Pheasant Under Glass

No job is ever done in this apartment. Which can be taken many different ways.

In the context of today’s post it means past projects with ho-hum results can always be revisited and improved upon. Like the 12 foot long window sill/shelf that allowed me to finally hang the Resistance drapes properly. The finishing touches ended up being rather bland. Enter the ghetto discount fabric store

My life as a fabric whore dates to childhood. Both my Grandmother and Mother were accomplished seamstresses and our weekly visits to the farm ended with the two of them going over their current projects. I was baffled by the  terminology: gaberdine, cutting on the bias, interfacing, pile, weighted hems–it was all so foreign. And none of it was about me. The boredom was only compounded when we visited the fabric store.

Bringing up four boys who’d be born within eight years of each other consumed all of Mother’s time. Going to buy material, buttons or patterns was the only time I remember seeing a look of self-satisfied enjoyment on her face.  Equally as rare in those days was the feeling of accomplishment you sensed when she finished a sewing project.

When we shopped, and when I wasn’t being told to get off the stool to let another woman sit, I would pull out one of the pattern books and try to help, “what about this one?”

Mother would look down dismissively, “that’s Butterick.” She only used Vogue or Simplicity patterns. Their designs were the best.

Left to stare at the surroundings because I was under orders not to touch anything, I day-dreamed about what all the fabrics were and what they would become.

Like at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, pilgrims at the Tooth Temple are treated as a mass produced commodity as they are loaded onto a conveyor belt to fully experience the viewing of the relic.

The endless possibilities of using fabric have stayed with me to this day. And I’m amazed at some of the new products coming along. Like the fake fur faux pheasant feathers at 17th and Mission.

There are so many wrong words in the previous sentence that, taken together, add up to something that should not have been produced in the first place. Which makes it much more desirable in my book.

When one thinks of fake fur and home decor thoughts naturally gravitate towards the King and Graceland. There’s another Elvis connection to my window sill redecoration as well.

In 2005 I went to Sri Lanka with Peter & Barbara. After visiting the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, we traveled downhill and stopped at a road side tourist store. There were slim pickings until I spotted a velvet painting of Buddha. I was struck by how two vastly different icons of modern culture, Siddhartha and the Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love, were both given the same tacky treatment. The camp value was too pronounced to ignore.

The goof was over when Buddha was framed. Glass pressed against the fabric completely transformed the work adding depth to the color and a richness that had not previously been there. There was not a hint of the medium the painting was on. It was stunning.

The result was not quite as dramatic when I used left-over tempered glass shelves on the faux feathers. Still the fabric represents another triumph of man’s artificiality over nature.

My only regret is the number of fakes that were killed just to upholster my window sill. PETA will be on my ass for sure.

With Peter & Barbara floating from Sri Lanka to the Maldives.

Matisse on Crack

What hath God wrought?

When you enter our apartment the first impression is intended to be one of an uncluttered, simple and symmetrical space. A few items spark curiosity but there’s nothing too challenging. The place may be filthy but the sight lines are clean.

Once comfortably inside with a false sense of familiarity established, you turn to the west for some OMG reveals. Like the questionable house pet art over the sink, the Bambi uber alles above the bed, or the garish faux croc on the doors. To that we now add the Mirrored Wailing Wall.

Clean sight line to the filthy kitchen,

The installation is on the small wall in the living room perpendicular to my bedroom door (where most of the wailing is done). Small in width, 52 inches, but not in height, 11 feet. As I worked, I wondered what the kids at the Social Work for the Elderly Training Academy might think. A 68 year-old precariously balanced atop a 10 foot ladder handling 50 square feet of broken glass. It might set off warning bells as they pursue their number one objective: Senior Safety.

Finally! A place for the vintage, leather bound Kipling to float.

The mosaic’s allegorical title reflects a subject I’ve loved all of my life and have studied in-depth: The Journey of Sperm. When the first pieces were applied, their random, primitive shapes reminded me of Matisse’s cut outs. As the wall filled in and reflected light started to take over, it became more like the silver backroom at The Factory. The mash-up of those two influences conjured up images of Henri taking a couple of hits off of Billy Name’s glassdick.

