Paul and I left Houston for San Diego on Thursday, September 26 aboard Spirit Airlines flight NK619 with everything we needed to take the show on the road. We returned with just a few artifacts to prove we were there.
This is the story of our trip.
Thursday, September 26
We met MsDaywrecker and MrDaywrecker outside of the airport, at the smoker’s outpost, while waiting for our flight. We linked up again at the Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, where I offered them some of the sopapillas I’d ordered. I shared with them that I was there on account of the $28 tab Priority Pass offered through one of the credit cards I use. MrDaywrecker gave me some cash, something he didn’t have to do, and I very much appreciated his generosity.
On the plane, I sat next to a couple of soccer players. I had just inserted my Noble Kaiser 10s and was prepared to bump Rich Brian’s The Sailor for the umpteenth time when they began laughing. I asked what was so funny, and wound up chatting at length with Asley, who occupied the window seat.
After we reached San Diego, I checked in with MunchNPlay, whom I stayed with throughout TwitchCon, and routed to the Omni (675 L St). I walked around the hotel a bit to kill some time, breathing in that little patch of the Gaslamp Quarter. From the south-east side of the property, by the columns and planter boxes, a homeless man called out to me and offered me a dollar for my lighter. I told him he could use mine, but I couldn’t sell it to him, as I might need it later.
I watched as he used it to light a strange pipe, rambled a bit about having a God-given charge to do something big (he wasn’t quite sure what it was, yet). I commented I was being an enabler. After returning my lighter, he asked if I could help him get on Facebook to see what people were saying. I told him to let it go, and wished him well.
I met up with MunchNPlay and others at last, walking in front of the convention center. Together, we headed to the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina where we entered a Presidential Suite. I had a beer and chatted with a couple of other people there, but didn’t take down any names.
We walked back to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, where MunchNPlay produced a LiveU Solo (Amazon.com) that he’d just received that morning.
Friday, September 27
MunchNPlay and I headed to the convention center, where Moblord hosted a gathering featuring pizza and homemade salsa. There, I met hackychannel and BennyFits.
We returned to the Hilton, where we stopped at Odysea. I ordered a Summer Melon “Salad” and a mimosa. We were joined by WillGeeksOut, KiwisnStars, and BucklingRobin.
I stepped away from the group briefly to say hello to BlondieWondie. She initially spotted Paul, then sidled up to the bar, where I approached her. I discovered that she had lost her phone. She didn’t seem particularly friendly, but then again, she had lost her phone.
We accompanied WillGeeksOut, KiwisnStars, and BucklingRobin to the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, where they were staying. I met KneeKapATX while relaxing against the window, marveling at KiwisnStars’s extensive traveling makeup collection.
That evening, MunchNPlay hosted a function at Odysea. Before anyone else showed up, I met Alaana “NeonRose n The Invisible.” Alaana was wearing a grungy sweater, jeans, and flip flops. Her hair looked wet, so I asked if she’d just come in from the pool. She told me that she had gone to Burning Man, and that all her belongings had been stolen. She had come down to San Diego to stay with a band she’d connected with, but had been unable to reconnect.
Security came to harass her: she’d been playing the piano on the floor above us, and they were determined to kick her out because she wasn’t a guest at the property. I got up and intervened.
I had Alaana accompany me back up to the hotel room, where I grabbed my laptop. We returned to the lobby, and I accompanied her as she tried to regain access to her Google account, where she had images of documents attesting to her identity.
She wanted to go dancing. I took her back up to the hotel room, where she changed into a new outfit, and I allowed her to keep her backpack there after checking it.
I met JBeeZee, MiraMouse + OutspokenPizza, OnceinLuv, SmexiestChicken, xSkyKing, Frankenroc, WovenWyrm, and pizzaexplorer at MunchNPlay’s function. I bumped into BatskyStarman in the men’s room. I met amber_made outside while she was waiting on her ride.
By the end of the night, I was feeling good, having tried all the dessert cocktails that the bar offered.
I paid for an Uber ride for WovenWyrm to save him the walk in the rain.
Saturday, September 28
I was woken up by Alaana calling me at 7:03AM. She told me she had a couple of friends with her, and wanted to know if she could bring them up to the room. I volunteered that I would go down instead.
