San Francisco Kid

July 25th, 2000

San Mateo, San Francisco


Conrado is my new friend. Found him on North Beach. He is a photographer. His friend is from Brazil or maybe he is. He offers me his name, it’s free, I take it and give back mine. It’s a fair trade. We trade stories. My life, his life, their lives, only little bits. Highlights, City Lights, Insights. A photographer, eh, what do you like taking pictures of, I ask as he snaps and steals my image. I’ll never see that again. I can’t help but react. How to be yourself? They laugh.  Brazil is obviously used to the attention, Conrado’s got an exhibition on in Vesuvio’s/ It’s a nice pub, just across from that famous book store, Laurence Ferlenghetti’s. Beatnik, Beat Poet, Beat Generation filling station. One by one I meet the North Beach Mafia, Jerry an Irish man, his friend wears a baret which comes from Basque. He shows me it’s many uses. It’s a versatile black hat worn by a Sicilian elder. He lights my cigarette with matches that he owns but he himself doesn’t smoke. Nobody smokes around here. What is with California? It’s freezing, the wind’s picked up and outside Puccini’s Cafe my cappuccino has gone cold, the froth has sunken. The Sicilian begins to rant – what is art? What is Talent? Because I tell him about this exhibition I saw at MOMO earlier on that day. Bill Viola – 25 years Retrospective, video artiste. That’s not art, I could have done that. That’s what they all say. Concepts, it’s all to do with concepts, I insist slightly playing Devil’s Advocate. He begins to tell a story about a guy who made copies of famous works of art. He copied Van Gaugh’s with some success, like Midnight Cafe and the Japanese owned Sunflowers. Now that’s talent, he exclaims. I couldn’t do that!

Jet Lag Part II

How does one keep from getting ‘sea sick’ living on a constantly moving vessel? By looking into the horizon line? A place far far away which, by definition, is also continually moving further and further away? Choose a window seat and become a spectator. Sit outside and get fresh air. Go to sleep.

I’ve tried it all.

Using drugs is about the only thing I have not tried because I feel drugs only remove you further, create a fake reality, making you numb, anesthetising you, making it impossible for you to respond to stimulus in an effective way. You just won’t be able to save yourself in the end.

I have suffered with Jet Lag for almost 32 years now. The things I see from my window seat only serve to make me feel less and less in control of my surroundings, paralysed and incapable of action yet totally awake and lucid in the dream or nightmare I’m in.

Claustrophobic and frustrated, angry.

Without land to walk on, this mind is merely floating. My sea legs never developed. My wings never grew. I’m stuck. I’m sick. I’m lost. Adrift. Even falling would be better. At least it has direction.

What time is it now? Where in the world am I? How far to go before I reach landfall? They say the world is over 70% ocean. What is the likely hood then of ever reaching it? And the sky is infinite.

Timezones are the killer. Moving from one timezone to the next is disorientating to the point where you often forget the difference between past, present and future. But time is a man made measurement and what you are really feeling is distance traveled. I’ve traveled thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of miles from the place I was born. With that kind of disconnect from your self how can we expect to feel any sense of wholeness or homeness?

My place of birth is so far away I feel little for it which is a terrible thing to happen to a body, yet it remains enigmatic. If it holds any meaning to me still, I want to travel back and find out. It is a desert – mystical, mysterious, historical. There are few places on this earth which evoke such a sense of wonder and introspection. The desert has meaning to me. I understand it. I can relate to the wisdom in its desolation and isolation and the humbling affect of infinity it has on people.

I imagine the desert to be warm and windy with a hint of a smell of sea. I have not been to a desert since but perhaps that experience, now long gone over miles and miles, has left a memory, a map, a meaning.

Jet Lag

Jet Lag – The effect of time and distance on self identity

My body is weighed down by fatigue
My eyes have black puffy rings around them
My brain is alive and over active but in that drug induced like way, dreamlike
Dizzy and delirious
I tell myself it’s only jet lag
But I don’t think I have ever fully recovered.

Sometimes, when I’ve been traveling in an elevator and get out I still feel the ground rocking. In fact there have been times where I just need to stand by an elevator and wait, I feel a sway. It’s as if my body is recognising, preempting the motion, preparing for an unnatural state of constant movement.

A balancing act that I never quite learned. But I am quite good at riding pillion on a motorbike.

Moron Scottish Weather

Partly cloudy with some sunny spells. Temperature – Highs at 12 and Lows at 6 with a windchill factor high enough to drag that temp down even lower making the country pretty uninhabitable. And I thought the jungle was was bad enough. Turns out KL does have its plus points. When the sun’s shining I suppose the shadows disappear and Glasgow doesn’t feel so drechit (dreary). Since I’ve been dwelling here I’ve seen the Kinks live, went to King Tut’s, met old and even older friends, walked dogs, drunk tea, ate pies, ate more pies (I ate all the pies), rode on trains including the Clockwork Orange (Glasgow Underground), as they affectionately say here, visited the heads and Kelvingrove Museum, ate a curry, drank some beer, took a black cab, stood outside for a fag and had coffee at Offshore. I guess that sums up Glasgow and my memory of it. Today I’m off to back down south to Englandshire via the Great North Eastern Railway, a grand name for a grand company. Let’s just hope there’s no leaves on the track.