The Martian

I recently finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir. I first heard about the book while listening to the Tested Podcast where Adam is talking about his trip to Australia. He mentions the fact that he read the book while on the trip and that he loved it. Will then chimes in that he had read it months ago and had suggested it to Adam.

Then in either that or a later Podcast, they all decide to read it; Adam will listen the the audio book, Will will re-read it, and Norm will read it for the first time. Once done they were going to have a ‘book club’ Podcast where they all discussed the book. Initially it was my plan to get and read the book in time for the review.

Unfortunately, due to my cheapness in not wanting to buy a book I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy, combined with the fact that no libraries seemed to have it, I wasn’t able to read it before their review came out. Fortunately, because the internet hasn’t ceased to exist in the time between when I eventually got the book and the time when I eventually finished it. I was able to read it and then go back and find their review. It was great and offered interesting insight into things I didn’t give much thought to. And so, without further unnecessary backstory, here is my review of Andy Weir’s The Martian.

AndyWeir_TheMartian

Let me start by saying that though I liked the book, I liked the story that is, I was not a big fan of the writing. Thus, I’m about to make myself look like a critical, cynical asshole, but I couldn’t not mention this aspect and for that I apologize in advance.

The writing of the main character, Mark Watney, is really bad. Andy Weir, a writer is not. He never claims to be and he even proves it in his bio, “…first hired as a programmer [...] at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since.” However, due to all the praise it’s been getting, I was expecting a higher quality reading experience. Again, not to take away from the story, which is quite good and I will get to it in a moment, but first I have to do a little more complaining about the writing.

It is immediately apparent from the first chapter, hell the first page, that this is not written by an “author” or “writer” in the traditional sense. This was a guy that had an idea for a book and just decided to write one. This is admirable and there is no shame in that, but would it have killed him to get an editor? The book reads like it was written by a sixth grader. Or rather, written the way a sixth grader talks. It’s full of unnecessary cursing (not that I mind curse words, but still) and silly exclamations like “Boo-ya,” and “super duper.” This is not how real people express themselves and thus it makes your character seem less real and takes the reader out of the book. He tries to convey the sense that Mark is a humorous guy, but it really just makes him seem immature and annoying.

There is no doubt Mr. Weir is an intelligent man. There is a lot of math and a lot of science in the book and I am sure that all of it is based on things that could really happen. I don’t claim to be a science expert so I can’t say for sure, but those parts certainly seem to be based in reality. It’s just a shame that the writing doesn’t compliment the great story of survival that is being told. Ultimately, what would have been great is if he could have given an outline to a “real” writer and have him or her flesh out the story for him.

Now I don’t claim to be a good writer. I am a terrible speller, I rarely edit my work, and I am not grammatically inclined. I am self aware enough to see that in myself and admit to it. However, even I notice countless grammatical errors, problems with sentence structure and various other faults that, to me distracted from the story.

However, that is only one half of the equation. Not all of the story is given to us in a first person account mission log. There are other parts of the story that take place on Earth. We get to see what NASA are up to while all this is going on. We get to see what the rest of Watney’s crew are up to while they think he’s still dead on Mars. Oddly enough, these parts are fairly well written. They are much more fluid, enjoyable, and easy to read. It was surprising to me that these parts were written by the same author. Since they don’t come in until a little later in the book, they sort of come as a surprise. When did Andy learn to write?

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, the story itself is actually very good. Described as “a cross between Cast Away and Apollo 13” the story is very interesting. I was engaged in it the entire time I was reading it and even found myself reading much more pages than I typically have the attention span for. The creative ways Mark is able to solve the problems that Mars and his equipment throw at him are quite ingenious. That feeling of desperation towards the end nearly brought me to tears. The fact that he had put so much effort into surviving and all the people involved in helping him do so is actually quite moving.

So then, there are two main facets at play here, the story and the writing. If you can separate the story from the writing, than this is a really solid book. If you can’t, then this may not be the book for you. Click here for the Tested Podcast review of The Martian. WARNING: There are spoilers.

