DRAGONFLIES DRAW FLAME sojourns & reviews

It was a good day – and I didn’t even have to pull out my AK

Posted in Sojourns by David on June 9, 2009

Friday night, I was out with my cousin Charles and some friends at the sports bar formerly known as Cluck U., in Santa Clara, Calif. While waiting in line, he told me he was going for a trip to Oakland the next morning to pick up a set of wheels for a bike he is building for his girlfriend, Laura. I jumped at the opportunity, and asked him if I could join. It would be my first time back to Oakland/Berkeley since my graduation. Although it was a last minute trip, I got the opportunity to meet up with a couple good friends from Cal whom I had not seen since graduation, as well as checking out some cool spots in the area.

After arriving at Berkeley, we noticed we were riding on a flat tire on the rear driver’s side. We pulled into a Big Ol’ Tires and waited half an hour to get the rear tires replaced. In the meantime, we made our way through San Pablo Avenue, scoping out the modified funky cars so common in Berkeley.

Fish Van

Fish Van 2

This car below reminded me of the song “Fantastic Voyage” by Coolio for some reason. Hella  throwback and hippie, all at the same time.

Fantastic Voyage Car

Gangster Pose

Afterward, we met up with a good friend of mine named J., who I met when I used to help out with a magazine on campus called Cal Literature and Arts Magazine. We caught up in this cafe in the Temescal Disctrict of Oakland. At this cafe, they had about a dozen guys behind the counter working solely on chicken sandwiches, which is about all they make. I had two sandwiches and a lemonade ready about 30 seconds after I ordered. the total came out to $18 bucks, but they were really great sandwiches. My friend J. got me caught up on her life and everyone we used to know who worked with us on the magazine. Some people were still in Oakland/Berkeley, one friend of ours was in Peru, and some others had moved back to their hometowns. My friend, who was an honors graduate in the Berkeley Rhetoric Department, was studying for the Graduate Record Exam (think SAT for Grad school) and was hoping to get into a Ph.D. program somewhere in the East Coast within a year. My friend has gone through a lot just this year alone, and I need to remind myself to continue to pray and remember her as she keeps moving on towards further endeavors. Wow, it was overwhelming to think how much can change within a year.  Then, she showed us around other parts in Temescal, which included a bike shop and another shop that sold used goods and antiques. My friend said she has picked up a couple good frames there and some canvases for her paintings too. This place had everything, from used cell phones to old toilet paper tubes and egg cartons. It was like Michael’s met Goodwill and had a baby.

We said goodbye to J. and took this picture:

Temescal with J.

Then, we waited a bit before heading over to some guy’s house (I say some guy because we never got his name) who was going to sell my cousin a white-rimmed set of wheels. We drove up Telegraph, and headed to the 510 Skateboarding store, where we browsed around and saw some cool stuff, included selvage jeans by The Hundreds. There was this ominous sign in the store:Punk Sign

Then, we drifted only a few stores down towards one of my favorite stores in Berkeley, the Berkeley Hat Co. I try to buy a new hat each time I come here, and right when I walked through the door, I immediately saw the hat I had wanted at another store the week before. I bought this hat. I wished I had time to go to the Berkeley Campus store to get a t-shirt for another friend back in San Jose, but we didn’t have time. Oh yeah, Charles got these Dumb & Dumber style goggles:


We then went back to Oakland, heading towards this guy who gave us a half hour window to meet with him to buy the wheels. He was a very easy going guy; when we asked how he was doing, he said, “Oh, you know, just another day in Paradise.” He had on jeans that looked like they hadn’t been washed since the manufacturer put them through a mandatory stone wash, and he preferred to go commando when it came to deodorant. But he was great, he didn’t even count the money my cousin gave him, which was luckily the correct amount.

