June 2008

At Sea

To lighten the tone, another solstice pic:


And a little tale from my career in the limo business in the early eighties.

A fairly frequent job was to pick up a couple and their tons of luggage at Pier 35 upon their return from a West Coast cruise, and they were normally very mellow and upbeat after the cruise.

One time, though, while we were waiting for the luggage to be unloaded, I noticed that all the men seemed rather subdued and even a bit gloomy. Finally, the reason for the solemnity emerged.

It seems that one of the passengers had died of a heart attack during the cruise. Considering the age of the typical passenger, this was not an especially unusual event, but what made it noteworthy was that the guy had had his attack in the wrong room.

That was bad enough, but what cast a serious pall over the remainder of the voyage for most of the men was that even though the chaplain, the captain, and the other officers all tried to talk the grieving widow out of it, she knew the law and insisted on a burial at sea.

Yeah, crab food.

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Gay Hate Weekend

It’s Gay Pride Weekend, and the city is jumping. The streets, especially in this neighborhood, are literally thronged with gays from all over the world who are here, as usual this time of year, having fun on our national gay high holiday. Of course, this year some of them are also taking advantage of their new opportunity to marry.

I was coming up Market Street this afternoon on the Segway and fell in behind a packed F-Market streetcar, hanging out of the back of which were a couple of young women, clearly tourists, laughing and photographing the sights. We exchanged greetings and when I let the streetcar run interference for me as we turned left onto Noe, they added my photo to their collection.

I just love it that here, in this island of freedom and tolerance, we can have a parade and even decorate the side of Twin Peaks with a pink triangle this time every year, to help us remember the gays slaughtered by the Nazis.

pink triangle

This delights my warm brotherly old heart until I realize that well, tomorrow morning while the joyous parade is coming up Market Street, our loving Catholic leaders will be denouncing us as “objectively disordered grave threats to the family” from their tax-exempt, gold-encrusted pulpits. And our kindly Mormon leaders will be gathering tax-free funds to mount advertising campaigns against whatever euphemism they use for us filthy faggots. And except for the Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ, all the other Christian denominations join in the grand lie about how much they love us while legislating against us.

Oh please, say what you will about the Reverend Phelps, but the evil scumbag is at least honest enough to proclaim that God Hates Fags, singing lustily:

Jesus loves me more than you,

For the Bible says it’s true.

I know a good many Christians, and just as most of them see nothing wrong with moderate alcohol consumption even though their churches mandate complete abstention, they are also kind and decent people who don’t believe the message of hate against me that their churches preach. I love them for not buying into that and I celebrate their tolerance.

What I cannot celebrate, though, are the gay Christians. To me, being a gay Christian seems at best to be kissing the boot that kicks you, and often far worse than that. I look at the gay Catholic church in my neighborhood, and I see a bunch of gays who thanks to security in numbers in the safety of San Francisco are somehow protected against the discipline of their church. They worship in a renegade congregation that allows them to take communion as unrepentant practicing homosexuals, so long as they support in all other ways the church that persecutes them.

I picture a remote Bavarian village during the Third Reich where by chance the town leaders were gay and didn’t arrest fellow homosexuals, but rather led quiet lives as good Nazis, supporting Hitler’s “final solution” for the Jewish Problem.

Just as the Nazis slaughtered millions of Jews, the contemporary Catholic Church condemns millions of third world poor to deaths of AIDS by actively blocking their access to condoms, running up a death toll that will ultimately surpass Hitler’s. In both cases, underground gays support the evil practices of an institution that despises them.

And hey, if somebody thinks I’m coming down too hard on the Mormons and Catholics, I’m acutely aware that the Orthodox Jews, Hindus, Confucians, and Eastern Orthodox (and doubtless others I don’t know about) treat gays even worse … and the Moslems are in a category by themselves.

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The Segwayer and the Cop

The solstice this year coincided with some hot weather and clear skies, so I was able to use this narrow window of opportunity to get some pics of illuminated northern facades.