In related news, as is the way of life, around this time next year we can look forward to seeing The Martian as a several million dollar blockbuster. According to IMDB, a film version of The Martian is set to be released on November 25th 2015. The news gets better when you read that it is to be directed by the sci-fi master himself, Mr. Ridley Scott! If Scott gives us anything close to what he did for Prometheus (which, though I disliked the storyline, the visuals were undeniably good) than I have no doubt the movie will be good. As long as the screenplay strips away all of the cheesy exclamations and focuses on the drama of the story, the movie will, in my opinion exceed the book.

The one thing than niggles me about the movie already is the casting. The main character is going to be played by Matt Damon. I personally have no problem with Damon, I think he’s a terrific actor and I have no doubt he’ll be excellent in the role. However, the great part about reading a book is being able to picture the characters, as well as the action, in your head. Matt Damon is not even close to how I pictured the main character. I finally understand when my Mom and sister complain about the casting of a movie based on a book they’ve recently read.

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BBP Halloween Bike Ride

Halloween is always one of those events that you want to go well but you never expect it will. What I mean is, you build it up in your head and hope it goes well, but rarely does it meet your expectations. This year, in preparation for potential disappointment, I found myself three things to do. That way, if one of them sucked, I’d have two others to fall back on.

HBR Fyler

The three things were: the Boston Bike Party Halloween Ride (pictured in poster form above), karaoke at Highland Kitchen, and the 2nd annual Halloween party at my friend’s apartment aka The Blood Coven. The initial plan I made for myself was to start the night off by doing the BBP, then biking over to Somerville to do some karaoke, and finally ending the night at the Coven. However, as Halloween approached and I got more realistic about things, I began to realize that this plan might not be possible.

So, I decided to go into the night without a specific plan. I figured I would definitely start with the BBP ride, as it’s still new to me and I wanted to meet up with people again. However, if I didn’t make it to HK, that’d be fine because it’s not like I’ve never done karaoke there before. And as to the Coven Party, if I made it there, great, if not, that too, it’s not like I hadn’t been to a party there before (and they’re all basically the same anyway).

After getting home from work I got changed into my street clothes and headed straight back into the city. I didn’t have a costume, partially because I didn’t have time for one and partially because it was too cold to wear one. I just went out in jeans, a hoodie, a beanie, and my denim vest. The first person I saw was the guy David I had met the last time who was once again wearing his home-made Daft Punk helmet. I chatted with him for a bit and then basically rode around in circles for a bit to keep warm and to admire people’s costumes as they came in.

Tron_DaftPunkSaw my homeboy David again, aka “Thomas Bangalter” as well as this girl (sorry, I forget your name) dressed as a “user” from TRON Legacy.

Some of the costumes that stuck out to me were Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic who had built a frame around his bike to make it look like a submarine, Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, Elliot with ET in the basket, Paul Revere with cardboard on his bike to make it look like a horse, The “T”; both the red and the blue line, TRON and Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk (both pictured above). I know I’m forgetting some because there were a lot of creative people there.

However, one of the smarter ones I saw was a group. The group was Mario, Luigi, and Peach. This is pretty standard and typically I would find it unoriginal. However, this groups was specifically these three characters from Mario Kart. The way they differentiated themselves was by having three balloons tied to their backs to represent that they were in “Battle Mode.” On top of that, Luigi even had a set of three banana peels on his bike rack. It’s this attention to detail that separates the good costumes from the great ones. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pictures of any of these, or very many pictures at all for that matter, because I’m stupid.

In my ridings around, I ran into one of the organizers who gave me a spoke card. I had gotten one at the last BBP but it fell out of my spokes. I was going to leave this one in my pocket but when the organizer (I forget his name) saw I wasn’t putting it on my bike, he took it from me and stuck it in my rear spoke. “I don’t want it to fall out like last time,” I told him. “You just gotta stick it in there real good,” he said. “In other words, don’t be a pussy?,” I asked. “Basically,” he said. He stood back admiring his handy work. “This looks real good on your bike.” He was right, the orange spoke card paired nicely with my black frame and to my pleasant surprise it stayed in my spoke the whole ride.

BBP_Halloween_SpokeCardBoston Bike Party -Halloween Bike Ride- spoke card.

