— From EF —

Sunday was our Sabbath. Often we haul ourselves to Café Trieste in North Beach, a place that hasn’t really changed since we first found it during our Stanford span in the early 60’s. It feels familiar, comfortable, and you can feel writerly effluvium coating the walls.

San Francisco used to make parking free on Sundays, but not any more, so we do a diligent search for meterless parking way downhill on Sansome. Walking up the long haul to Grant, I noticed that the gopher holes in the sidewalk have a new look. AT&T, PG&E, various cable companies, their divots have been upgraded. Some now proudly announce that they open to “hooks only.”

That nudged me into thinking about what lies beneath the sidewalks and the streets. Back in our Northwestern years I became aware that there was a complete hidden set of streets under the Chicago Loop, with a couple of secret down-ramps. That was a thrilling fantasy concept to me, the idea that if you knew the code, you could drive around for miles underground.

Later, during our first trip to Europe in 1969, we visited the Gouffre de Padirac, an inexplicable hole about a block across with a huge vertical shaft down into a subterranean river. The medieval locals had assumed it belonged to the Devil and steered clear. AT&T and PG&E aren’t comparable to the Gouffre de Padirac, but they’ve still got something going on down there that we can’t see.

Sitting in the Trieste, we were close to a trio in the rear corner, and I was fascinated by the Brit who was giving counsel to his two companions. His suit was dark, perfectly tailored, and his tie — the knot was upper-case, that’s the only way to describe it. But above this epic correctness, his hair, which seemed to be uniformly about four inches long, caroused in all directions without any discipline at all. He might as well have just come from a very sweaty erotic encounter. What was going on under the surface?

We have a lot more surface than we used to, spread in gaudy stripes across TV and social media. It would be prudent to consider what hidden channels lie beneath. Hooks-only could be a good advisory.

 — From the Fool —

My friend Bernie said something was going to happen when the penny drops. I think it had something to do with burning down cities or other serious stuff.

“What penny?” I asked. “It’s an expression,” he said. It’s like you put a penny in the vending machine and then it drops and then you get whatever little piece of shit you’re after.

Bernie doesn’t like to be corrected, so I didn’t mention that nobody gets anything for a penny. The only thing you do with the penny is give it to the clerk so he doesn’t give you four pennies change. And if it drops you probably just leave it there. If you’re old enough to think it’s worth anything, you’re probably too old to bend over.

But it sounds good to say “when the penny drops,” not so much to say “when the buck-and-a-half in quarters drops” though maybe “when it spits out the debit card” has the right rhythm, but then you’re already halfway to “when the shit hits the fan.”

Maybe the point is not so much whether it’s a penny but where it drops.

I could think there’s a big skull of what some guru called Cosmic Consciousness, and the penny drops, and then another penny drops, and the damn pennies keep dropping all night like the Chinese faucet dripping, and finally the Cosmos froths at the mouth and screams ENOUGH ALREADY! And then, I guess, the cities burn.

Or maybe it’s just an expression.

 — From CB —

We’re sitting in Cafe Trieste in SF’s North Beach, a coffee shop we’ve visited since the early Sixties. A quartet (violins, piano, sometimes mandolin) are playing. The trio next to us talk of issues ranging from love to existence, and we’re soon to drive down to hear the SF Symphony play the tumultuous but meticulously notated thoughts of Brahms.

On the way to SF, we left off some LEAR puppets with our costumer Mallory, discussed adjustments on several who were sewn too tight, and cheered her model of helmets that have to go on three hand puppets in the final act.

And we talked about computer storage issues and the selection of dramatic sketches to go into the new, expanded edition of our book RASH ACTS and how we should price it. And fragmentary comments about the killing in Ferguson and the corruption of the EPA and the shortcomings of liberal blogs.

Elizabeth has finished her pizza slice, glass of white wine, and single shot espresso — a ritual act — and is reading a Colm Toibin novel.

This is Sabbath. For us, over the span of 54 years, Sundays meant (a) just another workday, (b) going to Third Unitarian and then hitting the worklist, (c) going to Friends Meeting and then hitting the worklist. Now, for some time, it’s meant devoting a day (usually Sunday, but not always, depending on the worklist) solely to what’s enjoyable, what’s creative, and what’s energizing. Sometimes we catch ourselves rationalizing to fit some piece of crap into one of those categories, but it generally holds.

Nothing, neither Vitamin C nor Scripture nor the Free Market nor Hemp Legalization, will save the human race from the misfires of its collective brain, which seems to induce sudden stalls at 100 mph, drops your tranny on the street, and sends the vehicle lurching backward over the cliff. Sabbath may be nothing more than a gentle pat on the head of the mad dog, but at least keeps the two of us relatively harmless for next week, and we recommend it to others.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014

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