San Francisco Daze: August

Here’s August! And for those of you who see this at the end and didn’t previously know, my younger brother Josh died in late August 2005, so that’s what I’m referring to there. I still think about him every day…

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August 1-4

Nothing.

August 5

Realizing at last that the demands of my job and being able to write like I need to were never going to co-exist, I gave notice today. And so was able to write:

fog lies on Twin Peaks
like white fleece
over broad dark shoulders

August 6

Saturday Afternoon Hanging With Baby Brother Blues

1:30 PM Riding in car to Salinas,
radio blasting NOFX
backseat choked with trash and books
2:00 PM Thai restaurant in Old Town
with my brother and his girlfriend
two beers and fried rice
4:15 PM Still here
time passes so slowly
even when you add water
5:10 PM Afternoon drags
in younger brother’s
fruitless phone quest
for a pot connection
5:30 PM Poolhall
jukebox not live
brother and girlfriend fighting
bad omens and foreboding
6:45 PM Jukebox finally in gear
and that makes me happy, but
her in tears
him drunk and sneering
is like an apocalypse
that no amount of Buddy Holly
can set right
7:20 PM Dropped off at Hartnell College
to meet my parents for a play
thank God, thank Jah,
Al’lah be praised
and please be with that little girl
I left back in the car with my brother
sobbing

August 7

Seen from the platform, San Jose Diridon Caltrain Station, waiting for the train to go back home to San Francisco:

Banner
Bright, new
Orange, yellow & green
“centex51.com”
Unfurled Against
Three-story
Huge rectangular building
Hardscrabble red bricks
Broken windows
Covered
With vague patina of dust

August 8-11

Four-day casualty to the work-week. But there are now a finite number of work weeks left, which makes all the difference.

August 12

Polk and Vallejo, biding time before meeting Jen for dinner at Pesce. Biding time at a Royal Grounds Coffee that I’ve never been to before. I’m so excited. It’s like visiting a new planet.

August 13

There is a giant concrete pier at the beach in Pacifica. Gray, it goes out into the ocean. Which is gray. Fading against a sky that is gray.

August 14

Punk Rock DJ at the 540 Club! Rock, rock, rock! Go daddy, go! I’m sitting here with an almost gone scotch on the rocks, nine days after giving notice. I’ve been sitting here grooving to the DJ in his yellow checkered Howdy Doody shirt and his oddly 50s wholesome sideburns and short wavy hair and updating the musical portions of the dream website that is one of the projects I can finally turn my attention to. Soon, America will be brought my favorite albums of all time, hardest rocking album of the year for each year since 1987, and 20 reasons that the 2000s might not suck. America needs these things. God bless the 540 Club, even with the smoke from the barbecue outside slightly stinging my eyes, for helping to bring this into being.

August 15-16

The record of life in the city on these days, she is not there.

August 17

The birthday party
at the art-hung Canvas Club
burst hard candy noise

August 18-24

Missing in hard labor and stay-at-home sniffles.

August 25

August eighteenth through twenty-fourth was lost in hard labor and stay-at-home sniffles. But it was worth it, as the date was set today. At the end of the first full week of October, I will walk into a new life.

August 26

Sneaking out of work early, I saw in the 4:30 PM sky a blue that was milky white and seemed to be hollow, a backdrop to glinting-window marble-bleached downtown.

August 27

I drove all over the East Bay with Jen today depositing the newspapers for her nonprofit’s annual Expo For The Artist & Musician in locales likely to be favored by the intelligent and arty. Wealthy wouldn’t hurt either, as the Expo is the main fundraiser for her organization. It was a crystal perfect day. The highlight of visiting oh so many venues was having lunch at a small café somewhere in the wild hinterlands between Emeryville and Oakland. They served us chili lathered cornbread waffles. Now I don’t want to eat anything else.

August 28

Having just heard the news about my brother, I lie on the rolled out futon in my living room, listening to the ringing jangly harmonies of the Byrds as birds and airplanes make trajectories across the sky visible from my balcony window.

August 29

I have rarely seen The Plough & The Stars so thoroughly depopulated. It was charming to find it so on this hot Monday afternoon, the slow turning of the ceiling fans just barely leavening the heat. Behind the counter, the ridiculously fresh-faced cute and curvy barmaid made quick jokes with a motley assortment of customers in her charming accent. On the chipped lacquered wood wall, a flyer announced the Friends of Sinn Fein Annual Golf Tournament. My neighborhood, I love her so.

August 30

One of the stops on the Cal Train line between San Francisco and Gilroy looks for all the world like a little mountain chalet. The buildings huddle together in a little dell, pointy roofs and brown shingles. A grove of dark green trees on the hill behind the village defines a horizon that is very near. I will, I think, get off there some day. The thought comforts me as I speed toward a meeting with my family prompted by bad news.

August 31

Waiting at Hollister airport today for my brother’s remains to come in from San Luis Obispo. Waiting in the fading early evening heat and dry rattling wind was the worst part. At last the small plane with its v-shaped tail landed. The handsome white haired man and his dog greeted us. He smiled sadly and shook my Dad’s hand and then mine before he handed it over. Despite my dread, which had been growing as we waited, it wasn’t like anything at all. Just a slightly heavy silvery tin box. That’s all. It could have been filled with gravel. It could have been anything.

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