i've just returned from one of the best trips to the bay area ever. aside from the shite weather following us west (word on the street was that san francisco just had the loveliest three weeks ever and that new york temps hit 70 degrees), i couldn't have asked for a better five days spent outside of the big apple.
gdc brought us to town. it was a great conference for us; finally getting a chance to demo our technology and to get some serious criticism about our game concepts. we rounded up with some of the most innovative people in our industry. our friends are more than kind and generous with their time and opinions. it was nice to see brian again. we ran into franck and buck. silvio worked with buck back in 1996 on pitfall 3d. i can't believe eight years have already passed. all our friends have slowly moved up the ranks. some even staying with the same company for longer than most of us have decided to live in any one city. this generation of game developers came from a variety of non-traditional gaming industries including math labs, consulting firms, comic books, the military, even, law school! the new crop of talent is graduating with bona fide game degrees! it's equally awesome and scary to watch the industry grow.
peers were open with introductions. i met kevin through franck. i met randi through lulu. i met evan, adam, tracy and twenty others through david. i finally met cranky having swapped long emails and aims for a short time. i met marc who robin had been telling me about all along. marc reminded us of one of our favorite kids in the world, marxy. so we dubbed him mini marxy. waiting for a karaoke revolution sneak peek, we holed up in jane's hotel room playing word games. marc was spewing absurd and unknown-to-me, japanese 60s pop bands. jane could confirm them all but couldn’t confirm that 60s french pop songstress sylvie vartan existed. kids today! swapping business cards and promises to keep in touch, it felt amazing to be surrounded by game comrades. having a renegade studio in manhattan is exciting. having a built in network of support is priceless.
after hustling for three solid days it was time to hang with sister jee in the city. but not without stopping at her office at yahoo first. her work campus is mad crazy. they have free coffee to keep their worker bees buzzing. her campus has everything. film drop off. games. gym. masseuses on staff. lots of green grass. you name it. whatever it takes to keep people at work forever and ever, yahoo has done it. voluntary slavery. nevertheless everyone seemed happy there. smiling. saying things like, "happy friday!" as they passed one another in the hall. i'm hoping to take photos of the campus and for every yahoo signage, photoshop in our company name. one can dream. albeit i don't think i'd ever fare well on a campus of that size. i’d feel like i’d have to know everyone. impossible!
the first night jee cooked a choice meal for silvio, david, jonas and i. starting with the most amazing clam and tomato sauce (light and flavorful) appetizer, jee than spoiled us with steamed dungeness crab. i haven't any photos of this because by then, my hands were filthy, covered in saliva and old bay seasoning. jee even prepared dessert (hot chocolate chip cookies with coffee ice cream). this is the dish jee is expected to cook us every time we're in town now. twice fed this way, there's no turning back. jee, you're the best. for real. we love you.
on saturday, we hosted a potluck lunch at the extremely hospitable chris and petra's. they live in the largest san francisco home i've ever been welcomed to party in. and they opened it up to our dozens of friends for ten straight hours. we ate, talked, ate, mingled, ate, jumped, ate, played games, ate, slept, ate and cleaned. absolute perfection. in attendance were old high school friends, a small new york posse, game peeps from the whole spectrum, writers, musicians, film creatives and so much more. a lot of openness. a lot of stimulation. a lot of smiling. cranky even commented on how socially adjusted everyone was. funny! i was re-introduced to bret; having met him six months earlier in new york. he came with a kat, a friend of jee's. fennis and joel made some rockstar comments. daniel playfully darted his eyes another direction when i begged for a wired news write up. ben facetiously guarded his complimentary house gift, kotor, from sticky fingers. allison and michelle didn't complain about how little time we had together. both newly engaged, they know i'll see them again soon.
saturday evening was spent at peter someone's photography loft for just a minute. there i got to know kat a little better. i'd heard so much about her and was finally able to put a hug to a name. struggling to keep awake (we had after all, just eaten for ten hours), we were shortly in bed and dreaming about california sunshine.
sunday was spent doing what we do every sunday we're in san francisco. we hit dim sum with robin, doug, joel, fennis, jane, jesse, petra, chris, jee and team hp. we gorged ourselves silly in less than twenty minutes. habitually talking too much, i was missing out on some of the most excellent selections but after a few extra orders and an egg custard in my belly, i could honestly say, food coma. it was time to take some our last jump portraits and wave ciao for now.
shortly after, we hit the yerba buena gardens and lay in the grass for yes...another six hours. jeff and ellen turned up with their kids i haven't seen in ages. we played tag with alanna and mariah who are nearly as tall as i am but one fifth my age. they are smart girls. alanna showed us her new gapped smile. when i asked if she'd been visited by the tooth fairy yet, she said no. i asked jeff why not? he explained that alanna wasn't ready to give up her tooth yet. her explanation, "i have a lot of money saved but i only have one tooth." whoa! note to self: send future spawn to jeff and ellen's for the summer.
paul kept things funny. he is a witty amusing person, albeit a bad asian (more on his lack of hosting skills some other day). not much has changed since high school. jonathan nearly passed out on the grass and he didn't even lunch with us! there was a little geek chatter (jee hired, paul fired) but we kept it mellow for the non tech peeps. different packs of wild friends checked in for the next several hours hovering over the lawn to say hello and goodbye. we ate ice cream and chris took notes of some of my best thoughts yet. mustering up enough energy, we headed off to our next destination, puerto alegra for the prerequisite last meal - mexican! aaron and ilona turned up and we got to catch up on their westcoast move. they just bought a house and have changed up their lives again drastically. we laughed at their decisions to move cross country every couple of years. having exhausted all our energy with no spare belly to push further, we called it a night.
every time we are in san francisco, our friends show up with extreme kindness. they keep me laughing all day long. it is what i miss most living in new york. our californian friends might not rock harder but the beat they’re rocking too is in tune. no doubt. we thank you all for accommodating us and for showing up with five minutes notice. we’re looking forward to everyone’s new york visit. come on, let's make the world go round.