Tuesday, March 31, 2009

san francisco, day 4

Sausalito: nice little town. Very small.

Muir Woods: getting there was half the fun. Hairpin turns everywhere. Live dangerously.

Sonoma, Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery: 2005 Secolo Reserve -- I think I'm in love. Runners-up -- 2005 Merlot, 2006 Barbera.

Napa Valley: Ristorante Alegria has the best lunch in the world. Calamari fritti; fetuccini with shrimp, scallop, sun-dried tomato; stracciatelli gelato -- to die for.

Napa Valley Center: virtually a ghost town, more than half the shops leaving, a fabulous antiques store with a closing out sale.

Divisadero: roller coaster ride.

Twin Peaks: breathtaking view, lots of ethnic kids smoking pot though.

Pier 39: OK, can we go now?

Fisherman's Wharf: a second visit to Sabella and La Torre, with lots of Filipino waiters looking after their kababayan.

Back to hotel, stuffed to my gills in food, packing up for tomorrow's flight back to NYC. But not before we get a glimpse of Land's End.

where i was today

Monday, March 30, 2009

san francisco, day 3

San Francisco: dead on Sundays.

Cannery Row, Monterey: not Steinbeck.

Fishwife Restaurant: good fetuccini Alfredo, but avoid the fish and chips like the plague. Generally incompetent staff. Blaring 80s rock (you have to ask someone to turn it down to not get a migraine).

17-Mile Drive: very cold, but worth it. Joe's Point, China Rock: apparently a lot of Chinese immigrants, outcast in their day, set up shacks by the rocks and actually survived. Lots of mansions up for sale at reduced prices. Madoff victims?

Carmel-by-the-Sea: totally Hollywood. Got a nice t-shirt anyway. Over-solicitous real estate agent wanted to know if we were thinking of moving into town; encouraged us to call (tomorrow, if possible) as soon as we made up our mind. Tip: if you see a house going for less than 700K, carpe diem.

Daly City: where were all the Pinoys? Sis gave me her signature 60-dollar haircut. Yay.

New King Tin, Stockton Street, Chinatown: move over, Sam Wo, this is my new fave. Yang Chow fried rice and Mongolian beef to die for.

where i was today

Sunday, March 29, 2009

poem written at 6 AM Pacific Time

There are many ways the human heart
endures. Three and a half centuries later
the stream of sorrows no longer flows
along Mission Dolores.
The grieving mother’s heart hangs
over the nave, pierced through
with swords for every possible hurt,
even the most mysterious,
visible, maybe, only to angels.
As for the angels, the Ohlone
must be among them now not because
they ascended but because they swiped
heaven off the sky and brought it
closer, ceiling-high, reachable
and real. And what is God
if not the God of baskets, corn,
brick and mud. Whoever watches over us
is the one we adore. Above me,
from the choir, The Gift of Finest Wheat
is still unfinished, every note a ladder
to perfection. There are seven sorrows
the heart must suffer.
Bereavement, because it fills the soul
yet works alone. Longing,
which makes the body weak.
Distance, the light years between
eye to eye, body to body,
soul to soul. Time, which turns
all mourning into silence.
Silence, the heart’s way
of reading the world. Death,
which devours the smallest
whisper. And love, which wraps
around it like a stream. There are many ways,
each one a lifetime’s breadth
and an inch away.  The heart
is the toughest muscle, the blade
cuts through and meets not resistance
but surrender, which makes the heart strong.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

san francisco, day 2

Walked along Fisherman's Wharf.

Bought silver ring from SF artisan at sidewalk flea market.

Took Powell-Hyde cable car to Lombard, took snapshots of the crookedest street in the world, with dozens of other tourists.

Got back on cable car, went back to Sam Wo for lunch (totally addictive).

Took cable car back to wharf, got sunblock at Walgreens (too much sun in SF!!).

Went to Ghirardelli Square, got asked by a bunch of Filipinas to take their picture, and was told I didn't look Filipino. Hmmm.

Got chocolate blueberries for the guys in the office.

Saw a small exhibit of Dali prints. Price range: $1,500-$6,000.

Went to Mission Dolores. Finally, this city is getting interesting. Visited the basilica, then the original chapel from the 1770s. Stayed to listen as a church chorister practiced an angelic Lenten song ("Gift of Finest Wheat"?).

Took the coolest cable car ever, the original Banca Italiana car with wooden bench seats and glass lamps. See pic below.

Found Boy Bawang cornicks at Walgreens for merienda.

Got picked up by sis around 7, had grilled swordfish and chowder dinner at Sabella & La Torre on the wharf.

Walked around Ghirardelli Square to burn off all the calories.

Waited endlessly for Earth Day lights out, which didn't happen (too much commerce to bother being green?).

where i was today

later this afternoon...

san francisco, day 1

Took public transportation, BART and cable car, from airport to hotel, to force myself into the city's daily grind. 

Avoided Fisherman's Wharf like the plague, at least for today. Hotel is a block away from the madness.

Took the #30 hoping to get to Chinatown, got lost somewhere on Market, walked miles to find cable car, somehow wound up on Grant, discovered a hole in the wall called Sam Wo, arguably the best chicken/salted fish rice I've ever had, and found out the place is frequented by Berkeley students (hence the hip, young Asian crowd). See pic below.

