Monday, April 30, 2007

Live Fast, Die Young

"Live Fast, Die Young" from Bull Rider, by Johnny Cash

That looker of a wife of mine said to me, as we merged onto 24E off of 13S, "Whoa! Feels like riding in a go-kart!" A heartfelt and hearty thanks to the engineers at Ford and Volvo, as well as all the motorcycle riders I ever saw pop wheelies on the freeway. Racing along the trees at break-neck speed becomes a state of mind, alert & engaged.

Friday night: Rebecca's Soul Train "Takin' It To The Streets" themed party. Paint yourself a mental picture of at least 40 Mission hipsters dressed to the nines in bona fide disco wear, starting from 24th Street and Bartlett, shaking their asses off in the front of the library, on the BART, at Embarcadero BART station, in the middle of Market Street, turning the Historic F-line into a party extraordinaire. The F-Line operator even let us take over the PA system for Soul Train pep talks. People joined and left us all along the way. Rebecca organized us into the two Soul Train rows with that charismatic dance instructor voice, better than most could have, what with the wild whiskey pounding dancers. We hit the Castro sometime after midnight, which seemed a good time for Looker & me to hail a cab. After the cabbie heard about our evening, he turned us onto the side of himself that raps, the MC Mars side. He freestyled for 5+ minutes, rapping all about our soul training - hands down dope shit, reminded me of the teenage rappers on the J-Church that used to pound the windows for bass while tapping the grab bars with a pencil and flowing big fresh. We bought his book of short stories, Don't Take Me The Long Way . So surreal, so so so surreal, and chock full of levity.

Saturday: Went to see Bret in the UCSF chemo ward. The doctors diagnosed him with rhabdomyosarcoma (bad) a couple months ago, leading to chemo-therapy Round 2 of 4 last weekend. It felt great to be able to suit up and show up for Bret. That ward leans towards depressing the smile smack off even the most jocular human. The view from the eleventh floor went on forever and a day, striking beauty. Heavy stuff this cancer, but a profound blessing for me, a chance to feel true friendship, up along the rough wall of bonding pain & fear transcendence. Bret's boy turned four months old today, such a wise little being. Whoa Nelly that's a lot of love swarming over us. Makes me cry sometimes, but not too much. Maria told me long ago, "Crying is honest. Crying is good." Smart woman let some wisdom slip there, and mine, well, they might just flood Big River.

Drove the family up to Megan & Paul's cool 440-acre co-operative land trust community later in the afternoon. Megan & I had talked about a visit for the past ten years, so you might say we'd looked forward for a minute. The place, called Monan's Rill, rides Mount St. Helena about 1,100' up the southeast side. Exceeded expectations with a dramatic, gutteral, sub-sonic auditory hallucination. Trees, rattlesnakes in the middle of the trail, owls, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers, and valleys, and rocks, big moss & lichen covered monoliths, the moon, the planets, the hip people, the shiznits by any other name. Gumbo played extra well, sharing all he had in a breathtaking display of emotional growth. A boy about a year his junior grabbed the hat off his head, and then demanded the tricycle on which he sat. I expected Gumbo's typical response would have consisted of throwing his new friend to the ground without hesitation, before deliverance of a well placed farewell kick prior to speeding off, but instead I overheard him cry "let's share!" Sweet, yo, very sweet.

Sunday: Rode from the San Francisco Ferry Building to the Larkspur Ferry and back. Took a detour and checked out the San Francisco National Cemetary, which I had never visited before. The oldest stones I saw marked folks' graves that died in the 1920s. No birth dates for most of those. Maybe they didn't know, didn't care. Our culture overrates quantitative analysis, tricknology promoting social inequality, trying to make a dollar out of shame. That's right, I said kill your television, a jillion pixels of high definition or not.

Watched the swimmers at Aquatic Park, promised myself once more that I'd try that sometime.

Laurent crapped out at the Larkspur Ferry, and I used the opportunity to chase that original 11-year old man coming of age ride or die quality of thought. Back then, in 1981, I just up and gave up on Saturday morning cartoons, preferring instead to start my morning by striding out into the brilliant Santa Rosa sunshine, picking up my yellow Ashtabula BMX style dual-tube framed killing machine half-way down the walk, having been left unlocked and ready for fast escape. I would ride to Kelly Beardall's house, and then we'd rip the world to bite-sized pieces in wolfish ways, travelling where our inner magnets led us, with the mandatory 7-11 pilgrimages. We sprinted when we felt like sprinting, jumped off every handicap ramp, layed down a 20' 180 degree slide at every stop, gave everyone the finger, lived on the bikes until dinner time, loved the bikes, took bruised and scraped up succor in the dried out creek bed with one vertical side. So I intentionally got lost, rode without direction, ignoring posted bike routes, choosing scary looking streets full of cars, stopping, sprinting, stopping, sprinting, observing the unfamilar, loving that pain in my legs. Got home and worked in the yard the rest of the day, then the standard Sunday night volunteer gig. The weekend still felt young and corruptible, so I did my best to lead her astray as she convulsed, and clung, to her long, last moments.

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