That time box

In the BART elevator at Embarcadero station the guy in there with me got confused when we stopped at the MUNI level. “It’s MUNI” I said helpfully. “You probably want the one higher up to get to the street.”

“Oh! Yeah! Right! You know it’s partly the old age and partly that I’m really, really high a lot of the time!” He looked out at the MUNI platform, pleased with life.

I chortled appreciatively.

“It’s funny how everything really far back is so clear. Everything now, I forget! But 59 years back is clear as day! I’m old, but I’m also a stoner!” he said.

“Yeah it really does start to all become one thing, as I get older I really feel like it’s time travel and time is all in one big moment that all exists at once!”

He side eyed me.

“I’m not even high! Ahahaha, I just talk like that! When it seems like people are open to it.”

We then agreed memory is time travel. The elevator is very slow, so there’s plenty of time to chat. I did not mention the TARDIS. We emerged from the elevator doors as boldly as if we were all the Doctors and Companions.

Fabulous visit to Fruitvale BART station

I set out on a sunny afternoon to Fruitvale BART. The station itself is aboveground, elevated, and kind of beautiful. It has glassed in sides that angle outward on either side of the tracks (there are 2 platforms) And a partial roof that comes out from the sides to shelter the platform, which have another angled …. thing… I can’t describe this, argh! Each platform has one side completely glassed in, and then the on side closer to the train there’s a little angled bit that comes down over the platform, with little bart-train-window shaped windows in it, so that from one platform while there is a train in the station, you look up, and those little windows make it look like a WHOLE OTHER TRAIN is floating in the sky above the real train! And, the entire glass part of the platform shelter looks kind of like a giant glass BART car! Is it just in my imagination or has anyone else noticed this amazingness?

On the ground floor I did have a look at a wall of tiles painted mostly by local schoolchildren.

Then I headed out to the plaza just outside the station entrance. Wow it’s so nice! There are little stands (veggies, fruit, caramel corn/lemonade, fancy shea butter soap, textiles, mostly guatemalan woven stuff) and then a nice plaza with a fountain, lots of seating, lots of places to get delicious food, pastries, ice cream. The library is also right there though the entrance is around the corner. I was hanging out outside eating my delicious cornmeal fried fish & chips (perfect) and just going, OK, why is it so damn nice here?! A family went by with some very excited little kids jumping up and down and i realized as t hey approached why the kids were excited – the dad had a bunny in a little soft hutch carrier. Another guy walked by a while later from the other direction with an african grey parrot in an ornate white iron cage on a handtruck. The parrot was upside down, squawking, and clearly having a blast. (For a while I owned an african grey and so I know what they are like!) People in the burger joint talked with me. Some random other lady conversed with me about hair in the nicest way. Another lady and I had a laugh about the bunny. So i was thinking OK this is also how 24th and Mission could be and even is sometimes but it always has more of an edge. But… but it **could**. Anyway, it also was refreshingly not full of young bankers looking bewildered as they eat a dusty bagel in front of a bored security guard (Montgomery station…. that plaza with the fake checkers behind the mechanics monument…. I’m looking at you).

While I was there a nearby high school must have been on lunch hour because the plaza was cheerfully full of teenagers. Can I just say also I ended up chatting with all sorts of people. A friendly public space. I went shopping for a bit and came back to have ice cream (coconut + mamey) from the shop inside Fruitvale Public Market. I hope that the plaza outside the Richmond station can someday be this pleasant – it has the potential to be.

The library was a nice place to work – I found a quiet corner with rocking chair and free wifi by the window overlooking where the trains pull in. And, after work I looked at the local history and Native American history section, found a book on my list to read too (The Ohlone of Central California: People at the Edge of the World, by Betty Morrow). It was short so I had a quick read through and took notes for my game project. The social justice section was strong in this library as you would expect. There was a nice shelf of cheap books for sale by the elevator up top, then below at the entrance a shelf of equally nice free books and a lot of bulletin boards.

Another little plaza to the.. west? is connected and has mosaic circles in the ground and on a large bench (a sun/moon face) and a beautiful mosaic archway.

Anyway as I wandered around kind of randomly I decided I love this neighborhood. I’ll be back to hang out!

From the southbound platform I looked for the Oscar Grant mural but could only see a half of a face sketched onto a wall across the street. That may not have been it? The station was under construction so I may have just not been able to see the mural. I remember his horrible murder like it was yesterday and did NOT realize that was TEN YEARS AGO. Y’all.

Index to all posts describing my BART station visits

Midnight descent to nothingness

I had an intense dream where I was one of the last people left in the universe. We were leaving things behind as we went toward nothingness. It was especially hard for me to leave my glasses, shoes, and sleep meds behind, as that seemed so final. We had to say goodbye to various experiences and aspects of life, like “Well, that’s the last time I’ll do THAT!” Very Inanna’s descent to the underworld feeling.

