Best Sunday Drive EVER!

Posted by Shan on 02/13/12  ~  Posted in: Videos, Los Gatos


Back to San Fran!

Posted by Shan on 01/30/12  ~  Posted in: San Francisco, Videos

We went back to San Francisco with our brilliant tourguide and dear friend, Maria.

Needless to say our time was far better than before! Here are some favorite pics and clips.
Thank you Maria- you made this wonderful city and it's people come alive for us in a whole new way.
Magical, just magical!

The Vesuvio

Posted by Shan on 01/30/12  ~  Posted in: California, San Francisco, Videos


Thank you to Maria!

Posted by Shan on 01/29/12  ~  Posted in: California, Shan's Thoughts, Videos


Frenetic San Francisco

Posted by admin on 01/28/12  ~  Posted in: Ethan's Thoughts, San Francisco

A few days has passed since we left San Fran, fled really, and the impact the city had on my psyche is beginning to scar over.  A spectacle and a nightmare on a scale of which I?ve never seen.  My previous trips to cities in the last several years have been limited to such down-home places as Seattle, Vancouver, even Jakarta, but I truly wasn?t prepared for San Francisco.  And I?m glad, relieved, decompressing, now that I?m out.

We dropped into the city from the north in a rainstorm that obscured almost all vision and made driving increasingly stressful.  Slippery roads, ridiculous and aggressive traffic, and hills that made the clutch and brakes on the van shudder in fear with each intersection stop.  People in BMWs stopping two feet off our bike rack on 20 percent grade hills.  Thanks dude, like it?s not hard enough getting a six thousand pound brick being pulled by an 82 horsepower, 28-year-old engine on a steep hill moving on bare wet road with a motorcyclist inching his way between rows beside me, thanks for those generous two feet you left me.  We had come across a mostly-obscured not-so-Golden Gate bridge, paid our six bucks, entered the city and this dance of insanity began.

We cruised around the city for a while, and drove through the magnificent cultural treasure of San Francisco?s China Town.  We checked out the sights for a while longer, all the while trying not to be destroyed in traffic, and found a small city park to take the pets out in.  They didn?t know what to make of the city.  The noise was definitely not something they were enjoying.  That made four of us.  Nonstop engines, horns, sirens.  Noise, so much noise.  Grinding and scraping, yelling and talking, whining, squealing, honking, screaming.  The noise of industry, of commerce.  The noise of fortune and fame, famine and disease.  The noise of the 99 percent, thousands of them, beating drums, shouting on bull horns, singing songs, yelling, singing, chanting, marching toward the great concrete towers of Bank of America, Chase, Morgan Stanley, the icons of the 20th century, and the first decade of the 21st.  The noise was everywhere, unrelenting.  And the sights to go with it; people so close they could grab hands, everywhere, yet nobody looks anyone in the eye.  They?re all on phones, iPods, texting.  They?re all somewhere else.  Nobody is really here, except perhaps the bums, the junkies, society?s dejected, rejected.  They find their escape through malt liquor, needles, whereas the masses find theirs through cell phones, preoccupation with career, money, that goofy green paper stuff everyone seems to be chasing, talking about, living their lives around.  Nobody lookin? anyone in the eye.

I don?t feel safe.  In fact, I feel quite unsafe.  Doors remain locked, we look over our shoulders as we walk down ?normal? streets.  Our friends tell us our bikes probably aren?t safe locked to the back of the van.  We enter their apartment through a series of two locked doors and a locked gate, I feel a little safer.  I guess $2,000 a month should at very least get you that right?  We have a wonderful time with our friends Nathan and Nino, they host a magnificent feast with the finest homemade wine, and a great night is had by all.  Shan and I decide we need to sleep in the van as the pets are in it and we?re concerned for our bikes.  We say good night and head down to go to sleep.

We quietly get into the van, top down of course, and spend the next hour or so getting it prepared for sleeping two adults, one dog, and one cat without being detected from the outside, in downtown San Francisco.  Since the back of the van is normally packed bed-to-ceiling, this leaves us with a lot of real life Tetris meets Twister, back stressing, patience testing late night, half drunk, fumbling about in the van as we get closer to actual prone position.  All the while, the engines outside are relentless, the sirens whine away in the distance, and not-so-distance.  People?s voices, tires squealing, a nonstop presence, oppressive and dark.  Then, as one eye starts to close I feel our van move, a noise, a jolt, just behind my head.  What was that?!  What time is it?  I open the back curtains and sure enough, I see a figure lurking over the bikes, obscured by the condensation on the window, stealing our bikes.  I bang on the window.  Gone.  The lurker disappears in the fog.  I put some clothes on, grab the flashlight and nunchucks and get out of the van, as quiet as I can for four A.M.  Nobody.  Just the fog in the streetlamps.  Orange and unsettling.  But the lock is cut, the cable chopped.  Luckily I have another cable and padlock and I re-secure the bikes.  I get back in the van and try to get back to sleep, if I ever was asleep, and my adrenaline pumps, the sirens scream, and I listen to the heartbeat of San Francisco, dark and troubled.  At six A.M. a crazy person begins singing and flute playing up and down the street, his loony tunes echoing through the wet corridors and alleys of the neighborhood.  Not too much sleep that night.  Up early to move the van and cook breakfast at Nathan and Nino?s.  We make some omelets, enjoy each other?s company, and head out, into the madness.  We spend the rest of the day in Golden Gate Park, looking over our shoulders, feeling less safe than in Jakarta.  Finally, we decide enough is enough and head out of the city, toward Santa Cruz, away from the madness.

We take some deep breaths and look at each other without the words to describe our current state, shell shocked and buzzing.  We?ll definitely be going back, as the brief look we got of San Francisco showed lots of promise ? the culture was alive and thriving, if not haunted.  The pictures are there, waiting to be captured, the people waiting to be met.  But that will have to wait, until we can go back without a van, without pets.  Until then, I?m left with a shocking realization that if San Francisco is really a pinnacle of Western Civilization, we?re all in big, big trouble.  The complete detachment, the zombie status, the unblinking quest to maintain the polluting, corrupting, thieving system that is capitalism.  The height of human evolution.  I beg to differ.  Maybe, in fact, San Francisco is an example of a system about to collapse in on itself.  Its food and water coming from afar.  A million people who all know how to push pens but not plows.  I certainly won?t want to be here in the long term, that?s for sure.  San Francisco shows a lot of potential, a lot of forward thinking, a lot of promise in the young.  But it?s a city of the old.  Built on old foundations, in old buildings, with old ideals, old laws, old understanding.  It?s a city of the 20th century and I fear the 21st may not be so kind to it.  I hope for the best, but the Koyaanisqatsi here has gained a lot of momentum ? Godfried Reggio saw it 30 years ago, how well he saw.  I?m just glad to be back out to the coast, alarmingly close to the mess of the Bay Area, but alone by the seashore for now.  The noises are back to the occasional car on the highway, waves, and an owl.  I?ll sleep well tonight.  San Francisco won?t.

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