When you left me last week, you might remember that my significant other, Joe, and I had experienced dinner of mass destruction at the Hotel Del Coronado and had to do a midnight run to the 7-11 for Rolaids.
This week, my significant other, Ray, (who I am naming after one of my favorite actors and a scene stealer in The Departed, but I will talk more about all that later) and I went out to dinner once again in San Diego on Saturday night. However, this dinner ended up being much nicer.
Even though Saturday had started with clouds and light rain, the sun came out in the afternoon. Ray and I took his best friend, best friend's sister, and best friend's five year old daughter out for a sail in Mission Bay. It was the little girl's very first sailing trip. She was on very good behavior and wore her funky blue life jacket the whole time. Once I got my timing down, Ray could turn the sailboat fast and give the five year old a thrill.
That evening, still high from the sail, we went to the Fish Market for dinner. We had eaten at the Fish Market before and never had a bad meal there.
The Fish Market sits on the end of a low wharf under the shadow of an old aircraft carrier (now a museum) and next door to the Tuna Association. The restaurant has a long balcony that looks out onto San Diego Bay, so one can watch the fishing boats bring in dinner.
Ray ordered the snapper from the Sea of Cortez, and I had the thresher shark. Both fish were cooked perfectly. The snapper had a bit of a tang to it like a good snapper should, and the thresher shark was a hearty fish which filled me up and made the garlic mash potatoes (which were good) almost unnecessary. We drank Riesling and loved life in the way you can when you eat a good meal.
At the table across from us were a couple eating fish as well. The lady had a basic meal, but the guy had a big pot of crab legs and a plastic bib over his shirt. It was his birthday, and his girlfriend was taking him out. You could tell the guy had found food heaven, and the girlfriend knew exactly what he needed and gave it to him. Guys are simple some times.
At another table, an older couple sat across from a younger couple. It was obviously a meet the parents kind of meal; however, Ray and I disagreed as to whose parents they were. I said it was the lady's parents. Ray said it was the guy's parents. Still we did agree that the two couples didn't hang out on a regular basis. Two deserts came to their table. The older couple shared one, and the younger couple shared one. There was no desert intermingling.
After dinner, we went into downtown San Diego to get a coffee at Café Bassam. With guns on the walls and a large display case selling cigars and cigarettes, Café Bassam is probably the last refuge for smokers in So Cal. They also make excellent Italian Sodas and coffee drinks. By the way, if you ever need a tie or a hip flask, they sell those too. The inside of the café has a high ceiling and marble top tables. There are always cute young twenty-something ladies behind the counter with a far off look to them as if they don't belong in the sun.
As we were crossing the street, a group of hipsters crossed the street with their hands raised above their heads like they were political prisoners or something. Oh no, the roundup of hipsters and liberals and college kids has begun. When Ray pointed out that it was for a haunted house, I jumped off my paranoid train of thought. Okayyyy, the things people do for fun.
San Diego is a very strange place. I don't think I can ever live there because usually after a few days, I want to smash things. I've tried to figure out why this is so. I don't want to smash things in other cities. Maybe it's the anarchist in me surrounded by military everywhere. Maybe it's the young person in me surrounded by retired people everywhere. Maybe it's all the beach people and their feckin' mellow surfer personas. Maybe it's the animals in the zoo. I don't know. Usually I get my ass on the five north before the need to smash comes to the surface.
Café Bassam was crowded with young intellectuals smoking camels and nursing cold coffee. At one table an old man sat hunched over a manuscript. I was amazed by his focus and powers to concentrate. Kitchen staff from nearby restaurants came in to buy their coffee and smokes. Occasionally, a cop popped in but never stayed long.
That night, I had a dream about black bear cubs. Ray says it was a chocolate nightmare from the chocolate decadent desert at the Fish Market. Every time we have chocolate for a desert, I have strange dreams.
The next day, I took Ray to see The Departed in the ugly Fashion Valley mall. Yes, a mall can be ugly, and this mall is seriously ugly. It's a maze of washed out pastel colors on cement with the inescapable smell of cinnebons and McDonalds. Shoppers shuffled from empty store to empty store because they had to spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend. Spend your money on shit you don't need and forget about the problems of the world. Your economy needs you. Buy shit.
The movie theatre wasn't much better. It was one of those hundred screen multi-plexes with tiny theatres and paper thin walls. It was early in the day, and the ladies room was a disgusting mess. It was only going to get worse as the day went on, but that's okay. You could get a huge super size pop corn and soda and candy and nachos with bright orange cheese. Ray and I avoided the snack counter and got two seats together in the theatre.
The Departed is that new Scorsese film about organized crime in Boston. Nicholson is the head mobster, and he has a rat in the police department. Meanwhile, the police send someone under cover in his organization. Based on the Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, The Departed is one of those fun suspense films where who knows what and when is very important.
Basically, if Scorsese directed a picture with Nicholson, DiCaprio, Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, and Ray Winstone reading from the South Boston yellow pages, it would be interesting. Here, Scorsese is relaxed and in great form. He's not trying to show off some great camera move or style thing. He's not trying to pay homage to the history of cinema. He's just making a really good movie, and it is a lot of fun to watch.
We get to see men being men or think they're being men. They get to be all macho with ‘fuckin' this and ‘fuckin' that. All the women in the film are on the sidelines. We see them with their disgust for the whole business.
This movie stayed with me long after I left the theatre in the ugly mall. Was it the heightened drama---almost like opera? Scorsese can do that. He can reach for it. Was it the men and their crazy fucked up selves and double selves? Could I finally be seeing an entertainment that doesn't insult my intelligence? Could it be that they took the time on characters and gave the actors those extra few seconds of screen time to show more? Could it be because the love song of the film is ‘Comfortably Numb'?
Ray and I went to a diner and talked about the film. He liked it as well. He liked the idea of the departed, of people not being where they are supposed to be. Or were they where they exactly should be? What happens when you take someone out of a place and drop them in another place? Why do we sometimes feel like we're out of place? Where should we be anyway?
As I drove back up the five, the sun set, and I drove most of the way in darkness. I could not get ‘Comfortably Numb' out of my head.