4 February 1999

Crazy week. Busy week. Absolutely friggin’ insane week. And no, that’s not just another “why I’m answering my email so slowly” excuse. OK…maybe it’s sort of an excuse…

Today’s song I’d forgotten I liked: “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo” by Echo and the Bunnymen. There’s something quite wonderful about listening to Australian radio while you work…

Latest from the fascist republic of California : Bay Insider reports that the SFPD is actually helping to enforce the ban on smoking in San Francisco bars. Thank God the crime rate is going down so we can afford cops to handle such important matters. I feel so much more secure already…

Amusing Usenet post du jour: in ba.motss, someone actually referred to Palo Alto as a “funky college town”. For those outside the area, Palo Alto is one ofthe most sterile communities in the Bay Area. I can’t remember ever seeing anyone under 30 (or under $75,000 a year) walking the streets there, except on the actual Stanford campus. I’d hate to think how this poor slob would describe Berkeley…

Why yes, I AM avoiding anything remotely introspective this week (month? year?), thank you…

6 February 1999

Curiosities du jour:

The Castro has really come of age, it seems. The neighborhood which once reached out to queers worldwide is now up in arms about the possible placement of a temporary shelter for homeless gay youth. Despite all the empty babbling about “gay community”, the great social experiment of the 1970s has officially become nothing but an upscale shopping mall…

Protesters outside the Stud this week shouted “maricon” in reaction to “Wetback Night”, a Latino-hosted drag night. Hmm. Let’s see…Latinos accusing other Latinos of bigotry by calling them faggots. Makes sense to me…

The non-introspective life of yer humble host:

Thursday night dinner at Ye Olde Pizza Joynt in Hayward. Spent Friday afternoon helping a friend give birth to a brand new bouncing baby website. Friday evening has been given over to “Polyester”, although it’s not the same without the Odorama scratch-n-sniff card…

And I may go out and commit multiple misdemeanors by smoking cigarettes in my neighborhood bars later tonight…


Sometimes I think I’m letting life pass me by. Maybe it’s just a phase or maybe it’s the weather, but it seems like I don’t DO much of anything lately.

I work a lot. A big down side of working at home is that my work is always here with me, staring me in the face each time I walk into the living room. I guess the positives outweigh the negatives, though. I get to watch Pinky and the Brain while I work, and I’ve desigated my whole workplace a “smoking lounge”.

And I’ve been on a really scary domestic kick. The kitchen is spotless (or as much so as it can be). I’ve been cooking a lot. And I may actually do laundry one of these days.

Sex, of course, is but a vague memory…something I recall having done several months ago, in a different time zone. Even the thought of looking for someone with whom to copulate seems pretty boring.

But I’ve been watching a lot of TV…that’s always good thing. Right?

Only in San Francisco

After living in the strange place known as San Francisco for a few years, we begin to take a lot of things for granted. I’m not just talking about the food, the weather, etc. I’m talking about some really strange shit. Things that people outside the city might find truly bizarre, but that we don’t even question.

For example, there are damned few American cities where an ad campaign featuring a giant pot leaf (the kind we used to draw on our notebooks in high school) would draw no incredulous looks when plastered on city buses all over town. The product is some hemp-enhanced shampoo, but the icon is unmistakeable. This ad (and probably this product) wouldn’t fly in, say, Charlotte or Oklahoma City.

Marijuana smokers aren’t outlaws here. Cigarette smokers are.

San Francisco is the sort of place where someone in full drag on Market Street draws no stares and where someone walking down the street in an army uniform is assumed to be en route to a gay bar. Here, the controversy is not over whether to have a gay parade, but over how may points in the Kinsey continuum should be included in the name of the parade.

We don’t argue about whether or not sex clubs should exist, but about how closely the city should monitor them. People here discuss their sex lives with an openness which might make even New Yorkers blush.

San Franciscans use terms like “liberating” and “negative energy” and “inner child” without even a trace of irony. San Franciscans think terms like “lesbian – gay – bisexual – transgendered – questioning” roll effortlessly off the tongue.

In San Francisco, people ask “do you drive?” or “do you have a car?” In most parts of the country, the question is skipped because the answer is just assumed. Transit trauma has replaced “my car wouldn’t start” as the primary exucse for being late to work. In many circles, people who DO have cars are viewed as the oddities.

