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San Francisco Carnaval Parade

June 22nd, 2002

Court The Ladies
The "other plan", the plan you can't see except sometimes when it flickers by in a demon's eye, when it whispers a word while you're otherwise occupied, the good plan, in other words, the plan that would make life complete if you could but fucking see it when you needed it; that plan, I think, led me to Old Oakland this afternoon to potato salad ($1.97) outside on the sidewalk at Ratto's, then down to the library book store where, by god, a single clean hard bound copy of Eve Babitz' L.A. Woman sat up on the shelf selling for $2.00, signed by the author under another inscription written in a different ink and a different hand, clear block black letters that read "Someone to Love" followed by what I assume are the chord changes to the song. "Eve Babitz" is signed below that inscription in what looks to be the ink of a blue fountain pen. Naturally I bought it.

I wondered, though, who owned this book and why was it given to the library? I wandered down farther toward Jack London Square and reread the first few pages over a cup of coffee at the cafe next to Nation's. Babitz is my window on an age fabulous, at least in its retelling, stirring up old memories of my own.

My thought, I mean "Someone To Love", signed by the author, you would think that meantSan Francisco Carnaval Parade something to the owner, not because he (he, I assume, but it could have been she) knew the author personally, but because he thought well enough of the author and the book to go out and get her autograph under his inscription, whether written when she signed or added later. And then I had another thought, more troubling, an estate, the owner gone, the heirs carting his books, the history of which they knew nothing, carting them over to the library to get rid of them and what I had in my hand was a small piece of another who favored the writings of Ms. Babitz, perhaps in the way I favor her writings, and that person called me, called someone (remember the plan) to come to that book store and rescue his small piece of whatever is was to keep it alive here in Oakland. Which is kind of a bummer, at first thought, this passing along business, getting older and those times getting older to the point there are fewer around anymore to remember them.

Then again, the guy could have been passing a bookstore when Ms. Babitz herself was inside doing her author's routine and he happened to buy a copy on the fly "because it made sense at the time" and he himself had shuffled his old books to the library in preparation for cutting loose and starting over in a new life's chapter: on with the new, out with the old. Could be. A new chapter. I like that. Different story, more upbeat, better to imagine, and the book, still needing a place on a proper shelf, called out as I was eating potato salad at Ratto's.

So, good. I ambled on down Broadway in a better mood to Jack London Square where there were no farmer's markets, artist's markets or fandango playing bands to clutter up the moment, just a few scattered groups of people at the tables in one's, two's and three's where I could sit comfortably with my internal dialogue making the occasional note for possible use later, one of which is written here.

Early evening. Maybe that's the writer's life, I wondered later, climbing over time into an interior world where the line between written word and reality is blurred and the words, no less difficult to arrange on the page, still coming in their own time and on their own schedule, come more often and the writing is better, living inside this flux of words and odd ball musings. And then again, maybe it's a sure sign of mental deterioration, totally dysfunctional if you want to earn a living or court the ladies.

The photographs were taken at the San Francisco Carnaval parade.