The woman at the security gate at Newark Airport (that's Newark New Jersey not Newark Nottinghamshire by the way) took one look at my boarding pass; marked it with a highlighter pen; curtly said 'Come with me'; and proceeded to put on a pair of rubber gloves. Gulp!
The shouts of 'Secondary Male coming through' as I was marched past my fellow passengers were a little too similar to the 'Dead man walking!' shouts in prison films for my liking. I was put through some weird cubicle (presumably one of those x-ray scanners). Then I was patted down and my belongings were examined in great detail.
A quick examination of my boarding pass and Mrs Windbag's yielded the answer. I'd been highlighted by the system for a random search.
Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franscisco was a special experience. I just couldn't believe that little old me from Wakefield had made it to the other side of the world and to California.
To make things stranger the bridge was buzzed by the American equivalent of the Red Arrows ( I think they were called the Blue Angels). At first I feared something terrible had happened. When we left the hotel there was a security alert at an Airport somewhere. We'd then spent about an hour and half getting to the bridge. Had some 9/11 type disaster happened in the mean time? Thankfully it was just rehearsals for a big show at the weekend.
I never really got the American fascination with baseball on previous trips to the States. However this time we were in San Franscisco when the post-season started. Post-seaon is like a cross between the football playoffs; the rugby league playoffs and a test match series. The San Franscisco Giants were playing the Atlanta Braves in the National Divisional play offs. The winners got to contest the National league championship with the winners of that then contesting the World Series.
So naturally we got sucked in to the point where we sought out a bar to watch the second match against the Atlanta Braves. When we started watching the Giants were 4-0 up. They then proceeded to throw it away and lose 5-4. This was a bit spooky because just before we went on holiday we witnessed Leeds United blowing a 4-1 lead to lose 6-4. Perhaps me and/or Mrs Windbag are jinxes?
I still don't really understand the rules though. Who would have thought they could make a simple game of rounders so complicated!
Post visit note - San Francisco won the World Series!
A highlight of our time in San Francisco was the trip to Alcatraz.
There is a audio commentary which is narrated by ex-warders and ex-inmates with some evocative sound-effects which make for a very affecting story.
There's also the little known story of when the then abandoned island was occupied by Native Americans at the end of the sixties
I kept seeing this advert on the telly for 'Tax Masters'. See the picture above. This advert has the kind of production values associated with one of those seventies adverts for your local carpet warehouse/sofa shop (branches at Furnival Gate Sheffield and Thorp Arch).
For some reason (presumably ego driven) the founder of said company, one Patrick R Cox, is also the star of the ad. I don't know about you but the combination of dark background and the beard (apologies in advance to all bearded Yorkshire Windbag readers) make him seem rather sinister. What you don't really get from the still above is the fact that during the commercial he seems to be constantly staring slightly to one side of the camera. It could be that he's just cross eyed or boss eyed. But the unfortunate effect is of somebody who's lying and can't look you in the eye.
When we were in the states there was a lot of talk about the upcoming mid term elections. As well as various politicians to be voted for there were also some potential law changes in some States. In California for instance there was Proposition 19 which concerned legalizing (or maybe just de-criminalising) possession of Marijuana.
Unfortunately the proposition didn't get a positive result. Its a shame because I was interested how it would work because Marijuana would still be illegal in the remaining states. Presumably it'd be like in those old American films. The law would be in hot pursuit of a gang of stoners but the stoners would cross the state line into California (provided they didn't have to stop for a Mars Bar) and that'd be that. The cops would be left cursing and shaking their fists at the state line.
The maid at our hotel in San Francisco used to make a little sculpture out of towels and place it on our bed. Each day we were greeted with a different animal when we arrived back in our room.
Naturally we had to see a gig while in the States. We went to see Jesse Malin at a little bar on the Bowery. As well as a great performance from the man himself we saw a great support slot from an up and coming band called A Million Years.
In Manhattan the freaking cyclists are outlaws riding on the pavements (or should that be sidewalks?); going the wrong way up the road and of course going through red lights. You'll find them breaking the law all over town. Except on the Brooklyn Bridge. On the Brooklyn Bridge cyclists have their own lane (next to the pedestrians) and woe betide you should step onto their territory. Suddenly they are the guardians of the law ready to perform a citizen's arrest on anybody who dares to walk on their lane.
One thing I'm always curious about is what touring musicians do at airports and at Newark I got the answer. They cause chaos at the check in!
In front of us were The Duke and the King with a ton of gear. The biggest inconvenience me and Mrs Windbag have suffered at an airport since getting stuck behind the British Swimming Team in Rome years ago.