Archive for the Non-Fiction Category

Epiphany

Posted in Non-Fiction on March 19, 2009 by kwhobson

At Westcliff beach, where the curve of the shoreline shrugs in on itself. A little cove lingers there. In the middle of the sand an isolate rock formation rises like a man’s head with a stout Pinocchio nose and a green tuft of hair where birds nest. Dogs on the beach chase loaming waves, hopping over each other and dancing in the skim. People speckle the promenade, joggers with earphones and stern intentions. Mothers push strollers with wide shade panels for prone babies. Life is so fragile. Children run with the dogs on the beach and chase the waves, the peals of laughter and barks echoing up from below. An elderly couple sits on a bench watching sailboats and whitecaps in the bay. The smell of seaweed rots in the sun. In the distance, Monterey slides like a cool green finger across the horizon.

The wind picks up and funnels away the thick seaweed odor and I smell the ocean, cold and clean. It smells of life—fragile, beautiful and rare. A bird flutters gleefully in my chest. I see the children and the mothers and the elderly couple and the dogs, and for a moment we are all fluttering together. There is oneness here. It is the soul—singular—our soul, fluttering within me.  The knowledge overtakes me that death is an illusion. The sun is clear and the sky is pale blue and endless. The universe is pale blue and endless. Life is pale blue and endless, and everything belongs. Even the hot cement and the loud cars and the gaudy beach mansions belong. Even I belong. The ocean consumes the cliff in its slow, methodical way. The cars and the mansions and the hot cement will someday be devoured by the sea, and in this moment everything is perfect.

I’d been reading Walt Whitman and smoking lots of pot. I mean lots of pot. I mean the curled-up-in-the-fetal-position-in-the-dark-of-my-room-listening-to-Abbey-Road-and-reminding-myself-to-breathe-in-and-out-with-my-heartbeat-crunching-in-my-ear-like-a-man-walking-through-heavy-snowfall-and-every-step-may-well-be-his-last-for-all-I-know kind of smoking lots of pot. I was into Eastern philosophy in the half assed way that stoners have, like: “trip out man…everything is nothing and nothing is everything…whoa…”

I wanted desperately to believe that I wasn’t alone in the universe.

On my way back from the beach I stopped by the house of the girl I’d been dating. Over the summer we’d each gone home and returned with new haircuts that had drastically reduced our respective attractiveness to each other. We realized that our relationship was founded on a shaky fault-line of vague physicality.  There was no real connection, though we had spent plenty of time pretending there was. Shorn and embarrassed, we’d been avoiding each other.

We sat on her back porch where the birds sang and the wind chimes tinkled in the offshore breeze, and we drank iced tea from old plastic souvenir cups. The breaking up was easy and we were both relieved.

Her name was Verita, which means truth.

Copyright © 2009, Kevin Hobson

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25 Things (A Memoir of Sorts)

Posted in Non-Fiction on January 30, 2009 by kwhobson

1. If I have a paperclip in my hand I will inevitably untwist it and then re-twist it into some shape or figure.

2. I started playing guitar when I was 15. I recently saw my 15 year old cousin and he is already better at guitar than I’ll ever be. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this.

3. I also started growing a beard when I was 15. It was this terrible Amish chin-strap thing but I was so proud. I still give my family a hard time for letting me get away with it.

4. When I was a kid my family dog-sat for some friends of ours. It was this huge sheepdog named Willie and one night my Dad forgot to tie him up outside and he attacked and killed my cat. I was devastated and still don’t feel like I’ve fully forgiven my Dad for his forgetfulness. But I can tell whenever my Dad brings up the cat and laughs too hard about it that he hasn’t forgiven himself either.

5. I only recently discovered that I love Eggs Benedict.

6. Sometimes when I’m getting dressed I’ll sit on my bed and put my pants on both legs at once. I usually do this on days when I need to feel special.

