I don’t really wanna get into it, but here’s the thing: I ended up with stitches. They’re the dissolvable kind and all that, though I couldn’t tell you the difference anyway because I’d never had stitches before last week. And I did everything my doc told me to do regarding keeping them clean and dry and all that, but I still ended up with an infection anyway. It looked horrifying to me, what the wound had become, there in the aftermath of injury, but when I went in to see him again a few days later just to be sure. I didn’t want to end up with a gangrene limb or whatever. This doctor, who is a hell of a guy, and who did my vasectomy years ago—well, he didn’t seem all too concerned about the wound. This was reassuring to me, as I was sure the thing was getting beastly and grostesque. Again, I don’t really know what I’m looking at here, and of course anytime you look up what something should or shouldn’t look like on the internet, chances are you’re going to convince yourself that what you got is the wrong kind of thing, and because of that, it, whatever it is, is probably going to kill you dead soon.
So yes: my wound is infected, but the infection is not traveling to my heart or anything like that, though I suppose there’s still time for that if the antibiotics don’t do the trick. My doctor put me on cephalexin, which I’m supposed to take every six hours or so . . . these big blue-green pills packed with 500 milligrams of the stuff, whatever it is. It’s cleaning me right out, this stuff, but I suppose that’s all right with me. It sure beats having my body rot from the inside.
Anyway: I’ve been walking everywhere. And when I left my doctor’s office yesterday, which is on Telegraph between downtown and Temescal, and having nothing better to do, I went a-walkin. I decided I would go to Golden Lotus and get dinner alone as a sort of present to myself for taking care of my own body. I would get the vermicelli and a big pot of tea, is what I told myself. And so I set off, heading towards the skyscrapers in downtown Oakland, and it only took a few blocks for me to realize it was First Friday, which is this huge city-wide party-thing that happens, yes, on the first Friday of every month. There are some cool parts to it . . . namely the Oakland Museum is either free or dirt cheap, I can’t remember which, and I guess there are food trucks and shit. But man, there sure are a whole lot of fucking Oaklandish shirts, and guys with neck tattoos and pit bulls who work at tech companies and pay $75 for a haircut in the Temescal Alley, and on and on . . . Burners too, I think, else people who just look like they are, which is definitely much worse. And all these people are living in perfect harmony, or at least pretending to, as they eat burritos and pull from their vape pens. There is also really bad live music everywhere and huge clouds of Meat Smoke from all the grills.
Listen, I’m sorry to sound so cynical about it, because I reckon in theory it is a nice thing for a city to celebrate itself every month. I mean hell, why not. My revulsion to it stems from the fact that I’ve been here for a long time and have lived in proximity to dozens of First Fridays now, and I have watched Oakland go from a big weird crazy gutter in space to a cutesy sterile gentrified yuppy paradise that has absolutely no balls anymore. And to walk around and see all these honkies in their Oaklandish / The Town hoodies is like, man, come on. I don’t know. What is happening here is not unique. It is happening everywhere. I just wish it hadn’t happened to Oakland is all . . . the former “Whatever, Man” capital of the world.
Oaklandish, by the way, is this try-hard brand of Oakland-themed apparel that is worn exclusively by people who moved to Oakland from San Francisco (or, worse, Wisconsin / Ohio / Michigan) six months ago. Sorry: they’re phonies. I’m gonna go ahead and make a ruling on this, which is, man, just don’t wear a T-shirt with the name of the city you live in on it. Especially when the suffix “-ish” is slapped on there like a ghoulish extra limb. Please, for god’s sake, heed my words. There is a sort of weird desperation to it. All wearing an Oaklandish shirt does is prove that you’re definitely ruining the Oakland neighborhood you moved to because you thought it was “cheap” (compared to the $5,000 a month studio apartment you were living in in by the 16th Street Mission BART station).
And so I walked through this, all these people, to get away from them and to get some food and then do whatever the hell else. On the way downtown I passed my friend Melody, who lives in Kloin in Berkeley near campus, and who gave me water when I was severely dehydrated a few weeks ago while wandering alone in the dark with my head all full of ghosts both real and imagined. I’m realizing now, in reading the entry I just linked to, that I somehow omitted her from the story. I feel sad about that. She was very nice to me that night and took care of me. I’m sorry Melody!! Thanks for being cool.
ANYWAY: I sure did eat a lot of food when I got to Golden Lotus on 13th and Broadway. They gave me a big table all to myself, what with hardly anyone being there . . . they were all at First Friday of course. Whenever I eat alone anywhere, which is what it looks like most of the time these days, the servers are always real friendly to me, like especially so. I wonder if it’s because they feel sorry for me or something. When I worked at Donut Farm there were certain people who came in every single day and always alone, and it’s true that I did feel for them more than other people. Not because I thought they were pathetic or anything, not at all . . . I just sympathized with their aloneness, and their wanting to be alone and to eat alone, which is a nice thing to do sometimes. Like, have you ever gone to a movie by yourself? It feels so good. It’s like a secret or something . . . especially if you have a cold and you’re all goofed up on daytime flu medication or something. You’re just sitting there blasted out of your brain looking at this thing on a big screen and all you got to worry about is yourself. So it is with eating alone: you can take as long as you want, and can use as few words as possible. I got that big pot of tea at Golden Lotus and chilled real hard. I was tucked in the back with no one behind me, and I could see out of all the windows and could see all the people there. And on the radio was an elevator / MIDI rendition of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ playing, and I thought to myself, you know, how bout that. Life can be beautiful, like the fella said, even when life is crushing in on you. I forgot all about my stitches and the bacteria that was conspiring to kill me. It was a beautiful corner I had turned and I stayed there as long as I could, and then I got the hell on with it.
