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Zachary Ehren

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Bondage, Banjos and Deepak Chopra: How to Fight Evil in San Franscisco

Posted: 10/21/2011 7:25 pm

Coming from the dark corners of every city, suburb and farm town lies a super-villain waiting to claim its next victim. The entire globe is in danger as he plots his next move for diabolical worldwide control. No person is entirely safe. He has his eyes fixed on your every move and knows exactly when to strike. Many have already suffered by the sadistic torments of his evil-doings.

His name? Boredom.

For years I had fallen victim to Boredom. He even took the pleasure of unleashing his evil sidekick, Laziness, who forcefully fed me junk food and tied me down in front of the television. They stealthily entered my life, preventing me from interacting with the world around me. Luckily I moved to city full of superheroes that are fully prepared to battle Boredom at every step. This became abundantly clear when I started smelling the foul stench of the villain creeping up on me one Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. I began to think there was no hope when a light started shining from a street in SOMA. Out of it came a league of gentlemen and women dressed entirely in leather.

POW!

The annual Folsom Street Fair had arrived bringing people fully armed with chains and whips, knocking Boredom out cold. Dressed in their S&M best, they celebrated the joys of bondage by walking the streets and making sure Boredom was nowhere to be found. I was in safe hands while I enjoyed the art exhibits, dance stages, and endless people watching. But I knew our favorite villain was only temporarily knocked out. He soon woke up with vengeance.

BLAM!

San Francisco had once again risen to the occasion and sent out another batch of heroes to destroy Boredom once again. This time, they came armed with banjos and guitars. Boredom never stood a chance against the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Over three-quarters of a million people and I were able to enjoy two days and three nights of free music in Golden Gate Park. With each guitar strum, clasp of the cymbal, and octave change in the voice, musicians like Broken Social Scene, Hugh Laurie, Bright Eyes, and The Punch Brothers pummeled the super-villain into dismay.

I was safe for two weekends in a row. But I feared that the next weekend might leave me vulnerable. Could I safely make it through Saturday and Sunday once more? All week I was left guessing and I could see Boredom's dark, red eyes staring at me on Thursday night.

KABLOOEY!

The Litquake Literary Festival shot down Boredom from Friday, October 7th through Saturday the 15th. The festival was packed to the teeth with ammunition, making sure the citizens of the Bay area were safe for nine days straight.

That Sunday, I went face-to-face with the Litquake avengers for the first time. I looked Boredom and Laziness straight in the eye and laughed as I began a free tour of Beat Generation landmarks in North Beach.

We met at the Beat Museum and for the next hour saw places like the apartment building where Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, the ever-famous City Lights bookstore and the coffee shop where many of the Beats would regularly frequent, Caffe Trieste.

I left there inspired, ready to tackle whatever trap Boredom would throw my way. Sure enough, I found myself in good hands once again that Wednesday at another Litquake event. Two veterans in the world of superheroes were going neck to neck in a battle of the minds in Berekely, California.

Deepak Chopra, doctor and author of over 60 books, was fighting on behalf of Team Spirituality. His opponent, physicist and author, Leonard Mlodinow was fighting on behalf of Team Science. They swung at each other, fists loaded with facts and statistics, for a solid hour and a half leaving the audience stunned. Chopra would throw a powerful right hook of spirituality and Mlodinow would fire right back with science. In the end they both left victorious. But that is not to say that there were no casualties. Lying in the middle of the ring, bloody and unconscious, was our old friend Boredom. He never knew what hit him.

The Litquake Festival ended by emptying its entire arsenal of superheroes. Throughout Valencia, Mission and 16th street, over 850 writers were standing combat-ready in restaurants, clubs, coffee bars, shops and pubs. Armed with their writings and words, they fired at Boredom for three and a half hours during the annual lit crawl. Each venue held a group of the selfless heroes as they, among other things, gave public readings on topics ranging from their love of the city, drunken debauchery, death, food and countless other captivating excerpts of writings.

It was towards the end of the evening when one of my fellow crawlers looked on the schedule and saw a reading on Mission Street, titled "From Buddha to Batman: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes." We quickly headed to Laszlo Bar, where new adventures surely awaited us.

To my surprise as we entered, we found Gotham Chopra, son of Deepak Chopra, was the guest speaker for the evening. I smiled knowing that Deepak sent his son to make sure I didn't succumb to Boredom on that beautiful summer evening.

Alas, another week went by without succumbing to Boredom and his wicked henchman Laziness. But there are many weekends in the future that I might not be so lucky. I must always keep a watchful eye out to avoid any danger. In a world full of villains lurking in the dark waiting for their opportunity to pounce, we all must find our superheroes.