Grow A Set

Taking a few minutes off from a laborious weekend to write this love note to Democrats. In times of crisis they always fall back on their “love of democracy” and “respect for the institution” as excuses for inaction. But if they could just tick one or two things off this short To Do List it might prove they mean business.

  • The three Supreme Court justices remaining who are not Pro-Death should resign en masse to prove they are not kangaroos too.
  • Dianne Feinstein should be forced to resign immediately so they can retain control of the Senate if the recall election is successful. She’s 88 going on cadaver. There’s a video of her speaking at a memorial this summer where she calls Pelosi “The Leader of the Senate.” And, rather than memorialize the person they’re there to remember, she waxes on about how she was the first woman mayor of SF and London Breed, who was in attendance, is now the second. She should be allowed to keep her DC home, however, so she’s available to bear hug her little buddy, Lindsay Faye Graham, whenever he needs a boost.
  • If Newsom is recalled, day one of the new governor’s administration should mark the beginning of the petition drive to recall his successor. Let’s see how some extremist Pro-Death Radio Shock Jock who gains office with 9% of the vote does when he’s required to come up with 50%. Plurality should not rule.

Sex Workers of the world unite! Tonight at my place!!

Clapton Drops Second New Single In As Many Weeks

Given the newfound audience he’s acquired with his surprise anti-vaccine hit, Gotta Stop, Eric Clapton wasted no time heading back to the studio. The follow-up’s urgency came from his desire to have it released before he embarks on his US tour with its one venue. (Jagger’s ex, Jerry Hall, helped him book a Desantis ’24 fundraiser to be held at The Villages.) This recording gives new life to an obscure Ike and Tina song from 1974, Sexy Ida.

It’s hard to get funkier than Ike Turner, but with some of his raunchiest guitar licks ever Clapton’s cover does just that. He’s also taken some liberties with Ike’s original wording. For example the line “Don’t give your love to Sexy Ida, Cause she’s the sister of a black widow spider” is now “of a CIA insider.”

In addition to doctoring the lyrics, there are brand new verses that address the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida. Clapton sings “Evacuation’s just speculation, Big brother can’t tell you what do” making it clear there’s no role for governments in peoples’ daily lives.

There’s also a not so veiled threat to charities like the Red Cross and Unicef to stay away. He poignantly laments: “How can they learn the lessons of life, If they’re not allowed to fend off strife.”

Clapton has served as something of a moral compass to a generation of baby boomers that began in the late 60’s. That’s when he started an affair with George Harrison’s wife, Patty Boyd. Breaking up his best friend’s marriage did not stop him, in fact it inspired him, in writing the rock classic Layla.

Clapton has become a master at capitalizing on current events. He hopes “Ida” will equal the success of his biggest hit, Tears in Heaven. That song memorializes the death of his four-year-old son in March 1991. It was released in January 1992.

The Sine Qua Non

I

In July 1972, Gary and I were in New York for opening night of the final dates on the Rollng Stones’ tour. We’d seen them seven times in five different cities. We knew the exact moment in Stevie Wonder’s opening set to break for the stage before the guards were positioned.

Large arena tours were still a new concept and crowd control techniques had yet to be perfected. The only method promoters employed in those days was to have faith people would stay in their assigned seats. They miscalculated.

(It should be noted after this Monday night performance, Tuesday’s concerts featured much heavier security with huge sheets of plywood blocking both ends of the aisles on the main floor. As well as all the entrances onto the floor.)

Crowds in the other cities had been a little unruly, a lot of jostling for position but nothing we couldn’t handle. We always made it to the lip of the stage. In Madison Square Garden, however, it was pure anarchy. We were surrounded by throngs of New Yorkers doing what they do best: push, push, push.

As the intermission was coming to an end Gary and I were five rows back. We realized this was the best we could do. Then the houselights dimmed and over the speakers came the dramatic, low-key announcer’s voice, “Ladies and Gentlemen….The Rolling Stones.”

With the opening strains of Brown Sugar I instantly found myself in an ever-tightening vise: surging hordes behind me, an immoveable stage to the front. I lost Gary in the mayhem and was pinned in by all of the humanity. My back was to the band though show business was not foremost on my mind at the moment. I searched for an exit route but couldn’t move. There was no way out.

Suddenly I felt an arm around my waist and in one fell swoop, someone pulled me backwards on to their chair. Everyone in the first rows was standing on their seats and the space where their feet once rested was now occupied by the influx of fans. We were packed so tightly I couldn’t turn to see who my captor was. But for the next hour a strangers arm around my bare midriff and a three inch sliver of a folding chair were my only security.

