Thursday, September 05, 2002

North Beached 8.27.02

I suppose I should tell you about last Tuesday's trip up from the Montgomery Street BART station, and up the slight grade to the Transamerica Building; then onwards to search the North Beach neighborhood. It was a hot day in San frisky, for once. Hot and almost a little humid. So I was walking in search of a Gatorade and the Coit Tower's views of the city.

I found Larry Flynt's Hustler Club. "Yeah," the extra-sized bouncer told me, his circular girth straining the waist-high desk he sat behind, dressed in a shiny gray suit with matching shiny blue shirt, "Larry comes in here all the time. He comes up from LA all the time." I wondered how they'd wheel Mr. Flynt's fat wheelchaired ass in. I think I did see a ramp, though, on the side, blue-carpeted and lit with strips on the ramp's border.

This club is just up a hill from the main drag on Columbus Avenue, near the City Lights bookstore, near the Transamerica. There are hills, there are directions to the Coit Tower. There is Chinatown a few blocks away. And then there is this block of smut. The Hustler club with a bulb-lit border. Two stores advertise that they sell the full line of Hustler products including all or Tara (or Tera, depending on the day) Patrick's movies.

Around the corner, again, is the City Lights bookstore. Home of the Beat poets. Or something like that. Their favorite bookstore or some malarkey. It is a good bookstore. I stayed away from the beat section-- I've read On the Road and Howl and a lot of the subsequent works subsequently make me want to pull my hair out. But downstairs I perused books until I found Mr. Lee"Scratch" Perry's biography. Which I read for a restful hour.

It was a hot day in San Frisky. And I still couldn't find a corner store. So I got a cappuccino instead. To paraphrase MC Lyte, it was a cafe on the North Beach, downtown, I had a cup of the finest cappuccino around.

Somewhere near where I was the Coit Tower loomed overhead. And I still couldn't figure out how to get there, and it was a hot Gatorade-free day. So I sat in Washington Square on the left coast, smelling a mix of fresh air and freshly mixed B-O. Everyone was sunbathing, I was sitting on aerated grass. Or turds. There were punk kids. Dogs running. Meditators. It was a hot day in San Francisco and I was peaceful.

I found the Coit. It was an anticlimactic hollow pole.

I walked down, gave someone directions. Like I know where I'm going. Walked through Chinatown. Took more pictures that would look like nothing in a week. Walked into a bar that survived the 1906 earthquake. It's called the Saloon and if it wasn't for the local bluesman and cheap beer, I never would have spent any time inside of the bar.

His name was BJ Papa. He plays in various places around Frisky whose names mean about the same to me as Woody Dantzler means to you. But there I am, reading the local news in the Sf Chronicle and trying to get a sense of the city's politics. And the bartender offers me a beer. The bluesman begins talking to me in a soft, weathered voice to match his weathered beard. Of course, we talk about how women are tough, and how men never know what they've got. I'm young but I listen. I have another beer. We talk about NYC and the blues and the Midwest and the music scene in Omaha. Or was it Oklahoma City? Couldn't tell ya.

Props to CJ, Mr. Kara, and Jeff. No props to American Idol. Extra props to Mr. Clute and Eliza for putting me up or putting up with me.

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