Limos, Fistfights and Hotel Breakfasts
Book Tour Breakfast Haiku:
Hotel Monaco, San Francisco

This morning I spent
Thirty-three U.S. dollars:
Special K, coffee.

Here at home, it's gray and cold--before the sun came up, the falling leaves were ghosty and gray. Now the grass almost looks like it's burning--yellow, red, orange leaves. San Francisco, a week with strangers. A week in my favorite hotel. Rock and roll fans will be happy to know that The Kings of Leon were there, too. Checked in under wacky pop-movie names, though I can't imagine hordes of fans were calling around town asking for the Followills. Maybe, The Kings? I stayed right in the heart of the Tenderloin, and I was again impressed that you never know what you're going to see in SF. And I don't mean the lumberjack-looking big man in the skin-tight black mini-dress. I mean the woman with the runny nose rushing by who wiped her finger under her nose, then licked it.

Big shout-outs to my friends at Powell High! Big ups to my good pals at the job corps facility on Treasue Island! As-salaam-aleikum to my limo driver Waheed! Limo driver? Me? You know, I used to wonder who the guy in the limo was. Turns out, it's me. It's me, me in the limo, me on the jet, me in the $33 bowl of cereal hotel. How did this happen?

So I did a gig near the end of the week at Cody's, down on Stockton near the great cable car station at Powell and Market. On the way there, two lovely young women were looking in an art gallery window, and a man stormed up to them--not even a homeless-looking guy, just a middle aged guy in a button-down shirt--and he yelled, "Enjoy the art, you fucking Nazis!" At the gig, we had a pleasant time talking about Hummingbird. Lots of questions. Someone told me she could really tell the first half of the book was written by a man. I wanted to ask--did you think the second half was written by a woman? Then it was over and I was walking up the hill to Geary when I heard screaming and shouting. I looked around the corner, not able to ever tear myself away from street madness, and there was a guy getting beat down by two other guys. I had no idea what was going on--they smacked him down and jumped on his back, and he was yelling "Help! Help me!" We all froze and stared. Then a third guy, just as I started across the street to--I don't know what, what was I going to do, say "Excuse me" or was I going to wade in?--ran up with a metal object in his fist and dove onto the prone guy and reached around from behind, and I thought: Oh crap, they're cutting his throat. But it was handcuffs. They picked him up and ran him face-first into the wall a couple of times, then perp-walked him across the street and unlocked a door in the side of a big store and ran him inside.

I stood there all jittery with the violencia vibe. This guy walked up to me and said, "Quite a production, huh?" I said "Yeah! What was that all about?" He said, "I don't know. You wanna sign my book?" and pulled out my stuff for an autograph.

Mostly, I was alone, feeling lost. Walking into scores of venues where I didn't know anybody, and I didn't know what I was doing. Most folks were nice, no question. But it's a strange day when all your relations are strangers, all the faces you look into are either gathered to gawk or expecting a tip. I always hated those songs where the rocker tells you how eerie and weary it is "on the road." That "on a steel horse I ride" stuff. But I'm learning it really does do a strange thing to your head. You go somewhere inexplicable. It all srats to feel like some bizarre theater piece where everything is just painted on a canvas flat, and the walkers around you are extras. And you are just a fluttering projection on a tattered screen.

On the other hand, I used to scrub toilets for a living. I'll take this.

Ahead, one more SF swing, Guadalajara, Salt Lake City, Yuma, a couple of Chicago gigs. Then good ol' Christmas, and I'll hide under quilts with my beloved and stare out at the approaching new year like a suspicious marmot.

Waiting for the cab to get to the airport. A woman walked up to me and said, "There you are!" I looked over my shoulder. It was me she was talking to. "Going home already?" A fan! Are you kidding me? People know me on the street?

Here's a secret nobody knew: the night before I left for SF, I was flossing, and my crown broke out of my mouth and fell off. I did the whole week with a big evil hole in my jaw. Somebody give me a gold star for being a Good Citizen this week!

See you out there, homies--Luis

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