Cranky, and a Road Trip?

Summer has arrived in San Francisco. I hate it.

It’s been hotter than hell (which means it might have hit 80 in the city today). There’s been no fog. I’m not a fan of the never-ending sunshine. I’m also cranky because I can’t sleep with the windows open. This, of course, is due to construction of the new yuppie slum across the street. The sound of hammers and saws is not my idea of bliss at 7AM.

So my apologies for being completely out of touch for the past few days (whether by phone, email, or web). I’ve been rather obsessively working on a project which would no doubt bore everyone else to tears, so I won’t even get into it now.

This would be about the point where I realize I have absolutely nothing to say tonight. So what I’m going to do is include a list of cities which make up an early potential version of the Planet SOMA 1999 Fall Road Trip and ask for opinions and comments:

  • Reno, Nevada
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Butte, Montana
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Grant’s Pass, Oregon

For you newbies, check out the 1997 and 1998 versions of this trip and note that this year’s version includes lots of uncharted territory where I don’t know many people. If you want to give me a home, show me cool things, warn me how horrible someplace is, or suggest I scarp the whole list and stat over again, let me know.

Cool. That filled up some space…

Independence Day

Independence Day random thoughts, nonsequiturs, etc.:

  1. Isn’t it wonderful that, if the House of Representatives has its way, the American flag will have more specific Constitutional protections than a majority of American citizens? Shouldn’t we consider giving the Equal Rights Amendment another shot before rendering a piece of cloth (or other synthetic material) more important than the freedoms it’s supposed to represent?
  2. How did I live here so long without recognizing that the outlying parts of town (the Outer Mission, Glen Park, Bayview, the Richmond, and the Sunset) are in many ways some of the most interesting parts of San Francisco, free as they are from the trendiness and pretentiousness of the sacred northeastern quarter? I’ve been spending more and more time “out there” in the past few months and it’s starting to grow on me. There’s a reality that downtown is sorely missing.
  3. Why would someone throw out perfectly good windows like the ones I found on Clement Street with Sarah this afternoon? They saw trash. I saw end tables which will soon flank the sofa I still don’t have.
  4. What is it about holiday weekends that makes even natives drive like complete idiots?
  5. Last, how many people know (or care) that the humble store on Irving Street pictured above was most likely the first Safeway store in San Francisco, way back in 1927? Even better, how many people will believe me (or care) when I say that there used to be Piggly Wiggly stores here in the 1930s?

Sleeping now, as the 5th of July is not necessarily a holiday for everyone…

Mid-life Crisis

Another one of those troublesome sleepless nights. Excuse me while I think out loud. I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I’ll be 35 next month. I’m entitled.

I don’t like my life right now. Not one bit. It’s boring, I feel really stressed, and I’m not accomplishing much of anything. I’m living in an apartment I can’t really afford in a city which increasingly annoys me. I have no social life to speak of, which wouldn’t bother me if I were using my time alone productively, but I’m not. I have a part-time job and I do some freelance work (neither of which I really envision ever completely paying the bills). And I’m smoking way too much.

This is not a whine, nor a plea for comforting pats on the back. It’s just a statement of fact. I need to be doing something radically different. It’s very possible that I also need to be living someplace radically different.

Give me a little leeway. I’m trying to work out a life plan here.

First and foremost, it’s time to consider the unthinkable: the fact that I should get a real, normal full-time job. It’s been two and a half years since I’ve had one, and I’ve finally realized that all this spare time is a large part of what’s keeping me from getting anything done.

Again, please hold the “you do a great web site which entertains many people” email. This kind of ego boost is alwys welcome, of course, but it’s not really what I need right now. Tonight is more of a “swift kick in the butt” kind of evening. Specific job offers, of course, would be quite appropriate at this point. Even if I don’t accept them, they might offer an idea what I should be doing next.

At this point, I’ll also request there be no email of the “you should be a writer” or “you should be a web designer” sort. I KNOW I should be one or the other (or maybe even something else completely unrelated). What I’m looking for here is specifics rather than general advice. But thanks all the same.

I’m still thinking out loud. I’m not really even looking for feedback necessarily, although there has to be a headhunter or a career counselor somewhere out there.

