The transcript was amazing. One side was a graphical depiction of the walkabout with Eva and her mother ...
And the other side was a visual representation of the radio program.
Some of the tasks in the “Key” we had already completed; but there were other sections that tantalized with tanting.
So there we were, in San Francisco, without net access. How would we get net access? How would? Instead of flitting about looking for an internet cafe, we called Doc and cried and cried about not having net-enabled cellphones. He kindly translated our questions into viable web queries. The “&_hobocoinage” command led to a two-page sheet of potentially be-coined Whole Bohemians. Doc started listing the people on the sheet; he mentioned one Whole Bohemian was located at Hardie Alley, a second was at a barbershop in a Chinatown alley. I knew exactly where that was, and Crumbly knew where Hardie Alley was. Hardie was deserted, so we continued on to the barber, Jun Yu, who was next door to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. You can go in and watch them make fortune cookies! And buy fortune cookies! The ones that you watched being made!
I took a photo of Jun Yu’s place back in 2003 because I wanted to get my hair cut there. The door was closed and read “closed” but Crumbly Donut saw movement within and gently, ever so gently pushed the door open a little bit and got Jun Yu’s attention. He wore a hearing aid that occasionally produced a bit of feedback; apparently we were the first ones to ask about the coins. He had the entire bag at his side, and I could see that there was a letter accompanying the coins. I both did and did not try to read the letter, it was an internal fight that I eventually won by abandoning my desire to peek behind the curtain. We gave Jun Yu some of that ole’ American currency currently circling the drain; he gave us some Hobo Coins of Incalcuable Value. And then we left, forgetting to visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
Once we had the coins, we trundled over to Paxton Gate and exchanged them for teeth. The smiling woman at Paxton Gate indicated a large group of similar teeth-seeking individuals had just stopped by. She gave each of us a small manilla envelope, and a smaller hobo coin as change.
A successful adventure! Given the excellence of the outing, I immediately purchased a “Little Black Box of Nonchalance.” When I went to order the LBBoN, I noticed that the transcript was also available for purchase. In addition, four San Francisco stores started selling the transcript in their shops. I was somewhat jealous of the people who got to look at the transcript and mesh that up with their audio/etc experiences. But you know, right there on the other hand ... sasquatch.
The Little Black Box arrived from Elsewhere by way of the Elsewhere Postal Service by way of the World’s Smallest Postal Service by way of the United States Postal Service.
This is the inner envelope, which has the stamps and cancelling stamps of the Elsewhere Postal Service. I received some “FOREWARNING” shields; microwave emanation warner stickers; “SOON OBSOLETE” fence signs; a single, very familiar “hobo glyph”; an Elsewhere Public Works ID; and a letter describing it. And a clothespin!
Given the excellence of this acquired artifact, I joined fellow nonchalant Rusty in a celebratory multi-city plastering of critical faketechnocult information. The seeds take root, grow and become trees ... and then spread seeds. Now let me tell you what happened to those seeds.
Crumbly Donut and I spent three weeks trying to track down the other three whole bohemians from the list. After capping our search with two fruitless trips walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, I was concerned that we would run out of time ... though there were (again) no external indicators of this imagined chronological concern. We bailed on our quest and went back to Jun Yu.
When we first got there, Jun Yu was playing the erhu. A sign on his shop seemed to indicate that he did some playing for a movie soundtrack. I turned away for what seemed like an instant, turned back around, and the erhu was gone. We exchanged USDs for HCs.
Then we left, successfully remembering an hour later that we forgot to stop in at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory again. On the way to The Curiosity Shoppe, I ran into some flowery street art and the Clarion Alley Mural Project.
Crumbly Donut wasn’t sure if he could visit the Curiosity Shoppe later in the day, so I put on my big boy pants and went ahead without him. Shoppe Manager Aurora was at the counter:
Hi, I am wondering if you know anything about the World’s Smallest Post Office?
A: Do you ... have anything to trade?
Yes! I have a coin. A very small wooden coin.
A: Oh ...
But it’s not the smallest wooden coin.
A: Ah! Well, then I have something for you. First, here’s your change ...
[FX: change!] And here’s your letter ... [FX: letter!]
I thanked her and left, but not before cooing over various things in the shoppe, including crocheted jellyfish.
A guy opening the bar next door saw me walking out with the teeny-tiny letter and said “so now what?” He had apparently already gotten the letter. We talked for a little bit, but I didn’t want to hold him up with chitter-chat ... he was busy getting the place ready for the serious business of drinking. Luckily I always carry a loupe with me so I got down to the serious business of reading.
After loupe-squinting my way through two pages, I fired up a few brain cells and realized my camera’s optical zoom would be fine by itself ... I took photos of each page and looked at them on the LCD screen. The letter started out fine; Peggy indicated that a “man” was going to help Eva:
In my absence I have sent a trusted friend ... a noble man. Although you may not recognize him at first, he will recognize you. He will help to answer some of the many questions probably intertwining your mind. At the right (left) time he will meet you at the Tower.
Then the letter sort of took a detour into wackyland. Cults will do that to you (much later I discovered that a good chunk of it was the writing of Gertrude Stein). After reading it, I tinyily folded it back up and wandered around a bit. I ran into more of those excellent street koi.
This koi travels with its own water. Oh wonderful street koi! Why not come home with me. [SFX: jackhammering]
Crumbly Donut was able to free up enough time to also get the letter. He showed up and made the exchange with Derek, a co-owner.
Aurora squinted mightily and read half of the letter out loud. She wanted to get involved, and also knew the artist who drew the transcript. Crumbly Donut read the other half of the letter, and they both suffered 10% ocular degeneration. Ambulances were called.
There was also something on the transcript demarcating a “Hip Hop Shoe Repair” kiosk but when we went there it was closed with no markings on it ... apparently it was used as an early-morning newspaper stand. I liked to imagine it came to life as HHSR in the wee hours. When I first moved to the bay area, I used to drive around San Francisco at about three to four a.m., to get a handle on the city when the streets were utterly deserted.
When I got around to checking in with the Nonchalant Assessment assessorthing, I had all the answers this time.
The announcement continued, stressing that an important Nonchalant milestone has been reached and that there will be “AN EVENT which YOU have become an integral part of.” Then the screen went wack-a-mole. I think that is a standard EPWA sign-off, actually.
Around this time, Rusty had a set of buttons made that had some familiar and/or light-hearted sayings on them.
About a week later, there were rumblings on the Unforum about some sort of strange street war between a lone Jejune Institute acolyte and a single EPWA agent outside the annual Games Developer Conference at the Moscone Center. One brave soul was able to get an interview with the EPWA member; his name was Drybones and we had many things to learn from him.
Say, why not continue on to the next part: Action.