Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Dillio

Dear Reader,

I've decided to address a few topics that keep coming up in regards to the glory of sleepwalking. "What's it all mean?" I've been asked. "What happened to all the political stuff?" "What's with the 'workers players revolvers' motif?" "What's up with your poetry?" "How come you don't have new stuff up every day?" "What's the dillio, yo?"

Well, the dillio is this:

I say sleepwalking because sometimes you're going through life and it looks like you're going through the motions, but really, you're changing the world only it's so subtle that nobody suspects that it's taking place let alone that you're the one behind it all. And if you think about it, all roads lead to glory. Actually, all roads lead to a lot of different places, but there's bound to be some glory along the way. It's part of that whole 15 minutes of fame business. I'm not saying that all glory is deserved, but somewhere, somehow, sometime, someone will give you a pat on the back—maybe even one you don't deserve—and when it comes you'll lap it up or laugh it up or ... maybe you won't. Maybe it won't happen at all. You see, what I'm trying to say is why in the hell do you think that I know what it all means?

Like the political stuff? I mean Christ but that gets depressing. Sometimes it's more fun or liberating or enlightening to think about these pants, you know what I'm sayin'? All day long you're a worker who'd rather be a player, and if you're denied long enough you evolve into a revolver until the dream dissolves and you wake up at your desk in your tiny cubicle with the man's lackey breathing hoary breath down your neck. The merry-go-round—that's the motif, the poetry of life.

I ain't no poet by the way. I'm no powerful goddess. I have no answers. That's the dillio, yo.

As to why I don't have new stuff here every day... oh, I dunno. Put it this way: there's more to the blob than writing. By the way, you may be pleased to know that while I haven't submitted any work this year, some of the stuff I sent out in 2004 is still circulating, and I have recently received acceptances from Riverwind, 13th Moon: A Feminist Literary Journal, Fox Cry Review, and Compass Rose. In addition, I received a complimentary copy of Mudfish 14 today, with "They, of the Jungle" buried somewhere in there.

So don't think I'm slackin' over here. I'm just using this venue to stretch my writing wings in a different way. I'm playing, but I'm taking it seriously; I'm building up stamina and endurance so I can tackle my book about my mom. The political will raise its head up from time to time, but right now summer is upon us, and I'm gettin' out and about and I'd rather share that with you than kvetch about politicians and broken policies. Winter will be here soon enough, and then I'll be perfectly willing to get depressed again and immerse myself in cursing the crap that makes us all cringe. But for now, it's time to soak up as much Vitamin D as possible. Don't forget your sunscreen.

P.S. Thanks for asking. You're the best.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ink, Sweat & Tears

Wow, is it this Wednesday already? I haven't even had a chance to data dump about last Wednesday, let alone this one. Nothing much to say about this one except that I wore a dress to work and half the office flipped out. It was good, clean fun I guess, but I really didn't expect it to be such a big deal. I've only been there since February; it's not like I've been there for five years and then suddenly decided to wear a dress. But enough about that already. I'm writing this in my skivvies and wrapped in my swaddling sleeping bag on the couch.

Last Wednesday evening was definitely more blob worthy. Last Wednesday, I paid three dollars to sit in on Ink, Sweat & Tears: A D.I.Y Cartoon Concert and Book Tour, featuring Eric Drooker, Keith Knight and Jon Longhi delivering 15-minute sets of spoken word accompanied by slides images of their work.

Drooker was the draw for me, no pun intended. A nationally known painter and graphic novelist, Dooker's work is among my favorite in the graphic novel realm. I first stumbled upon his stuff a couple years ago at an open house at AK Press, "a worker-run book publisher and distributor organized around anarchist principles."

