Category Archives: san francisco

Bal Masque

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One of the odd aspects of all this smoke in the air here is the proliferation of masks.  Days ago, the state health department advised that the elderly and kids and sick people wear a mask that filtered out smoke.  Then they upped it to everyone should wear a mask and now they’ve just thrown in the towel and said everybody should simply stay indoors.  It’s like the start of a zombie movie.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have seen every permutation on face coverings just short of Darth Vader.  It’s gotten to the point where there are generally more people wearing one than not.  I do so hate to be left out of any fashion rage.

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Man-on-the-street mask.  A really cute man on the street to boot.

I’ve also been hacking pretty impressively every time I venture out, so I gave in and decided to go buy one.  Naturally, both of the hardware stores in my terribly stylish neighborhood were sold out.  But I persisted and this afternoon I went in to my favorite one and snagged the very last one they had.

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I think it has a certain raffish charm to it.  Since I have a really skinny head, it only sort of fits and I wasn’t convinced it was doing anything until I took it off before going into the grocery and I was suddenly struck by the very strong smell of smoke from which it must have been protecting me.

So yay it works.  It also fogs up my glasses, but I’ll take breathing over seeing any day.

l’air

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I know when many people think of San Francisco and the sun we have, they have a picture of some Annette Funicello Beach Blanket movie bright, highly polished sunshine. And it’s true, we get that a lot, but even here, the light in autumn is a mellow, low gold.

Or it was until a gigantic wildfire settled in less than 200 miles from here and belched smoke all over us.  At the same time, the wind that blows off the Pacific and always blesses us with clean air has taken a break so the filth in the air just sits here.  Also, people have died, so it seems worse than cranky to complain about air quality.  Nevertheless, I will do so.  I haven’t been able to open the windows for a week without the apartment filling up with so much smoke, it smells like I have a small campfire burning in the living room.  Going out for a walk chokes me and makes my eyes run like a faucet. Some people react to this by wearing masks.  I’ve seen everything from a bandana tied across some guys face up to respirator kind of equipment they use in car painting shops.

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Saki deals with the emergency.

The local news about the fire always contains some boiler plate kind of language about dealing with it which always warns if you are over 60, have a compromised immune system, or have a history of pneumonia or bronchitis you should just huddle indoors.  I go through that list and think “Check. Check. Check.”  Still, eventually even a shut in like me has to venture out.   So, in just a minute, I will be heading out for coffee with our old friend The Fashion Sensation.

Maybe I can hold my breath.

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Or just turn my face to the wall.

 

Life in the Big City

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Such a beautiful day.  Warm and sunny and that California light that makes everything look polished, even the piles of debris the street kids leave behind them, like dogs marking their patch.

I went up on our fancy schmancy rooftop deck to take pictures of home.

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I realize it looks sort of like Arizona, but nope, it’s right here in the middle of the Castro

The skies are blue, it’s mid July, so of across I was wearing a fleecy hoodie, cause the temps were in the 60s and it was breezy.  As I have mentioned before I always pity these poor tourists who think coming to California in the summer will be balmy.  And sometimes, briefly, it is.  But norms are layers and layers of clothes to put on and remove as the temperatures sway in the breeze.

I met up with Super Agent Fred.  Now that I have sold my house and with it, Fred’s studio, we don’t hang out as much as we.  I got no TV and all of Fred’s work stuff is back downtown in his tiny studio apartment, so now we just coffee and gossip.

That day were chatting about crazies.  With a year round mild temperature (if chill) and a tolerant city government, we have long been home to the homeless.  I may appear heartless, but I am not; I understand if you are living on the sidewalk, it is probably not your idea.  I understand choices were made, some of them yours, some of them not, some of them goof, probably most of them not.  You are afterall calling a ratty backpack, a filthy blanket and the doorway of an out of business tattoo shop “home.” So, chances are, most choices made were not good.

You cannot go three blocks in San Francisco without seeing some homeless guy.  If you have managed that you are either walking with your eyes close (such a chancy idea here)  or possibly you are the crazy guy.  Does the guy tying and untying his show rapidly and speaking to it in chiding tones think he’s the crazy one?  Probably not, and besides, he’s got shoe problems.  Bigger things on his mind.

