Sunday, July 31, 2011

You Say You Want A Revolution

A beer revolution, that is. This afternoon I took advantage of a little bit of sunshine and enjoyed some adult beverages on the patio of Beer Revolution in Oakland with Valerie, Kevin, Steve, Amanda, Tom, Joo Eun and Joo Eun's dog Bohdi. Several rather potent brews were consumed over excellent conversation, and once the afternoon turned to evening, Joe Eun, Tom and I took ourselves out for Vietnamese food nearby.

It was the perfect end to a lovely weekend that also included dinner Friday night with my college buddy Ted, who was in the Bay Area for a conference, and lunch with friends yesterday ahead of a delightfully relaxing Saturday night. Life is very good by the Bay these days.

On a completely unrelated note, today is my Father's birthday. Unfortunately, he's no longer here to celebrate, but I'd like to believe that he can feel the good energy from me (and lots of other people, I'm sure) thinking about him today. So happy birthday, Daddy. I hope they threw you a big party in the next world.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Birthdays

It's summertime, gentle readers, which means sun-lit evenings, warm temperatures (well, not so much in San Francisco, but whatever, we also don't get truly cold in the winter) and the birthdays of a few of my very fine friends. Usually at around this time, you can find me in Las Vegas celebrating the anniversary of Andrey's birth, but he is travelling through Europe right now. So no Andrey Vegas bash this year.

However, this weekend I did celebrate a couple of other birthdays. On Friday evening, I got together with my friend Candace, who was in town from Southern California. Our dinner wasn't exactly a birthday party, but her birthday was this weekend, so I think that counts. Then yesterday was my friend Julia's birthday party in sunshine of Dolores Park. A bunch of us lounged on the grass sipping prosecco and nibbling chocolate cake to celebrate the fabulous Julia. It was a perfect afternoon which I followed up with a little karaoke, which in my book, is always perfect.

Foolishly, I didn't take any pictures during my dinner with Candace, even though I had my camera with me. I did, however snap a few shots at Julia's party, and they follow.

A few other people had the same idea as us and also descended upon Dolores Park on Saturday.

Birthday girl Julia and me.

Palm trees watching over us.

Other Julia celebrants.

Look closely and you can see the Bay Bridge in the background, as well as a distant fog bank (the Bay Area's air conditioner).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Public Service Announcement

I have a friend who has a very bad habit. He puts himself down. On a regular basis. For some reason he thinks he's not smart when, in fact, he clearly is quite bright. He also gets anxious about work, even though, by all appearances, he's rather successful and good at his job. Regardless of reality, however, a self-deprecation habit has taken residence in his psyche and seems quite comfortable there.

I might become impatient with how frequently this friend puts himself down were it not for one tiny detail: I do the same thing. Sometimes without even realizing I'm doing it. Overall, I have pretty high self-esteem and a good amount of confidence, but there are a few chinks in my armor. Often when I put myself down it's because I don't want brag or appear arrogant (I've heard talk that this is common behavior among women and girls). Other times, however, it's just a manifestation of good old fashioned insecurity and ruptures in that generally high self-esteem.

The last time I saw my friend a couple of weeks ago, I offered him a small challenge. I tasked him with taking a minute... the next time he was tempted to demean himself... to forget his own self image. Instead I suggested that he try to see himself as I see him. As his other friends see him. As his kids see him. I suggested he do this just for a minute or even twenty seconds. As an experiment.

I have no idea if my friend took my unsolicited advice, but our conversation got me thinking. What if I were to do the same thing? What if I untangled myself from my own insecurities for a just a few seconds a day or even a few seconds a week and saw myself as my friends see me? I bet if I did that I wouldn't feel any need to put myself down, not even as a way to dilute the appearance of arrogance. Hell, if I took twenty seconds to see myself through they eyes of the men who regularly hit on me on the street, I'd probably feel pretty darn good.

Imagine if we all did that. Imagine if we all got out of our heads and saw ourselves through the eyes of people who like, admire and love us. Maybe we should give it a collective try. For a few seconds. As an experiment.

Image courtesy of the blog Solution Focused Politics.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

North Beach Saturday Night

Last night my friend Janelle and I got together for a couple of cocktails in San Francisco's very charming North Beach neighborhood. While I was just in North Beach last weekend with my friend Traci (see previous post), I don't tend to spend a ton of time there, especially on the weekends. That's quite a contrast to five or six years ago when I was a North Beach regular, in part because I lived in neighboring Nob Hill.

Things change, however. I moved to a different neighborhood three years ago and sort of outgrew the North Beach scene. However, it's nice to go back and hang out there every so often. And Janelle, a North Beach denizen, is one of the friends I made when I used to frequent that part of town more often. We didn't stay out particularly late or do anything scandalous; it was just a treat to see her and get caught up. A girl can't live on karaoke alone, so it's always nice to spend a little time with old friends.

A thoroughly enjoyed Tosca chocolate martini.

Tattinger at Tony Nik's to end the evening.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Nik, Cap and Room

My friend Traci is back in the Bay Area on business, and that means that she and I get to turn San Francisco into our own private party. You may recall from this post back in April that Traci and I have been friends since college. Since she now lives in Omaha with her kids, we don't get to see each other very often, making it an extra special treat when we do. We try to recreate the good times we had in the early 90's, when we were in our twenties, but I'm not sure I succeed in partying like a twenty-something. I will say that Traci does a decent job.

