Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Black Sword roams in The Mission

[Due to constraints on time and computer access, the blog posts will be out of order. Day 7 will be posted ASAP]

Day 8 - The Black Sword in the City of Saint Francis


It's one of the strange things that sometimes happens when you get very busy just doing what you do that there just isn't time to keep up with the writing that you had every intention of keeping up with. As such I'm actually writing about Day 8 before I could write about yesterday's adventures in the Asian Art Museum... Oh well, just try to stay with me friends.

After getting up and doing my usual computer and mobile device work, E.F. and I decide to do The Mission District today. We get our breakfast at The Blue Jay on Divisadero then walk a few blocks to the #22 Line which takes us into The Mission. After getting off the bus at 16th and Mission, E.F. has the idea to make a kind of M-shaped route down Mission, then back to Valencia and then back to Mission as these are the two main streets that make up the business life of the area. We put on our packs and we're off.... It's nice to have a tour guide with me this time.

The shops are the most incredible assortment of groceries, chain stores and kitch that could possibly exist almost anywhere. The area probably had it's heyday in the late 60's and early 70's but as you walk down the street and look at the marquees of all the shuttered movie theaters and the worn awnings over the shops, it's hard not to get this somewhat decrepit feeling about The Mission. The languages on the street come fast and varied with everything from Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Indian dialects that I couldn't identify if I had to. It is a most fascinating melange of a place.

We keep walking until we get to a somewhat secretive place for book stores and take a back way into Valhalla Books, a neat but smallish book sellers place. After checking the stacks for a time, E.F. gets a few titles and I almost get a first addition text , but decide better not. We're back to walking and finally get to a couple blocks past 26th Street when we decide to stop at El Rio for a drink, some sit down time, and a great shot of Jameson..... More in a bit.


E.F. has a restaurant that he wants to try with my called Radish up farther on Valencia (actually at the corner of 19th and Lexington but it's really close to Valencia) so we start off up the sort of second main drag of The Mission to see what we can see. There are more shops that we stop into than I can reasonably write about here but one worth mentioning is Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids. This place is a science teachers wet dream I swear.... Butterflies, skeletons, rocks and crystals, science glassware, and the list goes on and on and on.

Katrina finally texts us almost right after we sit down at Radish. She's in Oakland at the Oakland Museum of California seeing a retrospective by Michael C. Macmillan who used to do work for films in the day. We tell we are already eating and she says she'll see us After finishing, we continue up Valencia toward our final goal of the day, Brendan Lai Martial Arts supply store near 15th and Mission.

This is a store I have visited for years but they moved since I visited last which was a few years ago. We walk until we get to 13th street... What the hell and where is the store.p? Did we somehow miss it by being distracted? We double back while I look up the address again on my iPhone. Nope, we are in the right area...oh, the store is boarded, closed and no sign of Brendan Lai's. They must have gone outta business during the downturn. Damn.

We make our way back to E.F.'s place after catching a #22 bus on 16th Street. It's incredible that, as I watch some homeless and almost decrepit lady with her cart rolling past who catches a quick place to sit at the bus stop before moving on, the richest country in the world and we still have the problem of not solving homelessness and mental defects on the streets (I'm referring to people walking down the streets with auditory hallucinations, not politicians). We get back to E.F.'s flat and collapse. Both of us are beat. When Katrina arrives, we have a great time watching some British comedy that E.F. has at his place. The wine flows, people laugh... life is good.

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