Regina, Start the Show

Cover art of the era that I preferred to Sgt Peppers.

Since its release, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request has been criticized as nothing but a Beatles’ rip off.  While Sgt. Peppers’ is hailed as the one of the most influential albums ever it seems if you’re one of those who was influenced by it you’ve committed a crime. What the sine qua non?

I loved the Beatles but was obsessed with the Stones. The Beatles wanted to hold your hand but the Stones aimed for a more intimate portion of the anatomy. The manroot of it all may be in Keith’s observation to Paul: “yours was a songwriters’ group, ours was a musicians’.”

When you strip away the lonely hearts veneer from Satanic Majesty’s, there are some excellent songs. Citadel alone is worth the price of admission. Its great riff highlighted by Charley’s shimmering cymbals is one of the Stones’ best ever. The curious break after the second chorus is nothing but reverb. A reviewer at the time said those five seconds summed up “the entire history of The Who.”

When it was released I wondered who they were singing about in the chorus, “Candy and Taffy, hope you both are well.” Twenty five years later I discovered that, while I was a gawky teenager in Grandmother’s kitchen, humming The Old Rugged Cross and baking Sugar Cream pies, Mick was in Manhattan hanging out with Candy Darling.

She’s A Rainbow and 2000 Light Years from Home were the most popular songs and have stood the test of time. And even The Lantern remains interesting with Nicky Hopkins’ piano playing.

Satanic Majesty’s is not the catastrophe it’s been made out to be. It was the product of an experimental time when being innovative meant more than to just produce good music. You couldn’t get too weird for the 60’s.

Candy was a trailblazer in the use of silicone for breasts. Unfortunately the substance was injected into the body and not implanted in bags. She was dead from cancer within 10 years.

There is footage from that period of Yoko Ono in the Beatles recording studio asking for her own microphone. (I’m not sure if this was before or after she demanded a bed be placed in there too.) The band members are non-confrontational and let her have the mic. Then they just ignore her.

As they work out a credible version of Get Back, she intermittently screams onto the recording “John!…..John!……John!” It’s annoying and makes no sense. The scene exemplifies the Petri Dish that was Swinging London and may explain where Gomper came from.

After decades of listening, 2000 Man has become my favorite track on the album. It starts off as a jaunty, acoustic folk song. Then the chorus adds a jaw dropping (but only on a good sound system) rhythm section with some astrological lyrics: “Oh Daddy, be proud of your planet, Oh Mummy, be proud of your sun.” A sarcastic clue that maybe they weren’t into the psychedelia thing as much as they were putting on.

Sheer terror at the Rococo. Waiting to go on.

In the Joan Rivers documentary, A Piece of Work, she’s booked into a seedy dive in the Bronx. To maintain her edge and polish her craft, she felt the need to work a live audience often. And she didn’t care where it was. In this case she finds herself in a backstage area that gave every indication of being just inches away from the city’s sewers. She was as comfortable there as she was in her own Upper East Side Penthouse with its ormolu and furs.

Backstages in night clubs are the great equalizers. It doesn’t matter how exalted you feel on stage, you enter from and exit through a dressing room that’s a toilet. Maybe it’s an economy move by management to maximize profits. Or it could be a way to remind the talent they are the continuation of a centuries-old lineage of carnival folk engaged in an ignoble profession.

Grandmother enjoyed theater but would never have considered associating with those kind of people. You’re going to befriend someone whose professional skill set is based on deceit? That would have been only one of her many objections to my act.

Whenever I found myself in one of those shitholes, surroundings were the last thing on my mind. I was so consumed with fear, so terrorized about being in front of an audience, I would sit in stony silence and plot ways to bolt from the club without being seen. It always seemed like a viable option. I’d end up going on anyway but performing happened on such a primal level. I was riding a wave of blind faith.

The last cut on Satanic Majesty’s is On With the Show. It’s a mash-up of ambient lounge chatter, Brecht like melodies, dissonant piano and Jagger’s vaudeville banter. His phony concern is mixed with uninspired strip show spiel. Then, in a moment that is anything but majestic, Mick herds the girls onto the stage with a tawdry aside, “Regina, start the show.” One can only imagine the magic they created.

Not only does Their Satanic Majesty’s Request give us The Who in a nutshell but it also captures, in one phrase, the essence of Show Business.

With Pearl Harbor thinking of the nearest emergency exit. The Rococo Lounge, 1995.

Tony, I Didn’t Know Ye

He didn’t.

In late adolescence I realized you either looked good in eye liner or you didn’t. Genitalia shouldn’t dictate whether you wear make-up or not. I’ve spent my life fighting artificial sexist stereotypes.