Last night I decided we should celebrate Traci's arrival in town by running around North Beach and downtown. We began with champagne (for me) and cocktails (for Traci) at Tony Nik's; grabbed some snacks at Bottle Cap, the new restaurant that just opened in the old Washington Square Bar and Grill space; and ended the evening with a specialty cocktail at the Burritt Room. At Bottle Cap we ran into this guy Greg, an acquaintance of mine whom I hadn't seen since 2006 or early 2007, and he happily joined our little party hopping adventure.

The most pleasant surprise of the evening came when I discovered that my very fine friend Pat works behind the bar at Bottle Cap. At least he was working there last night. Assuming he continues, I may have to pay that establishment another visit.

The price for having so much fun last night is a very lazy day today. Aside from a little exercise, laundry and some other household chores, I have done virtually nothing except catch up on sleep and recover from last night. Partying like it's 1993 is a tough job and requires a lot of rest afterward.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Karaoke Reunion

My friend Rosa is extremely talented. She is a singer-songwriter, and frankly, she's awesome. Back in the day (commonly known as 2007 and 2008), I used to sing with her at open mic nights. We also had one "real" gig as a band we created with a couple of other musicians called the Sub Rosas. Eventually, however, our work schedules began to conflict, and Rosa went to grad school. So we went our separate ways... musically, anyway.

Since then, I have been singing cover songs with Sober Nixon, of course, and doing, as you know if you read this little Chronicle with any sort of regularity, a whole lot of karaoke. Rosa has continued to write her own music and recorded an album of sorts late last year. In fact, you can hear that album here. Rosa also is a fan of karaoke (although probably not as big a fan as me), so we decided to get together at my favorite karaoke haunt last night to sing a few tunes.

It wasn't at all crowded when we got there, and even though people did trickle in, we got to sing a lot in just about two hours. I warbled my way through five numbers, and I believe Rosa sang four. It was so good to see her and so much fun to sing that we're already talking about getting together for more karaoke. I know, me wanting to do karaoke again... what a shock! Anyway, here a couple of photos I took last night.

Between songs...

Beverages. For some reason, I always take pictures of the liquor when I'm in a bar and have my camera.

Rosa the chanteuse.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Well, really I just wanna sing your songs.

Instead of watching fireworks, I celebrated July 4th this year by singing songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (by and large). Last night was the monthly Beatles sing along I like to attend, and I wasn't going to let a national holiday honoring our country's independence from the British stop me from singing English pop songs. The sing along is like an all-Beatles piano bar. Host Joshua Raoul Brody can play any Beatles song in any key you like. Seriously. If you don't know what key you need, Joshua will take a minute to figure it out with you before you begin. I have taken advantage of that little service on more than a few occasions. If you happen to sing significantly off key, Joshua will adjust to match your pitch as best he can. I've never needed that one, myself, but I've seen it happen.

Last night I sang "Hey, Jude," which I'd never tried before, and "For No One," which is kind of a staple of mine...both transposed a step higher than the Beatles' versions. I think I might need to move "Hey Jude" up another half step or so, but I'll experiment with that either at the next Beatles sing along or at karaoke one night.

If you're a Fab Four fan and find yourself in San Francisco, I highly recommend you try to make the Beatles sing along. John, Paul, George and Ringo would be proud.

Our host Joshua and our drummer David.

Liquid courage for those who need it. Since I have no shame, alcohol isn't necessary to get me to sing.

Andrea takes her turn at the mic, as reflected in the mirror above the bar. She's a bit out of focus, but you can blame my amateur photography skills for that.

Beverage, anyone?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Summertime Parties

Long days and warm nights generally mean one thing: it must be summer. Unless, of course, you live in San Francisco, gentle readers, where summer means long days, to be sure, but also cold nights. And, um, cold days. This weekend, however, a heat wave has kissed the Bay Area, and while San Francisco isn't as warm as other parts of the region, it has been much warmer than it usually is in early July.

This heat wave has excellent timing since this weekend has been chock full of parties. On Saturday night, a bunch of us gathered at Jones bar downtown to celebrate the recent nuptials of our friends Kevin and Olena. Kevin and Ole got married at City Hall on June 20th, but hardly anyone was there, aside from them. So now that they are back from their Hawaiian honeymoon, the time is right for a wedding party.

Then this afternoon and tonight was Tom, Chris and Nick's annual backyard barbecue in Potrero Hill. They usually have this barbecue the day before Memorial Day, but that wasn't possible this year, so they pushed it to the day before Independence Day. Much food and drink was consumed, and a dance party started to break out in the early evening, especially when the 80's and early-90's tunes hit the turntables (think Men Without Hats, Joan Jett and, oh yes, Ace of Base). The party is still going on as I type, but I had to get home because I have to work super early tomorrow morning. And apparently, I have to update this space before I go to bed.

Enjoy these photos I snapped at the weekend festivities. It's almost like you were there!

Kevin and Ole Get Married

The happy couple.

Because every bride should have flowers.

Late May Meets Early July With Tom, Chris and Nick's Annual Backyard Barbecue

Me and Chris, one of our fabulous hosts.

Grill Masters.

Daytime partiers.

Oh, yes, tequila shots were consumed. That's very 4th of July weekend, is it not?

Disco ball. Seriously.

Nighttime partiers.