Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sodomized in San Francisco

I have seen many airports of this country—Chicago, Denver, St. Louis, San Diego, Minneapolis. I have known the calculus of timing and chance. I have experienced delays, cancellations, sleet and snow. And today, I have seen the most wretched airline, perhaps, of the earth. Its name is American Airlines.

It takes about six hours to fly on a jet to San Francisco from New York City. Careening through the air, I found that there were no on-flight meals or peanuts to go with the mid-flight beverages. Succor came to me in a waft of cookie smell. I asked for one, but the coach rider that I was, I could not eat one. They were made exclusively for the business class.

Once I arrived in San Francisco, with the managing and news editor of Inprint and a chaperone, we were surprised to find that American Airlines does not, in fact, offer flights to Portland, Oregon. Considering that our tickets indicated the opposite—we would connect to an Oregon-bound flight from San Francisco, the itinerary went—this came as a bit of a surprise.

It turned out that an airline called “Horizon” hosted our flight to Portland. Or was it “Alaska”? “Concord”? The possibilities, it seemed, were endless. Few attendants really knew for sure. But we managed to make the ten-minute walk to the first terminal. Another security line greeted us.

My passport is expired. I have never had a problem with that before at an airport. Today, the belligerent Chinese woman checking tickets at the security line instructed me to return to the Horizon check-out line. Of course that meant I would miss my flight. We got off our first flight at 10:35 a.m. and the ride to Portland set off at 11:20 a.m. I explained this predicament to the woman. She was unfazed.

I usually don’t say this kind of thing, but in this case I have decided to make an exception: The mustachioed woman with long, straight brown hair at the check out counter was a smart-ass bitch. “Since you don’t have an I.D.,” she repeated to me. “Since you don’t have an I.D…” She cut herself off and handed me a boarding pass. On it she wrote “No I.D.”

They sent me through the second-tier search. I stood in a large capsule to get sprayed by a few air jets. Then an expressionless TSA attendant sorted through my suitcase and backpack. She produced a black Bic lighter and told me I couldn’t bring it across. Then, “All done,” she said. She walked off.

Feeling vindictive, I wanted to slaughter the lot of them. Thankfully Brandon Graham, our chaperone, bought me a red baseball cap with the letters “SF” embroidered on it and certainly managed to lift my spirits.

American Airlines would not give us a ticket for an earlier flight—we missed our plane, after all—so here we wait for the 4:30 p.m. flight. Or will that be full? Well, we can always pass through security, again, and take the hour and a half jaunt set for 10 p.m.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Describe the sandwich that sits in front of you. It is shaped like a submarine. The cheese is bright orange. Almost yellow. It looks like plastic. Narrow stripes of pale lettuce hang out the sides. The ham is a vivid magenta--you can see a narrow layer of it between the cheese, pale tomatoes, a few spicy peppers and finally that classic, Bodega-bought "hero" bread. This is your sandwich. Pick up the sandwich. Bite into it.

My mom emailed me today--she saw my old friend Daniil Feldsov outside a coffee shop and they talked for hours. That's great to hear he's still alive.