Soon the ride was underway. Right away it had a distinctly different tone to the first ride. Not only was it colder, but there were noticeably more people there. The 700 or so of us made the group of 300 the last time seem intimate. Also, we encountered a lot more anger than we had before. What I mean is, I don’t really remember anyone beeping at us on the (my) first ride. This time however, there were a bunch of cars that were upset with us and a few who rolled down there windows to yell at us to get out of the way. I get that it’s probably frustrating to wait a few minutes for several hundred costumed cyclists to pass by before you can continue on your way, but it’s like, be patient, you know? Enjoy the parade.

I tried to move around in the crowd, not just stay towards the front or the back, but jumble around. I even stopped a couple times to take time-lapse videos of the group passing me by. There were definitely some rad moments of feeling like you’re part of something bigger than you. You kind of just tune out of everyday life and tune in to everyone around you; it’s a cool experience.

Along the way I met up with two guys with whom I felt instant kinship. Devon and Collin were both fellow (although I guess now I’m technically former) messengers. We just got along right away and had cool quick convo about messaging and biking in general. Devon told me that the next day (Saturday) there was set to be an AlleyCat Race* at 1pm and that I should join them. I told him it would depend on how much drinking I did. I said that I wanted to grab their numbers at the end but before you knew it we were separated and soon we were in Allston and it was over.

There were two options for the after-party, Wonderbar or The Brighton Music Hall. I saw the line for Wonderbar was super long so I made my over to BMH. There was a line there too and suddenly my brain was in a weird palce. I don’t know how to explain it, whether I was disappointed it was already over, or that I hadn’t gotten anyone’s number, but I just wasn’t in the mood to hang around and try and find people. After a few minutes of inner conflict, I decided -since the night was still young- to head over to HK.

Still have yet to “plug” Hi Wheel Scene. Still haven’t pitched the idea for a naked bike ride. Still didn’t take as much time to grab photos and to really enjoy the moment while I was in it. However, this was only my second one, there will be many more opportunities to do all of the aforementioned things.

It was a cold lonesome ride through the darkness, but eventually I made my way to the promised land. After saying hi to Sparkie and Brian, I spotted Tyler and Shannon and sat and chilled with them. They were eating but told me that once they were done, they were gonna head over to the Coven. I told them I’d biked and that I’d put a song in, so I wanted to at least sing before heading over and that if they wanted to leave without me to go for it. As timing would have it, I was called up to sing right as Tyler was finishing up at the bar. I pumped the crowd up with “It’s Tricky,” before doing a fashionable Irish exit.

I flew over to the Coven and to my surprise, got there before Tyler and Shannon despite leaving at the exact same time. I don’t know if it was the cold (as motivation) or that it was just significantly shorter than I remembered it being (and certainly much short than my other two previous rides that night) but it felt like it got there in no time. However, upon my arrival I was bummed to see that there was no one there. I mean of course there were people there, but it wasn’t the rage-er it was last year.

The funny thing is, I was sort of not surprised. It’s weird to say, but Halloween felt very unimportant this year. I was looking forward to what I wanted to do, but sort of knew it was gonna be lame. It was as if everyone felt the same way I did and was just going through the motions because they had to. I chilled and sat and talked and danced but it was all sort of half-hearted.

By around 1-1:30, Tyler suggested we go to another party at Brendan’s friends house. As I was mid-decision making, Christian asked me if I wanted a ride. (It wouldn’t be till the end of the night that I would realize I should have left with him, but more on that later). Not wanting to be the “blitz” I typically am, I decided to stick around and see where the night took me.

Me, Collin (a different one from the one I mentioned before) and Matt were down. But, because nothing happens fast with that crew, it wasn’t until about 45 minutes later that we actually left for the other place. Upon our arrival it was instantly apparent we had gone from lame to equally lame. Basically just a bunch of people none of us knew standing around in a tiny living room drunkenly grinding on each other. The few people I spoke to were super weird and after about a half hour of bullshit, we went back to the Coven.