Less than $50 was spent on materials thanks to Building REsources, a dealer in architectural salvage. Located in the formerly derelict but soon to be gentrified Hunters Point area of town, the charm of the old neighborhood still wafts through on occasion.  The nearby animal rendering facility sneaks up on you sometimes with the scent of burning carcasses. Hours can be spent in that perfumed air perusing the recyclables, exercising free association on what to do with the interesting and awkward materials that are found.

Every which way but up. Detail of tribute to Reagan’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Shield Program. God I miss Dutch.

Prices vary from day-to-day depending on who is asked. The woman who works on Tuesdays has been especially kind. I know nothing about her but she strikes me as a life-long San Francisco resident with a high tolerance for the crazies who have come and gone through the years. And bemoans the blandness of the techie lemmings who are currently taking over the City.

She always has a quip for me but I think she secretly questions what this derelict is up to now. I’ll approach the register with sheets of broken mirror or arm’s full of irregularly shaped tempered glass and she will quietly say, “the stickers on the mirror are free, how about $5 plus tax for the rest.”

Home away from home.

People always ask me what me what I do all day. I never know what to answer. I keep busy, it’s just difficult to sum it up. This lack of responsiveness leaves the impression I don’t do anything.

Au contraire. If this project is any indication of my daily diary, 70% of my time is spent thinking, reading and daydreaming. 5% is spent out at the salvage yard rummaging through God knows what. The other 25% is used for actually doing the work.

It’s taken over a month but I’ve just emerged from the 25% portion of the cycle. Now get off my back.

Self portrait in bits and pieces.

Grab ’em by the Pussy! Continuing Thoughts on a Confirmation

RepublIcan think tank convenes tomorrow to finalize Trump Doctrine of American Feminism.

Thursday, September 27

Watching the hearings it’s really a matter of grabbing them by the pussies’ surrogate. Eleven white male Senators so incapable of doing the job they were elected to do they need to bring in a hired gun.  Their voices are stifled, as mute as a rape victim whose cries are smothered by an attacker.

With apologies to Titian (but none to Peter Max), The Rape of Senatoria

Lindsay “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Graham says he’s suspicious that Dr. Blasley Ford took a polygraph and hired an attorney. Suspicious of what? That she might be telling the truth? That the right to counsel is being exercised by the wrong people?

And Trump is furious with his staff for not knowing how credible Blasley Ford would be as a witness. Just reinforces the fact that we are a nation of laws–and how best to bend them.

Friday, September 28

Beware the venomous South Carolina Coral She-Bitch. When cornered this closeted viper emits a deadly pus.

The demeanor alone of the two witnesses yesterday speaks volumes. One controlled, troubled, whose sincerity shines through the difficulty of outing herself. The other furiously adamant about not sharing his toys, enraged that his little pretend game is not playing out the way he wanted.

But we’re not selecting Miss Congeniality here. This is for the next Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. Thinking is more important than comportment. Presumably.

In a recent Fox News interview, Kavanaugh invoked the infrequently used “Virginity Halo” defense. Because he was of unpopped cherry he was therefore incapable of any aberrant sexual activity.

The best I could piece together from his narrative was that he did not get his first piece until about mid-20’s. Rather late in the game. The frustrations from such repressed desire might manifest itself in socially unacceptable behavior in some young adults. But not when the promise keeper is an entitled prep school boy with a privileged background. That just never happens. (Cue the Skakel kid.)

Then there is his personal use of stare decisis. That because he was cleared by the FBI in the late nineties and declared of outstanding moral character, the issue has been decided and therefore can never be revisited again. One might argue that the level of scrutiny for a low-level staff attorney in the Special Counsel’s office might be less intense than for a Justice on the Supreme Court. What’s decided is decided, damn it, and no subsequent events or newly discovered evidence can ever tarnish his status as “virtuous dude.”

This is the best mind, legal or otherwise, available for the High Court?

Most sex offenders in the United States are forced to wear their Scarlet A throughout eternity. Their mobility and ability to reside in various neighborhoods are severely restricted. About the only place left for them is in dodgy trailer parks living with other sex offenders. No potential problems there that I can see.

