not so easy in the big easy

You know, I was thinking about posting some photos of the devastation in New Orleans, but what's the point? Anyone with an internet connection or a television set has undoubtedly seen the absolute carnage in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

The reason why it's so difficult for me to watch the images on the internet and television is because I used to live in Biloxi, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida...and spent many a weekend in New Orleans. Some of the best times of my life were spent on the Gulf Coast, and the people I met who lived there were among the most fascinating and hospitable people I've ever had the pleasure to befriend.

Now, I've been through 2 hurricanes, Erin and Opal, both in 1995. Erin was a Category-1 hurricane, which means it was like the worst thunderstorm I've ever witnessed, doubled in power, and dragged out for a few hours. At the time, I was active duty Air Force, stationed in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, but living in downtown Pensacola in the historic North Hill district.

Halfway through Hurricane Erin, my power went out, and I knew it would be out for at least a week (it was out for 16 days). My neighbors consisted of a bunch bohemian surfers and artists next door, and the Escambia County prosecutor who lived upstairs from me. Rachel (the prosecutor) brought her guns, her pet python, and all her wine down to my apartment to ride out the storm. We were well-armed, and I actually felt pretty safe. While my roommate slept away the hurricane, Rachel, her friend Becky, and I rode out the storm in an interior hallway, listening to the radio, drinking wine, and playing Mad Libs (the more wine we drank, the dirtier they became).

When the eye came through, I climbed up onto the roof through a hatch that had torn loose in the upstairs hallway. I'll never forget the stillness of the air, the blue sky above, and the angry-looking clouds that were swirling around the horizon. To this Ohio-bred boy, it was remarkable.

Soon, the winds returned, and we again battened down the hatches and finished the bottles of wine we had opened. After the storm, Rachel took one of her guns, secured the others, and we went out to investigate. Downtown Pensacola was TRASHED. My street was completely impassable due to the multiple magnolia trees that had fallen across the roadway, and the waterfront had been pounded by the surf and storm surge.

When we got back, my neighbors were in the process of building a huge bonfire in the middle of the street with some of the branches that had fallen in our yards. One of my next-door neighbors, Smokey, was a chef at the Sun Ray Taco Shop down on the boardwalk. He instructed everyone to clean out their freezers...'cause we were gonna have a barbecue to end all barbecues.

And...we did. Steak. Chicken. Pork chops. Sausage links. Alaska salmon (from Rachel, of course). I sat there, looking at all my neighbors, their young, excited faces illuminated by the bonfire, just thinking how lucky I was to live in such a cool place. Later on, I borrowed a generator from my squadron, and the next day, everyone gave me their picnic coolers, and I piled them into my Volvo. Since the air force base had power and gasoline, I'd fill my tank, let my neighbors siphon some out when I got back, and also filled their coolers with ice at the Officer's club (I had to sneak in, but my Volvo didn't attract any attention in the parking lot). In return, they let me shower at their place (they still had gas, my apartment was all-electric and had no hot water).

New Orleans is pretty much a third-world country right now...but you can help. Click here to find out how.

More later...it's late, and I'm emotionally drained right now, wishing there was more I could do to help.



un homme et une femme

See those two young people in that photo? She was 22, and he was 25. They met in Munich, Germany of all places, in the mid 1960's...the young man was an Army soldier stationed there, and the young woman was an Army brat attending the University of Maryland's Munich campus.

Fast forward a few years...they were engaged, she was living and working in Chicago, and he was living and working in Cleveland. They were writing each other letters every day, as email was a good thirty years in the future, and long-distance calls between Chicago and Cleveland were rather expensive back then. One day, the young woman recieved a package from the young man, a 45-RPM record. It was a Burt Bacharach tune, "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert. It was an appropriate song, because he was indeed in love with her, and she was in love with him. They were married at St. Cletus Church in LaGrange, Illinois 37 years ago today, Saturday, August 24th, 1968.

If you haven't guessed by now, the two young people in that photo are my parents. They're still married today...quite happily, actually.

My folks set an extremely high standard for me as far as relationships go. For one, they rarely go to bed mad...they're the kind of people who stay up and fight until the conflict is resolved. Now, they're not perfect, but then again, they've never claimed to be. These days, instead of my mom having to deal with my dad's annoying faults, she loves him for his quirky foibles, even if he does hoard scotch tape and toothpaste, blame "people" (there's only the two of them living there now) for leaving "the portable" (cordless phone) off the "cradle" (charger), and read entire Tom Clancy spy novels while sitting on the toilet.

