Seven years ago today, I was in Denver for the first time. It was the middle of a pretty exciting week for me. I was 28 years old. I had just said goodbye to my friends and family in North Carolina. I was driving across the country for the first time, headed for a new life in an unfamiliar place.
I had no idea what I was getting into. I’d been here exactly one time before and decided on that two-week visit that I needed to live here. I had a grand total of five friends on the west coast. Four of them were in San Francisco. I would be living with two of them in a studio until we found a bigger place.
I was a long-haired malcontent working for a retail chain making eight bucks an hour. I’d just bought a 1990 Chevy Cavalier for the trip, which took me through Nashville, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Winnemucca. I liked Denver so much that I considered staying there. Strangely, I haven’t spent any significant time there since.
Of course, I ended up living with another of my four friends for over six years. I shaved my head. I went on to become a manger with said retail chain, making significantly more money, until I eventually quit to become the marginally-employed freelance type you know today. Someone torched the car. I started a little personal website which became a big personal website. San Francisco has lost most of its mystery.
Everything was so exciting during those three days in Denver. Everything was new and different. I had a sense of direction and I was looking forward to the future.
Now that I’m bored with almost every aspect of my existence and too damned lethargic to do anything about it, I really miss those days and that thrilling, wonderful, frightening trip across the country. I wish I could get that feeling back.
Horrible “like watching a train wreck” show of the season: Blind Date. The premise involves an intimate first date between a cloyingly unpleasant man, an annoyingly unpleasant woman, and a camera operator. There are two men and two women per episode. I have no idea how many camera operators are involved.
These people are just plain awful. They’re boring. They’re the sort of people with whom you’d prefer not to have even a fleeting chance encounter, much less an entire date. They talk in clichés and giggle a lot. The most exciting moments are seen outside their cars as they drive from one bland L.A. nightspot to the next.
And it’s sucked me in twice this week. I start watching to see just how much worse the first couple can get. I keep watching to see what idiots the second couple will be. It would be almost hypnotic if not for the slight queasiness I develop after the first ten minutes or so.
The only thing which might be even more grating would be watching two West Hollywood muscle clones on a first date. But I wouldn’t count on seeing that particular sort of coupling on this particular show anytime soon anyway.
And speaking of train wrecks, check out this site.
Finally, thanks to everyone who wrote in about things mosquitoes hate. Citronella candles came in as the number one choice, followed by Avon’s Skin-So-Soft lotion. Other suggestions included thiamin, peppermint oil, and Bounce fabric softener sheets. Fortunately, the city has cooled off, the windows are closed again, and the problem seems to have disappeared.
Time for a quick wank and a little sleep now…
Classic Planet SOMA Tuna Melts:
- 1 can of chunk light tuna in water (Bumblebee suggested)
- 1 can of Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup
- 4-6 slices of white bread, toasted
Heat tuna and soup together into a very unappetizing-looking glop. Pour over toast. Eat, while watching Mary Tyler Moore Show re-runs. Serves two. Or one, if you’re really starved.
Consider Ex-Lax for dessert.
Tomorrow, look for an exciting entree involving Ritz crackers, Vienna sausages, and slices of sharp cheddar cheese. Later this week, we’ll be featuring a collection of recipes using Underwood Deviled Ham.
Or maybe not…
One big thing to love this week is this site. Go there. Now. First website which has made me laugh out loud in a long time. And believe me, I need it this week.
More things I love this week:
Things I hate this week:
One thing I’m neutral about (if bemused);
And no, I’m not saying where the parking spaces are…
I found it tonight while looking in a box for something else: a scrap of paper which apparently never made its way into my 1984 journals. Coincidentally, I wrote it fifteen years ago, almost to the day. It fits my current state of mind startlingly well. Such timing:
9 October 1984:
Life never gets any easier, no matter what I may do or how I may change. It just brings different problems given different situations.
“Coming out” was not the catch-all and end-all I believed it to be during high school. The biggest change I see now, at age 20 and in my third year of college, is that I have no more idea where my life is going than I did in high school — perhaps even less. My dreams and my idealism (as well as my motivation to work for what I want) seem to have disappeared. What happened to all those things I was going to do? I hope they’re not gone forever.
