Monday, November 12, 2007

West Up: Act I: The Castro

After I landed at SFO nearly a month ago to start a two-week working trip on the West Coast, the homie Dom scooped me up and took me to a dope Indian restaurant in the East Bay. A rare unbooked afternoon for both of us meant that we could do one of several things:

a) dig for records
b) watch some college football
c) have an adventure
d) all of the above

I always vote for "have an adventure," so that's pretty much what happened.

A pretty little Asian birdie told me about href="">this chess tournament. With the Wu Tang Clan as the top seeds in the competition, it made for a gen-yoo-wine curiosity. Which, of course was something Dom and I had to check out. The tournament was actually organized and hosted by Joel Waitzkin. OKA the kid from Searching for Bobby Fischer. Apparently, that dude had befriended the RZA, tutored him in the ways of the chess master and asked the beatmaker to do him a solid and headline this touring chess tourney. Which was actually a slick promotional crusade to sell this self-help book.

Dom figured all of that out shortly after I watched RZA withstand a vicious series of attacks--both knights to get RZA's queen, then both bishops, then both rooks before such an offense left a gaping hole RZA checkmated his opponent through--from one of those obnoxiously anonymous fourth generation members of the Wu. Youknow. The ones who no one knows who they are, don't actually have any records to their names, but still claim the Clan like it's a government check.

Anyway, that should have been the surreal start to the West Coast trip. But it wasn't. Not even close.

It was all merely a prelude to Sunday. So, let's talk about Sunday.

Dom and I started the day at the Gold's Gym nestled on the shores of Lake Merritt. Chest and back. Some ab work, too. About an hour afterwards, he said he hated me. And repeated that mantra for the next four days. But I digress.

We drove into the City, scooped up my dude Joe and headed for the Haight for an afternoon of records, t-shirts and bar-b-que. Well after the moon digested the sun, we found ourselves in the basement of a record store in North Beach when the homie Nick bounded down the stairs.

I've always known Nick to be a rather outsize personality. And I stopped being surprised by him years ago. 'Round about the time that I figured out it was best to limit questions, follow him and see what happens. For better or worse.

Nick works for the Drake. So he took us to his hotel for some drinks. He introduced us to Pazzo. Possibly the best red bottled in Northern California. In 2003. And 2004, too. Then he made sure our foursome put the "d," the "r," the "u," and the "n" in "drunk." Then he lead us to Club Six where the Beat Junkies were celebrating DJ ShortuKut's birthday. If you're not sure what that means, let me translate: five of the dopest DJs in the world went to the same club on the same night in the same city to take turns spinning the best selection of party music anyone could ask for. That should mean the club was packed and all sorts of good-natured debauchery ensued.

I wish I could tell you that's what this story was about. Of course, it is not.

The club was quite sausage-like. 70-30. Dudes-Chicks. At best. Never a good look. Thankfully, they have this drink called the San Francsico Tea. A concoction rated above the Long Island Ice Tea and even the Tokyo Tea in its effyouupability. After a couple of rounds of the City's finest beverage, the four of us added a "k" and several other mismatched letters to the "drunk" we began earlier in the evening.

After last call, Nick said we had to try this breakfast spot in the Castro. 3 am equals breakfast time. So that made perfect sense. And the food beared that out. A turkey bacon, spinach and swiss omelette tastes good under any circumstances. Especially delicious when you're buzzed and starting an adventure.

Just before the -itis could fully kick in, we paid our check and headed for the door. I recalled that the place happened to be named The Squat and Gobble. Clever. Seasonally appropriate. And terribly, terribly prescient.

Yousee, when we walked through the door of the breakfast spot, we found ourselves on 16th. A major surface street in San Francisco. Much closer to dawn than midnight. Very little car traffic. Virtually no people traffic. Less than 50 feet from our parked car.

I looked to my right. Oh so casually. To see a dude. Seated on the ground. His back against the wall of a building that kept normal business hours. Another dude stood over him. Pants around his ankles. Ass to the wind. Head tilted back. Moaning like he worked for Vivid Video. Enjoying some fine sidewalk dome.


I think each of my foursome took turns exclaiming the obvious. Sounding notes of disbelief, outrage and desperation. We didn't trust our eyes at first. Then we didn't believe the brazenness of the fellater and the fellatee. Hell, they were no more than 25 feet from a discreet alley. And then we all wanted to acidwash our memories to unsee that whole scene. Alas, there was not a Haitian among us.

So we did the only thing that was left to do: laugh boisterously, speed off to our homes and pass out.

We laughed some more the next day. And the day after that. Shared the story with a couple people. And pledged never to speak of it again.

Obviously, I knew this this trip was going to be a memorable one. For some much better reasons than the inspiration for this entry. I hoped.

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