VMworld is a technical conference virtualization-vendor VMware puts on every year. Last year, we did this trip in Los Angeles. The conference was really good this year and took place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. At the VMworld Party event, convention goers were given first-class treatment on Treasure Island where a taste of SF was provided, circus entertainment (my people), and two live bands played. Wonderbread 5, a Jackson 5 funky tribute band, opened for Smash Mouth. Wow! Both of these bands played a good show. Having never heard of Wonderbread 5, they were a surprising treat. They did a very funny version of Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, mixing in Queen’s Under Pressure for the last half. Smash Mouth performed awesomely as expected. The crowd loved them. They got a really good response from doing a cover of Van Halen’s Running with the Devil as well as another Van Halen tune that eludes me. Kind of surprising considering Smash Mouth’s own claim to fame – I just didn’t expect that they did covers too.
San Francisco is a different place than I had imagined. I emerged from the Bay Area Rapid Transit system on Powell and Market St. The area was a mass of people – tourists, locals, and vagrants. It was an awesome sight, one exemplary to the conceptual hustle and bustle of city life. It didn’t take me any time to get my bearings and head towards the hotel. Having settled in, I took a walk to grab lunch and learn the area. Within my first hour of time in San Francisco, I found my way into the rougher parts of town (affectionately known as
“tender loin”) and was offered drugs. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn the tie-dye shirt. I hit a hole in the wall Thai joint for lunch and it was really tasty. It was literally a hole-in-the-wall. I had to turn my body slightly to fit into the narrow corridor leading into the main area.
I was comparing everything to city’s I’ve been in before, and I wasn’t find a lot of direct correlations. The number one differentiating factor was the people. The locals of San Francisco are so incredibly nice. Not southern charm nice, familiar nice. Locals were so willing to engage total strangers in genuine conversation everywhere I went. If you were on the streets looking a little lost or confused, a local will stop to help you out with directions or advice. If you’re out eating in a local restaurant, you can bet that someone will enter into real “getting to know you” banter. Thursday night was probably one of our better examples of this. Isi and I walked from Pacific Heights on Filmore to Marina and back. We joined up with another work associate for dinner on Filmore and chatted with a couple from the neighborhood for an hour or more. Upon their advice, we trucked over to a (literal) hole-in-the-wall bar on Lombard and Van Ness, the Black Horse London Pub. Locals only and really nice people. I don’t drink at all, but this is the kind of bar a teetotaler can enjoy. From there, we took the group and a patron from Black Horse over to Silver Cloud karaoke bar. It was our first karaoke bar that fit our expectations – no private rooms, lots of bad singers, and late hours. In the end, it wasn’t actually that great. The microphones were either really bad or turned down too low. There was an obnoxiously drunk guy dancing in a manner that makes everyone uncomfortable – possibly dangerous to the patrons that were within flailing range. We left before getting in much singing to close out our last day in California.
Next year this convention splits in two. There will be one in Cannes, France (VMworld Europe) and another in Las Vegas, Nevada. I would love to go to either, though I’m leaning towards Cannes as a preference. I doubt that it would really be an option – I don’t even know if it’s intended to host the American audience. If the opportunity presents itself, I know both of these places would be spots Amy would really like to visit – boring conference or not. To afford Cannes, we may have to stay in hostels the whole time and eat at Le McDonalds.
Given San Francisco’s reputation … I wouldn’t want to end up anywhere near some place where the words “tender” and “loin” appear together.
Be glad you were only offered drugs. My hair would be standing on end, except that I would have done the same thing.
Never Met A Stranger (at least not one much stranger than me)