Monday, May 7, 2007

Weekend Review: WOTY 2007 Frontrunner Edition

{note: you can click on any of the photos to see an enlarged/better version}

That's Weekend Of The Year. Each year I think back on weekend and sort of rank the top 5 or so that really stood out above the rest. Interestingly enough, Derby Weekend pretty much always makes the list, but being as this year I didn't make it to the Derby for the first time in 9 years, the weekend didn't look like it was going to be a chart topper after all.

But then on Monday mi primo{see #4}, the legendary Chris Smith, called me out of the blue. And not from Brasil, where he now resides, but from Estados Unidos. He was randomly back in the states for 10 days, had a JetBlue voucher, and wanted to come out to his fave city and home of 9 years for the weekend. Right about then it was on.

My weekend started on Thursday as I went to the Andy Dick comedy show at Cobb's Comedy Club here in SF. I don't even know how to describe it into words. keywords: bizarre, funny, sick fucker, dress in drag, crazy adam sandler like songs but bluer, multiple exposures of private parts to audience. I'll just leave it at that, but if you ever see his show you may not want to sit front and center is all I'm saying: some things you cannot un-see, and Andy Dick's nutsack is one of those things.

Friday the weather was glorious, I got to leave work early and catch the Oaks at my apartment, then Chris Smith and I took in Blades Of Glory {nothing will ever match Anchorman but I thought it was funnier than Talledega Nights} followed by a dinner and drinks and then for dessert my virgin trip to one of the legendary dive bars in SF, Trad'r Sam. It is one of those places that you drive by and just from looking at the sign you get the feeling that it is an epic dive bar.

You just know that it is going to rule.

Beers, then two scorpion bowls served literally in salad bowls were consumed, and various and sundry other shenanigans ensued. Trad'r Sam is International Bad Line- so bad that it actually rules- and her you have the added dive bar feature of Polynesian theme- it totally lived up to my expectation of it, and then some. And it wouldn't be nearly as cool if it was spelled properly.

Trad'r Sam Scorpion Bowl: $14 of yummy greatness

Trad'r Sam made us so happy that after we shut it down at 2 a.m. we decided it would be a good idea to go to one of those cheesy all night clubs in SOMA- we paid $20 each to get into a place called 1015 Folsom, and it was well and truly awful. Techno/rave bullshit with not a single hott woman in the place among the 50 or so people in there, which is pretty damn few considering that they had dancefloors on three different levels. Fuck this: a couple of $4 bottled waters and we were out of there.

Finally crashed at 4 a.m., then woke up all Brian Fantana {read: hung ooooveer}. Watched the Derby while mi primo ran errands, then after entering the extreme euphoric state of having the Derby winner, we walked over to North Beach and had an afternoon Cinco De Mayo drinking session comprised of margaritas and mojitos. Weather was tip top again- damn near 80 in the city, sunny and beautiful. Back to casa del Kanu to clean up, catch the sunset, then off to the Fillmore to catch a band that Chris Smith digs called ALO. Not my favorite band, but hell it's the Fillmore: I'd probably go see William Hung at the Fillmore. If you bought my drinks, of course. And my ticket.

A word about the opening act- she is a 21 year old female singer-songwriter names Jessie Baylin, and she was very very good. If you dig such acts as Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Beth Orton, Leona Naess, etc. then you will like her. I would not at all be suprised if sooner rather than later she breaks through with a major label and becomes a popular/successful artist in the same vain as the aforementioned sirens. I dig her- very cool voice, and legit lyrics- and hoping to score her CD soon- titled You, it is currently only available on iTunes, but you can listen to 4 of the tracks on her myspace page that is linked above.

The ALO concert was notable mostly for the utter randomness of the crowd. On Thursday we were discussing how SF is the most random city in the world, where at any moment you will see some bizarre/surreal shit that would normally make you think "WTF?" but after a while in SF you just shrug your shoulders, chuckle, and move on. That was right after we were walking downtown and right in front of us on the street was a dude on a bike who stopped, pulled a pirate telescope thingy out of his thatch bicycle basket, turned around, and while still on his bike looked off into the distance like an 18th century ship commander or pirate. For like 3 minutes. Anyways, at the concert, before the main act even made it onstage, mind you, we saw:

1. A dude wearing a lucha libre wrestling mask, a silk wrestling cape, no shirt, pierced nipples, and jeans

2. A hugely buff muscleman dude wearing black leather knee high dominatrix boots with 3 inch heels, a pair of blue denim overalls, and no shirt

3. A dude wearing a bathrobe and some stunner shades.

The rest of the concert was typical: lots of beer, the constant faded smell of weed in the background, frequent intense whiffs of weed in the foreground, lots of people shaking their shit to the beat, and even more people shaking their shit offbeat as hell, and a whole hell of a lot of 'Woooooooo!!!!"s- you know the drill.

