Saturday, May 1, 2010

Had one last pastry from Voodoo Dougnuts then went to the train station. The train ride was less painful than I expected – for one thing, the Coast Starlight track is beautiful. It winds through the mountains, I think our highest elevation was 1200 feet above sea level. Though next time I do eighteen hours at once, I’m springing for a sleeping car. Some of the other passengers were…interesting. Like the guy who kept up a constant chatter with anyone who even looked like they were listening to him, in a voice that sounded almost exactly like the quiet guy from King of the Hill. He would sing whenever he moved between cars. Or the lady across the aisle from me who kept demanding the attendant show compassion and move her to a pair of free seats, as she had been on a train since yesterday morning and was feeling very abused by Amtrak (her words). At one point her train had been trapped in place for eight hours. I felt sorry for her and was about to offer her my seat, since I had lucked out and no one had replaced the seatmate who’d left a few hours ago, until she mentioned why the train had been held up…someone had been murdered. This was, to her, a minor detail. I’m sure the guy who got fucking feels terrible about having inconvenienced you.
Made it to San Francisco the next morning, and attempted to find my hostel. I really need to read the guidebook better when picking lodgings…a few paragraphs after it described the location I’d chosen, “a gem nestled in the rough Tenderloin district” was the Dangers and annoyances section, which mentioned that Tenderloin was the one of the worst neighbourhoods in the city and should be treated with caution at all times. I found this out for myself after walking six terrifying blocks through crowds of homeless drunks and drug addicts. It wasn’t even nine am, and I did not want to stick around and find out what the street was like after dark. Got to the hostel, cancelled my reservation, and took the bus up to the Fisherman’s Wharf hostel…it’s in a super touristy area and the hostel itself is very large and impersonal, but on the other hand I’m not worried about being lost in this neighbourhood. Spent the rest of the day wandering about the wharf – took a boat ride around the bay, underneat the Golden Gates and around Alcatraz. The boat pilot called himself Captain Jeff and kept up a running commentary in between beer chugs. He was about thirty, wearing a floral shirt, and looked exactly like a fratboy in every college movie ever. He was fun.
Later that night, went to the Castro in an attempt to get in to the premiere of All About Evil, a horror flick directed by drag queen sensation Peaches Christ. I underestimated what a big deal this was – the rush line was fairly short but the ticket holder line was enormous. Waited with the other ticketless bums for about two hours, freezing in the wind, to find out that they had a full house. Still not a total loss – if you’re going to people watch there’s nowhere better than the Castro at night. Peaches herself was interviewing people in line with a camera crew in tow. She is kind of awesome.

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