Or course, my mother has no faults or foibles to speak of, and is absolutely perfect in every way. Isn't that right, Dad? ;-)

They're independent, but not co-dependent. During rough times (like any relationship, there were a few) they didn't call it quits, instead choosing to behave like adults and do everything they could to find common ground, mutual understanding, and balance. Not surprisingly, they ended up even closer and more in love as time went by. Not everyone can do that, and I am by no means knocking people who haven't been able to make relationships work in the past. If I did, I'd be hypocritical. That's a glass house I'll avoid with this boulder in my hand, thank you very much. However, I have never seen two people communicate between each other the way they do; they're at the point now where they can have an entire conversation with each other without uttering a syllable. It's quite remarkable, actually.

A long time ago - I must have been fifteen or sixteen - my mom and I were talking about relationships, and the dynamic between her and my dad. I don't remember why we were talking about it, but we were. She said something that struck me then, and stays with me now...that she and my dad were not only husband and wife, but also best friends. She went on to say that neither of them were "in charge" of things; rather, it was a partnership of equals, two people bonded together by love and respect, sharing their lives, and raising their family. That mutual love and respect for each other was the glue that held together our family...no matter what...so they could be the best rock and foundation they could for my sisters and me.

It was a rather profound Chad and Mom conversation.

I remember mulling over it later in the evening, sitting alone at my desk in my bedroom after I had finished my homework. I realized in order for a relationship to work, you need to be best friends with your partner and always - ALWAYS - have clear, open lines of communication if you have any chance of making it. There's just no other way. It makes NO difference if you're gay or straight...love is love, respect is respect, trust is trust.

It's all the same.

I've seen my folks in a different light ever since that day. They've shown me how to have a mature, adult relationship that isn't dysfunctional. They have raised the relationship bar stratospherically, no, ionosperically high. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to emulate that, because I sure as hell won't ever, EVER settle for anything less...even if that means spending the rest of my life single. That's not to say I've haven't tried; I have, a few times, but I've always fallen short and landed flat on my face. But you know what? I'd rather be happily single (and I am...I'm in an open relationship with myself right now and absolutely loving it) than in a crappy relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship (I'm not looking for one, either). I see too many people like that, straight and gay alike, desperately holding on to something that just isn't working, and it's just a train wreck waiting to happen.

I should know. I've been there, and it sucks.

You see, when my folks met, I don't think either of them were particularly searching for a spouse; it just...happened. I firmly believe the more you desperately search for someone, more they'll elusive they'll be. So in the meantime...I'm just having fun being me, and loving life. That's probably the most important thing of all.

While I was writing this, an old memory surfaced, something I haven't thought of for years.

When I was a little kid, I used to sit at the top of the stairs and eavesdrop on everything going on downstairs for hours and hours. One night, after my sisters and I were tucked in, I climbed out of bed and settled down in my usual spot at the top of the stairs...I couldn't have been more than eight years old. I heard someone turn off the television, so I got ready to bounce back into bed. However, I heard the distinct sound of a stylus dropping onto a vinyl record, and music starting.

If you click on that record, you'll hear the song they played that night...a song that will always make me think of them.

Curious, I carefully descended the stairs to the landing (it was harder than you realize...in an old house, wooden stairs creak and I knew just where to step on each stair so I could sneak down there undetected). When I poked my head around the corner, careful to conceal myself behind the banister, I saw my parents standing in the living room. They were holding hands, and just looking at each other, smiling. They embraced, and kissed.

For the first time, I saw them outside their daily routines. The groceries had been bought and put away, dinner had been made, the dishes had been done. The kids were in bed, the dog had already been taken out, the front and back door were locked, and finally, they could have some down time. Instead of Mom and Dad, I saw two young people very much in love with each other. I sat there, watching them sway back and forth to the music, talking quietly, and just enjoying the moment. They'd worry about how they were going to pay the phone bill that month, the mortgage, the electric bill, the gas bill, the fact that the car's transmission was leaking, my bike had a flat tire, and the lawn mower was out of gas...later. Yes, those things needed attention, but their relationship was more important, and needed as much care and upkeep and nurturing as anything else. There's a time and a place for everything; this was the time; this was the place. They'd sweat the small stuff in the morning.

I watched them for about a minute, then silently sneaked back upstairs. I was careful to avoid the creaky parts of the hardwood floor in my bedroom, as they were directly below me and I didn't want them to come upstairs to see if I needed something. I didn't want to disturb them, because I had just learned that Mom and Dad needed some time where they could just be alone and give each other their undivided attention. As I got in bed, I thought about what I had just witnessed. As I fell asleep on my fresh, clean Snoopy sheets in the cool darkness of my bedroom, door slightly ajar so I could see the hallway light and hear the murmuring of my parents' voices, with the music softly filtering up through the floorboards, I felt safe, and I smiled.

In fact, I'm smiling right now, thinking about how lucky they are to have found each other...life partners, best friends. Through thick and thin, richer and poorer, sickness and health. 'Till death do they part.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you both.



fun with cassettes

See those things in the picture above? For those of you under the age of 25, those are called Cassette Tapes. I used to use those back in the days before MP3's, when I was still transferring my favorite LP's and CD's so I could listen to them in the car or my Walkman while I rode the bus.