I try to blame it all on a bad couple of months, but everyone has rough times. Those times, however, don’t cause them to lose sight of life. There’s something deeper involved. I don’t really know what’s wrong with me, and quite frankly it scares living hell out of me.
But I’ve got to go to class now. There’s not much I can do about it at the moment.
Self-analysis or self-pity? You be the judge. Either way, it hits pretty damned close to home for a 15-year-old piece of paper ripped out of a composition book…
It sounds vaguely like something from the Homer Simpson family of fine foods. Pork Sausage Nuggets. The tasty new snack treat marketed toward English kids. Anyway, if you happen to live in the UK, they’re on sale at your neighborhood Safeway this week. Yummm. Something tells me they probably don’t even require refrigeration.
Ever notice that you don’t find a large number of “traditional British restaurants” among the fine ethnic eateries in major cities around the world? Maybe the one remaining of the Two Fat Ladies should start a franchise, although last week’s devilled kidneys were a bit off-putting.
As far as way of updates for today, I continue to do nothing of any interest to much of anyone (myself included) lately. But I’ll give it a shot anyway:
- My upcoming fall road trip remains up in the air, and may well become a fall plane trip with a somewhat reduced scope. I still want to make it to the Piggly Wiggly museum in Memphis, though. Imagine the T-shirts!
- No submissions yet to the exciting new Did You Bring Bottles, which remains in beta because I haven’t had much time to work on it.
- One of Irma’s kids passed away this week.
- I’ve been reading the Chicago papers a lot lately.
Anybody wanna give me a long and moderately painful neck and back massage in exchange for a plug on this page?
Only 79 days to go, and I have no New Year’s Eve plans. Should I be worried?
New Year’s Eve has never been one of my favorite holidays, and I’ve actually spent the past three at home with Mom and Dad in North Carolina, parked in front of the TV. But this one is special, after all, and I feel morally obliged to do something moderately memorable.
But what? I definitely don’t want to be in the middle of a crowd, be it in San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, or wherever else. The traditional champagne toast in a ballroom or nightclub holds no appeal whatsoever. And the first person who suggests a sex club will be publicly ridiculed.
I thought about hosting Planet SOMA M&M party (get it? M&M? MM? the Roman numeral for 2000?) at some Motel 6 in Fresno or someplace like that. I’d probably be holding court completely alone but at least I’d have free HBO and coffee in the morning.
Of course, the thought of sleeping through the whole damned thing and “waking up in the future” has also crossed my mind.
Anyway, I’m open to suggestions. This does NOT mean I’m looking for a “date”, so thanks in advance for skipping the generic and unspecific “I’d love to hang out with you on New Year’s Eve” messages this time around. What I’m looking for is something unusual to DO, or some bizzare UNCROWDED place to go. You might be allowed to come along if I like your idea…
Coming tomorrow: why I hate PG&E…
Another exciting weekend in California:
- A 7.0 earthquake hits the Mojave Desert just in time for the tenth anniversary of the Bay Area’s Loma Prieta Earthquake. You know, the 1989 earthquake whose damage we’re still arguing about repairing a decade later? I can always remember the date, even thought I didn’t live here at the time, because it’s also my Mom’s birthday.
- Fires in Redding cause a smoky haze all over Sacramento, 160 miles south. It looked like the whole city was on fire. I know. I was there making a somewhat unplanned cameo appearance. It was pretty nasty.
- An asshole in a Lexus almost crashes into me as he backs out of the garage in his live/work loft. He then has the audacity to shoot ME the bird for blowing my horn at him.
Of course, there are assholes everywhere (even though there seem to be considerably more than there used to be in San Francisco lately). But you have to move to California to get the added bonuses of earthquake paranoia, fires which manage to affect a quarter of the state, and laws which keep you from smoking a cigarette in a bar when the stress gets to you.
Other advantages include paying more for gas and groceries than anyone else in the country, half a million bucks for a three bedroom house, unbelievable traffic, a perpetually brown landscape, and what seems to be a complete and total ban on grape Pop-tarts.
