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Do You Know the Way to San Jose

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do You Know the Way to San Jose

Just watching how much energy Holden has when he gets up tires the shit out of me.  I mean, this kid opens his eyes cranked to 11.  Since it falls upon me to watch him during the morning, it creates a comical scene.  You got this little bugger crawling at the speed of light up and down stairs, eating cat food, banging on pots like a hippy in a drum circle, and his old daddy, with the broken back, arthritic hip, and achy muscles, creaking behind him, asking him to please stop (before going outside to yell at those damn kids on my lawn).  OK.  It's not that bad.  But I do have chronic pain from the accident, and Holden has limitless energy.

And this makes me think of San Jose.

Yes, that San Jose, the town no one wants to live in, let alone visit.  My buddy, Dan, and I once took a train ride there.  This would've been back in aught three.  I wasn't always like this.  OK, I was.  But there was a brief three to four year period where I actually liked to go places and have adventures (Justine is going to read this and say how she wished I still loved "activities"), when I too used to have energy and enthusiasm.

When I got to San Francisco back in '91, it was on the heels of reading a lot of Kerouac.  We're talking On the Road, Subterraneans, Dharma Bums, Desolation Angel, Visions of (both) Gerard (and) Cody, you name it, I read it (except Dr. Sax for some reason.  And a lot of his poetry.  Because poetry is stupid.  Except for my friends who write it.  Then it's not).  And Jack loved two things: drinking and adventures.

I joined Dan's band, and he was my only real friend, and to his credit a guy who didn't back down from a challenge, even what said challenge was something as lame as, "Hey, let's get drunk and hop on a train!  Man, who knows where we'll end up!"

San Jose.  That's where we fucking ended up.  Forty minutes south of San Francisco.  Not Mexico.   Not even LA.  Goddamn San Jose, which is like a slightly less lame version of Daly City or San Carlos.

I think the day started out with the possibility of getting speed (couldn't have adventures in those days with a little speed), but it fell through, mostly because our "dealer" back then was Brian, who played in one of Dan's band, and who was a total dick.  So Dan and I filled up a pitcher with cheap vodka and lemonade.  I put on my fedora and pea green sports' coat (yes, I really dressed that way.  Don't blame me. Blame Tom Waits).

So I'm banging on Dan's door, probably at like 7 a.m. because I haven't slept.  I'm guessing he would've been living on Webster at this time, at the foot of the projects where that New Year's a hipster would make the mistake of wandering into the complex and be beaten to death, and where Dan and another friend had recently just been robbed at knifepoint, but I don't care because I weight 160 lbs., stringbeanskinny, and today is adventure day.

We start drinking on our way to the train station, and the sun is out, and we're feeling good because we're young and full of energy, and I'm probably chain smoking unfiltered Camels because I want to see how many pack a day I can get up to, and I'll end up getting up to three and a half until I start spitting up chubby worms of blood and have to scale down, so it's down to the train station on Third and Townsend, and it's all about the girls we like and want to sleep with and how long until our band is signed and whatever other crap you talk about at 23.  Because who knows where will end up?  Could be anywhere, man!

San Jose.  That's where we fucking end up.

By the time we're at Sunnyvale, the drunk is wearing off.  By San Jose, we say we'll recharge at a bar.  And we find a bar, and we drink, but we can't catch the drunk again, which happens sometimes.  So we sleep it off in the park (the same park, I believe, where I just saw [and met] the Gaslight Anthem).

The sun's going down when we wake up to find we don't have the money to get back.  So we get on the train, try escaping the conductor, which lasts about four stops.  They let us stay on, but make us get off in Oakland, and then we have to coax the bus driver into letting us on the bus, because in those days nobody lived in Oakland.  And they do.  And we get back.  And who knows what happened next. I probably went to my ex-girlfriend's house because I had to sleep and get up for work the next day and now I was so goddamn lonesome and depressed that I couldn't sleep alone, because Jack Kerouac had lied to me and I was starting to see maybe you couldn't believe everything you read in a book.


And I'd like to wrap this up a little better but Holden, like a midget on crack, thinks otherwise.


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