Thursday, January 04, 2001

Hotel: 1

We have night security guards armed to the teeth with walkie-talkies at the hotel I work at. For a while it was Mike. Mike was a serious guy who enjoyed drinking. In fact, Mike excelled at drinking. I deducted that years of practice and the right breeding prepared him quite nicely. He would explain to my colleague, Aaron and me that after work (that’s five AM-the guards’ shifts are ten to five) he went out and bought a twelver, explaining to the misses that she should not interrupt his binge once he got started. Then, Mike proceeded to drink for two days without sleep.
Aaron and I listen to this from at least ten feet away. Mike smells. Bad. It’s like a combo between body odor and stale beer. We listen from ten feet off as a general rule. Mike’s a good guy though, and we never mention the odor. He’s the kind of guy that would immediately take actions to rectify the situation. He might not even get upset that we mentioned it, actually, now that I think of it. But that’s just not who we are so we keep quiet. Besides, I like Mike. He’s a little odd and a little too serious about being a security guard but I think both those traits are prerequisites, anyway.
Mike just got married to a woman he knew for only about two weeks. I think she was homeless. Mike says that the last guy beat her, didn’t like her and that’s why the other guy got rid of her. But, Mike has no complaints. Me says she’s great, cooks and puts up with him on a regular basis. She sleeps in the car though, and he’s not too happy about that. Mikes landlord wouldn’t let her stay with Mike over night because they weren’t married. Mike lives in a live-in hotel, one of those places where you pay for the room, but the toilet and shower are down the hall. When he told me this I pictured bad oil paintings down the hallways and scuff marks along the walls. Lots of pea green and mustard yellows, some ochre. But it turns out the walls are white and unmarked.
Destination: San Francisco.
An old friend of mine came into town the other night. We went to school together (UCSB) and he moved on to bigger and better things. Namely, law school in the majestic city by the bay. My older brother also lives in the big city. It seems like everyone lives in San Francisco, Dave Eggers-he wrote that staggering work about it, all kinds of artists-my brother (a photography/mixed media artist), filmmakers (multiple lost friends of mine), writers (so many), and they’re all so excited to live there. I should live in the big city. I should unite these people and make movies. It’s harder to motivate people in Santa Barbara. Too many distractions, I think.
My friend, he’s having a good time taking public transportation and breathing the air and studying a lot. But it got me thinking-he said that he really thought he belonged in the city, that that was the place for him-and I saw myself in the city living in a small flat in a high rise or in a Victorian, and going downstairs to the French bakery below and grabbing something on the way to work/the office/school/whatever, but I’d be grabbing it on the way to somewhere because everyone’s always on the go in the city.. I don’t think anyone knows where they’re going in Santa Barbara. People drive sixty mph on the freeway for some reason-everyone’s stoned I think-and people are laid back. When I say this I mean it. It seems like people in SB actually walk around with their legs out in front like those Crumb cartoons-everyone’s saying “Keep on Truckin!” or thinking it. In SF, I noticed that people lead with their heads and not their feet. It’s all in pursuit of something. I think I lead with my head. I’m on the move and want to get places. I’m stopping at a bar on the corner and grabbing a drink with a friend I ran into on the subway. Then off to a well Starbucks I guess to meet someone about possibly working together on something or other. Then I’m going to this really tall skyscraper where a partner and I are trying to convince some people to help fund a film project, then to the bookstore-the work-a-day job to pay the bills, then after work to the movies where I can actually see a foreign film when it comes to the US.
I’m here in the country, and it’s beautiful and seventy degrees all the time, I mean like three hundred and sixty four days of the year, not a cloud in sight. Classical music plays in the hotels but also in the city parking garages in the middle of the night. Tourists think they own this place and there are way too many people just not doing anything because they’re rich or someone they know is rich or because they don’t feel like doing anything and it’s all possible because people are rich here and the ones that don’t have a cent live outside or on the street and get plenty of change from the people walking by. Every one of them the rich and the poor has a story connecting them to someone famous for being rich or rich for being famous.
Santa Barbara has a Riviera just like the French! I think it’s smaller though, but the houses are huge and more and more get built and each one has twelve showers each separately designed by different people for a different feel/look/mood.
I know THE homeless are in San Francisco, and I know THE rich are there too, but they do more with it, I think—both the homeless and the rich. Or maybe it’s that the homeless do more and the rich do less.
Bottom line is—and this is truly why San Francisco appeals to me—everyone’s different. Santa Barbara—everyone looks the same pretty much—it’s a phenomenon, but in San Francisco, everyone’s into different things and ideas and they all look different in some way, and there’s lots of them. Lots of them.