Minneapolis and the Season

The lady from the credits on the Mary Tyler Moore Show just died. Not Mary, mind you, but the lady behind her on Nicollet Avenue when she threw her hat in the air. Why do I care? Because I have this strange connection to Minneapolis and because I’ve been on that very corner, taking pictures while someone who wasn’t Mary threw his hat too.

Minneapolis was my very first online road trip, over three years ago. I went back last year. It has even been suggested (on more than one occasion) that I should consider migrating. At times over the past few years, it has seemed like everyone I knew either lived in the Twin Cities or was from there.

But damn, does it get cold in the winter…

Speaking of strange connections, Bill tells me that North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme Doughnuts broke ground on its first Bay Area location today. It’s a good 30 miles away (in Union City) but this is a sign that there may yet be hope for this pretentious yuppie paradise. If I remember correctly, Krispy Kreme just serves plain old coffee and refers to its sizes as “large” and “small”.

First Chia sighting of the season: a commercial for the Chia Herb Garden on UPN44 airing as I type. When my ex-roomie moved out, he left me in possession of a couple of unused 1993 models. Do they keep? Would it have helped if I’d frozen them? Is there a Chia Pet website? I don’t feel like looking, but there has to be (there is).

By the way, UPN44 gets the above link as revenge against the other (unnamed) Bay Area station which didn’t give me a job a few months back and also stopped running “The Streets of San Francisco”. Damn them.

Lastly, having now rambled back toward the subject of TV, may I state how disoriented I’m going to feel tomorrow morning when all the cable channels change in San Francisco?

I’ll stop now.

The Snoopy Store


Photos by Sarah

I went to the Snoopy Store this weekend. Did you?

I also changed a tire on the shoulder of Highway 101 near Rohnert Park this weekend using only half a jack. Did you?

As far as I can tell, the other half of my jack is somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert, where I must have left it after the last time I changed a tire. I’m not sure why my tires (like many of my cars) have to die such violent deaths. I take care of them. I really do.

Anyway, the Snoopy Store was more fun. Sarah wanted to go there and I wanted to hit used bookstores in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. We both wanted junk food of a variety unavailable in San Francisco (A&W for Sarah, Foster Freeze for me). A road trip was born.

Things I hate today:

  • Donut spare tires.
  • Donut spare tires.
  • Donut spare tires.

Thing I love tonight:

  • Cinderelmo.

Pretty deep and introspective stuff for the first journal entry in a week, huh? I’ll try to do better tomorrow…

Phone Phobia

1983. Before the phone phobia hit.

I will never own a cell phone. Before I start, Let me make it clear that this is not one of those increasingly popular rants against cell phones or their users. No, this is all about me, thank you, and about the fact that I absolutely HATE talking on the phone. Why on earth would I want any gadget which might make it necessary to do so more often?

My dad hates talking on the phone too. He always has. I guess that’s where I learned it. Dad is the kind of person who, when confronted with, say, an insurance billing question, would just as soon drive to the agent’s office (even if it’s in the next town) rather than make a phone call. I don’t go quite that far, although I will go online first wherever possible.

He also has a habit of going to the next room to make calls. I used to think it was because he was self-conscious about being on the phone in front of other people (as I often am). Now I realize it probably had more to do with the hearing problems he was developing after years of managing a pre-OSHA manufacturing plant.

My distaste for the telephone no doubt increased during all those years I worked in retail and customer service jobs. Invariably, a ringing phone meant I was about to get verbally abused by some yuppie slime who seemed to be on the verge of a stroke.

Phone etiquette pet peeves:

  • People who call ME and then immediately put me on hold. I generally hang up.
  • Call waiting. Possibly the rudest technology of the past twenty years. If you want people to contact you while you’re on the phone, then get voice mail so they can leave a message, dammit.
  • Answering machines with interminably long messages.
  • Idiots who, upon hearing your voice, realize they have a wrong number and then hang up without saying anything.

I’d be quite happy to avoid phone calls from here to eternity. But I probably won’t be able to. Thanks to email, I’m at least spared a significant number, though. Email is good. Email makes me happy. Phones just make me queasy.

13 December 1999

Highlights of the weekend:

  • Dinner Friday night at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Oakland, featuring some of the most amazing greens I’ve had in a long time.
  • A female bar-back at My Place.
  • A (legal) smoking area at My Place.
  • Count Chocula on sale for $1.99 at S-Mart Foods in Stockton.