But on this particular day, the homeless had been unusually abundant.  And they were moving in small packs, four or five to a group, which is not normal.  By the next day, they broken up into the more normal singles, but still, it made Fred and I wonder if some other municipality had come up with the idea of dumping their homeless population on San Francisco and hoping we wouldn’t notice the extras since we have so many to start with.  And, in fact, by today, we seem to be back to our average crazy guys arguing with the trash can kind of day.

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why can’t there be guys like this who need a home?

 

 

I Feel Moved

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So at long last , after a series of crises that would have knocked the shit out of Job, I have triumphed and am not only living in my lovely mew apartment, but have just finished the long anticipated last haul.  Considering I started this process on April 5th (my birthday, sweetly enough.)  I don’t think I have ever been so physically exhausted and at one point during what turned from moving from simple relocation into some kind of  Death March, Super Agent Fred confided to our friend he had never seen me so stressed out.  And this is a friend who saw me through the dark days of R Man’s dying and death.

It was bad and one day I will recount the horrors.  let this stand as a symbol: yesterday (I think it was yesterday, it’s all a blur) I was stuck in very slow bumper to bumper traffic on an of ramp and briefly just dozed off.  I was awakened by the thud of my bumper hitting a very nice young woman who has since texted me and said there was no harm, so don’t worry about it.  I did not reveal to her that as son as I realized I had hit her, all I felt was a mild annoyance.  “Oh christ, not one more thing” was pretty much my whole summation of the event.

So anyway, here’s a picture of my new apartment with me,more or less conscious.

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I’m flying.  You need to imagine it without the cast collection of lampshades.

I’m sorry, I will write more soon, but I am beyond exhaustion. I am running on nothing but frazzled nerves at this point.  Look for scintillating insights and random punctuation soon.  Very soon.

Also, a naked youth

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Spring Break

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We interrupt mrpeenee as we do just about every year around this time to announce the Spring has arrived in San Francisco.   Each year we try to make the announcement with a cheery demeanor that manages to hide our smugness and each year, we fail.  Nyah, nyah, nyah, snowbound motherfuckers.  There are justifiable reasons why it costs so goddam much to live here:

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armies of cute boys,

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and a springtime that is what poets fumble around trying to describe.

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The cherry trees (and flowering plum trees, I can’t tell them apart) are the first outliers of the season and I shot these in two blocks of 18th Street.  Multiply that times the whole city and you get an idea of what I’m smug about.

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One great disappointment was this tiny cottage which has been a source of delight for years.   Since we first got here, the house was painted a soft pink and a medium sort of burgundy.  It was a fine color combination, no big deal, until the cherry trees in front of it bloomed and they were the exact same colors as the house.  It was amazing.  As a house owner and a gardener, matching the two seems like such an appealing idea, but I know how hard it would be to pull off.  Getting an exact shade of paint is almost impossible, getting TWO is a miracle.

And now, some idiot, who probably bough the house when the trees were out of flower, has painted it brown.  Just brown.  Too add salt to the wound, one of the two trees appears to be dead.   Possibly out of color-related grief.

Also a shame is that for some reason, Asian magnolias, which were also a harbinger of springtime and which were very common around town, seem to have sort of vanished,  This time of year, almost every block seemed to have one or two and now I don’t see them anywhere.  Golden Gate Park had a huge collection of them, including some from the Himalayas that were 50 feet tall.  The Arboretum, which housed most of them, moves things around a lot, to keep it fresh, a few years ago dug up a grove of them.  Mistake.  The grove was an example of how many varieties of them there are and I always thought it was charming in spring, the big pink and purple and white blooms on the bare branches; just lovely.

Still, I need to go out to the park.  Even a shut in can appreciate the beauties of spring.

 

Dank

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

It’s the Weather

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I been trying to scrape up the energy to post something, but energy seems to be thin on the ground these days.  Mostly, it’s hot.  I know my readers everywhere but here have been dealing with the atmosphere turning into something like a slow roasting oven, but this is San Francisco!   We do not do hot weather.  It is an outrage.  Records all over the place being broken, with temperatures over 100, which is something in Celsius, who knows?  It is fucking hot, how’s that?

My house has no air conditioning, which is pretty much never a problem, except when it is.  Like now.  How I hate to climb into a bed with the sheets already warm.  And only a sad fan huffing hot air around like that helps.

