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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Wake up with garlic!

May 17, 2022

At last! We’re on our way to be Woke!

A little background on this first. Keith Knight draws comics based on his own life. His main comic strip, The K-Chronicles, used to be a nine-panel strip (it’s started shrinking in about 2018 and now it’s down to four panels, because nine panels is a lot to draw).

He might write about how it feels to go into an office supply store (all those shiny ways to get organized!) or about performing with his Hip-Hop group (The Marginal Prophets). Every so often, he’ll draw about racial issues (Keith is African-American). Robert has been reading (and e-mailing Keith) for about 20 years now—it’s a good strip.

A couple of years ago, Sony and Hulu listened to Keith and decided that his strip would be a good basis for a TV show and thus was born Woke, again loosely based on Keith’s life. In the show, Keef (his character’s name) is a struggling cartoonist who’s trying to break into the mainstream with a non-offensive comic about “Toast and Butter.”

Then Keef gets profiled by the cops (“Six foot black male”) and taken to the ground with guns drawn before his (white) roommate charges up and chews out the cops, who apologize to the roommate. Thus, Keef begins the process of becoming woke. (A similar incident happened to Keith 20 years ago, although he was wide awake by that time.)

The show premiered in Sept 2020—we were all still stuck at home, and it was the summer of George Floyd and it seemed ripped from the headlines (spoiler: it’s been going on a long time). It’s funny, hip (we miss about 25% of the jokes because we’re not au courant with the cool kids), snarky, and good enough to get a second season.

So now Keith has his own exhibition at The Cartoon Art Museum (which has done some growing itself over the years—it’s now right on the waterfront!). And that’s why we drove down to San Francisco.

6:30 am Zzzz

We’re up! Ish. Since Harvey is just one big(ish) room, when one of us rises, we’re both up. In this case, it’s good because we have about four hours to drive to SF. The Cartoon Art Museum (CAM) closes at 5:00 pm and is closed all day tomorrow, so we can’t dawdle as we sometimes do. (We are champion dawdlers!)

We’re getting the knack of quickly and efficiently making coffee and getting it inside us.

8:00 am Cast off!

We bid a fond farewell to Hidden Pines and head south. Gini has made it very clear that one dance with death is plenty and she’ll have no more of this Highway 1 nonsense.

Instead, Robert plots a course that takes Highway 20 over to 101 and then south.

Guess what Highway is just as twisty and turny as Highway 1? Yup, today we’re doing the death tango on Highway 20! But good news, Highway 20 is better maintained so you get the full, rich squeal from the tires (and Gini) when we go around the curves a little too quickly.

9:00 am Happy Donuts = Happy Driver

In our rush to get going, breakfast didn’t happen, so our stomachs are sounding like angry bears. The first sign of civilization is a town called Willets, where the population doesn’t eat breakfast, because there’re no restaurants! Or maybe they’re all just temporarily closed…

Fortunately, there is a Happy Donut store and an apple fritter and a cinnamon donut later, we are back flying down Highway 20!

9:40 Breakfast in Ukiah

But we still need a proper breakfast, which Ukiah is happy to provide us. This is a smallish, quaint little town with a block or two of downtown. There’s even an artist working on a mural in the town park. It’s sunny and mid-60’s and life in Ukiah looks pretty good.

Harvey in sunny Ukiah

Our waitress greets us with “How are you guyses?” Guyses? We thought “guys” pretty much covered everything. Maybe if you have two sets of guys, they are guyses? But we’re only two people, so we’re not sure we’re a guyses. That weeping sound you hear is the English language falling apart…

1:30 Candlestick RV Park

All this traffic! After five days of fairly deserted roads (seems like most people don’t care to do the Death Mambo on windy mountain highways), we are suddenly in the middle of it—traffic to the left of us, traffic to the right of us, multiple lanes branching off hither and yon. Siri is busy trying to steer us through the madness as we drive San Francisco.

At one point, we drive through a toll plaza, but there’s no way to pay? We may now be criminals in California. Let’s hope we can dodge arrest for a while.

Finally, we get off the freeway and start heading towards our RV park. The neighborhood gets rougher and rougher. The graffiti gets less distinct and more widespread. More concrete blocks line the road and the occasional strand of barbed wire appears.

Finally, we reach the most urban RV park we’ve seen yet—it’s a giant parking lot filled with RV’s packed in like herrings at a concert. But, it has electricity and water (and is the only RV park within the city limits), so it’s our home for two days.

Gini at our very urban RV park

2:00 pm Woke!

Even we are not crazy enough to drive Harvey through downtown San Francisco, so we catch a Lyft over there and let Brandon worry about the driving, as we listen to Portuguese church songs (quite catchy) on his sound system.

Robert has arrived!

We arrive and the exhibit is delightful—it’s a bunch of Keith’s comics along with some props and designs from the show. There’s a TV set showing a collection of interviews of Keith over the years. (He looks so young 20 years ago! But then, who didn’t?)

Here’s some samples of his comics—if you want to see more, you know where to go!

The K-Chronicles through the years

From the TV show

Robert finds the Executive Director for the Cartoon Art Museum and makes a contribution in honor of Dr. Knight (he’s getting an honorary doctorate from Salem State University where he went to college).

Gini time travels to view a younger Keith Knight

3:30 pm Oh look, Ghiradelli!

Turns out that CAM is right next door to Ghiradelli square, which has at least three different Ghiradelli stores, each one with a line of different length.

We wander the area for a while, sit on the dock of the bay for a bit—but it’s very windy and even though it’s sunny, it starts getting a bit chilly. Having the wind constantly blowing gets annoying pretty quickly, as it turns out.

5:00 pm Garlic!

The last time Robert was in SF (some 20 years ago), he ate at a wonderful restaurant called The Stinking Rose (a nickname for garlic). Happily, the restaurant is still here! Unhappily, it’s a mile uphill from the waterfront, which seems like a silly distance to take a Lyft. “A mile? That’ll be easy!” Of course, Robert is two months out from having his hip replaced (“I’m now Two Hip!”) and Gini is still getting used to her set of new knees. But we made it—and our reward was a wonderful dinner. Their motto is: “We season our garlic with food”

Garlic is everything!

We had a small pot of roast garlic, garlic relish, garlic chicken pasta, crab salad (“One of the best salads I’ve ever had,” declared Gini). And for desert: Garlic ice cream! With garlic oozing out of our pores, we call a Lyft and head back home to Harvey where we dream of twisty highways filled with garlic.

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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