7. When I was in Junior High my friends and I were way way way into Role Playing Games like D&D and Shadowrun. We were nerds of the highest caliber. There was a passenger train that passed by our Junior High and everyday at lunch we would chase the train, waving desperately at the people on board for the express purpose of making them feel uncomfortable. I’d like to believe we succeeded.

8. I have never been in a fight. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this.

9. I have also never been hospitalized (knock on wood). Despite this (or perhaps because of this?) I have the capacity to be a raging hypochondriac.

10. I lived in Mexico for the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years of college. Near the end of the trip I was dreaming in Spanish. Still, at the taquerias in the Mission I order my burritos in English, out of some kind of misplaced politically correct decorum. I don’t want to assume they speak Spanish.

11. I worked with people with autism and other disabilities for three years. It was the best job I’ve ever had and I made some of the best friends I’ll ever have. Sometimes I’ll dream about the clients I worked with, the ones who were non-verbal, and in the dream they will suddenly be able to talk, and we’ll hang out chatting about music and movies and shit. They were my friends too, and I miss them.

12. I have no known allergies.

13. I have an amazing repertoire of wiffle-ball pitches (slider, curve, changeup, etc) that I’ll never get to use because let’s face it, no one wants to be the guy who gets all excited about striking someone out in wiffle ball. Unless you’re feeling cocky and challenge me to strike you out. Then it’s on.

14. When I lived in Santa Cruz I had a profoundly spiritual experience along the beach at West Cliff drive where I looked out at the ocean and the sky and realized that every living thing was a part of the infinite universe, that we are all part of one collective consciousness called God, and that death is only a phase-shift to another state of being. I think in a way it was the most terrifying experience of my life.

15. I have been skydiving.

16. When I was very young I spent nearly an entire day pretending I was an otter. My mom took me to McDonald’s and I lay on my back in the booth and ate my hamburger off of my chest. I would have slept in the bathtub if she’d have let me.

17. In High School I won a gold medal for “Interview” at the California State Academic Decathlon Competition. I am convinced the only reason I won is because I was the last interview of the day and when I came into the room I was wearing a hat, which I took off, much to the delight of the interviewing panel. Then a few of my teammates and I dropped acid and tried to order dirty movies from our hotel pay-per-view but our Coach caught us.

18. My favorite movie of all time is probably Zoolander. At least, it is the movie I reference/think about the most in my everyday life. If I had to choose my favorite TV show based on the same criteria it would be a toss up between about 35 different shows, but mainly the Simpsons, Scrubs and Buffy. But I usually keep the Scrubs and Buffy references to myself because the Simpsons is way more culturally codified and I care about things like how I’m perceived by people.

19. In the hierarchy of my addictions, Television is far and away the leader, with alcohol and the Internet trailing distantly and coffee bringing up the rear.

20. I once attended Phish shows on three consecutive nights. If this qualifies as going on “Phish Tour” then yes, I guess I was a Phish-head there for awhile.

21. I love to perform. I have been in several plays, including a series of Monty Python skits and a few musicals. I still maintain pipe-dreams of becoming an actor. I’ve also played in live rock bands since I was 16. Our High School band was called “Blind” among several other names (Trout Fishing in America, Guy Smiley, etc), and my go-to show-stopper move consisted of lying on my back and screaming gibberish into the microphone whilst thrashing my body across the stage. We were fucking punk rock, yo. Now I play bass for a folk singer named John Craigie and am hypothetically working on a solo project of my own songs. Lately I’ve found another performance outlet, which is to read my writing to an audience. People tell me I’m good at it, and for the most part I agree with them.

22. Until I was 15 the only music I listened to was Billy Joel and “Weird” Al Yankovic. Because of this my 80’s nostalgia is warped by the lens of “Weird” Al. Like when I hear the Kink’s “Lola” I still want to sing along “I met him in the swamp down in Degobah, where it bubble all the time like a giant carbonated soda, s-o-d-a so-ohh-da.” Also because of this, rock and roll for me started with Nirvana and Pearl Jam. But don’t worry, I’m all caught up now.

