Posted on May 27, 2012 by The Bay Area Brit
Without a doubt, the highlight of my first visit to San Francisco was seeing (and then crossing) the Golden Gate Bridge. As famous architectural icons go, it stands with the Taj Mahal, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, The Eiffel Tower, and Sydney Opera House.
Not only that, the Golden Gate Bridge is an authentic color blindness test. You see, I could have sworn that the Golden Gate Bridge was red. In every photograph of it, scene in a movie, or opening TV credits of a San Francisco based sit-com or drama, the Golden Gate Bridge looks red to me…but no, it is apparently orange.
A pot of Golden Gate Bridge sits at the end of this rainbow.
I was told/misinformed that there was one man whose single job responsibility was to paint the illustrious bridge. He starts painting at one end, and by the time he gets across to the other side of the bridge, effectively finishing the job, it’s time to repaint the thing all over again. The painter’s name is Frank, and he is responsible for making sure that the bridge stays its famous color, which is apparently called International Orange.
When I heard of this, I told anyone that would listen that the Golden Gate Bridge was red, and I would not hear of it being referred to as orange—International or otherwise.
When I first traversed the bridge, it was near sunset and I wondered whether Frank the lone painter was still at work. Perhaps he was hoping to finish just one more little stretch of column before calling it a day. I imagined the monotony of such a lonely profession.
What did he think about, day in and day out? When he closed his eyes at night, did he see that same red-orange color?
Maybe he dreamed about coming into work and painting the bridge a different international color. I wondered how much of the bridge he could get painted before his boss, or the Five O’clock News, caught wind of his little game?
I imagined Frank going into the paint store holding a small book of color swatches, which yesterday—perched on top of the Golden Gate Bridge—he had held up against the San Francisco skyline.
“Ten thousand gallons of the usual today, Frank?” the paint store manager asked, happy to see his best customer.
“Yeah, I suppose,” said Frank firmly clasping the swatches. “Actually, instead of making that International Orange, have you got any Equatorial Turquoise or Continental Mauve?”
“Ooh, not ten thousand gallons, I’d have to special order that,” said the manager.
“Could you have it by Thursday?”
“I could try. Say—you’re not planning on painting the Golden Gate Bridge turquoise, are you?” asked the manager suspiciously.
“Me? No, no no, heavens no. The turquoise is for—another job I’m doing further up north.”
“Okay, Frank, whatever you say, but I’m going to need you to pay for this up front, since it’s not for the bridge an’ all.”
“That’s fine,” said Frank. He nervously opened his wallet and placed his credit card on the counter. The manager picked up the card, and the two men silently waited for the transaction to process. Frank scratched a larger fleck of International Orange paint off of his dark blue overalls.
The payment came through, Frank signed the credit card slip and left the store. The painter jumped into his truck and drove off. As soon as the store manager saw the truck was out of sight, he picked up the phone.
“Get me the Five O’clock News.”
Happy Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area would be a lot less awesome without you.
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Posted on May 21, 2012 by The Bay Area Brit
So I was going to check out the solar eclipse yesterday afternoon, but you know I was in a bar at a show in a windowless venue, and this solar eclipse nonsense was happening, and it was like ALL the way outside.
“I suppose I’d better go and check it out,” I said to no one in particular, and I started to get up off of my seat to go, but right at that very moment, my attention span was distracted by a song, or was it a pretty girl, or maybe it was just those floaty things that move around under the surface of your eyeballs when you’re not really looking anywhere. Either way, I missed the eclipse because of a combination of laziness and a terrible attention span.
It all started at a young age, the teacher would be prattling on about what causes a solar eclipse and what Isaac Newton, Britain’s most famous astronomer, wrote about them, and I’d be thinking about a song, or a pretty girl, or mentally chasing those floaty things under my eyeballs. Or maybe my mind would just go off on an unexplainable one minute tangent.
Sir Isaac Newton
The famous English physicist and astronomer was one of the key thinkers on the understandings of the principles of gravity. One day, while he was sitting under a tree, an apple fell on his head prompting his thought process………………
Huh…an apple?…that’s weird…lucky he wasn’t sitting under a cherry tree. He wouldn’t have even felt the little berry hit his head because of those big gray wigs that they wore in those days. He would have just had this bright red cherry sticking out of his wig like a traffic light indicating STOP! in a thick fog.
No one would have said anything to him about his cherry wig accessory to embarrass him, because he was a really famous physicist and astronomer—except that he wasn’t, because he SHOULD have been under a tree whose fruit bore a little weight, like a grapefruit or a coconut, although that might have hurt.
Could you imagine if a coconut hit him? He might have got a concussion or worse—instant death. Then we’d still be without this whole gravity thing sorted out; maybe we’d have to wear moon boots like the astronauts.
I wonder if Newton ate the noggin-bruised apple. Or did he run home clasping the fruit in his hand so that he wouldn’t forget what principle it was that he discovered?