Out on the second floor, I allowed Paul to mark some plants. I met the two homeless guys Alaana had brought to the hotel, who quickly dissipated.
I led Alaana back up to the hotel room where I grabbed my camera, such that I might appear something other than homeless, and walked with Paul and with her along the bay.
Alaana pulled up one of her music videos on my phone:
We stepped into the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina from the slip, where we met Meimeikyu, who was cosplaying as Sailor Jupiter.
Meimeikyu’s friend from SF snapped a group photo of us by the entrance – that’s gone.
We pushed on to Seaport Village. Walking on past, I spotted Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. The sign said it was open only on Saturdays. I bought a salad to share with Alaana, who was chatting up a fisherman. Afterwards, I chatted with a Filipino couple who had been admiring Paul, and as I prepared to leave, I realized he was nowhere to be found.
I double-timed it with Alaana back to shore, scanning for Paul. Which way had he gone? I asked a woman if she’d seen a Yorkie walking around off-leash, and she chided me for having allowed him to roam. We started back towards Seaport Village, but turned around, and I saw Terralynn (@terralyn.n) holding him, walking towards me – a woman with some stains on her shirt that Alaana and I had met earlier had walked off with him in tow, and I marveled at how strange it was that she would have kept on walking so non-chalantly.
I snapped a few photos of Terralynn holding Paul, but similarly, those are lost.
Reunited with Paul, we continued on our way. I met Will, who was shooting with his Sony FS5 for Zoomin, and had a TwitchCon press badge. I also chatted with Paul Strahm, a painter (paulstrahm.com).
We wound up by the USS Midway. I took a few pictures of Alaana posing by the Unconditional Surrender statue with Paul wandering in the foreground. We walked to the end of the Navy Pier, where I took a few pictures of Alaana as she lied down and stretched. An old man volunteering at the USS Midway Museum came by to check on us – he’d seen Alaana stretching on the CCTV, and asked to ensure that everything was okay. I learned that he was formerly in the service.
It was getting warm, so we began heading back to the Hilton to change. We bumped into Yasukeh.
Yasukeh was on his way to a team function at Coin-Op (789 Sixth Ave) where there would be food and drinks, and we tagged along with him. Unfortunately, the door guy didn’t let us in. I didn’t have my physical ID on me, and he wouldn’t accept my scans of my driver’s license or passport. I asked for his manager, TJ, who was similarly tough. TJ really didn’t like it when I asked for his manager. I found it absurd they wouldn’t permit us in, even when I offered I wouldn’t order any drinks, especially given the event was being covered.
By this point, it was clear I hadn’t come out prepared for the day. Along the way back to the Hilton, we stopped to grab some beers from CVS (645 Market St) at Alaana’s behest. Back at the room, Alaana took a shower, and we drank a couple of beers before hitting the streets again.
Walking back in front of the convention center, we bumped into Korean_Jesus. He provided the hookup on convention passes, picking out one that read “Dirty Dog” for me – he cautioned that they wouldn’t work to get into the Blink-182 concert that evening. I bought two (4:31:19PM PDT), so that I could get into the convention, and that Alaana might experience it as well.
Armed with a pass, Paul and I headed into the convention center for the first time that afternoon, wanting to say hi to IslandGrown, whom I first met at the Twitch Hawaii meetup in Honolulu on June 30, 2019.
We met Riona, ReknLive, Hoppy, and Average_Po.
On the way out of the convention center, we met HailsBee.
Next, we made it to the OutdoorIRL Meetup hosted by iamMisterIRL at BASIC Bar / Pizza (410 10th Ave). Also in attendance were reedog117 and lye54, GenghisKon83, heyimRooney, and BeeLovesGreen.
We met Dudley at some point. We think it was outside of BASIC.
We walked past Petco Park. A group of percussionists were drumming up a storm ahead of the concert. We made a beeline away from the loud noises, and returned to the Hilton by 8PM.
Back at the hotel, I saw a man with an iPhone 8 on a gimbal. I asked what he was shooting for, and that’s when we met Sweet_Anita. She was, as her name suggests, quite sweet. She shared how she had found herself as a spokesperson for people with Tourette’s. I found her quite endearing.