Those two cassettes have been traveling with me since the late 1980's, through 5 states, 2 hurricanes, several earthquakes, and over 20 addresses. The one on top was actually originally owned by my friend Ron, whom I have not seen in over a decade. He gave it to me because he made a copy of his Key Lime Pie CD by Camper Van Beethoven for me. That way, I could listen to it in my improvised sound system in my 1975 Mustang II (an old tape recorder running off the car battery, jammed under the dash, hooked up to the old AM radio speaker) as I fought traffic on I-271 every morning while driving to class when I was in college. When I bought the LP (yes, you read that right, I preferred vinyl to CD during my show), I used that cassette to record my radio show on John Carroll University's station WUJC 88.7 FM (now WJCU) in University Heights, Ohio, the City of Beautiful Homes.

Normally, I taped all my radio shows on Sony HF-90's, which could be bought cheaply in my old neighborhood at the Monticello-Noble Revco Discount Drugs (now absorbed by CVS Pharmacy...blech). They look like this:

However, I was out of HF-90's one hot, muggy July day in 1990, so I grabbed that particular one from the car as I ran into the station since I had just bought the Camper Van Beethoven CD. Now, the other side was blank, so I used it to tape stuff at the radio station, and also off the radio while I was sweltering in my apartment.

The BASF cassette was also from my radio show era...I showed up at the station one night to visit a friend of mine during his radio show. Again, I was out of the HF-90's, so I grabbed this one out of the car. I don't remember where it came from, actually.

Now, when I popped these in the stereo, it was like listening to a time capsule. I recorded this stuff like, 15 years ago. So for the first time in a decade and a a half, from a dusty old box in my closet to the entire world, here you are...my old crap. I used Audacity to transfer certain clips from the summer of 1990 to MP3, so I could bring these old cassettes to life in remastered digital glory.

In the age of digital music, it's easy to forget just how crappy music taped off the radio sounded.

Just click on the mini HF-90 to listen. For some reason, on Firefox, the audio drops out a little in the beginning...just start it over again and it'll play normally.

This one is from my radio show...I was reading public service announcements. They were required by the FCC at the top of every hour. This particular one is 19 year-old me instructing you how to claim the loss of a burned motor vehicle in the city of Cleveland. The guy who talks after me is my friend Matt. Our Cleveland accents are so noticeable here...you'd think we were talking out of our noses or something. Gawd. I'm so glad my accent has faded, now only manifesting itself after a few cocktails. Oh, and that's Perez Prado playing in the background. Don't ask.

I can't believe I'm actually putting this one on the internet...it's from one hot, sticky, sultry night (again, from July 1990) when my friend Chuck was hanging out with me in my parents' kitchen up in Cleveland Heights (my folks were out on the town partying or something). We had gone through three 64-oz bottles of Olde English malt liquor (link is to a sketch comedy site inspired by the stuff) and a bunch of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers. I called the local top-40 station Power 108 to request the latest flava from Technotronic: Get Up (Before the Night Is Over). Again...the flat, old-school Cleveland accent is there. That old Maxell tape was sitting on the kitchen counter; since I had flirted with the DJ so much (she's actually cracking up at the end of the clip) I knew I was going to get on the air. I grabbed it and taped the song off the radio. The phone rang almost immediately after this aired. It was my friend Rachel, laughing her ass off, telling me she had just heard me and I was "so fucking queer."

This one...well, you be the judge of this one. This was taped directly off the console at the radio station on the night of Thursday, July 26th, 1990. A friend of mine was in the middle of his show, and I popped in to turn in my playlist, see what new music came in, and say hi to my friend. The station had a library of cheezy production music LP's from Los Angeles. We were supposed to use them in any projects or shows we wanted. I had found an especially horrid track, fallen in love with it, and recorded it on one of the cartridges we used for the PSA's (I was going to use it in a promo I was doing for someone else's show). It was in my bag, and I handed it to my friend so he could hear it. He dared me to make up lyrics to the music on the spot, LIVE ON THE AIR. I accepted his challenge. He cued up the next record, popped the cart I gave him in the console, waited for the PSA he was playing to finish, and mouthed "GO!" as he hit the play button and my microphone button at the same time.

So here's the background to this asinine song (give me a break...I was 19):

At the time, my mom drove a clunky, rusty 1982 Chevrolet Celebrity, and my dad drove a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina. I had my mom's Celebrity that night, and her keychain (with both cars' keys) was sitting on the console. I had been eating a bag of Fritos. My friend's laundry was sitting in the corner of the studio in a laundry basket (he went directly from the laundromat to the studio to do his show).

So there was my inspiration. The result? Well, you decide.