Drooker has perfected the art of telling moving, spiritual stories solely through pictures. Flood!, winner of the American Book Award, has been described by Art Spiegelman (Maus I & II) as "a picture of a soulless civilization headed toward the apocalypse. The page acts as a curtain to be raised, each page offering up new visual surprises... Drooker has discovered the magic of pulling light and life out of an inky sea of darkness." Equally stunning, Blood Song follows the journey of a young woman who inadvertantly becomes the sole survior of a brutal military invasion in her once idyllic home. Deemed "more optimistic and accessible than Flood!, this volume celebrates the perseverance of the human spirit in the face of repression," according to a Library Journal review. Drooker has done numerous covers for New Yorker and collaborated with Allen Ginsberg to create Illustrated Poems, in which Ginsberg commented: "Drooker's old Poe vision of beauteous deathly reality transcend political hang-up and fix our present American Dreams."

In other words, Drooker is a bad ass in the classic New York style, and I was psyched to see him. While I wouldn't say he was a disappointment, I will say that he seemed very much in his own microcosm. His images included "excerpts" from the aforementioned books, some cover art and other drawings I'd never seen, and most interesting, photos from his recent trip to the Gaza Strip, which he recounted for CounterPunch. It is obvious that the trip to "Israel's Apartheid Wall," separating the Palestinean rif from Israeli raf, has left Drooker's mind an occupied territory not unlike the one he visited. He did a little rap in the dark for us at Artist's Television Access as his images flashed on screen, though I'm slightly ashamed to admit I can't remember what it was about. I think it was about "the Man." Ultimately everything is.

I was prepared to leave after Drooker's portion, but the rain kept me in my seat. Longhi was next. Billed as an "urban humorist" and the author of graphic books Flashbacks and Premonitions and Wake Up and Smell the Beer, his work didn't resonate with me at all. He read three short stories that made the rest of the small but appreciative audience cackle, but I felt like I was enduring his 15 minutes rather than enjoying it. He did tell one slightly amusing story. The narrator reminisced about a dry spell during which his best friend was the only person in Portland who had access to any weed. However, this meant that whenever they brought it out—say at a party—they'd instantly become surrounded by "high school jocks and rednecks." Somebody would bogart their joint, and they'd never see it again. The problem was solved when the best friend decided to make a bong out of a "lifelike" dildo. After that, they couldn't get anybody to toke with them, even when they tried to force it on people. Like I said, the story was slightly amusing.

Then, it turned out they'd saved best for last. I didn't have particularly high hopes for Keith Knight and for no good reason. I'd already sat through this Longhi fella's moment, Drooker's demeanor had left me feeling oddly placid, and I was losing my patience with the guy sitting behind me who kept bumping my seat. It was in this moment of pure vulnerability, when Knight took front and center and won himself a new fan. I really liked his work and what he had to say and how he said it. Keith Knight's got it goin' on.

In addition creating and drawing two syndicated comic strips, The K-Chronicles and (th)ink, Knight is a member of the "semi-conscious" hip hop group, the Marginal Prophets. He's also the unofficial MC of the Ink, Sweat & Tears tour. Clad in an "I'd Rather Be Masturbating" t-shirt, Knight had no trouble bringing the house to life. He narrated strips and panels from his strips and collections and told a few annecdotes from his childhood (corroborated by his sister who was visiting from Seattle), shared a hilarious rejection letter from a newspaper to whom he'd submitted his work ("IN A FAMILY NEWSPAPER?!! ARE YOU NUTS?!!"), and talked about how at comix conventions he's always confused with the other black comic stripper, Aaron MacGruder who draws Boondocks.

I'm not into Knight's drawing style, per se, but it works with his humor, which is dead-on. For example, he showed one featuring "Sadaam" and "Osama," who turn out to be Dubya's drunken daughters who’ve chosen their respective disguises because then their father is guaranteed to be able to find them. I like that one a lot ; ) In addition to politics, his strips are also about gender and family issues (e.g. a man who has no problem buying a cure for crabs but is mortified when the sales clerk has to get a price check on the seaweed facial scrub he’s pretending to buy for his wife) and every day life through the eyes of a young African-American guy.