Realizations this weekend:

  • I like most of the rest of Northern California a lot better than I like San Francisco these days.
  • I haven’t had sex in my house in about six months, I haven’t picked anyone up in close to two years, and I don’t particularly care.
  • They still sell Tahitian Treat, and I still like it in small doses.
  • Saturday night TV isn’t worth a shit.

Coming up this week:

  • Christmas cards. Maybe.
  • A new job. Maybe.
  • Laundry. Probably.
  • Voting for Tom Ammiano on Tuesday. Definitely.

Sorry. My mind’s not on this writing thing right now…


No more banner ad at the top of the page. The election is over. Things don’t look good for Tom Ammiano. I’m not surprised. Money talks, here and elsewhere, and that’s what this election was really about anyway. Kudos to San Francisco for refusing, however, to paint it in terms of race or sexuality.

Enough said about the election. I’d rather talk about the demise of “Peanuts”. It’s almost a cliche to suggest that Charlie Brown, Snoopy, et. al. were among the greatest pop culture icons of the 20th century.

I was lucky enough to be a kid when Peanuts was at the peak of its popularity and impact, in the early 1970s. My life revolved around the whole scene during elementary school. I had the lunchbox and all the books. I had the pennants hanging in my room and the pajamas and the sheets. I ate cookies made using Charlie Brown cookie cutters and cereal served in a Snoopy bowl. I still have “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” all but memorized.

Best of all, when I was 6 years old, my parents gave me a stuffed Snoopy, which was my closest friend for several years. I slept with it every night until significantly past the onset of puberty. I was an insecure kid.

I know. It all sounds like marketing, and is vaguely reminiscent of Pokemon or the Smurfs. But “Peanuts”, especially in earlier years, was a little more intelligent and uplifting than the standard kids’ crapola of the past two decades (“Animaniacs” and Elmo excepted).

It wasn’t my favorite comic strip of all time. That honor goes without hesitation to the still-brilliant “Bloom County”. To be honest, I rarely even pay attention to “Peanuts” anymore. But I’ll sort of miss having it around all the same.

Since 1984

As I was having dinner tonight, I heard a sad song from fifteen years ago. About this time in 1984, it (along with several other sad songs in an era full of them) would have had the power to make tears flow, so melancholy was my state at the time. It was messy.

But that wasn’t what I was thinking about as I ate my meal. I was wondering how I came to be sitting alone in this improbable little hoffbrau in Daly City, California, eating turkey with mashed potatoes and green beans. A strange little place, it was. A relic from the time when Daly City was populated mostly by meat-loving WASPs. I was a little baffled by my surroundings, and I realized this was the last place I would’ve expected to be fifteen years ago. I wasn’t really sad or depressed. Like I said, I was just a little baffled.

I kept listening to the song (and munching on the wilted green beans) and remembered spending a weekend crying my eyes out to the same song in an apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, and getting completely plastered with a friend whose whereabouts I no longer know. I thought the world was ending.

Of course, it didn’t. I’d get the idea that the world was ending many more times in the coming years. Somehow, it never did. Even though things never quite worked out as I’d planned, the world never once ended, and that’s probably good thing.

I’ve bounced around from place to place to place (and lots of places in between)without any particular plan or direction. I’ve done fun stuff, stupid stuff, and just plain pointless stuff in this impromptu approximation of a life. Sometimes I wonder what a nice, orderly existence would have been like. I think about how it might have been to go directly from college into a normal job, house, and relationship. It sure would have been less stressful. But I have a sneaking suspicion it wouldn’t have been quite as much fun either.

When I used to start bawling to that song, this “normal” path was the one I was planning on, but I guess I knew it was no more likely in 1984 than it is now. But of all the places I expected to wind up, last on the list would probably have been that little dive in Daly City on a Wednesday night pondering that stupid saccharine song. A chance combination of the music and bizarre surroundings put me in a very odd mood for five minutes or so.

Such, I suppose, is the power of a song. And no, I have no intention of naming it, thank you. I’m also not admitting that the photo above is of a truck stop near Bakersfield instead of a hoffbrau in Daly City…

Coming tomorrow: the election commentary I was too pissed off to post tonight. Until then read this.

