A Codger at 33

In another month, I’ll be 33 years old. This fact doesn’t bother me very much. What bothers me is the behaviors I’m starting to notice — behaviors which I’m not sure are attributable to age, mood, unemployment, or just the phases of the moon.

To begin with, I find it damn near impossible to consume large quantities of alcohol anymore. Actually, I’m pretty happy about this. I can’t remember the last time I got really drunk (no word play intended) or the last time I had a really nasty hangover. I worried about this a bit as I became unemployed. It’s such a cliche after all — the unemployed lush, etc. Actually, I find myself drinking less and less as my unemployment grows longer and longer.

I seem quite content with my computer, a book, and a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles. I do seem to be developing a bit of a nesting urge, though. I don’t really want a boyfriend particularly, although if the right prospect came along I’d consider the idea. I have, however, developed a strange urge to get a dog. Go figure…

My hormones still rage, I guess, as my masturbatory frequency remains undiminished (enhanced, even…) It just seems so much easier to have a nice wank at bedtime than to hit the streets looking for a willing participant. And when I do hit the streets, I see fewer and fewer prospects who (a) interest me or (b) are interested. Maybe I’ve raised my standards. Or maybe I’m just getting lazier. Who knows?

Maybe it’s related to the matter of my patience level. Or lack thereof. If the perfect person doesn’t show up ready to leave with me within five minutes of my appearance at whatever venue, I’ve had it and I’m ready to go.

But it’s not just “the hunt”. I’m becoming impatient with EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. My throat is raw from screaming every time I drive lately. Then again, everyone in SF seems to be having this problem; too many newcomers in Volvos I guess. Email spam drives me nuts. Waiting for Netscape or IE to do ANYTHING makes me crazy. The never-ending pledge breaks on KQED are giving me fits; I’d rather have commercials. And don’t get me started on the few minutes of the Pride Parade I watched on TV while cleaning the toilet in my rainbow T-shirt and pink triangle jockstrap.

So what say? Old age? Summertime blues? Unemployment ennui? Clinical depression? Any suggestions? I think I’m too young to be a curmudgeon, although it’s something I’ve always aspired toward…

RIP

 

Mable Apple died Sunday 29 June 1997.

Nina Flynn died Thursday 19 June 1997.

If ever two women had very little in common, it was these two. They did not know each other, they lived on different coasts, and were of different generations and mindsets. Their only “bonds” were the facts of my acquaintance with both and the fact that they both passed away in the past two weeks.

Mable Apple was my aunt — my father’s sister. She died this morning after suffering three strokes in a short period of time. Aunt Mable possessed a wonderful sense of humor with a slightly ironic edge despite the fact that she lived her entire life in a small, conservative Southern town. She was a hard-working woman, but also a generous one, and she never had a bad thing to say to me. She was also deeply religious, but was also able to look at the inconsistencies and the silliness of church life with a wry humor that I always found refreshing. I’ll miss her tremendously. She was a definer of the term “unconditional love”.

Nina Flynn was a recent acquaintance, so recent in fact that we hardly knew each other. She was a Fellow Kinkoid and a Planet SOMA fan and correspondent and was eagerly awaiting the publication of her first story on these pages. We met briefly on two occasions, both times within the insane context of Kinko’s. I wish that we had been able to spend more time together; I think I would have liked her brand of humor and her outlook on life. Nina died suddenly and unexpectedly last week in her sleep, the victim of an apparent seizure.

Again, these two women have nothing in common, except that I will from now on be denied their presence in my life. For this, I am truly sad.

Pride

Break out the tank tops, the rainbow flags, the freedom rings, the pecs, and the drugs. Gay Day is coming to San Francisco. Market Street will be magically converted into a giant disco. This is the weekend every gay commercial institution in the city lives for. There will be dance clubs running pretty much twenty-four hours a day, gay pride massage specials, and attractive four-color flyers all over town showing the buff disco boys and rainbow colors (that’s ink…not skin…) which are the absolute definition of “Gay San Francisco”.

