My Fair Share of Abuse

Give me that ol' revolutionary spirit, mid-century modern style.
Give me that ol’ revolutionary spirit, mid-century modern style.

I went down to the demonstration Friday night. Or rather it came to me. It was right outside my window.

The day began with my decision not to channel any energy into the inauguration. I ignored it completely. Ken gave me a mid-century Chinese style frame so my thoughts were occupied with finding a suitable portrait of Jiang Qing.

Jiang was Mao’s fourth wife who later became a member of the ruthless Gang of Four. After his death she was tried and imprisoned. The remainder of her life was spent primarily in jail, making dolls. Apparently she signed hers and they have become highly sought after.

She was always photographed looking so butch and strident in her gang days. She began her professional life as a courtesan, however, as so many first ladies have done. It was from that period I took my image.

My political apathy was going well until Friday evening when I heard the whirling of helicopters above and the commotion of a large crowd marching up Market Street. I could ignore it no longer. Events were only a stone’s throw from my Vermeer-like windows.

Past experience has made me quite adept at gauging stone trajectory. Like the one I threw at the First National Bank of Bloomington in 1970 during an anti-war march. Or my heave nine years later of an empty, half-pint of Hennessy through a City Hall window on the occasion of the White Night Riots.

But Friday I was just a sightseer taking note of the crowd: very young, very cute, very white, and very IPO-ed looking. There was a major improvement in the rhythmic chants, a far sexier beat than in my day. And the police tail lights in the misty rain were so colorful. They looked nothing like that in the Vietnam era.

Another significant change was the police crowd control. They actually worked with the demonstrators by escorting them along the route. They proceeded a block at a time then stopped at the intersections. This allowed the front of the march to engage in sexy chanting while the remaining phalanx had time to catch up. Once the entire, blocks-long contingent came to a stop, police would lead on to the next intersection.

The Mine Shaft of my salad days where the salad was truly horrible.
The Mine Shaft of my salad days where the salad was truly horrible.

This approach closed down all of Market Street. If you got ahead of the police escort you had the whole expanse of wide boulevard to meander. It gave a new perspective to the neighborhood. I saw detail that I’d missed in the hubbub of quotidian life.

There were so many in-your-face, glass-front, trendy restaurants that I hadn’t noticed before. A beer and video game refuge called the Brewcade. And the Lucky 13 bar which for decades was the Mine Shaft.

Back in my protesting days when I moved to San Francisco, vestiges of hippiedom (as well as trench mouth) still remained. The custom of feeding the people was treated like a religious experience. Various bars would put out free buffets, or “feeds,” on designated nights of the week.

Sunday was the night for the Mine Shaft: spaghetti with ketchupy sauce; watery, vinegary lettuce that was the salad; and, stale bread. It was pretty disgusting. There was peer pressure to experience the freedom so I participated. Once.

Jiang's logical successor.
Jiang’s logical successor.

With the Inauguration boycott ended, I took a look at what she wore. The gown was understated and soigné for a Trump gal. And at first I thought the baby blue coat looked refreshing, modern.

Then I saw the entire ensemble. It was as if she’d taken her white satin pumps to the Emporium basement to have them dyed the same shade as her prom dress. The gloves, the shoes, the bag: matchy, matchy, matchy.

So pageant.

The Roy Show

Roy. As in Halston.
Roy. As in Halston.

Necessity being the mom and all of that, I redid my first lamp shade this weekend with new fabric. As noted in previous bloggage, the cow lamp had been covered in a beautiful faux, mint-colored crocodile. What went unreported, however, was that it was an awful job.

It took hours of trick photography and retouching last summer to come up with a picture I could post. I was able to fool the public but not myself. I stared at the shody shade daily.

With my new apartment comes a new life and a new lamp shade. Mint reptile is now a Marc Jacobs, forest green basketweave I found in the Britex remnants department. The cows, once again, can be looked perpendicularly in the eye.

Roy was the perpetrator of the croc catastrophe. He was an aspiring young drapery maker/upholsterer in Palm Springs who sewed really well. He showed me some intricate covers he’d done for trapezoid shaped chairs that were quite impressive. But his lack of experience with lamps in general, and faux reptilian hide in particular, resulted in a shade that buckled and sagged.

Keep on dancin' and a prancin'.
Keep on dancin’ and a prancin’.

Roy reminded me so much of my friend Brian and not just because sewing was their profession. It was also because he talked a mile a minute and was a profound liar. Like Brian, his lies were never malicious. They were meant to be entertaining filler for the boring stretches of daily life.

At first I was gobsmacked by the stories. Like he had a sister studying at the London School of Economcs. Or that he was the second youngest of 20 siblings.

Given his Mexican heritage and applying a certain Trump-like logic, the family size could have been true.  But when he told me they all vacationed with the Marriotts (of the hotel chain), I became skeptical. Sure they’re Mormon and used to overflow seating, but taking your friends’ 20 kids traveling with you seemed extreme.

After my initial gullibility, I would let his tales unwind then ask at the end of each whether any of it was true. He was never defensive and would respond nonchalantly “5%” or “10%.” I was left to guess which part it was.

Once he waxed on and on about how he learned about gay sex from his father. Presumably Dad took him aside then watched and instructed him on how to shag his uncle. Roy was so earnest and so convincing, the story held my attention. When he finished I asked how much of it was true: “none.”

In the desert you don’t wear many clothes that need to be dry cleaned so I didn’t miss my handful of items that lingered for six weeks at Classic Cleaners. I was starting to feel guilty, though, and asked Roy to help me pick them up since he had a car.

I was confident they were still there because they had not called me yet with threats to sell them.

Roy wasn’t so sure. “They probably don’t have them,” he said. “They never call you here. It’s Palm Springs, they just assume you’ve died.”

My down payment on the shitty shade was a small price to pay for sparkling companionship.

Anonymous Angels

Who could hang a name on you
Who could hang a name on you

They show up, do your work, then break your heart.

Yesterday was the day of the haul. All week I’d been organizing to load up the Budget 12 footer with the contents of the Palm Springs apartment. Then drive everything to San Francisco.

With the help of friends old and new (some of whom hung around for extra credit), I thought I was prepared.

He wanted to give me something so he left his Harley boots.
He wanted to give me something so he left his Harley boots.

When I was ready to start loading and pay the pros, however, the guy Robert lined up was a no-show. It was New Years Eve, no one was available to replace him at the last-minute. I had to do it by myself. I worked until 2:00 a.m. then drove off.

This is the third time in three years my year-end has involved massive moves. How many more times do I have to schlep this shit?

Feliz ano nuevo.

Robert gave me a parting gift too, this exquisite Fostoria coupe.
Robert gave me a parting gift too, this exquisite Fostoria coupe.