Monday, March 27, 2006

Selected Walks

“But” I said laughing, “I do amphiony everyday. We are only speaking of a walk…”

“ Mr. Jourdain!” exclaimed the Baron D’Ormesan “Well said! You practice amphiony without knowing it!”


From “The False Amphion” Guillaume Apollinaire

The Walk: Clement Street, San Francisco

Hoped- for outcome: A Sense of Futility

Time Commitment: as long as it takes

Start walking at the end of Clement Street and go west, towards the ocean. Pass the Irish bars, the Russian restaurants, the weird neither here nor there store fronts and anemic Vietnamese nail parlors. You haven’t made this walk in a while, if ever, so you are piqued by a wave of fake nostalgia for the old ethnic neighborhood that have disappeared, which you never have seen, because you are still young, and they haven’t existed for years. Fight back

Go into the heavily Chinese blocks and look for the right grocery/butcher/produce stand, a scary one with barrels of fish out front. It is a nice day, a little blustery, and you take a outdoor seat at a crappy hipster café across the street. And you wait.

The frogs escape the barrel. The man, swearing, puts them back in. Everyone involved will die someday. The frogs more likely sooner. Fucking hell, that’s some deep shit.

**

The Walk: The Unnamed Fire Trail, Berkeley

Hoped-for outcome: Uncertainty, tinged with regret

Time Commitment: 45 minutes

On a bright Spring morning, you pack a bowling ball in your day pack. You drive up past the football stadium and swimming pool, up into the oak forest. The ad hoc parking lot is fullish, but you find a space.

You heave your pack onto your back and start walking. You are serious, merely nodding to folks as they pass by with their dogs. The heavy pack gives your long strides purpose.

Finally, you reach the Fucking Hill, a path about 150 yards long that climbs in a straight line at hideous 8 degrees. You suck up the pain and when you reach the top, you silently unload your pack – and let the ball go. You just walk away, not looking back, even as people scream behind you.

Damn, you’re cold.

**

The Walk: The Embarcadero, across from the Ferry Building, in San Francisco.

Hoped-for outcome: Internalized admiration

Time Commitment: 10 minutes

You are in some sort of Business wear. You have a blue tooth Spock-thing in your ear, you are carrying a BlackBerry, a smart phone, a Titanium laptop in a leather PC carrying-thing, Armani frames on your homo-ish glasses. You got a sixty dollar haircut yesterday and you had your slacks made by a Hong Kong tailor who sets up shop at one of the hotels by the airport for a couple weeks every year.

You are going to eat sushi at the Ferry Building.

As you make your way toward the Ferry Building, you pass by some skuzzy kids doing sweet-ass tricks on their skateboards. They are secretly your heroes, but you keep walking, pretending that eating crappy sushi is better than doing sweet-ass tricks on a skateboard in the middle of the day when normal people are at work.

**

The Walk: Inspiration Point Trail, Berkeley-Richmond

Hope-for outcome: You feel like you are in an endless shitty adventure game

Time Commitment: Two hours

You are wearing a sword. You walk and continue walking. There is a big hill. The wind blows. There is no treasure. Climbing the long trail to the crest of a hill, a jogger passes. You keep your sword sheathed. Where are the fucking monsters, already? This map blows.

Hawks ride the thermals. You wish you could kill them. But all you have is this sword and you haven’t found any flying boots. Fuck.

Two pudgy middle aged women wearing comfortable shoes, with running shells tied around their waists are power-walking toward you. Should you behead one?

You don’t, because sometimes there are severe penalties for killing non-combatants, and this certainly feels like one of those shitty games where the designer build in some lame-ass morality to cover-up their obvious lack of imagination. Still, the head of the one with the frosted-Princess Diana hairdo would look good at the end of your pike.

Damn. Another afternoon, wasted, walking in the shitty outdoors and the shitty sunshine. You run home to your Xbox.

Who’s idea was this shitty map?

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