San Francisco. It’s cold as hell here and all I want to do is eat starchy food and drink beer. (Not unlike what I want to do everywhere.) I can feel the pull of "hibernation" setting in.
Question: When one contributes to a blog in the wintertime, can it be referred to as "toblogganing"?
The winter light is strange in this city — beautiful for fleeting moments, then gone…grey and fog. The hippie homeless population doesn’t ever change here and it gets boring pretty fast when you see so many able bodied white teenagers begging for spare change in the touristy / trendy shopping areas. I recognize that I’m being judgemental but as I spend a lot of time around Skid Row in Los Angeles, the plight of the "dirty white teenager standing safely between the new American Apparel outpost and the $ 4 a latte coffeeshop" just seems pathetic to me, as many of my "undocumented" friends are happy to do ANY kind of work just to keep their families going. But maybe the joke is on me. Maybe the key to happiness IS to paint Bauhaus logos on my cheeks and wear fashionable layers of army clothes and mismatched Creepers, as the girl was who mistook me for someone named "Bobby" on Haight Street last night, not far from Ashbury. She had her cliche pitbull puppy accessory and Starbucks change cup. "Come onnnn, Bobby," she bleated at me, "….you said you were gonna do that thing for me, Bobby…." She was about the 6th DWT ("dirty white teenager") who had asked me for money in the course of walking 8 boutiqued blocks where I had met some friends for pizza. I thought of nothing to say, except for "Sorry, Bobby changed his mind." Then I sort of felt like a dick for saying that but then I realized that my attitude is going to remain until the day comes when I don’t have to work for a living.
Question: when you’re destined to go to Hell, do you get to pick the kind of chair that is reserved for you there? If so, can I put my request in early that my chair be one from the new Rick Owens furniture collection? (Check out the last issue of Case Da Abitare for photos of both the collection as well as Rick’s live / work space. I remember the first time that I saw Rick Owens in Los Angeles when I was a teen. I was convinced that it was Paul Stanley, the lead singer of KISS, my first ever favorite rock band, and my body broke out in a cold sweat. I was ecstatic, remembering my days as a wee lad when I would jump up and down on my bed, screaming the lyrics, "IIIIIIIII…wanna rock and roll all niiiiiiight….and party ev-er-y day!")
On the sunnier side of things, I can never spend enough time with Joey and Ian from Nice Collective. One night, the three of us pick up Bruce Benderson (of the Bridgehampton Bendersons) and go for dinner. When we arrive at his door, he says to me, "I just finished having sex. Do I look alright?" At the restaurant, Bruce reminices about the couple of years he wrote about fashion, while Joey and Ian talk about their design process and the gradual evolution of their company. I interject occassionally with "can you pass the bread?" and their jeers that I’m occasionally texting a friend. Between each and every course, Bruce insists on re-applying his new Comme des Garcons scent (I think it’s "#2") that he bought when I took him to the store OK in Los Angeles. My friend Syrillo works there and when I introduced him to Bruce, as "Bruce," Syrillo immediately said, "Oh yeah, you’re a writer. I read that interview with you in BUTT." Ahh, starpower. (I need to forward Bruce my perfume posting…)
After dinner, Bruce requests that we drive down Polk Street, the onetime epicenter of male hustler action in this way-gay city. He was a resident of San Francisco for a couple of years around 1970. The male hooker action seems to have almost all but fizzled out here, which Bruce attests to the Internet. "It’s all changed…it’s all changed," he mutters from the back seat, looking forlornly out the window. "That used to be a great bath house," he opines, as we drive past what is now a juice bar, his eyes misting over. I tenderly pat his knee for support. One of the few bars left, "Divas," is a multilevel affair that was once called The Motherlode. Just off of Polk Street, it caters largely to Asian trannies. Bruce sprays a healthy dose of #2 on his exposed skin areas and we go inside. As it’s fairly early, the place isn’t very busy, making it that much easier to see the sign that says, "NO CAMERAS." I order drinks for us and the slightly bearded lady bartender in the spangly dress says, "That’ll be $ 14 or 8 inches…whichever you put on the bar first. " I explain that unless I pay with currency, I’d have to hit my club on the bar twice. She suggests, "We can discuss this in the back room."
On the 3rd floor, there’s a small dance floor and bar. It seemed like every song that the dj played was some new ghastly remix of the already ghastly repetoire of more-recent McDonna. One by one, Bruce invited Joey, Ian and I to a dance with him on the nearly empty dance floor. I had a hard time keeping up, as the man has some stamina. Bruce’s dance style is a feverish mix of Paradise Garage, Charleston, pogo ala The Clash, femme fatale, and Body and Soul. Hold the dip. Here, with Ian, you can see that even modern cameras can’t capture Bruce in motion:
A Nice Collective Kiss-wich
Bruce’s lovely friends, Sal and Cara, accompanied us to Bruce’s reading in a town called Corte Madera, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. The bookstore was in a mini mall that had that "Santa’s Village" vibe. The passage that Bruce read was my favorite thus far, concerning when Bruce rented a car to drive the object of his affection, Romulus, to the border, so that Romulus could renew his visa. I watched the faces of a Patagonia and sensibly chino’d couple sitting in the front row as Bruce recited him burying his face into the armpit of Romulus, sucking on his nipple. I wondered if that scene would somehow figure into the rest of the couple’s evening, perhaps when turning off the bedside lamp.
Bruce, Cara and Sal sparking it up in front of Santa’s Village
We then later celebrated Cara’s 61st Birthday with champagne inside her and Sal’s kaleidoscpic multi-purpose fantasy ship. Cara’s voice is not unlike Diane’s in its deep and smokey sultriness, to which Cara exercises beautifully when she sings. She is known for her "punk cabaret" act, but she’s not singing, she will tell you, she’s acting. (check out www.caravida.com — I really like her version of "Cry Me a River")
Here, Bruce just receives notice of a lengthy and glowing review of "The Romanian" in the Los Angeles Times. Notice his new Nice Collective sweater. (Prior to dinner, Joey and Ian pointed Bruce in the right direction with some pieces from their collection and archive. I wonder if people will start mistaking Bruce for Chris Martin of Coldplay, as Chris is a huge fan of their work, often talking about Joey and Ian to the fans during their sold-out performances. I should be careful in the future when standing next to Bruce…I don’t want to get trampled, especially if someone thinks that I’m Gwenyth Paltrow.)
Bruce reads the review aloud to us, quite possibly the longest book review in the history of publishing. Cheers to Bruce and Happy Birthday to Cara.
LIKE A GOOSE, HEADING NORTH