I know a little about a lot of subjects, but I fear I don’t know enough about any one single subject to be particularly marketable. Take web design: I’m good at it, I make fast, great-looking pages, and I can organize large amounts of information really well. But I’m not really a programmer. I have absolutely no interest in ever becoming more of a programmer than I am. And that’s becoming a big weakness. I’m also not cut out to let freelance and contract work be my only source of income.

I like to write. I’m even fairly good at it, some have said. I might even be able to edit, if pushed. But how do I go about doing these things? The problem is, of course, that I’m in a bit of a hurry. Anyone out there starting a magazine about urban culture and history and looking for someone who can write a column and create your web site? Hell…I’ll even make the damned coffee…

I have lots of interests and a well of knowledge on a number of subjects, none of which really translate into any sort of job that I can identify. I manage people well, I’m pretty good at organizing projects, and I love doing research. There’s got to be a job in there somewhere, but I’m damned if I know what it is.

I’ll stop for now, but I reserve the right to continue tomorrow on the subjects of San Francisco, my social life, and the fact that I haven’t had actual sex in an actual bed in a really long time. Or maybe I’ll just skip it…

8 July 1999

So I’ve decided to put the mid-life crisis on hold, at least until my birthday. Irma will be posting a list of appropriate consolation gifts soon, as you have only 33 shopping days left.

I’m too damned busy this week to have a crisis anyway. Aside from work, I’m also noticing that this week seems to be “Take Planet SOMA Seriously Week”. I’m honored, if perplexed, that anyone really cares what I have to say.

At the risk of sounding “full of myself”, here are a few examples:

  • There was my recent “revealing” interview and review in Nightcharm. That was fun.
  • Time Magazine (wow…talk about “legitimate”) currently has a link to my former Harvey Milk page on its site.
  • In the past few weeks, sections of Planet SOMA have been featured in two Yahoo “Full Coverage” pages: one on gentrification and one on SF’s Gay Pride Weekend.
  • In the past two days, I’ve been approached to do two interviews on the “gentrification in San Francisco” issue.

The mind boggles, no? The big question, of course, is how I can make all this new-found fame (or notoriety) help pay the rent? I’ll accept any ideas other than those saying I should pose nekkid again. Oh, what the hell. I’ll listen to those too.

Maybe I should just take a nap and ponder on this for a few minutes. Or maybe I should just take a nap. Period.

While I’m asleep, feel free to check out today’s links du jour:

Maybe more when I wake up. but I doubt it. I’m usually pretty groggy…

Site Update

Just finished a semi-major reconstruction of Planet SOMA. Chances are you won’t notice any particular differences, but it will make things a whole lot easier for me to maintain the site. There are about 400 pages and 2000 graphics on this site. Anything which makes maintenance easier is a good thing, no?

Here’s what I did:

  • Removed a number of oudated or rarely-visited pages and their associated graphics. This is to make room for expansion and new stuff I’m planning to add later.
  • Moved a number of pages to new locations. This will make maintaining the site about a million times easier for me. Unfortunately, it will make some people’s bookmarks cease to work. I’ve tried to add redirects where possible.
  • Fixed all the broken links WITHIN the site. This will not affect links to sites OUTSIDE Planet SOMA. That’s a task for another day.

Minor implications over the next day or two:

  • Some pages or graphics may take longer to load initially, as the cached copies in your browser will no longer be current. This is temporary and may not be a factor at all.
  • If you linked in from another site, the page you’re looking for may have moved. I’ve tried to redirect, but I haven’t done this for all the affected pages. Feel free to search the site to find what you’re looking for, but remember that my internal search engine will not be updated until I’ve finished uploading the new stuff.

Sorry for any inconvenience or traumas. If you run into anything that doesn’t work, please let me know.

Inertia and the Weather

I’ve come to the disturbing conclusion that the only things keeping me in San Francisco are the climate and a bad case of inertia.

Apart from these two factors and a few friends I’d miss quite severely, I can’t really think of any good reason why I’m still here. San Francisco isn’t really fun anymore. The city has changed. I’ve changed. Why am I stressing over living in an overpriced city which is losing many of the very characteristics I was willing to pay extra to be near?