Yet somehow 40 million people believe that living in California is worth all the hassle, expense, and even danger. I used to understand why (sort of). Now I’m just baffled most of the time…
Since the turnaround time for “retro” and nostalgia seems to be approaching about five years lately, I figured this might be a good time to begin compiling some official “90’s retro” items which will soon seem as quaint and dated as acid-washed jeans, Cold War propaganda, or avocado appliances.
Here’s my list so far:
- Simple Shoes
- Twin Peaks
- The Macarena
- Queer Nation
- Jesse Ventura
- Conan O’Brien
- Ridiculously exaggerated baggy pants
- Melrose Place
- Martha Stewart
- Boston Market
- Real Stories of the Highway Patrol
- Cigars and cigar bars
- Boy bands
- “Extreme” sports
- “Extreme” anything
- High-tech stock boom
- George Magazine
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Windows 95
- Jokes about stained dresses and oral sex
- Star Trek spinoffs
- Y2K paranoia
A couple more things for your soon-to-be-retro-kitch list:
- Girls smoking (very big) cigars
- Jesse Camp, the “people’s choice” host of MTV
- All of MTV, especially Loveline
- Jesse Ventura, the other “people’s choice”
- The Blair Witch Project
- Blair Witch Project send-ups (like the Scooby-Doo commercial)
- Giant talking M&M’s
- Ralph Reed
- Newt Gingrich
- Non-genetically-altered food
- Campaign finance reform
- Any Internet-related service not dominated by phone companies
- Phones with cords
- Personal comfort, privacy and dignity for airline passengers
Remember when this site used to be sarcastic and funny?
Something’s gotta give. In case it hasn’t been painfully obvious, I’ve been in a heavy-duty funk for months now, my worst since the Great Funk of 1989. It’s a combination of many things, from boredom to finances to a general uncertainty about where my life is going to the fact that I just plain don’t like San Francisco much anymore. I’ve been coping with it so far, but it’s starting to affect my daily life in disturbing ways.
I’m not sleeping well. My stomach hurts. I’m not getting things done. I watch a lot of TV. I sit. I spend the weekends taking long drives into nowhere, partially to avoid doing much of anything else. I’m not writing. I don’t follow through on personal projects. I’m even moving slowly on work-related ones. The email just doesn’t get answered, except during occasional bursts of energy. Sex? Yeah, right.
I keep thinking that I’m going to “fix everything” and do everything I need to do “this weekend”. I never do. Things pile up after a few months of this, sometimes catastrophically.
And I don’t really feel like talking about any of it, except in cryptic statements about what a rotten mood I’m in or how “stressed” I am. Maybe talking about it in depth would involve too much of an admission that something is really wrong.. Or maybe it would involve actually “inviting someone in”, something I’ve been accused of being reluctant to do.
Last time I felt this rotten, I quit my job, moved home with Mom and Dad, and went back to school full-time. I’m hoping I come up with a similarly creative plan this time. Maybe I’ll hash it out here. Hmmm…I’m lazy and depressed, and now I’m gonna whine about it on the site even more. The should drive the hits way up, huh?
I’d go on, but it’s time for Maude on Nick-at-Nite. I’ll work on the diagnosis later…
It didn’t strike me as odd at the time, but I closed an email message to Sarah this afternoon with something to the effect of “Gotta run…there’s the doorbell…” Sounds a little anachronistic in retrospect.
Yer behind the times humble host, volume 15:
- I still prefer to read the newspaper in its cumbersome paper format, and I regularly spend money for content I could read free online. I make an exception for my hometown paper which I can’t buy here.
- Iced tea must be brewed in a suitably stained pot. Iced tea in a can or bottle is a crime against nature.
- I wish radio stations still had jingles and played music in the morning.
- I have never owned an automobile with power locks or windows.
- I do not automatically address strangers using their first names unless they introduce themselves that way, especially if they’re older than me. Yes, I behaved the same way even when I worked in retail customer service.
- Canned vegetables are just fine in a pinch, thank you.