We danced a bit more and soon after we arrived, Sparkie, Brian, Brian’s girlfriend, Brandon (door-man at HK), and Brice (manager or something at HK) randomly showed up. We chatted with them for a bit until they too realized the party was super dead. I got hungry and to my pleasant surprise was rewarded with Collin’s leftover burrito from Chipotle. Apparently him and Matt had gone earlier in the night right before they closed and were given super huge burritos. So big, that Collin couldn’t finish his and thus I reaped the benefits.

Soon however, Brendon came out of his room and told us to keep it down and that he wanted us to leave soon. I was all ready to go and so was Matt, but then Collin had to get into the huge roundabout conversation with Abby’s stupid friend about the Boston hardcore scene versus the Texas hardcore scene and their perceived differences. I’m not sure what time it started but all I know is that it didn’t end until about 5:40am. At one point I semi-conciously nodded off on Abby’s lap.

Finally we said our goodbyes and made our way out to leave, but not before me taking Brendon’s Blu-ray copy of Her. I thought I was out of the woods when suddenly Collin realized, right as we were about the pull away from the curb, that he’d left his boom-box in the house. He promptly retrieved it and finally we were on our way. Matt dropped off Collin at his casa before ending my night by dropping me off at my house. It was 6am and I had nothing to show for it. No hickey, no girl, just my bike and my sleep deprived sober brain. It had been a nearly twelve hour excursion from when I left my house to when I got back to it.

So now you know why I should have left with Christian… because nothing fucking happened. Even with three plans I didn’t have a fun Halloween; I just sat around for several hours. Hours I could have used on sleep. By the same token, it’s not like I had shit to do on Saturday, so I could -and did- sleep in… till 2:20pm. I was disappointed to miss the AlleyCat Race but the weather was shitty anyway, so I probably wouldn’t have gone even if I had gotten to bed at a reasonable hour. Besides it’s like my friend once said, “Time spent being unproductive with friends is better than time being spent unproductive alone,” …or something along those lines.

 

*For those who don’t know, an AlleyCat Race is part of the bike messenger culture. Messengers meet up at a designated location and are given a manifest with a certain number of “delivery” locations on it. These locations are checkpoints at which you have to get your manifest signed. The first biker to get his or her run completed first, having hit all the checkpoints, is the winner.

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The Verb Hotel

I don’t know why I didn’t post about this sooner, but I’m getting to it now, so there. The other night, I was out with Pete in Boston looking for a change of pace; a different bar to go to. We ended up at Bar Louie, which was nice, but pretty dead. However, that is not the point of the story.

While we were walking around looking for a bar, we came across a place that neither of us had seen before. The place in question, The Verb hotel. It instantly caught our eyes, even in the dark, because of it’s striking structural and graphic design. I don’t know if it replaced another hotel or if it’s just a new build but either way, it’s cool.

poolview.jpg.1024x0Photo stolen from The Verb hotel’s website (sorry).

I love the late 50′s early 60′s rock n’ roll vibe I got from the exterior. I feel like it would be the perfect stop on a road-trip down Route 66. It’s a shame it’s in Boston simply because I have no reason to stay there. I mean I guess I could go for New Years or, if I wanted to use the pool (which I do), go for my birthday. Still kind of a waste of money, but nonetheless, something a little different.

Perhaps this weekend or sometime soon I could go there and just ask to take a tour. I love places that take you out of reality and make you feel like you’re in a different time or a different place. This seems like it would fit the bill.

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Larz Anderson Museum x Japanese Car Day

On Sunday I went to the Larz Anderson Museum with Pete because they were having Japanese Car Day. The event is basically a “Cars and Coffee” meet, only with a theme and prizes. Being that Pete has his 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS basically buttoned up, we decided to take a ride down and check it out.

JapanDayPanoramicPanoramic overview of the Japanese Car Show at the Larz Anderson Museum.

Upon our arrival we were told to park on the grass. Pete was excited about this because I guess at other events at the LA Museum, he’s had to park in the lot. In any case regardless of the fact that we got there pretty early, the field was pretty full upon our arrival.

LarzAndersonMuseumLarz Anderson Museum

The first thing I did upon parking was to tape flyers for my motorcycle on the front and back windshield of Pete’s car. That’s right people, after two years of very little progress with my 1972 Honda CL350 (cafe racer build), I’m throwing in the towel. I’d rather see it go to a good home and cut my losses rather than have it waste space in my garage.