In the modern-day, strict-constructionist interpretation of our forefather’s wisdom, however, it has now almost become a prerequisite for Republican appointees to the Supreme Court. The SCOTUS exception for serial sex offenders is born.

And The Flake wept.

Monday, October 1

When politicians like the South Carolina Coral Viper offer advice to rape victims, their magic bullet is reporting the incident to police.  The fuzz will know what to do and take appropriate action. It seems so simple. But it isn’t.

This is not a fender bender that lends itself to a dispassionate moment-by-moment recount. The trauma leaves the victim with feelings of guilt, embarrassment. and shame that make them reluctant to relive events and share their recollections. And the gumshoe behind the desk, whose views on sex have probably been shaped by the 15th Century leanings of the Holy See in Rome, lacks the skill and sensitivity to properly handle the situation.

To say that sexual assault has not been a priority of law enforcement is an understatement. Witness the hundreds of thousands of rape kits that have sat unanalyzed for the last twenty years.  With the exception of Jayne Mansfield’s daughter, god love her, there has been no leadership on the issue. Politicians have not devoted the time, resources or money needed to spearhead any kind of effort.

What have elected officials considered a better use of their time instead? In the case of Republicans like those on the Judiciary Committee over the last decade, to pursue an elusive holy grail. That pesky Kenyan birth certificate they can never quite put their hands on.

Thursday, October 4

Chuck who? Wall Street’s Darling is once again out played by Kentucky’s Chinless Wonder. Or is he?

Republicans in Congress put all of their energy into getting what they want. Democrats put all of their energy into “being fair.” So that Republicans can get what they want. It’s a one party town.

Friday, October 5

Susan “Show Me the Money” Collins. What a ridiculous human being.

Next time you’re in your favorite bar order a Susan Collins, cousin to the legendary Tom. 2 shots arsenic, a shot of cyanide, with a splash of strychnine and a wire hanger garnish. Be prepared, they’re extremely expensive.

Since she probably won’t be running for reelection in 2020 her vote was basically up for sale.  Huge corporate benefactors are supposedly lined up to give her cush jobs that require her to do nothing upon retirement. A trait she’s exhibited in spades her entire Senate career.

I’m sure Senator Collins will remain “extremely concerned” all the way to the bank.

No Exit

From what I can remember of Jean Paul Sartre’s play, it was about three strangers trapped in a room that is supposed to represent Hell. As in other theatrical pieces that tackle unnatural confinement (e.g., Tallulah Bankhead’s indelible performance in Lifeboat), the situation starts out friendly enough but rapidly disintegrates into unbearable friction. Everyone ends up wanting to kill each other. But are there any consequences to murder if you’re already in Hell?

My over-simplified take away was if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Try to make the most of something that can’t be changed.

That is the peace I’ve made with Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers Festival. Held every July it has no purpose other than to enjoy the nice summer weather and encourage people to eat crappy food. Which most of them don’t need.

The focal point of activities is Junk Food Alley with typical carnival fare of corn dogs, elephant ears and taffy. They always sound and smell appealing but never are.

I continue to hold out for something new and healthy and am quite gullible about it. Like the year they introduced onion blossoms. Huge fried onions served with a blue cheese dipping sauce, how marvelous! How greasy! I barely ate a third of it. Their idea of food preparation and mine are quite different.

The Festival started when I was in my teens and seemed hokey as hell at the time. In the days of Woodstock and Altamont, we got warmed over Norman Rockwell. Still, when you’re with young family members who have not yet been fully indoctrinated in my cynicism, it can be fun seen through their eyes.

The Festival starts with a parade on Saturday morning. My one memory from those 60’s events is of the cop from Indianapolis who toured the state doing his motorcycle schtick. As he beguiled the crowd with his riding tricks, a look of self-righteous certitude was frozen on his face. He was the law and you motherfuckers better obey.

The highlight was his signature move. Pulling his knees into his chest, he placed his feet on the seat and slowly pushed himself until he was standing completely upright. With his arms out-stretched he was able to balance the motorcycle as it continued to move forward. Like a Christ on Sugar Loaf, he ruled over the parade.