When the concert ended and the crowd began to thin I jumped from the chair and turned to meet the person who rescued me. He was a very cute high school senior on a date with his girlfriend. Although I gave him a perfunctory thank you over my shoulder when he pulled me from the scramble, I doubt if he heard me. Now I was effusive. I thought he’d spared me great harm and I was very grateful.

In a very sexy moment he gave me a sheepish smile. As if he’d enjoyed touching the forbidden flesh as we listened to the devil’s music. Sensing trouble his girlfriend quickly sprayed her territory, threw her arm around his shoulder and said, “come on honey, let’s go.”

In the midst of the chaos when I first landed on my perch they were still playing Brown Sugar. I was 10 feet away so I could finally see them clearly. When I looked at Charlie he seemed to be staring back at me. I thought I was imagining it because I didn’t think he could see through the lights. Real or not, we were locked in a stare down for quite some time.

Maybe he’d seen me being trampled and was worried about what was happening on the floor. Whatever the reason, I finally had the attention of one of The Rolling Stones and I wasn’t going to blow it. I continued to act as if things were perilous.

Then I thought better of it. If he was genuinely concerned I should at least let him know I was okay. So I dropped the act and flashed a big smile.

His reaction was immediate. With the coolest indifference he slowly turned his head to the side and stared off into the distance, never to look my way again.

In a very polite way Charlie Watts was telling me not to waste his time with my bullshit.

Better Living Through Gelatin

The aspic from Dinner at 8, George Cukor’s 1933 film. It was Pre-Code
Hollywood. Any suggestive associations are those of the beholder alone.
We’re running a clean website here, one worthy of Will Hays.

Silicone has become such a part of our lives. It’s in our kitchen utensils, in our breasts, and in our personal lubricants. So much so that this year the First Annual (and many are hoping, last annual) Summer of Silicone Fun was held at Chez 55 Laguna.

Pandemic Netflix binging led me down several strange paths including the 11th season of the Great British Bake Off. I was awestruck by the episode called Desserts whose showstopper segment was a jelly art design cake.

Many of the gelatin domes were so crystal clear and contained such intricate designs they were reminiscent of Venetian millefiori paperweights. Being the impressionable bloke that I am, I was personally challenged to master this newly discovered technique.

I temporarily halted my bible study reading of Ezekiel to scour the internet for information on molding gelatin. I bought a few silicone bowls and rounds. Then I did a prototype with my favorite summer pudding to see if I could unmold it. It was kind of okay. The prelims out of the way, sights were set on a true jelly dome with fruit.

My first attempt at silicone molding was a strawberry-rhubarb mousse.
The result was amorphous, mushy and semi-firm.
I get enough of that in the bedroom, I don’t need it in the kitchen too.

With my friend Eric’s help, methods and ingredients were tested. The first lesson learned was forget Knox gelatin, it’s crap. Gelatin is rated by its bloom (basically, strength) that can be as high as 325. The better grades hover around 300 and the American standard is 250. Knox is 225.

The second thing I learned was watch the sugar. Although it helps to strengthen gelatin, using my higher grade stash I made a test batch with no sugar at all and it turned out fine. But one cup to four cups of water? Pancreatic cancer anyone? Please! 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup is more than sufficient. Especially if coupled with delicious seasonal fruits. Give those berries a fighting chance and don’t anesthetize the taste buds with glucose.

As for the citric acid, order it from Amazon. And go light on it. It’s foul tasting but seems to be a necessary component in the equation. Three days were spent being the urban warrior hunting and gathering locally for the precious powder. All for naught. It can’t be avoided any longer: just render unto Bezos what is Bezos’.

Is there any more satisfying summer trip than the one from the
garden to the silicone kitchen molds? Probably not.

My first jelly design was a carrot cake with nectarines, raspberries, and blueberries. In my zeal to make it sparkle I coated the blueberries with a glittery food coloring. The coating immediately melted when the berries touched the gelatin and bleed throughout the crystalline dome.

The biggest hurdle was dealing with the huge expanse of nothingness that tasted like nothing. Sure you’d eventually get to the good stuff, the fruit, but there was all that blank space in between to chow on. I tried to make it appealing with the clear flavorings of ginger extract and anise. (I was living dangerously because ginger along with kiwi and pineapple have elements that can destroy gelatin’s protein. My novenas were answered, however, I achieved a perfect gel.)

Here’s to the ladies who lunch.

My next jelly was more of a traditional aspic, a tomato base with a crabmeat dome. The red bottom needed no adjustment but for the clear crabmeat capitol I added cucumber and onion as the flavors. I spent a half hour squeezing those two vegetables through cheese cloth to extract as much juice as possible. It clouded the aspic so badly you couldn’t see anything.

