Soonae and Jong picked me up at the Caltrain station. We picked up Mikey and went to Brothers 2 Restaurant on Geary.
What’s better than dinner with those you love?
Fuck if I know.
When we realized, “hey, hang on a minute! we’re gay!” we opted for Bed Bath & Beyond and Trader Joe’s instead. I’m ok with the Bed and the Bath, but the Beyond, lord jesus christ on a cracker help me. We were at the top of the escalators on our way down and I beatifically spread my arms over the Land Of Small Kitchen Electrics And All Clad Cookware and proclaimed it Good. El poeta del perro made me walk through the section anyway (even though I told him of my obsession), coaching me away from the need to search for all-electric asparagus cookers and professional-level burr grinders.
What a bitch, right? But New York seems to have given him a touch of imperioussssssnessssss (sssriussssly). He’s been barking (in trochaic pentameter) little orders here and there, and out of pure shock I find myself heeding them before I realize what’s happening.
Like at Trader Joe’s. I was at the end of an aisle, he was part of the way down the same aisle and he barked, “Come here” (even that came out as a trochee and not an iamb). He pointed at the little handwritten sign below the deluxe cashews:
A minute later, I was looking at the all-natural soy-based laundry detergent (gotta love Northern California) to see if it was ok to use in front-loading washing machines (it was) and I noticed the badge on the label:
Who knew Trader Joe was so virile?
The chain of pain continues—and ends at a meeting of the weirdnesses.
First, you may recall, I invoked the dark side of pop music with references to an O’Sullivan and a Jacks. Then, BdbdbdbdbdbdBuck brings in a melancholic ONJ reference. Then Mr. Johnny Trinity invokes Ms. Manilow.
And yesterday was the 100th Anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake.
Which got me thinking about the City’s history, which got paired with Barry [Wo]manilow (as we used to call him) and I remembered the movie Foul Play, which was set in San Francisco in 1978 or so, and whose main theme song is my second-favorite Barry Manilow song, “Ready to Take a Chance Again”, which is an entirely apropos sentiment for me these days.
And? It just happened to be on comcast cable’s “On Demand” section, so I watched it immediately last night.
You know, I love this town. As if I didn’t already have the best parents in the world, not to mention the embarrassment of riches in all those who’ve been there for me through the years, San Francisco is something of the Mother of All of Us who know this is the only place to live.
Today I went to Cafe Commons to have dinner with my friend, Dave. Mostly it was because I hadn’t had any facetime with Dave in a very long time. Long-time readers will remember Dave (and his wife, Lisa) as my cultural sherpas, teaching me much about Northern California culture. But in a fit of remembrance, I bought the lunch and offered it to Dave as a little birthday present for Allen, who would have been 48 today.
When I told Dave this was why I was buying lunch, he lifted his drink, raised it up and looked up, saying, “Happy Birthday, Allen.”
It was beautiful. And then it was done. We were back in the now, talking about various stuff. Apple and Intel, about San Francisco, about Lisa, about Sam.
After lunch we walked over to Dave’s new workplace, a glass-sculpture shop. At 48 himself, Dave is apprenticed there and he gave me a tour. The studio was a large, tall triangular space I never knew was there. Dave gets to walk to work every day. Lucky.
Anyway, the space was incredible. Dave showed me how it all works and showed me some of the work they do. There, I saw the most incredible chandelier I’ve ever seen. Cool green glass, each piece having a uniform pocket for the lighting and each had tails that swept up! All pieces in a dance that seemed to move of itself.
After I left, I called Sam to come pick me up because, y’know, I still can’t walk up a hill or up stairs. While standing there waiting for him—he was on his way home from an appointment—I noticed a newly-planted tree put there by the Friends of the Urban Forest. The sapling was fenced in with chicken wire and wooden stakes. Across one side was a placard which had on it:
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you don’t expect to sit.” — Nelson Anderson
That’s certainly one very specific way to look at life, but it’s one that I utterly appreciate and agree with. And, of course, being none other than who I am, it set me to thinking. And then realizing.
