keeping yama on the 19 polk

tonight after yoga, i hopped on the 19 polk against my better judgement, whereas i should have instead opted for the 10, which drops me off right in north beach.

never, ever again.

my ride on the 19 was hellish...a bunch of loud-ass teenagers from the projects in hunter's point were on there, shouting, hooting, cussing, just being extremely ghet-to. there was a young mother with her 3 kids across from me, and we exchanged uncomfortable and irritated glances when the teens in the back said anything particularly filthy in front of her children.

one of the guys decided he wanted some trouble, and apparently i looked like an easy target. why, i don't know, seeing as i'm 6'2" tall, but who knows what was going through his warped little mind. he got up, and as he walked past me, said, "what are you lookin at BITCH?"

i looked up and stared back, never once breaking eye contact. "who do you think you're talking to?" i replied in a calm, steady voice.


at this point, his 9 friends surrounded me, and i knew the possibility of me being beaten to a bloody pulp, a-la-19 polk style, was very real. but for some reason, the zenlike state yoga left me in this evening kept me calm, collected, and extremely focused. the kid started getting even more ghetto with me, but i never broke eye contact. we rode like this for blocks, he calling me names while i remained silent, staring back with a steely expression on my face, never breaking eye contact, never blinking.

finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he looked away and stared at his shoes. shuffling away down the aisle, he started calling me all sorts of obscene stuff, friends in tow, but still not having the courage to actually hit me or at least start something.

they got off at market street and started walking towards 6th street. i followed them out the rear door and went down the urine-soaked stairs into the civic center metro station.

thank GOD, i thought.

mama tired.



happy birthday, heather!

today my sister heather is 32 years old.

happy birthday, hezzeriah!

love, shuggie.

bock! bock! bock! bock! bock!




clap on! clap off!

so yesterday evening, my italian friend timothy stopped by for a brief visit. he commented on my living room television set, a 19" zenith system-3 unit complete with faux woodgrain and a little knob you pull to turn it on, and twist to adjust the volume. this means only one thing: it has no remote control.

never did, either.

i googled a bit and found this picture of an old zenith system 3 almost just like mine...except mine doesn't have the woodgrain in the front or the fabric speaker cover. instead it's this snazzy brushed aluminum (fake, presumably), over the front trim and speaker cover, with the woodgrain on the sides. it wouldn't look out of place in urban outfitters, a diesel store, or some swanky los angeles cocktail lounge, even if it doesn't have that trick flip-down keypad. it does have a keypad and no dials, but still...it was a mid-range model. it has a great picture though...better than most new television sets on the market right now.

back in 1984 when it was built, people were still able to actually get up to adjust volume and change channels, an absurd concept to people under the age of 20, apparently. however, in this age of comfort and convenience, one can circumvent this obstacle with one of the most amazing inventions of the 20th century.

the clapper.

now, after demonstrating my clapper to timothy, he was astounded. then he laughed uncontrollably...saying he had never heard of or seen such an invention. you see, timothy is from rome and milan...and apparently either you have a remote control or get the fuck off your mio sedero and change the channel yourself.

then he asked me, "what is so hard about getting up to change the channel on the tv?"

"because it's easier just to sit here and clap."

hey...god bless america.



a moment i savored.

so tonight, i walked down grant street to the s&s grocery store to get a firelog (love a little fire burning in my fireplace when i do yoga in the living room), some frozen juice, a frozen pot pie, and some ice cream. s&s is the only place in north beach that sells ben & jerry's chunky monkey, and i had a taste for some. oh, i also got some sun chips and some lemon yogurt. okay, and a swanson hungry man mexican fiesta tv dinner. sue me...it looked good and i was hungry. good thing i'm sleeping alone tonight, i guess.


whilst gaily traipsing down grant street (well, it was more like unenthusiastic shuffling while glowering at nothing in particular with a glazed expression on my face), i heard a strange clip-clopping noise behind me, in the distance, slowly growing louder and louder.

i turned around.

slowing making its way up the street was a dirty white horse attached to a small open carriage. it was driven by a man who looked like he had just stepped out of 1907, and there were some tourists in the back of the carriage with big smiles on their faces, just taking in the whole north beach experience. the air was filled with the aroma of fresh bread, garlic, and tomato sauce from sodini's around the corner on green street, which was mingling quite nicely with the sapid redolence of north beach pizza right on the corner of grant and union there. i squinted my eyes and mentally removed the cars parked up and down the street and imagined what this particular block of grant (between union and green) must have looked like 100 years ago when it was known as dupont avenue, and there were horses tethered everywhere.

