A benevolent conspiracy

July 9th, 2004 § 15 comments

Yesterday, I found an apartment for myself in Oakland, an exquisite studio in a carefully restored Mission-style building. The sinks and paint will be new; the stove, a Wedgwood, will be old. The window in my living area looks out on a landscaped courtyard. I’ll live closer to most of my friends from school than I do now. To ask for anything better would be inexcusably greedy.

Tonight, I saw The Third Man at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. I knew I loved that film, but I had forgotten why. It was a joy to be reminded: Orson Welles, still elegant and young, cocky enough to own the world. The beautiful ruins of postwar Vienna, which must have summoned painful memories for the movie’s first audiences. Quick, tense cuts. That zither music.

On the way home, as my BART train emerged from the Transbay Tube, the conductor made an announcement, his voice like a showman’s. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have once again made it safely across the bay under the weight of millions of gallons of water.” We stopped at the West Oakland station, then departed. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll direct your attention to the window on the left side of the train–that’s my left–you’ll see…fire.” The Fire Arts Festival was in full swing. Flames shot out of elaborate metal contraptions and radiated from spinning wheels. “They must be having a barbecue down there or something.” Pause. “We take our barbecue seriously in West Oakland.” And after we pulled into the next station: “Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, ladies…and…gentlemen. This is the station I’ve been bragging about all night long. Twelfth Street/Oakland City Center, where you can transfer to the Richmond-bound train. It’s waiting on the opposite side of the platform. Its doors are wide open, and its seats are already warmed.”

I’ve been using the word “swimmingly” a lot lately. Everything is going just swimmingly.


  • Jeff says:

    Oh, and I also went to Popscene with a friend, which was fun but didn’t lend itself to being described in this post. So in addition to all that other good stuff, I got to dance to the Smiths!

  • Christine says:

    welcome to your new life in Oakland, brotha man.

  • Jeff says:

    You get to hang out with MC Hammer every night if you live in Oakland, right? That’s the main reason I’m moving.

  • lynnerd says:

    Hi Jeff – never have I hung out with MC Hammer (after 3 years in Oak-town) but Mark Curry and George Zimmer were regulars at my Peet’s…

  • Jeff says:

    Hey, Lynn! Pity about Hammer. At least I’m gonna like the way I look.

  • christine says:

    don’t MAKE me drag you to Sunny’s Beauty Mart. REAL HUMAN HAIR!!!

  • Jeff says:

    Ah, yes, I believe I walked past that place when I went to visit a friend in Temescal. Pretty awesome. I’m more excited, though, about the gold teeth shop near the Paramount.

  • Anonymous says:

    The Gold Tooth Master is a block from my apartment and oh boy, is it sweet. Sometime before I move I’m going to get the nerve to go in.
    [By the way, this is Christine's friend who went along to popscene last week]

  • Jeff says:

    Wow, who isn’t reading my weblog these days? Hi, Jenn. (I hope I didn’t just imagine that there are two Ns.) The sandwich board outside that place just slays me. You should get a price quote for putting big diamonds in your front teeth.

  • Jenn says:

    My, aren’t we the popular one! Maybe I could get JENN spelled out on my front teeth in diamonds. Or with platinum. I have to somehow represent my Oakland pride. When are you moving to O?

  • Jeff says:

    We appear to be, yes. The diamond idea is brilliant. Maybe BART will build you a special car with spinning hubcaps.
    The plan is to move on August 2. I should mention, though, that I’ll barely be in Oakland. I think I’d have a Berkeley address if I lived another half block west. Even without the teeth, you’re way more Oaklandish than I’ll be.

  • Jenn says:

    When I lived in your new hood (on Shattuck, one house north of Oakland) I saw a kid riding around with spinning hubcaps on his bike. I was impressed.
    I don’t know why my name and/or e-mail address don’t always show up.

  • Jenn says:

    Err, doesn’t

  • Jeff says:

    I thought you were just trying to “keep it real” with some “street slang.”
    Email addresses never show up, because some spammer started harvesting addresses from my site a while back. Not cool, yo.

  • Jenn says:

    No, I just hadn’t yet had a cup of coffee.
    That’s so not cool. Maybe I should refrain from posting my e-mail address on anyone’s blog.

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