One anecdote he told was about getting harassed by police in the Haight because he loosely fit the description of someone who had committed a crime in the area. His roommate, who happened to be on a bus that was passing by, jumped out and ran over to his defense. The roommate harangued the cops until they apologized. As Knight recounted the story, he shook his head with a glint in his eye and laughingly said “White people get away with anything. I appreciated it and everything, but could you imagine if another brother had jumped off the bus and started badgering the cops to let me go?”

Knight also showed us a copy of some flyers he had once posted around the city, advertising a phony business that offered to rent black people for parties or to lend “legitimacy” to business events. (In fine print, the flyers boasted: “We can provide Latinos, too”). Now aside from the results of his “experiment” or “protest” or whatever it was, I found this story highly entertaining because it’s something I’ve threatened to do myself. Anyway, he said he posted some bills around town with a real phone number connected to an answering machine. He got several messages from people who were simply curious and wanted to know if it was a legitimate business. He also got a responses from bona fide racists who got a kick out of their ability to request some watermelon-eatin’, big lipped, %&*@# for private use. Some callers left angry messages accusing him of being the racist. All of these were expected, but the ones he didn’t expect were the handful from some blacks who wanted jobs. He seemed a bit dismayed by this last, but I found the entire stunt to be brilliant. Reminds me of Blackpeopleloveus.com, still one of my favorite, subversive websites. Anyway, Knight's collections, including “the fourth K-Chronicles compendium, The Passion of the Keef ... with an introduction by that "other black cartoonist", Aaron McGruder!!, are worth a look.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Spinning Rwanda: Hollywood's Trilogy of Gloom

I don't think there's a one of you out there—of those who know me—who doesn't know my views on the Rwanda genocides and the reaction of the West, particularly the United States. A decade or so after the fact, one can hardly turn around without bumping into yet another article or tv program or book or big-screen commentary on the events of 1994, and every time, I just get more and more disgusted and saddened by the whole affair. Never mind that at the time, I don't think I shed even one tear. It wasn't enough of a news story to do so, nestled between whatever else was going on that year.

In Sometimes in April, Haitian director Raoul Peck makes devestating use of news report soundbytes, including one of Kurt Cobain's suicide with a visual of business people shuffling onto the subway to get home while people were being hacked to death across the globe. I'll never forget Cobain's untimely death because I was at the mall of all places when I heard; the stores were overrun with ravenous consumer-zombie teens a flutter with their own ignorance of the reality of death. Though I remember that scene clearly, I have zero recollection of how and when I first heard about what eventually became the deaths of 800,000 for whom "untimely" is too much the understatement, and my own and my country's own chosen ignorance is a heavy burden.

The horror stems from many factors, not the least of which being that my generation slept on another Holocaust. That the hands of the United Nations were tied still makes little sense to me. But the real hook in my throat came after reading Howard French's A Continent for the Taking. I first learned from French's book that the U.S. refused even to jam the radio broadcasts that the Hutu extremists used to stir the masses to irrevocable vengence against family and friends and community members. The radio personalities so efficiently and effectively dehumanized the enemy, that the exterminators were, in fact, targeting cockroaches, not people. Radio broadcasts were also used to help direct the army, and if the President Clinton didn't want to put U.S soldiers on the ground, the least we could have done was block the transmissions. THE LEAST.

A character in Peck's film suggests something that's always rattled around in my head, i.e. the West doesn't care about a bunch of blacks and certainly not Africans. Besides, unlike Iraq, Rwanda doesn't have shit. At least not anything that the U.S. wants. That was my mindset going into the theatre to see Hotel Rwanda this past winter. It's a brilliant film that left the entire theatre with nothing to say as the audience poured out, homeward bound for an evening of deep introspection at home, trying not to have nightmares. But Six and Vani and I agreed that we were glad we went to see it. It was important.

