October 2010


OK, back to funny stuff.

Ahhh, sometimes things fall into place. In the early 1970’s i was visiting my friend Dick in Albuquerque and my eye alit on a pile of printed instructions made by one of his colleagues (or a student, and my shame over not writing down the name of the artist is enormous).


I looked closer, saw they’d been printed on gummed paper, and howled with such delight and enthusiasm that the artist really had no choice but to give me a copy. Well hell, i was practically kissing his toes. And then the question of where to glue it up arose, so i tucked it away in a folder…where it sat for nearly forty years while i considered my options. I mean, the thing is too wonderful to squander anywhere but a place where it could remain for some time entertaining multitudes.

Which is where it is now.

A little backstory: In 2002 the Real Food Company was acquired by a Salt Lake City company called Nutraceutical. In 2003 the employees of the 24th Street store in San Francisco, having developed an appreciation for the management practices of their cruel new Mormon overlords, decided to unionize. Neutraceutical immediately (and with no notice to the employees, the city, or even the owner of the building) closed the store “for remodeling”. The employees took the case to the NLRB and won in 2005, with the store still shuttered and no progress made on the “remodeling”.

The hearing brought out some really ugly information, among it being that the Mormons just padlocked the store and left the perishables to rot rather than having the decency to donate them to a food bank or something. The store has remained closed ever since as a monument to Mormon mendacity.

So i segwayed down this afternoon and glued HOW TO REMOVE to their window.


I have to admit that i felt so deliciously anarchistic that i experienced an adrenaline rush when i glued that up.

I mean, how much time will i do for second degree bill posting? First offense.

I’m gonna drift by there tomorrow to see if it has elicited a visible reaction.

LATE NOTE: OK, a day or two later i signed it “Matte Gray in SF” and got myself in the pic better so as to provide an additional piece of evidence. I envision Mormon elders sitting around a table drafting their fatwa in case i’m not indicted by civil authorities.

But the best part was when i put my camera down and saw my friend Carol walking toward me. We were both delighted by the chance encounter and i pointed out HOW TO REMOVE to her. She read it, burst into laughter, and was rewarded for her good taste and sense of humor with a cup of hot chocolate at Bernie’s across the street.

Now i know that at least one person besides myself has got a thrill outta this thing.

Later Note: Went down there on election day and discovered that HOW TO REMOVE had been scraped off, but you can still see traces of the glue to your left of the vandal’s reflected head:


Why so soon? Well, if you peer inside the building, you’ll see that it looks like work is being done inside the building. Maybe something is about to happen after eight years of Mormon tough love. Hmmm, less than a week after i’d glued HOW TO REMOVE up.


You be the judge.

Late Note: No, work was no being done. I just hadn’t looked inside in years.

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It Gets Better

Enough of the froth and humor for a moment while i throw in a serious item here. In recent weeks there has been an outbreak in this country of suicides by teenagers who were bullied in their schools either because they were gay or were perceived to be. In the great majority of the cases, the schools actively resisted accepting any responsibility for protecting the kids, even in cases in which the parents pressed for help.

Of course gay teenage suicides are nothing new. Decades ago after i’d understood that i was gay but being brainwashed by the church still hated the very idea and had not committed the sin, i realized that probably what drove most teenage suicides was that the kid was gay and couldn’t face the hatred of his society…and himself. Easy enough to understand since i was so depressed and suicidal myself.

The recent rash of suicides, though, differed from those in the Good Old Days when routinely the kid would never have even told anyone about his being gay, and if he mentioned it in a suicide note the grieving parents’ first action would have been to destroy the note. Today, at least the issue is recognized.

Dan Savage, an out gay man whose fan base is overwhelmingly straight, is probably the finest sex-advice columnist in this country, and he was so moved by the suicide epidemic that he made a video titled “It Gets Better” that went viral and has sparked an outpouring of videos and statements encouraging teenagers to hang on and put up with the bullying because life will get better and better as soon as they get out of high school.

Note: That link above to “It Gets Better” rolls over to a website on which thousands of people, all gays in the beginning but now also famous straight actors and personalities plus a number of prominent Democrats up to and including the President, have added their own short videos testifying as to how life will get better.

And yes, in the past decades it has got better, enormously better, for gays; but also folks are still getting bullied. And why is that? I ask.

The elephant in the room here, that nobody, in all these videos and tv programs and blogs i’ve been seeing recently has pointed out, is that so long as the Christian churches continue to teach that gays are an evil menace to society, so long as the Christian churches continue to mount mendacious multimillion dollar anti-gay advertising campaigns, so long as the Christian churches support right-wing politicians pushing anti-gay agendas, bullies will have the perfect excuse….that they are just doing God’s will.

The only thing that gives me any hope is that in a number of cases, the grieving parents of children who’ve been driven to suicide have thought deeply about their church doctrine and come to the conclusion that their churches are full of shit, at least on this subject, and that no matter what the fucking priests and ministers say, Jesus did not want their kids to be persecuted to their deaths.