23. When I traveled in Europe after graduating college I went by my middle name, Will. I thought that self-reinvention would help me escape all the things that plagued me. I think I thought the same thing when I moved to San Francisco, that one grand and meaningful gesture could shatter all of my hang-ups and insecurities like magic. Now I know that people are much rarer and stranger things than can ever be fixed by simple magic.

24. I love watching sports. Seriously, it’s embarrassing, but I do. The uniforms, the pageantry, the drama, the personalities. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. It’s like war for rational people.

25. I am turning thirty this year and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about all of this. I’m okay being undecided though. It keeps things interesting.

Copyright © 2009, Kevin Hobson

The Woman With The Rat In Her Handbag

Posted in Non-Fiction on October 20, 2008 by kwhobson

The 14 Mission bus at 9:30 am, Indian Summer heat low and golden in the windows.  She gets on with her male companion, stumbles to the back with us like she’s walking up a slippery hill.

I notice his rat first, trembling on the shoulder of his pinstripe suit jacket.  She sits next to me, her eyes hiding behind Jackie O sunglasses, fidgets with her handbag and I notice her rat too—twitching, pink-eyed, albino-white.

She asks me are you afraid of animals? her words round like marbles in her mouth.

I shake my head no.

She says something about a mongoose and her companion notes that rats have the highest ratio of brain activity to body weight and that he’s seen them playing basketball on Letterman.

I almost say that must be why they use them for all those tests because they are so smart.

But I do not want to encourage these people.

The woman with the rat in her handbag gets into everybody’s business.  She asks the girl across from us what Murukami book she’s reading.  Her words are still slurry but I don’t think she’s drunk.  I’m beginning to think she’s just like this.  All the time.

She and her companion talk to the girl reading Murukami about Kafka on the Shore for a bit, but the girl reading Murukami just wants to read Murukami.

Then she asks the boys drawing tags on the walls of the bus where they get their pens from.  Their ink is thick and purple and the acrid smell of it fills the bus and is not helping my 9:30 am hangover.

I used to do that shit when I was your age, says the woman with the rat in her handbag.

The boys drawing tags on the walls of the bus are ignoring her, talking to some other guy about tags and crews and other thing that make me feel like a yokel.

I remember in High School how all of my friends and I made up our own tags and drew them on the fronts of our notebooks but never actually tagged anything.

The woman with the rat in her handbag asks one of the boys what his tag says.  Asks again and again and again.

Mars, he finally answers over his shoulder.

Her companion is talking to someone about Los Angeles.  He says he loves LA and the woman with the rat in her handbag says no you don’t.  He says he used to live in an apartment behind Mann’s Chinese Theatre.  His rat is in the inside pocket of his coat now, cleaning itself.  He says he wants to do that Nick Cave thing of waking up every morning at 5 am with his typewriter.

The girl reading Murukami gets off the bus.  The boys drawing tags on the walls of the bus draw more tags and criticize each others’ work.  The man with the rat in the pocket of his pinstripe suit jacket says art is rad.

I think that all of this would make a great story or something.  If only there was some other level, some deeper element about the chaos of the city and the grimy collision of lives.

And then the man with the red sweatshirt gets on the bus.

The woman with the rat in her handbag sits bolt upright in her seat.

I SEE YOU, FUCKER! She screams out at the man.

The man with the read weatshirt is unwrapping a Swisher Sweet and does not look over.

I KNOW YOU! YOU FUCKER! I’LL KILL YOU!! YOU’RE A DRUG DEALER AND A RAPIST!

There is silence on the bus in the spaces between the screams of the woman with the rat in her handbag.  In the very front people crane their necks backwards to stare wide-eyed.

The man with the red sweatshirt does not look at her.  He looks at the rest of the bus and smiles a big shit-eating grin and bobs his head and shrugs his shoulders.

YOU RAPED TWO OF MY FRIENDS!! YOU TOLD THEM YOU’D GIVE THEM DRUGS AND WHEN THEY CAME UP TO YOUR APARTMENT YOU SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND THEM AND THEN YOU FUCKED THEM IN THE ASS!!