Then last week Vani gave me Sometimes in April. Another take, another perspective, another brilliantly acted film, another heartbreaker. I told Six to rent it. We all had another bad night but agreed that we were glad the film was made. It was important.

The two films go together pretty well. Despite being produced independent of one another, to see one without seeing the other is to cheat yourself. Hotel Rwanda is sort of the John the Baptist of the two films; see it first. Then, when you've had time to absorb it all and the luxury to recuperate, spend a couple hours with Sometimes in April. If you do, you'll be mad as hornets, frothing at the mouth about Bill Clinton, among others, and how we didn't want another Somalia. Then watch Black Hawk Down.

A Ridley Scott film based on journalist Mark Bowden's book, you can count on Black Hawk Down to be a stark rendering of a brutal battle that took place in Somalia two years prior to the Rwanda mass murders. The situations, of course, were totally different, but as I watched the final piece of an unintentional tryptich, something surprising happened. I found myself starting to understand—just a tiny bit—why the U.S. might have been so uneager to do the right thing.

Though the African people depicted in Black Hawk Down were the animalistic, inhuman creatures one rightly fears and loathes, there were other Somalians pictured near the end. The ones whom the U.S. ostensibly went to help. Innocent civilians with nothing, nothing to lose, nothing to win, no thing. It reminded me that sometimes my government has a humanitarian agenda. It also added to my perspective: I see now why when the U.S. took on the Somali warlords, the deaths of 300,000 civilians was easy to label genocide and why, when more than twice that number died brutally a couple years later in another country, the West ran down the time clock by debating the difference between "genocide"—which necessitates ballsy action—and "acts of genocide," which is a neutered nuance one can filibuster 'til the cows have come home and withered into beef jerky.

I'll never think letting all those people get slaughtered was the right thing to do, but I've purposely avoided talking about the plot of these films or the history behind the real-life events because if you're reading this, I really want you to see these fictionalizations of something that seems too horrific to have been real. I hope, in so doing, that you'll tackle the Rubik's cube of it all in your mind with the awareness that the reasons our species can be so despicable is a puzzle that's unsolvable. But it's precisely because the little squares interconnect in ways we can't imagine that we have to make the effort of solving the impossible.

And I don't wanna hear any of that "never again" crap. History is too much an endless loop for me to ever believe in that, but I write this to suggest we've made real progress when pop culture does the job of presenting stories—even sans hardcore analysis or lectures from professors in horn-rimmed glasses or reams of data spewed from the largest hard drives and fastest processors—that have to be told, especially when the news media can't do the job or doesn't do it adequately or does it but we tune into something else. Besides too much of that can make one's mind shut down, but art, hopefully, will open the heart. Even for tears.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

These Pants

i've done everything possible
there is to do in these pants
except make love
i've slept in them
i've crept in them
i've done downward dog in 'em
i've mourned in them
i've laughed in them
i've gone to town in 'em
i'm the little piggy
who went to market inum
then stayed home inum
had the roast beef inum
(didn't like it)
later had none inum
ya hear—i ain't gettin' any,
and it's making me cry "wee, wee, wee"
all the way home alone inum
i think i've even gotten slippery in 'em
and i know i've done the watusi and
the crawling king snake in 'em
but it ain't, i say no it ain't
the same as makin' love
so i've got no choice
but to put on a dress
'cause I may have pranced in them
been entranced in them
caught your eye in them
and tried to romance in them
i swear i've whispered your name
from the inside of 'em
but I haven't made love in them yet
and that's just not workin' for me

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Last weekend I went to Detroit, at the gracious behest of friends. They paid my way and conspired to make my brief homecoming a delightful one. Simon was turning 30, and his and Shan's newest little one was three-weeks old. Spoogy and Henny's little girl had just had her first birthday. It was nice to be amongst all my peeps.

