Spotted: Garcia: An American Life

Hello everyone!  Or maybe just “Hello one!,” minus the “every.”  If I’m lucky.  It has been an awful long while since I’ve posted anything.  No real excuses why I haven’t written in a while.  Lazy, busy.  Sure.  I did manage to read all of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books in the interim.  So that’s something.  So anyway.  This book.

I’ve lived in and around the Upper Haight for about 9 years.  A good chunk of that has been within several blocks of where some serious Summer of Love shenanigans went down.  Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Country Joe McDonald and the Fish all lived in and around the area (Patty Hearst also hid out here for awhile too during her Simbionese Liberation Army days).  But no other house gets as much attention as where The Grateful Dead lived.

Now I actually walk by this house most every day.  I’ve seen gutter punks playing Sugar Magnolia on the street out front (expected), and I’ve seen a C-Class Mercedes pulled over on the side of the road with a woman in designer clothing taking pictures (less expected).  Maybe it’s because it has become quotidian to me, but I rarely give the house much thought.  I also have never been much of a jam band fan.  No disrespect to anyone, but I think a 20-minute guitar solo is a lot like a 1000 page book; odds are it’s too long for what it’s trying to accomplish.

So I can’t say it’s a complete surprise that I saw someone reading Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson on the bus, and then coincidentally followed him up the street and watched as he stood out in front of 710 Ashbury and just looked up at it.  I couldn’t tell if he was disappointing by how it looks like every other house on the street, or if he was just thinking about all of the lives and music its walls had seen, both inside and out.

If you’re ever in the area, to visit the house or not, this book is for sale at The Booksmith, coincidentally located on Shakedown Street.



Where (Wo)Men Win Glory

I’m talking about Muni, obviously. 

I saw this young lady reading a SF library hardback copy of “Where Men Win Glory,” by Jon Krakauer of “Into Thin Air” and “Into the Wild” fame, while wearing a shirt that said “Army” on the sleeve (the young lady, not the book).    

After getting home and googling the title, I learned that the book is a biography of Pat Tillman, the football star who eschewed a lucrative NFL contract to join the Army, and was eventually killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, though the original report claimed it had been enemy fire, and it was only after an investigation that the truth about what had happened came out. 

It was hard not to notice this book and its reader the day after 9/11.  I know I’m a few days late, but my thoughts go out to all those in the armed forces, whether they are home, abroad, or on public transit.

Spotted: Haute Coco

My first reaction to seeing a young woman reading “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel” was one of relief.  We have seemed to be participating in an unintentional fantasy quest around here of late.  But upon further reflection, maybe the book is just a different kind of fantasy.  Here is a woman who was born into poverty, raised in an orphange, and managed to become a synonym for all things haute couture.  The only thing that’s keeping this story out of the fantasy genre is the fact that it actually happened.   

LA Times Review