on their site. You can also buy coal, oyster crackering tool, hot sauce and lime. We made it there just before they closed we bought a few dozen oysters and hot sauce & ate them in the nude, not us the oysters. Our biggest challenge was opening the shells, the guys working gave us instructions and lent us their tool and we went for it. It was fun, the spot was funky the oysters were good and the fog stayed in check.

Tomalas Bay Oysters Company

While we pigged out on oysters, our travel partner who had been driving all day couldn't eat the oysters because of her diet. We wanted to take her out for a nice meal. We drove to Point Reyes Station to the Station House Cafe, we grabbed a seat in the bar to circumvent the 45 minutes wait and had dinner. It was a stylist but casual restaurant; the bar had a guitarist who was very good. The flair was a little California cuisine-ish portions were small but the food was tasty and the price was not outrageous. We shared Steak and Halibut the sides and salad were good. The service was professional and friendly, I'm sure that was my first of many trips to Station House Cafe.

After dinner we started back home, unfortunately we forgot about the fog and went right back into it which wasn't necessary. It was dark, foggy and hardly anyone else was traversing the curvy roads. We saw some beautiful images that night, the moon looking radiant in a mist and fog halo. The ocean and San Francisco being totally engulfed in the blanket of fog with the moon lighting the natural spectacle.

But I was gripping the car door peering out the window making sure we could see the double yellow line of the road. We lost it a few times, nothing serious but it was scary. But we survived and made it to the freeway.

It was a nice weekend get-a-away, hey don't let me be one of few enjoying these places. Soul folks come out and explore these wonderful places. Don't forget it's your tax dollars also being spent.


Friday, August 27, 2004

Thursday, I'm going out today it's beautiful, September is near and it's time for warm weather around the bay. If you're planning to visit San Francisco come late August, September or October if you like warm weather. I was invited this evening to dinner with some friends and afterward to Yoshi's to hear Eddie Palmieri. I declined the dinner it was so gorgeous outside I decided to stay at Jack London Square after purchasing a ticket for the show. The concert started at 8:00 PM but at 5:00 PM when I arrived to purchase my ticket there were people waiting in line. The seating is general and these folks were willing to wait in line until 6:00 to get the seats of their choice. I was suppose to reserve a table for four but I wasn't willing to wait in line for a premium seats. So I walked over to the public wharf. I found a comfortable clean bench with a pleasant view of the Marina. I'm always amazed how underutilized Jack London Square is during the week. It's a great space if you're looking for a peaceful place to relax or dine.

I headed back over to Yoshis around 5:45 to reserve a table, the line was longer but workable. But to my disappointment after I entered Yoshi's they wouldn't let me reserve a table unless I had all four tickets. I thought that was ridicules and I tried to create some pseudo reserve signs to save the seats, management/staff remove them and a couple had taken two of the seats. Thankfully, the Karma God was kind that evening we were able to sit together. But no thanks to the staff at Yoshis, so be warned - one person coming early to hold seats doesn't fly unless you have all the tickets this was my experience.

I've seen Eddie Palmieri before and I enjoy Latin-Jazz and Mr Palmieri is one of the best musicians today. His lead vocalist Herman Olivera is sexy and has a beautiful voice. His singing took me back to Africa he has a lot power. Jose Claussell on Timbales brings a joy to his performances that is a pleasure to watch. The guest musician Jimmy Bosch performed with the group. All I will say is power, clarity, and style. Hanging out with my partners was cool we stayed for both sets. The second set people were trying to dance and management was making folks sit down. I think/know Yoshi's is the best place to hear Jazz but the staff Thursday night didn't pop my cork. But the music was right on the money.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tuesday night, just got home from my History of Jazz Class, I'm hoping to learn about the music that has caught my fancy in the last few years. Unfortunately I started to wear out this evening by the time class was over my head was aching, maybe I was listening to the music way too intensely.

Sunday was a continuation of my movie run, well I can't see the Olympics and TV is really boring me. Sunday afternoon I saw the much criticized Catwoman and in the evening I saw highly praised Maria Full of Grace.