Big fuckin’ deal.

OK…I’ll admit that Pride Weekend is no more or less commercialized than any other major urban street fair. I can get past the fact that two of the biggest sponsors are breweries and a third is a distillery (although an email correspondent quips “don’t fags ever buy GROCERIES?”). I can ignore the bars and businesses along the parade route which suddenly sprout heretofore unseen rainbow flags for the weekend. They’re seizing an opportunity to make a quick buck, whic not a bad thing in itself.

I’m not even worried about the “freak show” the media will portray. Frankly, they usually showcase a level of humor and diversity of thought which is often sadly underplayed in the actual monotony of the parade. Contrary to popular belief, the parade is neither a celebration of perversion nor a demonstration of strength and diversity. It’s not really anything but a long and usually boring procession of bar floats, politicians, and “people with labels”.

So what is this “pride” thing anyway? I know it’s an unpopular notion, but is one’s sexual orientation anything to be proud of, per se? Granted, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, either. Nor to be hidden. But does “being gay” automatically confer a sense of community on those to whom it happens? I don’t think so. Frankly, I find that I have very little in common with my “community”; maybe I missed the ceremony…

Yes, it is true that gay people are discriminated against every day and in many ways. Equal rights legislation and a change in prejudiced attitudes are absolutely necessary. But, contrary to the “groupthink” inherent to the SF parade, gay white men are not the most oppressed group on the face of the planet. Especially not in San Francisco. And let’s face it: Pride Weekend here (and in New York and Los Angeles) is largely about professional gay white men.

Perhaps in some smaller cities and towns, there’s some validity to the notion of a gay parade to promote a sense of visibility and community. But in San Francisco, the whole event is about throwing a big party and showing off how beautiful and buff and out and gay we all are. And making a buck.

I’m in favor of partying, although Pride Weekend doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities which are to my liking. I’m usually in favor of making a buck too. But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that this thing has anything much to do with “community”.

So celebrate on…just make sure you know WHAT you’re celebrating.

Overnight

Tonight was fun…really…Worked all night completely alone. My help didn’t show up; we’re assuming miscommunication. I’m not really sure what day it is now. Or if I should be sleepy…

Then there was the intense yupster, who — upon being told that his order would take 45 minutes to complete — replied “Screw you. I’ll go some place else.” I thanked him profusely for this decision. As he left, I suggested a few places he might go. I don’t think he heard me. It’s probably best.

Day from Hell

The day from hell (part one, I guess…) Fifteen hours of unloading boxes, moving heavy objects, and trying to piece together a schedule for the weekend. I hit double-time around 6PM. It’s amazing how much one group of people can accomplish when working in panic mode. Of course this is the theme most central to the success of the service inustry today: too few people doing too much work in an environment of constant interruptions and insane and unreasonable customers.

Randomly Wednesday

Having a job is cutting into my free time and I’m not at all happy about it! OK, I’m actually pretty happy to be doing some temp work which will allow me to continue my “sabbatical” for several more months. But I’d forgotten how much working nine or ten (or more) hours a day hampers the ability to do the really important things, like updating the site, responding to mail, downloading dirty pictures, etc. I haven’t had time to write one negative and cynical word about gay people, evil drugs, or San Francisco’s lack of reality in weeks…

No specifics on the temp gig yet; that’ll come later. You may be surprised (or somewhat horrified) to learn the source of my newfound income, but things are going well.

