the poseidon adventure
There's got to be a morning after
We're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
And we'll escape the darkness
We won't be searching anymore...
Ai yi yi. All I wanted was a relaxing evening, hanging out at home by myself, making some nice bowtie pasta with red pepper sauce and sauteed vegetables from Trader Joe's, having a single glass of wine, and vegetating in front of the Zenith System-3 (sadly, sans Space Command). I took that photo above when walking home from T'Joe's; it's the front window of Rosalie's New Looks on Columbus Avenue in North Beach. You can research the place here if you want. It's a fierce drag queen beauty salon and wig rental place.
I, for one, think it's fabulous. I love the fact it's in my neighborhood and not the goddamn Castro. Not to hate on the Castro, but I'm glad to be living far away from it. That neighborhood is so self-consuming, it's at the point of being absolutely cannibalistic at times.
Tires me out.
It all started unraveling when Daigle called and asked what I was doing. I thought it might be nice to have a little company, so I invited him over and asked him if he wanted some pasta. Daigle, however, was not in a pasta mood, instead saying he had a hankering for some mac and cheese with tunafish, and he was going to stop at the liquor store (our local supermarkets in this neighborhood) to get some mac and a can of tuna. Of course, Daigle assumed I had milk and butter (I had none) and when he got here, he had to run back out and go to two liquor stores before he found one that actually had milk, because he sure as hell wasn't going to walk all the way back down to Trader Joe's.
Thank you, Aaron Peskin, (my district's supervisor) for keeping those nasty little stores out of my neighborhood that actually sell groceries. You're doing a real bangup job there, bucko. Or should I say, angry dwarf? (Thank you, Joe O'Donaghue, for being such an uncivilized, foul-mouthed cretin)
And that's about enough of local politics.
So Daigle made his mac and cheese, and sat down...where he started eating the whole thing. He didn't realize I wanted some food as well...there was just a misunderstanding. He felt bad, and left to make a THIRD trip to the liquor store to fetch ChadFox his own box [of mac and cheese and a can of tuna]. Upon his return, however, he relayed to me what he had just seen in one of the downstairs apartments.
"Dude, Chad...ya downstairs neighbah (he still has a Masshole accent) has watah pourin' in theyah mothahfuckin apahtment, yo."
"Huh?" I asked, completely starving at this point. It was after 9 and I still hadn't eaten dinner. "Oh...fuck. Watch this and shut off the gas if it boils before I get back." I had just put a pot of water on my stove in anticipation of that delicious TunaMac.
Or should I have called it iTuna?
Okay, I apologize for writing that.
I ran downstairs, and was confronted with utter pandemonium.
That is the apartment of my neighbor V. Vale, out of which he runs the extremely successful RESearch Publications. Now, RESearch is one of my favorite publications, and I love his music complilations (I own all of them). I've been a huge fan of his stuff for almost a decade now...I mean, the guy knows Jello Biafra personally. How cool is that?
Now, Vale was in the process of Completely Losing His Shit. What appears to be paint splattered on the window in that above photo is actually cascading water, caught mid-cascade. You see, that's his entire life packed in that apartment, where he lives with his wife and 11 year-old daughter. Thankfully, his wife and daughter are overseas right now, and one of his employees was there emptying the soggy boxes of water on the floor that were rapidly starting to overflow.
I ran upstairs to the apartment above his, and honestly, I've never seen anything like it. For one, the apartment manager had to break the door down because the tenant, a suspected Vegas hooker, had installed an illegal deadbolt on the door and was subleasing the place to some Italian immigrants who play guitars in various touristy Italian joints on Columbus Avenue here in the 'Beach.
Smashy-smashy! The hand and green mug of coffee belong to my new neighbor across the hall from me, who was not quite sure what to make of the chaos unfolding in front of him.
So after my building manager Paul (you've all met him before) bashed down the door, they were greeted with a wall of water that literally poured out of the apartment into the hallway. It seems a faulty valve on the line that fills the toilet tank burst, effectively filling the apartment with thousands of gallons of water in a very short time. Remember we have extremely high water pressure around in these here parts. There was literally four inches of standing water in that apartment, and it was on the second floor. I walked in, and heard the rapidly-warping hardwood floor groan under the weight of all that water.
Yeah, you read that right. It groaned.
It's hard to tell from that photo (click on it to enlarge it), but I was standing on my toes in deep water in the living room of that apartment. I will say right now that the Italian dude living there keeps an immaculate household, which made our cleanup efforts infinitely easier. Vale started freaking out, because the last thing he needed was the floor collapsing in this place into HIS apartment, effectively destroying a business he had worked to build up since the late seventies.
I asked Paul if he had a garden hose. Not quite sure where I was going with this, he ran downstairs and produced one for me. I dropped one end out the window into the staircase alleyway, and told Vale to hold one end submerged in the deepest part of the flood. I ran down the fire escape, grabbed the hose, took it out to the street, and started sucking on it.
Okay. Fine, laugh. However, I knew my mad gay skills would come in handy some day.