Four or five of us were trying to accept what was happening as we went through the process together. I kept resisting internally but persuading myself again that struggling for just a few more years was silly when the whole universe was ending. Then I’d start drawing on the desk I was sitting at with a sharpie little hearts and stars and I hoped Danny would see it and know it was a message to him.

Some of us wondered if we could stay for the birth of the new universe even if it would be lonely and painful to have survived it. I was trying to comfort a woman who was regretting this journey to say even if we fix it so that we come back it won’t really be us as we are now and we will never exist again because every factor that has made is who we are would have to be in place in the new universe. And, that is normal and just part of our existence and we have to accept mortality and the beautiful and sad aspects of how ephemeral everything is.

Thanks, weird dream, I guess! It’s very strange to be here this morning after experiencing that process so intensely.

I woke up at 1am and read various forums and tumblr for a while, until I felt less unsettled. Back to sleep.

I wonder if this dream was from finishing reading Zen Cho’s The True Queen just before bedtime?

Re-dying some boots

I have these amazing boots in black and blue, and love them quite a lot, so much that I mail ordered the same boots in red. But the contrasting color to the red was way browner than it looked in pictures. Every time I put these boots on I just felt like, Yuck, this brown is too peachy-ochre, and I want to look at my feet & think “YAY!! I have red boots on! RED!” instead.

OK! I’ve never done this before but I am accustomed to dying things, so here goes! I ordered 4 colors of leather dye and some de-glazer (4 bucks per color, very cheap!). After work today I went out on the porch and tried to strip the brown dye. It didn’t seem like a lot of it came off to be honest.

On to the dyeing! The toes and heel and straps I dyed a wine color and the main uppers of the boot are now red, a somewhat different red than the other original bright red (on the… lower part of the body of the shoe, and the tongue). The triangle part on the back calf is now black.

I forgot to get sealant! After these dry overnight I’ll touch them up, condition them, and maybe the sealant will come by then. Can’t wait to see how they come out.

pair of boots

It was so soothing after staring at Firefox stuff all day on my laptop to do something concrete with my hands. The other day I remarked to Danny how it’s so good for me now that the sun is out & I am gardening a little every day. “Why?” he said, cocking a eye from his cozy blanket nest, covered in different computer parts and cables and perhaps crumbs, analyzing me like I am an alien being, which he does every time I do something like load the dishwasher efficiently or remember to brush my teeth without a technological object telling me how and when. “Why is it good for you? What makes it good?” Perhaps I will now unlock a further level of the secrets of happiness with my homely domesticity! “Uh…. I dunno? I like… dirt?! Dirt is amazing. I like getting my hands in it and seeing what it’s doing. Like being aware of the tides! ” “So like, happy bugs and worms?” “Happy mycelia of good soil fungi! I guess it’s exercise too.” But, really it may have this component of being concrete and physical, it isn’t made of words, and I also feel like I’m caring for and preserving something. Exercising craft, or creating things, and also being nurturing in some way. Well, anyway dying my boots felt like that too. I like physical labor when I am capable of it.

Oh yeah and my hands and half the porch look like a very creative murder just happened, because I’m also a huge slob.

Equinox Party

Went to the 68th Equinox Party with Seth last night; I used to go more often years ago but haven’t been in quite some time. The theme for the evening was 1968 and I enjoyed the puzzles – of varying difficulty and complexity, some done in teams and some where everyone participated. As always the group is super friendly, nice, and smart; very inclusive.

The cryptic crossword was probably my favorite but I also liked the word guessing game where two people would go “on stage” and guess from clues a partner would yell to them. The clue-givers could see a list of 9 words on a screen overhead (so everyone else could see them too). Each word had letters matching one of two patterns (for example, starting with H, has a G somewhere in the middle, ends in a Y; or has the letters RDA somewhere inside) So as a guesser, you had to take your turn keeping the patterns in mind. Another big group game – group 20 questions, where we all wrote a word down as our (private) guess, with the secret holder on stage (having chosen a word). The audience took turns asking a yes or no question. Everyone whose word matches that question scores a point. If your word is eliminated you don’t get a point and you choose another word with the previous answers in mind. I was SO CLOSE guessing “Earth” when the answer was “Moon”… Anyway, it’s very interesting to study how they structure a game to be interesting to a broad variety of people and keeping all their attention.

On the way there I stopped by 24th and Mission to enjoy Orquestra La 24, as always, lovely & people were dancing & the music was great.