Let's just say there there is a certain individual living in Seattle (my cousin Joey Lazerhead) who lists this song as one of his favorite songs of all time...in fact, he might cover that tune and sing it himself. To be honest, I had forgotten all about it until I found that BASF cassette.

I have tons more cassettes to go through...who knows what else I'll find?

BTW...now that I know how to use Audacity AND I found an old mixing board, I'll be able to start podcasting as soon as I find my goddamn microphone.



marcia and ryan make san francisco so fun.

That's my friend Marcia there. She's probably...well, not probably, IS one of the most amazing people I've met here in San Francisco. She's sexy, she's sassy, and I need to start calling her more often, because whenever we hang out, I never know what's going to happen next, and I'm left shaking my head in disbelief because I've had so, so much fun.

Now that's my friend Ryan in that picture. You may remember his birthday. He threw an incredible party at VXN, North Beach's latest Beautiful People bar. Afterward, about a dozen or so people came back to my house for the afterparty, since I live a half-block away from the place. Fire in my fireplace, wine, booze, music, and hors d'oeuvres. It was a lot of fun.

Now, last year they threw a party called Rehab Sundays at the now-closed Julie's Supper Club here in San Francisco. It was probably the most fun I've ever had at any party here in the city. Basically, it was a Sunday morning brunch with a live DJ spinning fun, obscure stuff from the 70's and 80's, and you could get pitchers of margaritas, bloody marys, and mimosas. They also served shots in test tubes from a medical cart by Ana Conda. That's her below:

(yes, Mom...Ana Conda is actually a boy in a big obnoxious wig)

I had a lot of fun too...this is me at one of the parties. I have no idea who those glasses belonged to.

Here's Marcia and me at another one of the Rehabs:

I have no idea why my mouth is always gaping open when I'm taking pictures of myself.

Quiet in the peanut gallery! That means you too, Daigle!

Marcia really knows how to throw a party. I don't know who that guy is with her, but he's cute. I guess that's why I was following him around with my camera until he posed for me. Stalkerish? Perhaps. But I had been drinking my own half-pitcher of mimosas with an extra-long straw.


The DJ kept the party going:

And everyone had an incredible time.

This is Camper English, posing for me at one of the Rehabs. Everyone should know Camper English.

He has a new book out, called Party Like a Rock Star, Even When You're Poor as Dirt. A few months ago, he wrote an article called Nightlife Takes Flight for San Francisco Magazine. I've kinda known him since, I dunno, 1997 or 1998 when he had his Cocktail Clique, a random group of people on an email list that met at random bars around the city. It was a lot of fun, and a productive way to spend the dot.com boom years of the late 1990's. He also makes the best calendars, with pictures of him coupled with his poetry. My favorite is one of the first ones he did, January 1999:

There once was camper the fluzy
who spent lots of time in the jacuzzi
but after he was done,
and had dirty fun,
the water seemed awfully oozy.

Highly, highly recommended. His "Fishing for Turds" photo was the wallpaper on my computer when I worked at Red Herring back in the day.

More on Camper English later...I'm doing something really fun with him on August 27th, with me photographing and Camper interviewing, so stay tuned.

So what's the whole point of this post? Rehab is over, so what do San Franciscans such as myself do with ourselves now? Fear not...Marcia and Ryan have a new gig...Feather Sundays at the Bambuddah Lounge in the beautiful Tenderloin.

"A summer series of poolside disco day parties. Sunglasses, glamour, and Malibu kisses. Where chic meets le freak."

Oh yes, I'm so there. I'm bringing my camera. And Camper English will be there selling his roach clips, a must-have for chic le freaks such as myself.

Now, I know a lot of you who read this blog live in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. There is NO GOOD REASON for you NOT TO BE AT THIS PARTY. Same goes with people from Sacramento, Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles. Southwest flies into Oakland, take the shuttle to the BART station, and then take BART to the Civic Center station. For those of you choosing to fly into SFO, guess what? BART goes there too. So when you get to the Civic Center station, go on up the stairs, smell the nice fresh peepee on the sidewalk, and face north until you see Larkin Street. Walk up Larkin Street from Market until you get to Eddy. You can't miss it, trust me.

Bambuddha Lounge is located inside the Phoenix Hotel at 601 Eddy Street in San Francisco, CA between Polk Street and Larkin Street.

Here's a map.

Tel: 415.885.5088.

Be there! No excuses!



the word of the day is: meme

Funny, I just got this word in my inbox today, the same day Darin (All Preparation and no H) tagged me for a meme.

Now, I usually don't do memes simply because I either think they're dumb, require too much thought, or I simply forget I've been tagged. Usually, I just forget. But since my Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is indeed meme, I'll accept the memechallenge.

Hey, I just coined a new word.