The man with the rat in the pocket of his pinstripe suit gets up from his seat and goes and stands right in front of the man with the red sweatshirt.  As if to either shield or intimidate him.  I can’t quite tell.

YOU’RE GOING TO GO TO HELL, FUCKER!! YOUR’RE GOING TO GO TO HELL AND BUUUUUUURN!!

The woman with the rat in her handbag has pulled off her Jackie O sunglasses and her blue eyes look dead and glassy.

The man with the red sweatshirt finally looks at her and simply says that ain’t me.

I KNOW IT’S YOU, FUCKER. I KNOW IT’S YOU CAUSE WHEN I THINK OF HELL I SEE YOUR FACE, BURNING THERE! YOU’RE GONNA GO TO JAIL AND SOME WARDEN IS GONNA SHOVE HIS STICK UP YOUR ASS!! BUT YOU’D PROBABLY LIKE IT CAUSE YOU’RE A PEDOPHILE AND YOU FUCK LITTLE BOYS!!

The bus stops and the Indian Summer morning sunlight reflects off a silver car right into my eyes and even when I close my eyes I can see the light, red with bloody veins through my eyelids.

The man with the red sweatshirt gets off the bus but the woman with the rat in her handbag keeps screaming away at him as the bus hisses and groans and pulls off down the street.

She tells the boys drawing tags on the walls of the bus how he rapes white women.  She says she knows their names but won’t name them out of respect of their privacy.

Then she names them, Kim and Karen.

The man with the rat in the pocket of his pinstripe suit jacket is trying to calm her down saying yeah we got it, you made your point, we got it, but he’s gone now.

But the woman with the rat in her handbag says no he’s never gone FUCKER he’s never gone.

The boys drawing tags on the walls of the bus shake their heads slowly and mutter things like that shit is fucked up.

We all shake our heads slowly and think things like that shit is fucked up.

My stomach gurgles with acrid pen fumes and all the other thicknesses in the air.  I try to remind myself about innocent until proven guilty.  I don’t know how to feel about this crazy screaming woman with the rat in her handbag.

But there was something about that man with the red sweatshirt and his big shit-eating grin.

I get off the bus two stops early and walk away home down the dirty city street.  The sidewalk sparkles like sidewalks in the Mission often do, and I kick the air around the clusters of bobbing pigeons so that they hop and scatter themselves away from me.

Copyright © 2008, Kevin Hobson

Advice for the Small-Towner Who’s Just Moved to the City.

Posted in Non-Fiction on October 15, 2008 by kwhobson

When the sun breaks through the fog for the first time in three days, you will know it is time for a walk.  Maybe you’ll feel it tingling in your calves, or as a spark of intention in the brain. Or maybe you’ll feel it as a tugging echo in your heart, the yearning ghosts of love and wanderlust leftover from that famous summer in ’67, coaxing you out into the sun-drenched day.  Perhaps you’ll look out your window at the golden-dappled street and be suddenly reminded of Hank Thoreau, who in Walking wrote “we should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return…”

Whatever it is that compels you, listen.  Go.

Bring what you will: a purse, a wallet, your keys, or a cell phone (if you must), but realize that you will not be needing any of them. Those forgotten ghosts of wanderlust, after all, require few utensils.  Maybe you’ll think again of Thoreau’s Walking, that “if you have paid your debts and made your will, and settled your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk,” and you won’t bring anything at all.  But take your things with you if they give you comfort.  Thoreau, after all, had a lot fewer affairs to attend to on that pond in Walden.  And the hippies will understand.  They all carry cell-phones nowadays anyway.  In any case, as you leave your house, (or more likely, your apartment) try and disregard your notion of destination.  Where you are headed is not a place that can be arrived at by placing heel-to-toe.