Pete was talking to the girl next to us in the old Supra. Being that I didn’t want to wait around for him to finish, because who knows when that would be, I began to make my rounds. The field was littered with an array of old and new imports that you just don’t see everyday; 240 Zs, NSXs, RX-7s, 86s, and even a coveted R34 Nissan GT-R Skyline.

R34GT-RGT-R; I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an R34 in person before.

At the far side of the field there were a couple of cars that, though they seemed out of place, were probably two of the coolest ones there. The first was a Mitsubishi Delica. I had never heard of it before but it was basically a VW Eurovan, only with a higher suspension and four-wheel drive. The second (the one next to it) was a 1983 Toyota Mirage Pick-up truck. Apart from the fact that it was silver, it was essentially the Marty McFly truck from Back to the Future.

When I was talking to the owner, Kevin, about it, he told me he get’s that all the time (the fact that it reminds people of the BttF truck). I mentioned that it also reminded me of the Pizza Planet deliver truck from Toy Story. He said that only recently he had heard about that resemblance but admitted to having never seen the film.

MitsubishiDelicaThis Mitsubishi Delica was straight up imported from Japan; right hand drive and err-thang.

What I thought was cool about these cars was how eclectic they were. A breath of fresh air in a sea of predictability. These cars were exactly the sort of thing you’d never imagine to see at a meet like this. Pete and I had a discussion about this and about how with cars in general, older is just better. The cars are so archaic. There is so much less technology and the materials and objects you interact with have so much more personality. Because some of them were before our time, it is interesting to see how manufacturers were putting out vehicles at that time.

ToyotaMirageThis Toyota Mirage (aka The Marty McFly truck) was sick.

Now, if I’m at a car show and I see a modern Ferrari or something I’m so unimpressed by it. Even when I “met” a Bugatti Veyron at few years ago at the Greenwich Concourse, I was very unfaised by it becuase, though “hand crafted,” it feels mass produced. These older cars may have been mass produced as well but something about the sum of their parts gives them so much more character.

OldElectricCarThis 1910 Baker Electric was on display complete with charging station (in background).

In our walkings around, we came across the only other 2.5 RS in the show. Pete was pining over it as it was in near mint condition with only 30,000 miles on it and had a [$12,000] for sale sign on it. He kept saying how it was like a time capsule and could not get over how good of shape it was in. He eventually met up with the owner and so, know that this would lead to a several hour conversation, I made my way into the actual Larz Anderson Museum.

LarzAndersonHiWheelThere were two penny farthings on the wall and two more on the ground in the corner; how appropriate.

The museum itself is relatively small (for a museum) but has a cool collection of mostly older cars from the 1900s. The collection even included an old electric car. I knew that the electric car was not a novel idea, but it was crazy to see that even back then the automobile industry was thinking of alternative ways to power vehicles.

OldCarShowPostersOld car show posters.

However, the thing that stuck out to me was the wall that had three posters for Boston Car shows from the early 1900s. It was crazy because I never thought about the fact that even back then they were doing and thinking simialr things with cars. It made me feel cool to part of a something that has such a long and rich history.

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Comic #6

I’m sure this exact idea has been done before, I didn’t research it, but after reading God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, I was compelled to make this.

Comic#6

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More BBP

As I said in the original Boston Bike Party post, one of the dudes I met on the ride was Jesse. I saw him filming everything with his GoPro and asked if he was planning on making a video. He said that he was and told me he’d let me know when he posted it online. The following is that video.

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Leader x San Francisco

The whole time I was in San Francisco, I kept thinking, “If only I had my bike with me… I’d own this city.” It would have made getting around so much quicker. Sure the hills would have sucked (going up) but they would have been great to ride down. Regardless of all that, the thought of biking in SF kept making me think of this video.

The thing that stuck out to me was the part towards the end where, because he is riding fixed, he is standing on the frame and using his foot to brake the rear wheel. This looked as cool as it did dangerous. However, I couldn’t remember the name of the bike brand or what the video was called.

