So I finally arrived in San Francisco in the middle of March 1990, drove right on up the apartment Mitch Caplan had rented for us on the corner of Haight and Shrader, just a block down from Golden Gate Park, and, my, it was nice.

Right near the park, right on Haight Street, and the hills just like dear old Westchester.  This was a cool place.  So those early months, I get a temp job almost right off the bat – it ain’t difficult to get a job wearing a headset for a mutual fund.

Of course, I had quit Bank of Manhattan mainly because I hated Manhattan, but also because I wanted finally to teach.  This was something I hadn’t been able to bring myself to do in 1988 after college because of the prospect of going off to one of those damn boarding schools in the middle of nowhere and working 24 hours a day for like $11,000 a year while my classmates were hanging out and chasing tail in NY and either being well paid for their time or not getting paid so much but having their time free to hang out.

So I start exploring the coast a little bit, and exploring the city a little bit and man it’s hard to describe.

I worked downtown, caught a bus right on Haight St. every morning at 7:30 and it zipped me right on down to 50 California St. by 8:00.  Then it was on the elevator and up to 27.

Those first few months I faced out to the NNW and watched the Marin Headlands all day, then we lowly customer service types were moved down to 26, and before the mini-cubes were installed and cut off the view, we faced SE and watched the Bay Bridge and Mt. Diablo.

Here’s a brief tale for the ’90’s which occurred in April of 1990 right in the middle of downtown SF.

I used to sit and eat my lunch outside there during the first month I was working at 50 California, down in that little triangle where California runs into Market (although it was actually Davis St).

So, anyway, I’m sitting there in the beautiful California sunshine one day eating lunch, and a fairly normal looking fellow comes up and starts a conversation out of nowhere.

It turns out that he’s a born-again Christian, and talks some plain sense too.  So, we chat for a while, and he asks me what I thought Jesus would do if he came back then (in 1990, though this would still hold true today).

I told him I wasn’t sure, but Jesus “would definitely have to start small, because,” as I told him pointing around at the skyscrapers that surrounded us, “That’s what’s big right now.”

We both laughed, he gave me his phone number and said he played basketball over in the East Bay Saturday mornings with some of the other folks from his church (he also mentioned they had a singles group where he had met his girlfriend).  I never did call him, but I never forgot about that either.

But then I remember that morning in August when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the markets fucking freaked out, and it stayed that way all that fall and finally bottomed out in October before the rally hit when the bombs started dropping.

I remember watching the carriers and destroyers moving out under the Bay Bridge for maneuvers while that war was on.

Jim Maddox moved out to San Fran during that Summer of 1990, his sister and her boyfriend were both out there already from the previous year.

So the first time I see him that summer, we spent a good old time just cruisin around and gettin fucked up at the Hotel Utah and all that part of the city – South of Market and over next to the water.

And that Fall 1990 we went to see Sonic Youth at the Warfield, and actually watched the warm-up band, some guys in flannel, and although it kind of sounded like heavy metal or like the Sonic Youth urban dissonance, this was very heavy but melodic and cool and just really really good, and I turn to Jim and Jim turns to me, and we say to each other, man, these guys are good.

So, as we’re walking out of the show, I ask Jim again, what the hell were those guys called again, and we look up on the marquee and it says in big letters SONIC YOUTH, and then in little letters underneath it, it says    nirvana.

Then Tim Kosloski and Bud (who had also gone to UVa. with us) decided to move from D.C. out to San Francisco and ended up staying with me and Mitch Caplan off and on, although with Tim it was mostly off, and with Bud it was all ON, man.  He never seemed to leave the apartment.  He got a job working the electron microscope at the medical research lab at UCal just up the hill and was there when I left for work every day.  He came back for lunch every day in the afternoon, and was there in front of the TV with a Bud Light every night when I got back from downtown.

Mitch finally moved out in December but I wasn’t really paying attention because by this time I was getting laid again for the first time in almost two years.  Wow, what a mess I made of that whole goddamn situation.

It is difficult to explain how we met, but suffice it to say that we met through friends but didn’t really know each other, and finally “got together” at an Election Day party where I got totally fucked up (at the time, this was a necessity for me to make any kind of a move, romantically) and woke up the next morning in her bed over on the other side of town.

This being the day after Election Day (a Wednesday) I had to be at work at 8, so I got her to run me back over to my pad to shower, change and get to work, and yes, believe me, after two years of being single, I will definitely call you later.

So this went on all through the rest of the autumn, and I even developed a kind of routine.  Sleeping over at her place on Russian Hill, having sex typically two or three times between 10pm and 6am, then jumping back into my car and zipping down Pacific to Divisidero then over to Haight and up to Golden Gate Park, park the car (no mean feat, believe me, I still owe over $1000 in unpaid tickets out there), shower and then down to work, etc. etc. and so on.

But then work starts getting crazy, and I’m working for some dick from Long Island and I can’t leave my chair and my desk isn’t even a cubicle but is actually about one-third the size of your typical cubicle and the phone calls don’t ever stop, for weeks and weeks and weeks and it’s like this, and one day I take nearly 200 phone calls, for reals, and talk to every one of them.

The next day, I just can’t take it anymore and start hanging up because I need a break between calls and these show up on my record, and so I show 300 calls that day, which everyone knows is impossible.

And now my love life is going shitty too, as we gradually get used to each other, she’s not quite as excited about me spending every night over at her place.

And over at my place, Mitch C. has moved out and Bud has officially moved in, and since I’m never there, he has also officially taken over and rearranged the living room furniture and hung his posters and Budweiser scarves on the walls, and is ALWAYS THERE.

So now my job sucks to the point where I cannot do it anymore, I see that it is coming to an abrupt halt, I am not cut out for being screamed at by irate individual investors and brokers from all over the country (at least not 150 of them every day with no break for months on end).

And so I quit, and they ask me for two weeks, and I tell them, Sure, it’ll take me that long to clear up the account problems I’m currently working on.

And they say no, we want you on the phone taking new calls for two weeks, and I tells them,  nuh-uh, not gonna do it.

And that’s it, I’m out of work at the height of the California Recession in February of 1991, and I don’t work full-time again until September of 1994.

But I spend several months living off my credit cards while I look for work in San Fran to no avail, and look into going back to school for a teaching certificate.

I remember applying for a job working the front desk at one of the hotels downtown.  There were 25-30 people there applying for the position when I went in and there was one guy who was there from Seattle, had ten years experience in the hotel industry and was willing to relocate his family from Seattle for the job.  Needless to say, I didn’t get that job.

Finally my Dad offers to have me come and stay with him in Oklahoma City. So I think about it for a while, and then Tim Kosloski flips his car over out in Sonoma so I lend him my car, and then Jim Maddox comes and picks me up to go and spend the weekend out in Stinson Beach to get out of the city for a while and WE end up in a car wreck out by that lagoon between Bolinas and Stinson, with Lo Mein driving (aka George Pappalardi – also from Taconic Heights, THS Class of ’81) and all three of us in the front seat because of the motorcycle in the back.

So Lo Mein takes the handlebar of the motorcycle in the back of the head as we flip over and he is seriously dazed and permanently affected by this injury and I get back to the city Sunday night, and I FEEL permanently affected, and I’m lying there in bed and realize it’s time to leave and whatever is there in Oklahoma City I don’t know but it’s at least SAFER than what’s happening to me here.

(Down East, Maine  September 1998)

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