Eviction Countdown: Day 7

On the look-out for Tenderloin trannies.
On the look-out for Tenderloin trannies.

I live a block down from one of the steepest hills in the City, Jones between California and Pine. Tourists are constantly photographing it but I know from experience that the pictures just don’t turn out. You can’t capture the incline or the depth for some reason, it always looks flatter than it is.

When they were filming the Eddie Murphy film Metro in 1996 they decided to use this hill for the runaway cable car chase scene. And I watched the whole thing from my bay window.

There are no tracks on this part of Jones so they painted fake ones down the middle of the street and used motorized cable cars. They also turned it into a two-way street for the movie, in real life it’s one way downhill. And even more dramatic license: you never, ever allow parallel parking on a hill of this grade but they did.

To enhance the chase a plywood ramp was built at the intersection of Pine and Jones to film a car jumping on to my block. That was exciting to watch, the rest of the two-day shoot was pretty boring.

Hill is real, cable car is not.
Hill is real, cable car is not.

They did some close-ups of Mr. Murphy in front of my building but when they shot the actual speeding cable car it was filled with extras.

I enjoyed watching the non-speaking actors who played pedestrians across the street from me. It took hours to set up the runaway and they spent most of their time conferring and blocking off their movements. They were dead serious about their craft. In the movie they were on the screen for about 3 seconds.

As I've told cab drivers thousands of times over the years coming down this hill, mine is the third building on the left after the intersection.
As I’ve told cab drivers thousands of times over the years, mine is the third building on the left after the intersection.

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 6, Bertha’s Brownies
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 8, Taxidermy
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Eviction Countdown: Day 8

In 1988 Brian and I took one last trip before he became seriously ill. We went to Acapulco and stayed in a small, white washed guest house on the side of a hill.

Our daily routine was to sleep in then go have a big breakfast at the hotel buffet on our way to the beach. We rented an umbrella and spent the day in and out of the water. While he lounged, I went parasailing.

On our walk back in the late afternoons the tourist shops would be open and we’d check them out. There wasn’t much of interest except a one-of-a-kind coiled snake. All the other items in the shops had that genuine, made in Taiwan Mexican feel. The snake had to be local and I wanted it.

The problem was getting it through Customs. At the time it was not quite as pro forma as it is today, agents were very arbitrary and discriminatory. They would have loved nothing more than to nail a couple of gay guys with contraband.

My method back then was to pack any questionable items I might be carrying in my dirtiest, filthiest laundry. I figured if they were freaky enough to go through that stuff then they’d earned the right to confiscate. They didn’t.

Bambi came into my posession in the mid-90’s when I visited the Brimfield Antique Show west of Boston. Dale, David and I had talked about it for years and when we finally did go it was completely overwhelming. Acres and acres of vendors.

For me it was like being in a major museum. There’s so much to see, so much detail, eventually it runs together and you can’t tell what you’re looking at. Maybe that’s just my ADD.

After about 6 hours my friends had purchased a handful of things and I had nothing. They started guilt tripping me, “you mean we’ve come all this way and you aren’t getting anything?” In the blitzkrieg of images roiling in my head I remembered the fawn. I went back and bought it.

I now had a prop to use when I read the Bambi story to the young ones. “Gather round children. I’m going to tell you a story about your Mother getting killed and abandonning you for the rest of your life. We’ll have hot chocolate afterwards.”

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 7, Metro
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 9, Built-Ins
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Eviction Countdown: Day 9

I’m a strong believer in preserving architectural heritage. Until it comes to kitchens and, to a lesser extent, bathrooms. Sometimes it’s better to tear out and rebuild.

These antiquated, postage stamp kitchens like mine have tons of wasted space with their built-in cabinets and counter tops that were designed for 1915 heights, not 2015. You spend so much time hunched over preparing a meal that your back feels broken by the time dinner guests arrive. These old designs also take up too much precious space with their stand alone stoves and refrigerators.

When I was younger, and more pliable, I loved to cook and entertain here. It could be done. But it meant constantly looking for space as you prepared the meal. Dishes and pans ended up on top of the refrigerator, in the sink, on the dish drainer, and even on the floor (but only if the guests hadn’t arrived yet).

These days if it’s my turn to host I prefer to take people to a restaurant.

Not all built-ins are a bust, however. The one in my dinning room has been a treasure, and a conversation piece, for four decades.

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 8, Taxidermy
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 10, The Patio
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Eviction Countdown: Day 10

Behind the laundry room, the storage lockers and the in-law unit.
Behind the laundry room, the storage lockers and the in-law unit.

