Posts Tagged ‘san diego’

San Francisco: City of A Thousand Dry Cleaners

January 17, 2011

It’s hard to go to a new place and not compare it to places you’ve been before. The more you travel, the more you start to see the trends. That doesn’t mean every city doesn’t feel very different to the one before or the one after. Cities are like lovers: it doesn’t matter how many you’ve been to. A first time is a first time, every time. And when it begins to feel too much like home, it’s probably time to leave before you get kicked out.

The market for laundries is er… flooded. So you get natural specialisation: Dry Cleaning is the biggest one. Then there’s organic dry cleaning. And finally, there’s this place with the doggie in the window.

San Francisco lives up to its reputation. I was there for about five minutes when I overheard my first classic conversation between two drunk guys on the pavement outside a bar.

CURLYHAIRED GUY: You just tell him “Imps and Elves party, my place, now!”
SLICKER DUDE: No no, he already likes me, it’s not that… it’s just…

A photogenic city, as pretty as the pictures.

I’ve heard more people discussing that their therapist said, yoga, and wine in the last 48 hours than I have the entire five months I lived in Orange. I don’t mean to make it sound pretentious. Some people might say it is. I think it’s cultured. And hilarious. Like yogurt spiked with LSD.


Speaking of LSD...

The picture you have to take. Golden Gate Bridge is as beautiful as you imagine, and more. San Francisco is probably the only city that really rivals Cape Town for pure beauty.

Got me thinking about the cities I’ve loved most in my life. You know those places – the ones where you imagine an entire lifetime on the first night, or where a whole new future seems possible.

While sitting in an asian bar-restaurant eating the most amazing prawn dumplings with dried shaved garlic and shopped spring onions in a warm vinegar sauce, I thought it over. I decided that a great city needs to have certain elements to be great. Not all of these, but most…

A harbour – or large river: Or something like that. Because great cities all have a history of having lots of immigrants, who enrich the culture. I am a sea girl, in any case, so gulls, the sound of fog horns, fog and the smell of salt all make me very happy. Being landlocked makes me very sad. Without the Sea, Cape Town would just be a stuck up little town with a big rock in the middle (think Paarl+hippies). With the sea (and the music and the food) it’s awesome.

Great food: If not an amazing cuisine, like Florence, then variety, like any great American city, or like Paris. Prague will never really be a great city because the food sucks. The Russians are apparently responsible for ruining it. Same goes for Rome (unless you’re loaded). Antananarivo (Madagascar) scores on may levels, with food being one of the major ones. You can eat like a king there (French, Malagasy, Chinese, Indian… you name it) for three dollars. Think free range foie gras steaks. And the most amazing pastries.

Music: Antananarivo may be polluted and its clubs sex markets for asshole tourists, Maputo’s police will pull you over for a bribe on the way home, and Paris is expensive. But you’ll find stuff that’ll blow your mind when it comes to live music. Barcelona’s clubs are the best. The dance floors are air-conditioned – although not air-conditioned enough to stop every guy over the age of 15 trying to get it on at random. Yes, that cliche, it’s true. Same goes for Cape Town. I’m excusing Florence cause makes up for the lack of decent live music with incredible food and art.

Walkability: Every now and then, when they drop the butter-vs-margarine debate for five minutes to take a leak, the lifestyle news feeds put out an article about why French women are so thin, even though they eat butter and bread all the time and drink red wine. They never tell you why, really, so I will: European women walk a lot. That’s why they make the best high heels in Spain and Italy. I love cities where you can walk everywhere. And when you can’t? There should be options. Like the Paris Metro, or free options like the Cable Cars in San Francisco and the free zone buses in Seattle. London’s underground doesn’t count because sharing it with most of the people who ride it makes it the most depressing experience on earth. Not sure why, but the same technology in the hands of the French is fun. It think that’s because it’s acceptable to make eye contact with strangers in Paris, but not in London.

Which makes Cape Town, Durban, Paris, Florence, Antananarivo, Maputo, San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, and Barcelona the best places I’ve been.

Still haven’t touched down on a few continents, and I got to get to New York and New Orleans before the clubs close. And Baltimore. And Boston. Shit and Chicago. Actually I’d visit any US city… so far there isn’t one I’d I’d call a shithole, or where I’ve felt unwelcome.