After the show we hit up a random semi-hole-in-the-wall pizza by the slice place for "dinner" at 12.30 a.m., when as we were waiting for our pie a final major bit of randomness for the night occurred: a woman in her 50s comes in, orders, and then begins to take up residence at the table next to us. She then produces a canvas tote bag, and from it she pulls out a giant piece of dark grey jagged foam that looks like it came from the scrap heap of a mattress warehouse, and she lays it down on the seat bottom. WTF?!?!? Who does this outside of an aluminum bench at a sports stadium? As my mind is trying to make heads or tails of this, she then proceeds to reach back into the bag and pull out a padded seatback, and place it on the back of the chair. After analyzing the table she then turns back to the line, cuts the half dozen or so people waiting to order, and asks the 1 dude working the register to clean off her table because there are some crumbs on it. Then she turns back to towards the table, hesitates for a moment, then turns back around and goes back to register guy, again cutting in front of the patrons in line, and she asks register guy if he could please make her pizza slice "crispy", a word that I have never in my life heard associated with a piece of pizza. So bizarre that my brain did what any overused or stoutly punched pinball machine would do: "TILT".

Anyhow, as great as Friday and Saturday were, Sunday took the cake. First off, the weather: it was 80 in the city again, which only happens a few times of year, with copious sunshine and a high blue sky. Set the alarm and woke up at 8 a.m. to watch Arsenal host Chel$ea in their penultimate Premier League match this season. Chel$ea had to beat Arsenal or else be mathematically eliminated from winning the league championship.

Arsenal 1-1 Chel$ea.
Highlights (10:55)

Arsenal went up 1-0 and were up a man after Chel$ea had a defender sent off, but with their first shot on goal in the 70th or so minute Essien equalised to make it 1-1. The last 15 minutes were frenzied and furious, and although Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue did The Clash right at the end- rocked the Crossbah- it ended 1-1, which on the face of it was kind of a disappointing result for Arsenal as they had the better of it. But it was enough to eliminate Chel$ea this year and to halt their streak of bought titles at two. On the downside it did mean the Arsenal's biggest rivals, Manchester United, were crowned champions, but I was able to find a silver lining even in this: we deprived ManUtd fans the opportunity to win the EPL at Stamford Bridge, Chel$ea's home ground, on Wednesday night. This surely will disappoint them, because nothing is more rub-it-in-one-of-your-rivals-face than clinching the championship on an opponents home ground. Because there are no playoffs the odds of the 1 match where you mathematically clinch the title just so happening to be the 1 of 38 matches that occurs on an opponents ground is very low. Arsenal fans love the fact that they have won titles in such places as White Hart Lane {Spurs} during the historic unbeaten season in 2004, Old Trafford {Manchester United} to complete the double in 2002, and of course the greatest finish to any English league season and perhaps the greatest single moment in the history of Arsenal Football Club, the miracle at Anfield {Liverpool} in 1989. So it is cool that we dashed ManUtd's hopes of clinching on Chel$ea's ground later this week. And on the flipside, Arsenal fans rather enjoyed taunting their Chel$ea counterparts. I'm not sure I know which one I like best: the pregame taunt "they've got no history" or the end of game "You lost the league at Arsenal". Wait, how about "You're not champions anymore"? They're all great.

After Arsenal-Chel$ea it was off to the Presisio for the 2nd match of FC Red Stripes summer season. We simply dominated the other team 5-0, and your boy had a hat trick and set up another. Not only that, but a dude on the other team was rocking a Georgia Bulldogs t-shirt, so it was very cool to chat with him, as it turns out he was indeed an alum and not some Gator sellout impostor.

Next up, Chris Smith and I drove over the bridge to Marin and picked up the one and only Solon, and after brunch we embarked on one of the coolest hikes in the Bay Area, and the perfect hike for an unusually hot day: the Steep Ravine/Matt Davis loop, as it incorporate a visit to the beach for a few hours where the ocean breeze would make things nice and cool.

What makes this hike so cool is that you get 5 distinct and different natural habitats, if you will, during the trip: on the way down to the beach you follow a streambed below a canopy of sequoia, redwoods, ferns, etc.

Solon & C Smith descend into Steep Ravine

So zone 1 is almost like a tropical rainforest only instead of a sweat-a-thon you get a bunch of majestic redwoods instead.

Faux tropical without the mondo hunidity

You also get lots of cool little waterfalls and footbridges back and forth across the stream, etc.

This bit would be much trickier without the ladder

After a couple of miles of that you climb up a little hill and then the panoramic scenic view of the Pacific ocean and Stinson beach literally opens up right before your eyes, and you finish ambling down to the beach through open rambling hills of tall grass- this is zone #2.

Ahhhh, Stinson.

Who is the bigger dork?
It's a trick question: we're the same height.