I went to bed early that night, and was woken up by MunchNPlay returning with a couple of friends. He offered something to eat, and brought back a sandwich.
Sunday, September 29
Alaana called me at 10:41AM. She had managed to get into the Blink-182 concert using the badge that I had purchased off of Korean_Jesus, and had wound up staying the night with a couple of Navy seamen.
Paul and I spent most of our day at the convention. There’s something magical about the last day of a convention: the energy is a world apart from day one.
I chanced upon the opportunity to meet Pokimane and take a photo with her. While waiting in line, we met Grizzz and bujunic.
I had the security guy take a photo from an alternate angle, but of course, that’s lost.
Over at the LiveU booth, Luis recognized me. I participated in their broadcast, receiving a dare:
Beside the LiveU booth, we met aranhawaii (Chess on Twitch) and Awkwards_Travel.
I roamed around a while in search of something shiny, and came across Xocliw:
I returned with a shiny, something I had actually acquired the day before and simply extracted from my satchel, and met JoeyKaotyk:
We met alpha_akira, PlanetChessClub, PurpleLovePower, and tt2468 by the LiveU booth.
At the UnlimitedIRL booth, Taylor Webb refunded me for the two months of service I hadn’t intended to stay signed up for. I spotted theGunRun chatting with someone nearby. We also met CookSux.
I had hitch take a selfie with me:
We moved along, and met lycheepop, who was representing Rise Above the Disorder. I snapped a photo of her with Paul – this, of course, was lost.
There was a meet and greet for DrLupo, but the line was capped off. I saw MrsDrLupo nearby, and introduced myself.
We met DrGluon nearby.
We met Alex Cruttenden, PM at Blast, at their booth.
We met JustifydWarrior and Merlin, his bunny. We also met Keeoh and KoalaFrys. We met Manco1.
At the OBS booth, we met Fenrirthviti, donlumps, and Jim, OBS lead.
At the Twitch Staff Booth, I engaged msongvo and WarpWizzle. I asked them what signal Twitch was sending by refusing to individually consider the cases of broadcasters who’d run afoul of their community guidelines one too many times. They brought in Shimesaba.
We met Blackmanhand, KosmicKloud, themadbun, Someguy022, EmmyWithLove, and GrumpyWarVet.
Out on the terrace, I met babyhsu888:
waterlynn, JakeNBake’s girlfriend:
and GiannieLee, who was running around all full of energy.
Nearby, Valkyr_ttv was in need of a light, and spotting the cigar in his hand, I asked if he had another by chance. He produced one, and so I sat and chatted with him and Chesspieceface. When I learned that Chesspieceface was based in San Diego, I mentioned needing a place to stay for the next couple of nights. Chesspieceface was hesitant, but provided me with his phone number in the event I couldn’t scare up anything else.
I spied BizSNES’s SNES puppet, and said hi before heading back inside the convention center.
We met TheAznInvasionX on my way out of the con.
While waiting on Alaana outside of the con, we met CaptainContent_, who also knew Korean_Jesus, and miss_gator.
We met BrokenCowLeg, who was broadcasting, at which point Alaana showed up:
Alaana told me about Dane, whom she had met at the Blink-182 concert. He had some Airbnb properties and offered that he could help her with her career as a creative.
We met HardyPartyTruck, and I caught CookSux, JoeyKaotyk, and Haremi again as they walked down the path together:
Alaana recognized lulumeister02.
We had dinner at Mary Jane’s inside of the Hard Rock with the 1UpOnCancer folks – the folks at the table sitting next to ours, somahplays and sevisaurus, were just wrapping up their meal when we walked in.
iamMisterIRL joined us for dinner, and I took the opportunity to chat with him and better understand his interest in the broadcasting space.
During dinner, I had Alaana look for a place where we could spend the night. She hit Airbnb, while I hit Google. We found that Airbnb would have run considerably more for something that would accommodate the two of us, whereas we could get a room within walking distance for a much more reasonable rate.
When it came time to settle up, Alaana was shocked by the price she was charged for her soda. She had ordered more than she could afford. I put both our meals on my card, taking from her some cash, but the situation gave me some pause.