The root of the Christian Idea is exactly this. That good works here, in this life, among fellow humans, would not be rewarded here. That payback was something you got after you were gone from this reality. Helping thy neighbor was a thing you did as a Christian without later handing that neighbor a bill, either implied or on paper.
Further, you were granted the opportunity to do good works when that neighbor allowed you to help. The person in need is, in a huge sense, the true giver. My friend Vincy helped me understand that point of view.
In any event, no one is supposed to keep score, right?
My beautiful and amazing friend, David (another different David) has taken me to task about my treatment of Christians on this blog, in the sense that I lump them all together and aim the flame at all of them.
With all these things in mind, I realized that he was right. And I realized that the Anderson quote provided the key to it all.
Look at all the Christians out there who expect that their “hard work” in getting people elected, in lobbying like hell, in launching enormous campaigns of ideology against their “enemies”, all to provide fast, concrete results and just as fast, just as concrete and immediate benefits to each of those Christians. The Robertsons and Falwells and DeLays and Santorums of the world are of this type.
Dear Auntie Brenda, my folks, and many of the people I know and love who believe in God and the Divinity of Jesus are the ones who plant that tree, help that neighbor, contribute to the world and don’t ever expect the cooling shade here on Earth. Their trees are in Heaven.
And in having had to lean on people more than usual these last few weeks, in allowing Michael and Vincy and FTP (oink!) and Mark and Sam and Dave and David and Davey and James and Marie and Jack and Anthony and Brotherman Sam and all those others to help me (which isn’t easy for me), I get the getting. I’d like to believe all along, god or no god, Church or no Church, that I’ve gotten the giving part as well.
It’s a strange tack to take, not only pigeonholing the infinite, but then having the audacity to speak on behalf of His Holy Infinity, but Pat Roberts has managed to do just that. Again.
Now, before I launch into this, I should put Pat in some perspective. He’s not the only Christian who does this sort of thing. Many other Christians climb their bully pulpits every Sunday and remind their fellow Christians that heathens and the profane should fear the Christians. Not only fear the Wrath of God, but fear, in earthly and malevolent ways, Christians.
And to also be fair, there are an enormous number of Christians, who, despite the hubris and pomposity of claiming to know their Creator’s wishes in the first place, are really rather decent, mild, meek, helpful people.
But these days, those people remain silent. Perhaps they’ve bought into being afraid of not toeing the Christian party line, too?
So Pat Robertson, the sore loser (at least ideologically) in Dover, PA, not only tells the fine, smart folks of Dover, PA—who rightly punished those who wanted to suborn science by removing them from power—that they’ve turned from God (hey, I thought “Intelligent Design” wasn’t about God!), but that God has turned from them:
I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city…And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.
Well! How about that, Dover? You’re up shit’s creek without a Deity.
<sarcasm>And then there’s my good buddy, Bill O’Reilly</sarcasm>.
So miffed was he over Prop I, or rather, miffed over the fact that we San Franciscans approved Prop I, that he’s handing us over to the terrorists. It takes him just a little bit of time to get there. First he leads with what each and every one of us who voted in favor of Prop I knew could be the consequences:
You know, if I’m the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium and I say, “Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you’re not going to get another nickel in federal funds.”
That’s how our government forces schools to permit military recruiters: by paying them to do so, or at least threatening to starve them of funding if they don’t. I suppose patriotism and sense of duty should be the driving factors, but, whatever.
But then he becomes his usual insane self. You can almost hear the wheels fall off the wagon of his sanity:
Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead…And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
Didn’t he just commit an act of treason? And more to the point, isn’t he going to get stretchmarks? All this from the man who wants his values pushed in schools and will do anything, no matter how unsavory, to make that happen, ranting at a bunch of people who want their values reflected in schools and actually go through a constitutionally-approved, let-the-voters-decide procedure to make that happen? Why, Bill, one might think you’re a hypocrite, if you’re not careful.
So Pat Robertson hands Dover, PA over to the forces of Hell, and Bill O’Reilly encourages terrorists to blow up San Francisco.
