Tag Archives: In Transit

Plane Travel: Kinky Sex, But With Neither Kink Nor Sex.

Standard

Good Evening:

I’ve had it with flying.

I have reached the point where almost nothing can justify paying airlines vast sums of money in order to let them punish you to their hearts’ content. With the sole exception of family emergencies, this car-less traveller will stick to the railroad–an odd experience that offers its own intriguing strengths and weaknesses (and will become the focus of my next post). But tonight I vent. If you want rants, congratulations, you have reached the right blog post!

Although flying to Connecticut was agony, once I arrived, the trip became total enjoyment.  Presenting photographs of the beautiful town of Essex looking its best.

Although flying to Connecticut was agony, once I arrived, the trip became total enjoyment. Presenting photographs of the beautiful town of Essex looking its best.

My summer trip to Connecticut drove me past the breaking point.

Sold-out flights take forever to board and sure enough, this was another one. Stuck on board one of the newer models of jets does not make life better, it makes life worse. First, as usual, the seats shrunk again. I know they shrunk again; I lost weight over the course of 2015, and yet we had more tightly packed seats than ever, less leg room than ever, and less elbow room than ever.

20 Main Street, Essex, CT 21 June 2015

Combine the smaller with seat widths with seat belts that have not shrunk with them and you have serious bondage. Unfortunately, I do not like B&D. Even if I did, the airlines’ notion of kinky hijinks at 30,000 feet tying up people would not feel the least bit–ahem–“interesting,” for the lack of a better euphemism. As you might have guessed, the airline also stuck me in the middle seat.

Great fun. Especially with the overweight gentleman on my right.

Who was the lesser problem.

IMG_7605 DSCN0880

The other one was the bigger problem. He should have considered himself fortunate, standing at most five foot, six inches tall, of average build and sitting in the aisle seat. But when he arrived at our row, he drew himself up to full height, inflating himself with the sense that my sheer existence presented the most offensively existential effrontery of his entire life. He adjusted the sleeves of his expensive-looking silver silk suit as if preparing for conflict. Given his 50-ish appearance and salt-and-pepper goatee, I pegged him as a super-rich executive and wondered what he was even doing in the Economy (hah!) section.

“You’re in my seat.”

“What?”

“Get out of my seat.”

“No this is my seat, the aisle seat must be yours.”

“Stewardess, get this man out of my seat!”

“Here’s my ticket-”

“Get him out of my seat!”

“-I have the middle seat-”

“Stewardess!”

“-you must have the aisle seat.”

He glared at me as if no one had talked back to him since the previous dot-com crash.

“I. Purchased. BOTH. Seats!”

What on earth?!

DSCN0924

The stewardess examined our tickets, and sure enough, the airline had sold the same seat twice. Policy dictated that she could not throw me off the plane, so she made arrangements for Mr. Glare (my nickname) to get a refund on his second seat. Mr. Glare, partially reimbursed, stood by his aisle seat one more time, glared at the human who had the offensively existential effrontery to sit next to him, and sat down, squeezing his five foot six frame against me as much as the armrest between us could allow.

He sat like that for the entire trip.

Except when he moved.

And when he moved, he always accidentally on purpose dug his elbow into various parts of my body.

But nowhere where I might have had him arrested for groping.

DSCN0913

So I sat squashed between an overweight gentleman on my right (who slept for the entire flight and how did he manage that?) and Mr. Glare on my left. As usual, the airline food was overpriced, undersized, and pretty bad, but I had already brought my own meal with me. Sadly, so had Mr. Glare, and lifting his sandwich to his mouth gave him many opportunities to accidentally on purpose lift his right elbow almost to the left side of my face.

After a while, I needed a break from this incredibly important and great human being to whom I should have offered profuse apologies for my puny existence. Made my way to the back of the plane and suddenly suffered a grave and saddening epiphany.

I could never join The Mile High Club.

