September 2007

Another One

Another one the cowards wouldn’t print: 


According to news reports last week, nothing was done to the huge majority of the audience that howled in derision when Iranian President Ahmadinejad declared that there were no gays in Iran, but in the same week audience members were forcibly removed when they verbally protested over Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Pace’s reiteration of his previous statements that gay behavior….anywhere, not just in the military…should not be condoned. 

What this tells me is that it’s OK in this country to speak out against bigotry when it’s Islamic but not when it’s Christian. 

Your faithful subscriber, 

Matte Gray

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


This noon I got to listen to Stephen Pinker deliver one of the most enjoyable lectures I’ve heard in years thanks to blessed Sybil for 1) letting me know about this up-coming event at the Mechanics’ Institute Library, 2) making sure I’d got my reservation in correctly, and 3) calling me up this morning to make sure I knew what time it was and warning me to get there early because it was gonna be jam packed.

So much fun. Pinker was just hanging out up front doing nothing before the lecture, so I went up and told him I might be the only person on the planet whose favorite of all his books was Words and Rules. He laughed (incidentally showing that he is far handsomer than the book jacket photos reveal) and said it was actually his favorite, too, which may have just been PR but it sure worked.

The lecture was fascinating, and even though I of course recall little of it now, I was able to follow all of it at the time. Better yet, when he was talking about the mental functionality of swearing, he brought up the case of U2’s Bono saying on live national television that something was “fucking brilliant” and right-wing congressmen being so outraged over the court ruling that the network couldn’t be prosecuted that the House passed HR 3687, the Clean Airwaves Act that actually listed words like “fuck” that were to be forbidden, not to mention saying that derivatives of these words including adjectives, gerunds, etc. but alas omitting adverbs, which “fucking” as used by Bono was.

All this gave me a flashback to Gore Vidal’s introduction to Myra Breckenridge, in which he lamented a then-recent Supreme Court decision declaring that certain words were, in and of themselves, obscene. The obvious solution to this problem, Vidal declared, was to substitute the names of the Justices for the nine most common obscene words whenever they had appeared in his book, thus avoiding any possible obscenity.

He concluded his introduction with the observation that he hoped that this would once and for all solve the problem since there had been by then entirely too much Burgering around with the language. (For those who are not history buffs, Burger was then the chief justice.)

It occurred to me that Pinker might be just young enough and such a serious scholar that he might not have read Myra Breckenridge. And luckily, as I was getting him to sign my copy of his latest book, The Stuff of Thought, which I had just purchased from a great stack oddly enough available on a convenient table, I had a chance to mention the Vidal coup.

He didn’t know it.

How utterly wonderful. After years of feasting on the works of this brilliant scholar, I was able to toss a crumb back.

Oh, and I just recalled one other point in the lecture. Pinker mentioned that when Norman Mailer wrote The Naked and the Dead in 1948, he had to substitute “fug” for “fuck” to get it published. The novel was an immediate commercial and literary success, and when Dorothy Parker met Mailer, she remarked, “So you’re the man who doesn’t know how to spell “fuck.”

Here’s an interesting paint job on Duboce:

blue on Duboce

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Well, the fifteen-year-old Braun died last week, and what with all my anti-consumerist talk I’ve been boiling water on the stove and then dribbling it over the ground coffee in its filter balanced precariously atop a wide-mouthed jar that was the only thing in the house that would hold it right. Which has got tedious.

And yes, I went online and found all these bargains but couldn’t really tell what they were like.

So this morning since I had to go to Walgreen’s to get some meds, I dropped in next door at this yuppie high-end kitchen supply place with the intent of kicking me some tires, which turned out to take less kicking than anticipated since they carried only one coffee maker, their focus not being on appliances. It was the Cuisinart model DCC1200, which has got more switches on it than a 747 cockpit.

But of course being a careful shopper I knew that even though it was love at first sight, it wouldn’t do to just consummate the relationship immediately, so I told the nice girl I’d think about it.

So I came back here and messed around here for a couple of hours not making the marmalade out of those very, very bitter little oranges that Carol gave me and which have been growing old while taking up half a whole shelf in my refrigerator.

And then I thought that since it was such a gorgeous afternoon I could hop on the Segway and run down to take another look at that Cuisinart. And might as well throw a piece of heavy cord in my pack in case I needed to lash anything to the Segway handlebars.

And when I go in the nice girl asks, “Will that be cash or charge?” and we laugh while she gets a boxed one out of the storeroom and the owner wrings his hands with pleasure over the sale.

I get out to the curb and rig a sling to hold it onto the Segway so that I can take it home like a hunter with a deer strapped onto the car. And when I get it home and claw it out of the packaging I see that it’s a good-size buck, too, with a footprint worthy of the granite countertops of a McMansion.

And then I lose myself in the instruction manual. Such a well-thought-out machine with a luscious redundancy of features, like for example its triple-level filtering. Yes, there’s a little filter between the water reservoir and the heating element for those whose water is not up the standard set by Hetch Hetchy, and then there’s a metal “gold tone” filter, whatever that means, and then you are encouraged to use paper filters inside the gold tone filter.

And there’s a little light that comes on to tell you when you need to activate the decalcification routine.

And we won’t even get into all the things you can program it for, like the hotplate temperature and how long it stays on after the coffee is brewed.

And now I’ve flipped all its switches and run the preliminary cleaning cycle and ground some Sumatran from Spike’s and brewed a trial batch, I’m drinking my first cup and see that with a machine of this quality I’m going to need to start buying my beans from Ritual Roastery down on Valencia, they being tastier and costing only about half again as much.

I think this is what they call a hidden cost.

A Market Street fire escape I like:

fire escape

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Unique Occurrence

I’m reading the current The Threepenny Review and get to the letters and there’s this one that’s especially sensible and that I’m particularly enjoying until I reach the end and see it’s from this San Francisco person named Matte Gray.

My mind is now a piece of overripe brie, but at least I’m consistent.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment