A dead tree still bears fruit?

Sometimes it just hits you: <i>Boom</i>!

Sometimes it just hits you: Boom!

Photo By Nick miller

Do holiday weekends at Lake Tahoe fall apart during 10-hour road trips back to the Bay Area? Watching the Interstate 80’s standstill from West Sacramento to Treasure Island on Sunday evening was like witnessing a huge teardrop fall from a sad eye all the way to sweaty and fungusy carbon-foot-printed toes. A gloomy American drive.

For some reason, though, I spent entire trip back from San Francisco thinking about my nearly empty cup of coffee, and how I’d discovered not a grind-laden slurp, but a syrupy, delicious last sip. Ritual Roasters’ Fazenda Kaquend Brazilian Cup of Excellence coffee has this sweet, honey essence, and like a weekend in Tahoe’s icy waters, it’s enough to forget the dead road ahead.

And good coffee also sobers you up after spending $26.25 on three Budweisers while watching Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt have his way with an anemic San Francisco Giants lineup. But I damn well needed those beers, because throwing away $30 to park on the other side of McCovey Cove (big mistake) is hard to stomach. The Giants lost, too, but Oakland won in Cleveland. Reality only kicks in when I check the standings on Monday morning.

But reality’s overrated. Except those small moments in bloom, like the Midtown Fourth of July ritual of caravanning at 9 p.m. for the perfect look at Cal Expo’s fireworks show, which in my opinion, is from the train tracks near Sutter’s Landing. They say this year was a recession Fourth, but nobody atop the hill knew the difference: big cheers at the finale, broken bottles, a drunken Father of the Year requesting that the 200-plus crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to his 5-year-old son. Man, what a good moment.

Manning the barbecue on the Fourth, on the other hand, is always sort of depressing. “Manning” itself is just one of those chauvinist collateral-language terms that makes you feel even less proud to watch chicken fat, slathered with Costco sauce, transform into gristle right before your eyes. But the dogs—you know, the three pugs, Boston terrier and Chesapeake Bay retriever at the party hovering at my feet—loved it.

It’s no wonder of science, either: Dogs covet food. But after watching Man on Wire, a remarkable 2008 documentary film, you have to wonder what drives a guy like acrobatic tightrope walker Philippe Petit to take a tiptoe of a daydream and run with it to the point where he’s actually there, atop the twin towers in 1974, treading softly 1,368 feet above the earth. It’s more than a hunger; it’s a scientific anomaly.

Most of us are simply game for chicken wings, double plays and Jim Beam shots. And that’s cool. But still.