And do not bring a jacket.  There should be enough sun, if you have chosen the day correctly, so that, for the most part, you will not need it.  You will need sunglasses, though.  Even if it weren’t a bright day, you would still need them.

You might be tempted to start your walking in the Haight—it would seem a logical choice.  All that history, all the colorful characters, surely you will find whatever it is you are looking for there.  Resist this impulse.  You will find nothing but ghosts and clichés there.  You might also be tempted to head towards the Mission, or the Castro, if you are so inclined, but again, these places just won’t do for this type of walk.  Too easy; too obvious.  Where you need to be is in the forgotten heart of the City.  Start at Market Street, walking up past Van Ness.

Feel the proximity of strangers around you, and let your arms ripple with gooseflesh if they come too close. See how the light glints off the gilded dome of City Hall, casting opulent sparks against your eye. Study the ripples of traffic that wash through the intersections, and breathe in the city odors: the car exhaust and sticky urine and rotting cigarette butts.  Count the Starbucks that you see.  Count the trees.  Keep walking.

Your pace should be brisk, your strides as long as your legs will allow them.  This is no country stroll, no saunter. Weave your way through the crowds.  Zig zag, dodge, pass on the right.

See if you feel frustrated by the dawdling packs of tourists with their maps and flashbulbs, if you stutter your steps behind them, wait for an opening, and then go.  Notice the way the crowd parts for the two-way foot traffic.  Notice who makes way for whom, and who holds their courses.  But don’t think about it too much.  Resist the impulse to generalize.

Maybe you feel strange, rushing so heedlessly through these packs of your fellow humans.  Or maybe it feels natural and correct.  Is there a tinge of guilt in your indifference, or that faint echo of love tugging again at your heart?   Ask yourself as you walk what Thoreau would say if he were with you.  Or those hippies from back in ’67.

Imagine they say: It’s the death of meaning, and the execution of interpretation. That’s what’s different now, that’s what’s changed.

Keep your pace steady as the crowds thin, heading up Market, just past 10th, where there seems to be more garbage now, more smells, and more shifty strangers, huddled on cardboard palates or leaning idly against streetlamps.  And maybe you notice that even the trees here are struggling, shaded on all sides by the chasm of the rising city.  Check the sketchy-eyed derelicts and feel nervous if you will, afraid if you must, but don’t speed up your walking.  Just maintain the quick, even pace of a person with a place to be.  And remember, there is no eye contact permitted, with anyone, at anytime.  That’s why you need the sunglasses.

Make up the worst possible story you can about the next bum you see, how he killed his family with a power drill and now begs for change to buy brandy for the tempting of young schoolgirls back to his dingy lair.  This is just an example.  Go ahead and slap your preconceptions on him for a moment.  Really try and let the horrors spill forth.  Then try a tale that’s the polar opposite: a hard-on-his-luck family man, maybe stricken with cancer, or with a kid so stricken, his house repossessed by hospital bills, forced into this humiliation of scraggly blankets and an empty coffee cup.  Realize that the truth is locked away behind those glazed eyes, behind that matted scraggle of beard.  Think about asking him if he’s settled his affairs and is ready for a walk.  Ask him if you must, but remind yourself about the death of meaning, the execution of interpretation.

And keep counting the Starbucks.

Hustle past the porno theatres and the head shops.  Perhaps you feel conspicuous here, because your clothes or the color of your skin contrasts with those around you.  Let yourself feel conspicuous.  Let it roll over you.  Feel the eyes burning holes through your clothes, and then get over yourself.  Nobody gives a fuck.  Remember the bums you just passed, see if you can find that echo of love in your heart when you look back at them.

Notice now that the crowds are thickening again with tourists and business people, well-dressed folks, and that the store facades are becoming friendlier, emblazoned with familiar brand names.  Pay attention to how this change makes you feel.  Relieved?  Or more conspicuous?

Watch the shoppers with their arms akimbo, elbows hooked with laden sacks, chatting to each other or to the electronics in their ears.  Eavesdrop on their conversations while you wait for the light to change.

