San Francisco, alas, can at times be a parody of itself. While we aren't all eating Tofurkey in our plastic shoes, championing Communism, and scoffing at middle America, The City is often portrayed that way. Just a few weeks ago, for example, Barack Obama made a rhetorical boo-boo in town, and nearly every article mentioned how his "elitist" comment was made in San Francisco, noted hotbed of Liberaler Than Thou sanctimoniousness. It was a bit absurd, really, and the shock nearly made me drop my Sun-Dried Tomato Avocado face cream. I mean, haven't they been to Berkeley?*
Now, granted, The City does it to itself. We do have Cafe Gratitude, a restaurant where you don't order "Enchaladas," you order "I Am Elated" (and, I'm told, your waiter sits down to dinner with you and asks you "What are you grateful for?" while you decide between answering sarcastically or punching them in the face). But for every Cafe Gratitude there's something like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free outdoor banjo-soaked celebration of inbred musicality or, as is the case this glorious weekend, Bay to Breakers.
For the uninitiated, Bay to Breakers is a seven and a half mile run through the streets of San Francisco. And while that, in it of itself, sounds like nothing special, its the spirit of the race that makes it so. Bay to Breakers is the day where you can see a middle-aged Silicon Valley man's exposed testicles, see someone's Grandma doing tequila shots at 8:15 in the morning, see police men taking bong rips. It's the day when the entire city throws up its collective arms and says "Screw this, I'm getting wasted and I'm doing something stupid." I love it.
There's also the "running" aspect of the whole thing. In the front of the pack, out on the streets before even the most diligent revelers, there are those people with Clydesdale legs, coasting through 5 minute miles while I'm fumbling with the Maxwell House tin. They're followed by semi-serious runners, joggers, and weekend warriors. (Parenthetically, I told myself I was going to run Bay to Breakers this year, so, a couple weeks ago, I went for a jog. It ranked somewhere between "agonizing" and "I can't feel my legs." I've now convinced myself that wiffleball and Online Boggle qualify as exercise). But after the actual racers are past, the real fun begins: elaborate floats pushed by exhausted frat boys in afro wigs, girls drinking Franzia out of the bag, and hundreds of people who no one ever wanted to see naked, well, naked. The last part isn't "fun" so much as "funny," though more in that "remind me to soap my eyeballs" sort of way.
I'm always a bit sad when tour keeps us away from home on the third Sunday in May, so I'm overjoyed that we're here to get blotto with our fellow San Franciscans. Speaking of tour, we don't have much planned right now---we're currently wading in that infuriating limbo-period between finishing the album and the album coming out---but we will be in New York at the end of the month and will be playing at least once while we're there. And we're doing our damndest to reinvigorate this here blog with posts of some regularity. It should be easy now that I'm jobless and below the poverty line. Writing, after all, is free. Food, unfortunately, is not. Until soon.
* Sorry Berkeley. That was a cheap shot.