SF duskscape 1After the holidays, I drove up with William and Ashley to San Francisco. I was hanging out at William’s place in San Mateo for a few days to celebrate his birthday and New Year’s Eve.

I was good to be able to hang out after several months of not being around. We caught up on what was going on with our lives, relaxed with some brews, and plotted our future escapades. For his birthday we went out for dinner and then drinks. Dinner was at Nara Sushi where we consumed copious amounts of some pretty good stuff. Our bellies full we then dragged ourselves over to the Cantina bar.boithday pahty

We managed to snag a good spot in the only booth in the place. Which we got by edging out the folks that were sitting there first, but hey, it’s a birthday party. Amirite? Good ol’ Mark and Traci came out from the East Bay to join us. I spent most of my time blathering on to them as we hadn’t seen each other for a good while either. This made Abel, Ashley’s roommate, vocally jealous. William’s boss and her boyfriend also came out although I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to them. Apparently the boyf treated William to a couple of tequila shots at the bar as they left.

This helps explain why William was later to be found lying down on the floor of Abel’s bedroom.

A couple of days later it was New Year’s Eve. We rallied at Ashley and Abel’s apartment and went over to her friend’s place. It was a small party of Ashley’s circle of nearly life-long friends. We had a good time though.

We had plans to go down to the embarcadero to see fireworks over the bay at midnight. Invert peaceChin upSpot the differencesGahPlans changed and we ended up at the Edinburgh Castle bar. The place was full and we grabbed a spot near the door. Not too long after we arrived Mark and Traci showed up. They brought a whole crew including Randall, another former Clone who now lives in Japan.

After SF, I drove a woman’s car up to Portland for her. I arranged it through craigslist. She was moving up there in a u-haul and I drove her car for her, but separately. I agreed to do it for free and with me paying for the gas after the first full tank, but I should have gotten her to actually pay me. Still, it made for a very cheap, but long, ticket to Stumptown.

In Portland I was hanging out with Keith and Annie. I got to see their new house which they bought together. It’s pretty nice already and they have big plans for improvements and expansions et cetera. They were back at work so I would go into town to meet Keith for lunch or chill around the house. (Literally chill, it was cold!)

On the weekend, we wentfor a hike one day in Forest Park and also went to the Portland Art PAM!Museum (PAM say it like Emeril). At PAM we saw a retrospective of Chuck Close’s work. Man, that guy does some fantastic stuff. I was under the impression, from the few works of his that I had seen before, that his spiel was just painting giant, photo-realistic portraits. It turns out that he evolved way beyond that. He has taken the original grid tool that he used to make those giant photo paintings and explored myriad possibilities within it. He has changed the medium, from paint to paper pulp to carpet, changed the orientation of the grid, displaying the grid itself, or tossing it out, and he has definitely run rampant with possibilities for what goes on inside each grid square. Some of his best portraits ‘pop’ with energy because they are composed of these brightly colored circles squares and dingbats that resolve into the portrait. I liked the ones that skirted the line between abstract and realistic. His painting “Emma” (see below)is a good example of this. On the other hand, the carpet portrait was insanely cool, and much more abstract than realistic.

The visit to P-town was great despite the cold. We got caught up with each other, I got to get a glimpse of la vida de Keith y Anne and we had some good brews (Tugboat Brewing Company) and grub (mmm, croissants with eggs, cheese and fake bacon).

I went back home on the train, mainly because I delayed too long to buy a cheap air ticket. The train experience can make an entire post unto itself. Suffice to say it took over 24 hours, a bunch of idiots took over the cafe car and got drunk and rowdy and they made cursing an offense punishable by ejection from the train. Green arcsThat’s ejection at the next stop, not a throw-momma-from-the-train sort of thing. Worst of all, the beautiful scenery in Southern Oregon/Northern California that might make the whole trip worthwhile can’t be seen because the train passes through there at night. It’s sad, really. Where are the high-speed trains folks? Where are the dedicated tracks for passenger trains? Why is it so expensive and still not that great?