Stinson Beach is zone 3, and then on the return hike you have an very very steep ascent up the mountain but covered in forest, which is zone 4. Finally you emerge at the top of the major climbing and then you have 2 miles back to the car through mountain grassy fields- this is zone #5.

We drove up to Mt. Tam State park and parked in the Pantoll parking lot, which is about 3/4ths of the way up the mountain. We then hiked down Steep Ravine trail all the way to Stinson Beach, set up shop on la playa, rolled out Son Of Dawg Blanket, chilled for a few hours, admired the ladies from behind the cover of our sunglasses, tossed the frisbee around for a while, and it was warm enough that Chris Smith and I even did the kamikaze sprint and dive into the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean, where we stayed for approximately 3 minutes until our balls turned into cubes of solid ice and forced us to retreat back to the sunny, warm beach.

La playa del Stinson

Then we fueled up on cheeseburgers and an ice cream at the snack shack, for we had miles to go before we slept. The 2nd part of the hike is an alternate route back to the car called Matt Davis trail, and it is pretty damn vertical.

"And she's he's climbing a stairway to heaven Pantoll..."

One reward, besides a killer leg & cardio workout, is that as you climb up these steep switchbacks you start to get some amazing views through the trees of the town, beach, coastline, and ocean as you rise above Stinson Beach.

Motivation/inspiration to keep going

About half way up the side of this steep mountain there is a huge natural granite rock outcrop that sticks out from the trees and is a great spot to stop for a few minutes and take in the beautiful scene below.

View from atop the rocky bluff

We stopped for a minute and then Solon forged ahead and Chris Smith and I chilled for a moment and kept taking in the scene, which was about as tranquilo as it gets. We were both pretty damn high on life, and then, as we were looking down we suddenly saw 2 whales. At first we weren't sure but it was soon confirmed as they blew water up through their blow holes. Awesome.

Tharrr he or she blows

For me it was the first time that I had seen whales in a natural setting if you will {read: not on a whale watching boat trip off the coast of Cape Cod in middle school}. We holler up to Solon about the whales and later learn that he was able to see them from up the mountain as well, and then we sit there and watch them for another 10 minutes, and see them surface and blow water a few more times. Just amazing.

Tharr he or she blows, zoomed

Now we're double high on life. Chris Smith and I make it up the tree covered slope of the mountain and flatten out a bit into an area of grassy hills that is pretty Sound Of Music, but with beautiful ocean views.

The hills are alive...

...with the sounds of Chris Smith...

...and Solon.

As luck would have it we make to this little side bluff off the trail, from which we have the most amazing vantage point of one of the prettiest sunsets I've seen in my 2 years in California.

I dare you to look at this photo and not feel better
than you did right before you looked. Go ahead, I dare you.

Looking north

Past Stinson Beach, Bolinas point, and Point Reyes, the sunsets over a little bit of fog and next to the oceanside hills to our right. As good as that is, then as we turn counterclockwise we get the straight on view of the Pacific, and then Pacifica, the entrance to SF Bay, and in the distance the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline behind it.

Looking south

The coolest thing is how unbelievably quiet, peaceful, and pristine it is where we are, as we are not near any roads, buildings, or other signs of civilization.

Pretty much as good as it gets without a blanket, a bottle of red wine, and a beautiful woman.

Los primos es mucho feliz y tranquilo

So now we're triple high on life, but then after the sun sets we realize from a trail sign that we still have 1.4 miles to walk, so we snap out of it and hustle back to the car before it gets too dark.




As we go into and out of some groves of trees, it gets a little Frodo & Sam-ish trying to stay in the trail in the ever-diminishing light, but we finally catch up to Solon and get back to the car as night ushers daylight to bed and takes over.

As good as a day free of sweet, sweet lovemaking can get, really, and firmly established as the front-runner for Best Day Of 2007.

This morning Chris Smith flew out, and tomorrow he will be back in Sao Paolo amidst thousands, nay, millions of amazing bundas.I'm exhausted, ridiculously behind on sleep, and my apartment is a total disaster, but it was all worth it.

If you are not already bored to death and/or asleep with a puddle of drool forming on your keyboard, you can check out all 84 pictures of Saturday's sunset and Sunday's adventures here thanks to Picasa, a cool photo application that I recently downloaded for free from Google and started monkeying around with.

Two consecutive days of 80 degrees and sunny on a weekend. Having the Derby Winner. My cousin/one of my best friends randomly and literally dropping out of the sky from another freaking hemisphere. A perfect Sunday of soccer followed by an amazing journey with two of my very best friends. If any of these things were to happen in one weekend, that would be a great weekend. For all of them to happen on the same weekend, along with a bunch of other things that I won't even bore you with, firmly plants this weekend's flag on the top of Planet 2007, claims said planet as it's own, and brazenly challenges all other weekends to try to top it.

So you are on notice, remaining 34 weekends of 2007. If you want to match or surpass the weekend that was, you are going to have to come pretty damn strong.

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