After exiting the Hard Rock, Paul and MoxyMary’s service dog, Jack, saw each other. They were accompanied by yanDreaya and KeepinItKawaii.
We bumped into TroubleTruck, whom I’d just Tweeted in response to earlier.
Alaana and I returned to the Hilton to retrieve my belongings. I took another look at my phone, and realized that the room rate I had previously noted was no longer available.
At 8:52PM, Alaana tried calling Dane from my phone, leaving a voicemail.
We walked from there to the Travelodge by Wyndham, San Diego Downtown Convention Center, where we spent the night. I’d booked us into a smoking room, but asked the receptionist whether a non-smoking room was available, and she took care of us.
At 11:34PM, I received a text message from Dane in response to the voicemail Alaana had left for him.
Alaana offered that I could cuddle with her, but I chose to sleep alone.
Monday, September 30
We had a light breakfast at the reception lobby. I had a couple of pastries, and introduced some coffee to my bowl of Raisin Bran. Afterwards, I handed off a beer to the man at the front desk.
Alaana gave Dane a call. During the call, she referred to me as her friend, stated that I would be leaving town that night.
We walked over to the 12th & Imperial Transit Center, where we boarded the Orange Line. We were stopped by MTS enforcement and told to step off at the next station, but fortunately, we were let off with a warning.
Back on the Metro with fare, we continued on our way to Dane’s office, Red I Nation.
When we arrived, Dane had someone in his office.
I gathered that Dane had interests in radio (KNSJ) and TV. He told me that he was managing a young Twitch broadcaster, a Fortnite player. He also had some interest with Gary Payton. Wallace Wang is a business partner. Formerly a standup comedian, he recommended Dave Chappelle’s latest.
Three more people joined us in Dane’s office: Ian, Sam, and Victor. They talked about coffee, one of my personal interests. I listened up.
We accompanied Dane to Diadel Coffee (2873 Adams Ave A), where Ryan, a SD native, showed off his roaster to Dane.
I chatted with Victor a while outside. He showed me some photos of the cannabis plants he’d grown.
We returned to Red I Nation. Dane dropped some more names: Joseph Tsai, Ted Chung (who’s working with Snoop Dogg). He showed a couple videos from his YouTube channel. Shared Stash investing. Social justice.
I gathered he earned some of his money through promoting products.
Alaana and I met Dane’s partner – I didn’t know whether he meant business partner or life partner, and assumed it was the latter.
We grabbed all our belongings, and Dane drove us out to Ocean Beach, where we had dinner at The Holding Company (5046 Newport Ave). I wound up putting the meal on my card after Dane signaled he would go to the ATM and grab some cash to hit me back. I think he may have handed me $20: I distinctly remember it not being enough to cover the entire meal, and certainly not enough to cover Alaana and himself.
After dinner, we went to XPerience Virtual Reality (4967 Newport Ave). There, I met Spencer Sellay with Skreens. I left my backpack with Jose and his wife so I could move unencumbered.
Dane, Alaana, and I went to and from the pier, walking to its end. The sun had already set by this point. I shot a photo of the pier, the moon looming above it. A man on the pier cut up some fish and placed them into a small cage at the center of a larger structure, which I learned was a lobster trap.
On the way back, I got a surfer bro’s attention after I observed his phone drop. He told me twice, “You’ve got a good heart!”
I didn’t know how to respond – just doing my part, looking out for others.
Maribel and Linda showed up with some loud. A couple of joints were rolled. A glass pipe joined the mix.
Dane had been asking people for their connotation of the word “spliff” all day: Alaana broke away, and came back quickly with a cigarette. She handed me a joint that had gone out.
Israel had a toy gun held up to his head and repeatedly pulled the trigger on himself. I called attention to what was going on.
I watched as Alaana took the toy gun, aimed at inside of her mouth, and pulled the trigger.
At 9:07PM, still inside of XPerience Virtual Reality, I started shooting.
It’s pretty safe to say I’d started tripping by this point. I can be heard instructing everyone to get the fuck out of the building. Dane chimed in, “now!”
From here, my recollection of the sequence of events is very hazy. I leaned heavily on the data to piece together what happened.