A Big, Butch Housewife

There are those Planet SOMA readers who have somehow gotten the impression that yer humble host is some big, butch leatherman or, God forbid, a “bear”. I cannot begin to say on how many levels that assumption would be incorrect.

For now, I’ll skip the obvious facts that the only leather clothing I own consists of two belts and a few pairs of shoes. I shan’t mention that I find pain (given or received) to be anything but erotic. I’ll refrain, once again, from discussing how I’ll answer to “big, hairy guy with a gut” all day, but never to “bear”. No, today let’s concentrate once again on the “butch” part. I’ve written about it before, but not on quite such a personal level.

How did I spend my Saturday afternoon? Why, I popped in the Nat King Cole Christmas album and baked a big batch of cookies, thank you. They were passable cookies: those peanut butter sugar cookies with a Hershey’s kiss on top. A recipe my mom gave me several years ago which I’d never yet tried.

I mixed everything precisely. I rean a few “test runs” down the stairs to my neighbor who was refinishing a door in the basement (he being much butcher than I). He loves it when I test my baked goods on him. When thy didn’t turn out absolutely perfect, I even instinctively knew that I’d put in about one tablespoon too little milk.

So, yes, yer humble host bakes cookies. I even bake a quite tasty scratch pound cake, thank you. I’m a pretty good cook. I make dinner every night and carefully save the leftovers. I own two large and one small casserole dishes. I have frozen pie crusts in the freezer and brown sugar in the cabinet.

What’s more, I discussed the relative merits of certain cleaning products with Dan and Jamie over lasagna at Joe’s last night. I vacuum when I know I’ll be having guests. I comparison shop at the supermarket. I even scrub the bathtub from time to time. I’m getting to the point where I’ll make someone “a good little wife”.

However, for those of you who would still like to believe that I’m a big nasty masculine aggressive butch sort of fellow, I DO have a big pile of dirty laundry on the floor in my bedroom, because I haven’t been to the laundromat in two months. And I DO know how to change a tire. Will that be sufficient? Have I managed to salvage at least a piece of your fantasy?

Anybody want a cookie?

20 December 1999

Question du jour: Do you pronounce “GIF” with a hard or a soft G? I prefer the hard G, simply because the G stands for “graphics”, as in “graphics interchange format”. To pronounce it with a soft G makes me sound as I’m describing a brand of peanut butter. On the other hand, if you think of “GIF” as a word rather than an acronym, the soft G would be correct.

Question du jour #2: Does anyone other than me find it completely creepy that it’s so warm in San Francisco this week, the first week of winter? It was 75 yesterday. It rarely gets that warm in the SUMMER here. People were barbecuing. I was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt all day and still broke a sweat. I had to take the extra blanket off my bed last night. It’s just not right.

Note to readers in New England and the Upper Midwest: Please don’t send me death threats for discussing the weather.

Nostalgic indulgence du jour: I miss Bloom County, dammit. I dragged out my books this weekend and re-read the whole saga, from the Meadow Party’s 1984 convention in San Francisco to the Mary Kay Commandos and the Peguin Lust trials. I re-lived Steve Dallas’s alien transformation and re-visited Binkey’s anxiety closet. I’m convinced, in retrospect, that Bloom County is the only thing which made the 1980s bearable.

Salute du jour: Viva Berkeley Breathed.

Ego boost du jour: I was finally told by someone I’ve slept with that I seem to have lost a lot of weight. It doesn’t really count until someone you’ve slept with says it.

Diet foods du jour: homemade cookies, Sausage McMuffin, Sylvia Queen of Soul Food pinto beans, plus whatever I have for supper.

Question du jour #3: Is your evening meal called “supper” or “dinner”? How about your parents’?

Realizations du jour: I can’t think of much to write about today and some day soon people will start catching on that most of the pictures I’ve used lately are re-runs or weren’t taken by me, because I haven’t gotten my camera fixed yet.

Chritsmas Eve

Yeah, it’s last year’s Christmas picture. No, I don’t look much different…

Christmas Eve greetings. Should you prefer another holiday, or none at all, please feel free to indulge yourself at your own pace.

Christmas plans are progressing successfully. I have a pork roast. I have both macaroni and cheese. I’m picking up the collards tonight, and I baked the cookies last week. Should be a regular Southern-fried feast.