And here’s a link to a column Dan wrote a couple of days ago that addresses the elephant i mentioned above: Dan Savage. Actually in the past few days, many people are pointing out that the underlying cause of all this hate is the teachings and propaganda of the Christian churches. (And yes, i do concede that at least for the time being, three Christian denominations have stopped persecuting gays. Yes, only three out of the thousands of them. May the kindness of those three continue.)

And God forgive me, but i cropped.  First time in several years, i promise.

And God forgive me, but i cropped. First time in several years, i promise.

How about some beauty for a change. It’s at Harrison and 20th St.:

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Humphry Slocombe

This afternoon i rode down to Arizmende and picked up a plain sourdough baguette and then went down 24th Street all the way to Harrison so i could try the ice cream at Humphry Slocumbe at Mark’s recommendation.

balmyJust before i got to Harrison, though, i was seduced into the murals of Balmy Alley.

In Humphry Slocombe, i agonized over the menu and then settled on the Boccalone Prosciutto. The first bite was wonderful, “Ooo Mommie” i squealed. But by the time i’d finished the scoop i was wishing i’d listened to Mark and had the Ancho Chocolate….or maybe stopped at Lucca Deli on Valencia and had a prosciutto sandwich.

Still, i have to go back until they have the foie gras flavor.

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I live for these aha moments. I had suggested to my friend Anneke that during a planned shopping trip to Rotterdam she take a few minutes to look at some of the spectacular bridges there, including Calatrava’s astonishing Erasmusbrug. I’d mentioned that i was, at least as far as art was concerned, a cultuurbarbaar (culture barbarian, a word she’d just taught me), but that i had an abiding love for bridges, as the numerous photos of them on this site suggests.

And then it struck me. I grew up in the pancake-flat semi-desert of west Texas, where you could wade across all the rivers unless there’d been a recent rain upstream. Most of the bridges out there were simply a roadbed over a couple of concrete culverts, and the others were low, flat, and utterly uninteresting.

Since most of our streams were intermittent, we sometimes did without bridges by paving the roadway through the streambed and erecting in the middle of the channel a post with intervals of one foot marked on it as a depth gauge. If more than a few inches were flowing, you just waited until the level subsided or you came back later. This did not normally require a lot of patience.

low waterHere’s one at the edge of the campus of Midland College, where i taught in my misspent youth before it had a campus.

No wonder i’m fascinated by bridges: I grew up starved for the sight of them. I mean, would you rather feast your eyes on the above or the Erasmusbrug?

And yes, i’m even more of a cultuurbarbaar than i realized, as the Erasmus bridge is by Ben van Berkel rather than Calatrava. I was misinformed. The Internet is a rich source of information, and some of it is just flat wrong.

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Mark Scoop

I am enormously pleased to announce a scoop…and of my friend Mark, which makes it even sweeter since he continues to astonish me with his indefatigable coverage of San Francisco eateries, often apparently minutes after they’ve opened their doors for the first time. I highly recommend his blog MUS E YUM, which is not limited to food but also includes fine photography and excellent social commentary.

But i’m not writing to praise him but rather to crow over having, for once and doubtless the last time, scooped the fucker.

And to be fair, i didn’t do it by myself. The instigator was my friend Sue who some time ago had told me about her favorite bakery, which of course i immediately forgot the name of since it was way off across town. But then a couple of weeks ago she told me about the place again, mentioning that they would soon have a second location on Valencia off 24th Street.

Sure enough there was an “Opening Soon” sign, and my excitement mounted when i realized that just maybe if i kept swinging by there i could catch their first day of business and beat Mark to them.

And now i’m typing this as fast as i can because it’s even better than i’d dreamed possible. When i went there a few minutes ago the door was open but blocked by racks full of bread and pastries, and as an opening gesture they were giving away anything you wanted…well, one per customer. See, they have to do repeated tests of their new ovens.

I picked the seeded baguette. It was sourdough and superb, and Something Happened to several inches of it on the way home.

They expect opening day to be 13 October. It’s Arizmendi, 1268 Valencia @ 24th Street.

Tell ’em Matte sent you.

Late Note: Since my initial visit i’ve had the pecan roll, which was divine, and the “chocolate thing”, which was rather a disappointment even though nothing was actually wrong with it. On the other hand, both Sue and Mark agree that they’ve never eaten a better seeded sourdough baguette…and here in San Francisco, that’s saying a lot.

Later Note: Went by there on the morning of the 12th with a jar of Carol’s Little Bitter Orange Marmalade for them. They’ve finished the tests of the ovens and are no longer passing out free stuff, but i walked into the back and handed ’em the jar saying that i didn’t want it to be all take and no give on my part. They got a kick outta that idea, and even though they wouldn’t take a tip the other day, they did take the marmalade. I just love giving nice people stuff when they least expect it.

norfolkCouldn’t get a decent shot of the damn baked goods, so this’ll have to do:

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