And now – after breakfast in a diner where the waitress called me Honey – it’s time to drive home to Orange on Martin Luther King day. I’m always longing to leave The County, but after two nights of listening to the ceiling creak as the couple upstairs get it on, coming home feels comfortable, safe. I look forward to my own shower, and my own bed, and my own coffee machine. It’s my own little town and my stuff is there, if you know what I mean.


Getting my characters from San Diego to Alabama, somewhere

October 15, 2010

They start here.


I've been to San Diego, but this isn't my photo. I found it on this site, which is a relic of the WWW's old days, I think. All wonky, all out of date, but once useful. Check it out for laughs.


The story I am turning into my script was originally set in South Africa, where I know what I’m doing. But I was challenged – nay, commanded – to set it in the USA. This is tricky, as I don’t know what is in the USA. Can you tell me? Here’s the route they’re taking, although they’ll be on the back roads. I’m even considering sending them through Mexico… is that a good idea? The main thing that must not happen is a roadblock that requires the Winnebago they’re traveling in to be stopped and searched.


If you've been to any of the places along this route, tell me about it. post a link in your comment to your blog about it... whatever you can offer me, I'd love. At some point, I'll do the trip myself. But right now, it's impossible.


Five days later, they’re somewhere around here.


Took this picture (actually only part of it) from a blog called


Escape from Orange to the city of San Diego

September 19, 2010

“I’m not complaining but …” BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP…

If someone starts a sentence with “I’m not [insert undesirable action or tendency here] but…” they are. Whatever they’re “not”, oooh, they so are.

So let me be straight about one thing: I’m complaining. I admit that Orange is peaceful, safe, so crime-free that I sometimes feel the urge to remove the tracking device from the back of my neck.

Unfortunately, peaceful places make me feel like a total freak.

I was finishing a project in Starbucks on September 9th, when I realised the place was full of ex military. They mostly wore biker jackets with creepy naziesque eagles on them. But this guy was hanging out with an ex-war-buddy, spinning conspiracy yarns based on books, movies and music. Scary and almost like a left wing version of Fox News.

I’ve rarely felt like an outsider as badly as I did this September 11th, a day on which the sounds of celebration of what right wing Americans call “freedom” and other people call “war” seems to increase in volume until it’s pretty much deafening.

From the militaristic overtone so of the whole thing it seems to me that it’s not so much freedom being celebrated, or the lost lives of 911 being mourned, as the freedom to bomb the people they were already planning to bomb, but without feeling guilty about it anymore.

I left home in a pretty good mood – I’d conquered the Friday blues with a quick pop in at a party, and due to the fact that I no longer have a proudly South African alcohol tolerance, get drunk on two beers and therefore can’t get a hangover anymore, I was feeling good. But by the time I hit the highway I was overcome with loneliness and desolation.

From feeling a little alienated by the site of scary eagles on biker jackets and other forms of nationalistic displays, I went to missing my friends (you know, someone who would understand) and from that to musing on love…

And in somewhere along the I 5 South going 70mph through wild west landscape covered in malls, I wondered if I would ever have the courage to get my heart broken again.

I stopped here, found these two guys in white Ts and black pants feeding the gulls under the DO NOT FEED sign. The rest stop was like a lift to a medical centre. Nobody spoke. Everybody seemed a little bit suspicous.

The light kept shifting.

Then I realised it’s pretty sad that I assume that that is how it would end.

Then I realised that although that was sad, what was even sadder was that nobody had come close to breaking my heart for years. Because you have to actually have one to break – you have to fall in love. You have to be prepared to risk something.

And since sometimes you just don’t find the sense to laugh at your own self pity, I cried all the way to San Diego, listening to Radiohead and wallowing in it.

But when I arrived in the city of San Diego I felt instantly better. Finally here I was in a place with as many rainbow flags as Orange has Marines recruitment posters. The coffeeshops aren’t all chains. The names on buildings and election posters aren’t all english. And the whole place doesn’t look like it was built yesterday.

Stopped here to look up the location of my lousy, overpriced motel. America is seriously lacking affordable accommodation for people who don't want diseases.

The toilet at Filter coffeehouse. I could have stayed there for hours, crying about my life, except that two guys kept knocking on the door. Ok, I'm sorry, even as tasteless gay jokes go, that was bad.

Thanks America, for restoring my faith, just when I was losing it completely.