Finally, tonight, after Googling: fixed gear + san francisco + vimeo (I remembered that it was not a YouTube video) I was able to find it. So, the reason is here is four fold a) because it’s a cool video, b) because it’s topical (San Francisco and BBP) c) because it’s about biking, the forgotten [supposed] theme of this blog, and d) so that I would never again have to search for it.

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Boston Bike Party

I have been looking for something like this for years. I can’t believe -having lived here my whole life and being a cyclist my whole life- I had never attended a Boston Bike Party event. I had heard whispers of it’s existence but never knew when or where they met. It wasn’t until last month that I was randomly curious to know if Boston held a Halloween ride. I Googled just such an event and sure enough came across BBP. After e-mailing them, I got on the mailing list and found out about tonights ride as well as the upcoming Halloween ride (which I will for sure be attending).

BBP_RvsD-1014

I guess the gist of BBP is that they host rides the first Friday of every month (this month they’re doing two thanks to Halloween). The rides meet up at Copley Square at approximately 7:30 and there is always a different theme. This weeks theme was, as you can see, robots VS dinosaurs. It is not required to dress up for the event but it is encouraged. Being that this was my first event and I didn’t know that to expect, I didn’t dress up. However, if I had known what to expect I would have totally busted out my Jailbot costume.

ThomasDaftPunkThis dude named Daniel (I think that was his name) dressed as Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk. Don’t know why my flash didn’t go off.

Basically, like I said, everyone meets up at Copley Square where there is plenty of time to walk around and mingle before the ride starts. I walked around a bit and chatted with people that had interesting costumes. During this time I met with a lot of cool people. I was given a “spoke card” for the event which sadly fell out of my spokes during the ride.

BenderBender – one of the best costumes of the night.

There is one bike, the lead bike, that has a huge sound-system attached to it that blasts sweet music the entire time. Then, at I’m guessing around 8 (I don’t know because I didn’t look at my watch), they wrangle up the cattle to make an announcement about the ride. Then it was off to the streets.

BBP_CopleySquareAn idea of the size of the crowd at Copley. Sorry these pics are so dark and shitty.

The crew piled out in a large slow heard. The pace was very mild, which to me at first was annoying, but eventually I got used to it. It felt like you were in a lazy river of bikes. As you move through the streets of Boston, some of the organizers block off intersections so that the whole crew can get through regardless of the color of the traffic light. This is very necessary as from what I heard we were about 300 strong! I pretty much stayed towards the front of the pack, mainly so I could hear and dance to the music.

BBP_DowntownCrossing300 strong heading into Downtown Crossing.

The ride snaked through the streets and eventually ended up at Post Office Square. There, there was more dancing and people hanging out and socializing. We chilled for about 20 minutes before heading back out again. The ride continued and was met with good spirits everywhere we went. There were people taking pictures with their phones, others with their hands out for high-fives, and cars honking, not in annoyance (although some were definitely in announce) but in cheerful celebration.

BBP_PostOfficeSquareWe took a short intermission at Post Office Square.

There was just an overall mellow vibe. Everyone was happy, peaceful, and super respectful to one another. Sounds lame, but things are just better on a bike. It’s funny because one of the things I like best about biking is that it is a very individual past time. You can do it by yourself, go on adventures by yourself, and be alone with your thoughts by yourself. However, what made this ride so great was that you were in such a big group that you instantly felt the camaraderie between everyone involved.

BBP_FlatTopJohnnysThe ride ended at Flat Top Johnny’s.

The ride ended up at Flat Top Johnny’s in Cambridge; there I got a beer and a hot dog. However, before that there was a sweet dance party -specifically to Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger- during which I got props for my dancing. I talked to a few dudes (Jessie and Carlos) who were really cool. We talked about how awesome this event is and just vibed over the same shit I’ve been talking about this whole time.

After finishing my food I looked around for more of the people I’d met at Copley but I couldn’t find them. Unfortunately I now forget most of their names and I failed to get their contact information. However, I’m sure I’ll see most, if not all of them next time. The night ended up being super mellow and super rad. The routes and final destination changes every time so I look forward to making this part of my monthly routine.

