I had a day of errands yesterday, tedious, but necessary.   Since the first item on the to-do list was dropping the car off for its checkup, said errands had to be done on foot and the always charming subway.  At least, the transit people here claim it’s a subway; I think of it more as a very large petri dish growing ever more exotic contagions just waiting for me.

The weather was pissing.  I have lived here for 30 years and still do not have a decent rain coat.  Every winter, comes the rains and I am surprised once again.  I have this windbreaker kind of vinyl thing that I think of as my rain coat, but it’s really more of a fog coat.  Anytime the ambient water precipitates into more than the picturesque fog we’re famous for, the jacket immediately surrenders and I find myself wearing what is pretty much a wet garbage bag.  I have finally ordered a real rain coat.  I expect it to get here about the time the drought returns.


The charms of San Francisco in the winter.

One of the few pluses to our adventures in soggy land, was that my path went past the old James Lick Baths.  These were originally a Victorian era bathhouse where gentlemen could go for their monthly bath.  I don’t think there were regular shenanigans, although, men naked together, how far off could shenanigans be?  It now houses some fancy schmancy architecture firm, I think.

lick baths

lick facade

It’s really a charming building.

What charms me is that San Francisco in the late 1970s had an abundance of the kind of bathhouses run specifically for shenanigans and nothing else.  R Man lived here then and had wildly sordid tales of the establishments,  One specialized in fisting. its signage nothing but a drawing of a muscular arm with a stripe ominously far up it.  One had the cab of a tractor-trailer truck where you could live out your trucker daddy fantasies.  The tubs R Man was fondest of wound up being the Episcopal Sanctuary and Hospice for AIDS Victims.  Of course, AIDS is what did in all those louche sex palaces.

Of course the tragedy of the plague is very clear to me. and the loss of all these naughty redoubts is just a small footnote along the way.  But oh, how wonderful it would have been had some enterprising homo gotten the James Lick Baths and re-opened them as a fuck and suck under its original name.


Sigh.  Both for the loss of the bath house culture, the plague, and a pissing, soggy day.

20 responses »

  1. As I read the first few paragraphs, I swear I heard Annie Lennox: “Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory…”.


  2. Rainy day reminiscences – makes me feel better about the general January gloom and cold here in London… We, too have many “lost pleasure venues”, lost not necessarily due to the plague but to a combination of sad, creeping sanctimoniousness and corporate greed. Jx


  3. I bought my first (and last) GORE-TEX® jacket specifically for a trip to San Francisco and environs, many years ago. I’ll never need to purchase another because it’s so well-constructed.

    I’m sure there are bloggers younger than my jacket. With the exception of you and Norma, of course.


    • And speaking of trips here, Diane von Austinburg bought a flashy trench coat at a thrift store here ages ago and then never took it home, so all these years, she’s had one and I haven’t. Cheap irony provided for free on Saturdays only at mrpeenee.


  4. I love the San Francisco architecture! What an incredible range from Neo Classical to Victorian to Modern. Thanks for sharing these fotos and the local history with us.

    And I can see by that first foto that rain or shine, they’re always drilling holes in San Francisco! It’s a popular city for springing monumental erections!

    Stay safe and warm. Have some hot chocolate and some chicken soup!


  5. Got out into the yard today to do a bit more of the fall clean up. With only two more months to go I don’t think I will get it all done this year. Did order some seeds yesterday. Will start them inside as soon as they show up. They are the type of plants that should winter over outside. If I can get them out at the end of March they might be happy.


    • I have surrendered my yard to my gardener. He’s much better than my flailing efforts, and he’s really into pruning so everything is much tidier than it ever has been before.


  6. Aside from the palm trees, that top photo looks like it could have been taken pretty much anywhere in Britain during “summer”. The last photo does not.

    P.S. I like the little touch of trash (the discarded cup) in the gutter – was that a deliberate inclusion in your composition?


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