I keep trying to convince myself otherwise, but the truth is I just don’t like it here very much anymore. A lot of it is related to all the changes here: the gentrtification, the crowding, the fact that SF is becoming a “cute” little strip mall, etc. It’s not fun anymore. The city has become a very career-obsessed sort of place, a haven for overachievers, thanks in large measure to the northward creep of the soulless Silicon Valley culture (or lack thereof).

But I’m not blind to changes in my own life either. I no longer feel the need to be near a large “gay community” (whatever the hell that is). Having a sex club within walking distance is no longer a priority. I’ve learned that the world is not divided into “San Francisco” and “everywhere else”.

Basically, I’m no onger willing to pay twice as much rent to live someplace which no longer offers me twice the benefits. Hmmm… a cost-benefit analysis. Now there’s a concept my new neighbors might understand.

I’ve been hinting about it off and on for a year or two, but I’d like to announce officially at this point that I’m leaving San Francisco. I haven’t decided exactly when I’m leaving or where I’m going. But I’m getting the hell out. Sometime.

I have to stay here at least another week, though, because my nose itches (which means company’s a-comin’). On Saturday, yer humble host welcomes Scott from Detroit. Scott’s never been here before. Scott was raised in the closest thing San Francisco has to a polar opposite. This should be interesting to watch…

16 July 1999

I guess that’s what I get for thinking out loud. Several people got the impression from last night’s entry that I’m leaving San Francisco right now. It ain’t gonna happen that fast. There are nagging little details (like a job, for example) to work out. For all I know, I may be sitting here next year this time. I was talking more in terms of a long-term goal than a short-term strategy.

Sorry… I thought I was just re-stating the obvious. In other words, what I meant was that I’m not planning to spend the rest of my life here. Nor even the rest of my thirties…

That segues nicely into the subject of my upcoming birthday, doesn’t it? I promised about a week back that Irma would be providing a list of appropriate birthday gifts. She’s feeling a little under the weather today, so I’ll just do it myself.

My Birthday Wish List:

Of course I’m not really expecting any gifts. the above are provided more as a glimpse into my obsessions this month.

If you’re really feeling generous, just wait for the upcoming Planet SOMA Pledge Drive, where I’ll be unveiling my best stuff of the year and then interrupting it every fifteen minutes to exploit your guilt at not yet having donated. I’m currently looking for phone bank volunteers and people to produce cute inspirational promos.

I figure I should be able to pull in lots of people who used to contribute to KPFA.

The Summer of ’82

Seventeen years ago tonight, I was on the radio for the first time. I vaguely remember that the music I played included “Mesopotamia” by the B-52s, “From the Air” by Laurie Anderson, and “Love Steet” by the Doors. And there was this public service announcement for the Runaway Hotline which started “cold out here…dark too…”, which became sort of a running gag among my friends and family for years.

Actually, it’s still a running gag among some of us, especially my Dad.

That was a great summer. I met some of the people who remain among my closet friends to this day, including Duncan and Carroll. My taste in music moved more from the 1960s and 1970s into the 1980s.

In honor of the occasion, I spent last night helping give birth to a bouncing baby website for the Swingin’ Utters. Punk rock sure has changed. Friday night used to mean going out and getting plastered while slowly developing tinnitis. Now it means sitting in an apartment in Lower Haight with Mom, Dad, and the cutest baby in the world working on the website.

Oddly enough, I have no major objection to this change…

What I have objections to this morning is the way that Southwest Airlines is fucking over my friend Scott who was scheduled to arrive from Detroit at 1:00. It’s noon now. He’s still in Detroit. His itinerary has been changed four times and they STILL can’t tell him when he’ll be leaving (or when or where he’ll be arriving). This is why I never fly, except in emergencies. Airlines in general suck and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about customer service.

Off to the laundromat now, as I seem to have an extra day to kill…

JFK Jr. Deathwatch, Day One

With all due respect to the deceased, enough with the perpetual John F. Kennedy Jr. reports! Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was his FATHER who was head of state. JFK Jr. was a magazine editor and a president’s son. That about covers it. Granted, it’s more than most of us will ever accomplish, but it hardly seems to merit a four-day, 24-hour deathwatch, does it? Is there nothing else going on in the world this week?

Sorry if that sounds nasty, but I had to get it off my chest. It was the lead story on the ENTERTAINMENT report on CNN a few minutes ago, for Christ’s sake.