The Word of the Day for August 18 is:

meme \MEEM\ noun
: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture

Example sentence:
"Blogs are an interesting way... of seeing which ideas, memes, trends and news events are getting the most comment." (Clive Thompson, quoted in the _Sunday Tribune_, February 6, 2005)

Did you know?
In 1976, British scientist Richard Dawkins wrote _The Selfish Gene_, and in his book he defended his new creation, the word "meme." Having first considered, then rejected, "mimeme," he wrote: "'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene.' I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate 'mimeme' to 'meme.'" The suitable Greek root was "mim-," meaning "mime" or "mimic." Dawkins's "mimeme" was formed from "mim-" plus "-eme," an English noun suffix that indicates a distinctive unit of language structure (as in "grapheme," "lexeme," and "phoneme"). "Meme" itself, like a good meme, caught on pretty quickly, spreading from person to person as it established itself in the language.

Well, I'll be damned. I knew what "meme" meant, but I did not know it had such an extensive history.

And now you know.

So, the meme Darin asked me to do is this: List ten songs that you are currently digging ... it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're no good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag five other people to see what they're listening to.

Oh god. Now everyone will know what a geek I am. For one, I was listening to "Superstar" by Sonic Youth when I got the meme, but that doesn't count. So I did what Darin did and looked at my iPod for what songs I've been listening to a lot, and this is what it told me, title followed by artist (and I mixed them up here so you all won't know what #1 is):

Moral of this story: Chad sometimes has horrible taste in music. Petula Clark is to music what Totino's frozen pizza is to food. Sometimes you just crave it and it's delicious when you take it out of the oven and tear into it. Della Reese...well, I'll just call her Lucky Charms 'cause she's magically delicious. And Coconut Monkeyrocket is brilliant...they take random old samples of obscure old songs from the 50's to the 70's and make these crazy mashups. What scares me is when I listen to their stuff I often recognize where these obscure samples are coming from.

Okay, here's my five people I'm tagging:

First and foremost, Michael in San Francisco. He sent me the sweetest email today and I want to know more about him. I also want the other Michael in San Francisco to do this simply because I miss him and I know one or more of the songs will be Rufus Wainwright, along with Cool Relax in Washington DC because he's cool and relaxed (and has a hot photo) and he intrigues me, (((pure noise))) down in Los Angeles (he's pretty fucking cool and I'm curious as to what he's listening to), aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnd...oh why not...Piggy & Tazzy simply because I'm curious as to what they're listening to over across the Atlantic Ocean.



busy busy busy.

I've been busy as hell, but thought I'd post another picure.

Before anyone in the USA starts moaning about the price of gasoline, just check out this photo I took at the corner of Castro and Market.

It was because they hadn't got a delivery, and the prices dropped to slightly above $3 a gallon soon afterward, but still...it got my attention.

I'm so glad I don't have/need a car.



this place is a mess.

You know, every time I post something, then look at this blog to see if it posted correctly, I can't stand the way this place looks.

Seriously. It just nauseates me sometimes. Totally blorf-o-riffic.

I mean, it's a goddamn Blogger template, I've been using it since oh...2003 or so, and to be honest, I've never liked the way this place looks. It's like I'm blogging out of a musty old basement in a home built in 1919 with cracked plaster ceilings, exposed pipes, sagging shelves, a black asphalt tile floor, ancient windows that haven't been cleaned since 1974, piles of laundry everywhere, and soggy old walls tagged with 1980's-era graffiti and mushrooms growing out of them.

Not that I've ever been in a place like that, but still.

Darin over at All Preparation and no H has made an incredible new header for my blog, so I'm working on a new template. I'll have it up soon. Oh, and because Daigle fixed my sound card, I now have podcast capability. I'm going to set it all up tonight and test out my new software, in addition to hooking my stereo up to my computer. If it all works like it's supposed to, I have something kinda fun planned...something anyone over the age of 25 will definitely be able to relate to. Let's just say I was rummaging around in some old boxes and I found some fun stuff.

Now if I could only find my microphone...



blue monday.

It's Monday night...and I figured I'd post a photo. In a few minutes, I'm going to take care of a friend who has just started a new round of experimental Interleukin 2 shots. Unfortunately, this also means in about an hour or so (he injected himself a few hours ago) he's going to be experiencing a high fever, chills, and severe nausea. The only effective remedy to these side-effects is medicinal-grade marijuana.

Fortunately, I stopped by the club today and picked some up...it's called "Brain Eraser" and it's pretty strong stuff...not the kind of weed you'd smoke with your friends if you wanted to remain lucid and conversational.

No folks, this is serious medicine.

I'm going to be heading over there in a few minutes with my bong...his has sprung a leak and he's fretting a bit. Well, don't fret, my pet...my bong and I are on our way.

Let's hope his revitalized CD4 count keeps him around longer, eh? I sure hope so.

