Tag Archives: fiction

The Adventures of Dreamily

Arabic dreams are the most frightful of all

Late at night when I’m a-slumber, Dreamily traipses through the land of nod and discovers many strange and wonderful things and writes them all down in her little notebook. But when I awake, Dreamily has already left long ago with her little notebook and I never can know exactly what she saw.

That’s why I had to start following her on twitter, because she’s a fairly diligent tweeter/instagramer, and man this stuff she sees is weird. Last night, at 1:30 am she tweeted that she saw a full-grown man wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh costume eating pie with his hands on a deserted playground and that she wept but then he turned into a huge baby the size of king kong who wanted her to pick it up so she screamed and ran away.

And then at 3:03am she tweeted a picture of a swamp full of dragon flies with human faces that had gotten stuck from watching the television too close.

At 5:34, she was prowling around someone’s house in Kansas on the night a storm was brewing and a little boy was sitting alone in the kitchen next to the stove with a kettle on it. A door was squeaking somewhere.

6:49 found her interviewing for a job she was completely unqualified for at a techie startup where no one realizes they all have horrible body odor and then suddenly she finds that she’s the stinky one and is mortified but can’t remember which person is her interviewer to ask to leave and go take a shower.

After reading her twitter feed, I usually decide it’s for the best that I don’t remember everything Dreamily sees or does. At least I’m not missing out on any magical feasts.

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Fake Backstories of San Francisco Neighborhood Names: The Mission

Mission Dolores and the site of the Great Carnitas Cook-off

Journey with me, if you will, back to the magical peninsula on which is situated that most unusual of cities, San Francisco, a gleaming wonder, 7×7 miles of living myths, tree huggers, dog lovers, and Banana Republic wearers.

Directly south of the city center is a sunny, burrito-scented patch known as The Mission, not A Mission, or Mission, or Mision, but “The Mission.” Its population is divided more and more evenly between feather-wearing hipsters and the more original hair-gel wearing latinos.

Dolores Park lies at the heart of The Mission, a park named for the nearby Mission Dolores, and the site from which the nearby restaurants have taken their carnitas recipes, perfected by Father Junipero Serra in the year 1779, the year of The Great Carnitas Cook-Off.

At the time of its founding in 1776, Mission Dolores was one of 18 different missions located in the city, each run by a brother of the same mother. The founders of these missions were drawn to SF because of its reputation for being a liberal lighthouse and a place where people could have a go at being themselves. In general, they disapproved of this laissez faire attitude and wanted to shut it down and end the rampant short-wearing that was going on at the time.

So 18 brothers came out to the city and each one set up his own mission, with Father Junipero Serra choosing the rather wise location of what would come to be known as The Mission—sunny and flat, it was both easy and pleasant for the friars to bike around and get their morning lattes.

Next to God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, the Serra brothers loved them some good carnitas. In addition to the prayers and confessionals, in each of the missions was also non-stop innovation in the realm of this delicious fried pork dish. Each week, the brothers revealed their latest carnitas creations and the parishioners would rejoice and partake.

After about a year, however, with the congregations growing and the general population feeling over-served by the well meaning but all too present Serra brothers, it became painfully obvious that 18 missions in such a small area was probably too much. The short-wearing problem was already under control, and the brothers were getting tired of meeting potential parishioners only to find they were already in attendance at their brother’s mission.

It was decided at a family meeting that only five missions were to remain open in the city, and that those missions would be chosen in a great carnitas cook-off. Each brother rushed off to their mission and began preparation for the carnitas battle.

On September 17th, 1779, the day before the contest, Father Junipero Serra prayed a mighty prayer to the Lord.

“Lord, make my carnitas an instrument of your peace. Where there is toughness, may there be tenderness, where there is dryness, may there be moisture. Lord grant that I may honor and glorify you in the carnitas cook-off, and I shall exalt your name forever and ever.”

And the Lord did hear Father Junipero’s prayer, and his carnitas that day were filled with a holy flavor that none has ever tasted the likes of since. His brothers and parishioners alike were in awe of the indescribable flavor, and rumor has it that some shouted for Junipero’s immediate sainthood upon tasting his saintly creation.

And thus his mission, Mission Dolores was named The Great Mission, and he stayed in the city along with his five favorite brothers. Over time, The Great Mission was corrupted to just The Mission, and the name was given to the area within the carnitas sway of Father Junipero.

And that was fake history. Because research takes time.

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Fake Backstories of San Francisco Neighborhood Names: The Sunset

When living in the city gets too exciting, head to the sunset.

Stanley Kubrick loved to eat dry toast in the morning. A tortured, artistic, soul, he refused to put anything on his bread to soften its coarseness or ease its transition down the gullet, as he wished to be reminded of the dull, dryness of everyday life and its sad, petty cruelties, all of which he captured in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he filmed in San Francisco in the neighborhood to be known as the Sunset.

The filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey took over ten years, largely because Kubrick insisted that the bulk of the movie be endlessly interweaving psychedelic patterns that he created by rearranging small pieces of colored felt on a gigantic black felt board. Because of the area’s damp climate, the felt board would invariably become wet and unusable from fog moisture, which leaked into the studio despite his best efforts, and the team would regularly shut down filming and have a pint or two at Durty Nelly’s, where Kubrick would always talk at length about the dry toast he ate every morning. After the fourth year, the film crew tired of the same spiel and especially the phrase “petty cruelties,” so it was a great relief when the film was finished and released to great critical acclaim, something that surprised everyone without exception. Stanley Kubrick ate an extra slice of dry toast the morning he read the NYT review because he tended to quash feelings of excitement with bland, unpleasant food.

