Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Capitalist Pig @ 8th & Market, Tuesday, 26 June 2012

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Good Evening:

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You call it strange, we call it Tuesday, everyone calls it San Francisco.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–This was part of a protest against Chase, which has a branch at 8th & Market.

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade of 2012

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Good Evening:

If you want to go undercover and pretend you’re a San Franciscan, here are the four absolutely positively most important words you can know: “It’s gotten so touristy.”

We use that phrase to describe almost anything, from the Haight Street Fair to North Beach, from SOMA to the now-defunct Exotic-Erotic Ball. Whether it’s appropriate or not is beside the point.

San Francisco’s annual Pride Parade (once the Gay Pride Parade, then the Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade, then the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Pride Parade, then the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade, and finally the LGBT Pride Parade [and how did the L sneak in front of the G?]) might seem like a case in point, but in this case the point is that “touristy” is a good thing. It’s mainstream. It’s part of Americana. Consider the legendary Dykes on Bikes motorcycle procession. I know a lot of women who have ridden with the D.O.B., and not one of them is gay. Trust me, I know.

Indeed, I believe the majority of spectators along the parade route are NOTAs like me (None of the Above). The heterosexual women were easy to spot: they were the ones who kept posing with the nude gay men. Here are a few random selections from the roughly 300 shots I took on Sunday. I don’t think I took any pictures of nude people (the tourists took care of that for me); if any inappropriate flesh appears, it’s an accident and I apologize. For all of these photos I used my Nikon D40, and almost all of them have had no editing, except to lighten shadows in a few places.

Also, you will see some strong language. Parents, be warned.

Going to the 2012 Pride Parade. They were probably both male, but they were both definitely themselves.

These balloon costumes were very popular this year.

A frequent sight: tourists taking pictures of themselves or their family members posing with participants in the parade.

I suspect there are people who would not enjoy learning that many Americans don’t mind taking pictures of their daughters posing with adult gay men.

“Just Married” 2012 Pride Parade, Nikon D40 DSLR

Here’s one place to get a good view of the festivities.

I used to be a chess master, so I get it; nothing is more important than a good game.

But no matter how intense the parade or the chess game, you still had to eat.

Two of the Balloon Women Eating Lunch: perhaps my favorite photo of the parade.

A lot of vendors, almost all Hispanic women, enjoyed excellent sales of–believe it or not–bacon-wrapped hot dogs:

My Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog, with Mustard and Onions

Some more pictures, more or less random:

The Hug Lady. I have seen her at many public gatherings.

Some of the non-nude gay men were also happy to pose for pictures.

Sidewalk Vendors at 8th & Market during the 2012 Pride Parade

Snippet overheard at the Civic Center BART. A Caucasian male in his early 20’s is reporting a crime to two police officers: “And then the guy hit me in the face, hit me in the face, and then he realized that my girlfriend is my girlfriend, and he said ‘Oh, s—!’ and he ran away.”

And that brings me to another tradition at the LGBT: homophobia. The number of anti-gay protestors was way down this year, if what I’ve heard about past years was true. In fact, all I saw were a few street preachers on Market Street near the cable car turnaround and one lone gentleman with a small footstool. One of the gay celebrators seemed to feel sorry for this man because no one paid attention to him:

Feeling the Love, Literally, at Market & Stockton During the LGBT Parade

The other street preacher had a better setup, including banners and assistants/bodyguards, not to mention a more powerful bullhorn. He also wore a bright orange top, which helped him stand out. The messages on the banners were really strange; they seemed benevolent on one side, but the other sides were a little uglier.

I honestly don’t know if he wanted to convert or to provoke. And there was little point in asking: whatever answer he gave would probably be incorrect. One woman had her own priorities and created a sign with her response.

I Would Rather Burn in Hell with My Two Moms than Spend an Eternity with These Guys and Their God. 24 June 2012

Needless to say, he succeeded in drawing a big crowd in a big way. He wanted this: he wanted to draw attention to either himself or his message or both (doesn’t matter which one). However, succeeding in drawing a big crowd in San Francisco has its disadvantages. For one thing, San Franciscans love, no, we absolutely positively adore improv street theater. For another thing, one young person, male or female or both (doesn’t matter which one) did not just absolutely positively adore improv street theater, this person absolutely positively adored creating it.

“Christian + Gay = OK!” 24 June 2012

The street preacher kinda sorta lost the crowd’s attention by this time.