PS my apologies to Anjimile. I was planning on going to your show at PA’s Lounge but the ride lasted much longer than I expected. I’ll catch you at the next one.

PPS going to this BBP gave me ideas for the next BBP: 1) I could totally wear my motorcycle helmet to one of these events as they are pretty silly anyway. 2) I could hand out Hi Wheel Scene business cards to promote this site OR see if they will endorse me. 3) I wonder if I could/should suggest a naked bike ride event/theme? It couldn’t hurt. I’ve always wanted to do one but never knew who to contact to host one. Perhaps this is the route I could take.

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The Orwells

Last night I got to see The Orwells at the Brighton Music Hall. I had never even heard of them until that day, but when a friend invited me to go, I couldn’t pass it up. Apart from basically not knowing any of the songs (that’s actually not true; towards th beginning of their set they did a cover of Build Me Up Butter Cup), the show was great. Their lead singer came out wearing a balaclava and an Eminem t-shirt just to give you an idea of the type of person we’re dealing with.

TheOrwellsThe best I could do with my sweaty phone.

I started off at the left side of the crowd fairly close to the front but as the night went on I was pushed and pulled towards the center. I was in the thick of the mosh pit which was really cool. The only negative was how hot and sweaty and gross I got. The lead singer crowd surfed several times throughout the show. I actually had to help support his legs and his back in order to get him back on stage. A few other people surfed as well. It was a pretty rough show but that’s what made it fun.

The lead singer ended the night by puking all over the stage.

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San Francisco – Day 5

Tuesday – 9/30

I started my morning by taking a bus to Golden Gate Park and walking straight to the de Young Museum. I had asked Shaun when we were in San Jose, if I could only go to one museum, what museum should I go to. He said that though he’d never been, he’d heard good things about the de Young Museum. Additionally, after he told me this, I began to notice signs for the Modernism exhibit and thus my mind was made up. The first thing I did after getting my ticket (which was $2 off because I took a bus there) and checking my backpack at coat check was head straight to the Modernism Exhibit.

FrankStella_ChodorowIIChodorow II by Frank Stella

Once I was given the green light, I began snapping away at all the pieces I thought were interesting. Modernism can be a very hit or miss artform in that you look at some things and thing, “I could have done that.” However, that’s not the point. The point is that you didn’t think to do it and they did. Additionally there is a lot of skill involved in composting what may appear to be a very minimalist piece. Lastly, there may be deeper artistic meaning than what is immediately apparent by the image in front of you.

EricFischl_Siagon,MinnesotaSaigon, Minnesota by Eric Fischl

There were several things that stood out to me. 1) there was an artist who was born in Malden, the next town over from me, who had several pieces in the exhibit. 2) There were a couple Lichtenstein pieces, there that made me happy because a) I don’t know if I’ve ever seen his work in person before and b) because he is one of my favorite artists. The third thing that impressed me about most of the artwork is how big they were. Some of the canvases were… well… very big. Lastly, I loved that, for a lot of the pieces you were allowed to get as close as you wanted to without touching them. This meant examining the finer details that went into actually forming the art, rather than just examining it from afar as a whole.

RoyLichtenstein_PaintingWithStatueOfLibertyPainting with Statue of Liberty by Roy Lichtenstein

After finishing the exhibit I tried to make it a point to hit the entire rest of the museum. [Gay Essay exhibit and other stuff that was cool]. I didn’t speed through it per se, but I didn’t take the time to read about and fully appreciate every piece. I gazed at the ones that interested me and breezed over the ones that didn’t. Luckily, the museum isn’t that big and I was able to get through it in about two and a half hours.

StrawberryHillSkyline from Strawberry Hill at Golden Gate Park.

Once I was finished at the museum I explored a little bit of Golden Gate Park. The park is huge so I wasn’t going to be able to get to it all in one day. However, I was able to see Stow Lake and I made it a point to climb to the top of Strawberry Hill. The top of the hill was cool because it was quiet and peaceful and through the trees you got some good views of the city.

DiamondSypplyCoNeon sign at the Diamond Supply Co. on Haight street.