My brothers and I goofed on that pompous fool for years to come. Our favorite Mad Magazine scenario was of his  bike careening out of control, him thrashing on the pavement in excruciating pain, and the cycle mowing through the crowd of adoring school children. Good times.

Not the cop in question but an example of the technique. Without the sanctimony.

Despite his air of moral superiority, there were flaws in the officer’s thinking. Mainly the kids’ impression of how  terribly cool his stunt was. How easily you could be killed trying to do it was never mentioned.

Thank you for your service, Nimrod.

Howdy neighbor! Three times younger than me, four times as heavy.

As the popularity of Junk Food Alley suggests, portion control is a major issue in this region. It’s surprising one of my favorite restaurants, The Italian Connection, is still in business.

Their pasta is homemade, the sauces are thin but rich, the servings are modest and satisfying. You leave sated not stomach bombed. Occasionally, however, you’ll encounter a local being served an entree for the first time. An expression of “you mean for $12 I only get three ravioli?” comes over their face.

I had a delicious meal there again this summer. In addition to the epiphany of accepting what can’t be changed, as we walked through the restaurant’s parking lot that evening there was another stark realization about my life. Despite my old age I am never going to grow up. I mean, you can’t put a Shroud of Turin touring van in front of me and not expect me to react.

Even though my photogenic days are dog years behind me, the “show people” in me forced me to strike a pose.



Era’s End

The first piece I remember buying with my Grandmother was this clover design porcelain covered dish. She taught me to look for the red maker’s mark because it might be Prussian, which she considered the best. I always assumed this one was until 50 years later I looked again and saw, to my horror, it was only Limoges.

Grandmother was a serious antique collector. From the age of 10 until I moved to San Francisco I would attend auctions with her. She’d pack our lunch, take her knitting and stay for the day.

She always sat towards the front and a little to the right of the podium so she could be seen. The auctioneers knew her well. When an item she was interested in came up they would glance at her as they yodeled incomprehensible garble. I’m not sure exactly what Grandmother’s mysterious consent gesture was but the auctioneer knew. She was one of the few bidders who were named in the call. “I have Mrs. Kimmer at 55!”

Unlike her grandson, she was a penny-pincher and knew her limits. Her assent motion may have been imperceptible but when the bids went too high she’d shake her head dramatically while mouthing the word “No!” She seemed offended by the price, as if it was the most disgusting thing she’d ever heard.

Wheelchair access in Aisle 5 also allowed for additional performance space. Thank you ADA!

I sometimes bemoan the fact that in the second coming of my San Francisco life I don’t have the connections I had the first time around. There used to be parties, dinners, and openings every day of the week. And in the years I hung out with David Gillette we could be stacked 3 or 4 deep over JFK with nightly invites.

So it was a great thrill two weeks ago to be asked at the last minute to the Nob Hill Theatre closing day barbecue. My friend got us in for free and we had a leisurely stroll through the premises. I particularly enjoyed the go-go boys in their stretch terry hot pants.

Fucking wall of fame.

Behind the stage was a door I’d never seen before. Outside it were circular steps leading down to a deck and the entrance to the owners residence. The apartment, which supposedly had been featured in Architectural Digest, could only be accessed through the theater. Very La Cage aux Folles. Having Mom over for dinner while they screened Seven in a Barn must have been an interesting evening.

The back of the property abutted the former Williams-Sonoma Mail Order patio where we once found the California Bay Laurel doused in dog piss. And, yes, abutment is the proper term for discussing the physical attributes of a gay porn theater.

In addition to the closing day festivities, my connection (who was empowered with price negotiation status) took me on a private tour of their Touch Our Junk sale yesterday.  All the glory hole panels had been sold by the time I got there but there were still stripper poles, autographed porn star 8×10’s and half priced lube to be had.

Skilled performers on stage expertly worked both the lip and the tongue.

In 1996 I took Mother on a Jackie O Getaway to Manhattan. We saw Zoe Caldwell in Master Class, took a long walk through Central Park by the 1040 Fifth Avenue condo, ate oysters at Grand Central, marched through Bergdorfs  and attended the preview of The Jackie Estate Sale at Sotheby’s. I left only one bid, an excessive $1100 for the monogrammed cocktail shaker. The eventual winner paid about $6500.

