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.
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 andI 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 laThe Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, I threw down my keys. It went hot and heavy for about six months.
The uncertainty of what is happening is a little trying. Yesterday some friends back east asked me to visit for the Kentucky Derby the first of May. I wanted to go and eight weeks notice is certainly enough time to make plans and a commitment. But since I don’t know at what stage of the process I’ll be, or even where I’ll be living, I had to say no.
I have the assurances of my attorney that things will probably move slowly so it might have worked. I didn’t feel like taking the chance, however, so I’m left here to wait and comfort myself with my “things.”
Like the Duke and Duchess of Nowhere, a rare example of 18th Century bas relief in plastique. By now the reader must think my apartment is filled with kitsch but I really do try to contain it. It only works as an accent to otherwise clean, simple lines.
The ancestral ducal couple preside over the entertainment area.
Since my phone conversation with Vince Young on Friday, I have not received a written request for a prorated check nor has he returned the voided February rent check to me. Without both of those I can’t write him a new one. Maybe his response is in the mail. Or maybe I’ll hear his footsteps lumbering up the stairs to deliver it in person.
Which is my crude segue into today’s feature, the staircase. It’s original, 1915, and a very Arts & Crafts contrast to the froo-froo pilasters and cartouches I’ve mentioned before. The carpet was replaced in 1987 but the woodwork is well-worn and probably hasn’t been touched up in 100 years. I love it.
I’m lucky that the original builders equipped the staircase with the best in Early-Warn technology. The stairs are so creaky and rickety, it’s like a chorus of cicadas when someone is going up or down.
And the chorus is amplified by the acoustics of that echo chamber. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been awakened by drunken neighbors coming home at 2 a.m.
But that I blame more on the liquor laws of California. If the bars were allowed to close at a decent time, say 5 or 6, my drunk friends would have been getting me up at a more appropriate hour.
BONUS COVERAGE – THE BLIZZARD OF OUGHT 15
From Dale & David in Boston: things have taken a dire turn for the worse. Not only is cabin fever rampant but they’re also out of red wine.
And, as if they haven’t suffered enough, Angelina Jolie can’t get her team of huskies through.
I used to go up on the roof to sunbathe back in the day before I knew the hazards of too much sun. The practice would continue after I knew those hazards.
I wasn’t alone. Sometimes my neighbors next door would be up there or I’d see people walking around on other rooftops in the neighborhood. It was a small, clandestine community that felt private. Even though hundreds could look out their windows and see us.
It felt so secure some would sunbathe nude. As racy as that might sound it wasn’t really a pick up scene. It’s pretty hard to communicate with someone six roofs over and even 20/20 vision has its limitations. (Oh, it’s you.)
I do remember the stories of one Rolling Stone journalist, Ben Fong Torres I believe, who got busted down in the Mission for getting frisky with his girlfriend on their roof. It did go on. So there was always that incentive to go back up.
One can’t overestimate the influence John Waters and Divine had on my generation of gays. Especially the way they memorialized the obscure fads and inane artifacts of our childhood.
Like Divine’s trailer in Pink Flamingos with its God Bless This Mobile Home decorative plate. It was the kind of kitsch I saw as a kid at the Stuckeys shops along the highways when we took long trips. At the time my attention gravitated more towards the pecan logs. I would just dismiss those plates as tacky because that’s what my Mother and Grandmother did.
Until I saw Divine’s trailer. A whole new layer of meaning was added and I had to have one.
I acquired my Mobile Home plate in Lakeland, Florida when I visited my Grandparents in the late 70s. The next year I found the Camper plate there too. A friend gave me the Mortgaged Trailer plate and my cleaning person found the Lousy Apartment one for me.
They hang over the kitchen sink and are of great comfort to me as I slave over dirty dishes. Counting my blessings.
Yesterday I got a call from my landlord, Vince Young. He said that he couldn’t accept my February rent check and that I needed to write it for a prorated amount until the 25th. I said he would have to provide me with written details and return the voided check.
He then asked me about my plans to move. I said I had none. He said that “legally” I had to be out by the 24th. I told him that it was my understanding that if I wasn’t out I would be served an unlawful detainer and then the matter would be litigated.
I think he was stunned. There was a long silence until we finally just said good-bye. So we’ll see.
Today’s featured artifact is my Eve Harrington Lamp. I have an unfair reputation for being a spendthrift but I do my share of bargain hunting. I found this lamp in the 1980’s at a sidewalk sale a couple blocks down by St. Francis Hospital. It was in disrepair and had no shade. I paid $5 for it.
I had an artsy friend patch it up and paint it ($50); my lampshade lady Chiyo made me the silk shade ($200); and then I found the Victorian agate finial in an antique store ($85). All in all, a steal.
A couple of years later I was watching All About Eve for the umpteenth time and, in the scene where Phoebe meets Addison at Eve’s front door, there was my lamp. Since portions of the movie were filmed in San Francisco I was convinced that Bette Davis picked this lamp out herself. And that she would have wanted me to have it.
During the 39 years I’ve lived here my landlords have always been cheap. They would make repairs only when absolutely necessary, like when the neighbors bathroom plumbing exploded and water came gushing out of the wall. Or when the City cited them for not keeping the facade painted. But they hated spending money and would never consider helping tenants with upkeep of their units.
Which was fine with me because it meant we could do what we wanted. When Jeffrey lived here he was hanging that 1930’s wallpaper with the old toxic glue they used. Then he’d finish off the trim with lead based paint.
In my day I concentrated more on color. And there have been many through the years finally ending up with an Aubergine dinning room and an Elephant’s Breath living room. My masterpiece, though, was the hallway.
The challenge there was the uneven walls where blistering wall paper and sunken plaster had just been painted over. The options were to have it repaired professionally or try to disguise the existing texture with more texture. So I tried my hand at a faux finish and went for the Tuscan stucco look.
My ochre and pale pink didn’t work, I didn’t have the technique. The separation of colors was too obvious and no matter what I used–brush, cloth, sponge, varnish–it didn’t look right.
I then found some metallic wall paint at Benjamin Moore and thought a shimmering bronze wash would pull it all together. It didn’t but the crown molding, which I had painted solid, was stunning. Five quarts later at $40 a piece so were the walls.
When my old landlord and building manager came by one day to check on the radiators they were taken aback by the hallway. Their Mandarin was too rapid fire for me to interpret but I have a feeling they were discussing the expense of covering up the bronze and not the beauty of it.
I’m busy dusting every nook and cranny and diligently cleaning the carpet in preparation for the Royal Service of Papers that I’m assuming will take place here. A section is being cordoned off for the media so they can get their money shot when the time comes.