This should be the only time you stop moving, to wait at a corner.  Watch the crossing signals with their white men and red hands.  Pay attention to the numbers counting down on the signal perpendicular to you: they will tell you when it’s time to move.  Jaywalk with the packs at first, until you get the hang of it.

You’ll have to start weaving through these crowds of shoppers and tourists again to continue up Market Street.  Make up some more stories about them if you must, and then reverse your preconceptions.  The tourists are locals, and the locals are tourists.  The blonde businesswoman in the brown power-suit has a crack habit and a fecal fetish.  The low-pants kids blasting Hip-Hop are Christian missionaries from Ghana, bringing the word to the street.  Whatever it takes for your perceptions to be skewed.

Maybe by now you’re noticing how if you walk up close behind a lone woman you can sometimes feel the hairs on the back of her neck prickle.  Stutter your steps, pass on the right.  Keep counting Starbucks.  Keep counting trees.

As you continue up Market, you should soon notice a break in the buildings, a flourish of grass down the end of a wide walkway, just after the only café that wasn’t a Starbucks. Turn right.  Notice the metal benches in groups of three as you pass through the walkway of fresh concrete and shiny marble.  Maybe you notice two strangers sitting down on one of the rows, the middle bench empty between them.  Maybe they are all full, or all empty.  Notice the metal elbows bolted over the edges of the planer boxes and retaining walls to keep the skateboarders at bay.

Think if you must about the distance between things, and then ask yourself about the death of meaning, about the execution of interpretation.

On your left there should be a brick wall coming into view from behind the gray high-rises that cast the walkway in shadow.  At first the wall may appear to be part of St. Patrick’s, the brick church sitting at the end of the walkway, but as you get closer, you will see that the section is not connected at all, rather it is just a lone segment retained by rusting pipe buttresses, the fourth wall of the world’s stage removed and placed here for storage.  Ask yourself if you think love can still exist in a world where the fourth wall has been removed, where meaning is dead, where interpretation has been executed.

If you continue down to the end of the walkway you will reach Mission Street, with the Yerba Buena gardens directly across from you.  This is the grass that tempted you down that breezeway in the first place, but you will not take time to linger here.  Steal a few glances at those lazing in the sun. Try and forget about your categories: bums, lovers, students, hipsters, hustlers, tourists.  For a moment just let them all be exactly what they are: people, lying on the grass, in the sun.

Now turn left and keep walking, up Mission Street, past the sliced cylinder of glass rising from the MOMA.  Maybe the sun shines a little brighter off the building’s façade.  Maybe it’s obscured in shadow.  Maybe you start to notice that the cross streets are approaching zero, and start to feel as if a countdown is waning. Let your curiosity get the best of you, go ahead and wonder what street will come after First.  Maybe you hope that it’s Zero, and maybe you feel disappointed when it is revealed to be Fremont.

Or maybe not.

Keep weaving your way down the street, briskly still. Follow the sidewalk as it curves into a crescent to dip into the Trans-Bay Transit Terminal. Go ahead and put on a show of meaning to do exactly what you just did, taking the long way around like that.  Or you can pretend to be a new person, just off a bus or train or ferry, as you merge again with the crowd you left at the beginning of the sidewalk’s arc, those who carried on directly across the mouth of the concrete inlet.

How does it feel to be new like this?  Liberating?  Or terrifying?

By now you might be feeling the urge to slow your pace and crane your neck upwards, to take in the towers of the financial district.  Resist this impulse.  Glance up if you must, but do not slow your pace.  Stutter your steps, pass on the right.

Remain nonplussed.

Turn left when you reach the gold boat propeller that guards an alcove of bank ATMs.  Venture deeper into the financial district, but remember about not looking up.  The crowds might be thinning a bit, or maybe it is lunchtime and they are chaotic.  Pay attention to how you feel.  Do you feel conspicuous here?  Overwhelmed?  Do your clothes or the color of your skin contrast with that of those around you?  Let these feelings wash over you, whatever they are.  Perhaps they are familiar feelings.  Perhaps foreign.  Perhaps the echo of love tugging at your heart is fading like the wisps of fog around you, burnt away by the green heat of money and Starbucks signs.