I did not get shut out at the Nob Hill sale yesterday though. I scored an original Justin Simpson painting “Spring” from the 2008 Men of Wine Collection. Done in a sickening Lawrence Welk teal, it has the unsettling thematic quality of a Keane painting (minus the eyes) with just a soupcon of Linda Blair’s Excorist menace thrown in.

One can almost see Grandmother doing her phantom “No!”


Bosom Buddies

Soulful staredown of two pretty sharp dressers.

I’m not sure when Time Magazine begins the nominating process for its Person of the Year. If the vote were held today, Stormy Daniels would have to be the pick.

When she first gained prominence last Spring she was pigeonholed as a publicity seeking bimbo. But in her published comments and the way she handled herself in live interviews, it was apparent she was an intelligent woman who knew exactly what she was doing. Making porn was not her most defining quality. It was just the way she happened to earn a living.

Recently she’s objected to the constant prefix of “porn star” to her name. “They’d never refer to me as librarian Stormy Daniels.” As a former one I can say the two professions easily intermingle.

One fault I do find with the librarian’s judgement was in accepting the original settlement of 130K. After lawyers fees and taxes there’s barely enough for a week’s stay at a thrice bankrupt luxury hotel.  Like the now-defunct Trump Taj Mahal in loser-ville, Atlantic City. A true deal artist would demand seven figures.

The steamroller Stormy created continues to gain momentum today. As seen in last week’s capitulation of National Enquirer Chairman, David Pecker. Getting the Peckers of the world to cooperate is no small feat.

If not Person of the Year at least Miss Congeniality in the Trump International Miss Universe Contest.

As Stormy emerges to become the paradigm for the new librarian, we say farewell to a landmark of porn’s past. Last Sunday I attended a barbecue celebrating The Nob Hill Theater’s final day. The home of gay porn and famous All Male Review closed its doors on Bush Street after 50 years. For 30 of those years I passed it daily on my walk to work.

It was the solitary gay establishment in a neighborhood of Chinatown tourists, cable car riders, Union Square shoppers, Tenderloin overflow and residential apartment dwellers. Laid out as a small theater with proscenium and large screen, it later added strippers, a back room, and a video arcade to help patrons meet  “new friends.”

I lived three blocks away for four decades and occasionally dropped in. Friendships did, indeed, spring up.

One buddy was a kid in his early 20’s from Hillsborough. He had an elaborate story about being an Ivy League graduate who worked as a lawyer for the CIA. I saw him on the sly and at his bidding. There were always time limitations and he never gave me his number. Even though I had caller id, the sex was good so I played along.

I saw him several times and started sharing details with friends. When one pointed out Princeton didn’t have a law school I realized I looked foolish pursuing this folly. I gently called his bluff and never heard from him again.

His lying was not malicious nor was he a scammer. He was just another insecure closet case who resorted to fantasy because he had trouble accepting his homosexuality. Practicing it, however, was never a problem.

Another affair that began over art films at the Nob was with an aspiring interior decorator. His fetish was the definition creating properties of lycra, which carbon dates the fling as mid to late 80’s.  We had regular conjugal visits at his place, languishing in steaming hot baths over deadly gin martinis.

I tried not to mix my personal and professional lives. Sometimes it was unavoidable. Like the night in the Nob Hill lobby when I saw an attorney from work browbeating the porn star Rick Donavon into an assignation. Members of prestigious international law firms who have graduated from top flight law schools aren’t used to taking “no” for an answer. And they have the cash to close their arguments.

Compartmentalization also failed me one day walking to work. I looked up at the marquee to see the week’s featured performer was J.D. Powers.

Besides honorary librarian Stormy, Time might also give serious consideration to George W. Bush this year.  His legacy ranks him with Metternich, Wilson, and Acheson as one of the most influential statesmen ever. When he took a break from clearing non-existent, photo-op brush off his Texas ranch, he gazed into Vlad’s baby blues and saw the Impaler’s soul. GOP diplomacy was changed forever.