At the time of Kubrick’s film involvement in San Francisco, the Sunset was called Fogtown, which was an accurate name though the residents hated being dismissed as fog dwellers and portrayed in the media as “too moist to be human.” The fog people would often protest the rampant media prejudice in the Financial District during lunchtime, when they would blockade the entrances to sandwich shops, cafes, and public transit entrances with their very bodies. The distress was unbearable and the stock market suffered accordingly after every suit was forced to pack a lunch during a full week of lunchtime lie-ins. The police department decided to take action.

Stanley Kubrick, an artiste, decided that the only proper way to experience the film of his heart’s desire was to project it on a sheet that blanketed a building, and shut down the entire downtown area in order to subject movie-comers, hot dog vendors, and passers-by alike to his brilliance. Besides, the fog people were planning another protest on the day of the movie’s release so most people were prepared for mayhem and un-productivity. Secretly, the police lay in wait with banana cream pies with which they would lure the fog people’s off their soggy bottoms and away from sandwich shops.

A carefully orchestrated blackness descended over the city, summoned from the incredibly disturbed and misunderstood mind of Stanley Kubrick. As the movie flashed onto the screen, downtown bustle ground to a halt, the only noise heard the occasional flapping of a tourist’s map. In the alleyways, police readied their pies for the fog people.

The film meandered, reached its climax somewhere, and then denouemented and ended. The crowd lay, sat, stood, or leaned in awe and confusion at what they had just seen. Munching on a piece of dry toast, Kubrick rose and spoke a few words, the most important of which were these:

“This was filmed in Fogtown over a period of ten years. I have grown old there and am now reaching the sunset of my life (he wasn’t actually old—he was just being dramatic), and I remember a day in January three years ago, when I saw the sun sinking into the ocean and imagined myself as similar to the sun, a brilliant orb also seeking the depths, which I have found now in the sunset of my years because of this movie (again, he’s just being dramatic), and in the neighborhood that shall now be known as The Sunset.”

And the people did cheer and everyone did eat banana cream pie and the name stuck.

And that was fake history. Because research takes time.

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What Do You Do When the Coffee’s Gone

Is there anything sadder? Besides the poem, that is.

When the lamp is on, and the chair is warm, and the coffee’s gone, what do you do?

Where do you go when there’s nothing there, not in your cup, not a drop to spare?

What can you pray, to take the pain away, to smooth the rough edges of another rough day?

What do you know that can whisper to your soul, the way the coffee does, when you’re feeling so low?

And the loneliness is pressing, the wind whipping round, the chill to your bones, the stale coffee grounds.

The dry brown ring, the sad coffee stain, the slight dampness mocks you and your coffee-addled brain.

Oh sweet Lord in heaven

Oh red Devil in hell

I don’t care who I pray to, as long as it breaks the spell

This endless white emptiness, the crushing heartache, the yearning and hoping as I’m lying awake.

For a cup of coffee. Hot. No sugar. Just milk. Please.

Then we can have conversation and pass the pleasantries

And thoughts will float between us, as they do between old friends. That is, as they do, before the coffee ends.

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Fake Backstories of San Francisco Neighborhood Names: Dogpatch

On some days you can still smell the toupee glue.

Dogpatch boasts one of the most unusual and other-worldly histories of all the micro-hoods in San Francisco. It borders Portrero Hill, a hamlet where a baby invented Kobe beef while high on marijuana, and on its other sides, Dogpatch nestles against the Bay and the lower armpit of SOMA, which occasionally splashes it with techie gang activity.

Its name history begins long ago, back when San Francisco was a playpen for 15-18 year olds who ran away from their homes in order to use drugs in parks, when the area to be known as the Dogpatch was dominated by a toupee factory. Don Ricketts was the name of the toupee factory founder and owner, a man who weighed 444 lbs and never left home without a fedora and a pair of scissors. He was married and divorced by the age of 16, and knew since then that his only love would be synthetic but realistic-looking hair for men and women and even a couple of canines.

For years, he ran the factory with a vicious regularity, churning out more piles of toupees than any other factory on the West Coast. Every night, Don would grin at closing time as he watched the merchandise go into storage, salivating over the predicted aging of the US population. So many bald spots to cover.

Then he was abducted by the aliens.

Lying in bed one night, looking out the window with his face mashed against the pillow, he noticed unusual light activity exactly where he often watched the colors change from red to green to yellow to red to green to yellow. There was purple and blue. And then a giant eye. And breaking glass. And something gooey. And then nothing.

When Don Ricketts returned to earth, he drooled uncontrollably and had lost all interest in synthetic but realistic-looking hair for men and women and canines. He laid off every single worker, except for the ones who knew how to brew a good cup of coffee, sold his factory with the caveat that he would always be able to sit and drink joe at the company café, and surrounded himself with drooly dog friends, partially for scientific study in order to determine the cause of the over-salivation, but mostly for companionship and the hair. He loved touching their very real, very long, dog-hair.

At the time of his death, he had exactly sixty-eight dogs, all of them named Patches, and all of them incredibly drooly. In his will, he specified that a shelter be built for them on the spot of his old café plus the surrounding area, and that it should become a park for droolers everywhere, both human and canine.

These provisions of the will were ignored completely, as Don Ricketts had no surviving family and only a resentful ex-wife. The dogs were indeed provided for, but the area designated to be a park was instead sold to other enterprising men and women, and the area became a gross industrial town that retained only the name of Don Ricketts’ dogs, which over time became corrupted to the present-day “Dogpatch.”

And that was fake history. Because research takes time.

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