Having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would walk about a little and see parts of Oakland I had not seen in a while. I decided I would walk for many hours, which is one of my favorite things to do because it’s free and you can smell flowers and climb on shit. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation, et cetera. Plus, I just want to see some stuff.
I set off from downtown and went way the hell up Broadway, past Mosswood Park where Sarah Silva and I had seen Iggy Pop two years ago, and then right on MacArthur to get to Piedmont Avenue. I walked until Piedmont terminated at Mountain View Cemetery. The sun had just about gone down then and the few people left in there were coming out of the huge iron gate. I passed through them and went inside. There were a few cars up the hill a bit, and I didn’t know if they were park rangers or not, or whoever the hell else, and so anytime I saw their headlights cut through the dark I ducked behind a tree or a particularly big tombstone until they went away. I made my way to the top of the cemetery and looked back, and behold:
Wow! Look at that. I was completely alone and I felt feverish. I felt glad to be Oakland, and to have known Oakland so well. God dang, man . . . there’s just something about this place. To the right of what is in this picture I saw San Francisco and the Bay Bridge all lit up, and Sentinel Tower upon the hill way the hell over there. Yeah.
I knew more or less what direction I was walking in. It was dark and there were deer all around me eating grass. They weren’t afraid of me. I left them alone and walked towards what I assumed was Rockridge, where all the rich people live, to get to College Avenue, where I planned to get coffee and scoff at all the fancy restaurants there. It is this false sense of moral superiority that keeps me going sometimes. Because the true way is to have nothing at all, and to feel nothing about it either way, but also to feel all ways at the same time. My observations of the world and my reading of them is worthless. The lie I tell myself is one I tell myself because it’s fun. Who cares??
I cut through the dark trees and down a steep hill, surrounded all the while by forgotten ancient graves nobody cares about anymore, until I reached a chainlink fence. Far below was a gas station and I realized this was a potentially lethal way to exit the cemetery. As it happens, I did find a break in the fence nearby:
The hole was pretty small. I tried but could not get through it, and also for some reason someone had wrapped barbed wire around part of it. So I climbed over the folded part of the fence. I took this picture from the other side. Behind me was an extremely steep hill that I almost fell and slid down. But I didn’t! Unfortunately there was another barbed wire fence at the bottom . . . but I managed to get through the barbed wire lining the top of the fence by bending a hole and climbing through it. Uh, I have no idea how I was able to do this. It was a harrowing experience and somehow no one saw me.
I hopped down from the flesh-shredding nightmare wall and got to walking. I had eluded death once again. The neighborhood was completely silent and nobody had seen me clown my way over the fence, which was nice. I walked a few blocks towards the hills and checked the map:
I decided I would snake through the neighborhoods there in Upper Rockridge until I intersected with Claremont. This neighborhood is all million-dollar houses filled with bad furniture and about half of them had Teslas parked outside. Man, those rich-o’s, I tell you what, they sure do not know how to have any fun, and they certainly have no taste. It took me probably thirty minutes to get through that labyrinth, what with me taking it slow to see how the other half lives, Know Thy Enemy, et cetera, and I did not see one single person the entire time I was ratting around in there. I didn’t even see people in their god darn mini-palaces, for god’s sake! Where were they? Every time I find myself in a situation like this, which is pretty much every night of my life, I think of THE PEDESTRIAN by Ray Bradbury:
To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o’clock of a misty evening in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences, that was what Mr. Leonard Mead most dearly loved to do. He would stand upon the corner of an intersection and peer down long moonlit avenues of sidewalk in four directions, deciding which way to go, but it really made no difference; he was alone in this world of A.D. 2053, or as good as alone, and with a final decision made, a path selected, he would stride off, sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar.
Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house. And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows, and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows. Sudden gray phantoms seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomb-like building was still open.
I mean . . . just look at this cocksucking thing! Talk about a phantom-filled tomb-house!
You live in a weird fake lighthouse mansion and you’re not even hanging out inside of it?? OK man! Also, wow, the camera on my phone is insane . . . you can see stars in that picture, for god’s sake!
Though yeah, it was spooky as hell . . . but of course once you get to a certain point up there in Rockridge, you are atop a sort of hill, and can see out to San Francisco and all that. It was beautiful. I walked down the hill and pointed my body towards College Avenue. I had my hands in my pockets and I was real chilled out. Once I passed the Rockridge BART station, I saw the Trader Joe’s up ahead, which is my satellite office where I can eat free samples and use their clean public restrooms, and so on. I went inside and got a Teeny Tiny Little Baby Cup of Coffee (TTLBCC) from the back. It was some sort of maple thing. I glugged it down and got a refill and then headed back out towards Alcatraz. From there it was a straight shot home.
ONCE INSIDE MY FORTIFIED COMPOUND: I held Dante and made tea and put on my sweatpants. I watched KLUTE (1971), which is not a masterpiece, but it is cool . . . and like McCune and I wear saying a few weeks ago, it has some bizarre psychedelic stuff in it that just sort of randomly shows up from time to time in the same way POINT BLANK (1967) does. In other words it’s Got Some Stuff In It and exhibits something that I cannot in a million years see any new movie ever doing again. Oh well!!
Man . . . yeah! I can get behind that.