By now the wind has probably picked up, tunneled down through this canyon of industry, peppering your arms again with gooseflesh.  Maybe you’re wishing you had your jacket.  Go ahead and wish.  Keep counting trees, and keep counting Starbucks.  You can also go ahead and look people in the eyes here.  There is no danger of them returning your gaze, no threat of eye contact.  Notice how everyone is wearing sunglasses.

Look right as you cross Market and see the Ferry Building, obscuring a view of the ocean.  You might want to linger and sigh at this sight, but keep walking.  The sidewalks get narrow here, crowded, but the sun has returned. Dodge the pedestrians removing their jackets, stopping to tie the arms around their necks or waists, dodge the other ones untying their jackets from their necks or waists, slipping arms in awkwardly.

Maybe your legs are starting to quiver in spots, maybe your knees are creaking a bit.  Maybe the buildings are starting to blur together in a wash of scaffolding and colorful signage.  Maybe you’re starting to understand this whole “death of meaning” thing.  Find someone who walks as briskly as you do and follow a few yards behind them for a while.  Notice how they move, navigating their way through the short city blocks, crossing at whichever light is permissive, swapping sides to avoid the orange construction zones.

Wander your way past California Street, past Montgomery, up to where tourists snap photos of the concrete lions guarding the red gate into Chinatown.  Maybe you have walked in Chinatown already, maybe not.  Go ahead and stop to look up the hill at the shops and paper lanterns, and then turn left and head back down the hill.  Save Chinatown for your next walk.  There are different rules and different expectations across that red gate.  Walking there is an advanced technique.

Take your time making your way back to Market.  Avoid the big hills.  Maybe you find it ironic that Bush is a slighter grade than California.  Maybe you don’t.  Maybe you think about the execution of interpretation and laugh.

Try to find the empty streets, or the ones with just a few idle standers.  Try to find whatever scares you.  But remember: it’s daytime.  Don’t insult the nighttime by lavishing an inordinate amount of fear upon the day.

Stay on the other side of the Market as you head back to Van Ness.  Notice what feels different, and what feels the same.  Maybe you walk right up behind a lone woman, just to watch the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. Maybe you walk in a straight line now, letting those who approach weave and stutter to make their way around you.  Maybe you take a moment to stare at the beggar whose eyes are opaque with cataracts, pull off your sunglasses and allow your gaze to pass through the line of his blindness, feel the echo of love from that lost, mythic summer resonating through your core.  Maybe you notice the grungy man with a full coffee cup, his hands shaking and spilling the hot coffee all over his clothes, and wonder: DT’s? or just a way to let people know his cup is full, so they don’t spoil his drink with their loose change?  Wonder all you want.  Wonder what was meant by the death of meaning, the execution of interpretation.

Think about the stores with the strange names and the stores with the familiar names, and the people, strange and familiar too.

You most likely counted more trees than Starbuck’s, but go ahead and count the approaching Starbuck’s again, even though it was the first one you counted as the walk began, because surely you missed one at some point along the way.

Copyright © 2008, Kevin Hobson

Psspsst! Literary Gossip!

Posted in Humor, Non-Fiction on July 17, 2007 by kwhobson

OMG you guys, like, SUCH the drama the other night!! Stephen Elliott TOTALLY threw a beer all over Howard Junker!! I know, FOR REALSIES!!