We jetted out of his place, which was a metal shop/bike shop/living quarters. I regret not having taken pictures of it. It was a giant garage located across the street from an abandoned cement factory in the industrial district of Oakland. We had passed by it a couple times looking for an actual “home.” But I wouldn’t mind living there, especially if I were into the sculptural arts and had other artists living with me, as he did. Not a bad gig at all.

We later met up with my friend D., who now lived off of Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. D., is an especially talented and gifted person, having won the Departmental Citation Award for our graduating class in the English Department at Berkeley. She turned down Cal’s Ph.D. program in English and is headed off to Brown University. She has got guts. She is another one of the people I met at Cal who I regret not being able to spend more time with. Just sitting with her for an hour that day reminded me of how cool she is; we can talk literature, campus culture, childhood experiences, personal vulnerabilities, catch up on old friends and acquaintances, and just talk about our dreams. I find I took for granted back in San Jose that there are actually people you can talk to like that. I felt sometimes at Cal, between the rat race to be the next top scholar in whatever field you think is worth laying down your life and giving up on all relationships, that there were few people you can relate with on a level that transcends GPA’s. Talking to D. reminded me of the passion one can have for studying a field you actually love.

Talking with J. and D. reminded me of what it is like to totally devote your life to something. I struggled with considering entering a Ph.D. program myself. I realized becoming a professor is the secular version of priesthood. You study for year and years, and when you get your degree, you go to wherever Academia will send you, whether that is Harvard University or Florida State or wherever. It is more than a career, it is certainly a way of life. I can’t make a commitment to Academia in that way, as I feel I am drawn towards other callings, namely church. I don’t exactly know where this “church” thing is taking me, but for know at least, I feel called to getting an M.A. in Philosophy, with a concentration on Philosophy of Religion.

I said goodbye to D. letting her know how awesome she is. You never know when it will be the last time you see someone, so speak now or forever hold your peace.

We took this picture, which some lazy guy at the wine bar we were drinking at took without getting up out of his chair. I HAD to ask the laziest guy in Oakland to take our picture.

Piedmont Avenue with D

I am blowing the picture up a bit so you can actually see what is going on. I am on the right, D. is in the middle, my cousin Charles is on the left.

We left D. and cruised to Manifesto Bike Shop, which we had passed by on the way to meeting with her. The store not only had custom and vintage bicycles and signs, but had great customer service.

Manifesto Bike Shop Entrance

Sidewalk Sign

Charles swooped in on a set of tires and tire tubes, as well as an awesome shirt with the company logo in Israeli blue and white. “Off the Dipswitch!”

One of the customer service reps helping us out told us about Bike Church, a weekly gathering of bikers every Sunday in the back parking lot of the shop. They have free donuts, juice, and fellowship. It was way encouraging to see people use their hobbies and passions for Christ.

We headed home to San Jose, noting the incredible places we would have never heard of in Oakland if it weren’t for my two friends. Above all, J. and D. are incredible people whom I will consciously try to remember the rest of my life, keeping them in my prayers and close to my heart.

Charles and I would hang out later again that night at our friend S.’s party at a Karaoke Bar. It was nuts. There were these two guys who S. knew who threw it down on the Karaoke stage more than a couple times, at one time even jumping on each others shoulders.


Karaoke Jump

Anime Karaoke Here is my friend Sh. giving her best Anime impersonation at the Karaoke Bar. Puuurrrty Crazy.

Burfday And here is the birthday girl herself crashing another birthday girl’s gig on stage. It was great.

Anyway, it was the end of a long, spontaneous, yet eventful and productive day. I haven’t had such a great weekend in the longest time. More relays from the underground to follow later. This is John Conner — I mean David — signing out. Thanks for reading the blog, please bookmark.

— David

2 Responses

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  1. Fullmer said, on June 10, 2009 at 9:28 am

    yo! awesome to see you’ve got a blog, and i shall definitely bookmark it and add it to my blogroll.

    • David said, on June 10, 2009 at 10:03 am

      Sweet, thanks James!

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