“Isn’t Sacramento the place where “Eight Is Enough” was set”?”
Well, yeah…but there’s other stuff there too. I have to admit that I really like Sacramento. It’s where I go when I need a little perspective after spending too much time in the loony bin which is San Francisco — kind of an adopted home town. Actually, it reminds me a lot of North Carolina. Tree-lined streets, houses with yards, queer bars that look like steak houses, etc. And the abundance of roadside architecture, especially in West Sacramento, is truly amazing. Sacramento is also a thrift store mecca.
To start, I must admit that I really love Sacramento, It’s a very comforting place — mainly, I guess, because it reminds me so much of the towns I knew in North Carolina: tree-lined streets, houses with yards and driveways, strip shopping centers, etc. Strangely enough, I actually even had sex with a charming couple in their trailer here a few years ago. It was a first time for me, despite my upbringing in the motherland of trailer parks.
On my last overnight trip here, I met a very cute boy who liked jazz and be-bop and we spent the night making love to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald. As I drove home the next day, I discovered that Ella had died that very same night. I was almost as depressed by her death as I was when I learned how much my host paid for his apartment. I’d sort of hoped we might run into each other by accident. We’d lost touch during the past year (OK…we’d never again talked after “the fact”…). Didn’t happen. Oh well…
I got up Saturday morning and decided to hit my adopted California hometown after the obligatory “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain”. I had a fairly late start, but it allowed me time to hit the Chick-fil-A in Farifield (the only one in the Bay Area). I also made it into Sacramento in time to obtain my traditional room at the Motel 6 and hit a few of my favorite thrift stores.
And damn, was it hot there; by 8PM, it was still 82 out. I had strange flashbacks to summer Saturday nights back home, sitting on the patio as the sun went down. I drove through the subdivisions and saw the families cooking out and socializing and I realized that growing up here was probably not unlike growing up where I did. I never get this feeling in the city. Maybe the difference is what attracted me to San Francisco…
Not much luck at the thrift stores, so I visited motel hell in West Sacramento.
Originally, two major cross-country highways, U.S.40 and U.S.50 met in Sacramento before dividing and reconverging in San Francisco. U.S.40 now ends somewhere in Nevada, replaced by I-80. U.S.50 now has its terminus in West Sacramento, its western leg having been replaced primarily by I-580. The old routes through Sacramento can still be traveled (Auburn Blvd. and West Capitol Ave. for U.S.40 and Folsom Blvd. and Stockton Blvd. for U.S.50).
West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento is a virtual mecca of 1940’s and 50’s motel architecture. This area has a long-standing reputation as a “wide open” town with a tolerant attitude toward prostitution and other “vices”. West Sacramento and nearby Bryte were home to most of the area gay clubs in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when law enforcement in the central city forced them out.
I drove around the capitol building, and watched the prom kids posing for pictures and getting out of limousines on every corner. Dinner at Wienerschnitzel on Broadway (just because I could…).
Back to the Motel 6, where I stared at the lipstick on the bathroom wall and the burn marks from someone’s travel iron. This was not a showcase suite, despite the fact that this location got a “banner” in the new directory. I took a shower. It was painful. I watched a little TV, which was even more painful.
Then off to the nightlife, such as it was. The Wreck Room was not as much fun as usual, although I did meet a very interesting “healer” who bought me a beer and offered to come back to my room and “realign my spine and relax me…no strings attached”. I declined. I also visited the Mercantile (creepy as ever) and the new location of the Bolt ($3.25 for a Rolling Rock in a very unspectacular bar…gimme a break…). I was horrified to find a flyer for Colossus in San Francisco on my car after parking near Faces. By last call, I was back at the Wreck. Fortunately, since bar-hopping in Sacramento involves a lot of driving, I never had time to get drunk.
After last call, I decided to see if the river access at 10th and Vine was as cruisy by night as it was in the daytime. The traffic jam I found when I got there convinced me my instincts were correct. Not may takers, though. There was a Metallica marathon on the radio station, and for some reason this is not most fags’ idea of “appropriate cruising music”. Everyone looked at me a bit warily. I did meet one guy, but he seemed a bit too concerned with my car and occupation, as well as with stressing that he’d run a marathon this morning and worked out in the afternoon. He seemed miffed that I didn’t care.
Home to bed…alone… Slept with the air conditioner on. Big mistake.