I guess it's been a while since my last post. I'll spare you any excuses, but promise that I've been busy. The summer went by like a blur, I'm still wrapping my head around October, although it's one of my favorite months and is half over. The weather's been mellow -- there's a chill in the air, as if autumn here were like back east, and we had two days of rain and wind. It's even humid right now. The eucalyptus grove smelled rich this morning and my tea tasted better than ever.
Two weeks ago Sean and I spent an evening in San Francisco at the Fillmore; Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings performed. I'd seen them live twice in New York's Town Hall, but this last show was special. The Fillmore is sacred ground. I never really understood that idea until now.
On a basic level, The Fillmore as a music venue does everything right -- the staff are helpful and reasonable, not surly -- they even have a greeter ("Welcome to the Fillmore!"), like at Wal Mart. It's probably worth it to get there early and claim a table that overlooks the stage; they serve food that looks relatively inviting and is reasonably overpriced. Free ice water!
What makes The Fillmore sacred, however, is the atmosphere. Practically the entire place is carpeted, lending an inexplicable warmth to the air -- it felt like someone's home. Lining the walls, in chronological order, were the posters from every act that played there, broken up by framed photos of the more notable appearances: Ken Kesey juggling, Jerry Garcia throughout the years, Cypress Hill (how much fun would THAT have been?), Dave Chapelle. There's a supernatural harmony to that venue, as if time stops when you're there, as if you're inhabiting the past and present, simultaneously. In other ways, it's as if you've transcended time, to a point where there is no time at all, and you look down on the progression of decades as if they were hours, streaming past on screen.
I'm not a spiritual person, but The Fillmore brings me closest to the idea of faith -- that something much larger and deeper than yourself is in beautiful control.
Sean and I spent Labor Day weekend in San Francisco to celebrate our third (!) anniversary. He surprised me with acommodations at the Hotel de Arts for two nights, booking us the room that looks like CBGB's bathroom, only cleaner. That weekend we had a lavish dinner at Gary Danko and went to the Richard Avedon retrospective at SF MoMA, with lots of walking, napping and eating in between.
That weekend I realized how vital living in a city is -- the suburbs, where we've been for three years now, are dead. And deadening. It's safe, it's pretty, it's quiet, but who cares? It doesn't have the lifeblood that urban areas do. We're not ready to move out of this area yet, because of our jobs, but hopefully this will be our last suburban stay.
I'm reading Werner Herzog's, Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo, a book sprung from his journals in the late 70's while on location in South America.
(There is also a great movie about the film project, Burden of Dreams, which records Herzog's descent into madness as the jungle eats the entire project alive: I never thought that the sight of an earth mover could instill such fear in me.)
The book is great, thus far -- Herzog is observant, dry and hilarious. He doesn't bog the text down with minutia, and there is no sense of order, but he reconstructs the visceral horror of the jungle with snapshots of its inhabitants: human, animal and insect -- all beyond belief.
"Caracas, 22 June 1979
Caracas, Hotel Ávila. Slept a long time, woke up quite confused. I must have had horrible dreams, but do not remember what they were. There is no running water; I had wanted to take a long shower. I am keeping Janoud's money with me; I have a feeling things get stolen in this hotel.The morning meeting with filmmakers was lively. I saw a bad feature film and lowered my expectations to a flicker. Caracas caught up in a frenzy of development. Nasty little mosquitoes are biting my feet. It rained heavily in the morning, and the lush mountains were shrouded in billows of mist, which made me feel good. The taxi drivers here are not to be trusted. I have not eaten all day. Signs of Life is playing; the guards at the entrance are bored. There is a melancholy peeping in the trees; I thought it was birds, nocturnal ones, but no, I was told, they were little tree frogs."