I also apologize for subjecting everyone to the phrase "balloon knot" in Friday's post. Stewie on Family Guy used that phrase while describing Brian's butt and I thought it was hilarious. Only did I reread that post did I realize just how filthy it actually sounds.

My poor mom.

Anyway, I'll post the photos of Sean and Aimee as soon as I can. And yes, Greg and Bennett, I'll send your photos too. I promise.



friday night.

BernalBoy: Chadwick, my dear old chum. I've just been to see a lovely and talented drag queen named Kennedy who practices follicular design at the Mission salon Glamarama. S/he spent the better part of our afternoon outfitting me with a smashing blue and silver checkerboard 'do. I dare say we must preserve this masterpiece in digital form for the missives to parents and friends abroad who would otherwise miss the opportunity for gaiety afforded by my new-found haircut.

Chadiqua: You have been blessed by Princess Kennedy. She once picked me up in a pink limo in front of City Hall, gave me weed, and drove me to The Stud. If you want to be preserved digitally, come on over. The light is good, I have a roof and a camera, and lots of weed.

BernalBoy: I'll make my way there in just a tidbit. I'm getting together with Aimee tonight, too, so maybe we'll just have her come by. I'll be there around 6:30?

Chadiqua:It's a plan, Stan. I'll go do the dishes and douche out my balloon knot.

BernalBoy: Yum.



the colorful tenderloin

I've been busy these past few days, extremely so, as a matter of fact, but I've had time to play around with a couple dozen of the almost 1,300 photos I snapped this weekend. I also have a bunch of photos I snapped while kayaking on Friday with a waterproof disposable camera, but I need to take it to get them developed.

Remember when you had to get your photos developed? Jeez...that was when phones were attached to the wall by wires.

Anyway, I uploaded my edited digital images from this past weekend onto my fotopage, and they're divided into three different sections...the interior of a Tenderloin art gallery called The Shooting Gallery while a special event called "Wet Paint" was going on, Tenderloin street art, and Tenderloin street life. Once you're in the gallery, you can click on any image to enlarge it; it'll open in a new window.

Click on one of the photos below to see that particular gallery, if you're so inclined to do so. Maybe then you'll see why the Tenderloin is one of my favorite places in the entire city.



apartment shopping in the tenderloin

A wonderful Monday evening to all. This weekend was pretty fun, but I kinda messed up a couple times and totally forgot stuff.

And that's about as far I care to go into that, thank you.

On Saturday, Daigle and I went to look at an apartment that caught his eye. After hearing about another property he was interested in, I wanted to go along to make sure it wasn't a total shithole.

I was pleasantly surprised. On the outside, it's quite an elegant-looking, urban apartment building...quite similar to something you might see in New York. As always, click on any picture to enlarge it.

The building is freshly painted on the inside, and has brand-new carpeting in the hallways and on the stairs.

I almost forgot we were in the Tenderloin until I saw this posted in the back service stairwell:

I swear I almost peed in my pants when I saw that. However, I resisted. I just didn't want to be mistaken for a local from the neighborhood.

The apartment Daigle looked at is a large studio that faces an interior courtyard. The hardwood floors are absolutely pristine:

The crapper is small, but has a tile floor and marble shower (pic is a bit blurry):

There is even a little escape hatch for Daigle's tricks:

The kitchen isn't bad either...nice tile counters and a newer stainless steel sink.

In addition to a large walk-in closet with the sliding mirror doors (visible in the hardwood floor photo), there is also another small closet next to some built in shelves and a small buffet.

Heat is provided by this small, yet quite ornate radiator.

Too bad there's not much of a view. Good neighbor-watching, though. Plus, I have a suspicion Daigle is going to be putting on his own reality show every single night. Stay tuned!

Afterward, we went to the local gay watering hole right around the corner, The Gangway, which is probably my favorite dive bar in all of San Fran-freaking-cisco, and has been for quite some time now. The San Francisco Bay Guardian once described it like this:

A trip to the local dive bar is the perfect pick-me-up for the poor and egocentric drinker. You're usually the youngest, best-dressed, and best-looking person in the place if you're under 50, have both eyes, and have updated your wardrobe since 1987. The drinks are half the price of those at bars where they actually clean the bathrooms, and often twice as strong.

Daigle and I walked in, and made ourselves comfortable.

Pitchers of MGD were $9. Daigle bought one, and poured me a nice refreshing glass of that goddamn cheap-ass piss beer.

The bathroom was kinda filthy, but at least it upheld California law by posting this on the paper towel dispenser. It's nice to know they wash their hands...even after breathing.

We hung out there for a while. The bartender's boyfriend brought their little Jack Russell inside, where one of the trannies sitting at the bar with us offered it a weenie stick.

I so love the Tenderloin.

Anyway, Daigle loves the place, and has put in his application for it. Keep your fingers crossed, won't-cha?