Once I had had my fill of nature, I walked back to a bus that took me to Haight street. Since my day was fairly unplanned and it was my last day, I decided to slowly meander through the shops. I hadn’t really done any shopping the entire trip so I thought that this was the perfect time. I went into Diamond Supply Co., not that I skate anymore or need anything, but it looked cool in there and I wanted to check it out. I also went back into the Burton store and talked with some of the employees who almost sold me a Custom.

BitchesBrewSkateDecksBitches Brew skate decks at FTC on Haight street.

I then went next door to FTC, which was zoo-ed the last time I was there because of the skate competition. The coolest redeeming factor was the painting of the Bitches Brew artwork featured above. Luckily, after that I was hungry because it allowed me to go to Street Taco (Mexican street food). I had seen this place the last time I was in the Haight but I didn’t stop in because I had recently eaten. The food there was really good, exactly how I expected it to be. So far, for my money, the best taco’s are in California.

After eating I continued all the way down to the end of Haight street only to find I was back at Golden Gate Park. Because the park is so big, I was in a completely different park of it. I waded through the hippies and the acrid pot smoke, and enjoyed the quiet, the green, and the sunlight. I somehow ended up at an enclosed Merry-Go-Round where I decided to sit outside in the shade and re-assess what I was going to do with the rest of my day.

I decided to go back up Haight street to see the rest of the shops I’d missed before heading back downtown. The first shop I went into was Amoeba Music. I’d been to the one in LA and this one was no different. It was huge and hugely overwhelming, so I pretty much just aimlessly strolled around before leaving. While walking down the street, I kept getting looks from strangers that would nod or say hi to me. Eventually, one of them just straight up said, “Need some bud?” “I’m all set,” I replied, and kept on walking. I don’t know if it was the beanie combined with the tie-dye shirt I was wearing or it they would have asked me regardless, but either way it was weird.

Super7storefrontSuper 7 storefront

The last thing I did before leaving the Haight was to go back in to Super 7. I was determined to buy something. In spite of the store not being that big, I managed to find myself wandering around it for a very long time. As cool as everything was, I didn’t need any of it. The t-shirts were great but I’d never wear them. The action figures were cool but they’d just take up more space and collect more dust. The posters were cool but I had nowhere to put them. The books were unique but I wouldn’t appreciate them.

Super7interiorSuper 7 interior

The only thing I could have bought that I would have used were the button up shirts or the pullover hoodless sweatshirts. There were only two negatives: they didn’t have any smalls or extra small, and they cost $95 and $85 respectivly. I wouldn’t have really had a problem paying that, it was more that I wasn’t going to spend that much money on something that didn’t fit me perfectly and that I didn’t love (because it didn’t fit me well).

After leaving empty handed, I took the bus to Market street where I walked to Benny Gold. I had heard of BG when he did a colloboration with The Hundreds. I had remebered about the store’s exstance while in the Haight and figured I might as well hit it up while I was in the city. The store seemed to be located in a random part of town; like in an  area where you wouldn’t go or wouldn’t expect a store like this to be.

BennyGoldBenny Gold

Unfortunately, I basically did what I always do in “boutique” stores like this, walked around and looked at the stuff for a few minutes having no intention of buying anything before getting bored and leaving. I felt bad leading the store on like that, but I really just wanted to go to say I went. Once again empty handed, I made my way back to Market street where I took the F streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was basically just wasting time at this point but I wanted to get some clam chowder at the Chowder Hut. It came in a bread bowl which made it more worth it.

The only crappy part about the experience was that I saw a homeless guy picking food out of the trash barrel I was sitting near. He literally grabbed a drink out of the bin, took a sip, and threw it away again. As I mentioned in the day 2 post, the homelessness problem there is huge and very in your face.

Trying to turn a blind eye to all that, I packed up my food and took the Cable Car back downtown for the last time. I then walked to Smuggler’s Cove where I tried there Chi Chi. I don’t know if it was the bartender or if the drink would have tasted this way anyway, but it was too strong for my liking. I only drank a third of before giving up and walking back to hotel. There I got everything ready for my departure then next morning. All in all it was a solid day and a really worthwhile trip.

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