Alaana told me I kept stopping to talk to people. She started talking to Dane about getting us a room so we could “play contact improv.”
I remember being at the liquor store, Newport Farms Mkt & Liquor (5004 Newport Ave), where I spilled some water on the floor. Dane was there at the time, as corroborated by him. Alaana said we went there before going back to the car – she had wanted to grab a vodka cooler.
Dane told me we made it back to the car together, but I wandered off saying that I wanted to get some air, only not to return after twenty or thirty minutes.
At first, I was looking for Alaana and Dane. By the end of the night, it’d shifted to looking for Paul and everything else I’d brought with me.
I found myself separated from Alaana and Dane. I remember asking aloud where they were. As time crept on, it slowly dawned upon me that they were long gone.
I made a series of video recordings starting at 10:47PM. The metadata from the photos I took immediately afterwards put the location as the northeast corner of Newport Ave and Bacon St, right across the street from Newport Farms Mkt & Liquor.
Sometime later, I misplaced my iPhone 7 Plus and lost Paul.
I remember urinating in public. Remember telling a couple that I’d lost everything, and the man offering me a bump of coke, which I attempted to take. Remember a young lady offering to help me find Paul, her telling me to wait outside of a business, and me wandering off impatiently. Remember approaching a group with one tall, broad man who had a dog with him, and that man giving me a collar with a dog whistle built into the buckle.
From my iPhone 8 Plus, I made a couple of phone calls to new contacts I met on the street.
“Jimi Eow” at 1:11AM
“PUB JEFF” at 2:02AM, whom I’m positive was with the “King of OB,” who cackled after hearing about my lost things
A young man named Tristan helped me out. He bought me a bottle of water at Riteaid and provided me with a hoodie from out of his car to get me through the night.
I followed him a while. He tried busking, but I blew out his first set, which he called me out on.
I had wild thoughts going through my mind. I thought there was some underground sex trafficking operation. I noticed all the white vans and box trucks that may be complicit in a body-snatching job.
Given all this, I felt there was something oddly Pied Piperish about Tristan, so I hung back as he walked off into the night.
At 3:08AM, alone and fearful, thinking each slowing car that passed me may potentially whisk me away to some seedy San Diego underworld, I called 911.
The police officers who arrived were not particularly helpful. After checking me for weapons, they had me sit against the squad car while they asked me questions.
I asked if there was somewhere they could take me where I could charge up my phone and wouldn’t be alone. I strapped myself into the back seat of the squad car, and shut my eyes. They took me to the hospital.
I charged my phone at the check-in counter. Find My iPhone reported my missing iPhone 7 Plus last in the vicinity of the Ocean Beach Riteaid (4840 Niagara Ave). When I pulled up the app at 3:58AM PDT from outside of the hospital, I could see that it was there.
The police wouldn’t take me back – “we’re not your personal taxi” – but they did ping another officer in the area to take a look around. That officer found nothing.
The reporting officer’s partner urged me to man up.
I sent out a message across my Twitter and Facebook accounts letting my followers know the predicament I was in:
I wanted to keep charging my phone, but there was no accessible charger. I briefly considering checking myself in to the hospital so that I could get a free ride back to Ocean Beach, but decided against doing so. Who knows how long that would take?
At 5:12AM, I took an Uber ride to the last reported location of my phone. I arrived at 5:25AM, and I watched it move in real-time. I raced after it to the public restroom. I saw a couple there, approached them, asked if I’d met them earlier that night. They responded, no.
At the entrance of the men’s half of the public restroom was a shopping cart filled with someone’s possessions. From around the corner, a man appeared. I asked if he’d picked up a phone recently, and he told me that he hadn’t.
I kept on walking in search of any sign of my things or of Paul.
I came across one of the two people I’d seen outside of the public restroom while searching for my phone, and asked if he had a smoke. He produced a butt and asked if I had a light, but I had lost my lighter along with everything else. He introduced himself as Duck.
Later, I came across Duck again. He had a lit cigarette in hand, and offered to share his smoke. I spied my phone peeking out of the left pocket of his hoodie. He told me he had found it on the floor. I retrieved it from him. He lamented it was just his luck that he found a phone he couldn’t put to use after telling me about the lockout that had occurred when he’d unsuccessfully attempted to brute-force my passcode.