Highlighting the stunning detail for my guests.

As I worked with the clear gelatin I sampled it. It tasted like dishwater. But when I served my guests they raved about the vegetable flavors that came shining through. Who knew? One man’s Dawn is another’s Lafitte-Rothschild.

Molding gelatin/molding genital. What’s in a mold.
Bloody Mary penises (made from yellow heirlooms)
that were suspended in the cloudy aspic. Don’t be afraid to
mix a healthy diet with your favorite adult themes.

My final foray of the summer jelly season was another cake with fruit. Eric advised me to use a pyrex bowl instead of silicone to get the glassy surface. But the kids on Bake Off used silicone so I had to try it one time. It turned out pock marked. Eric was right.

I’m starting to get the hang of it. Which should serve as fair warning to those who invite me to their next pot luck dinner.

Three Mile Island revisited: a cherry-berry-jelly sponge that
put the kum back in the quat.

Forgive Me If I Deride Love But Darling I’ve Tried Love

Giving hospice care to anachronisms as they fade has always been a hobby. One example would be the Photo Booth technology that barely lived to see the 1980’s.

These machines were found mostly in amusement parks or dime stores. $1 would buy four photos taken in rapid succession. Jim and I frequented the one at G.C. Murphy’s on the corner of Wayne and Calhoun in Fort Wayne. But the booth that got the heaviest traffic from my friends and I was the one at Woolworths by the cable car turntable on Powell Street.

There were one or two seconds between flashes so the model(s) had to act quickly. The secret to a successful session was to assume a fresh pose for each frame. And not to be caught off-guard by the strobe in between. Coordinating a group shot might be done with preplanning, but spontaneity usually reigned once the coin was tendered.

By carbon dating the hair styles in these photos it looks like my last session was around 1981..

What was not completely extinguished from the experience, however, was the desire to photograph one’s self. These feelings laid dormant for a couple of decades. Thankfully, selfie sticks and cellphone camera timers came along to satisfy mans’ craving.

Once on a trip to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk we found another technological deathbed patient that had far outlived its life span: a do it yourself recording booth. It’s the only time I ever saw one. For the outrageous sum of $5 (in coin only, no bills or credit cards) you were given about a minute to lay down a vocal track. Then it took twenty minutes of wondering if you’d been ripped off as you waited for your vinyl to drop.

Following an afternoon of sun, drink and panhandling our friends, Wena and I scrounged up enough coin to head to the studio. We recorded our version of the stirring ballad Come Live With Me from Valley of the Dolls (not to be confused with the Stones more rolicing Live with Me). I took the part of the dude in the wheel chair.

Sadly that pressing has been lost. It may be in the hands of some lucky private collector. Nevertheless, it will live on in the collective memories of our cultural heritage.

.

*****

Open the Vault and Click Below for:

Photo Booths

Of Egg Nog and Emesis

When writing about the past, the hardest thing to convey is context. People tend to apply today’s environment to what happened decades ago. Which can take a lot of the lead out of the storytelling pencil.

At the height of the counterculture in the early 1970s there was a real feeling of living subterranean. No one had a TV or read the newspapers. News came from a network of underground publications. Every major city or radical community had one. Bloomington’s was the Common Sense which I picked up religiously. I would go to the periodical reading room at the library to read the others.

There was a lack of urgency in getting news this way. Contributing reporters took advantage of seven day production schedules to write cogent articles. A couple of weeks later the out-of-town issues would eventually hit the IU library. Reading a well thought-out piece three weeks old seemed just as valuable as getting the news I needed to know NOW!

There was also a lot of absurdist humor in these papers. The Common Sense’s musical editor reviewed the movie Woodstock. Having attended, he thought the film didn’t begin to capture how boring the whole thing had been. He also observed that Alvin Lee’s facial expressions during his guitar solo were like those of an adolescent learning to masturbate.

The Common Sense ran a cartoon once mimicking the proliferation of ads for the new feminine hygiene products. Two girlfriends were chatting when one confided that her boyfriend said she did not smell fresh. Her bestie consoled her. “Oh honey, don’t worry about it. My boyfriend once told me my vagina smelled like the Holland Tunnel. Just try Summer’s Eve.”

