In Tales of the City, Mary Ann Singleton was standing in Aquatic Park looking at San Francisco Bay when she made her fateful (if fictional) decision to never return to Cleveland. So that seemed to be the most sensible place for me to go to next; besides, I figured I'd be safe, since my visit was only going to be three days long and I wasn't actually going to be there in person. Plus, it gave me a chance to walk Lombard Street on the way; as these things go, one couldn't ask for a lovelier garden path down which to be led.
I couldn't stay at Aquatic Park long though - certainly not long enough to visit Aquatic Park Historic District (gotta save something for my next visit!) - because virtual vacation or no I had a schedule to keep.
I'd made arrangements to go for lunch at Fisherman's Wharf with one of my virtual friends, in keeping with the theme of the trip; thanks to Facebook I have many such virtual friends in actual cities all over the world. When the time comes that I'm able to visit these places in person - hopefully as a roving photojournalist for the Pop Culture Institute - I'm looking forward to meeting these people in person, so they won't merely be virtual friends anymore.
The friend I met is Marc Smolowitz, a guy who (in my current incarnation) I wouldn't have the nerve to go anywhere near but who, in my virtual guise with the body of Jake Gyllenhaal, I could approach with unmitigated calm. For the complete pop culture experience I chose the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., even though I knew Marc is Jewish going in (and thus may not be able to eat shellfish); I'm kind of like that - sensitive after the fact, always a little too late. Also, I'd dragged him into the tourist trap of Fisherman's Wharf, where no red-blooded resident would be seen dead. Plus I didn't really care for the movie Forrest Gump, although you'd think I would. Still, what kind of blogger would I be if I wasn't self-absorbed in the extreme?
Having never had lunch with an Academy Award nominee before, I was full of questions; by the end of the meal I was also full of shrimp, which my virtual abs crushed like the bugs they are in a way my actual abs never would have. We digested by watching buskers on the pier, and while I shopped for tacky souvenirs we discussed issues raised by the documentary The Weather Underground, for which he nearly earned himself the coveted Hollywood dildo. I'd recently blogged about their March 1971 bombing of the US Capitol as part of my continuing push to remind people that terrorism in America didn't begin on September 11th, 2001 - no matter what the Republican Party would have you think - so I was eager to talk with someone who knew a little bit more about the subject.
Marc was also involved in the 2001 documentary Trembling Before G-d which - as a Jew queen myself - I found very enlightening and entertaining, in the best tradition of enlightertainment here at the Pop Culture Institute.
Before I could drag him into the Museum of the City of San Francisco, though, Marc begged off, and so I toured the exhibits by myself, after which I lavished out even more virtual cash (since its supply is virtually limitless) in the gift shop. Now suitably laden down I entrusted my purchases to a cab driver then called the concierge at the St. Francis Hotel to keep an eye out for them, and would he be a dear and put them in my room with my luggage? Such a delight to flirt with; I made a mental note to remember his name, so I could give him a nice big tip later. Leaving the museum I ambled (albeit purposefully) through The Cannery, determined to drink in the atmosphere but not buy anything until my next adventure.
On the way to Pier 33 I made a point of waving at the Holiday Inn - the hotel Mary Ann herself fictionally stayed in during her visit, and the one I could more probably afford if I was to ever go there in person - and with a suitably Gyllenhaalian elan to cover my vestigial trepidation I dashed along Bay Street toward Embarcadero with glimpses of my next destination lurking in the silver blue bay ahead of me.
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