Anyway (for those who have not yet begun composing the hate mail), it’s been an insane week. And it’s only Tuesday. In addition to playing tourguide to my friend Scott, I’ve been pretty much working my butt off. For a little relaxation tonight, I did laundry and managed to leave behind both my favorite sweatshirt and my favorite flannel. I fear I shan’t see them again…

But at least I’ve been eating well. Scott brought Count Chocula. I love count Chocula. I think I’ve made that abundantly clear…

Coming soon:

  • Pictures from the new Denny’s on Mission Street, which is hands down the strangest one I’ve ever visited.
  • Exciting new links.
  • I may actually answer some email.

Sweatshirt Update

Quickie update for those worried about my favorite sweatshirt (see below): when I headed back to the laundromat this morning to see if they had a lost and found, I was surprised to find all my duds still sitting in the very dryer I’d put them in fourteen hours earlier. This demonstrates that (a) San Francisco really IS like a small town and (b) the folks at Brain Wash are not particularly attentive.

23 July 1999

Tom Ammiano for Mayor. He can be a little annoying. I have my doubts that he can win. But he’s the only one of the bunch I can bring myself to vote for, and it now seems pretty likely that he’ll be on the ballot. Seems my decision has been made.

So now it’s back to the normal everyday grind of life without a houseguest. I feel like I was a pretty lackluster host, just because I was so busy with so much other stuff while Scott was here. He got to see all the hot spots: Target in San Bruno, Denny’s on Mission, Burger King in Marin, and even my laundromat. Twice. I really know how to show someone a good time…

Yesterday’s special treat was the occurrence of not one, but two bomb threats in the building where I do my part-time job. Interesting way to spend a morning: standing on a sidewalk in the Financial District watching all the harried yuppies clutching their cell phones for dear life rather than simply enjoying an unplanned break.

My favorite moment: a very adorable boy visting from another country (I’m guessing France) who asked me very politely and sweetly “how long do your bomb threats usually last?”

Dore Alley Fair down the street this weekend. I haven’t decided if I care. My supsicion is that I don’t…

I Just Don’t Understand

Even the blind can tell when there’s a gay street fair in the neighborhood. The crappy music assaults you from blocks away. Why is it that every single faggot event on the planet must occur to the accompaniment of techno, disco, house, or some variation? Does everything “gay” have to be made into a giant circuit party?

Judging from the above, you’d be assuming correctly if you guessed that I skipped the Dore Alley Fair today. The street was thumping a bit too much and I got scared. I thought about the first one I attended (in 1991, before I moved here) and how there were actual live bands. With guitars and everything. I stoppped about half a block short of this year’s.

Instead, I popped into the corner bar and had my way with this boy who had a Cocteau Twins tattoo on the back of his neck. Not a bad substitute, I thought.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve done this, here’s today’s list of things whose popularity I just don’t understand:

  • Hootie and the Blowfish
  • The Toyota RAV4
  • Rice cakes
  • George W. Bush
  • Huge lawns which require mowing
  • Nordstrom
  • The USA Network
  • The Family Circus

28 July 1999

Haven’t been doing much writing lately except on the journal side of the page. Look to your left under “recently added” and you’ll see what I mean. There hasn’t been anything really new and noteworthy there in almost three months (since I Want My Recession Back). I’m not sure if this means that I need inspiration or that I need to take a break.

As if I haven’t been taking a break already.

I guess it’s just that I’ve been really moody lately and I fear that if I write anything more than these easy journal entries (which have been coming pretty regularly), it might sound either whiny or more bitter than usual. Plus, I think my attention span has suffered tremendously as a result of the restlessness and general uneasiness about life I’m feeling lately.

Closely related is the fact that I need to get out of town very soon, whether for a vacation or permanently. I haven’t really been anywhere since Christmas, which is an exceedingly long time for me. The time just hasn’t seemed right, what with all this year’s changes at work and at home, etc.

Anyway, I’m going to try to write more, or, barring that, get rid of that damned “recently updated” section. I’m also going to try to stop sitting around the house doing nothing (but wondering why my “to do” pile keeps growing). Maybe the latter will have some impact on the former.