A couple things developed out of that trip for me, though. One is that I marked it as the end of an era. The last time I went back, which was about a year ago, I was torn. It was so good to be around the friends whom I consider family: Ken, Nappy, Bill, Lockhart, Dan the Man, Lenny, and others. In a way, these are the people who I grew up with, the people with whom I cut my teeth on the way to adulthood. I went back last year and returned to SF thinking that maybe I should figure out some way to split up my time, a sort of bi-coastal living experience. Many of them have families now, and I didn't want to be left out. Eventually the draw wore off, and I sort of resigned myself to my life in California.

This time I had a much different experience. While I was just as happy to be with some of the people who mean the most to me, I almost felt like I could hear the sound of the door slamming authoritatively shut, could feel the breeze it created as it narrowly missed freeing me of my nose. Thomas Wolfe's "you can't go home again" quip finally struck home. I knew, deep down, that I don't belong in there anymore. More importantly, I knew something I haven't known in a long time, which is that I do belong here. At least for now. San Franciso is my home now. I've made it my home, I've made my life here, for better or worse, and mostly for the better I think.

I reached this knowledge almost immediately, while Suzy and Jill were driving me to their house from the airport. Poor Jill was screaming her head off; she didn't recognize me from a year ago, when she was a month old. Suzy apologized, but it wasn't that. Certainly I could understand Jilly's position in the back car seat. No, Jill's cries felt like my own birth and renewal, allowing me to see the flatness of the terrain and the washed out colors. Caveat here: I have no desire to offend any of my fellow Detroiters, least of all my friends. I am not dissing Detroit, which will always occupy the deepest place in my heart. It's just that I'd never fixated on the geography of the place in the way that I did last weekend.

I saw a unique parallel: Except for the existence of my friends, who are, and continue to be, my effervescence,when I was in Detroit, my life was flat. By the same tack, the Bay Area hills, represent the ups and downs I've endured since I moved out here. But at least I know I'm alive, and when I forget, I have made good friends here who are riding it out with me.

I'm not saying that one landscape is universally better than the other. Detroit is a special place, and I don't mean only special ed. But I could only have the life I live here. I don't know what life I'd be leading in Detroit, but it wouldn't suit me. The trip put things in perspective for me, something I lost this past year after losing my mom. I still have a lot to figure out, but it's nice to know that that piece of it has become a nonquestion: San Francisco is my home now. For the real.

* * *

And damned if I didn't fly United, the Greyhound bus of the friendly skies. I know the domestic airlines, and particularly, United, are going down the shitter, but damn yo! Unbelievable.

On the first leg, I was scheduled for an 11pm red-eye to Chicago. The flight board showed an "on-time" status, and sure enough, the three hundreds of us on a full 777, boarded when expected. But after boarding is when they decided to check on some engine trouble. It was after 1am, when they finally let us out of the plane to board a different jet. Since at least half of the travelers, myself among them, would miss connecting flights, there was a whole 'nother hullabaloo before we were freshly ensconced and ready for take-off—at 2am. They did pass out flight vouchers along with the 4 oz. bags of pretzels, but that hardly atoned for keeping us sitting on the tarmack for so long.

With the original itinerary I would have gotten into Detroit City at 9am; instead I didn't get there until just after 1 in the afternoon. Since my trip was so short to begin with, when we got to Chicago I had to bully my way into having them change my return flight, from leaving at 9am to leaving at 3:30pm. They wanted to charge me $99. I touched my feet down, gently but terra firmly. The result was a trip that was as long as was originally intended.

In fact, it worked out quite nicely, and I'd have no further complaints if it wasn't for the fact that my seat tray was completely filthy, on the first plane, Detroit to Chicago. A passenger must have spilled what looked like coffee with lots and lots of sugar in it, which had semi-dried into a sticky, disgusting mess. Full flight. I was stuck with it, no pun intended. In reality, it hardly mattered since all we got was a 4oz. bag of pretzels, but I'd kinda wanted to write a little bit. Little did I know it was just foreshadowing.