This whole chef brohood scene exemplifies that sexism.  Since women are traditionally associated with the kitchen and because the first great personalities of modern celebrity culinary cults were gay, male chefs have worked triple time to distance themselves from the perception. Get over it.

We want your recipes not your bodies. As Rudy Guiliani said so brilliantly and with such great sensitivity “just look at them!” Emeril? Please! Guy Fieri? Puke.

I found Anthony Bourdain hard to watch and easy to dismiss. The premises of his shows seemed interesting but they were served with way too much tude. He came on so strong I couldn’t get past the veneer.

Reading some of the things he’s written and watching various clips over the weekend, however, makes me think I was too hasty. He may have come from a meathead background and had trouble shedding that image, but he seemed reflective about it all and willing to change. And winning over people like that is the goal of any good cause.

Although you have to respect his privacy for what he did, selfishly I wish he’d stuck around. He would have been good to have on our side.

Candice Bergen says get the equal pay thing settled first and the rest will fall into place. Still I pursue other angles, like unravelling the Weinstein/Batali thread. All roads seem to lead to Paltrow. There’s an unsolveable conspiracy theory there. The Me Too Generation may have a Dorothy-Kilgallen-knew-too-much-about-the-Kennedy-Assassination on their hands.

Do You Love Me?

I have been to the muffintop!

In the mid-70’s when my cash flow was running light, I signed up to work on election day. The precinct they assigned me was way out in the Sunset.

Not only was it a Herculean effort to be somewhere at 6 a.m., but I was taking public transportation almost to the ocean. The bus left at 5. The hour commute afforded an opportunity to reflect on the previous night’s closing of the Midnight Sun at 2 a.m..

In a neighborhood of working class retirees, it was a boring 13 hours of long waits for some member of the greatest generation to show up and vote.

At 6 p.m. a sudden rush produced a three minute line to cast ballots. A  6’4″, gray flat top veteran stood seething, waiting for his turn to approach my station. He exuded the “white is right” attitude that still enchants the Republican Party today.

Before giving me his name to check off the roster, he asked sharply, “why should I be penalized for speaking English?” It was the first year for bilingual instructional posters in California elections. Being the model of discretion, it was not my place to answer.

The incident has stayed in my memory mainly because I’ve never figured out what penalty he was paying. Maybe he used phonics to read and two-thirds of the way through the instructions realized not all the words were in USofA American. Wasting time and effort like that can be annoying.

I vowed never to work elections again after that day. But this year, in an attempt to pad my portfolio of personal investments, I gave it another shot. The life’s lessons learned in the intervening 40 years made me feel I could bring something new to the experience. Like poll dancing, which didn’t even exist in the 1970’s.

Babs’ love shack. Today she has a 19th C. town house in the Dordogne. Sometimes things just work out.

Yesterday’s precinct was less than a mile away and nowhere near the ocean. What it lacked in distance, however, it made up for in height. The 21st Street hill has the steepest grade in the city. By the time I reached the summit, I was huffing, puffing and looking every bit my age. I had to fend off the roving van from the Death’s Shore Retirement Center which was targeting me for fast-track admission.

I knew this neighborhood well. In the early 80’s Barbara lived a block away on 20th. We gathered there on Wednesdays to watch Dynasty and eat pizza. Between cackles, the conversation ran the gamut from “can you believe Alexis did that?” to “can you believe we’re watching this shit?” Questions that remain unanswered to this day.

Two blocks in the other direction on Fair Oaks is where Gary (aka A-Hole) had his hillbilly wig party. A couple of doors down from where my friend John Acmoody once resided. Today Acmoody’s mansion is owned by a certain M. Zuckerberg. I looked for Marky-Mark’s name on my roster but to no avail. He’s probably bought his own precinct somewhere, population one.

Up on Fair Oaks where the Mountain Dew ran freely.

To share the personal voting information I’ve learned is a violation of the sacred Poll Dancer’s Oath I took. But there was one minor celebrity sighting, former Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg.

Bertie to her friends, Roberta was the first lesbian candidate for San Francisco mayor, a HUD Under Secretary in the Clinton Administration, and a confirmation hearing adversary of Jesse Helms. Always alpha driven, her interest in voting Tuesday seemed a distant second to the breakfast muffin she was multi-tasking on.

Walking in, I had admired her black and white checked pants. Then I looked up to see her wildly gaping mouth chomping away on this banana-walnut concoction. Possessed, she tried to force even more cake into her mouth while she chewed. Her look was one of complete unawareness, to people and to her surroundings. Finally she spoke. It was a garbled mess.

