GNABRT Day 18 – An audience with the President


GNABRT map - day 18Sidling up the west coast from L.A. brings me into San Francisco, home of the Giants and my former boss and Chief Executive of the Beaty Towers dorm at the University of Florida.

Back then, I had hair and his was longer.  I was part of the first group of freshman ever to be admitted to those exclusive tall apartment-like buildings.  As dorms, they were the cream, featuring a two-room suite, a kitchen and a your own bathroom…no communal!

My friend was the President of the dorm area (T.A.G. – Towers Area Government).  For lack of a better candidate or just because I was there, I was titled Vice President.  I don’t think I was elected, nor do I recall having to debate anyone (but if I stand on my roof, I can see Cuba just across the Atlantic).

Along with two other members of the “government”, we organized activities and other stuff for the residents of Beaty.  The two of us also published a dorm “newspaper” called the Towerscope.  He and I shared writing duties and I contributed art as needed.

The paper included a two-page comic strip that I drew featuring “Captain Towers”, who often faced off with monsters not-coincidentally named after the other inferior dorms.  One of the dorm monsters was a two-headed creature named Hume-Graham (you had to have gone to UF).  Looking back on it, it looks eerily similar to the announcer for little Luke’s Pod race in the wretched Phantom Menace film.  Perhaps one of the animators was a UF grad (the film was so bad, I don’t want any credit if any were actually due).

We walked around his area for a while and he allowed me to leave my car at his home, saving vast sums on parking.  Of course, that meant I would have to learn how to use the transit system, no easy task, considering the last public transport I may have been on had little signs on it that stopped traffic.

He stuck with me to show me the ropes, though waiting outside for the “muni” for about 10 minutes in my shorts was chilling in very literal ways.  After filling my head with an enormous amount of info I’ll have little chance of remembering, he led me to my hotel, mere minutes walk from the transit terminal.

I may see him once more if he slips into the Giants game Monday night, but no matter, the visit was enjoyable without even having to dredge up nostalgia.

The city:  San Francisco, California (for some reason, I always try to spell it as “sisco”).  If you don’t recall ever hearing the Yerba Buena teams winning world championships, you must have not know that was San Francisco’s original name (after an herb local to the area).

The bay was named first (by the Spanish, as if you haven’t been following along these past days) and between that and the Spanish mission of the same name, eventually the locals got the hint and changed the name to the one we all know today.

As with other parts of the southwest and west, the U.S. “acquired” the town of Yerba Buena in 1846 and three years later, gold dust was spotted. That started the gold rush and the 49ers (1849, get, it?).

The burgeoning population and desire to travel west led to urgent needs on the part of the railroad companies.  Large amounts of Chinese workers flooded to San Francisco, ultimately leading to today’s active Chinatown.

San Francisco has never needed Hollywood to provide them with disaster film vicarious thrills since they have twice lived through devastating earthquakes (1906 and 1989) only to rebuild and keep thriving.

Today, the rapid influx of tech companies and jobs has overheated its housing market, creating challenges between the incoming young (and wealthy) tech employees and the existing residents.  It represents yet another period of social and economic re-balancing, in its own way as compelling as the gold rush over 150 years earlier.

The game:  None.  That’s tomorrow.

Miscellany of Day 18:

– More than one person suggested taking the Pacific Coast Highway up for a scenic view while driving.  Since I’ve uncovered my ability to drive is inversely affected by my attraction to the sights around me, I declined the suggestion in favor of the more stable (but also interesting), I-5.

– The drive was mostly uneventful until having to pay a toll to get on a big bridge.  All the traffic from all the world converged on the toll booths.  After the initial merging, however, the actual movement through the toll area was reasonably swift.

– The bridge is a marvel, both in engineering scope and in aesthetic appeal.  It would be something to be able to do a slow idle across its span, but traffic would not allow it (where’s a good traffic jam when you need one?).

– It’s cold in S.F.  I expect tomorrow will be a tough night at the game.  I hope to find a seat somewhat sheltered from the wind or, failing that, an aisle seat so I can hop into the concourse intermittently to take a “breeze break”.

– I look forward to seeing how well I can navigate the transit systems.  Logic says it should be straightforward, but my decades of driving and parking wherever I want in my own vehicle suggest I may be a bit more challenged that one might think.

– The hotel I’m at resembles more of a co-op, meaning no individual temperature controls in the room.  Yeah, might want to read that description a little more before making my next reservation.

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