This heat blurs the senses

Not quite 7:00 am and it’s already 69 degrees here in San Francisco. If it stayed like this all day, I’d be fine, but it’s expected to climb to 85 later, a thought which does not make me happy. But then I’m a native San Franciscan and anything over 70 is considered a heat wave.

I hate it, but what with the city’s overwhelmingly transient population (and no, I don’t mean the homeless), I’m in the minority.

Most people are out basking in the heat and celebrating a respite from “that miserable cold weather we usually get”. I know this because the drunken celebrants have been outside my bedroom window off and on all night.

Never been able to figure out why, but there’s a small patch of sidewalk in front of my apartment that has some unexplainable magnetic pull to those who’ve drunk so much they can barely stand up, or who decided that 2:15 am is the perfect moment to assess their relationship with their significant (or as the case may be, insignificant) other.

I’ve had to come to the aid of a young girl left passed out against my building by her not-quite-as-drunk but somewhat absent minded friends, because I could hear passing men literally trying to pick her up and carry her off.

Occasionally, those who awake me, endeavor to keep me entertained:

“Between your neurosis and your insecurity, I don’t know why I ever dated you.”

“You’re so stupid, you don’t realize this is all your fault.”

“Wait, why are you running? I love you!”

“Buzz me in, bitch!”

Recently after the NBA Finals, a drunk, overweight, white guy, loudly proclaimed more than once, “Kevin Garnett is my BOY!” Despite the somewhat loaded racial connotations of the statement, I like to think the victory-induced celebratory vibe, might cause the nearly 7′ power forward to overlook the man’s poorly chosen words.

Meanwhile, 7,500 miles away from “Baghdad By the Bay”, as Herb Caen like to call it, in another, even more abysmally hot place called Iraq, where it is a stifling 111 degrees, the proverbial other shoe has finally dropped.

An announcement is expected before month’s end, that Chevron, Mobil, Shell, Exxon, and BP, will be awarded no-bid contracts to work the Iraqi oil fields, which are the second largest on the planet. The “war on terror” has succeeded in eliminating the terror gripping the oil industry – the fear that they might not be able to continue to earn record profits in perpetuity.

How do the morally bankrupt sleep at night? Well, we all know the answer is “on a pile of money”, but I can only hope it is a sleep not disturbed by drunks outside their window, but invaded nightly by the spirits of those troops and civilians killed by this needless war.

This morning’s musical respite is April by Sun Kil Moon, Mark Kozelek’s musical incarnation over the last 4 or 5 years. Despite being born in Ohio, Mark is truly San Francisco’s own, and we claim his recorded efforts as legitimate treasures of our city. Whether with SKM, the Red House Painters, or his solo efforts, the beautiful longing and wistful memories conveyed in the music, are a perfect backdrop to a warm, sunny day in the shade at Grace Cathedral Park, or a beautiful foggy day at Ocean Beach.

Me, I’m praying for fog.

Cheers, Mark

Suddenly my calendar is very full

As any Gooner worth their salt knows, the Premiere League has released the preliminary fixture list. Arsenal opens against recently promoted West Bromwich Albion. Somewhat reassuring to know what I’m going to be doing for the next 10 months. Of course, this doesn’t even include Champions League, FA Cup, or the League (Carling) Cup matches. As The Replacements once sang, “Can’t Hardly Wait”!


Sat Aug 16 West Bromwich Albion H
Sat Aug 23 Fulham A
Sat Aug 30 Newcastle United H


Sat Sep 13 Blackburn Rovers A
Sat Sep 20 Bolton Wanderers A

Sat Sep 27 Hull City H


Sat Oct 4 Sunderland A
Sat Oct 18 Everton H
Sat Oct 25 West Ham United A
Tue Oct 28 Tottenham Hotspur H


Sat Nov 1 Stoke City A
Sat Nov 8 Manchester United H
Sat Nov 15 Aston Villa H

Sat Nov 22 Manchester City A
Sat Nov 29 Chelsea A


Sat Dec 6 Wigan Athletic H
Sat Dec 13 Middlesbrough A
Sat Dec 20 Liverpool H
Fri Dec 26 Aston Villa A
Sun Dec 28 Portsmouth H


Sat Jan 10 Bolton Wanderers H
Sat Jan 17 Hull City A
Wed Jan 28 Everton A

Sat Jan 31 West Ham United H


Sat Feb 7 Tottenham Hotspur A
Sat Feb 21 Sunderland H
Sat Feb 28 Fulham H


Tue Mar 3 West Bromwich Albion A
Sat Mar 14 Blackburn Rovers H
Sat Mar 21 Newcastle United A


Sat Apr 4 Manchester City H
Sat Apr 11 Wigan Athletic A
Sat Apr 18 Liverpool A

Sat Apr 25 Middlesbrough H


Sat May 2 Portsmouth A
Sat May 9 Chelsea H
Sat May 16 Manchester United A
Sun May 24 Stoke City H

King of the Castle

Edinburgh Castle on Geary between Larkin and Polk Streets will always have a special place in my heart. On that fateful March 30th (better known round our house as “Banana Day”, but that’s another story), I met the Mrs. Gooner or as she is known these days, She Who Must Be Obeyed (apologies to Rumpole of the Bailey).

In an ever changing San Francisco, the Castle has remained a constant. Winston the parrot is long gone as are the original owners whose portraits adorn the wall above the caber (the telephone pole thing Scots are fond of tossing), but you can still get fish & chips (brought in from Old Chelsea around the corner), accompanied by a lovely pint, and there are still regular happenings in the upstairs room, everything from plays, stand-up, and performances by up-and-coming bands.

If you’ve been to the Edinburgh, chances are you’ve come into contact with Alan Black. Besides occasionally tending bar, staging music and literary events, he pretty much runs the place as far as I can tell. I don’t know him personally, though I’ve chatted with him once or twice about footie, and ordered many a pint of Newcastle from him.

Alan has new book coming out, entitled “Kick The Balls”, which comes with this personal recommendation from Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting): A hilarious and utterly irreverent tale of a Scotsman coaching in the junior ‘soccer’ leagues in the USA. It is the funniest book you will ever read about what the insignificants in the rest of world call ‘football’.

The book release party for Kick The Balls is this Saturday, June 21, 2008, 8:00PM, at the Edinburgh Castle. Also on hand will be The Shakespearos, who take their name from a song by The Stranglers, just one of many bands they cover, including Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones, The Smiths, Buzzcocks, The Jam and The Undertones. I’m not much for cover bands usually, but last time I saw them, they were good fun.

I expect to be there. Maybe you will too.

Cheers, Mark