i was standing across the street from the festive, wildly-painted savoy tivoli in all its edwardian glory, and the carriage passed me. i watched it lumber away into the night towards coit tower. the whole scene looked quite similar to this actually, and for some reason, a lump appeared in my throat.

i realized i was savoring the moment the exact same way i would savor a glass of velvety shiraz, or a painting by amedeo modigliani in a museum. i made a mental note to myself to never, ever forget that moment as long as i live.

i probably never will.



The transformation has begun.

So last night I cast away my fears and started yoga.

Goddamn, it kicked my ass. Especially the headstand. My neck is a little sore now. My feet too, since I lost my balance and went tumbling backward, with my feet landing on the floor with a loud THUD. Loud enough to make the instructor come over and ask me if I was okay. I felt pretty uncool, but then again, I AM uncool, I never will be cool, and honestly, I don’t really give a shit anymore. I'm cool to myself, and I am really the only one I'm concerned with impressing right now.

I walked up to the instructor after the class and introduced myself. He seemed to be a friendly, spiritual fellow with a gentle soul and sparkling blue eyes. He told me he was glad I was there, and yoga should be a lifetime journey. I couldn't help but agree...seeing is how bad I was at it and there were a few positions I was unable to do. However, something did happen to me during that yoga session...and I really can't explain it.

I'll try, though.

I’m not the most limber or flexible person, and I’ve never, ever been able to touch my toes with my legs fully straightened. Even during basic training, I was screamed at for not being able to have my legs flat on the ground while leaning forward and grabbing my toes. I said, "Stop screaming! I am trying my best here and that should be what counts! I'm sensitive and if you don't stop your incessant bellowing I just might cry!"

Okay, I didn't say that. I didn't even think it. I did, however, think a few choice words, words that might have been uttered in a 70's blaxploitation flick or Cleveland public transportation, but they never got past my lips. Well, one did, but nobody heard it.

I hope. It rhymed with brother and trucker, run together. I learned it from my sister Hillary.

So last night, I gave it my best. I stretched, twisted my body into these positions that it was never designed to do, lifted my arms and legs off the floor and held them there, trembling slightly, but holding the position nonetheless, refusing to ever give up. That's the key...never giving up. I've given up way too many times in the past, and I’m not going to do it now. Not now, not ever again. Life is too short.

After the session, we were lying on our yoga mats (I bought a really cool one at Lombardi Sports yesterday) doing some breathing exercises, and the instructor had us do some relaxation exercises that also involved mild hypnosis. Nothing I haven't done before, in fact, it was very similar to something my grandmother taught me one night in their suburban New Jersey swimming pool while she was dunking her feet and I was sitting in the water on the stairs and just hanging out. But I felt some sort of strange energy wash over me, something healing, something I really couldn't explain.

Afterward, I sat in the dry sauna for about 10 minutes until I couldn't stand it anymore...by then I was sitting in a puddle of my own sweat...and then had a lukewarm shower. I drank some of the shower water, and had one of those strange flashback memories that startle you sometimes.

Back in the 70's and early 80's my parents had one of those Teledyne Shower Massage showerheads on the end of a hose in the shower. During the summer, after hosing me down and rinsing off all the dirt I had accumulated during the day (I wasn’t allowed to touch anything when I came inside the house because I’d get so filthy dirty playing outside...hey, I was a boy, what do you expect), my dad would turn off the hot water, and slightly turn on the cold. He’d then turn the showerhead upside down, twist it to the pulse function, hold his fingers over two of the pulse nozzles, and the water came out of only one nozzle so I could drink from it like a drinking fountain. After a long, hot, humid day of running around and playing outside and riding my Bigwheel up and down the hill, I was extremely thirsty and the Cleveland municipal Lake Erie tapwater was delicious. Cool, slightly metallic in taste, quenching. The perfect end to a hot 1970’s Ohio summer day. Simple? Yeah. Exciting? Not especially. But for 7 year-old me, it was one of those things I enjoyed completely and just savored like a Jolly Rancher at the city pool or a Push-Up from the ice cream freezer at Rukasin's Drug Store (the local family-owned corner pharmacy a block from my house). That's probably why I remembered it so well. I still savor simple stuff like that to this day, actually. Maybe I'll remember the way North Beach smells on a foggy morning when I'm 90. I sure hope so. It's definitely something I savor.