- My long distance carrier is AT&T.
- Give me “Maude” over “Ally McBeal” and “Streets of San Francisco” over “Nash Bridges” any day of the week.
- The TV in my living room is a 20-year-old Sony. I’m not really inclined to replace it anytime soon.
- Coke really does taste better from a glass bottle.
- “Downtown” by Petulia Clark is still one of my favorite songs, even though it was released the year I was born. I listen to KABL more than KUSF these days.
- I still use a 28.8K modem. I still believe all web designers should be forced to do the same.
- My dream car is a 1964 Corvair convertible.
- The last bar I visited was the Tonga Room. There will be pictures soon…
Dang. I threw up the wrong date AND forgot to put my Ammiano banner back up. That’s what I get for experimenting, I guess…
Don’t worry if you’re feeling disoriented. So am I. I’m just playing around with some potential new front page designs. Ultimately, I figure I’ll end up with a modified version of the old one, just because it works. All the same, though, I may play with a few others over the next couple of days. Fear not, though. Frames, animated crap, and the like will not figure into the equation.
Dinner with Dan, his current, and Jamie on Friday night. 24th Street. Puerco Asada. El Trebol. Cheap food served by a nice lady who gives great “mom” vibes with a Salvadorean accent. Dinner was followed by ice cream at Mitchell’s. Banana. Made on the premises. I skipped the maize y queso, as these are not my idea of proper ice cream ingredients. But what do I know anyway?
Saturday night was dinner with Mark in Berkeley. Tandoori prawns. Eggplant something. Pakoras. Nan. No surrogate mom, but a good meal all the same. I left my cap on the table. They gave it back. Then Mark and I toured scenic downtown Oakland.
Against my better judgment, I went out for a beer later. On Saturday night. First time in two months or so. It was as big a mistake this time as ever. Apparently it was Lesbian Domanatrix night at the Eagle. I love Lesbians. I can tolerate dominatrices. But neither sight was what my hormones were looking for at 1:00 in the morning. Alas. My Place and Hole in the Wall provided no real relief either. Look for my Folsom Street obituary page soon. Even so, I got two free beers, so the night wasn’t a total loss. I must’ve been broadcasting depression rays.
Today I made eggs and bacon and grits, as is my usual Sunday morning habit. After I finished the paper and the “In the Heat of the Night” marathon on TNT, I drove out to the avenues to photograph a soon to be demolished Safeway and have a hot dog at the soon to be demolished Doggie Diner.
New “Simpsons”. Re-run on “Futurama”. A quick bowl of cereal and it’s time for bed, I guess…
Two very strange phone messages recently. Last week, some guy from Indianapolis called to ask if I’d receieved the article he’d submitted. To XY Magazine. This morning, the concierge from a hotel here in the city called to arrange one of my “walking tours” for a guest.
Now I am most definitely not affiliated with XY Magazine. I don’t even read it. I think it’s pure crap. And, while I do an awful lot of walking, I don’t give walking tours professionally. Granted, the thought has crossed my mind, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this idea to someone named Hannah at the Nob Hill Inn.
Of course, Southern politeness required me to call them both back and let them know they’d gotten the wrong person. Ever called a hotel and tried to leave a message saying “your concierge got a wrong number”?
Here’s the strange part. Both of these calls involve activities just barely similar enough to things I actually do to make me wonder if they were really just coincidental wrong numbers. I can almost imagine someone reading this site and getting the idea that I conduct tours, and maybe even looking up my number. God knows I get enough idiots who read Loftomania and email me thinking I’m a real estate agent, dying to sell them new luxury live/work condo…
There’s a very strange sort of visibility involved with this web thing. I guess, though, that I should get used to it after all these years. Hasn’t been a really big problem yet.
I just wish Hannah had been there when I called back so I could have found out where she got my number…
Love my Planet SOMA family. No less than five people pointed me to this article in Salon today, knowing that it would be right up my alley given its familiar theme.
I’m finally ‘fessing up about Road Trip 99 now. Firstly, it’s been downgraded to Plane Trip 99 and will pretty much involve nothing much but North Carolina. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the money to spend my customary three or four weeks on the road this year. So off I go on TWA, to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad on their 50th anniversary.