The Stack

Danny just handed me a giant book called The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, saying, “Just open that anywhere and start reading.” 20 seconds later I squawked OH MY GOD!!! WHAT IS THIS! WHAAAAAT!!!!!??!!!

He always brings me good things!

It’s very interesting! I kind of want to re-buy it on kindle (it’s too big for me to hold up in bed) and dig in. This is going to be a wild ride.

Calle 24 Cultural Crime #9823468

Really hating how the McDonald’s at 24th and Mission blasts classical music all hours of the day. It ruins the beautiful soundscape of both BART plazas which normally have several flavors of latin music going at once.

They’re doing it to discourage “loitering” but this is a public space specifically designed for people to enjoy being in! It’s extremely obnoxious – offensive!

I kind of get doing it at midnight but…. just no!

Derailed by my free bookshelf

Someone put a faded booklet on my free bookshelf called “The Hope Slide Story” by Frank W. Anderson (Frontier Book No. 12). Looks like maybe the mid 60s though there is no date. The back of the booklet lists some great stuff in the series – Murder on the Plains! The Lost Lemon Mine! Regina’s Terrible Tornado! Reminds me of stuff I used to unearth in the basements of various libraries I worked in, in the 80s.

I settled in just now to eat dinner over this book. It starts out introducing its innocent victims or survivors, not sure which are which yet; they’re farmers, truckers, factory workers. I assume something dramatic is going to happen to these trucks. Are these Russian names? What’s up with that? Then I hit,

During the disturbances of 1953 in the Kootenays, Mary Kalmakoff had been one of the 103 Doukhobor children taken by the government and put in a special dormitory opened at New Denver. She was then in Grade 3. . . . On February 28th, 1958, 5 days after her 15th birthday, Mary left the New Denver internment camp and returned to her parents.”

I had to stop and look this up. What disturbances? Doukhobar?

So, Ukranian/Georgian/Russian Christian pacfist sect who believe in communal living and who emigrated in an enormous swoop to Saskatchewan where they formed special communal homesteads and, while non violent, were strangely into sectarian fighting via midnight arson. The Freedomites (Svobodniki or Sons of Freedom) also seemed to be into nude protest marches against the Community and Independent Doukhobors. Unclear who was bombing whom and why but a lot of it seemed to be protest against the government. They were still bombing railway bridges while naked in 1961…. wow. Well, I guess I’d bomb things naked too if they took my kids off to a prison camp and called it “Operation Snatch”. How horrible! But, they were originally marching naked to protest being given land that was too cold for crops (and other issues, like not wanting to sign a loyalty oath or register births and deaths, and I think also over not wanting to split their communities to register individually for land ownership.)

The Hope Slide Story certainly breezed right past this bit of history in its rush to bring together the cast of characters on the highway, “unaware that somehwere on the dark road ahead a yellow convertible, a hay truck and an oil tanker were rapidly moving towards a tragic rendezvous with fate.”

Very fried from a long day at work, I’m going to chill out with this amazing booklet and look everything up as I go.



I’m back just a few pages later as there was another breezy mention of the Japanese internment camp prisoners “evacuated from the coastal cities” forced to build the very road the Hope Slide is about to slide down on top of. Why do Canadians have a reputation of being “nice” again?

Further update: The Japanese prisoners also were brought out to do some woodland firefighting.

SILENT HELL: Uh oh. the yellow convertible has run into a small snowslide about 15 feet high that went across the highway. The oil tanker guy, Stephanishin, is walking over there with his 6 volt lamp. I love this book! Then, a new chapter: SILENT HELL. Seismographs jump in distant laboratories! Explanation of the hillside and its 60 million cubic yards of dirt, rocks, snow, and trees, hanging above the heads of the innocent 4 people below!
They all go to warm up in the oil tanker. The hay truck guy pulls up and hangs out under the avalanche some more! The young guys try to go free the convertible. I think they are toast. I would not be messing with that baby avalanche! Its mama might come next!

OMG now a whole Greyhound bus. Another bus! Uh oh. They are going to go have a look at that yellow convertible. But Bernie, Mary, Dennis, and Thomas the hay bale truck driver were still alive at this point, in the oil tanker with the motor running for heat.

The landslide has now swooshed past and then splashed backwards lifting up the trucks and carrying them away.

An hour later everyone else shows up and starts to realize how big the slide was. Search and Rescue to the rescue! A helicopter arrives! A mountie dog named Prince! They built up the rescue a lot but only pulled out one dead body and never found the others. THE END.

Visit to Richmond BART station

Today I voyaged to Richmond BART! It was very exciting!

It’s an aboveground platform with a large concourse underneath. Amtrak also comes here! Right next to the BART platform, across a nicely landscaped garden with trees, the California Zephyr pulled up with tremendous clanging and excitement. You get to the Amtrak platform from the concourse level using a separate elevator. (I am already planning wild trips to Truckee, Fresno, and Elko, Nevada.)