The Los Angeles Free Press did a feature on their typical readers’ daily diaries. One was the zealous hour-by-hour, hectic recount of what a Women’s Libber might be doing. Another was how a spaced-out tie-dye freak organized his confused day. Then there was the junkie’s:

8:00 am – Wake Up
8:15 am – Shoot Up
9:00 am –
10:00 am –
11:00 am –
12:00 pm –
1:00 pm –
2:00 pm –
3:00 pm –
4:00 pm –
5:00 pm –

Growing up with three brothers I kept abreast of all sports and was an avid fan. In the late 60’s, however, I was completely divorced from that. Walking through the Union Building one autumn day the World Series was on in the community room. I stopped to watch for a minute and was shocked to see the Tigers were playing. Detroit hadn’t been to a Series in 30 years. I’d never thought of them as even being a contender.

In the days of the counterculture, the world seemed to be turned upside down. And I loved it.

Making fun of various institutions often betrays a longing to be a part of that institution. This was not the case with egg nog. It had all the caché of overstuffed club chairs and Christmases in Connecticut. No one I knew wanted that. There was fertile ground for a bunch of radical hippie fairies to take on a Republican Country Club mainstay.

The 1971 party was such a hit it became an annual event for the next seven years. Each one was unique and au courant which was reflected in the invitations. The event was never in the same venue twice. The first two parties were held in Bloomington, the next five in San Francisco. To add instant legendary status to the fete, the 1972 invitation included the tag line “Since 1971.”

An additional contradiction addressed with the first egg nog party was that, traditionally, it had such a disgusting taste. That was remedied by concocting a special blend of french vanilla ice cream, raw eggs, sugar, heavy cream and rum. For an extra kick, a few bottles of 151 Rum were thrown in.

Ingredients were measured in gallons, flats, and pounds then mixed in batches to be added to our punch bowl: a large Rubbermaid trash barrel set in a bath tub of ice water.  A dash of one can of nutmeg topped off this sure recipe for fun. And projectile vomiting.

The confection was so delicious guests downed them like milkshakes. Until the delayed double whammy of impaired speech and abandoned motor skills set in. Revelers became dizzy and passed out. They would be found the next morning in the lawn, on the back steps or at the curb. Pompeii-like victims collapsed in the hallway making desperate reaches for the front door knob. As if anyone would want to escape this inebriated nightmare.

Another day-after discovery was the vomit. It would be everywhere. The year the party was held at Jones Street the radiators were caked in it. It took months to clean up that blob.

Ahh, for the good times.

*******

Fifty years ago this month I participated in the first gay pride parade in Chicago. There I was with my buddies fighting for every inch of sand, trudging through the bloodied surf of Omaha Beach, explosions surrounding us—-whoops, reminiscences of the wrong brunch of hyper-sentimentalized old warrior dudes.

We were about a hundred that day who were essentially staking our territory, making our presence known. The other main objective was just to survive the march because we were only 10 miles from Cicero where white supremacists and Neo-Nazis loved to leave their mark on peaceful demonstrators. Plus, there were the memories of the police riot at the ’68 Democratic Convention…

By today’s standards it was a rather colorless display. If you overlook my long blonde mane and the micro-mini red hot pants I wore that barely contained my Johnson. But we did it and look what happened.

With that I’d like to wish every letter of the alphabet, as well as all of the plural pronouns (especially the “them thars”), a Happy Pride Month.

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Egg Nog Invitations

I Can See Clearly Now?

Yesterday began auspiciously enough with a visit to Davies Medical Center. A friend had been admitted with a little blood on the brain. He was dismissed later in the afternoon. He seems to be recovering nicely.

That was followed by a three hour nap then lovely libations at Aliment on Bush Street. We sat in one of those outside stalls built on the parking spaces. We were protected from rush hour traffic by 3/4 inch plywood.

In the well-lit late spring evening I walked home slightly drunk. The Tenderloin was still and perfect. On every corner was the corporatization of this once people-centric city.

There was hope in the street art however. So vibrant and sharp. It was all so good, too good in fact. One wonders if that was bought and paid for by Jamie Diamond as well.

I know he didn’t pay for that boy in his luscious short-shorts.

Right now, I can’t read too good, don’t send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row

Robbing Peter, Petering Paul

Coming out of the pandemic first annual year end malaise, today I happened on this song by Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl. It’s got a good beat, you can dance to it. I feel revived.

As I work on my valedictory for the preceding year, there are other signs of hope. I received my new passport and achieved a life long goal: I’ve always wanted to look like Mick or Iggy and now I do. We’re all old and haggard.

Get up off of that thing. Dance and you’ll feel better.

Sergeant Trumpnica

The Republican Party belatedly held their 2020 convention in January 2021. Here’s how it looked. And here’s to the party of Law & Order.

Click the play button for the full multi-media experience. Click on the picture to zoom in.