Last night, in the middle of sweating and being grouchy, I suddenly smelled smoke.  Wildfires are all around us and smoke has been kind of a background scent for weeks, but this was, suddenly, much stronger and getting more pungent fast.  More neighbors and I gathered in the street in this vague sort of way, asking each other “Do you smell smoke?”  I think if I had announced “No, I do not” in a firm voice, everyone would have just said “Oh, great. Thanks” and wandered back home.  Instead, I said, I was calling the Fire Department.  There was a sense of great relief.  Turns out no one wants to be the one to deal with bureaucracy, but I worked for the government my whole career.  Bureaucracy is my home turf.

So I called and the emergency operator was incredibly chill.  Speaking with her was like tuning into the Mellow Jam Hour.  Eventually the firetrucks rolled in, one on each end of the street, cause apparently someone else called and one end of the my street is one fire station and the other end is another.  Fine with me, they were as cute as the cliché.  When you apply to be a firefighter, do you have to send in a headshot?

The tromped through my house, complimented me on both my decorating and my garden (this is so San Francisco) and poked around in the brush that fills the canyon behind me.  We all agreed, yes, you could smell the smoke (which made me feel better; at least I’m not crazy in that general direction,) the short cute one said “It doesn’t smell like   a brush fire, it’s too sweet.” “Like cedar” I said and he agreed with charming enthusiasm.  If it got any more gay cozy, we were all going to have to plan brunch.

 

 

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I swear, this is what showed up when I called 911 for the fire truck.  I may have to set a fire out back myself.

We went back out front and the  truck from the alien firehouse came down to chat with their fire man buddies (probably planning brunch) and eventually toddled on off.  The smoke faded, still with no cause, and the cat and I went back to watching porn.

The hot weather finally broke around dawn, but the huge fire down in Los Angeles has already made its way up here and is making my eyes burn and my sinuses dribble down my throat.  I’m slowly drowning in my own snot.

On to more weather news, but this without humpy firemen.  My father, my remaining brother, 5 of my nephews andneices and their nigh countless children, all still live in Houston, where a no-big-deal hurricane hit late last week and then stalled and dumped an astonishing flood.  More than 50 inches in one day.  San Francisco’s annual rainfall average is less than 24 inches.

My brother and I have been texting, him airily assuring me everything’s fine, which is what everyone in my family says right up to the point when they have to scramble out of the kitchen window to escape.  When I was in high school, the morning I was supposed to leave on our senior trip, our neighborhood was so flooded, my neighbor and classmate Stephanie and I were ferried out in a National Guard truck.  We made quite an entrance at school that day.  And then Stephanie and I went off to the beach for the weekend, leaving our mothers behind to cope.  But they were tough old Texas gals, didn’t bother them.  Probably glad to be rid of us, they spent the day drinking beer and watching to see if their houses were going to flood.  The houses didn’t, but they did run out of beer and so they talked the National Guard guys into giving them a ride to the liquor store.

Now that, motherfuckers, is Texas.

Muscatoed

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le Muscato.  Artist’s impression

Those few of you among us with their memories still intact might recall that that blogger among bloggers, Muscato from over at Cafe Muscato, blew into San Francisco for some business meeting inflicted by his employers, Golden Handcuffs, earlier this summer.  We enjoyed a couple of quiet evenings together, but never got around to the thrilling San Francisco touring I had promised.

So when the old darling announced he would be back, I was determined to make up for my lackluster show last time.  Sadly, the results were only so-so once again.  This time, my lazy ass laziness was not entirely to be blamed.  The weather was, unusual for the Bay Area, not co-operative.   With more than a week and a half of heavy rains and dank the local scene would would fit in perfectly for the East Coast he was attempting to escape.

Still, we had a charming lunch at Neiman’s.  Muscato allowed how he had never crossed their sacred threshold, so I was delighted to introduce him to one of the grande dames of shopping.  In the Texas of my youth, Neiman’s defined a certain type of quietly stylish and extremely well-heeled Ladies.  These sad times have marked a slide in how much of the 1 Percent still hang their heads there, but the proportion of Good Hand Bags was encouraging.

The Bacchanal was rather subdued.  Neither of us drink much now and Muscato (as perhaps you recall) had a couple of serious heart ailments recently-ish and is being very, very good about sticking with his diet, virtue which can cut into a real Ladies Who Lunch kind of repast.

