Always one for seeking a radically different view on any situation, place or encounter, I began this trip with a determinedly psychogeographical approach. Put bluntly, i was still in work mode, because hey, Art is Life and Life is Art. Except when it’s not, and more particularly when pootling around new cities in a family of six.
Flânerie is necessarily a solitary activity, and quite rightly so. No consensus is ever likely to emerge on a suggestion that we meander off to the right up a 70 degree hill for the hell of it to see where it goes and what happens. And no holiday itinerary, however generous, allows for days of unplanned nothingness to get under the skin of things and experience the unfamiliarity of the familiar.
I tend to forget all this very easily indeed. Third day in, and I’m wishing I had taken a more conventional look at the Time Out Guide on arrival rather than on nearing departure. Luckily we get to return to San Francisco before final departure, so maybe I can make up some lost opportunity then.
A few weeks ago, I serendipitously read a book I’d had hanging around for a while, 1959, The Year Everything Changed. No, it was not one of a series dealing with every year over the last 100. And no, the author wasn’t born in 1959. It was a genuinely interesting examination of a seminal year. And a great pre-America-put-you-in-the-mood read.
So much so, I was inspired to read great chunks of it to everyone over breakfast yesterday. They all seemed sadly ungripped by my recounting of Beatnik activity in the Bay Area, although Kerouac’s On The Road is being read by a number of people in their generation. Who’d have thought?
But of course I’d overlooked the Time Out Guide. A cursory glance over French toast revealed loads of little places with direct links to Kerouac et al, and so we passed a happy few hours or so wandering North Beach streets in search of ancient cafe culture.
Psychogeography and hot tourist spots in heavenly collision. Win-win for all.