Ok, I do feel that Catwoman was panned more harshly than it deserved. It was on the level of Charlie's Angels II (Full Throttle) that's not a compliment but I was disappointed with that film. How can I pretend a respect a film which contains the lame "Can't Touch this " dance scene and special effects that belong on an old arcade game. Catwoman didn't disappointment me I was expecting a light action movie and that's what was delivered. Unfortunately the special effects team seemed like the same folks from Charlie's Angels. Live action please!!! What's fun about the film is it's subplot of female freedom and finding self versus female acceptance and promotion of the status quo, resentment, anger and eventual insanity? Sharon Stone was one unhappy woman. Also, Halle was fine as Catwoman, I don't know if the film will make enough for a Catwoman II but I wouldn't mind seeing Catwoman again. Maybe they're hire Eartha Kitt for a cameo next time.

Maria Full of Grace was a complete turn and a perfect way to end the movie marathon. This weekend all the films watched had female leads and focused plots, I hadn't planned my weekend this way but choices speak for themselves.

All the films dealt with woman empowering themselves whether it was questionable strength by revenge like Uma Thurman character in Kill Bill, the patriotic, strong yet feminine Woman Warrior Hua Mu Lan, or the freedom seeking, self actualizing, superhuman Catwoman.

Maria full of Grace is a film about woman making incredible harsh decisions for a chance at a better life. Are they the true heroes, those who struggle to change their lot. You'll have to watch the film to make your decision. The performances are good, plot well written.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

I've never seen Disney's Mulan but today I saw, The Lady General Hua Mu Lan (1964) this is a Chinese, Opera/musical version of the story of the woman warrior Hua Mu Lan. The movie was being shown at The Four Star's Asian Film Festival. I went with a friend who had an extra ticket - yeah cheapie gets to go free. The actress Ivy Ling Po performance is very good, while I'm not a judge of Chinese Opera technique I found her stylized movements fun and elegant. I read she won a best actress award for her performance. I'm not surprise to find out she was a popular actress. This movie was perfect for Saturday afternoon, Hua Mu Lan character was brave, elegant, patriotic and a feminist. The men were portrayed in a progressive light the songs and movement all worked. When the film ended the audience applauded including me.
It made me feel like a kid again entering a magical world.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Stuck in a server room in Richmond California, I guess the citizens of California tax dollars are being well spent today. I'm in my second office accessing our oldest servers and trying to determine what I can do to keep these relics from falling apart. I'm looking at the server that is ready for cannibalizing the SCSI controller is starting to fail and it's embedded on the motherboard ....oh well. If the server was under warranty I wouldn't worry so much.

As I sit in this windowless room - my mind wanders back to Sunday, the weather was nice gave me a chance to bike ride in Golden Gate Park and that evening I went to Ashkenaz to celebrate with a friend her first full-time teaching position, an opportunity to finally get tenure. She's an incredibly hard worker - I've always admired her direction in life. Someone who loves the arts and has made participating, supporting and scholarship within the arts her life work.

Ashkenaz, was a good place to celebrate, it's one of my favorite places in the Bay Area. Located in Berkeley, it's all-ages, racially-mixed, relaxed, no smoking, wine but no hard liqueur dance club. You can go there and do your thang on the dance floor no pretentions. The music styles vary, on Sunday Fely was performing she's a singer from the Ivory Coast. She's a beautiful young lady who sung in various languages she was accompanied by a seven piece band. Danced, ate cake, socialized and had to call it a night. Work on Monday, now I'm at work living for the weekend.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tuesday, haven't had lunch yet and it's a quarter to 4:00 at this point I'll just crawl home and have dinner. I'm not dieting but I'm still thinking about Super-Size Me and today on NPR they had a segment on Obesity tied to Income . To counter this fat attack there was an interesting article In the New York Times "Demonizing Fat in the War on Weight" So, maybe it's an evil plot...but just to be safe I'm cooking tonight.

Over the weekend I made it to Afro-Solo, the program was at the African-American Culture Center in San Francisco, the crowd was small and familiar. There was a healthy amount of artist in the seats. I enjoy solo pieces, what will the individual gives us - a window into their life, rants about an issue, a theatrical performance, poetry or dance? Performance art seems to be out of favor at the moment except for solo theatrical pieces and poetry but I appreciate the artist putting themselves out.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Friday after work I felt a little restless so I headed to the Red Vic Movie House in the Haight to See Super Size Me. The Red Vic is one of my favorite theaters in the city. It's worker owned and operated shows art films and second runs. The staff is very pleasant and the popcorn is served in recyclable bowls and they provide a wide variety of spices to season your corn, salt step to the back.

