It was several weeks ago that I promised part two of my San Francisco sortie. I believe my promise was… “The next day.” Its dilatory arrival speaks to the paucity of time that I have these days to devote to telling stories. And remember, the core of this twaddle was written as a second installment from my trip to Baghdad by the Bay about a year ago. So the one year old stuff is italicized and my current commentary is; well, not. I'll make my current, co-mingled comments parenthetical as well. Parenthetical...I've always wanted to use that word. Shut up.
My recent San Francisco trip was last minute—so quickly planned that there was no room for thought about staying over or going early to enjoy myself personally. I had to get back east and so my San Francisco experience was limited to the city itself and experienced in little pockets of free time that I had over two days between meetings that I sat in on and the day that I actually spoke. And I loved every little flurry of available time that I had to run out and sample a bit of this unique city… a city that I’d had only a small taste of previously. I think I mentioned in my other San Francisco post that for whatever reason; unlike every other major city in the States and quite a few in Europe, my San Francisco experiences to date have been identical to this last one. Fly in…head to a large hotel downtown…attend a meeting and fly home. With of course, some client arranged dinner at a nice restaurant. Oh, and I did have a drink one time at the Top of the Mark.
One of my readers shared this in an email to me after reading my Cable Car Clothiers post… “L_(his wife) and I visited Cable Car Clothiers on a Saturday morning when we were last in San Francisco two summers ago. Monument to cultural preservation that it is (and British at that), CCC with its over-stuffed woolly windows was downright other-worldly on the August weekend morning when we swung by. Still, it makes some sense in the context of a city that prizes its past (the Tadich Ethic, or so I think of it) better than any this side of London.”
I’m digging the comment on many levels but mostly because I like history and I love the back story and I want to know about places and things. And it’s also no secret that I grieve the passing of things that I think shouldn't go away. My blog is peppered with the maudlin-mawkish twaddle of lament for things no longer valued or relevant or…just flat-out not here anymore. But I try not live in the past and I incite change for a living. I’m not scared to move forward but there are things I regret that we don’t take with us. (I lied last year when I wrote that—leastways I think I did—about not being scared to move forward. Perhaps I have a pathological attachment to things past...a low-grade addiction to patina. Maybe even an attachment to my idea of how things were but weren’t, ever, really. Contrived Maudlinazation? I’ll have to check the new DSM-IV-TR to see if it’s designated. Am I pining for shit that perhaps never even existed? Palestine?)
(Maybe I am reluctant to move forward. Thursday January 24th was my birthday. It was also the tenth anniversary of the first moving company arriving at my marital home to whisk away LFG and her mom to their new home in Old Town. I remember opening my sleepy and not well rested eyes that birthday morning—greeted by a still almost bald headed two year old little LFG…standing bedside watching me sleep. She grinned sheepishly and handed me…a cupcake. When I returned that early evening from my agreed upon daylong exile to the office; the house was empty save my earthly goods that would be picked up the next day. I’ve moved somewhere obviously since then. Maybe all of it’s been more lateral than forward.)
But how old is San Francisco? I mean…the place pretty much burned to the ground in 1906. I don’t even know what the "recently old" San Francisco was like other than what I read courtesy of Barnaby Conrad, Lucius Beebe, Herb Caen and of course, if you wanna define old in a slightly older context, Jack London and John Steinbeck come to mind. Oh, and I enjoyed Armistead Maupin’s less-old… Tales of the City. But Tadich I suppose, is a wee-bit of
old former San Francisco and I’m glad LPC suggested that amidst the serendipity of
our schedules, we meet up there for lunch. No surprise—I loved it. I’d say
Tadich is the culinary peer to its sartorial cousin, Cable Car Clothiers.
And it is indeed a small world--even in San Francisco. I’m standing out front of Tadich and I notice a guy, probably close to seventy years old, in a UNC baseball cap. He was waiting for his buddy to show for lunch. I asked what his connection to North Carolina was, letting him know that I was from South Carolina. And out came one of those syrupy eastern North Carolina accents that can only be made elegant by people of his generation. He’s been in San Francisco for over thirty years and now retired, he and his wife enjoy going back to North Carolina to visit friends and family but he never intends to leave his now, City by the Bay.
And if we’d talked for another ten minutes, we’d have known people. We didn’t argue over the differences between our state’s barbecue or the schools... Carolina(s) or whether or not the Shag—our tribal dance—originated in his or my Carolina. He admitted that as a teenager and a student at Chapel Hill, Ocean Drive Beach South Carolina was his destination. Why? He came to Ocean Drive to dance…to shag. And I told him that I spent summers in an old wood frame beach house just a few blocks down from The Pad. And then the proverbial question popped…"Who was your daddy?” Here I am in San Francisco and by happenstance, an eastern North Carolina accent is carrying me back to North Myrtle Beach and I’m twelve and sitting on the screened porch of our beach house, mildly sunburned and tasting salt in the air. All of this, standing in front of Tadich. Nice.
So folks, with the exception of a few strands of non-italicized filler midstream, you’ve now read what’s been sitting in a folder on my laptop for a year. I’ve got another dozen half-baked, unfinished piles somewhere on my computer. Maybe someday soon I’ll dust ‘em off and throw ‘em at you. Oh, and after I traipsed recently with the ghosts of Conrad and Caen and Doda, I ordered and devoured both of Barnaby Conrad's memoirs.
It's an understatement to say that this man has lived a life in full. If you suffer from even the vaguest symptoms of Contrived Maudlinazation, you'll love reading these two anecdotathons.
Onward. Awaiting the emergence of one LFG…a gal who once again made her parents proud with all A’s on her second academic reporting period. I remain however, on academic probation.