Using my powerful diaphragm to suck a vacuum in the hose, I successfully started some siphon action. I got a few mouthfuls (and some in my lungs) of water, but after a few coughs and sputters, I managed to get the flow started...and it was actually quite strong. Vale and I drained most of the water out of the apartment in just a few minutes, 10-15 at most (that's him in the photo above). We finished up with towels produced from various neighbors and several mops.
Paul heard me gagging on the water outside (I need to work on my gag reflex), so he brought me an ice-cold 24-oz can of Budweiser with which to rinse out my mouth. Of course, being from Cleveland, I'm not gonna spit out any kind of alcohol unless absolutely necessary (I'm lots of fun at wineries) so most of that beer ended up in my stomach. Tourists and partiers walking by (I live across the street from a popular night spot) looked at me quizzically, wondering why the hell I had been sucking and gagging on a hose running from a second story window, and was now sitting there on the curb soaking wet and drinking a beer. I guess taken out of context, I must have looked like a total freak.
At one point, the Italian dude staying there came home, and was utterly confused as to what the fuck was going on. We filled him in, and then I pulled him aside and told him he should probably hide the joints he left in the ashtray on top of the TV. I mean, I was looking for a safe place to put a tealight (Daigle brought down my bag of Glimma tealights so we could see...Paul very wisely cut the power to that apartment so we wouldn't be electrocuted) and I discovered two fatties sitting in the ashtray.
Anyway, the Italian told me he'd bring one up to me later if I wanted.
The place was completely trashed, but not as bad as poor Vale's place, which still still resembled a tropical rain forest during a downpour. His ceiling was starting to cave in a bit, so I grabbed a screwdriver and stabbed a hole so the water pooling above the sheetrock could drain out.
With a soggy "pluph" sound, a chunk fell, and the water started cascading into a strategically-placed, garbage bag-lined cardboard box on the floor.
Right after I took that picture, I felt a scalding hot drop of water land on my neck, which completely startled me. Turns out the light fixture off of which the drop originated was shorting out, effectively heating the leaking water to the boiling point. Paul grabbed a pencil and hit the light switch with it (he had wet hands) because the last thing he needed was an electrocuted and scalded tenant on top of everything else.
You know...after realizing I can only do so much...I Got The Fuck Out Of There. Another neighbor who had been assisting in the cleanup efforts announced he too was finished, and was going upstairs to smoke a bowl; soon the hallway was filled with the light, refreshing scent of Humboldt's finest.
Sometimes I think I live in Amsterdam.
By this time, it was 11:30 at night, and I didn't feel like making iTuna anymore, so I flopped down in my favorite chair and ate some leftover pizza, and Daigle and I simply vegged out and relaxed. Paul came to my door a few minutes later to thank me for everything I had done, and told me he'd be by in the morning with the plumber to fix some minor stuff I had in my apartment (dripping bathroom faucet, loose kitchen faucet & install a new aerator I bought).
Paul kept his word...and showed up this morning. I now have a drip-free bathroom sink, a nifty new sprayer on my kitchen sink (and it doesn't leak everywhere anymore, either), and he told me he'd be by later with something else for me [read: something herbal, like a nice fragrant Bag O' Boldt] and a spare key to my front door deadbolt I've been missing since I moved in.
I actually feel like I'm living in a not-so-ghetto apartment, even if my only heat sources are a space heater in my bedroom and my fireplace.
Yes...Tales of the City is alive and well in the year 2005, and sometimes I feel like I'm in some bizarre reality show where you never know what's going to happen next. 'Tis my life, I suppose. It sure beats living anywhere else right now.
Now before anyone asks me why the hell I did all this, keep in mind:
- It was late at night, and Paul couldn't find any emergency plumbers to come out
- I would hope my neighbors would help me if anything happened to my place
- who the fuck else was going to do it?
It's just the way I was raised, I suppose. Besides, Paul told me he'd talk to the realty company that runs this mess we all live in and insist they knock off a half-months rent for me. Tell you what...here in San Francisco, that's not exactly chump change.
For the record, when I went to go make the iTuna for lunch today, I discovered much to my dismay Daigle drank all the milk last night. That fucking brat. No iTuna for Chad!
I had to opt for a Tofurkey sandwich on whole grain bread with Trader Joe's veggie chips. Afterward, I felt like sticking a flower in my hair like a good San Franciscan, throwing on a Judy Collins record, making macrame, discussing vaginal empowerment, and just being crunchy.
I'd just like to say thanks to whoever nominated me over at Best Gay Blogs, not to mention the folks who run that site. You all rock. :-)
It seems Brian Shields caught this as well and threw it up over at KRON 4's aggregate. Thanks, Brian...if you were ever sitting around, listening to Judy Collins, weaving some macrame and talkin' bout 'ginas -- and suddenly, someone threw you into a huge vat of milk -- I suspect you'd stay nice and crunchy and flavorful.
Brian is a nutritious part of a complete breakfast. :-)