A giant mural/sculpture by our old friend, William Mitchell, is in the concourse level. It’s bright greeny-blue and reddish orange, wild and glistening. It is supposed to evoke underwater sea life and also something Aztec, but it also made me think of shell mounds and of a giant lizard. You can get right up to it and feel its smooth, weird shapes.

Long sloping ramps and an elevator in a large distinctive red structure at the station’s east entrance. A bit like the prow of a ship. Orange California Poppies blooming in the sun.

To the east there were several little Mexican/Central American markets. You are not going to find a coffee shop or a latte within a couple miles of here but you can get good groceries. It reminded me of neighborhoods I grew up in, in Detroit.

Downtown is half a mile to the east, an easy scoot or walk. The Civic Center, which includes an auditorium, is big, spacious, deserted looking at 2pm, and very red-bricky; the library is pleasant. I browsed their shelves and found a good collection of Native American history and literature books. (Research for Transitory.) Lots that isn’t in the SFPL system. There is an elevator to the 2nd floor, to get to it, you have to get the nice librarians to let you behind their circulation desk.

And their Seed Lending Library is very good! I took a Cupcake Papaver somniferum poppy packet and some Golden Sweet Pea that has pretty flowers that you can eat. Best use of little card catalogue style drawers… intriguing to open and riffle through. I have some seeds in envelopes that I could bring to donate next time.

seed library drawers

ON the west side of the station there is an interesting nook or two, one with a terraced hanging garden and the other with a bench underneath three big murals of the history of Richmond, On the Right Track by Daniel Galvez and Jos Sances. I liked the murals themselves and underneath each one there was a bas relief sculpture of different trains throughout the region’s history including a Pullman car, one carrying the Bay Hippo, a car carrying a ship or a submarine, a fruit and veggie car, a car with a mariachi band and a jazz band, and finally an Amtrak and a BART car! It’s so adorable! I wish it were lower down so it would be easier for people to see all the details.

Check this out, the west entrance of the station. Looks like a spaceport doesn’t it?

richmond train station

To the west of the station, looked like a public housing project but a pretty nice one. Like, they tried to make it nice to be in. There were places to sit and this is also where you’ll find the convenience store most handy to the train station. There are some small colorful decorations along the walkway down Nevin street, iron railings kind of like the papel picado railings around the 16th and Mission BART stairwells. I didn’t go much further but sat and ate some chips in the sun. There was a big transit center here as well with very good maps showing places you could go on various buses. I was tempted to take the 72 bus to the Richmond Ferry (which in the library, I learned was the former Ellis Landing, built amidst huge Huchiun shellmounds. Next time maybe. Need to go back to that library and also try to make it to the Richmond Plunge and Wildcat Canyon.

ON the trip home I also would have liked to visit El Cerrito but the El Cerrito del Norte elevator is out until April 1. I was warned by several people that there is “nothing” to see in El Cerrito but I have my eye on the Ohlone Greenway and the wildflower park in the middle of it.

Almost forgot the “best” part, the quote on a big old display above the entrance to the BART concourse, sponsored by you know who:

Richmond – home of some of the country’s cleanest fuels, lubricating oils, and juicy steak-making propane.

Richmond, home of the most cringeworthy, tone-deaf, awkwardly phrased and most-containing-food-where-it-shouldn’t-be corporate slogans!

Index to all posts describing my BART station visits

MUNI poems!

I was so excited to see on Twitter that this guy Mc is writing a poem for every MUNI line in San Francisco! They’ll be in the Bay City Beacon. He then said he was going to read poetry on the sidewalk over in Cole Valley on Sunday morning. So I hopped on the J, then the N, went through the cute little East/West Portal tunnel, and found him declaiming some Mary Oliver outside Cafe Reverie.

He had a whole foot locker full of books & read me his poem 37 Corbett. I was squawking with delight to find it was not only a good idea but he is also a good poet. (whew!) I also liked his elevator repair shop poem. Read him back one about a road trip from My Lai and then we talked about loving and seeing beauty in city infrastructure. “I LOVE SIDEWALKS…. I mean…. they’re so beautiful… ” *wild poet babbling* He listened to me talk about my BART game a bit & my feelings about getting people to see all the layers of history and future and stories in their daily experiences. Felt nice to meet a kindred spirit.

sidewalk poetry reading

We promised to send each other some sort of links but if I could only remember what it was… O yeah! Diamond Dave’s & Global Val’s Friday afternoon pirate radio show from Mutiny Radio. And he was going to send me something on the spot in the Dogpatch where they launched the pieces of the BART tunnel under the Bay.