On the second plane, I was utterly dismayed to discover that my assigned seat had some kind of poo poo like substance clotted atop it, and even better, it was another full flight. I knew that complaining would yield very little so I placed my blanket on top of it and parked my ass—only to find that the pillow I'd been given had clearly been drooled on and possibly used to brush someone's hair. It was disgusting. I didn't have the guts to use the restroom on the plane or to buy an on-board "snack meal" for myself, since you don't get fed on domestic flights anymore, even when you're flying almost clear across the country. And I sure as shit wasn't gonna put on some skanky headphones, especially after having had the opportunity to play with Henny's med school tools. (He showed me how to use the otoscope, or "ear-scope" to peer into Suzy's head; it was like falling down the rabbit hole, I'm tellin' ya).

And then there's the news today about the pensions for United workers. I just don't know what to say. Here these airlines complain about how much their business is suffering, and here I was on fully booked flights on the largest domestic jetliner currently in use. They starve us and expose us to completely unsanitary conditions. They herd us like cattle and keep us penned in like chickens. (Asked Soylent Green, "Where are you, when I need you PETA? Can't ya help a sistah out?) They subject us to lotteries: my friends got my ticket for $100 roundtrip on Hotwire; the guy sitting next to me paid $440 for the same ticket, bought three-weeks in advance, and honey it's wasn't no first class, you know what I'm sayin?

I dunno. I'll be really curious to see what happens to the industry over the course of the next year or two. I mean what do we do when these companies tank, as I feel like they just might. Rely on Amtrak, which is a total joke, and Greyhound, which simply is what it is? Maybe it is time to breakdown and buy a Segway.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Stoked and Spoked: Rebels with a Cause

The title of this post is just a little homage to the naming convention frequently used for individual episodes of Freaks & Geeks, one of televisions brighter moments—the kind that lasts for just a season because it doesn't attract enough viewers. I remember when the series originally aired, but I never got around to turning on and tuning in that direction. My bad, but as it has so many times since I've joined Netflix, DVD came to the rescue. The sole season is available, bringing 1980 at Detroit's fictional McKinley High back to life. Incredible ensemble cast, delectable humor, wicked use of music, deadly dialogue—it was and is a fucking fantastic show. Watching the very last episode tonight was actually a very bittersweet (and hilarious) experience. I'll miss the burnouts and freshman that populated a school that was very much like my own high school experience. In fact, I've heard that Freaks & Geeks was more popular amongst people who had been teens in the late 70s-early 1980s, than it was with people who were teens when the show aired in 2000. Anyway, enough about that; I sold my tv for a reason, but Freaks & Geeks is one of those truly inspired shows that reminds one that real art can come out of the medium.

The other title reference refers to Critical Mass, which I finally participated in as I've been threatening to do for the past five years. Critical Mass, if you don't know, is when bikers take over the street, disrupting rush hour traffic patterns in an effort to, among other things, "assert cyclists' rights to the road." The Critical Mass movement has been described as an "unorganized coincidence." There's no sign up list or initiation process, it's not a club with dues or leadership—it's a happening, one that originated in San Francisco 13 years ago and has spread across the country and world. One could call it a sort of, non-violent political action though riots have occurred, arrests have been made, and the City of New York is currently trying to ban any further Critical Mass events. Here in SF, it's become a time-honored tradition, taking place on the last Friday of the month, rain or shine. If you live in the city, you're not to be surprised when hundreds or even thousands of bicyclists come barrelling through your neighborhood with no advance warning. The route is never predetermined and the geography of the city is such that hundreds of people on bikes can cover most of the city in a matter of a couple hours.