On my way home I walked past the Lower Haight’s famous Mad Dog in the Fog, one of America’s greatest soccer bars, just as England-Italy were deciding their Euro 2012 quarterfinal soccer game via penalty kicks.

Spectators React as Italian Goalkeeper Makes Key Save During Penalties v. England, Euro 2012

Overall, a very good day for people watching and photography and bacon-wrapped pork sausages. Perhaps not a good day for your heart.

As I have written earlier, I like the idea that San Francisco’s Pride Parade has become conventional, accepted, a part of Americana, normal. I like the fact that it has become a celebration for all Americans, including a NOTA like me. Pride Day is slowly but surely becoming a day for all Americans, celebrated by all Americans. Not yet, of course, not now, of course, but it will happen. I would err, however, if I neglected to mention that some people disagree. And you would be surprised who those people are. The day after the parade, I walked down Market Street to another meeting of another one of my theater groups when I espied these signs:

Assimilation = Death! Photographed using my Nikon CoolPix S9100 on Monday, 25 June 2012.

This is San Francisco: walk 10 feet in any direction and you will find someone who will disagree with you on anything.

Vonn Scott Bair

A Music Education on the Job

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Good Evening:

My workplace is a bad place for a diet. I bear some of the responsibility; my co-workers treat my homemade cookies the same way dolphins treat a bait ball of herring. However, on Monday it was the managers’ turn, as they treated their loyal minions and underlings to a catered lunch as a thank-you for our efforts on recent projects. I contributed my iPhone to the festivities, picking my playlist “Masterpieces of Rock and Soul” and using the (frankly, unsatisfactory) speakers of the cell phone.

I admit that “Masterpieces of Rock and Soul” is a pretentious title, but I believe that the songs on the list either are or deserve to be remembered as examples of rock or soul at their finest. But others might consider my choices as controversial (“Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton, not Elvis Presley) or obscure (“Nothing but a Heartache” by The Flirtations) or too-soon-to-tell (“American Idiot” by Green Day) or much-too-cliched (“Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry) or not present (no Eagles?! No Fleetwood Mac?! No Michael Jackson???). But it seems that most of my Masterpieces fall under the category of Forgotten or Never Heard by Everyone I Know.

Starting with the co-worker who sits next to me.

“Hey, who was that?”

Louis Jordan and His Timpani Five, ‘Let the Good Times Roll.'”

“Now what’s this next song?”

“Norman Greenbaum, ‘Spirit in the Sky.'”

“Man this is good stuff, but how old is this music, anyway?!”

“Well, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ is more than twice as old as you are.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how much of my collection was familiar to him. He is not too much of a music fan, so this was a bit of a challenge. He didn’t recognize “You Got the Love” by Florence + The Machine, one of my Too-Soon-To-Tells. I can’t blame him for not recognizing Sister Rosetta Tharpe (“Strange Things Happening Every Day,” a classic proto-rock song), but he didn’t even recognize “Back in the USSR” by The Beatles. Yes, indeed; The Beatles! However, he did recognize the Reverend Richard Wayne Penniman: “Are you kidding?! Of course I know Little Richard! He was on Full House!

The Internet has been a good thing for musical explorers. I can’t remember how/when I first blundered in the music of Mali, an African nation which is a powerhouse in the music world right now, but any day with a kora is a good day. However, I know almost nothing of rap and hip-hop. Back in the Sixties, which saw an explosion of musical styles in the United States, you could still count on people to have common ground; i.e., everyone who listened to music seriously would have The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Miles Davis and a lot of Motown in their collections. Today, I have the impression that people specialize in only one or two genres and use the Net to explore only the music that they want to like, and ignore everything else. I think we’re missing out on something here, some kind of shared experience. Can we really communicate on common ground when we haven’t listened to a common sound?

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–If nothing else, someone please tell me I’m not the only person in the ether of the Internet who remembers Wynonie Harris!

The Smead(r) A – Z Alphabetic Guide Set 6″ x 4″

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Good Evening:

Today, I found the above item in a bin full of old stationery supplies that my department is dumping/donating in preparation for our move to a new office building. I’m rather curious; how many of you know what the Smead(r) A – Z Alphabetic Guide Set 6″ x 4″ might be?