I called Spirit Airlines at 5:16AM to see if I could salvage any value from the flight I was about to miss.
I kept walking, talking to everyone on the street. I approached each one by asking if I’d met them, then explained I was looking for my belongings and for Paul. I bummed a couple of smokes in the process.
I bumped into Tristan again. He took back the hoodie that he’d lent me, and lent me a battery pack so I might charge my phone. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a Lightning cable. I was able to borrow one of those, along with a 1A USB power adapter from another man.
At 9:07AM, I posted to the Lost & Found Pets of OB 92107 Facebook Group (Facebook), and Taylor Booth (@boothsbutterflyeffect) called me 40 minutes later informing me someone had dropped Paul off. I recovered Paul from Taylor at Dog Beach Dog Wash at 10AM, his face heavy with tear stains.
Reunited with Paul, we walked back along the beach, looking for any signs of my gear. Nothing.
We dipped into Ocean Beach Kabob, where I ordered lentil soup and tacos. The woman behind the counter also brought out a paper boat of gyros meat for Paul. I ate and charged my phone for a while. Resting my head against the counter, I fell asleep briefly, but rose again.
At 12:03PM, I redeemed 12,500 United miles and ponied up the $75 close-in booking fee for a flight home.
I looked around for Tristan so that I might return his battery pack. I tried locating his car, thinking I might deposit it there, but I couldn’t remember where he’d parked.
We left Ocean Beach at 12:30PM, and arrived at San Diego International Airport at 12:43PM.
Even without physical ID, I was able to clear TSA after filling out a form and answering some questions over the phone, but the TSA officer advised me against going back out to bum a smoke.
While waiting for our flight back home, I cruised around, looking for a charger. A young lady left a small black clutch behind, and I ran after her with it, returning it to her.
At the gate, I got some rest at last.
Back at home
Alaana called me at 11:05PM on October 1, 2019. Dane had put her up in a motel room. He had been pushy, looking for sex. She gave him a massage, he gave her one back (she said it was the worst she’d ever received), and then she signaled she was tired, and that she wanted to go to sleep.
As I think back on that night, and how it all went wrong, one question stands out in my mind: why didn’t Dane call me?
Here’s one explanation… Men have two heads: trouble is, they can only think with one of them at a time. I had the sense that Dane had been trying to isolate Alaana after we left XPerience Virtual Reality.
As my original flight time loomed near, I had briefly considered taking off without Paul, writing everything off. The mental calculus when removed from feeling cash-strapped is easy: of course I shouldn’t have left without Paul! Everyone I stopped and asked for help from knew that I couldn’t take off without knowing what had become of Paul.
The greatest loss wasn’t the property: that can all be replaced. Only a couple of the items had emotional significance:
- The Cross pen was part of a set that my father had given to me when I was in high school: it was the pen that had slipped from my pocket that one night in Tulsa
- The Burberry polo shirt was the one I wore to the shoot with Alvin Tan and Karla Kush
What pains me most was losing the photographs and work in progress. I lost all my photos from LA, including the behind the scenes shots I’d taken from the shoot, as well as everything from San Diego that hadn’t made its way to the cloud from my phones.
There were many small failures that led to catastrophe. I shouldn’t have gotten as high as I did – I guess I need to learn to say no to drugs. Meanwhile, I imagine someone probably watched expectantly as I sloughed off my backpack, filled with my valuable possessions, and said nothing, waiting to see whether I’d walk away without turning back, before picking through my gear gleefully when I had gone.
Finding myself alone and without nearly all my earthly possessions led me to ponder: what separates me from the homeless? Is there something fundamentally different about me that I would be able to bounce back were I to find myself truly stranded?
How do you solve that classic riddle: one knight tells truth, other always lies… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_and_Knaves
This time spent without so many of my things has been an experience, to say the least. It’s given me the opportunity to consider just what is necessary for me to operate, as well as to ponder the importance of building, maintaining, and bolstering systems for disaster recovery. I never would have thought that my trip to San Diego would have ended on this note, but what can I say?
Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.