Super Size Me, made we feel embarrassed that I eat so much junk food, the film makes a strong argument that McDonalds uses marketing techniques to hook eaters from cradle to grave. I was a child raised on Cheeseburgers, my favorite semi-beefy treat, but at this date I know how to control my diet. It's not like I eat McDonalds weekly but if it isn't McDonalds it's something else and this is the other issue of the the film . Can we blame McDonalds if we eat high fat diets daily? Whether it's the Big Mac, Whopper, Oreo cookies or sodas it's dangerous to stick this stuff in our bodies. Children need advocates in regards to their diets what does your child eat at school, adults we have to take a few moments to educate ourselves. Super Size worked for me - I'm recommending the film to family and friends.

After being Super Sized I headed to Amoeba Records, been dying to buy some jazz CDs especially Duke Ellington at Newport Complete, I heard clips of the 1956 concert on NPR and Duke's Band was swinging and the audience went wild. Amoeba has a great selection and reasonable prices I had no trouble finding the CD (free commercial). I've haven't had much success hearing big bands today that swing...at the San Jose Jazz Festival there was a Big Band Stage. The band I heard was ok, it's not fair to make comparisons to Ellington band but I'm looking for some live big band with energy not just precision playing..

My evening wasn't over, a friend swung by Ameoba and we where on our way to the Hemlock Tavern to see Harlem Shake Burlesque. Harlem Shake Burlesque is an African American Burlesque troupe. I know there's a resurgent of Cabaret, New Vaudeville, and Burlesque, this was my first Burlesque performance, I wanted to see how these sisters are representing. I've known about the Hemlock Tavern for years but the name, didn't inspire me to taste their libations. The Tavern is located in the Tenderloin, the gentrification surprised me in the neighborhood, new clubs and restaurants...while I have mixed feeling about gentrification I don't miss the boy prostitutes who used to fill the corners of this area when I first moved to the city. I know they're still there just more concealed, it's a heavy prostitution location for males and females. As we waited at a corner, a transgender man was yelled at by a group of men in a car. I felt a jolt of nervousness that we were about to get involved in a hate crime. Thank God those ass-holes kept on driving. This is my complaint about gentrification the people moving in really want to drive out the current community. The guy waiting on the corner wasn't bothering anyone what makes these men feel the need to intimidate others. They're the ones white males and clean cut our society defines as normal but there's something sick and primitive happening in these guys psyches. Why aren't they having a good time enjoying their friends without threatening others?

Anyway, nothing happened, the Tavern, a large bar full of mostly kids - we made our way to the back where we found a small room almost full, we where lucky of get a seat and table. It was an interesting audience mixed race and age with a strong dose of hip-ness. The opening act was Tippy Canoe and the Paddleman, Tippy is a Ukulele playing 1930ish-vampish singer, Paddleman company her on bass. I like, their style laid back but vampy, and choice of music rock-a-billy and 1930 songs. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the ukelele.

Harlem Shake Burlesque, show was a combination of songs, dance, and striptease. It was fun and interesting. Since strip joints aren't on my activity list I can't compare these performances to current strips shows, except to say this show didn't have full nudity pasties and tassles were tastefully used. The show made me cognitive of the art of striptease. I just want to know how they make those tassels spin. Also, one of the dancers Lady Marmadlade, performance brought memories of Josephine Baker, her energy and dancing was fun. The singer/dancer Alotta Boutte, did saucy blues numbers she did a nice job. I'm going to see the troupe again and see more artist performing in this scene.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

This was one trip which wasn't enjoyable, yeah I went by my friend's home today, everyone is ok but it was pretty bad - they're homeless. My homeboy was really lucky his father saw the fire and woke him up, if not I doubt he would be alive. His burns appeared first/second degree. His stuff, bike, art, music & books are gone!

Their home is insured but I saw several months of majors repairs. I thought about it all day....it was an accident but to damage your parents home and endanger their safety is really distressing.

I finish reading Harriet Tubman a Road to Freedom, it's a great book, well written and informative. Catherine Clinton enlightened me more on the road trip this summer than any tour guide. What a nice buffer to Confederate Sympathizers.

After reading about such a thoughtful, brave, intelligent, an altruist person I decided to make 90 degree turn and start reading the extremely lengthy and controversial Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Her philosophy of Objectivism is based on the virtue of self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism. Why read Atlas Shrugged? It's always good to get perspective on how others see the world.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I receive an email from a friend this evening saying he had burnt his family house down I hope it's not true. Spent part of the evening trying to contact him or his family but no success. I'll find out tomorrow......


