Thursday, 9 June 2011

San Francisco part 4

On Sunday (29th May) we drove into the city to North Beach where Annie had a job interview which gave me an afternoon to explore so I made my way along Columbus Avenue to visit the Beat Museum. North Beach has long been associated with the Beat generation; Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassidy both spent time living in the neighborhood alongside Allen Ginsberg and a host of other Beat writers and poets frequenting the numerous cafes and bars of the area. Despite this the Beat Museum was a bit of a disappointment with a few too many wonky Beat inspired shit paintings and some antiquated furniture the likes of which Kerouac might have had in his apartment.

Over the road from the Beat Museum is Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore which is also steeped in Beat history - a meeting point for counter-culture revolutionaries which also doubled as a publisher. It was here that Ginsberg's 'Howl and Other Poems' was originally published in 1956 as part of the Pocket Poets Series established by Ferlinghetti although I must confess I wasn't especially struck by any great feeling for the place although I tend to struggle with book shops that don't sell second hand books.

I then spent an hour rooting around in the basement of a record/music shop which claims to have 50,000 records. Unfortunately they don't seem to be in any particular order so despite a few near misses (PiL's 'Metal Box' filled with Fine Young Cannibal's vinyl - a sick joke...) I left open-handed.

The illustrator Micheal Sieben is a long-time favourite of mine and he's part of an exhibition currently running in North Beach called 'Almost Always' at the Double Punch Gallery so after my fruitless record rummage I met Annie there. The show features six new original illustrations and three new screen-prints compiled from his on-going work for Thrasher Magazine and it's all aces. The prints especially are the bee's cock. Don't fret - I'll get bored of that expression fairly soon. Some of the artwork is still available if you click on the Double Punch link above.

Here's a slightly awkward photo of me looking uncomfortable quite near the aforementioned artwork. I realized a little while ago I'm not taking nearly enough photos because I hate taking them and I hate being in them. I do however like to own them. Annoying eh? But not as annoying as the jaunty angle I've started wearing my new hat at.

We then headed up to Haight for more pizza and onto Inner Richmond to a huge independent book shop called Green Apple Books which also does a nice line in second hand records. I'm starting to bore myself talking about second hand record shops and books shops - I intend to make some kind of SF zine when I get back featuring a spods guide to the city. I intend to do a lot of things though so don't get too excited.

The following day we headed into the city again - Annie had chores to do all day so I had the day to myself. Or so I thought. With the help of a friendly passer-by I managed to negotiate the Muni system from Market Street all the way up to Noe Valley. Noe Valley is the SF equivalent of Stoke Newington from what I can gather - lots of well-to-do thirty something folk into pilates and yoghurt-weaving fruiting about in foo-foo boutiques. That said it does have a great book shop called Phoenix Books where I managed to find a cheap but battered (just the way I like 'em) copy of Richard Brautigan's 'Trout Fishing in America' and a reasonably priced copy of 'Best American Comics 2008'. I'm a sucker for comic/graphic novel compendiums and this one has some excellent pieces from heavy-weights like Chris Ware and Seth but the stand out work for me is Eleanor Davis's 'Seven Sacks' which manages to combine beautiful artwork with an unnervingly sinister storyline. She also provides the cover artwork for the book which is fantastic and did much to persuade me to exchange money for goods. Much of her artwork is gouache-based which inspires me to seek out some gouache. Without wanting to change my style too drastically (what style I hear you say?) I really want to start incorporating more colour in my work and not just at the final Photoshop or screen-printed stage.

Having plundered Phoenix Books for all it's worth I left Noe Vally and set off towards Lower Haight via the Castro for an extended peruse through the record shops but Annie managed to get out of her commitments and met me in a comic shop in the Castro. We change our plans accordingly to involve more beer/pizza and less books/records. Oddly Annie doesn't have the same lust for dog-eared books and musty vinyl as I do so instead we drove over to Inner Sunset for a wander but didn't encounter much beyond a tasty doughnut shop. We decided to spend the late afternoon at Ocean Beach sitting on walls looking thoughtfully out to sea as if pondering deep thoughts when in actual fact we were just thinking about what pizza joint to hit up next.

The next couple of days we helped out in the basement on more digging and concrete mixing/laying duties. It wasn't so bad - the weather has been pretty changeable since I arrived and the last week of May was really wet and cold so it's not especially conducive to fun times. Following the renovations we left the sanctuary and peace of Orinda (save a few leaf blowers right folks?*) for a few days to cat/flat-sit in the city in the Tenderloin. The Tenderloin is an interesting neighbourhood. Interesting if you like people swearing at you/robbing you/stabbing you/doing a shit on you/all of the above...

*Orinda based topical humour!


Farnell said...

Loving your SF stories - but are you Matt Cardle?? :)

Mat Pringle said...

Hey screw you man!

I had to Google him - he's that tit off X Factor right? It must be my new hat!