I am so impressed with Muscato’s determination to stick with his diet.  I know I couldn’t make it past the patisserie around the corner from his office.  There would Dr. Mark be, explaining the evils of carbohydrates while I would be wondering if I could get to the bakery before they ran out of the squishy red berry compote.

Then we rolled out to the far edge of town to a park that was large fort and barracks since the city was founded in the late 18th century.  Now it’s an odd, but lovely chunk of greenery in this very urban corner and includes the very site where Kim Novak throws herself into the Bay in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  The mention of that bit of history had Muscato ready to go like a terrier at a rat.

How disappointing then, that the storm that had been stomping us all week had also brought down a couple of truly enormous eucalyptus trees across the one narrow road that goes out to our destination (technically, it’s Fort Point, but it has such Vertigo induced fame, they really should give up and just call it Point Kim.)

Clouds blew back in by then and had a somber stroll through the AIDS memorial grove, a charming site, but more than a little sad for those of us of a certain age.

and speaking of our certain age, Muscato mentioned how attractive a nap sounded about then an I agreed with an alacrity which might have been the teeniest bit over enthusiastic, but it did sound good.

So Muscato will  be here through the weekend; we plan dinner Friday night when Mr.Muscato will be here and I’ll have a chance to meet him.  I’m terribly excited.   I might not have mentioned to Muscato my history of making up lurid stories about friends when coming across their partners for the first time, I’m sure we’ll find out.

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Of Course, what would an afternoon with a couple of old queens be without an ongoing appraisal of the youth passing by.  Muscato tends towards these dark, pirate-y type.

 

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While we all know my heart belongs to the more luscious, debaseable type.

Bloody Moon

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And you know what else?  Living in San Francisco means not only that we’re the center of the disaster movie universe, but also that the tattered remains of the hippie era refuse to die here.  Proof?  Sunday evening was both a Super Moon (a full moon with “the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth,” thank you Wikipedia, and a term I never remember running into until recently and now which seems to turn up as regularly as a Dame Edith Farewell Tour) and a full lunar eclipse, a so-called “Blood Moon” because of the red color it takes on.  Naturally all the hippie-wiccan-Burning Man types and others who don’t keep their pubes trimmed were wild for the prospect.

This being San Francisco, the fog blew in right at sunset and obscured the whole thing.  All the pagans were terribly disappointed, poor dears.  It’s just as well, I had planned on sacrificing a goat, but they were all sold out and Saki absolutely refused to cooperate.  I had hoped that the ceremony might help unload my house in New Orleans which STILL has not sold.

What is wrong with these fatheads?  It’s a great house and I’m throwing in all of my exquisite taste that I lavished on the dump for free.  I don’t know, I suppose it’s just bad moon ju-ju.

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Goats. Never around when you need them.

Cinematic Outrage

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My dears, I return after far too long away to report on the movie San Andreas, a film that features the destruction (again) of California (mostly San Francisco) and Dwayne Johnson’s titty muscles in about equal parts.  Mr. Johnson’s chesticles are well worth spending the time with and the earthquake/tsunami destruction is most charming, although whenever the “actors” slowed down to deliver the “dialogue,” things really hit a rough patch.  The sight of Johnson effortlessly boating about in a debris flooded financial district was worth the price of admission all by itself.

Equally amusing was the lighthearted attitude the movie makers took towards San Francisco geography.  Characters start out on one side of downtown, emerge seconds later clear on the other side of town and then announce they have to go to Chinatown to casually loot an electronics store because, I don’t know, there weren’t any downtown?  I’ll never know why because they then decide to take a walking tour of the most inaccessible hills around here, part of which included a jaunt up Russian Hill, completely off any sensible route, but coincidentally right outside of a building I used to live in.  “Hey I used to live there!  Cool, huh?”  What better review could a film ask for?

Also Dwayne Johnson and his mantitties, in order to get to Coit Tower, parachute into the ball park, which is about as far from Coit Tower as you can get without leaving town.  Why?  Who knows?  I had stopped trying to figure that out by then and they hadn’t even wiped out Golden Gate Bridge yet, an absolute requirement in any San Francisco based disaster; you just sit there waiting for it to finally happen.  I have to say, having seen the bridge go down more times than a power bottom in a gay porn festival, this was a particularly satisfying collapse.

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Also, Dwayne Johnson in a series of tight shirts.