Sometimes a day that doesn’t start out right can end up on the opposite axis jumping into a positive polarity in a blink. Such was my Thursday, March 25th that began with morning and early afternoon misconnection thwarting my planned progress for the day. I found myself at the mercy of the digital gods and merely let go without a panic in an “Oh, well–Orwell moment,” if you will. The good news is that it moved into a human, avian, music, and food connection rather quickly by 4p.
I met my inspired friend, @yoko_okay, for a meal that was designated to help me write a scene in my first novella, “Abra Imagining,” a work that now includes us both in collaboration. The meal, we thought, would make for some necessary inspiration for a chapter in which the dialog revolves around the passing of sumptuous Senegalese food. This visit had been on our minds for some time and we were finally indulging ourselves. We decided to meet at 4p when Bissap Baobab opens according to Yelp! and the restaurant’s own website. I parked and walked to the address on 15th St in Oakland and as I approached, I saw prodigious effort outside in the form of building a wide parklet for outdoor seating in a somewhat nascent stage with 2 people standing in front of the entrance to the restaurant observing. I inquired if I could go in. I was told that they would not be open until April 8th! Hmmm, that was odd because everywhere on the web pointed to them being open even an article from Sept 2020 extolling the wonders of the re-opening of the distinctive West African cuisine and vibe served there.
I told them I had driven all the way from San Francisco to eat there and several web sites including their own and Yelp! gave the information that were open for dinner at 4p. I was polite, but had that disappointed “awwww” in my voice. They looked at each other and one said to the other, “Oooh, it’s already starting…a good omen.” Then the other said, “I better look at the website and Yelp! to make changes.” So, I said, “See in you April then,” and bid them good luck. I continued down the street towards the corner when I saw my pal @yoko_okay dismounting from her bike shouting, “Dana!” in an “over here” sort of voice. I walked toward her smiling, but who can tell in full mask protective regalia? As I got closer, I delivered the bummer news, “Guess what? They are closed until April 8th.” She looked dismayed, “No fucking way.” We had both checked the web and are pretty thorough researchers, so this seemed impossible. I was already over the disappointment as I scoured the area for a plan B.
The cutest little restaurant called PINTOH Thai Street Food beckoned from 20 or so yards away from the corner on Franklin St. It had three brightly covered tables each with 2 chairs and heat lamps though at that point they were not necessary as the sun shone brightly on the tables and chairs. “Let’s check that out,” I offered. I approached the front door where they had protective plexiglass set up through which one could order. “Hi, there. Can we see a menu?” I inquired. We were handed two and the person gestured for us to sit where we like outside. “Please sit where you like and we will be right out.”
The next hour or so was like living in a dream before a year ago when everything was shut tight like a clam with a diver poking about it. We were treated to supreme service by a sweet crew of staff bringing out delicious dishes of fried pork belly with sticky rice accompanied with a delectable spicy chili sauce and a plate of chicken, large shrimp, cashews, and pineapple over rice with a light flavorful sauce. It was all preceded by a colorful Lychee Ice Tea adorned with a pink umbrella and 2 skewered lychees and a sparkling water with a fresh lemon circle floating inside. These sat upon a floral oilcloth pulled tightly around the table which gave the entire experience a festive vibe. Ahhh, dining again. I’ve eaten take-out on occasion during this blasted pandemic, but have not sat down to a meal anywhere (except for at home and I’m usually standing) for a year. Wow.
The lovely day could not escape just yet, I brought a steel tongue drum and a ukulele to brighten the early evening with some creativity should my buddy indulge me. We stuffed her bike in the back seat of my car and drove to the sunny side of Lake Merritt to find a spot to set up the little table I brought (for the drum), and we laid out a blanket on the grass. It was a beautiful spot with plenty of sun still high in the sky. What transpired was pure magic. It began with @yoko_okay playing with her mini glass globe in the sunlight and noticed her image inside it was upside-down.
It wasn’t long into my little banging around to re-familiarize myself with this little “spaceship” as one passerby called it that @Yoko_okay discovered a hummingbird perched on the light wire just beyond and above where we were hanging. The sweet little one seemed to be interested and hung out for a while as we jumped up to take notice. I had already started to record the drum with my Shure MV88+ mic system connected to my phone. It was still going as we jumped around in excitement as the Hummingbird took flight and we watched the path it took in an area around us. We squealed with delight as we watched it fly up, down, stop for a sip on a flower, fly to another barren tree branch, then off across the street and over a house!
We recorded several more sequences that I have cobbled together in a little soundscape that includes @yoko_okay jamming on a cool tongue drum riff. Go ahead and click here to listen as you read on…
My talented artist friend then proceeded to draw me sitting with the tongue drum in my lap, and in 4-minutes (timed) she whipped this out:
We hung out for a bit more lounging on the lake until one moment a disabled man with a cute little dog on a leash was flying by and got himself caught on something and crashed in the bushes near us. I hopped up to help him and grab the leash of his wee pooch who was not trying to run away (thank goodness). I wrote about this experience earlier as it brought home some family memories for me. As the sun started to sink beyond the buildings on downtown Oakland, the familiar chill of shade settled in and we hopped up to split.
Almost the end…
This is where I do a solid for my incredibly gifted artist/musician friend @yoko_okay because I was floored and am honored to discover she featured me in one of her #dailydrawings on her Patreon page which I know you will want to support and check out along with the other fantastic links to her work here. And you may as well take a listen to this song she wrote and recorded with her songwriting partner Dibson T. Hoffweiler titled “Flight of the Hummingbird” waaaay before this day.
That post was inspired by a few pictures she took of me holding her drawing and the magic of Thursyay, 3/25/2021.
Lastly, I have been so inspired by my talented friend, I wrote a little ditty for her a month or so ago after seeing a hilarious Bitmoji of two of her flying around in a hotdog. So, have a great April coming and I will peace out to y’all with this last listen.
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