The idea was to engage voters to verify their name and address. But I knew who she was and just wanted her away from the table. I handed her a ballot then watched her spittle a trail of crumbs to the voting booth.

Do you like it like this? Queens’ Christmas 1981, The Brothel Hotel (now Majestic), Sutter at Gough.

It was an interesting day that, in the end, had yet one more sad reminder of my advanced age. I’ve never worked a poll for 13 hours and come away with no tips.

After leaving the polling place I treated myself to a burger at 10:30 p.m. Utterly exhausted I vented my fried mind to the stone cold, millennial chick cashier. Within seconds she was calling me honey, mothering me and throwing in extra fries as she packed me on my way.

My heart was filled with civic pride as I boogalooed down Broadway all the way home. Watch me now, HEY!

 

What Went Wrong?

Where were the fucking jewels? The earrings, necklaces, bandeaus, cuffs, chandeliers, girandoles, lattices, and bibs that drip from every Mountbatten-Windsor bone and appendage on a state occasion?  Am I the only one who couldn’t stomach the complete absence of stomachers?

This paucity of precious and semi-precious stones has me questioning the validity of the Monarchy. How are we to recognize who is truly royal without these emblems? There wasn’t even a single piece from the Queen’s exclusive collection of the Precious! Get Me Some Chicken! line of costume jewelry.

The design genius behind Lilibet’s collection of paste.

Meghan’s ascetic simplicity was striking. She could have been equally at home taking vows of poverty in a nunnery. Granted, it would be in a small Order whose only other member is Audrey Hepburn. Sister Luke meets Sister Duke.

(A brief aside on my previously stated love for Miss Hepburn. To further support claims of her greatness, I offer up a clip I recently found of her presenting an Oscar to Rex Harrison.

The substance of what she does is not deep. It’s actually kind of childish. Easily mimiced, in others it comes across as contrived. In her it seems authentic. If she is not being genuine, she’s a much better actress than she’s ever been credited for. I find her every move mesmerizing.)

The lack of serious gems coupled with other changes like allowing divorce in the family make it seem like the British Monarchy is moving at bullet speed out of the 19th Century. I can’t stand the pace, I feel so left out. It makes me question my very existence.

The low point of the Wedding had to be the minister’s sermon. Although we’re never supposed to admit embarrassment at being American, Old Glory, pass the ammunition and all of that, his cheap theatrics belonged on a used car lot. Not in a serious discussion on the purpose of life.

His huckster antics are endemic to all US religions. Why aren’t these pompous fools exposed for the frauds they are? I was onto them by the age of 10. Their schtick became my schtick earning me high approval ratings with my audience (my family.) It was with great dismay that I later learned people do take these clowns seriously.

The other misstep of the nuptials was the failure to record the Duchess of Sussex’s initial curtsy to the Queen. Apparently the single camera in the Chapel went wide-angle from the ceiling just at the moment Meghan took a simulated knee. We may never truly know her symbolic worthiness.

Had it been me there, the gesture would have been so severe no one could ever question my conviction. I would have pancaked out a la Audrey in front of Her Majesty leaving no doubts about my obeisance to the crown.

Applying her Method Acting chops. Audrey almost won an Oscar for The Nun’s Story in 1959.

In a way I felt like I was there. The image of the day was of the Page Boy who had so much fun with his twin brother dutifully collecting Meghan’s train as she ascended the West Stairs. When they reached the top and took their first steps into the nave, trumpets blared the opening notes of the fanfare. The child was consumed with such ecstasy at the sound he could barely contain himself.

If that kid doesn’t turn out to be a queen my days on earth deserve to be numbered.  It would mean my personal gaydar is so out of whack I no longer have the necessary tools it takes for longterm survival in modern life.

 

 

M’aider! M’aider!

Enfin!

From the French for “help me,” we celebrate May Day. I can think of no better way than by opening my first San Francisco antique booth while repeatedly singing all six stanzas of the Internationale.

My things are at Stuff, 150 Valencia at Duboce. We welcome all locals as well as international visitors.

I’ve always been a trooper, a firm believer that there is no more happy feeling, than when you are stealing, that extra bow. But this go-round I mean it: one last time.

There will be plenty of time later to write a post-mortem on my experiences as an antique dealer the past few years. And, my, what a fascinating read that will be. Right now I’m focussing energy on getting over to Eric’s for a couple Boulevardiers.

After three years of living in apartments that doubled as warehouses. I can finally get my personal space back. Can life be far behind?