Where are the hoody’s and the Vigilante Papists and the Aquinas-brown-nosers and the teen-age martinet-marionettes railing about God’s love and how these people should be punished for their moral relativism? Probably we’ll hear apologies, excuses, rationalizations, because clearly sacrificing people for their own agenda is more important than the pro-life agenda itself.
Watch, world. Watch how the theocrats decry nothing.
You didn’t hear it here first.
We, still in shadow
They, on a faraway hill
Lit an antique white.
The sea air plays tricks
The bumps and swellings of hills
Some light etches depth
This light flattens, erases.
There. And Here. Same thing.
I will miss all this
When our clocks refuse to budge:
Taking Back Sunday.
A least for an hour
Heralding almost six months
Of light-shifted days.
Why not? Trices of beauty
Are where you find them.
I always ride the train facing the City. In the mornings on my way down to the Mothership, that means riding backwards. Some people can’t do that; it throws them off or makes them nauseous. But there are all kinds of balance, and there are all kinds of centering and there are all sorts of ways of finding one’s sea legs.
Grounding is probably my favorite—or at least the most-used. It’s an anti-dizziness spell, focusing on the horizon, or picking a point on the wall behind the audience when public-speaking (that always worked better for me than the old “imagine them in their underwear” routine, because, let’s face it, I’d either end up horrified over-amused or put off or turned on by that spectacle in any audience).
San Francisco is my point on the horizon. In facing it every day, twice a day, I measure distance-from and nearness-to. The mornings are a pull away; the evenings, a hurtling towards. San Francisco is, perhaps over-usedly-so, the “End of the Rainbow” for many. For me, it’s the horizon—in studies in perspective in art, also known as the Vanishing Point.
It’s a strange thing, living at the horizon, at one’s own vanishing point. You might think it impossible, but so many of us do it all the time. Physicists tell us that without Space there is no Time, and without Time, no Space. No Where without a When and vice versa. But when Here meets Now, convention shatters and a sort of gyroscopic balance is found. Sempiternity and Oblivion ride Roman and anything is possible and no base reality can be pigeonholed.
Conventional reality is overrated.
Oddly it’s the godly lately who stately claim with territorial pissings the purview of their own Anthropomorphized Absolute, replete with walls and gates and VIP parking, a mad dash to define what’s Outside.
In San Francisco, there is no Outside: die Anderen winks in and out, astable, the mundane world shimmering in a way that only the interlucency between pointillism and strange attractor orbits can.
The City is both a potent gravity well as well as the rainbow of bent light it produces. San Francisco is nothing you’ll understand well unless you try to stop trying so hard. You can’t wish it into existence—and sometimes, don’t wish you could stop wishing?
The City is both the destination and the reason to never book another destination again, a library of souls who may, from time to time, in order to travel from place to place, check themselves out of the stacks for a time. But once part of that grand collection, they never really stop possessing and being possessed of, The City.
I’m in the Castro. In the drug store to pick up a prescription refill. The inside of the building has changed, but some things never do.As I wait for them to retrieve my relatively-incidental ‘script for Restoril, I see there’s someone in far worse shape than me (like I don’t remember this anyhow): a paper grocery-bag sized bag with no fewer than thirteen separate script tags stapled to it.
Did I ever pick that many up at one time for Allen? No, not at one time.
Ahh, but only because most HIV drugs didn’t exist then. Ahh, that explains it.
I go to the greeting cards section. Tears too swift. Too much anguish in the Now. What kind of anniversary card is appropriate for us right now?
Last night as we talked in bed I looked up at the projection of the time on the ceiling. 12:35. Dread. It’s officially September 13 and
what would be or might still be our second anniversary. I hate this in-between space.
Even in San Francisco, even in the Castro, there’s not an anniversary card for this.
I go to
Pasqua Starbucks across the street and sit in my old seat—the one up in the back corner on the riser where I wrote more than half a thousand pages of fiction.
If I have an addiction, it’s to Time. But it’s not an addiction really, even if and even when the swoon of it overpowers.
The Castro, for me, has so much Past to offer. The Castro, for the world, still has so much Future to offer. But what I need is to be grounded in the Now.
How Soon is Now?
Dear goddess, save me from quoting Morrissey.