Meanwhile, More Adventures of Matte Gray, Senior Segwayer:

This morning I encountered at the intersection of Noe and 18th Streets a San Francisco motorcycle cop who nurses a narrow and ungenerous definition of the word, “STOP.”

After he chased me down, not too hard when the miscreant is on a vehicle with a top speed of 12MPH, we had a discussion about how he’d seen me before, which is unsurprising since it’s pretty hard to hide on a Segway. Then he clarified that what he’d been seeing was some rather incomplete stops, but that this last one was too blatant to ignore.

After some discussion, we agreed that I might mend my ways without the necessity of a ticket….this time. Since then I’ve developed a technique in which I whip my body forward as the Segway wheels stop so that my momentum catapults me off the line and I return to full speed in an instant.

The letter of the law, that’s me.

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City Hall

Today I sat for six hours on a hard bench at City Hall, waiting to make sure my testimony would not be needed to preserve the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, but I left after I discovered that hundreds of people were gathered outside the packed hearing room clamoring to be allowed to voice their support for the market.

It seems that some clueless underling on Mayor Newsom’s staff had come up with the idea of taking control of the market from the non-profit group that had successfully run it for 27 years, and then through an undefined process turning it into a source of revenue for the city.

Squealing ensued. The San Francisco Chronicle ran two editorials opposing the takeover, making a case for saving one conveniently located market where people can buy healthy food at reasonable prices.

Letters to the editor pointed out that the price of food is increasing dramatically, and that prices at the farmers’ markets will of necessity be rising as the prices of fuel and fertilizer skyrocket.

Others observed that using this market as a revenue center for the city would be equivalent to forcing SF General Hospital to turn a profit.

Singed in the firestorm, Mayor Newsom withdrew his support for the proposal this morning, but even so, hundreds of us showed up to make sure it didn’t go through.

At some point, all decency forces us to show some compassion. Well, some of us, anyhow.

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Cherry Harvest

I just returned from a couple of days of great fun with Gloria up in Santa Rosa. Her aged cherry tree was just groaning under the load of fruit this year, so I moved a ladder around up in it and picked cherries for two days.

We took a break in the late afternoon yesterday to go out to the Santa Rosa Market, and I found it just delightful. It’s located at the main square downtown and is a combination of a farmers’ market and a street fair with all kinds of vendors selling street food. Really great vibes there, and huge numbers of teenagers socializing and families eating street snacks and some quite good produce from the farmers.

I was a bit taken aback, though, as we walked into the main entrance through an area where there were people pushing various political and religious agendas. Not that I was offended by folks espousing their views, but rather that the city had restricted this activity to an area identified with banners as the “Free Speech Zone.”

Made me feel real old, as I recall the previous century when we thought of the whole country as a free speech zone. But that was before we got so afraid of everything that we let the government take back all those unnecessary rights, allow us speak out only in defined areas, and put protesters in pens out of sight and hearing of those being protested against.

Ate a sweet nectarine, though, and forgot all about my former freedoms.

The inflorescence on this trip was that one of Gloria’s cacti (a Gymnocalycium?) had four big buds in the morning, and I thought if I got lucky I might see a couple of ’em open up.

I was wrong:


The other great garden news is that her poha is covered with ripening fruit:

Physalis peruviana

The campesinos were back at work this morning, and I staggered home with something like seventeen pounds of cherries plus a couple of big bags of lemons. Gloria’s so on top of it that she refrigerated as many cherries as we could get into her refrigerator as soon as they were picked, so I don’t have to be in a panic rush to make jams with them. Since it’s got good reviews, I’ll be making batches of various Cherry preserves.

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A sight on the way to the retinologist:

yellow bay window

This morning I whined to my friend Jim about having to see my retinologist this afternoon.

He got back to me that I should be grateful to be able to see her.

And I am.

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