DSCN0934

Sex on airplanes has never appealed to me because far too many things can go far too wrong, and today far too many things go far too wrong in front of far too many iPhones, but now you can’t do it even if you want lifelong Twitter humiliation. First of all, planes have fewer and fewer and fewer restrooms–this jet only had two. So you won’t have time because someone will soon knock on your door. Second, on this jet they were located inside the attendants’ work station, so you cannot sneak inside. Finally, in order to make more space to cram in ever smaller seats, the restrooms have also shrunk. I do not know how an obese person can fit inside one of these, let alone use them. How can two people get wild and woolly inside such a restroom?

Let’s sum up. No free food. Tiny amounts of overpriced bad food. No room. Plenty of unpleasant travelers. Smaller and smaller seats. The unkinkiest of kinky bondage for people who don’t like that at all. No sex even you’re foolish enough to want it. Fewer and fewer restrooms with longer and longer waits in line.

And you have to spend how much money to pay people to abuse you?

And you have to spend how much money not to enjoy any of what you bought??

How much money???

So I’ve switched to trains. Plenty of idiosyncrasies, but overall an experience with which I can live.

As you will see in my next post.

Vonn Scott Bair

Advertisements

8th & Harrison, San Francisco, CA. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition)

Standard

Good Afternoon:

The old bus depot at 8th & Harrison in San Francisco as it appeared on 1 December 2012. An open space so vast that these pictures fail to capture the acreage of asphalt.

DSCN3702 DSCN3694 DSCN3697

8th & Harrison as it appeared yesterday, 27 November 2015.

DSCN2945 DSCN2949 DSCN2948 DSCN2950

Quite a transition, isn’t it?

At least four apartment buildings or condos will rise on the old lot, but that might represent an undercount as the lot was surrounded by a chainlink fence with locks everywhere. If any major city in the United States is transitioning as fast as my home town, I would feel extremely surprised indeed.

Vonn Scott Bair

Does Your City… (Weekly Photo Challenge: [Extra]ordinary)

Standard

Good Evening:

Does your city…have a bench like this?

DSCN2669Actually, probably yes; lots of cities like to convert mundane civic objects into objets d’arte. I happen to like this bench because it pivots 360 degrees. The bench represents part of a combination sidewalk park/recreation area called Outpost, and you will find it on Market Street near Sixth Street. These two gentlemen got a kick out of playing with the bench.

Version 2Outpost includes an unusual type of swing…

DSCN2673…and a highly decorated ping-pong table…

DSCN2671…and a place to ask questions and solicit opinions.

DSCN2672Here is the main structure, complete with schedule of events.

DSCN2674All in all, another example of how San Francisco does things just like everyone else, only differently.

Vonn Scott Bair

World Music and the World of Music in San Francisco: YOUR New Puzzle of the Week!

Standard

Good Evening:

One of these days, maybe just maybe your correspondent will finally break down and subscribe to Songlines Magazine, a very fine periodical devoted to the world of music, the world in music, and world music in particular. Each issue includes one or two sampler CDs (remember those?) containing sample songs featuring that issue’s featured artists–and one of these days I will learn how to write coherent English sentences.

Ukulele Player Busking Before the Last SF Giants Game of the Season.

Ukulele Player Busking Before the Last SF Giants Game of the Season.

The current issue (#111) puts Seckou Keita on the cover–and if you are also a hard-core lover of kora music you will immediately start looking for this issue. The issue includes two CDs. The first is the usual Songlines sampler.

The second–well, that is your official Puzzle of the Week!

Schooled in Massachusetts, Performed in Austin TX, Loves Dogs.

Schooled in Massachusetts, Performed in Austin TX, Loves Dogs.

The second CD includes the following: a song by a band called Jaffa Road (Jaffa is a place in Israel); another song by a band called Delhi 2 Dublin (referencing India and Ireland); and a song by Ayrad entitled “Moroccan Gospel.”

And here is YOUR Puzzle of the Week! What is the title of the CD?

Musician Performing East Asian Music in Front of a Starbucks Ad, Powell Street Station, San Francisco, CA, 7 October 2015, 9:10 p.m.

