- Friday: Berlin-style ping-pong and $4 70-percent-whiskey whiskey gingers at the clothing store on Haight that hosts Berlin-style ping-pong; Teenage Dance Craze at Knockout (much twisting, very TNT circa 2010 [so, a whole lot less oh-God-it’s 2-a.m.-who-am-I-going-home-with-hey-you-you-look-good and a whole lot more, well, twisting], and a healthy dose of “Hey, is that guy from Phantom Surfers?” [he was]).
- Saturday: The best pork buns, plus a lot other stuff—pig buns, egg custard buns, sesame balls; Pedalfest, which, meh, because most bike advocacy fundraisers are meh; Heart & Dagger, for fernet and soda and Arizmendi’s veg pizza and pinball and a bunch of really great jukebox selections that played after we left; Storefront Lab summer/fall season launch; Mission Chinese; beautiful, beautiful sleep.
- Sunday: Mediocre sandwiches from The Grind; vintage paper show in Golden Gate Park, at which we all bought too many postcards that we may never send; homemade Indian food in Berkeley; 20 minutes of bouldering at Mission Cliffs; cleaning my bike’s chain for the first time in about eight months; Whole Foods run for $70 of disparate food items that I consider a meal, anyway.
I missed the San Francisco Mixtape Society thing! I also got really drunk on Thursday night and got into a dumb fight with my boyfriend and drank through my hangover on Friday so was struggling by Saturday morning! But I did so much this weekend! I went to the East Bay twice! I climbed a bunch of V0s! This weekend was almost as good as last weekend, and I spent last weekend in the woods!
"These are the kind of roots I expect to see with significant trauma," he says. "Like an assault with a baseball bat. You ever have a trauma there?" He points at Tooth 19. "Ever get hit or fall down or anything like that?"
Something about the way he asks the question takes me back to when I was thirteen and the Department of Human Services sent an interviewer to my house to follow up on a black eye. I cannot put my finger on it, but a certain tone transmits just under the audible register for most people, but well within hearing range of someone who grew up tiptoeing over booby-trapped eggshells. Even when I let myself forget about the IBEW belt buckle about to slam down on my bones or my father lifting my skirt to comment on how much the boys must like it or my grown brother sticking his tongue through my teeth, I cannot let go of this sixth sense for when conversations turn forensic. I already know this dentist is a forensic dentist because I investigated his background. He is interviewing me like one of his pediatric patients with suspicious injuries or malnourished teeth.
I see the way he glances at my hands, clenched into fists and pressed hard together between my thighs like a lock, a reflex of mine. I see him glance at my forearm, the one with all the linear scars running horizontally across. The cuts there healed ghostly white just like root canals on an x-ray. These days, I do not always cover them. I see him notice, and I think he sees me noticing him. He asks again about potential trauma, and I mention my seizures one more time.
Of the past five dentists I have seen, at least four of them have immediately recognized my epilepsy without my disclosing it. They could tell by the patterns of damage.
He looks back to the radiographs. I glare at him as he stares at my tooth roots, exposed by his omniscient machines. These x-rays, however, refuse to tell the whole story. Are the seizures a proxy for something else? He comes round full circle to his original theory: someone bashed me upside the jaw with a blunt object.
Or a fist.
Or I fell.
He turns toward me, and I quickly look away and look back.
"No falls or anything like that?" He asks. "You sure?"
Listening to Hari Kondabolu talk about Weezer’s Blue Album on WNYC’s Soundcheck woke up the absurdly awkward 13-year-old in me. In the summer of 1994 I was interested in only music and girls, with a far healthier relationship with the former. Weekends were spent at my grandmother’s grandmotherly home in a relatively sleepy New Jersey beach town. Saturdays I rode my BMX to the Sound Wave record store, handed over the entirety of my income ($3-$5 per hour, cash, from answering phones and stuffing bulletins at St. Monica’s, meaning an entire day’s work might get me one new CD), and pedaled back, teenage anticipation hanging from my handlebars in a plastic bag and jewel case. My grandmother didn’t have a stereo, so when I invested in the Blue Album on the basis of the Spike Jonze video for the Sweater Song, I had to listen to it in my parents’ minivan—shout out to the battery life in the Grand Caravan. I’d sit in the driver’s seat, crank the volume, and wish the liner notes were more thorough, since band thank-you lists were where I learned about other cool bands.
The Blue Album is so brilliantly engineered for an audience of teenage boys that subsequent albums (even Pinkerton) seem ham fisted by comparison, for which many fans (including Kondabolu) have never really forgiven Weezer or Rivers Cuomo. Pinkerton may be a great narrative album about being a genuinely weird dude coming to terms with rock-scale celebrity, and the rest of the Weezer catalog acceptable guitar-centered rock for an era where guitar-centered rock matters nearly not at all, but the Blue Album was about us. Cuomo yelped about girls, knitwear, and the sanctuary of fantasy and garages over quiet/loud shifts, barbershop backing vocals, and what I still consider unmatched and perfect guitar crunch. (Thanks to producer Ric Ocasek, Cars frontman and all-time champ in punching above your weight. You’re an inspiration, Ric.) Not all the imagery meshed for me—I didn’t care about KISS and only dabbled in D+D, and I’m still not sure if the bottle belongs to Steven or Stevens is a liquor with which I’m not familiar. But being conflicted about what you want from life and family and girls, how you want to appear to them, how you might actually appear to them, and how you can hide from dealing with all that in music and nerdery? That’s fucking gold for a kid looking forward to 8th grade with sweaty palms.
In the summers that followed, I’d buy a lot more CDs, favoring more obscure and consciously indie bands than Weezer, and I eventually talked to girls. But the Blue Album will always be playing on the dashboard stereo in the Grand Caravan of my heart.
I could write an entire essay about learning about other bands from liner note thank-yous. Also, reblob for Ric Ocasek.
After I move and get my life a little bit more settled again, I’m going to try to reteach myself GIS using open source software because I’m tired of saying “yeah I just don’t really use GIS anymore.”
I’m doing this right now and it’s hard.