Maybe Newton kept the apple like it was a trophy awarded for his genius.
How long would it be before the fruit decomposed and became an eyesore?
Or did he have the apple preserved forever? Whenever Mr. and Mrs. Newton had guests over for dinner and conversation got stale, would Newton say, “Lord Montague, have you seen my apple?”
“Oh God, he’s getting the apple out again…Yes, yes, gravity, we’ve heard it,” Mrs. Newton would groan.
Did it irritate Mrs. Newton that her husband was a genius? He must have been right about everything.
I think being right about everything would be brilliant. For one thing, you’d be rich. You’d win the lottery because you’d know all the numbers. I think if I were rich I’d keep all my money in a big room in a mansion I bought with my winnings. I would make sure that I didn’t have large denominations, though, just small ones to make it look like I had even more money, like the old One Pound notes that they had in England before they changed to the Pound coins.
Why would you have a Ten-Pound note when you could have ten One Pound notes? The One Pound notes were the best. What was the name of that famous English physicist and astronomer pictured on the One Pound note?
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Posted on February 3, 2012 by The Bay Area Brit
About a year ago, I was coming home on the BART late at night and witnessed what most people would characterize as unusual behavior: A young man was animatedly acting out two sides of a conversation. There was no one else in that particular car except me, and I immediately felt uncomfortable.
He occasionally looked over at me with a stare that said, “What’s your problem?”
Or it might have been: “Why are you eavesdropping on my conversation?”
Or…perhaps it was: “This is a conversation between A and B, so why don’t you ‘C’ your way out of it.” He, of course, was both “A” AND “B.”
Had he actually said that, I would of course have said, “I would be ‘D’-elighted.” and moved to the next car on the train.
I witnessed this man do this on seven or eight different nights in the space of three weeks. However, after the first time, I knew better than to sit in the same car. When I saw that same bright red Cincinnati Reds baseball cap sitting atop the young man chattering away to himself (sometimes quite angrily) I strategically sat in the next carriage over, although, I could watch him gesturing as if playing out a scene or confrontation that had just occurred.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Mr. Bay Area Brit, have you never heard of a bluetooth headset? Maybe he was talking to another person on the phone.”
I can assure you this wasn’t the case.
Around the same period this was going on, a string of violent, armed robberies had been taking place in the East Bay. One store clerk: an Asian man in his sixties was in a hospital in serious condition after receiving a blow to his head from the butt of a handgun. There had been around six or seven robberies all committed by the same young man.
Police believed the robber would hit stores in different towns near BART stations, so he could leave the area quickly. Police described him as a male, African-American, mid-to late-twenties wearing a red Cincinnati Reds baseball cap. He also had a scar on the right side of his face. The consensus of the employees that had been working when he struck described him as having an “agitated manner.” He was also considered “armed and dangerous.”
If you can imagine a visualization of the word “agape” that was me, as I stared at my computer screen. Heart pounding out of my chest.
I had to know if it was the same man. Did my schizophrenic-conversationalist have a scar on the right side of his face? There was only one way I was going to find out.
Later that night, I waited on the platform nervously. Would he be on my BART train? Some nights he hadn’t been. He didn’t seem to have a set schedule, and I was rarely waiting at the exact same time on the platform. The train’s headlights were drawing near and I was getting antsy.
Dare I do this?
The train arrived and slowed to a stop, and there it was: the Cincinnati Reds hat. The doors opened and I got on. I swear my heart was about to explode. I looked over at him. “Excuse me, is this the San Francisco train?”
He glanced towards me, irritatedly. “Yeah.”
And there it was: a scar on the right side of his face. As I sat there (choosing a seat far away from him) I suddenly got scared. What the fucking hell am I doing? I’m like the COMPLETE opposite of courageous. This is nuts! But I had to know whether this was the man that had been terrorizing innocent people.
I knew, with a gut feeling that I cannot explain, that THIS was him. Maybe he had committed another robbery this very night. Maybe by not contacting the police this man had hurt, or maybe KILLED someone tonight.
Oh my God. Why had I waited? I had read the article almost a week earlier and this was him. Could it be possible, because of my hesitancy, a family would be grieving the loss of a loved one? Because of ME!
I rushed home and wrote down the police contact number at the end of the article. The next morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach and reached for the phone.
“Yes, I’m calling because I think I have seen a suspect in a series of armed robberies.” I was nervous. I might have to be called to identify this man, maybe be a witness of some sort. What was I doing? I didn’t want to get involved with this. But I had to. I had already waited longer than I should. I was put on hold while they located the detective on the case. I was patched through. I explained my story to the detective.
“Got him.” the detective said.
“Oh, you did?”
“Yeah, three nights ago.”
“Oh, my God. Oh wow! Thank God for that. So it’s definitely the right guy then?” It wasn’t my guy on the train after all.