Oh, and in response to the several dozen people who emailed me and asked me to post more pictures of myself (which I loathe doing), here's a bone I'm tossing your way:



sunset kayaking on san francisco bay

A few weeks ago, I got an email from my friend Sean, asking me if I'd like to go on a kayaking excursion out on San Francisco Bay. Now, I've lived here almost ten years, and not once have I been kayaking, let alone kayaking on the Bay. Now, I've taken countless ferries and even an ocean liner on the Bay, but this evening, I'll take the plunge.

I plan on paddling to McCovey Cove behind SBC Park to see if I can catch a baseball.

Anyway, it should be fun...it's sponsored by One Brick. Here's their blurb about it:

There isn’t a better way to explore the bay than by kayaking at sunset on a summer evening. The beauty of the natural habitat and the spectacular view of the San Francisco skyline will get your adrenaline going and will make for a pleasing experience for the mind, body and spirit. Expect to see sea lions, seals, pelicans, seagulls and other migrating birds and marine animals. There will be a Giants game on this night so you might even catch a baseball!

Our course will provide us with great views of these San Francisco sights:
  • Bay Bridge
  • Ferry Building
  • Downtown SF
  • Coit Tower
  • Pier 39 sea lion habitat
  • Maritime Museum (submarine, historic ships)
  • Ghirardelli Square (Aquatic Park, turn around point)
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Alcatraz
  • Treasure Island

I'm actually really looking forward to it...but you're crazy if I'm going to bring my camera out on the bay. I'll buy one of those disposable waterproof ones.



jane russell trumps charo any day

If you've been reading other San Francisco blogs lately, you may or may not have heard it's Charo Week here in San Francisco. No, really. It seems our board of supervisors had nothing better to do but make it Charo Week in the City by the Bay. Last night, she judged a Charo look-alike contest at Trannyshack. I was thinking about going to see it, but was actually dreading several things about going to the Stud, the crushing crowds who came to see the "coochie-coochie girl" being only one of them.

Good thing something better -- and definitely more civilized -- came along.

My friend Greg called me and asked if I wanted to accompany him on a roadtrip. Greg knows I love a good roadtrip, and I'll usually drop everything I'm doing to go on an unplanned excursion.

"Hey, I need to drive Jane Russell to her house in Santa Maria on Tuesday. You wanna go with me?"


"Jane Russell."

"The actress?"

"Yeah. She dated Howard Hughes, that's why she refuses to fly and I need to drive her there."

"Um...okay. Sounds like fun."

"It'll be in a 2005 Saab 9-5," Greg informed me. He's a fellow gearhead who is as nutty for things automotive as me.

"Yay. Even better."

"Cool...we'll leave on Tuesday morning."

My plans for Trannyshack quickly evaporated. To be honest, I'm glad something better came up, because there's no way I was going to sit at home while Charo was judging her own look-alike contest.

Greg came and picked me up on Tuesday morning in the silver Saab, and we drove to the Sir Francis Drake hotel on Union Square. Ms. Russell was waiting outside with her cousin; Greg jumped out of the car, I slid over behind the wheel, and pulled it as close to the curb as I could without blocking the cable car. I popped the trunk, luggage was stowed, doors were opened, ladies were assisted into the vehicle, and we were off.

Ms. Russell had an elegant, aristocratic air about her. Even at age 84, she was still beautiful; those trademark cheekbones were still there and her stunning blue-green eyes just sparkled. She was the epitome of the old-school Hollywood diva...cordial, just a bit of attitude, but not too much...an absolute lady. Greg handled most of the small-talk as we made our way through nightmarish traffic (it seems every street in San Francisco is being torn up right now) to 101 southbound, the historic El Camino Real route we'd take all the way to Santa Maria. Ms. Russell (I cannot bring myself to refer to her as "Jane" because she never authorized it...so Ms. Russell it is) was quiet at first, but eventually warmed up a bit. We stopped at an Arco station in Redwood City to refuel, and I asked her if I could get her anything to eat or drink while I was inside the food mart.

"Fritos. I'd love some Fritos," she said.

"Certainly," I replied, and went inside to fetch some. I grabbed a turkey sandwich out of the cooler (which later proved to be a mistake, as I am in utter agony right now as I type this, suffering from food poisoning...ugh) and a bag of Fritos. I returned to the car, handed her the chips, and started chatting a bit as we made our way back to the freeway. Once we were underway, Ms. Russell asked me if it would be okay if she stretched out her legs and rest them on the center armrest, effectively putting her feet about a foot and a half from my face.

Like I was going to tell her no.

So there I am, chatting with this Hollywood diva about just about everything with her feet stretched out into the front seat. We talked a bit about Howard Hughes, and how Leonardo DiCaprio came to her house to talk with her about Howard so he could portray him accurately in The Aviator. She said Howard definitely had a thing for cleanliness, but didn't obsessively repeat himself over and over again, or at least she never saw him do anything like that while they were "involved" if you may.

