Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
The One Band That Always Makes Me Feel Like I'm Heading to the Food Court After Shopping at Chess King and the Wild Pair
Making the Case for No. 22
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Who Was the Greatest Girl Group of Ancient Egypt?
With Tut-mania sweeping San Francisco as the boy king comes to the DeYoung, I recall seeing those relics in Chicago 30 years ago and wonder if the boy king has aged well.
What I don't recall from the previous show is so much discussion of the coffinettes. What exactly is a coffinette? Okay, thanks. I prefer my image of a quartet of dowopping ghouls with beehives.
Memories of Mental Health Past
Thanks to Gavin Elster for leading me to this 1982 employee orientation video for the Camarillo State Hospital that closed more than a decade ago and has since become a university campus.
It's easy to laugh at the huge lapels on the polyester blazers, the monotone delivery and generally inept presentation. But it's also rather fascinating to get a glimpse of mental health history and wonder what happened to the 4,000 plus clients and employees who were watched over by the CEO. His mannerisms remind me of Norman Neal Williams as portrayed in the first installment of the BBC's treatment of Tales of the City.
It's easy to see this man as the villain in some slasher movie telling each of his victims with the same detached, nasal droning voice, "You made me do it. You made me do it." It's a bit disturbing that a CEO would have to refer to a script to describe what his hospital does. Some of the comments for former clients on the YouTube page for this series suggest it was a very traumatic place to live.
Watch and then take a valium.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
There is much to be said for adult education. Today I took a course on the works of Californian architectural pioneer Bernard Maybeck. Like Louis Sullivan who was overshadowed by his apprentice Frank Lloyd Wright, Maybeck is often overshadowed by Julia Morgan, best known for her designs for Hearst Castle. Maybeck's most iconic building may be San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, but some of his truly greatest achievements are in Berkeley, and I was lucky to tour five of them.
The course was taught by Mark Wilson who has already written a book about Morgan and has a new volume on Maybeck scheduled for 2011. He was a deft, knowledgeable instructor, and a great lecture was followed by a walking tour that made a circular route of five masterpieces around and on the UC Berkeley campus.
We started with the Men's Faculty Club on the UC Berkeley Campus.
Next up was the Hillside Club on Cedar, a place I've passed many times. From the street it looks like an unassuming bungalow, but inside is a theater with echoes of Tudor era London and the Globe Theatre.
Then it was a short hop over to the Flagg House, close to several other Maybeck homes, whose owners have preserved the integrity of the master's initial vision.
Up on Maybeck Twin Drive (named after his grand daughters who still live in the area), we got to glimpse at several important homes by Maybeck and his students, including a garage door with ornamentation painted by the master himself.
The grand finale was what many consider to be his greatest achievement, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, where at least five styles converge seamlessly.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Way Out West Side Story
I've been reading The Story of a Marriage in part due to my long standing fascination with San Francisco's western districts, many of which could pass not only for Pasadena or Palo Alto but even Kansas City or Omaha.
So it was nice to discover the Western Neighborhoods Project, with a healthy cadre of stories, photos and links. It's not quite equal to my beloved Bowery Boys, but then neither is the subject matter. Speaking of which, the B-Boys posted a tellingly well-informed post on Julius, that other historic Manhattan bar that pre-dates the Stonewall Inn by a century or so. My memories of it were never terribly quaint. Usually some bridge and tunnel troll would converge and immediately grab my crotch and ask if I had plans.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Roots of Agnosticism
Everyone loves a bitchy old queen, but let's face it -- we love nothing more than a bitchy old queen from Texas.
Rex Reed came into conversations I had at least three times this weekend. Besides his performance in Myra Breckinridge (his resemblance to Raquel Welch is so uncanny it's very confusing when they are in the same frame), we have his reviews to look back on through the years. I wish someone would make a YouTube video of his best lines on the Tonight Show.
His distaste for all things in the Global South and Asia in particular is legend. I remember a Tonight Show appearance where he mentioned flying through Delhi and what he saw out the window appalled him so much that he refused to leave the plane. He turned to Johnny Carson and said, "Mrs. Gahndi is right. Someone needs to just drop a bomb on that place."
More recently after seeing the South Korean film Old Boy, he quipped: "What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi, a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs?"
My favorite quote however, was from a 1977 review in which he said, "If Diane Keaton does not win the Oscar for Looking for Mr. Goodbar, there is no God." Keaton did win the Oscar that year, but for her role in Annie Hall. That probably explain how Rex became an agnostic.
Interactive Wednesday: How Is Your Math?
I was never that fond of Sex in the City, but this week I was watching a Hispanic affairs program on that community's fashion industry. They started comparing the consuming habits of Hispanics and Caucasians and revealed that the latter spend a paltry $800 a year on clothing and former spends a "remarkable" (?...!!!) $1,200 a year on clothing.