Anyway, after sitting in the sauna I was extremely thirsty, and which is why I drank some of the shower water. It tasted exactly the same as the Cleveland tapwater, maybe because I was as hot and thirsty as I was when I was at the end of a scorching summer day. I thought about that for the first time in probably 20 years. It made me smile.

But not too much, because I was in the shower at the gym and didn't want to give anyone the wrong idea. It *is* San Francisco, you know.



cool it now. ooo, watch out.

Why you all coming down on me?
Tryin to tell me how my life is supposed to be.
I know you’re only trying to help me out,
Tryin to show me what life is really about.
But this time I’m gonna make it on my own!
So why dontcha fellaz just leave me alone?
Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike,
If I love the girl who cares who you like?

So cool it now. Ooo, watch out. I'm gonna lose control.

I loves me some New Edition. Too bad Bobby turned out to be such a thug.



Midnight freeballing on Montgomery

Chris came over tonight for dinner and we hung out for a few hours, drinking wine, listening to music, and talking. It was fun...very much so...the kind of night where not only are you hanging out with your boyfriend, but you're also good friends with each other in addition to being in love and just shooting the shit. Those are fun times...a good way to spend a Monday night.

After dinner, we decided to strip down to our underwear and practice yoga in the living room. I have high ceilings and hardwood floors throughout my apartment, so it made a perfect makeshift yoga studio, not to mention entertainment for the neighbors. When we were done, I didn't bother putting my underwear back on and instead just put on my jeans, grabbed my keys, and walked Chris to the bus stop down at Sansome and Bush so he could catch the 10 back to Potrero Hill. As I kissed him goodnight and he boarded the bus, I realized something was amiss, and it took being in the Financial District to realize it.

You see, the FiDi is the kind of place where you usually have your shit together. Freshly showered, hair done, wallet in your pocket, backpack, purse, or manbag on your hip, cellphone in hand, spring in your step, and more often than not, you're wearing underwear. Since I had just grabbed my trusty, threadbare, holey old 501's and walked out the door, I had neglected to bring a few key items with me.

As I walked away, I felt a draft in my crotch. I patted my pockets and realized that:

  • I didn't have my wallet with me...
  • I didn't have my phone with me...
  • I wasn't wearing any underwear.

This is pretty much the first time I've ever been in the Financial District missing these key items, the most obvious being the underwear. At this point, I kind of had to pee, so I thrust my hands into the pockets of my 501's and grabbed my peepee and held it.

Kind felt good, though.

So I figured, "Oh hell, what the fuck," and started playing pocket pool whilst walking down Montgomery Street. At one point, I started giggling while looking at the Transamerica Pyramid while simultaneously doing ball tricks in my jeans.

Chris knows what I'm talking about...tonight I demonstrated "The Cameltoe" for him in my kitchen.

I think he was kinda grossed out, actually.

Some drunk girls, two attractive blondes in their mid-twenties, staggered out of the Bubble Lounge and started flirting with me as I walked past. The entire time, I was playing with my balls and peepee, not in a sexually perverted way, but in a "Ha ha ha you drunk biatches, I'm playing with my balls, you don't know I'm playing with my balls, and you can't touch them anyway because you have a front fanny."

Besides, I was doing Rocky the Flying Squirrel and I never show that one to anybody.

Anyway, the point of the story:

If you ever have a chance to freeball it down Montgomery at midnight on a Monday, I'd highly recommend it.



the Best Cabride Ever.

Thursday night, my friend Nathan came over to my place from another region of the world referred to as "The 510." For those of you who are from the Bay Area, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you not Bay Area Savvy, 510 happens to be the area code of Oakland, where Nathan is from. It doesn't carry the panache of the 415, but it's nowhere near as foul as the 650, 925, 707, or (gasp) the 408.