I asked her what it was like working with Mr. Hughes when she made the movie "Outlaw" back in 1943. She sighed and rolled her eyes.

"He was such a perfectionist. He spent nine months shooting a film that shood have wrapped in less than nine weeks."

Her cousin started talking about her grandson and how he was a vegan ever since he married a british woman who attended San Francisco State University. Ms. Russell was unclear on the concept.

"A what?" she asked.

"A vegan," replied her cousin.

"A veygan?" Jane asked again, not sure what she had just heard.

"No, no, a veeegan."

"What the heck is that?"

"It's someone who doesn't eat meat, or dairy, or eggs."

"Why on earth would anyone not want to eat meat?"

"It's just her thing. She didn't get into a vegan sorority because she used honey, and the sorority said the bees were forced and enslaved to make honey."

"But that's what bees do. What else are they going to do but eat honey?" Ms. Russell was baffled as to why someone would discriminate against someone who eats honey.

"That's what I said. It's ridiculous." Her cousin just shook her head.

Ms. Russell thought for a second, then gave us her final opinion on the whole subject.


Greg and I about died laughing at that one...she proceeded to drop a few more "S" bombs during the trip, but nothing more coarse than that. Like I said, she was an absolute lady.

There wasn't much to listen to on the radio, and I doubt our backseat passengers wanted to listen to anything Greg or I brought for the return trip, so Ms. Russell actually spent a bit of time just singing, giving us an impromptu concert in the Saab. I decided then and there I was quite lucky, and started shaking my head, thinking about how surreal my life gets at times.

Eventually, Ms. Russell's cousin said she was getting hungry, and wanted to go to Taco Bell. Luckily, we were just arriving in Soledad, and we saw the familar Taco Bell logo from the highway. So there I was, sitting in a Taco Bell in freaking Soledad, watching Jane Russell eat a Cheesy Gordita Crunch. She basically inhaled the thing and finished it in less than five minutes.

"Hungry?" I asked her, smiling.

"A bit," she answered, dryly, then smiled at me.

We eventually arrived at her suburban Santa Maria home, a modest dwelling of four bedrooms. I carried her suitcase and garment bag inside, and asked her where I could place them.

"Follow me," she replied, and I followed her into her bedroom. "You can put the suitcase there, and hang the garment bag there, pointing to the enormous walk-in closet. I stepped inside, and marveled at the dozens of hats, pairs of shoes, and gorgeous frocks. I couldn't believe it. I was standing inside Jane Russell's closet.

"Would you like something to drink, honey?" she asked, smiling. "I have some ice tea."

"Yes please," I replied. She walked to the kitchen and poured me a tumbler of tea, topped off with cranberry juice, and then filled a wine goblet with the same beverage for herself.

Gurl, that's what I'm talking about. Drink it with style!

Her house was dramatically decorated, with two deep violet draperies covering one end of the living room windows, and lots of brightly colored fabrics and candles. She, like me, is definitely not afraid of color.

Her cousin asked me if I wanted an autographed glossy of Jane, and of course I said yes. She spread about a dozen different ones on the dining room table. I found a copy of the one I picked on the net:

Ms. Russell smiled at me, and signed it:

"I'd shoot you, Chad, but I'm too tired to get up. Love, Jane Russell"

I vowed to myself to treasure it and frame it as soon as possible. I mean, it's kind of a hot photo.

At one point during my visit, I asked her if I could take her photo, and she said yes. Her eyes danced when she saw me pull my camera out of my bag (it's big, and professional-looking) and we went out onto her patio, where the light was good.

These two are my favorites...you can see she still has every bit of moxie she ever had:

Like I said, Diva to the Core. We were talking about when she did Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Marilyn Monroe. She did a hysterical deadpan Marilyn imitation (which left me in stitches), and said yes, that's the way she really did talk most of the time.

As she showed me her home, I couldn't help but notice tons of old photos everywhere, several of Ronald Reagan in fact. Turns out she's friends with Nancy.

Who knew?

We said our goodbyes, and I shook Ms. Russell's hand, telling how what an extreme pleasure it was to make her acquaintence. Her cousin suddenly said, "Oh go ahead, hug her. She wants to hug you. Then I want one too!" I leaned over and hugged her, and she gave me a strong hug back. She may be 84, but she's definitely not frail.

Pulling away from the house, Greg and I briefly entertained the idea of visiting Neverland Ranch, but after getting lost in a labyrinth-like suburban housing development where all the houses were identically beige, we gave up and headed back to San Francisco, stopping at Denny's in Pismo Beach to eat dinner.

We eventually got back on the road, and at one point, I asked Greg to pose for a photo.

He did.

See, Greg? You should always smile nice. You never know what I'm gonna throw up on the internet. :-)

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