Took the F to Castro, got incredibly bored, hopped on back on the F. If SF is the "gayest city in the world," does that mean it sets the standard for gay stereotypes? Castro: case in point.

yesterday, above and below

Sunday, March 22, 2009

more books found in thrift shops in the last 30 days

1. The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton
2. The Iliad, translation by Robert Fagles
3. The Sound of Waves, by Yukio Mishima
4. M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio, by Peter Robb

Sunday, March 15, 2009


How To Be United In Future Lives
is a sutra from the Angutarra Nikaya, a book
too big for me to handle. It says that if I
do not wrong you and you do not wrong
me, the blessings will be awesome
and all our enemies will walk away in shame.
I will make it simpler for you.
I will live through this day with you. What follows
is the future, and I will renew this vow
day after day until the future is now.
While you are away I will be stronger
in my loneliness, and when you return
I will rebuild a house of happiness.
I will love your eyes as we get older, just like I love
each summer in New Jersey, all that open sea.
I will know you by your footfall,
by the air that grows still. Who are you
and from where have you come?
I will protect you from gossip, from the murmuring chatter
of the humdrum world. When your heart is full
of longing, or doubt obscures it with rain,
I will understand as though I were reading
your palm, your tea leaves, your daily
horoscope. I will make you laugh or you
will make me laugh and our laughter
will be an entire universe where no one dies.
I will learn your words as you learn mine
and we will place those words
in each other’s mouth like ripe berries,
bursting with sweetness. And when our bodies
are tired and our eyes are closed
I will praise the body that holds your soul.
I do not know what the soul is, my love.
But I will say love, which is more difficult,
more enduring, more fine. Love till the future life
unfolds, and I wake by your side.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

what does history say about china's occupation of tibet?

To say that China's occupation of Tibet is legitimate is to deny the importance of past efforts of peoples to establish their own nations or fight for their rights. What would the world be today without the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, the independence movements of former colonial possessions like India, South America, and the Philippines, the abolition of apartheid, the abolition of slavery, the ideals of the French Revolution, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King? 

By insisting that Tibet is rightfully theirs, the Chinese are bringing history back to the dark age of manifest destiny, when nations with enough military and economic might could easily declare any part of the world as their own. 

Colonial masters have always been freaks. While they advance in wealth and technology, their ideas--about the colonized, about the "Other"--regress towards some kind of pre-enlightened ignorance. We all know what happened to colonial masters. Perhaps China seeks to experience that firsthand. We must give it to them. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

there is no such thing as a compassionate revolution

There is no such thing as a compassionate revolution. 

If you read the Buddhist texts carefully, you realize that inaction can cause karmic repercussions as much as action. Anything you do or do not do will trigger an ineluctable chain of events. 

Instant karma is always going to get you.

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of China's immoral invasion of Tibet, think about this. Inaction against China's 50 years of brutal occupation incurs a karmic debt as profound as taking action against it. Not only does it condone China's inhuman repression of the Tibetan people--which includes incarceration, torture, murder--it also encourages China to sink deeper into its own negative karma, its karma of greed, pretension, hatred, cruelty and persecution. 

To not speak out against China's crime, to not take action, is to participate in this karmic cycle, to prod it along. To inhibit China from its negative actions, and their negative consequences, is therefore to save China and the Chinese people from the dreadful future that certainly awaits them.

If a revolution must be compassionate, it must resolutely overthrow the karmic debt that is accumulated in the act of oppressing the Tibetan people. With words, if words still matter. With action, if action is necessary. With violence, if no other options are left.

To save China, one must help establish a free and independent Tibet.

This to me is true compassion. 

china's "peaceful liberation" is tibet's hell on earth

Having occupied Tibet, the Chinese Communist government carried out a series of repressive and violent campaigns that have included “democratic reform”, class struggle, communes, the Cultural Revolution, the imposition of martial law, and more recently the patriotic re-education and the strike hard campaigns. These thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth. The immediate result of these campaigns was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. The lineage of the Buddha Dharma was severed. Thousands of religious and cultural centres such as monasteries, nunneries and temples were razed to the ground. Historical buildings and monuments were demolished. Natural resources have been indiscriminately exploited. Today, Tibet's fragile environment has been polluted, massive deforestation has been carried out and wildlife, such as wild yaks and Tibetan antelopes, are being driven to extinction.

These 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet. Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them. Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction; in short, the Tibetan people are regarded like criminals deserving to be put to death.

--message by the Dalai Lama; follow link to read the full text


Saturday, March 7, 2009

peaceful liberation of tibet?

Tuesday, March 10, marks the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against China. China hilariously calls it the 50th Anniversary of Peaceful Liberation. Here's what peaceful liberation has achieved:

6 million Tibetans forced into exile in 1949 alone.
87,000 Tibetans killed in military actions since 1949.
218 killed and 1,290 injured in the 2008 uprising.
6,705 detained since the 2008 uprising.
81 detained in "security sweep" ahead of the 50th anniversary.

Nice try, Beijing. What part of get the fuck out of Tibet don't you understand?

Sources: UNPO, The New York Times