We were hanging out at my place, just having a chill evening watching the movie “9 to 5” with Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda, when he suddenly looked up at me and said, "Yo dude, let's go out." I mulled over it for a second. I had just hung up with my boyfriend and told him I was going to bed soon. Hmmm...should I leave my nice, warm, comfortable pad, or should I go out on a school night and tear it up in Big Homogay Central with Nathan? Oh, why the fuck not...I wasn't that tired, and Nathan has had a rough past few months. Being the good friend I am, I went into my dressing room, changed into some tight clothes, schmutzed my hair, moisturized, and out the door we went into the foggy San Francisco night. Out at Columbus and Broadway, I flagged a cab. It pulled over, and we jumped in.

This is where things got interesting.

"18th and Castro, please," I said, ducking into the cab and sliding across the worn pleather seat.

"Yooooo betcha!" came the enthusiastic response from the front seat.

Oh god. Here we go.

Our driver, a white-haired gentleman in his late 50's, was kind of quiet at first, but soon asked us where exactly we were headed.

"Oh, we just wanted to get out of the house and see what's going on," Nathan replied. "Nowhere in particular, I guess."

"You know, some of my best friends are gay!" blurted the driver.

"Is that so?" I said. "I know a few of them myself."

"Yeah! I mean, I'm straight and everything, but I don't have any problem with them. I mean, to each his own, right? Like I said, some of my best friends are gay, and sometimes I even go out to the gay clubs! Drinks are better and you sure can't beat the music! Of couse, I'm straight, but hey, I don't have any problem with the gays, even though I'm straight!" More than anything, he sounded like he was trying to convince himself he wasn't actually a big old cocksucker.

"Sure." I, for one, wasn't convinced.

Nathan and I started talking amongst ourselves, hoping this guy would just shut the fuck up and drive us to the goddamn Castro and leave us in peace to talk about gay boy things. However, he had other plans.

"Hey, do you guys know any good jokes?"

Do I know any good jokes. Heh-heh.

"Yeah man, I know some," I said, slyly grinning. "Although, most people are offended by my jokes and I've almost been run out of San Francisco more than once because of them."

"Oh goody! I love jokes like that!"

"Okay, but I warned you."

"Go on! Go on!"

"What does a fat girl do in the summer?"

"Um, I dunno!"


"BWAAAAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!" Jesus effing Christ, I thought he was going to careen off the road and hit a streetlight pole, he laughed so hard. He jerked the wheel around so much I cracked my head on the window twice. I suspect he made a little pootyfart as well, judging at the unpleasant odor that suddenly permeated the cab. Or maybe it was Nathan, who knows. It sure as fuck wasn't me. I always call mine. Slowly, he recovered his equilibrium and his ability to stay in one lane.

"I know a few!" he nervously blurted out after a few seconds.

"Go ahead," Nathan and I replied in unison.

Oh boy. Every bad gay, lesbian, and woman joke I have ever heard was told in rapid-fire succession, his voice growing higher-pitched and more manic by the second. Eventually, he stopped actually looking out the windshield, opting instead to simply look over the seat at us. Now, keep in mind he was still flying through the streets of San Francisco at breakneck speed, with Nathan and I being thrown around the back seat like little bitches as the cab raced up and down the hills of Gough Street, especially when we crossed Eddy. If you've ever gone through that intersection you know exactly what I'm talking about; it's like you're flying off the edge of the earth into a canyon until the car comes plunking back down onto the pavement. My fingers frantically scrambled for the seatbelt, but it wasn't there, so I scootched down and braced my knees against the driver's seat, and Nathan held onto the "oh shit" handle above his door. Oddly, this isn't the first time I've had to do this in a San Francisco taxicab, but that's the subject of a different blog.

Suddenly, everything started happening very quickly, and this is where the details get murky.

We were rapidly approaching the intersection of Market and Gough streets, when the light turned yellow. Seeing this light out of the corner of his eye, the cabbie stomped on the gas pedal and turned around to continue his deranged little standup routine for us. There was a cab in front of us, and suddenly, the car in front of that cab slammed on its brakes, then reaccelerated through the intersection. It made no sense whatsoever. However, it set off a chain of events that proved to be absolutely catastrophic, and I am sure the driver of that first car had no idea of the carnage that was about to ensue. The cab in front of us aborted its attempt run the light, which would have been no problem had our cabbie been looking out the windshield instead of blathering into our terrified faces.

Nathan yelled, "Look out!"