But that’s not for a couple of weeks.
For now, I’m just excited that it rained last night. It’s almost November. The rainy season is almost here. My mood should improve considerably. Yes, I’m a freak. Yes, I’ve considered moving to Seattle because of the rain rather than in spite of it. Yes, sunshine depresses me as a rule.
Things I love this week:
- “All in the Family” marathon on Nick-at-Nite.
- Stouffer’s Macaroni and Beef with Tomatoes (on sale at Safeway).
- The parking space I got last night at 7th and Bryant, right across from the police station.
Things I hate this week:
- Perpetual construction.
- Those stupid commercials for SF Propositions I and J, with the over-acting ambulance drivers and the insipid screaming woman.
- The idiots in the building next door.
Friday night rituals over the years:
- 1972: The Brady Bunch. The Partridge Family. Room 222. The Odd Couple. Love, American Style.
- 1977: Stay home. Get depressed because I don’t have any friends.
- 1979: Football games. Smoke cigarettes. Impress potential friends.
- 1980: Go to the mall. Smoke cigarettes. Get stoned with new friends. Come home and pretend I’ve been doing neither. Fool no one.
- 1981: Work at McDonald’s. Smoke cigarettes. Come home and pretend I’m not depressed about the fact that I no longer have friends since I no longer get stoned.
- 1984: Radio show. Smoke cigarettes. Pretend I’m not depressed about not having a boyfriend.
- 1985: Drive drunk to the queer bar in Winston Salem with friends. Get still drunker. Misplace cigarettes several times. Drive home. Pretend this isn’t a problem.
- 1990: Spend the evening drinking lots of free beer at XTC, smoking cigarettes, and being aloof. Drive home.
- 1994: Sit at home depressed and wishing the boyfriend I had could actually spend some time with me like he said he would. Smoke lots of cigarettes.
- 1995: Hole in the Wall. My Place. Ringold Alley. Manic anonymous sex. Cigarette afterward on the way home.
- 1999: Dinner with Dan and Jamie. Smoke cigarettes, while pretending not to be generally freaked out by life right now. In bed alone by midnight. Sigh with relief that at least I pretty much don’t drink anymore. Drinking might not be prudent this week.
There’s a message here. I’m not sure if I know what it is or if I want to hear it.
Just try to think of a better October Friday night than eating pizza and then puking it all up at a carnival in a mall parking lot in Hayward. We didn’t really puke, but we did see a cute carny boy, and I do still have leftover pizza for breakfast…
I never saw “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. It’s been almost twenty years since I first even considered it. I lied to my parents on New Year’s Eve 1979-1980, saying that’s where I was headed. I ended up getting drunk for the first time instead.
All my friends in high school and even into college had seen it, many of them numerous times. None of them could believe that I never had. After a while, I started seeing it as a sort of badge of honor. I decided I’d never see it. I consciously avoided it on video and anyplace else. It became sort of an understated running gag.
Tonight, I decided “enough is enough”. I sat down to watch it for the very first time on VH-1. I was even a little excited.
After about 45 minutes, I realized I’d completely lost interest and changed the channel. I didn’t get it, it wasn’t funny, and I just didn’t care. This isn’t my “cerebral inner critc” speaking. God knows, I watch some flat-out crap and absolutely love it. Maybe you just need to see “Rocky Horror” in a theatre full of intoxicated 18-year-olds in order to fully appreciate it. Or to appreciate it all.
Color me severely disappointed after a 20-year wait. But at least I can still say I never really saw “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.
While I’m at it, here are some other defining cultural moments of my generation which I’ve missed:
- I never played Pac-Man (or any of its derivatives).
- I never read “The Outsiders” (but I think that was more of a “girl thing” anyway).
- I never talked on a CB.
- I watched “Guiding Light” instead of “General Hospital”.
- I never lived in a dorm.
- I never made the switch from briefs to boxers and probably never will.
- The first “Star Wars” movie is still the only one I’ve ever seen.
I’m so ashamed…