Anyway, I had a blast. I rode my bike to work that morning and was ready to roll at 6pm, when the ride began forming at Justin Herman Plaza. Every style of bike and every style of rider was to be seen, from the fully decked out Lance Armstrong types to the down and dirty, bike messenger contingents. BMXers mingled with folks on single speed or handbuilt models. One guy was even riding an authentic high wheel bike. I even saw a mother with her grade school age boy; they were wearing matching bike jerseys.

The whole experience was bravo, with a few moments really standing out. For instance, picture this if you can: a huge empty parking lot, like that of a shopping mall on Christmas Day. You're on your metal steed, reveling in the commeraderie when you look up to see two things, a stream of cyclists ahead of you pouring out of lot's farside exit, like a swarm of bees, and a swirl of riders riding in circles and curliques like circus performers or molecules expanding to fill the empty spaces of a flask. It was an achingly beautiful scene, but I was afraid to stay lest I witness it's demise so I re-entered the fray and we charged off, down 3rd St. to Caesar Chavez. That's when I started to get the hang of it.

At each intersection, riders would take it upon themselves to put their bodies and machines in front of the cars to make sure that all of us made it through the successive number of light changes needed to accomodate that many riders. The reactions of motor vehicle drivers were pretty similar to those you might imagine when one gets caught behind a train—some exasperation, some boredom, some who are actually happy to see the train roll by. A Muni driver who was unable to move his N-Judah gave us the thumbs up and honked his horn; his passengers didn't seem to share his enthusiasm. More than one driver got hostile, a few getting out of their cars and verbally or even physically challenging the "blockers."

To my knowledge nothing too terrible happened, probably due in some small part to the motorcyle cop escort. They paced alongside us making sure both the cyclists and the stalled drivers didn't cross any lines. At Caesar Chavez, we turned on Delores to San Jose—the San Jose that leads to 280 South. As with the Cirque de Soleil moment, I didn't anticipate what was about to happen because I was in the middle or last two-thirds of the pack with a few hundred people in front of me. But from behind I heard someone sing out, "Do you know the way to San Jose?" followed by Soyboy's "What the f--? Look!" followed by insane giggles. I looked up to see two large signs looming up ahead, one indicating which lane to stay in for San Jose and one indicating the upcoming exit. That's when I realized we were on the freeway! It was insane. It was so cool. It was craaazy, so crazy that the cops were forcing us off by hook (those who followed the exit) and by crook (those of us who scrambled up the embankment—Soyboy and I chose the portage), all of us rejoining to invade the next neighborhood.

Adults brought their children out to watch as if the carnival had just come to town. We rode past one house where an elderly gentleman was in frozen repose, his accordian in mid-squeeze and his jaw completely dropped. Pre-teen girls waved from their bedroom windows. We mounted steep hills, some on foot and some dogging it out, and careened down dangerous descents. I almost fell off my bike on one steep downhill, simply because there were so many bikes congregated at the bottom of the hill that I was nearly track-standing at a more than 45 degree angle, which is impossible.

There were several bike casualties along the way—blown tires, popped spokes, derailled chains, and a few tumbles caused by the careless carefree ways of so many bikes in motion together and bikers losing track of time and place, drawn into the wonder of all the events. More than once, my bike and Soyboy's "kissed" at the handlebars but always gently, making us laugh because of the sensation it brought on of dozing off somewhere where you shouldn't and waking just as your head drops.

But most of us made it through Eureka and Noe Valleys and the Castro, where we came upon a motorcyclist hemmed in by bicycles all around. The cyclists were getting a little surly and sadistic at that point, forcing the lone motorman to wheel his bike all the way back to the beginning of the intersection until they were good and ready to get out of the way. Meanwhile, some jokers yelled out the window: "You people are so lazy! Why don't you get off your bikes and walk for a change!" That's when I noticed the temperature had dropped and the sun was quite low. What had been a mad crush was becoming more and more diffused, with splinter groups doing their own thing. Soyboy and I decided to park the bikes and get some chow after all the excitement, and that's just what we did, newly annointed bike freaks and city geeks.