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More Japanese cinema, yesterday saw The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi, another film featuring Tadanobu Asano he plays a Ronin, he also stars in "Ichi the Killer" I'm going to see more of his films he's a wonderful actor. The Blind Swordsman, is a bit overrated in my opinion. I really feel it's a piece hyped, and promoted because of the celebrity of Takeshi Kitano. While the slower parts of the film has interesting pacing and cinematography - I was not drawn to the Zatoichi character and while bloody I missed more stylized swordfighting. Maybe I'm still reeling from Ichi.


Monday, August 09, 2004

Two hours of sleep and I'm up - don't ask me how. I wasn't very tired which is good because I had a 10:00 AM train to catch. If you don't know Caltrain it's a Bay Area regional rail system. Since my last ride they have refurbished the seats and the ride felt smoother, they may have upgraded the rail. I didn't sleep but it was a comfortable.

Caltrain was a perfect choice for our excursion to San Jose for the San Jose Jazz Festival. The San Jose Jazz festival is the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast and maybe the USA. Three days of music in a variety of venues, indoor and out, headliners and local musicians, street faire food, restaurants, bars and evens museums just a few steps in any direction.

I went with my jazz buddy we listened to many artists and navigated different venues, no reviews too many artists to speak about. One comment the festival mission is to support young jazz artists and one of my favorite activities at the festival is listening to young musicians at the San Jose Tech Museum. It's thrilling to see the children playing the music

We stayed until 8:00 PM grabbed a burger at Johnny Rockets and made the last train to San Francisco....still didn't sleep?

I'll be back next year- one suggestion for the Main Stage bring some lawn chairs mark your territory and get there early.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Back in San Francisco, the first couple of days where rough I was tired and I missed the Southern Scene - the Richmond District is a far cry from Alabama. One thing I was happy to see and feel was the fog - humidity be gone.

A course I missed my buddies, on Saturday I was taken out to our neighborhood theatre The Four Star- which sadly may be closing down - hopefully this won't happen.

I call the Four Star my extended den - it's a comfortable neighborhood theatre. It's only two blocks from my apartment so it's an easy stroll home. Their film selection is usually foreign but they also have first runs.

Four Star Theatre

The service is always friendly, one time they were popping a fresh batch of corn and the movie was starting they suggested for me to sit down and they delivered the popcorn very cool very nice.

We went to a midnight triple feature slumber party - featuring Takashi Miike films Fudoh, Ichi the Killer and Vistor Q. We saw the first two but since I was going to the San Jose Jazz festival later that morning we didn't stay for the third film. After Ichi the Killer I was completely awake I've never send such a well made violent film. The imagery was extreme gore, yet the film is very creative, its' themes of male violence and worth within a Yakuza gangster plot mades me want to watch the film again just to attempt to comprehend what the filmmaker is saying.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

I'm leaving the South tomorrow, it's been a trip filled with family, travel, and education of historic proportions. I had never thought of vacationing in South Carolina, now I'm planning to do it again. By coincidence I am reading Harriet Tubman by Catherine Clinton. To my surprise Mrs. Tubman spent time in South Carolina in Beaufort as a nurse, the Sea Islands, and was involved in the attack on at least one the Middleton family Plantations with ex-slaves enlisted as Union soldiers - the Cambahee Raids. She was incredible as a Union soldier, spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. Her name was never mentioned once on any South Carolina tour. Reading about Harriet supplemented the trip, it provided knowledge and inspiration.

While we're on the subject of inspiration, I had the pleasure to visit the Rehope Baptist church in Lafayette Alabama. It's nice to attend service at Rehope where family and friends are always present. My mom was raised in this community, while I was raised Catholic in California, Rehope feels like home to me.

I'm not sure if the church is in the city's limits. It's a rural church located on a road named "County Road"

Rehope Baptist Church

Across the road from the church is the Rehope Cemetery where my Grand-parents, Great Grand Parents and other relatives were laid to rest. My Great-Great Grand Parents are buried in another cemetery not very far away, it's hard to accept they were born as slaves.

Rehope cemetery

After service, I visited relatives and had a great southern dinner at my Cousin home. I'll miss it all.


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