Musician Performing East Asian Music on a Japanese Koto  in Front of a Starbucks Ad, Powell Street Station, San Francisco, CA, 7 October 2015, 9:10 p.m. Note how the ad complements the dress and vice versa.

You probably did not guess correctly. Not unless you own the issue.

The title of this CD is–believe it or not–Canada Now (Canada Maintenant).

It consists entirely of Canadian music. Or at the very least, music by Canadian musicians.

No one can deny that almost all recent developments in the music industry have caused a lot of pain for the artists, as fewer and fewer superstars grab more and more of the attention and money, except that they suffer as much from illegal downloading as anyone else (in terms of actual dollars lost, perhaps more, but I don’t have the numbers). Musicians share the very reasonable hope that they can support themselves with work they love, but their fans have developed the expectation that music should be free, possibly as an offshoot of the original idea that information wants to be free (sometimes attributed to Stewart Brand, late 1960s).

The one positive development? Music itself.

How on earth does a balding, late middle aged, pot-bellied, government bureaucrat white boy like yours truly even know that the kora exists?! Have you seen one of those things?! The kora is The Elephant Man of the guitar family, the horribly misshapen, deformed and monstrous mutant offspring of the unholy dalliance between an oud and a diddley-bow that the family keeps locked up in the basement out of shame–and yet the kora produces gloriously ethereal and beautiful music equal to anything else in the world.

How did I first hear of this West African instrument?!

The truth is that I don’t remember. Somewhere in the past decade, I blundered into In The Heart of The Moon, a collaboration between the late Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate and became madly enraptured with the performance of Toumani on one of his own koras–but even that doesn’t count as my first encounter with that strange-looking instrument. Nonetheless, we all know where I first encountered the kora. On the Internet.

We have entered an extraordinary era, one in which it has become more difficult than ever for musicians to make a living, and yet more easy than ever to discover each other, learn from each other, and experiment with each other, drawing inspiration from music and musical instruments that we might never have encountered even a decade ago.

Making Napster, the iPod, YouTube et alia very bad news for the musician–and very good news for the musician’s music.

I feel so glad I don’t work in music. Feels much better that I just enjoy the sound.

Especially since I never steal music.

Vonn Scott Bair

Dancing Real Good For Free.

Standard

Good Evening:

At first, I thought she had fallen in the middle of a group of UC Berkeley students at the Downtown Berkeley BART station as she thrashed on one bench. Then I thought she was tripping on bad drugs when she sprang to her feet and ran all the down to the east end of the platform. Then I thought she was just plain bat-bleep crazy when she sat on another concrete bench and tied herself into one odd contortion after another.

Then she stood, lifted one foot over her head in a stretch, and practiced some soft shoe steps.

So I was wrong three times. This young woman was an aspiring dancer, practicing and performing, and to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, “dancing real good for free.”

No editing at all–BART stations have weird light that makes pictures hard without expensive equipment or time to prepare or experience in bad lighting conditions.

DSCN2400 DSCN2402 DSCN2403 DSCN2404 DSCN2405 DSCN2401

And when she finished her performance-slash-practice, she ran all the way to the other end of the platform to catch the Fremont train home.

Vonn Scott Bair

Orange, Yellow & White. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic)

Standard

Good Evening:

Saw this new item in the Market & Van Ness station:

DSCN1861

…and had another idea for this week’s Challenge–using transit as an inspiration.

So here is a closeup of the door.

Version 2

This is a doohickey on the side of the vintage Los Angeles street car that runs up and down Market.

Version 2

Vintage street cars have lots of strange doohickeys on their sides. Here’s a yellow one.

DSCN1867

Finishing with something in white, a car door handle.

DSCN1872

I think I’m having too much fun.

Vonn Scott Bair

Wordless Wednesday: The Bus Stop @ Cesar Chavez & Connecticut, 10 June 2015.

Standard

Good Afternoon:

Studies of some of the buildings at that intersection.

IMG_7548 IMG_7546 IMG_7547 IMG_7545 IMG_7544

All shots taken with an iPhone 6 Plus.

Vonn Scott Bair