“Yep, definitely him. So if you see your guy on the train again, you can sit next to him without worrying.”
At the time, the detective’s comment didn’t register. I was just so relieved that they had got the guy and that my inaction hadn’t led to a tragedy. I thanked the detective and got off the phone.
“you can sit next to him?” What’s that about?
And then I realized what he was saying. The detective misunderstood my relief. He thought that I had been scared for my own safety.
I wanted to call him back and explain myself. “No, you don’t understand. I genuinely BELIEVED this was the guy and I had DELIBERATELY put myself in harm’s way to discover whether this was the right guy.”
I of course didn’t call the detective back.
Under the sense of relief and the feeling that I had done the “right thing.” It bothered me that I had been thought of as a coward because I was so relieved. But then I noticed that the sun was shining and it was a beautiful Bay Area morning.
You know what… if I see that Cincinnati Reds baseball cap tonight on the BART, maybe I WILL sit next to him.
Pfffft, yeah, right.
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Posted on May 1, 2011 by The Bay Area Brit
To My Dear Lovely Kate, or should I say, Duchess of Cambridge, as you are now known.
As I sat by my mailbox waiting for my velvet cloaked invitation to your wedding (an invitation that never came by the way.) I wondered how long it would be before your royal romance ended. I know what we had was fleeting: A drunken kiss and fun clumsy grope on your sofa while we watched the Queen Mother’s funeral on the telly. But I’ll never forget those words of love you whispered in my ear: “Nibble my neck…Wait did you just drop your chewing gum in my hair, oh you did. You idiot.”
Your Prince is handsome I suppose, in spite of his premature balding and Stonehenge toothy smile. I know you think that he’s relatively normal by royal standards, probably, because only one half of his gene pool came from generations of inbreeding: Second cousins marrying third cousins, and whatnot. I’m not bitter. Just don’t try to tell me you and he will live a “normal life.”
Only common folk (like you and me) actually have life experiences in real situations: like having to pay the gas bill or changing a light bulb in a darkened room. Or like when I had to take you to the Emergency Room at St. Mary’s Hospital because after cutting out that piece of Wrigley’s I accidentally dropped it down your throat and you were coughing and choking trying to spit it out like it was a human hairball.
Real life is not having employees with job titles such as “Royal Fly Swatter,” “Corgi Wrangler,” “Prince Phillip’s Jacket Pocket Lint Remover,” “Third Floor Kitchen Ice Cube Tray Filler,” and “Buckingham Palace East Wing Pillow Fluffer.”
Also just a heads up what you’re getting into: Charles and Diana broke up when “Big Ears” fell in love with the spawn of one of the witches from Macbeth and a Budweiser Clydesdale horse. Seriously have you seen the face on this woman she’s like your stepmother now. Wicked!
When Drag Goes Wrong: Next Jerry Springer
Prince Andrew leapt from the Sarah Ferguson ginger love train when his “Duchess of Pork” got her freckled boobies snapped by some (now) millionaire photographer in St. Tropez while carousing with a self-titled playboy. Fergie found out that Prince Randy Andy had been shagging some Glaswegian scullery maid in the pantry every Wednesday night during the closing credits of Eastenders, and had enough.
Since MI5 had Princess Diana murdered in that tunnel in Paris—for fear that she and Dodi would breed a small militia of Arab babies that would take down the British monarchy from within—she wasn’t there to see her oldest sapling prepare for a life of dipping his imperial sword into a commoner’s scabbard. Sorry, my lovely Kate, but that’s what you are to these people: a common scabbard.
Now that said, at least when your marriage is given its last rites “Wills” probably won’t have your head cut off. Don’t think I’m being funny, it’s in their blue blood. One day you forget to remind a minimum wage maid to vacuum the moldy 14th Century carpet and the next day you’re wondering why your oxygen supply has been cut off: Oh that’s right your head and neck aren’t connected anymore.
So, once the honeymoon is over, prepare for the most miserable of lives; your every waking moment documented by a team of Lifetime movie channel TV writers and producers, lurking in trees and bushes hoping for those golden lines that will end up in the 30-second trailer of your life.
“Oh, Wills, you knew there had been other men before you, didn’t you? I just loved that he liked Juicy Fruit chewing gum too. We had so much in common.”
“Yes, Kate, the operative word: Common!”
Enjoy being told “your place” by your new “family” and being made fun of for being an outsider within the Palace walls. Oh, and don’t forget the continual hounding by the paparazzi. I’m sorry to burst your Union Jack Royal Wedding Commemorative helium-filled balloon, my dear Kate, but I give it five years tops.
My Sentiments Entirely, Expressive Little Royal
Oh, and I want that piece of chewing gum back if you still have it. No one believes me that we almost did it, and I’m assuming some of your DNA from your hair is still in the gum so I can prove it.
Don’t Ever Forget me, My Lovely Kate
The Bay Area Brit
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