Things I Will Miss, Volume III

I’ve always had a love/hate thing with Beaux-Arts. I’m childishly drawn to the grandeur but, as Diana Vreeland said, “the eye needs to travel” and with all that frou-frou which way does it go? Considering that almost all of its stylistic elements are from previous eras and that its success is based on new construction methods that allowed it to be produced on a large-scale, it’s not that original.

After the 1906 earthquake many doubted that a city should be rebuilt on a site prone to natural disasters. Civic leaders forged ahead anyway with a City Hall that was grander than anything previously imagined. Its dome, fifth largest in the world, stands as a defiant middle finger "fuck you" to the naysayers.
After the 1906 earthquake many doubted that a city should be rebuilt on a site prone to natural disasters. Civic leaders forged ahead anyway with a City Hall that was grander than anything previously imagined. Its dome, fifth largest in the world, stands as a defiant middle finger “fuck you” to the naysayers.

 

While many of us freeloaded on food stamps, Jeffrey had a job at City Hall. I would visit him on breaks in the third floor hallway. He talked about his old-school co-workers who would arrive early in the morning for an eye-opener at the bar across the street before work. Their fifteen minute morning break became a half hour so they could go knock a couple back. More knocking back occurred during their 1 1/2 hour lunch and the extended afternoon break. After work they would avoid the Muni rush hour crush by topping things off with just one more. Their evening homecoming must have been something to behold.
While many of us freeloaded on food stamps, Jeffrey had a job at City Hall. I would visit him on breaks in the third floor hallway.
 
He talked about his old-school co-workers who would arrive early in the morning for an eye-opener at the bar across the street before work. Their fifteen minute morning break became a half hour so they could go knock a couple back. More knocking back occurred during their 1 1/2 hour lunch and the extended afternoon break.
 
After work they would avoid the Muni rush hour crush by topping things off with just one more. Their evening homecoming must have been something to behold.

 

The Feminist Movement made it clear that women had the same job performance capabilities as men. In order to gain acceptance, however, they still had to play the feminine attire game (see Joan in Mad Men). To me that silly expectation is part of the allure of drag. We were leaning on the third floor balustrade one day when Jeffrey said "there she goes." I looked down and saw Supervisor Dianne Feinstein in a determined dash up the grand staircase. He added, "she always runs." Such a camp.
The Feminist Movement made it clear that women had the same job performance capabilities as men. In order to gain acceptance, however, they still had to play the feminine attire game (see Joan in Mad Men). To me that silly expectation is part of the allure of drag.
 
We were leaning on the third floor balustrade one day when Jeffrey said “there she goes.” I looked down and saw Supervisor Dianne Feinstein in her camel skirt and navy pumps doing a determined dash up the grand staircase. He added, “she always runs up those stairs.”
 
Such a camp.

 

In the late 70's I worked in the Mayor's Budget Office. The easiest way to get around City Hall was to use the back staircases. Mayor Feinstein knew this too and I would sometimes run into her. She was always surrounded by an entourage and in a hurry. But she'd flash her campaign smile and issue a brisk "Hi. How are you." As she flew past me. She didn't know me from Adam but she could always use my vote. Still a camp.
In the late 70’s I worked in the Mayor’s Budget Office. The easiest way to get around City Hall was to use the back staircases. Mayor Feinstein knew this too and I would sometimes run into her.
 
She was always surrounded by an entourage and in a hurry. But she’d flash her campaign smile and issue a brisk “hi. how are you” as she flew past me. She didn’t know me from Adam but she could always use my vote.
 
Still a camp.

 

Jeffrey found a Feinstein for Mayor sweatshirt at a thrift store for a quarter. It was from one of her earlier failed campaigns. I wore it the day I worked the Wilkes Bashford fashion show at the Kabuki. In the late 70's I worked in the Mayor's Budget Office. The easiest way to get around City Hall was to use the back staircases. Mayor Feinstein knew this too and I would sometimes run into her. She was always surrounded by an entourage and in a hurry. But she'd flash her campaign smile and issue a brisk
Jeffrey found a Feinstein for Mayor sweatshirt at a thrift store for a quarter. It was from one of her earlier failed campaigns. I held on to it for years and finally wore it the day I worked the Wilkes Bashford fashion show at the Kabuki.
 
It was staged one week after the Milk/Moscone murders and a new mayor had not yet been selected. I realized that many might think my shirt “too soon” or insensitive. All the more reason to wear it.
 
After the rehearsal Willie Brown was meandering backstage. As he walked by me he looked at my shirt, shook his head and muttered, “they’re at it already?”
 
Always a camp.

Previous: Uncle Cookie’s Antique Empire
For the complete saga, From the Beginning

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

 

Eviction Countdown: Day 22

The rod, or staff, of Asclepius. For some reason I prefer rod.
The rod, or staff, of Asclepius. For some reason I prefer rod.

“When you’re being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like you’re leading the parade.”
–Sally Stanford

The pilasters in my lobby are replicas of the Rod of Asclepius, the symbol for medicine. Which would support stories I’ve heard that there was once a pharmacy in the building. Probably in 1915 when it was first built. I’m guessing it would have been in the unit off the lobby which is now an (unoccupied) in-law apartment.

It wouldn’t have been the only drug store on the block because three doors up at the southeast corner of Pine and Jones was the Fairmont Pharmacy. By the time I moved here that building housed Betty Wong’s laundry service. But the door stoop still had “Fairmont” spelled out in chicken wire tiles. It then became a gay bar, The Gate.

Today The Gate has been torn down and replaced with nondescript condos in the Ed Lee/Willie Brown Developer Kickback style of architecture that is sweeping the City.

A series of rods greets the visitor.
A series of rods greets the visitor.

Half a block west on Pine Street was Sally Stanford’s old brothel where Herb Caen said “the United Nations was really born.” Prominent on her guest list were many mid-20th Century politicians. She herself would later be elected Mayor of Sausalito.

Miss Stanford’s johns would often call her from the Fairmont Pharmacy to gain entrance. It was rumored that long after it ceased being a profitable business the drug store remained open solely to preserve Sally’s entry system.

In the more modern mobile phone era, my upstairs neighbor Jim used to sit at the bar at The Gate and chat up chauffeurs waiting to be called by their clients. Most of whom were frequenting prostitutes down on Bush Street. Unlike the Stanford White designed digs of Sally’s, the Bush Street sex workers were a little more discreet. I have no idea which building(s) they were in.

It seems my block has never been lacking for drugs or licentious behavior. I’ve done my best to fit in.

The Stanford White Whorehouse

1144 Pine Then
1144 Pine Then

 

1144 Pine Now. Note the gables on the faux Stanford two buildings down.
1144 Pine Now. Note the gables on the faux Stanford two buildings down.

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 21, Chartreuse Lady
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 23, Check Is in the Mail
The complete saga, From the Beginning