I love my building. Unsolicited, I already have an offer of an extra table from my landlord (who rules the landlord universe) and extra oven space from my downstairs neighbor. It feels like kind of a cross between 28 Barbary Lane (minus the sex change) and a Lower East Side tenement about 1910 (minus the Yiddish).

Contrary to popular belief, we city folks actually do know our neighbors. We often even like them. This statement should not be construed as a dinner invitation to the new residents of the yuppie barn across the street. I sense they wouldn’t appreciate good collards anyhow.

I’ll move past Christmas now, in case I don’t have time to update in the next few days:

I’ve decided that I don’t really care that the new millenium doesn’t really start until 2001. It’s all semantics andway. The dates change in ten days and my checks with the “19__” on them become quaint souvenirs. On the other hand, I’m still annoyed by the semantics of those who continue to say “the year 2000” instead of just “2000”, unless they’re also in the habit of regularly calling this year “the year 1999”.

That said, I’ll note that I still have no plans for the big event. As previously stated, I hate crowds. I’m also not wild about New Year’s Eve in general. But I do have two bottles of sparkling cider and one bottle of cheap champagne. They were on sale at Safeway, so how could I resist? I’m still thinking of renting a room at the Motel 6 in Fresno and polishing them off by myself. The only down side would be that none of the thrift stores will be open on New Year’s Day.

Last but not least, look for an article (link forthcoming) featuring an interview with quotes from yer humble host coming soon to a Latino-Hispanic news site. Subject: gentrification. It’s always a strange thing being interviewed, and I’ve actually had the pleasure several times since Planet SOMA went live. I guess the strangest part is that I’m not sure I’ve ever done much of anything to make me particularly worthy of being interviewed. What a strange thing this Internet is.

Off to cook them collards now…

Christmas Day

You would have all been quite amused, if also a little frightened. Yer humble host spent an entire 24-hour period in a stunningly good mood. It was so uncharacteristic for me. Thanks are due to several good friends (and to a lesser extent to a pretty danged decent meal, along with Rudolph and the Grinch). I don’t think I grumbled once the entire day, although I did cuss when I burned myself on the macaroni and cheese casserole.


Note to self: throw more parties where you’re the only one in the room who knows everyone else. It’s fun.


The final menu was pork roast, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, pinto beans with onion and tomatoes (and a generous dollop of cayenne pepper), salad, bread, pound cake with strawberries, and assorted cookies and candy. And sweet tea, of course. There was wine and bread and pepermint hot chocolate, and more thanks to Dan and Sarah and Brad and Paula. Steve brought sugar. Mike brought wine glases and Chuck sent a card table in absentia.


I’m not sure what caused this Christmas stiffie I seemed to develop this year. maybe it’s my newfound domesticity. More likely it has to do with this being the first Christmas I’ve spent in San Francisco since 1995. It’s also possible that I was thinking this might well be my last Christmas here.


Whatever the reason, I was happy as a clam all day. I was boucing around the house singing along with Nat King Cole in the morning while I cooked. Dinner was great and the cramped quarters weren’t too horrible. We watched the Grinch and Rudolph and Charlie Brown and Dragnet.


Afterward, I even popped down to the Eagle and manage to have good time even in a public place. Miracles never cease. Of course, Eugene forced me to drink and listen to Blue Oyster Cult and Patti Smith and Al Green until last call, so I felt like death at 8:30 the next morning when my coma came to an abrupt halt, but that’s not a happy story, so I’ll skip it, being that this is an uncharacteristically positive journal entry. I’ll just admit to the world that my recent tea-totalling has caused me to lose my tolerance for booze (and hangovers).

Anyhow, my downstairs neighbor intimated that it was the best Christmas he’d had since moving to the city. That rather made it with the effort, I think.

On Email

Hmmm. How will I remember the final week of 1999? Probably as one where I was working an awful lot. This, of course, bodes well for things like eating and paying the rent, but not for answering email nor for site updates. Methinks the newest installment of Do You Bring Bottles will be delayed by a few weeks. Sorry.

It might do the whole site a world of good if I took a little break anyway. It seems I’m not writing about anything particularly interesting lately. I’ve been in a relatively good mood the past few weeks, which is cutting into my traditional crankiness. My life has taken a rather subdued turn of late. And I’m finding it increasingly difficult to spend leisure hours sitting in front of a computer, particularly with all the freelance I’m doing right now.