The cabbie, punch drunk on telling his jokes to his captive audience, suddenly seemed to remember we were rocketing down Gough in his Ford Crown Victoria at approximately the speed of sound, and it was he, not us, who was behind the wheel.

"Aw FUCK!" he yelled, as we smashed into the back of the cab in front of us with a crunchy, gritty, yet strangely satisfying thud-crunkle. "Oh no! Oh no! Oh fuck! Oh shit! Fuck-fuck! God fucking dammit! Fuck! FUUUUUUCK!"

Fucking pottymouth. No wonder he's a cabdriver.

The cabbie in front of us emerged dazed but unhurt from his bruised cab, and looked more nervous than anything. Turns out he spoke little English, and since his cab wasn't damaged all that much (it had been in more than a few wrecks before) he just wanted to get out of the intersection and forget the whole thing ever happened. Unfortunately, our cab didn't fare quite as well.

The grille was completely demolished, and the headlights were cross-eyed, one of them pointing straight down into the pavement. It gave the cab a slightly demented expression, kind of like it had a hairlip, a migraine, and a mild case of Down's Syndrome. However, the damage was only cosmetic, the engine was still running (as was the meter, I might add), and only the front clip was damaged. The headlights were actually unbroken and the bumper was pretty much unscathed. The cabbie got back in, shut the door, and was quiet for a second.

"I'm sorry, guys," he finally said, quietly.

"No problem, man. Nobody's hurt, and the cab seems okay," I said reassuringly.

"The cab is all fucked up!" he shouted.

So are you, dude.

"Well, I'm sure it's not that bad. It's still running, that's a good thing." I was really reaching by this point, and made a mental note to myself to never go to the Castro again unless I really needed to go there. Heaving a gusty sigh, the cabbie dropped the transmission into drive and we continued on our journey in relative silence.

"Now I have to fill out all sorts of paperwork. My boss is going to be so mad. What am I going to do?" he nervously babbled to himself. Apparently, he was disoriented at this point, because he abruptly hit the brakes and made a U-turn in the middle of Market, continuing to babble nonsensically to himself.

"Uh, dude," Nathan said, a bit nervously. "Dude!"

"Oh, sorry...McCoppin and Valencia, right?" said our obviously confused driver. Perhaps he had hit his head. Or, more likely, he was a complete fucking lunatic who was probably going to kill us.

"18th and Castro, please," I said in a firm, authoritative voice, hoping he's snap out of it and just fucking take us there already.

"Oh yeah...18th and Castro. Guys, I'm so, so sorry. So, so, so sorry. God."

"Hey man, we're all okay. It's cool. Don't worry about it."

He flipped a bitch again and we continued on our way. Finally, we turned left onto Castro in our battered cab, grinding to a halt at the bus stop in front of the Diesel store. I got out to survey the damage.

The grille was barely attached to the cab at this point, so I reached down, grabbed it, and yanked. It broke off easily, and I handed the cabbie his 4-foot long chunk of cab. “Pop your trunk and throw it in there,” I told him. Meekly, yet obediently, he shuffled away to comply with my request. The people waiting for the 33 Stanyan looked at us strangely, which didn’t surprise me since it’s not every day you see someone jump out of a wrecked cab, yank off the grill, and hand it to the driver. “Front bumper is okay, just get a new clip, check your radiator and airbag sensors, and reinstall your headlights. It’ll be fine.”

“Where am I going to get a new front clip?” the cabbie said in a slightly shaky voice.

“There’s a wrecking yard at Evans and Rankin down in the Bayview, that’s where all the junked cabs and cop cars are. Ask for Jorge. You’ll probably even find one that’s the right color.” My head is filled with all sorts of random information that most of the time just takes up space, but sometimes comes in handy. Knowing where to locate spare auto parts is a direct result of being raised in Cleveland, Ohio, kind of like always having jumper cables in my trunk or beer in my refrigerator. I was just raised that way, especially since my mom generally drove around complete beaters that barely ran. One of my chores was to make sure her car started in the morning.

The fare was $15.43, so I handed the driver a yuppie food stamp, better known as a $20 bill. “Keep the change, man. That was the best cabride I’ve had in a long time.”

“Oh thanks, guy,” the cabbie beamed. “Thank you so much!” He got into his cab and chugged off into the night.

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Chad Fox. All rights reserved.