Gag me with a (Greasy) Spoon

April 29 I wake up in a quiet Val Verde and feel anxious. I don’t know what’s going on back East this morning, so turn my phone on. No messages. I didn’t sleep well last night and kept waking up, and would say a Buddhist prayer. It soothed me back to a restless sleep. Once up for good, I focused the anxiety into a shower and some more Triffids. Great book, that. Very post-WWII and English. Another dystopian novel for my collection.

Christine gets up and we have a great talk. She’s more exhausted than I am but very present for our conversations. Again, future, family, present, love, and all the poetic themes you’d think a pair of artists would talk about. We both get hungry, and  nervously checking email and text before we leave, I drive us through chain store hell to a diner that had been there since the Route 66 days. Christine tells me that this was the place where James Dean had his last meal before crashing his Porche. I couldn’t find any evidence of this on the reliable internet thingy. Over coffee and eggs, more great talking. It was Christine’s first sorta day off in months and I was glad to be there with her to enjoy it.

Back in Val Verde we said our goodbyes as I packed the car. Still no word; still anxious about the news (sorry I can’t talk about this further. TOO PERSONAL). I leave the dessert hills and head south on I-5 for Oceanside. The traffic isn’t bad at all so I cruise through LA and the sprawling evirons surrounding it and hit the main street through Oceanside to head to Swiv Tackle Circus for my first ever Southern California presentation.

Jeff meets me at the door all smiles and good vibes. Shaney Jo is heading to San Diego for a Keep-A-Breast benefit at the Hard Rock Cafe, so Jeff and the STC intern helped me set up the place. So nice to be in a real SoCal beach town. I finally get the call and it’s bad news. So I take a walk down to the beach to be alone and make some phone calls. So good to be on the beach. Everything just slowed down once I got to Oceanside.

Back at STC, things are ready to go. Jeff is all about community and has a keen business sense about how to sustain it. STC and a nearby cafe have a sunflower and veggie garden growing in the easement by the sidewalk. Beets, carrots, lettuce and young corn plants stick out of the ground. Shaney Jo tells me that they had an art opening called Native and focused on local food during the show. They gave away a pile of veggies to all the attendees, straight from their sidewalk garden. They didn’t even know that Michelle Obama had an organic garden at the White House.

The presentation goes well that night. About 7 people show up, and then about 7 more show up after the presentation starts. Then 5 more people show up after the presentation, and request that I do it over again. They get a 20 minute quick prez, and then just hang out. Everyone’s just hanging out, talking beach (“that cop is gnarl.” “that feels rad.”) I’m digging, and feeling very un-Californian, at least in the beach sense. After selling a good pile of books, Jeff and I head over to the 101 Cafe.

I must be in heaven or at least a decent George Lucas movie. Two diners in a day? Pure bliss for this diner junkie. Who even needs a menu for these places? Jeff knows the folks working there, and a drunk wanders in and comes over to us. He’s mumbling something about being filmed today, and then asks Jeff for some french fries. Jeff doesn’t miss a beat and tells him to go over to the STC garden and “pull some beets out of the ground and eat them.” The drunk leaves and goes the wrong way down the sidewalk. Outside, I lose count of all the OPD patrol cars zooming by. I saw at least 30 drive-bys from the cops while we sat in the diner. “Chill Pigs” is a term being bandied about, offering up good advice to what seems to be overstrung cops.

Back at STC I get a tour of the place. Jeff is full of ideas and seems like the type of person who can pull it all off. He’s inspiring me with all these great ideas of creating a community in Oceanside. At the same time, we had some sobering discussions about the state of the world and how projects like STC and Stencil Nation are needed. At last I find my bed, out near the Keep-A-Breast office, covered in girly pillows, and crash quite hard after reading more Triffids.

April 30 I wake up early again. Go back to sleep. Wake up. Read more Triffids. Almost finished with the book already. Jeff gets up and, after some online noodling, we go over to the cafe and have a coffee. He heads back to open the shop and I take a walk to downtown Oceanside. Hmm, lots of military uniform signs. Lots of “we like to say yes to our service men” signs. Saw one sign that read “expert medal placement” While I was buying a pair of sunglasses in a touristy shop, I noticed that all the fake money parody bills by the register where making fun of Democrats. An this place was selling glass pipes and hippie clothes. After a so so lunch, I walked down to the beach and finished the Triffids book to crashing waves. Good book. Recommended.

Back at Swiv Tackle, I say my goodbyes and leave for San Diego. Anybody who goes through Oceanside should stop by to say hey to Jeff. Good people to have in the world!