People here take road trips to the suburbs to go to Target or Pak-n-Save. It’s a really big production, not a daily way of life.

No one here finds it the least bit strange that it’s easier to buy imported coffee than to buy a hammer, or that juice bars outnumber drugstores in many neighborhoods. We take it for granted that we’re never far from a nice Peruvian or Laotian resturant, but finding a meat and two vegetables for under ten bucks is all but impossible.

It’s not “liberal vs. conservative” here. It’s more “libertarian vs. socialist vs. communist”.

The strangest thing, though, is that people here have an annoying tendency to forget that things ARE different here. We forget that minority groups are more worried about keeping their jobs and homes than about which terms urban white liberals use to “empower” them. We are shocked and appalled when small-town diners don’t have our favorite brand of “imported from God knows where” coffee.

We can’t understand why most of the country couldn’t give a flying fuck about how our Board of Supervisors condemned the heinous injustice in Burkina Faso or Brunei last week. We can’t believe that the Des Moines city council didn’t pass the same resolution and thank us for the idea.

We can’t cope with the fact that most of the world does not share our eccentricities. It’s nice that we’re a little bit odd in San Francisco. It would be even nicer if we could remember that we’re a little bit odd in San Francisco.

AOL Sucks

AOL sucks, reason #591: I’ve been working for weeks now on a client site which features a searchable database. Everything works beautifully.

Except on America Online…

Apparently, AOL’s system of proxy servers makes lots of sites unusable. In addition, their system does all sorts of really strange things to sites which do work. All the same, lots of people still use AOL, although the reasons for this continue to elude me.

So I find myself coming up with a half-assed fix to accommodate the ineptitude of a large corporation with unlimited resources. It’s the same disgust I feel when I use Microsoft products…

Things I really love this week: NewsRadio, Minute Maid Lemonade in the gallon jug, this pre-Falwell Teletubbies site, Better Telnet, and this week’s SF Weekly feedback.

Things I really hate this week: AOL (see above), idiots who put me on “press release” email lists I never asked to be on, parking tickets, and Nash Bridges location shoots.

Change Gotta Come

A lot of things on my mind right now. Things that will most likely affect my life for some time to come. Most of them have to do with the basic question of where I should live. Of course, this basic question brings up lots of other, more complex ones, including the ever-present “what should I be when I grow up?” I hate that one…

On the home front, it’s highly likely that my roomie of over six years will be leaving soon. This is a pretty strange thing to contemplate. When you live with someone for six years, it’s almost like a marriage, but without the added drama of sex or snoring issues.

I’m not about to break in a new roomie a this stage in the game. Which means, of course, that if I stay here, I’ll be paying all the rent by myself. I haven’t yet determined if I can really afford this, or if I really want to make the sacrifices (extra work, fewer toys and road trips, etc.) it may require.

But if I move, where should I go? Despite my growing distaste for San Francisco, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to leave the Bay Area. Do I stay here? Do I move across the bay to Oakland or Alameda? More and more I find that I like the East Bay better than San Francisco in many ways. If I’m going to stay here long term, that’s where I want to be.

Or should I just use this as an excuse to get the hell out of here completely? I know I’m going to do so eventually. It seems a little redundant to pack up and move across the bay if I’m just going to move someplace else in another year or two anyway.

And, of course, if I do move someplace else, just exactly what the hell am I going to do when get there? There’s also the reality that once I move out of this rent-controlled place, I’ll never be able to move back into San Francisco.

At the same time I’m excited about having this whole apartment to myself, I’m also scared of the implications. I’m unnerved by the questions forced by the issue.

18 February 1999

What is SOMA?

Since I’ve had several email messages about this recently, it’s time for the annual reminder, mostly directed toward non-San Franciscans and those who came in via search engines.

SOMA is the official acronym for South Of Market Area, which is my neighborhood in San Francisco. It has nothing to do with any prescription painkiller nor is any reference to Aldous Huxley implied. SOMA is nothing but a mildly annoying real estate term.

This is an amazing neighborhood and Planet SOMA was originally all about South of Market. A large part of the site still is, in one way or another.

