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so i ran away from home. i needed to. really.

i went to california (my open-jaw bos-lax/sfo-bos ticket was $216.00 (including tax) on virgin america).
a sketch of the itinerary follows.

los angeles (my hosts : john and john)
  • la traviata at l.a. opera. this was the final dress rehearsal of a traditional staging, and my first opera since carmen at city opera in new york several years ago (boston doesn't do opera. for extra fun there was a small earthquake during act 3: welcome back to california!
  • the j. paul getty museum. the jo ann callis and paul outerbridge photo exhibits are amazing, as are the gardens and meier's travertine (though not his aluminum) constructions. there is also a fine little exhibition on the city of algiers at the research institute.
  • the huntington library. a treasure-trove of lovely art and some very nice gardens. i discovered that pinkie is a much more interesting painting in person than in art texts; alas, i still don't like blue boy. the gallery housing them is quite lovely, and i like the display of these two most famous of the huntington's paintings at opposite ends of the room; my favorite image was joshua reynolds' sarah siddons as the tragic muse (no image). the japanese gardens and porch of the huntington house were my two favorite outdoor spaces.

    palm springs (hosts : andy and robby)
  • the palm springs aerial tramway is a pretty over-the-top (literally) way to see it all. the change in altitude is something like 7000 feet. the day we went up it was 105° in palm springs; at the top of mt. san jacinto it was 70°. the cars rotate throughout the journey, which i found comforting; the only difficult moments are passing over the four towers (when the cars disengage from the cable tracks; some swaying is involved...), but this improves once the first one has prepped you for the others.
  • reclining in the sun and doing nothing.

    camarillo (host : steve)
  • we visited the csuci library, where steve heads technical services; the new facility is splendid: light and airy, inviting, and full of technology and materials for the growing university.
  • manuel's cooking. steve's colleague and friend had us over for dinner. yum!

    the central coast (host : nature)
    between camarillo and san francisco, i drove highway one along the pacific. the time alone in the car was calming and allowed me to shed months of accumulated tension and anxiety. i stopped in various places along the way, enjoying open fields, the coast ranges, the pacific, wildflowers and ancient california oaks. two key stops were at hearst castle, where i toured william randolph hearst's incredible mountaintop village of a home, and piedras blancas, where i watched bull elephant seals snooze and play. the juxtaposition of human-made beauty and human-untouched landscape reminded me that both kinds of beauty can be profound and instructive.

    san francisco (host : justin)
  • coit tower is still there, and i had a nice time communing with its solidity; i spent quite a bit of time with the murals.
  • north beach pizza has moved across the street into brighter, more self-conscious digs; the pie is still great.
  • i took a long walk on the headlands at land's end, then wandered over to clement street and green apple books (i heard later that black oak books, my favorite berkeley store had closed, a sad announcement).
  • the new de young museum in golden gate park is a mixed-bag: i liked the gallery space, but found the lobby sterile and unfinished. one problem with the de young is that its collections aren't great, but they are now beautifully housed. the tower has spectacular views of the city. being at the museum meant i could hop over to the n-judah streetcar and pay a visit to my favorite little san francisco neighborhood, cole valley. it is much as it has always been, and that was certainly comforting. i still want to live there.
  • i started the trip with high culture in los angeles, and finished it with culture of a distinctly different nature in san francisco: trannyshack, at the cat club. imagine an evening of drag queens celebrating the music (and wardrobe) of madonna. yes, it was so bad it was good. and totally fabulous.
  • a visit with jim included dinner at zachary's pizza in north berkeley. it was confirmed that their stuffed pizza with spinach and mushrooms is about as close to perfection as it gets.

    so yeah, the trip was very nice, very necessary, very satisfying. i had great conversations and meals, and spent time with some really wonderful people.
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