15 August 2015

Turnt Down & Out

Listening to: Vancouver Sleep Clinic, "Flaws." I heard this at the end of Before We Go, Chris Evans' Before Sunrise-y directorial debut. Since then I've just had their wonderfully dreamy six song EP, "Winter," on repeat. Excuse me, Vancouver Sleep Clinic is just one guy, Tim Bettinson, and he's only eighteen. Geezes!

I hopped back to the States the other week, straight to San Francisco. The flight I took was all kinds of backwards. First to Hong Kong, then to Manila, and finally to SFO. That’s what happens when you book your flight late and try to save a few bucks. Somehow, for the entire long leg of the flight, I managed to not even get out of my seat. Pretty impressive right? I’m really getting the hang of long flights!

After a quick week in San Francisco — saw some friends, saw some movies, rode/walked a bike up unconquerable hills — I came home, finally. San Diego’s weather awaited me and right away I headed for burrito-land. Well, actually, a delicious set of chicken flautas but close enough. I was trying to figure out the last time I’d been away from proper Mexican food for such a long time. Maybe almost a decade ago. Sometimes I went to the sub-par Mexican choices in Taipei just to get some pico and shredded lettuce on my tastebuds. Desperate times you know?

It seemed like everyone I met up with in the Bay had a recent big life change. Like moving out, moving in, moving in together with their significant other, recently engaged, recently announced their pregnancy, quit their job, new job, etc. All the changes frightened me a little. I don’t know if “frighten” is the right word, but basically it felt like big things were happening for everyone. That, combined with our going to bed so early on the weekends, portended a future for me that had me scared.

See, San Francisco was the last of the West Coast cities where my friends actually still went out. And stayed up late, and hung out, and did stuff. Coming straight from Taiwan, where my schedule was super late, it was a mild shock. And I stared at the gaping maw of my dystopian Bay Area future and had to face facts: People were settling down / growing up. Oh the horror!

For U.S. cities, now it’s down to just New York, and New York will always be an exception because people there are forever young. So yeah, I’m trying to get there as fast as I can, hopefully in September, after some beach and sun back in San Diego. Plus the burritos.

I was also in L.A. for a bit last weekend. Hung out mostly in the downtown L.A. area that I was previously unfamiliar with — aside from parts of K-Town and the Staples Center for Clippers games. Driving in, I passed by the tent cities of Skid Row, which looked even crazier than the Tenderloin. I was very curious about how Los Angeles handles Skid Row, and started doing some online reading about it.
"At the time, Skid Row made sense. It corralled all that would attract ‘undesirables' into a part of the city without much of a population beyond daytime office workers, pensioners, and the homeless and semi-homeless hotel-dwellers already there. It lay far from coastal enclaves like Santa Monica or suburban hinterlands like the San Fernando Valley, which were home to more politically important constituencies.”
-The Gentrification of Skid Row: A story that will decide the future of Los Angeles-
Last year, we took a walking tour of the Tenderloin, which was both informative and eye-opening. My friend Stef and her friends are now working on launching The Anchor & Plow Project, a program to give SF newcomers (i.e. invading techies) a better understanding of the neighborhoods they’ve taken over. In related things: On the way to the airport, via Uber Pool of course, I saw my first Google Bus and the huge queue waiting for it. Anyway, check out Anchor & Plow’s mission statement and pass the survey on to anyone you know.

Also, I stuck around in L.A. to watch Sean Baker's Tangerine, because I knew it wasn't playing back in San Diego. Plus the theater was in Hollywood, a few miles from where Tangerine was set. The movie itself was fantastic. All the more overwhelming because it was shot on an iPhone. You want to talk diversity? How about two transgender leads and an Armenian cab driver imprisoned by his cultural background? So yeah, start with the trailer, then make sure to watch the whole damn thing.