Anyone who knows me can attest that I'm usually rather drably and unremarkably dressed on the whole, but is it really true that the majority of Americans -- even in this economy -- spend less than $100 a month on clothing? Am I that damaged by the Carrie Bradshaw legacy that I cannot wrap my mind around that figure? I can't even wrap my mind around it in the year...1979 or something.
Discuss amongst yourselves. I could submit sales receipts of the past four weeks in the meantime.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
What's YOUR Sign?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Back in the Day
Great discovery over on Mission Mission of Look Back Maps that features linked historic photos (such as this one of Valencia Street between 21st and 22nd) and corresponding maps. If you look closely at the above photo, I think that's Omer as a baby playing a ukulele at the spot he has made his permanent post.
40 Years On
If you are coming to San Francisco this summer, it's fine to put a flower in your hair, but avoid Market Street next weekend.
This will be the 40th anniversary of San Francisco's signature corporate sponsorship opportunity. Unfortunately through the years, so many brands and logos have been added, that the true meaning of the event and the big parade has been lost.
In the early years, the main corporate sponsor was Budweiser and it was a chance to trot out the proudly marching clydesdales. There is nothing wrong with having vodka, Versace and shirtless go-go boys, but let's not forget what happened 40 years ago in New York that is being commemorated.
In the wee muggy hours of June 28, 1969, as news broke of Mr. Ed being found dead on the bathroom floor of his rented London apartment, a motley clan of outraged Central Park carriage horses stormed Manhattan's Tavern on the Green and demanded to be seen and heard. Security at the Kentucky Derby was incredibly high that summer, but a new era of equestrian rights was ushered in.
Don't forget that, you wee ones, as you dance shirtless after your tenth Jello shots.
This is a year of several other 40 year anniversaries:
* The word "Woodstock" entered the American vernacular, and a number of obsessive, obese tel-evangelicals speculated about the cohabitation of Snoopy and his new feathered "companion". (They're both boys, you see. And they sleep together.)
* The same weekend, the first Moonwalk took place, and in a rare move, MTV will be showing nothing but music videos the entire month of July.
* In a move that anticipated reality TV (even That's Incredible) by at least 15 years, a frustrated singer song-writer took 1960s happenings to a bloody zenith that spawned countless best sellers, documentaries, late night TV jailhouse interviews and the harrowing Abigail Folger exit line "You can stop now. I'm already dead."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
And How Is Your Monday?
Besides the fact that someone from Lisbon called my cell phone six times between 3:00 and 3:18 a.m. before agreeing with me that they had the wrong number, we are now dealing with the bangs, rattles, shakes and shatters of the PG&E crew wrecking our street this week.
Despite the burly charms the workers may have, they can't justify the noise.
Bow has taken the appropriate strategy of hiding under the pillows and hoping it will just all go away. At least I have a back sitting room to retreat to.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Christmas in June
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Screaming Eyes, Ice Screaming
I make no apologies for having a great love for Eddie Cantor. His 1934 opus Kid Millions tops both versions of Willie Wonka in my book. It's amazing that three strip technocolor looked this amazing in that year, and even more odd to see Ethel Merman looking so young and girlish.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Find the Cost of Freedom
Just got off the phone with cousin Ginger in Royal Oak, Michigan. (She's not been featured here in a while.)
She was at the mall and saw a lot of people wearing "Free Palestine" t-shirts, and she got really excited and rushed to the cosmetics counter at Parisian. They gave her a blank stare when she mentioned Palestine, but they were able to give her a couple of new Sumatran avocado-pomegranate eye creme samples. She ended up buying a .08 ounce vial of Fadeaway Amazonian Botanic Essence Night Magic for $415.
They said they'd heard of Palestine but suggested that she check the cologne counter at Macy's. The clerk was a little confused at first but convinced her that the Estee Lauder gift pack with a free Ralph Lauren Father's Day sampler (a $75 value) was a better deal. She ended up spending over $579 there but appreciated that the t-shirts got her thinking about some essential products that she sometimes overlooks. She also got a great new Malian shea nut butter lip balm and organic multi-bonded nail reinforcers.
Ginger said that you don't always get what you want, but sometimes you're steered in a better direction. It reminded her of the song she used to sing when she was with Up With People "Freedom Isn't Free".
El Otro Ladrón de Basura
Thank you Peter Stuyvesant. Thank you Boss Tweed. Thank you Robert Moses.
Recently, I've been catching up on past podcasts and blogs by the ever endearing Bowery Boys. Turns out their most recent discovery was the final resting place of Montgomery Clift near my old stomping ground of Park Slope.
The image of Nancy Walker planting 2,000 crocuses around the headstone is a great way to start my week.
If you don't already subscribe to their podcast on iTunes, go there now!
Friday, June 05, 2009
Science Friday's Question
If they can do valve replacement from pigs, repair the Hubble Telescope, separate conjoined twins and retrofit Joan Rivers' face, why can't they do an eye exam without dilating the eyes?
At least I came out with a clean bill of visual health that will help me with the expenses for the dental work that begins next week. My bugged out eyes gave me much more street cred with all the druggies on Mission and along 24th this afternoon.