Meaning and Nothingness

This can’t be right.

Recently one morning I looked for something on Netflix to have with my coffee. I settled on a series about the most amazing hotels in the world.

The first episode was on the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. It’s an architectural engineering marvel completed in 2010. It would be wonderful to visit and admire in person. If you could empty out everyone and everything that goes on inside of it.

From the frat-boy, getting something-for-nothing competitiveness of the casino; to the slave labor of the 5000 hotel employees who make the place run; to the Instagram losers mugging in the skyline infinity pool, this place exudes toxicity.

The hotel has 2500 guest rooms and is almost always full. There are 60 restaurants on site and 53 kitchens with 400 chefs who support the hotel’s food service. The 150,00 pieces of employee uniforms are accessed using 18 industrial size dry cleaning conveyors.

The death-defying cement pond on the roof is two football fields long. A thousand tons of water make it so heavy a computerized system of 500 hydraulic jacks constantly recalibrates balance and support for the building. Think of the energy used just so vacationers can memorialize the one second of their day when they appear to be having fun.

The Gav Bucket

The hotel’s main draw is gambling. And the leisure travel class who wager are not the most eco-friendly. What happens to the garbage of a million guests per year? The shopping bags, racing forms, dry cleaning plastic? Not to mention the Mountain Dew empties and Carl’s Jr. wrappers discarded during a jackpot high?

The show pays lip service to the issue by highlighting the innovative laundry operation that cuts water consumption by 70%. But when guests are allowed to take three to five pool towels at a time, it’s kind of a wash.

The affable hosts would rather talk about the 500 pounds of flour used to bake 10,000 bread rolls each day. My guess is a half to two-thirds are completely eaten, where do the leftovers and unused go? The subject is never mentioned.

So I decided to ask my friend the internet how the Marina Bay Sands disposes of garbage. The first few pages of search results were news and videos produced by MBS marketing their commitment to the environment. This was followed by industry articles and awards echoing the same commitment.

The unifying theme was the importance of protecting the environment. You could tell that because the word “important” was used six times per sentence (with an occasional  “sustainable” thrown in for good measure).

MBS is determined to convince you of their sincerity. They even produce a Sustainability Report detailing the impact of a guest’s stay at checkout. It probably summarizes how ecologically important their visit was to the universe.

Missing in everything is the “how” or “what” to support these assertions. Except for the 60% of rolls that are digested, I still have no idea how the waste is treated.

Miss Daniels, If Your Nasty working the corner of Laguna and Waller.

I’ve always been reluctant to compost because of the gnats. Every kitchen I’ve been in that has a Gavin Newsom contraption also has bugs hovering around.

But in my new building we have a compost chute next door to my apartment. Every evening I take a degradable corn starch bag and heave my compostables down. This one small step has reduced my carbon footprint from a 7 1/2 B to a 6 AAA. The Ferragamos fit again!

I’ve also been thinking about how my new sewer parenting responsibilities affect the environment. Are there unintended consequences from the Montana Hologram Spray Paint mixing with rain water? Specifically, does glitter run-off contribute to the choking epidemic rampant in the Bodega Bay Sand Dab population?

To ease my mind I commissioned a report from EIR’s ‘r Us. If not the most thorough investigators on the planet, certainly the most cost-effective. They concluded that, although Dab asphyxiation is an important consideration, it’s not that important.

On this Earth Day we should all resolve to do our part. It’s important to me and it should be important to you. Most importantly, because it’s important. Sustainably speaking.

 

Fish puking

Guerrillas in the Midst

Stormy rocks!

After one of our many deluges this winter, I took to the streets to care for my adopted storm drain. It occurred to me that since it was my ward, I should be making it over in my image.  Aren’t we all just a little bit tired of rusted iron grates?

They should each have a color that reflects their unique lineage. It’s the kind of personal touch that will help the program gain acceptance. I, for one, am thinking of taking on a second drain and naming it “Miss Daniels, If You’re Nasty.”

No Wire Hangers!!! All dolled up.

If all the sewer parents would add their own special flare, what a festive addition to the neighborhoods it would be. It’s the kind of legally questionable, up-from-the streets spontaneity that used to give San Francisco character. Not today’s techno-cool that is dictated from some money-grubbing C-Suite.

And if I’m arrested? There’s hope on the horizon. Mark Leno has been on my events mailing list since the 70’s.

We need to keep that hushed up until after the mayoral election when I’ll be expecting a full pardon. Especially after my attorney makes a sizeable “campaign donation” under my alias, Peregrine Dennison IV.

Mover and shaker. Of the spray can.