On Friday Mrs. T and I took the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to San Francisco. We spent eight hours of our eleven-hour trip sitting in the Sightseer Lounge Car, noshing on deli sandwiches from Canter’s and looking out the window at the most beautiful view in California, or maybe the universe.
The only blot on the day was the intermittent presence of a teenager with a cellphone, a penetrating voice, and no interest in scenery:
TEENAGER WITH CELLPHONE So I’m like, I totally did not sleep with him! Woh! Eeuuww! Hel-lo!
ME (muttering grumpily) Stupid California robot girl.
MRS. T (stroking my arm soothingly) Don’t be negative, darling.
ME I’d like to nail her tongue to her forehead.
Otherwise it was bliss.
We spent the weekend seeing shows in San Francisco and Berkeley. We’re staying at the Hotel Diva, which is handily located across the street from one of the shows I came to town to review. Our room, as befits the name of the hotel, is…well, let’s just call it extensively decorated. No sooner had the bellman dropped off our bags than we discovered a printed list of official Diva Dos and Don’ts over which we’re still giggling: DO throw on a cuff bracelet to complete an outfit. DON’T forget a smile is still the ultimate accessory.
On Saturday we shopped and paid a visit to the de Young Museum, which I saw for the first time a year ago. I feel the same way now as when I wrote about it then: the building is remarkable, the collection spotty but by no means without interest, especially if you’re into Richard Diebenkorn. Then we went to a late-afternoon service at Mission Dolores, where one of my blogfriends is the organist. Non-San Franciscans know the church from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, in which it figures prominently.
The Old Mission, which was built in 1791 and is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco, makes a very different impression when filled with ordinary churchgoers than when you see Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak passing through it on the way to the graveyard in back. In Vertigo it is subtly glamorized, if only by the presence of famous faces. In regular use it is no less beautiful, but also homelier–in every sense of the word. I was astonished, for instance, to see that the same man who had rented me a car only a few hours earlier was sitting three pews ahead of us. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been: San Francisco is like that, a thoroughly, even self-consciously cosmopolitan community whose scale and pace are nonetheless far removed from the frenzied bustle of Manhattan.
Afterward Mrs. T and I took our organist friend out to dinner at Zuni Cafe, which needs no introduction to cookbook-collecting foodies, and ate very, very well. Should you go there, make a point of ordering something–anything–that has anchovies in it. Unless you have major anchovy-related issues, you won’t be sorry.
Sunday was devoted to more playgoing, interspersed with meals shared with two other bloggers. Today we breakfast with yet another blogfriend, followed by a cable-car ride and whatever else tickles our mutual fancies. Tomorrow we fly back to New York, just in time, since we’re both starting to feel a bit worn from our nonstop adventures.
And then? On Wednesday I write, followed by a taping with a CBS camera crew (about which more later, maybe) and a trip to Studio 54 to see Sunday in the Park with George. On Thursday I write. On Friday I write. On Saturday I write and see Passing Strange. On Sunday I write and see Adding Machine….
It’s a living.
P.S. Yes, we ate at Pink’s. And it was good.