Hey....I am flying...for a change
Well San Francisco was everything I wanted it to be....and some more.
Arriving there puts in me a good mood. The town has the feel of Europe....with an American accent. I love the predictable fog and the hills. I love the houses sloped against the right angle roads. I love that 30 minutes walking replaces cardio in the gym.. I love that I can taste every nations food in a 5 minute walk. I like hearing the gulls remind me of home. Now I have a new love....well, an old love.
AT&T Park, despite the corporate name is a wonder. An arena full of the American dream. I guess I had no idea how many people would be there. Sold out the sign read as I arrived to sing the National Anthem for the Giants / Astros games. I then read that all 64 games this season sold out. With the average ticket at $100 and 42,000 seats sold, someone is making a lot of money.
The publicist for my shows in San Francisco and his partner met me at the corporate entrance and we were escorted into the bowels of the building only to surface right behind home plate. I was awestruck and immediately fell in love. The atmosphere was buzzing. The Giants had won the night before and you could feel it. Optimism everywhere. So I waited to walk onto the diamond. I was in no way nervous. It felt like I was about to get on a fairground ride. I was escorted to the microphone and after a short introduction began singing. I started in a key lower than I was used to and as soon as I finished the first sentence and began the second, I heard the first sentence coming back at me in a strange auditory backslap. It was hugely disconcerting but I sang through it and indeed reached the end without messing up the words(nod to Christina Aguilera) or hitting a bum note(hat tip to Rosanne Barr). The song is difficult but if you approach it's simplicity and offer no theatrics , it all becomes easier. I don't think the song should be performed....just honored.
As the roar went up toward the last sentence I felt that instant in slow motion. All at once I was on that plane 20 years ago when I first arrived in the US. I had no idea then that I would make a small mark, my mark. There, on Saturday at a ball game, I realised that I have achieved what I set out to do all those years ago. I am fulfilled and happy. I have made myself a part of the US. At the same time, I am making people wonder where I come from, who my parents are and wonder whether they will ever get to Ireland.I indeed am part of two worlds.
The Giants people asked me with little notice to sing the 7th inning stretch. I said I would be happy to but then quietly asked "what is the 7th inning stretch". I was then sent a clip of Take Me out to the Ballgame". I was led up to where the videotron is at the park and there, with the backing of a 40,000 piece choir, I sang the song....well it isn't a song you sing, as roar in a bawdy singsong kind of way. I finished and the walk to the exit was filled with fathers and son's, kids, frat guys and grandmothers giving me backslaps, high fives,hugs and photo ops. I felt the love and the respect. People were grateful I came along. "hey Irish, you sang good"!
I got a car home to my hotel and decided I should celebrate by heading to the rooftop bar overlooking the city. I ordered a lovely red zin from Lodi, not far from the city. Savoring the vino and the moment I looked across the city. The fog had settled in and it still looked stunning.
My calm was ruined by a group of young professionals. I realised they had been at the Ann Coulter appearance in the theater nearby. They began talking about her and I heard that they idolised her. They had drank the coolaid that even Ann Coulter doesn't drink, even though she makes it. I have never heard such hatred disguised as humor and the fact that it came from seemingly educated go getters made it all the more horrific. There was jokes and put downs about people with AIDS, about muslims, about President Obama....it was endless. I couldn't take anymore. I left the bar and as I was going , one of the loud women of the group said to me "Hey handsome, did we make you move...sorry about the noise!" She laughed and I replied "it wasn't the noise or your politics, it was the vitriol". I left.
On Sunday I boarded the on/off bus. I saw The Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Nob Hill, The Castro, Haight Ashbury, Alcatraz, The Bay. It was a day off to savor. I loved it from start to finish. I have said it before - If only San Francisco wasn't so far West. I want to live there.
I will be back to perform Dec 12 - Jan 2. Tickets are available NOW
Home for 10 days and then back to the West Coast for Live Pledges in Seattle KCTS 9 Sept 12 and San Bernardino KVCR Sept 13