The back patio always had potential that was never realized. Back in the day I tried to sunbathe down there but it was too walled in. Sunshine was limited. Then one day I saw a dead rat in the flower beds and it kind of lost its charm for me.

Some sunny mornings I would have coffee and read back there while I was doing my laundry. And sometimes my neighbors would go down and barbecue but I don’t know if they hung out after the grilling.

I was a guest once in the in-law unit one door down, a building whose layout is exactly like ours. They had finished the back wall with french doors and had a lovely garden area to look out on. I’m not sure how they handled the rodents.

The Madonna Residence Inn for elderly women is now, like all old institutional buildings in the City, owned by the Academy of Art. Back in Madonna days residents would meander the sidewalks in their dusters and ask us to help find their  lost cats. Pets were not allowed there.
The Madonna Residence Inn for elderly women is now, like all old institutional buildings in the City, owned by the Academy of Art. Back in the Madonna days residents would meander the sidewalks in their dusters and ask us to help find their lost cats. Pets were not allowed there.

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 9, Built-Ins
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 11, VD
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Eviction Countdown: Day 11

Valentine’s Day was always Rags’ favorite holiday. The years he was in San Francisco he would host big parties.

The first one I went to was at his Sacramento Street apartment across from Grace Cathedral. His dinning room ceiling was draped in parachute silk. The theme may have been pajamas because that’s what my friend Jeffrey and I showed up in. Or maybe that was just our fashion statement for the evening.

It was probably the first time I met Kathy because we were both there. But neither of us remembers, might have been the ludes. She was fresh off the boat from Nebraska via Kansas and Afghanistan.

The last party Rags hosted out here was with Ben around the corner at their Taylor Street flat. Keeping it on the Nob. Their invitations were handwritten with what looked like lipstick on vintage ladies handkerchiefs.

I wore full length red chiffon accessorized with a bull whip. (Sadly, those photos seemed to have disappeared. Maybe next year.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 10, The Patio
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 12, Ruining Art
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Eviction Countdown: Day 12

I mentioned yesterday the bay windows. What I didn’t tell you was they had a western exposure and just how intense that sun was.

The first year I lived here alone I went for a spartan, fish bowl look in the front room. No window treatments. I had a white lacquered desk in one of the bays with a small stack of books on the corner. After about six months I moved the books for a routine dusting. They left an outline of pristine white on a larger field of dingy, yellow-white.  I realized I had to get something up in the windows.

My friend Bob worked at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art back in the 1970’s. The museum was just starting to blossom then and it was an exciting time for him. Once I was there and he introduced me to Chris Burden who was still relatively unknown. Other times he would tell me about dating Robin William’s secretary or how he picked up Joel Gray on Santa Monica Boulevard.

On another visit he showed me a Warhol Marilyn and several Irving Blum posters someone had given him. I ended up with the Jasper Johns poster. Even though I tried to protect it in the front room, just having the blinds open for a couple hours a day was enough to fade it. It’s damaged but still treasured.

About the same time Rags gave me a Red Grooms Doughnut Girl poster. I wanted to hang it in the kitchen so, to protect it, I had it laminated which severally affected its value. Who knew?

Cut me some slack, I was only 25.

12b

—–

POST SCRIPT

  Mark and Charley were watching Laura the other evening and they noticed my Eve Harrington lamp in the background. Both films were made by 20th Century Fox and the story I wanted to spread was that, because Liz bankrupted the studio with Cleopatra, they were forced to recycle props. Alas, both films were made years before Cleo so all we can conclude is they were really cheap.

 

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 11, VD
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 13, The World As I See it
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginningv

Eviction Countdown: Day 13

The World as I See It
The World as I See It

Nothing happened today except I spoke to my one other neighbor who is still in the building. We’re in the same boat, he’s heard nothing either.

It was a gorgeous day, low 70’s. I walked down to the City Pier. On the way home I got yelled at when I cut the line at Swans to buy some crab meat. Everyone was waiting for the counter, I just wanted some to take home. I know the drill, they don’t. Fucking tourists.

—–

The front bay windows have been my eyes on the world for the last 39 years. From them I’ve seen and heard many things including an interesting young neighbor who lived across the street back in the 80’s. We stared at each other a lot.

One day he was standing on the street below me so, a la The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, I threw down my keys. It went hot and heavy for about six months.

The Roman Spring Launch Pad
The Roman Spring Launch Pad

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 12, Ruining Art
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 14, The Duke and Duchess
The Complete Countdown
The complete saga, From the Beginning