The Lion in Tweed Episode Two: From Lombard Street to Sausalito, with a bit by Bill Cosby

 

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Partial transcript below.







Waking up: Lombard Street

The Lion in Tweed leaned against the window of the cab so as to better take in the san francisco streets around him. He'd woken that morning in the Lombard Street room of the Mayflower Hotel near the Nob Hill neighborhood. A charming old hotel, the Mayflower. The hotel desk reminded him of that of Hotel Chelsea: that is, old, shall we say, with the accoutrements needed before the days of electric reservations and magnetic plastic keys. A picture of Lombard Street had been painted or drawn in burnt sienna on the otherwise egg-creme walls of the "Lombard street" room. The pencil marks of the sketches that preceded the inking, especially the lettering spelling LOMBARD STREET, had not been erased after the inking had been done. Unprofessional. But...endearing.


Nob Hill.


Lombard Street was mythical place in his mind, having grown up on Bill Cosby's comedy albums when he was young. He wasn't particularly keen on seeing the street itself: the sienna vision on his hotel room wall sated his hunger. Given this mythical status, he'd rather know it through an illustration, like he'd come to know other mythical places. Also, he wasn't one to travel to a living city and simply start to check off sites. He was much more interested in people than things. There was a time he would have said he was more interested in people than places, but that wasn't a fair. It would better said that he was interested in people *in* places. What it means to be 'local' in a place. San Francisco certainly had that. One couldn't say here that life here was not shaped by geography.


"And the car's still going up!" he said to himself, not sure if he was quoting it correctly or not. [COSBY: WHERE'S THE LAND, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?] The 'Driving in San Francisco' bit was no more vivid than now, in a cab, racing up and down the hills, lead by a presumably experienced cab driver. The Lion was captivated by the street scenes outside, the outrageous angles that streets came together, how his cabbie waited in the middle of the street to turn left as if there wasn't a cable car rolling down the hill filled with tourists manned by an increasingly tense brakeman who eyed the cab sitting across its rails. The Lion tried to avoid eye contact with the driver and the tourists. One, because he didn't know what he could do except offer a sympathetic shrug "sorry we're blocking your way and endangering your lives and ours!" and two, because as a great cat, eye contact meant something very different to him than it apparently did to humans. Eye contact and tension was a volatile mixture for him, something he'd found better to be avoided.


And the casualness with which the cabbie fiddled with the radio dial as he waited for the pedestrian and cool-y ignored the san francisco landmark bearing down on them also unnerved the Lion. He found himself staring at the pedestrian, wishing her to move her long black stocking'd legs a little bit faster, so his cab could take its goddamn left turn, the cable car could rush by, and this calamity could be avoided. She did, and then the cabbie did, and then the brakeman did, and then the cab was rolling up the hill away from the cable car and everybody involved seemed to move on as if it were a regular occurrence, and the Lion let himself breathe again.


Where in Sausalito?


His cab just been in some kind of neighborhood, he'd seen some majestic and oddly large columns to his right---california redwood-scale columns compared to the white pine-scale columns of back East---and suddenly he was in the air over the water on the Golden Gate bridge. He loved to look out over open water, especially as broad as this, with glimpses into the Pacific. Waves reminded him of wind across the grasslands.


"Where in Sausalito?"


The lion started, looked around, swung his head with mane to follow toward the cabbie. "What was that?" he asked.


"Where in Sausalito? You said Sausalito. Where?"


"I...I don't know. I have a couple of hours. I thought I'd grab a bite."


"You don't know where you're going?"


"Not exactly."


The sea looked like the sky's shadow, they were so closely paired today in blueness and expanse. A mighty metal cargo ship churned a wake in the middle distance. It was impossible to judge how far that was.


"Drop you downtown?"


"What?"


"DROP-YOU-DOWN-TOWN?"


"I-uh- yes sure, yes, that would be fine." A bite to eat, maybe some seafood, maybe he'd be able to find a gift for his friend back home who'd taken care of his cats. He wondered if his black and white cat, rarely the curious one, was still chewing at the spines which stuck an inch out of the cactus on his desk. Wasn't it painful? His cat didn't seem to enjoy it, what with the recoiling after each bite. But who was the Lion to tell him to stop? So he watched him and asked him, why. But the cat of course never gave any indication of his goal.


The cab had all but crossed over the expanse between San Francisco and Sausalito. The hills on the other side rose sharply out of the water. The road looked like it would be easy to have a head on collision with a hill. Lush with vegetation, so full of life in contrast with the formerly snow-covered and now merely cold eastern hills from earlier that week. What a treat to be here. He'd have to spend some time just walking by the water, breathing in the smells. And then, well...soon it would be time for the wedding.







References.



The Bill Cosby quotes are from his piece "Driving in San Francisco," from his 1965 comedy album "Why is there air?"


The song I played is the Gas to Albuquerque Blues, and it is an original. It's the first song from my first album, The Big Hit, also available on iTunes, just look for "Andreas Duus Pape." I'm including the album version of Gas to Alb. on the music podcast. Do you know about the music podcast which accompanies The Lion in Tweed proper? So you're listening to episode 2 of the podcast proper but there's also the podcast you can subscribe to which will allow you to get individual songs. You can go to thelionintweed.com/subscribe.html


The radio sound is a theremin, the first electronic instrument. They have been experiencing a bit of a renaissance, after having all but disappeared during world war II. See, the theremin sounds so much like a radio because it's made from the same parts as a radio. You know how your physical body can distort the radio's sound? That is, you can walk closer and further away and make it go in and out? The theremin exploits that as the instrument of control. Anyway, so as you might imagine, when WWII broke out, musical instruments that had the same parts as radios became much less important than, say, radios. So, quickly, the theremin died.


I advertised the episode on the maximum fun comedy podcasts, and suggested that this show was like if "mermaid avenue" met "american splendor." I'll let the greats Graham Clark and Dave Shumka of the great Stop Podcasting Yourself explain:


The clip at the beginning of `The Lion in tweed' song is from My Brother, My Brother, and Me, which will also end this podcast.


The cabbie was voiced by my wonderful wife Emily.


Finally of course, congratulations to Joel and Laura. Take care, you crazy kids.

The song for this event:





The Lion in Tweed.




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