So I was at this Literary Death Match thingy? With Amick, Gravity and Marisa? They, like, have writers read in a competition against each other, with like judges and stuff. It’s like AMERICAN IDOL but for book nerds, right? Howard Junker, who’s like this crotchety old dude who edits this magazine ZYZZYVA, was one of the judges–it was him and Beth Lisick who was all “I’m Cute!” and this other guy Jon Wolanske who was all “I’m Funny and Stuff! Lobsters!” and then Howard Junker was all “Grr I’m old and serious an no-one likes me but everyone respects me or something…”

So it started with Stephen Elliott, who wrote this book “Happy Baby” that’s like kinda famous or something, reading first, and he was like “I’m Stepehen Elliott, I write about wanting to have sex and having sex and not having sex and stuff!” and we were all like “ROTFLOLZ.” Then Joyce Maynard read and she was all like “I fucked JD Salinger bitches!! I’m the most famoustest person here!! In this story, I’m a middle age housewife and I wrote letters to a guy in prison who was crazy, please no one mention some other middle age housewife just wrote a book with this exact same plot…” and we were all like “zzzzzzzzzzzz, tell us about JD Salinger!!”

So then the reading part was over and the judging part started and they were all like “Howard Junker, you’re judging on literary merit” and Junker was all “Stephen’s piece made me laugh, but his work has NO LITERARY MERIT.” And we were all like “OH NO HE DI’INT!!” FUR REALZ Then he was all “Joyce’s piece tugged at my heartstrings and I enjoyed it very much, gee your ass tastes great Joyce!!” and we were like “gag me with a spoon already.” So they decided that the Joyce was the winner of that round, (big surprise) and then they were gonna have another round after a break so everyone went to the bar to get drinks and Howard Junker was all “hum dee dum, I’d like some pretentious sounding drink in a snifter or something…” and the Stephen Elliott came up behind him and was all “Hey Junker!” and Howard was like “Huh?” And Stephen was like “How’s this for literary merit!?!?” and SPLASH!! Beer all over his shirt!! Okay so maybe he didn’t say the “how’s this for literary merit” line, but isn’t it better if he does? I think so.

We were standing right behind them and I totally caught the Howard Junker shaped beer-spray all over me. It’s like my claim to fame now! Woot!! So Howard was all “Ga!” and Stephen just looked at him like “now we’ve BOTH been humiliated, huh?” and it was actually kinda sad casue you could tell Stephen really got his feelings hurt, I mean, no one’s gonna argue Stephen’s work has the literary merit of like Dostoevsky or anyting, but c’mon, you don’t say something like that in front of a big group of people…unless you’re Howard Junker I guess…

So Howard was like “screw this I’m outta here” and everyone else was like “OMG OMG OMG” and then they started up the second round and the guy was like “Howard had to leave, we had a little ‘incident,’ no, no-one got stabbed, Eddie Vedder didin’t come in with a lightsaber and kick ass, just a little ‘beer slipping out of the hand action’ (yeah right) so let’s keep going with a new replacement judge…” and then the other two readers read and Michelle Richmond was like “thanks Stephen, Howard Junker scares me” and the new replacement judge was like “both of these works were DRIPPING with literary merit” and we were like “DRIPPING!! That is teh funnyz LOLZ!”

Then some other stuff happened and they played “poke a hole in Nebraska” which is like “pin the tail on the donkey” but with a US map and a pencil instead of a donkey and a tail and then Sam Hurwitt who read and was all “I like comic books but Socrates was just a Bullshit artist” was all “whoo-hoo I poked a hole through Nebraska, gimmie my crown bitches!!”

And we were like OMG can we go already? We’re sticky and we smell like Stephen Elliott’s beer and Howard Junker’s old man sweat…

…ewww that’s butt.

But srsly guys, Stephen Elliott is SO not getting invited to Howard Junker’s next pajama party. Maybe Dave Eggers can like talk to Howard and be all like “Stephen says he’s sorry but dude why are you such a dick?” and then Howard can be all like “Your book was an Assbreaking Pile of Staggeringly Smelly Dog Poo.” And then Dave can be all “Oh its ON NOW!!” and McSweeney’s and ZYZZYVA will be all like the Jets and the Sharks and there could be more and more beer throwing until finally they agree to have a climactic dance off at City Lights bookstore or something…

That would be teh coolz.

Copyright © 2007, Kevin Hobson.