This is not to suggest that I’m giving up the site or even taking an extended break. I’m just threatening to pay a litle less attention for a few weeks, or at least until I feel inspired to write about something interesting or do something exciting. And I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. So there.

What I am admitting is that I’m taking a bit of an email break. It’s just gotten to be too much, I’m way behind (again), and I get this creeping sense of doom each time I look at my In Box. So I’m not going to worry about it anymore.

I used to answer all site-related email almost immediately, often at length. Two things have changed in the past few months: first, I get much more mail now and second, I’m less inclined to spend a couple of hours a day answering it. My lack of response has nothing to do with how I perceive the sender; in fact I often brush off interesting people more readily than quick questions, simply because the intersting mail requires a more thoughtful response (and therefore means more work).

I’m so very flattered that people take the time to email me about the site, and I feel bad about it, but I can no longer beat myself up about every single message I don’t answer (or take three weeks to answer). I just can’t spend so much time attached to a keyboard anymore.

This is, of course, not to say that I’m no longer answering email or that I don’t like getting it. I’m just answering non-essential, non-urgent mail at my leisure. And that means some of it isn’t going to get answered.

Ooh. That felt good.

New G4?

I’m thinking of buying a new computer. Of course, I’ve been thinking of buying a new computer for a year, but this time I’m thinking of buying one this very week, since I’ve found a nice new G4 on sale for about $1300. Strangely enough, this will be considerably less than I spent for much less machine four years ago.

Of course, my move into the USB universe will require new peripherals, etc., so it’s not like I’ll get off quite as cheaply as the above might suggest. But it sure would be nice to be able to open big files and not to worry (for a while at least) about cataclysmic disasters involving my hard drive. It would be great to get DSL without having to buy a new card and without worrying whether it would do any good with my wheezing old 1995 machine.

And why not spend all this money right now? My finances are always precarious, but this way I’d be broke with a much faster computer. That’s an improvement, right?

Maybe it’s time for the first annual Planet SOMA Pledge Drive. I could insert pledge breaks right in the middle of all my most popular pages, making appeals to guilt and offering overpriced premiums. For a $10 pledge, I could offer an autographed JPEG. For $25, a color copy of my Best of the Bay award from 1998. And $100 could get you a cum-stained jockstrap or a pair of official Planet SOMA used Nikes. But I hate to think what I might have to do (or to whom) for $500.

It could work, couldn’t it? Or did I piss everyone off yesterday with my email sabbatical?

Things I love today:

Things I hate today:

  • “In the Heat of the Night” at 6:00 instead of 5:00 on TNT
  • Michelina’s Signature frozen entreees
  • The new condo-loft project which is about to obscure the Herb Caen mural on Mission Street
  • This damned “freezing cold inthe morning but warm in the afternoon” weather which renders a coat first a necessity and then a burden

The End of the World

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I don’t care.

OK, so the world isn’t really going to end, but it sure seemed like it was at my friendly neighborhood Safeway tonight. The lines were ten deep and there wasn’t a jug of water nor a decent can of soup in the place. It was crazy. Looked a little like a supermarket in North Carolina when half an inch of snow is predicted.

Me, I was just excited to see that Safeway has started carrying Sylvia Queen of Soul Food canned beans and still had Frosted Mini-Wheats on sale. I have milk jugs and can store my own water just fine, thank you.

The SFPD (all of whom are working tomorrow) have commandeered a majority of the parking spaces within three blocks of my house. Shops in Union Square are boarding up their windows for the weekend. It’s getting a little creepy ’round these parts.

Yer humble host has arranged to be safely stowed on the eastern side of Potrero Hill watching the fireworks in a purely residential area which drunk idiots and terrorists will probably avoid. I’m leaving my car there for the weekend.

So I guess this will be the last journal entry of the 1990’s (or the 1900’s, or even the 1000’s, for that matter). Should I say something profound? Should I wax nostalgic about the last 100 years? Probably not. The older I get, the more sketchy I am about what really happened the Middle Ages. Must’ve been all those mushrooms.

I’ll just close by wishing everyone a happy new year and inviting you to visit a dramatically unchanged Planet SOMA tomorrow.