fond memories of a whirlwind visit to the state where the sun always shines, california:
a 13-hour flight back in time to hug an old friend. landing in ‘frisco, wonders abound we explored the cultural coves of the iconic city. we traveled 15 hours by foot over a mere 2.5 days. we slept in the heart of union square amongst the metro buzz. a slight flirt with the tenderloin district but the real excitement, we found in the hills. it was on the corner of kearney and broadway where we found fran’s historic character, where her true beat lies. around this bend we retraced the footsteps of the beat generation greats – the likes of ginsberg and kerouac. sitting in the vesuvio sipping the local brew we got lost in the shrine dedicated to one of the greatest eras of our time. dylan, marley, young and cash…they all rocked out here. across the street, through the open doors of the landmark city lights bookstore, poetic revival is a silent, strong reminder that the beats…they still go on. and ever so fitting the first book i lay eyes on is a memoir by patti smith. a treasured purchase is made.
somewhere between slipping out of the bookstore and walking down broadway to the beat museum a pipeline dream comes to me: a leader of a the next generations of writers, rebel in new road trips across the state, country, continent and globe. indeed, the world is vastly different from the one that the fictional sal paradise traveled. it is time for new voices to sing the songs of the road. and this is how i stumble through san fran: lavishly reliving the 60s – standing on harvey milk’s political platform in the castro, strolling the eclectic, quirky haight with its jugtown pirates and bohemian beauties. i strolled the fascinating halls of the MOMA, looked out at the golden gates, drank cheap moonshine, met a new yorker who is a curious san franian and became transfixed with scholarly stanford. i also trollied the old powell-mason line and climbed fillmore street only to look out at fran’s sun-fogged bay. like kerouac wrote in on the road san francisco is truly on the edge of the western world. and i got to witness it all with my own dean m.
the amazing thing about reuniting with an old friend is how quickly familiar they become again. sadly, the final morning of our reunion comes all too soon and with it, a tearful goodbye. in mere months though we’ll find ourselves laughing together again, a new adventure abound.
at the end of my literary road in san fran it is time to head to san diego where i discover a gorgeous port town with sun, sailors and remnants of spanish renaissance. la joila beach to visit where climate change was discovered to old town where the first missionary landed to dinner and drinks in the overly gentrified and once grunged-out gaslamp precinct. it is a city to behold. on a clear night you can see mexico 20 miles out at sea. diego, with her rich heritage however is frustratingly becoming overhawled by the violent drug war spewing from the south. original speakeasies have sold their name to bland name, corporate stiffs and the once gaslamp fame now boasts hooters and tgi fridays. espresso bars refitted courtesy of the starbucks movement. vintage and vinyl turned boutique and bulk brands. a waterfront of gimmicky marriotts and hard rocks. commercialism – the reason for haunted laneways. symbols of the american dream yet victim to the restless recession nightmare. yet san diego, she remains colourful and sunkissed, determined to perservere; rallying the locals and marines that keep her at bay.
stimulated, cultured and excitedly exhausted i’m back to melbourne, absorbing california’s exuberency…curious how i will put my new knowledge and perspective into play.