As it stands now, though, I’m making no promises that I’ll get better about answering the email

Naked Gay Sex Gallery Pictures

I will admit that a secondary motivation behind adding a search engine to my site six months or so back was the idea of checking out what people searched FOR. And it’s been a hoot, let me tell you. I have enough stuff now to steal Larry-bob’s concept from a couple of years back. The only difference is that his discussed ways people found him through external searches (like Yahoo). The following are searches people did from WITHIN Planet SOMA.

Of course, the sex-related stuff tops the list, both in frequency and level of humor. There are the standard searches for just plain “sex” (and just how stupid are people who search based on this one common word and believe they might actually find anything useful?). There are also searches for all those generic activities like “rimming”. “watersports”, “cbt”, “piss”, “scat”, and the ever-popular “anal fucking big cocks”.

Some of the searches are just plain baffling. Among my favorites:

  • “gothic people from Mobile, Alabama”
  • “truckerhawk”
  • “0893915491”
  • “hangman breath control strangle”
  • “hotels in alexsander city in alabama”
  • “A68JMT”
  • “knights templar”
  • “texas tombot”

And some, obviously come from people who wandered in via another search engine and just had no idea where they were. What else could explain “juicy pussies”, “motels near Sea World Ohio”, and “1997 ranger”, not to mention “roach clips” and “chainmail”.

There are also lots of lost souls seeking the dirty pictures (or “diety pictures” as one patron typed it) which haven’t existed here in a long time. Lots of searches on “pictures”, “sex pictures”, “nude pictures”, etc. And someone keeps searching for something called “gallaries” over and over again. I have no idea what these are. A lot of people also seem to be shooting (pardon the pun) for naked pictures of me, through a variety of search queries which wouldn’t work even if there were any naked pictures of me on the site.

It’s sort of funny realizing that most people have no idea how a search engine works. For example, a search for “nude pictures of the editor” would return nothing but pages which feature the words “nude”, “pictures”, “of”, “the”, and “editor”. But still people try, with queries like “where is Tiogia Street” (I have no idea, by the way…) as if Planet SOMA were a magic 8-ball or something. No wonder people complain that they can never find anything on the web.

The obvious typos are fun, like “abacadero street” (The Embarcadero?), “tear room” (tearoom?), and “carol dodies” (Carol Doda?). I’d really love to meet the Renaissance man who sought the “folsum street faire”. I was also fond of “sheamales”. I envision a very special fraternity of guys who frequent Shea Stadium on alternate Sundays. I liked “pia 39” too. Is that Pier 39 with a southern accent or a quest for a story about Pia Zadora’s birthday?

My friend Dave would like a word with those who searched for the “dorey alley fair” and the “dori alley fair” (inside joke…)

And, if any of the following people (none of whom I know from Adam’s house cat) are reading this, be forewarned that people are searching for your names on my site. I’m not sure why:

  • John Bollard
  • Angie Arrien
  • Kathy Valent
  • Ray Dragon
  • Dick Fritz
  • Rob Thorworth
  • Ira Glass
  • Brad Paul
  • Daryl Walker
  • Lisa Perazzo

But my favorite, I think, is the individual who wanted to find “ladyboy bars”. Brother (or Sister), please let me know when you succeed. I wanna check one of those out myself.

Birthday Bash?

So in an effort to boost my sagging spirits, I’m thinking of having a public dinner gathering for my upcoming 35th birthday. No, this doesn’t mean free food and drinks all around. I’m a poor starving web guy, after all. What it means is that I would choose a suitably seedy dive, announce a time and place, and hope lots of complete strangers show up.

Of course, I’d have a few close friends there as backups. I’m no fool. I’m not about to risk spending the evening completely alone…

Is this idea (a) brilliant, (b) stupid, (c) incredibly self-obsessed, or (d) just plain pathetic? I’m not sure. Sarah likes it. Dan likes it too, but he’ll be out of town. Anyone interested? Gifts are neither required nor solicited…

Potential sites include Tad’s Steaks on Powell, Ye Old Pizza Joynt in Hayward, and the Doggie Diner on Sloat. The Pizza Joynt would be my first choice, but it’s a little remote. And unfortunately none of the above have smoker-friendly bars nearby (that I know of). A nearby bar, I feel, would be a nice touch.

Anyway, it’s just a thought. Nothing definite yet.