Look ’em in the eye, give ’em a nickname, go with your gut, then quickly end the meeting to win the daily news cycle–that was W’s style of statesmanship. And it’s provided a road map for subsequent Republican Presidencies as evidenced in Singapore and Helsinki this summer.

The technique requires a level of intelligence rarely seen in the White House.

Don Jong Trump had difficulty seeing Seoul.

Pressed Flesh

I volunteered for Eugene McCarthy’s Presidential Campaign when I was a senior in high school. I organized papers, worked phones and canvassed neighborhoods. Most people would not come to their doors so I just left the flyer. Those who did answer wanted to keep the exchange as brief as possible. I handed them the leaflet and asked for their vote.

There was one right-wing zealot though who wanted to engage. He badgered me with questions without shutting-up long enough for me to answer. I tried to interject a “the domino theory is bogus ” or “too many kids are being killed.” But my rhetorical skills were not nearly as rehearsed nor as deeply entrenched as this Rush Limbaugh-wannabe.

Another targeted voter was a frail, 80 year-old woman. She couldn’t have weighed more than the gossamer, navy voile dress she wore with handkerchief tucked into its cuff. She seemed baffled as to why this child would be ringing the doorbell of her Hansel & Gretel brick home. I gave the McCarthy spiel then handed her the literature. She smiled, “Oh honey I haven’t voted in years, not since the Mister died.”

That senior year my family occasionally attended church. It was a pro-forma, social type of participation rather than one motivated by deeply held beliefs. We never handled the snakes. I sat through the sermons bored out of my mind, fighting off one unpredictable adolescent erection after another.

After the service we stood in line to shake the minister’s hand. He looked like Earl Warren and appeared to be going through the motions as much as we were. To spice things up, I distracted him with a broad smile while extending a hand that was as limp as a dead fish. Awakened from oblivion, he’d shoot me a look like,  “Are you okay?” It worked every time.

Ready to worship with my parents and youngest brother.

With the exception of 1888 when native son Benjamin Harrison became President, Indiana never played a more critical political role than the May 1968 Primary. It was the first head-to-head contest between McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. McCarthy had been the more valiant one coming out of nowhere the previous Autumn to confront the establishment. His courageous act solidified the Anti-War Movement.

Kennedy on the other hand seemed more opportunistic. He vacillated until he saw McCarthy’s success in the early primaries. Then he announced his candidacy. I was conflicted between fulfilling my commitment and the seduction of charisma. I worked for Gene but my heart belonged to Bobby.

When Kennedy visited Fort Wayne I was part of the pandemonium in the Concordia College Gymnasium. A band played as we awaited his late arrival and the Concordia High School Jazz Choir sang. I didn’t know her yet but Marilyn’s voice was part of that ensemble. Undoubtedly making a significant contribution to the chaotic atmosphere.

The gym erupted when RFK finally entered through the doorway nearest me. Amidst the pushing and shoving, he looked disoriented swimming up an aisle of extended palms. He concentrated on pressing as many as he could without actually acknowledging anyone. As he approached mine I thought of the Pastor’s Secret Handshake. It worked again. Bobby’s head snapped back in a double take and I made direct eye contact with history.

My friend Marilyn, 1974. One of Northeastern Indiana’s most unnerving coloraturas and hitchhiker extraordinaire.

Save for my work at the polls this June, I haven’t done much electioneering since high school. Until I was approached to become part of a phone tree to recruit poll observers for the upcoming Nevada elections. Phoning is not my cup of tea even when I’m told exactly what to say. But there are some friends I just can’t deny.

Carl was my boss for two decades and can play me like a violin. He makes me feel like I’m the one in charge as he gets me to do everything he wants.

He’s also aware of my limitations. When asked to stick to a script my manner can be as stiff as, well, sitting through one of those childhood sermons. He won’t be too surprised to hear that I made the case without relying on the words precisely as written.

I think I helped the cause although I’m not really sure what I said to those people. I do know, however, that on the Saturday before the election I’ve somehow organized a party bus leaving from Elko and headed up to the Pocatello Race Track. Should be fun.

Would you answer the door if you saw this clown? 1968