Love and hate:

Things I hate today: HTML-formatted email; beets, green peas, and pickles; TCI Cable; sunny days in February…

Things I love today: Nikko’s Diner in Oakland; NewsRadio (still…); the rain’s coming back…

19 February 1999

Search Me

I often get a lot done when I’m feeling vaguely uncertain about life. For example, last night I pulled together my few Unix skills and finally got a search engine up and running on the site. It seemed slightly more rewarding than going out to the neighborhood bars and getting annoyed by everyone I’d see.

Now you can do a quick search of Planet SOMA’s 400-plus pages and find just what you’re looking for. Or at least as much so as this is possible given the way search engines work.

Enjoy it. I stayed up until 4AM working on it, after which I couldn’t get to sleep until almost 7AM. I’m still half asleep in service to my art.

Home Fires

Looks like the roomie will have the new title of “ex-roomie” soon, as he moves to Lower Haight and becomes a homeowner. The bonus will be an extra room in the microscopic Planet SOMA Factory. If I put my computer in it, it will even become a fully deductible home office.

Of course, the down side is the fact that I may have to give up my nagging habit of eating dinner every day.


The one thing I hate most this week is the fact that Melty pointed me toward this site and that I’ve wasted so much time there.

At Age 34 1/2

Seven realizations upon hitting the ripe old age of 34 1/2:

  1. The minimal lighting in most bars has additional benefits beyond the obvious factor of making all patrons “look better”. The darkness also allows you to pretend you don’t see people you’re avoiding for one reason or another. In addition, it allows you to pretend not to recognize people whose names you may have forgotten. Design feature or happy coincidence? Who knows?
  2. There are no bargains in malls. Ever.
  3. It is much easier to keep the kitchen clean if you wash three or four dishes a day rather than letting them “soak” for three weeks until everything you own is completetly disgusting.
  4. IQ testing might be a great idea for San Francisco drivers.
  5. I will most likely never eat at any of the SF Chronicle’s “Top 100 Restaurants”, and I don’t really feel that I’m missing anything. I’m not inclined to believe that a $25 pork chop is really five times better than a $5 pork chop.
  6. Sunshine and warm weather are tremedously overrated.
  7. I am now resigned to the fact that I will never be featured on an episode of A&E’s Biography. Note to friends and relatives: those compromising photos, videos, and anecdotes will probably never be particularly valuable.

Living Alone

Wow. As of Thursday, I’ll be living completely alone for the first time in almost ten years. This is a strangely creepy feeling, although I didn’t really expect it to be.

For those of you who just joined the saga, I’ve had the same roomie for pretty much the entire 6 1/2 years I’ve lived in San Francisco. He’s buying a house, and I’m too damned cranky to break in someone new at this point in my life. Prior to moving here, I’d “re-nested” with Mom and Dad in Greensboro for three years while I went back to school.

Which means, again, that this is my first time completely alone since I left Charlotte in 1989. I’ve always preferred living on my own. I’m just a little bit out of practice.

For the next few weeks I get to deal with all the minor irritants like getting the utilities switched over to my name, and passing around my new phone number. I have to buy pots and pans and some more dishes, which is a shame since I have a lot of them in storage back home. I have to get a sofa and a desk, and a few lamps. I’ll be losing one of my favorite ashtrays.

The big benefit, of course, will be all the extra space. I’ll be able to store things. I’ll have an actual office and a guest room (sort of). I’ll be able to walk around the house in my skivvies. I’ll be able to watch porn with the volume turned up without fear of embarrassment. Should I ever have sex again, it can be really noisy sex involving multiple rooms.

It’ll be strange, though. I’ll keep you posted…

My New Old Home

Today’s revelation: moving sucks, even when you’re not the one moving.

Actually, Dan got out in near-record time, with a big boost this morning from his mom and dad who probably would rather have spent their vacation in San Francisco doing something else.

Now all that remains is the fallout. This is a great time to do things like completely vacuuming all the floors for the first time since 1992. I need to rewire some phones. I need to get an additional line installed. And I get to sort through all my collected crap as I decompress it to fill more space.

And a sofa and some chairs might be nice…

I’ve already reclaimed the kitchen, even though I have plenty of skillets and cake pans but not a single saucepan. Last night I mopped parts of the floor I’d never even seen before. I’ve cleaned up all the strange 60’s dishes I’ve been picking up in thrift stores and keeping in the basement until I had room for them. I’ve moved the crock pot out of the cabinet.

All in all, I think everything will work out OK, although the whole thing still feels a little weird.