Last night, at the official bar of @media 2007 “America,” an Orientalist girl, out for a boring “date” with an Orientalist Hawaiian d00d, attempted to pick up me and two other guys.

Unclear on the concept? Or maybe she was just chatting us up to get rid of her date. This is not exactly a difference I can easily detect.

And, anyway, an update

(2007.05.28 18:52)    San Francisco and New York are the sole citystates within the U.S.; they could both separate from the homeland at any time, becoming mini-Lesothos with their own money and culture. Only a few telltale signs remind me that I’m in the United States: Cars without headlights on, indistinguishable banknotes, half-arsed payphone hardware, English-only product packaging, the “wrong” ethnic mix. (No one ever seems to mention the effect that your city’s ethnic mix exerts on you when you travel. In particular, there are more Latinos here by an order of magnitude, and the two cities’ black populations have different origins, so they look different. Oddly, doddering Chinese grandparents from the mainland look and act the same in both places.)

I was warned by blogs written by former San Franciscans who returned there for visits that the city’s homeless problem is astronomical. It is. I thought we had it bad.

I adore the well-preserved old buildings jammed cheek by jowl on crisscrossing downtown streets. I even like a lot of the new buildings, and I made the mistake of underestimating Yerba Buena Gardens the first time I walked through. Standing in Union Square (another New York–citystate element) amid throngs of shoppers is busy without being overwhelming. Maybe it’s the lack of gigantic video billboards. (I CAN HAS STREETFURNITURE? It isn’t all good news: Don’t come to this city if you don’t want faux-antique billboard posts on every second corner.)

As an avowed transit fan, if only a recent convert to such a religion, I had to take the BART, which I’ve been reading about since I was a kid. There is no more futuristic subway system. The trains, with their angled tinted windows and offset driver’s windscreen, hurtle into sterile modernist stations, outfitted with the least legible signage of any system I’ve ever seen. (Really, they use white-on-grey Univers along the walls.) Automated announcements use a male voice for one platform and a female voice for the other, neither of them all that intelligible. (The technology has improved a lot. Time for an upgrade.) BART trains’ padded seats are a nice touch, though the noise level is disturbing. In an echo of Toronto’s Old Mill, several stations are half-inside and half-outside.

I was initially unclear on what the Muni was. (That word has the best logotype ever, a cherished wavy relic from the ’60s reminiscent of a Lance Wyman design for the Mexico City Olympics. Keep it at all costs!) Not only is it the name of one of the many interlocking bus systems in the Bay Area, it’s another subway system of sorts. I didn’t even notice at first that my subway “train” was actually two light-rail cars. Like the BART, the Muni switches from subway to surway at points.

They’ve still got trolley buses, many of them the same ancient stock that Toronto used to have and Vancouver still does (complete with “linen” destination signs). Scarcely any of the buses are wheelchair-accessible, and I don’t see how that’s remotely legal; the high quads of ADAPT didn’t get themselves arrested by blockading San Francisco cable cars for nothing. And yes, they’ve got the old cable cars, which are too antiquated to be of interest, but there’s also a fleet of PCC streetcars nearly indistinguishable from Toronto’s old stock. Some of those have inexplicable wheelchair logos near the entrances.

(With some residual Toronto fear of getting nabbed for carrying out a legal and permissible activity, I took transit photos left, right, and centre, which shall be Flickrized in due course.)

What of the people? It was surprising how many of my friends and acquaintances were actually out of town during my visit (at IML, in Paris, in Greece). Disappointing, but just bad timing. What was more surprising was how many friends and acquaintances promised to meet and did not. (BLIND ITEM: Which Britpack alumnus has metamorphosed from lithe, adorable limerent object to full-on self-absorbed prick in two fleeting years?)

Stephen Cox in black T-shirt, chin resting on one hand I was eventually granted an audience with Geekslut, of whom I have been a defender, aide, and abettor for years. I don’t know how you can go wrong with a 210-pound ex-Army grunt who’s been stabbed, run over, and beaten up more times than he can count, while also flexing database muscles to bail organizations out of disasters. (Then there’s his 600-strong queer guild on World of Warcraft.) We couldn’t be more different… we have barely anything in common… and that makes him my kind of people. While he’s more than able to fend for himself, you fuck with Geekslut, I’ll fuck you up.

Stephen was, moreover, the ideal creampuff to have on one’s arm during a walking tour of the storied Castro, which – so help me – reminded me of the gay street in Brighton. (Seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. We really are coin of the realm by now.) My esteemed colleague was wary at first, but eventually warmed up, going so far as to admit his surprise that I was “personable.” Yeah, you’re all heart, baby.

And as for your other questions about me and Geekslut, the answer to all of them is NO. Consuming watered-down Cokes Diète at Pilsner, a bog-standard homosexualist bar from a kit, scarcely counts for anything either.

I did, however, have the best Japanese food of my life at Minako, a hole in the wall on the Mission, a street so sketchy it reminds me of Eastern Ave. before they raided the Hell’s Angels. Minako is so small and so busy that you put your name on a list and the proprietress calls your shoephone when a table is ready. I was lucky and got my own table almost immediately, although that required a solicitation from another lone diner. (“Excuse me, sir, would you mine if I shared your table?” “The honest answer is yes.” The proprietress backed me up on that.)

I noted the vast swaths of veganist options, of which the proprietress (and her mom, who does the cooking) are proud. I was served a superb salad; tofu gyozæ upside-down under a shield of pastry; a bento of seasoned brown rice and six or eight different types of pickles and savoury amuses-bouche; and an excellent basic dish of vegetable tempura that finished with the best mouthful of mushroom I’ve ever had. If you think vegans are vegans because they have “issues” with food, you haven’t seen me in a place like this.

The conference? I enjoyed the conference. Nobody seems to be blogging (short for “Web logging”) about it, and there are barely any photos. (Then again, any keyword beginning with @media is difficult to search for.) The conference-closing Hot Topics Panel™, also unblogged (and, like the rest of @media, unrecorded for podcast), triggered an outpouring of sincerity that embarrassed even me. But I meant every word of it, even if every Sunday other panelists and audiencemembers are informed that someone like me is doomed to hell and deserves what he’ll get.

The trip was another case of being surrounded by friends (I had to move friends to sit down), but afterward I reverted to my standard frustration and regret that everybody else has a real business. On the plus side, he who has finally closed the gap from 99% of the Canadian Web-accessibility market to all of it – that last percentage point representing 100% of my own business – was at least not present at the conference staring me in the face in a jovial and matey way. It’s great that you all know and respect me, but I’d like a bit more money in the bank. Surely this is not all the sarcastic gay vegan deserves.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.05.26 10:38. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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