“Baby, you can drive my car,” the Beatles once observed, “if you want to be a star.” And the profundity of these words has never been clearer. Yes, automotive stardom is mine. For after literally weeks of introverting and introspecting, dammed if I didn’t bring internal reality out into the open. Yes, those of you with a direct line to that chip you implanted in my brain, it finally happened. I leapt behind the wheel of my Dodge this very morning, Sunday, and hurtled down Valencia Avenue, zigzagged across Market Street and found a blue zone for disabled parking right in front of San Francisco’s Symphony Hall. My purpose? Shopping, of course. To wit, plums, pears and, if possible, some breed of fish. The latter was not possible. On this particular day, having driven further than I have in months, I did not feel I had to do the ultimate and take on the hordes of elderly Chinese ladies storming the Civic Center fishmonger.
In fact, I did not even linger for coffee. No, I got the hell out of Dodge. Well, you know what I mean. Into my Dodge and out of Civic Center. Mission accomplished, after all. It has been weighing upon me, this sense of the quadriplegic walls closing in upon me. Driving less and less. Do I dare to eat a peach? Wear my trousers rolled? And so on, Prufrock style, tomorrow and tomorrow.
Meanwhile, how about yesterday and yesterday? I must have been determined to hear Michael Meade. Who is Michael Meade? I suppose he is a teacher, a public intellectual, social critic, storyteller, and pursuer of depth psychology and the mythopoeic. That is to say, I first encountered him with the Robert Bly crowd in Minnesota.
Mind you, Meade, while a riveting speaker, also has the unfortunate habit of doing his riveting in Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from these urban parts. Which would have been neither here nor there, were it not for Jane’s sudden departure. For things diocesan, vis-à-vis work. So baby you can drive my car may apply to Civic Center. But I’m just out of automotive practice enough to steer shy of leaving town. So there I was, fairly stuck. I was determined to hear Meade, particularly in the wake of the Kavanaugh show. So at first I tried to hire a cab. But San Francisco is in the midst of an accessible-taxi drought, let us say. This is a small transportation sinkhole that opened in the wake of the Uber takeover of the city’s rides-for-hire market. And, mark this, I fully intend to wage verbal war on this particular battlefield. If every single one of London’s black cabs is now wheelchair accessible, why is the opposite true of San Francisco?
So just to drive the point home, no pun intended, on the day of Michael Meade’s show in Mill Valley, I dutifully rose from my bed and set about dialing for cabs. I dialed in vain, of course. So shortly after 7 AM, I began an epic transit journey. BART (subway) to Civic Center, then one of the aging buses of Golden Gate Transit…more aptly Golden Years Transit…then Messieurs Marin Transit. And in fairness it must be noted that with all the changes I did get to the center of Mill Valley in less than two hours. An absolutely ludicrous trip time, but relatively okay when one considers the number of players involved. In fact, I had enough time to get some breakfast and begin wandering about the Redwood-lined streets of the affluent little burg in search of Michael.
Naturally, a place like Mill Valley, all woodsy and picturesque, keeps itself that way by maintaining its footpaths in a semi-paved state. I wound away from the center, toward what looked like Meade Land, only to have second thoughts. The town’s Community Church did not seem to lie uphill in a dusty redwood forest. So I reversed course, went a few hundred meters downhill until I encountered a local who told me to reverse course again. Now I came upon another rustic problem, how to cross the street. That is to say, safely. The curbs were high and unvarying.
But up ahead dammed if I didn’t spot a yellow-striped crossing. The church was just across the street. And just before I bounded across the traffic, something beat me to it. A deer. No, I mean this literally. A California mule deer bounded out of the dry autumnal forest, safely crossing the street in the designated markings. Proving that Mill Valley deer are a superior, law-abiding breed. And also proving that my journey across the region’s transit systems was not in vain. There was this moment of revelation. What the deer revealed is our secret. But here’s a hint: it’s more or less what Michael Meade revealed.
And what was revealed by my journey home, a three-hour epic involving, once again, Marin Transit, Golden Gate Transit and BART…well, the jury is out. The guilty version is certain. The specific counts are under discussion. Stay tuned.