A few random words:

  • San Francisco at 5AM (which I experienced this morning for the first time in recent memory) is as horrifying — and as strangely beautiful — as I remember. The crazy people sleeping in Carls Jr. at 7th and Market…the parking meter vandals on Clay Street…the career alcoholics waiting for the liquor stores to open at 6…the swarm of severely over-achieving yuppie scum already speeding down Bush Street toward the Financial District…I can’t honestly say that I’ve missed this, but it was a nice change of pace.
  • How is it possible for EVERY street between Nob Hill and South of Market to be “under construction” at the same time?
  • A nice 3AM romp in the fog of Ocean Beach with someone you really didn’t expect to be “romping” with is a wonderful antidote to the rare moment when Sodom-by-the-bay turns into Sauna-by-the-bay, as was the case this weekend. This is how I managed to be smiling Monday morning when I should’ve still been in bed. This would also explain the abundance of sand in my room.
  • Even the Alice B. Toklas Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club (which should know better) has urged me to vote to allow the city to throw away $100 million on a new stadium and mall. The 49ers have threatened to relocate to Los Angeles if I don’t. Why am I so unconcerned?

It’s past my bedtime now…

Reflections on the Central Valley

The major highways through Sacramento are I-5 and I-80, which more or less replaced US highways 40, 50, and 99. Highway 99 is a roadside architecture paradise, running through Lodi and Stockton as well as Fresno and Bakersfield. Highway 50 leads to the Sierra and passes through historic Placerville.

 

Lodi

Lodi is a small central valley agricultural town about ten miles north of Stockton. Cherokee Boulevard is the old route of Highway 99 through town, and there are some roadside gems to be seen. The Safeway below, alas, has been remodeled by its new owner.

  

Stockton

Stockton’s an interesting place. For the roadside effect, check out Wilson Way (old Highway 99). Wilson Way and its environs are also a good area for thrift stores, including Thrift Outlet (East Harding Way near Wilson Way) and Thrift Center (Wilson Way near Harding Way).

University of the Pacific is a good boy-watching spot on Pacific Avenue. There is a gay bar, Paradise (10100 Lower Sacramento Road), but I’ve never been brave enough to check it out.

Another interesting sight is the twin malls on Pacific Avenue. In most cities with two malls, they’re on opposite ends of town. Not in Stockton. Two unrelated malls were constructed next door to each other. There are even a couple of stores with branches in each. Strange…

 

Sacramento Still

Woke up early Sunday morning and called Mom to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Then, in her absence, I proceeded to wolf down a breakfast big enough for both of us at the Pancake Circus on Broadway. Eggs, chicken-fried steak and four monster pancakes from hell for only $4.99. I avoided the line by sitting at the counter, which is what I usually do even when there’s no line. The coffee refills come quicker at the counter.

A quick cruise through the Tower District and North Sacramento:

Centered around the renovated Tower Theater on Broadway, the Tower District was also home to the very first Tower Records location. There’s also the Tower Cafe, Tower Liquors, and more. Worth a look. Do not miss breakfast at the Pancake Circus a few blocks north.

Del Pason Boulevard in North Sacramento is an excellent 1940’s suburban strip with cheap restaurants, a couple of old theaters and a classic ice skating rink. There’s also a growing art community here.

Then I got on the road for Placerville for some strange reason. I took the old route of Highway 50 (big surprise, right?) through Folsom, got the oil changed by a most attractive lad at Wal-Mart, and then slammed on the air conditioner again. The altitude adjustment was not lessening the heat in any discernible way.

Placerville proved pretty uneventful, although it’s quite pretty. The three used bookstores yielded nothing, and I was not in any sort of “antiquing” mood, so I headed back toward Sacramento. By this time, the temperature was 96, I was dehydrated, and I wanted nothing so much as fog and cool air, so I came home.

For approximately the fifteenth time, I didn’t stop at the Milk Farm in Dixon on the way back. Someday soon, I promise. The Mother’s Day traffic was from hell, and got so bad by the time I hit Berkeley that I actually got off the freeway and cut through Oakland to save time. Unless you live here, you don’t quite grasp the irony of that statement.

Once back in the city, it was off to “beer and a blowjob for $1.50” night at My Place, followed by a late-night adventure in the East Bay with my roommate which was even less exciting than the Sacramento trip and thus bears no mention here.

Sacramento

“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.