Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Lost Vacation


Eddie-torial Comment: This is an revised version of something I wrote about my trip to San Francisco in April to go to APE. My dad went into the hospital on my last night there, so I never really had a chance to whip this into postable shape. Even though it's been four months, I still wanted to post something about the trip, since I had blogged about it a bit before I left.

As always, I start out with the best intentions and end up going no where. Sigh! I even took a lap top to San Francisco with me so that I could blog on the spot and upload pics and everything.

Then I ended up doing no picture taking to speak of and never seemed to be in the mood to write.

Since my return things have been really chaotic (obviously), but I couldn't let the whole trip go by without a little bit of blogging, late though it may be. Bear with me, okay?

I spent so much time looking things up in books and online before the trip that I was so over-planned with notes and lists of things to do that I almost ruined my trip. I'm still finding myself grousing about what I did not get to do, rather than remembering the cool stuff I did do. Oh well, at least I'm well-prepared for next time! (And I think I have enough raw material for a blog about travel books on San Francisco!)

I was really lonely the whole trip too. It's been a long time since I took an extended, long-distance vacation on my own, without Keith. I found myself calling him several times a day to tell him about stuff I saw or did. Maybe after all these years of feeling the need to carve out some "me space" and "Eddie time" in the midst of our relationship, I'm finally starting to outgrow that. I don't think it will ever go completely away, since it's too ingrained in me to need a bit of solitude now and then. But, maybe, that need is finally starting to lessen somewhat. All I know is, I was really homesick and that has never happened to me before.

But, I had lots of wonderful music to see me through. I listened to Kieran McGee's Anonymous on the flight out and woke up every day to a different CD, thanks to the hotel's clock radio with CD player. I started with Kasey Chambers' Wayward Angel, and then moved to Rosaryville, which is my favorite Kate Campbell CD. After that it was Todd Snider's East Nashville Skyline (my favorite CD from last year), Sam Phillips' Fan Dance (which is too depressing to listen to when you're homesick!), and Anyway, by Amy Farris. I decided that the Kasey CD was a lot better than I originally thought, and the Amy F. CD is so good, I don't know why I don't play it all the time.

I also got to take in some live music while there. I went to the Great American Music Hall to see Shivaree, one of my new favorites, perform with Clem Snide. I really liked the venue a lot. If you took the architecture and atmosphere of the Louisville Palace, the limited seating and musical support ideology of Headliner's, and the lousy service of the Rudyard Kipling and threw them all together in a blender, what would come out would look something like GAMH.

The opening act, Marbles, was a bit too weird for my taste, but I really enjoyed Shivaree. Their modern rock cabaret style music is as much fun live as it is on CD. I was too tired to stay for Clem Snide, unfortunately.

The Drive by Truckers did an in-store at Amoeba Music while I was there. It was the first day of APE, so I had to leave early to get there, but it was worth it. The set was shorter than I'm used to for in stores, but they closed with Carl Perkins' Cadillac, so everything is right with the world. And of course, I cannot go into a used CD store and not buy something. The nice thing about Amoeba, though, is that I spent less than 20 bucks and got a half-dozen CD's, including a Kate Campbell! (I also discovered Streetlight Records on Market Street, which is another great music shop with good prices on used CD's.)

Speaking of shopping, I hit some of my usual spots, like the Magazine, and a few new ones, like Aardvark Books (which has a GREAT selection of used gn's and tpb's). I finally found a vintage leather jacket that fits me in the shoulders. (Vintage tends to run too narrow for me to wear.)

Of course, I did most of my shopping at APE, which was a lot of fun. I knew it would be a small show, but I was surprised at the intimate feel there. Even the "big guns" like Fantagraphics and Top Shelf kept their tables scaled down, rather than overpower everyone else. I ran into Tony, NBM's sales guy (plus sales rep for probably one-third of the folks at APE), whom I had not seen in ages. I worked a couple of San Diego cons for NBM a few years ago, but had not really talked to him since. It was nice to catch up with him.

I also got to catch up with zan from Prism Comics. It's nice to see how well they are doing, and to see them supporting comics about queers actually done by queers. I was kind of afraid I might not be welcome at the Prism Booth, since I kind of faded out on them in the midst of their launch a few years back, but all seemed to be well. zan invited me to write for them, so I might take him up on that.

The biggest kicks for me were getting to talk to Jennifer Camper and Leane Franson, both long time faves of mine. Camper is pushing the concept of marginalized voices with a new anthology, Juicy Mother. There are almost no outlets for this kind of material these days, even in alt-comics, so I hope it does well for her. I started reading Franson back in the days when the only way to get someone's self-published mini was to write a letter and shove a few bucks in an envelope. I discovered her work during the time when I was drifting away from mainstream comics and really needed to find some authentic queer voices in comics. She filled that need perfectly all those years ago and still does. I bought all her latest stuff and we reminisced about the "good old" pre-internet days. Wow! I'm really getting old, huh?

I bought a bunch of other stuff at APE, most of it still sitting in little stacks waiting to be read. I managed to make it to Comix Experience while I was there, but couldn't swing a stop at Isotope. I think their move to a spot closer to the other places I like to visit when I am there will make them a regular stop for me whan we're out there.

I also spent some time exploring Catholic churches in the city. This time I went to St Boniface, located in the Tenderloin area-a sea of desperate poverty. They've actually opened up their sanctuary for the homeless to come in and rest during the day. I went to early morning Mass, and the back half of the place was filled with sleeping homeless people. I couldn't help but think that this is really the way that church ought to be. WWJD, indeed.

Other churches I visited included the Shrine of St Francis of Assisi, Saint Patrick, and Our Lady of Victories. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any pictures in any of them. Something always happened to prevent it. I guess there's always next time.

Speaking of next time, Keith and I had decided to go back to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in October, but had to spend so much on car repairs related to my father's funeral that it's no longer fiscally feasible. At this point, it looks like it'll be HSB 2006 before we make it out there, unless I can talk Keith into APE 2006....

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