It’s a set of plastic-coated cards with tabs (one for A, one for B, et cetera) that people used to stick into their index card files to organize their index cards–and that’s three references to obsolete office technology in one sentence. Nowadays, we keep that sort of information in our digital address books, databases, spreadsheets, et alia. I hadn’t seen a Smead(r) A – Z Alphabetic Guide Set 6″ x 4″ in over a decade until today.

How our lives changed without our noticing the changes until years after the changes have already occurred. About 12 years ago, I temped at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission for a few weeks. One of my co-workers was a recently hired man in his early 20’s from Colombia who had a gift & passion for men’s fashion. Managers and vice-presidents would walk into the office, look at him, look at themselves, and shake their heads in despair. Of course, he needed a tour of the premises when he started his job, so the office manager, a white-haired woman who looked she used to play rugby, showed him around the place.

He stopped and stared at one object in the most distant and little-used corner of the office. He tilted his head to the left once, then to the right once.

“Is that a typewriter?”

The office manager said, “Yes.”

He tilted his head to the left once, then to the right once, then to the left once more, then to the right once more.

“How do you operate it?”

Feeling Just a Little Bit Older, I Remain,

Yours Truly,

Vonn Scott Bair

So Awfully Naughty for So Awfully Young on the 22-Fillmore

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Suze Orman on the Bus, 7/15/2007, Nikon Coolpix 4300

Good Afternoon:

So yours truly the modern-day intrepid caveman was returning home on the 22-Fillmore bus from his hunt, having bagged his prey (buffalo-milk Brie, celery, carrots, et cetera; cavemen ain’t what they used to be), and yours truly the intrepid hunter had intrepidly bagged a seat in the second-to-last row. The last row of most Muni buses have five seats, and these five seats held five children and their under-30 Hispanic-American mother (remember whan a less-than-30-years-old mom with five kids was not astonishing?). Mom had just finished nursing her infant (yes, in public, and yes, on the bus), and four of the five rugrats were calm and well-behaved.

The fifth one was the problem. I estimate his age at 3 or 4, and he sat by the window on the right side of the bus. He frequently pulled himself up as close to the opening in the window as possible and yell, no he would scream, no he would positively SCREECH!!! the same word, over and over, at the woman walking on the sidewalk.

The word he kept screeching? “PUTA!!!”

When I was his age, I didn’t know such a word existed. When I’m at my age, I don’t use such language at all.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Actually, I do swear sometimes; when I’m acting and the script calls for such language. Otherwise, no.

PPS–And sometimes, the characters in my fiction and scripts will swear, but only if they must. Otherwise, no.

PPPS–His mother did try to stop him, but never succeeded, and I have an ugly feeling this ugly-mouthed boy will become an ugly-minded man.

The Art of Barter on the 71-Noriega on a Thursday Evening

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Good Evening:

So I was heading home on the 71-Noriega at 9:30 p.m. after a meeting of one of my theater groups when a young Hispanic couple in their early 20s hopped on board and ended up standing near me. They did what every young couple in love has a moral obligation to do in public and started necking on the bus. That’s one of the rules governing being young and in love: young lovers must kiss in public. Look it up. I obeyed the rule when I was young and you probably did, too.

However, the necking didn’t last too long, a clear violation of those same rules: after all, being young and in love is a spectator sport. They broke apart and stood side by side. He said that it just wasn’t the same when you’re starving, and his ladyfriend agreed, adding that they never should have smoked those two joints, now they’ve got those marijuana hunger pangs and there’s no food at her place.

At this moment, an African-American male of about the same age, but shorter than the other two, snuck on board via the back door without paying his fare. He carried 3 1-pound Hershey’s White Chocolate Bars and a single 1-pound Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. Turns out that he happened to be a friend of the couple, so he fist-bumped the young male lover and air-kissed the young female lover.

The young male lover asked, “What are you doing with those bars?”

“Oh, I ‘lifted them from the Walgreen’s.”

“Really?”

The young lady pulled her young man’s head to her lips and whispered into his left ear. He whispered to their friend with the stolen chocolate. They looked around quickly to ensure no one was looking, somehow missed me staring at them from three feet away, and made the trade: a single 1-pound Hershey’s White Chocolate Bar in exchange for the butt ends of two joints. The chocolate thief disembarked immediately, whilst the young couple did not wait for another second before tearing off the wrapper and noshing away. And that is the Art of Barter on the 71-Noriega on a Thursday evening.

Vonn Scott Bair