Wednesday, December 29, 2004

San Bruno

Pat got me this gift certificate to an obscure used book/record shop up in San Bruno, so I took the NSTL up there tonight to see if there was anything I wanted. Honestly, I think he re-gifted the certificate from that Arthur guy, since neither of us would ever have any reason to be in San Bruno, but so what. It was an excuse to get out and see someplace new. As it was, I'm pretty glad I went.

San Bruno has an underground kind of like ours, but it's closer to San Francisco and more working class and more mixed-ethnicity. I got off the NSTL and after a few minutes I realized that there were absolutely no chains of any sort: no McDonald's, no Starbucks, no major groceries, not even a major gas station. It was like the entire downtown strip was locked in 1973. I saw two Korean bbq places, innumerable Chinese joints, a big A-frame pizza place, vacuum cleaner repair shops, Mexican mercados and taquerias, a red-checker Italian place, one of those shops that rents school band instruments, a kids' furniture outlet...I need to get back there. It reminded me of the kinds of streets dad would cruise down when I was a kid, taking us to pizza at a place that I so dimly remember as to not be entirely sure it ever existed at all.

Anyhow, I went to this used book/record shop and poked around a while. It was mostly self-published leftist literature from the 60s and 70s, including a physics textbook called Physics Needs an Enema! I flipped through Physics Needs an Enema! for a bit, but it quickly revealed itself as a book about how only published physicists get listened to and how to get published you need to tell a politician what they want to hear or be from "old New England money." It seemed like pretty personal invective, like the guy was a physicist who just wouldn't "play the game" and spilled his anger into a five-figure vanity printing project. He used a lot of Crumb drawings for which I'm sure he didn't have licenses. When he needed to illustrate a principle for which he had no Crumb drawing he had drawn his own in an approximation of the Crumb style, and it made me really uncomfortable.

I got sick of the scene pretty quick and tucked the gift certificate into the breast pocket of a log-sawin' Bolshevik. The counter guy, a jawless fuzz-faced old hippie who looked like an anutritional Marx in sweatpants, looked up as I walked out, but I figured he didn't have the local pull to sic the cops on me for Non-vocal Disrespect.

I picked up a hot bowl of birria at some place called Tacos Dos Tallarines, complete with chopped cilantro and onion, and hopped back on the NSTL.