Tuesday, May 10, 2022

THE CRONE IS PRONE NO MORE!

 

Here I am sitting outside a café in North Beach just like a regular normal person! -- with my close ex Jessica who has come to visit me from New York.

Jessica flew across the country to comfort a dear friend who was in great pain, but I don't need comforting any more! I have been taking gabapentin, building up one pill at a time every three days. At six pills a day, which was last Thursday, I started feeling better! What an amazing experience after three months of getting worse.

Then on Friday I felt even better. I went to an appointment with an old Chinese acupuncturist in Chinatown.
I think Dr. Ng could understand everything I said. But I could not understand everything HE said. He had a very thick accent. The main thing I understood was that there was a fireman from Sebastopol who had similar symptoms to me and was helped by Dr. Ng. He was very cheerful and calm and old. I felt comfortable there -- way more comfortable than I felt in the sleek modern office of the much younger Noe Valley acupuncturist. I’m not sure if Dr. Ng helped my painful leg, because I was already starting to feel better. But when I left after his cupping and needling, I felt an amazing flowing energy, which I am certain was the result of his treatment. It was kinda like being 21 and not having a scintilla of pain anywhere in your body and just FLOWING in the world. I'm definitely going back to Dr. Ng.

Then Jessica and I explored North Beach. It is very very fun to take somebody to North Beach for the first time. North Beach is the old Italian neighborhood. Of course it is greatly changed, and we can grumble about that. But it is still really different from other places in the U.S., with its cafés and Italian restaurants and bakeries and gelato bars. It is true that there are many places now that have a lot of cafés. But North Beach has had them since the 50s. And it was the stomping grounds of the Beat poets and home to jazz musicians and lesbians and gay men, and all the misfits of the last half of the 20th century.

Allen Ginsburg wrote the ground-breaking "Howl" in his apartment at 1010 Montgomery. "I had a secondhand typewriter, some cheap scratch paper. I began typing, not with the idea of writing a formal poem, but stating my imaginative sympathies," Ginsberg said of the poem's genesis. Truly, cultural history was made in North Beach.
It is wonderful to take Jessica anywhere because she always talks to people. Here she's conversing with a woman in a beautiful coat. You've got to figure if a woman wears a coat like that, she's open to conversation.

And not only is Jessica chatty, she absolutely adores everything about San
Francisco and is completely thrilled to see anything new.

And that is why we need people to come and visit San Francisco. Those of us who live here take all the beauty and variety for granted. We're jaded. We need outsiders to remind us of how absolutely wonderful our city is.

Below, the entry to the Stinking Rose, a restaurant devoted to all things garlic, and the renowned Molinari delicatessen, offering SO MANY different kinds of salami.


Here we are on Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard, named after the show that appeared in Club Fugazi down the street. Beach Blanket Babylon delighted visitors and locals for 45 years, until it closed in 2019. I'm sorry to say I never saw BBB. It was something I was always going to get around to. The one time I made an actual serious effort, my friend and I arrived at the theater, only to find out her credit card had been rejected and the show sold out. On the right is Cub Fugazi, the cabaret theater, that is now happily occupied with "Dear San Francisco," which is clearly different from the over-the-top insanity of BBB's costumes and satire.
Above is the iconic San Francisco chapeau for the finale of the BBB
show. And below it, a plaque in honor of John Fugazi, who must be the creator of Club Fugazi. I love plaques, don't you? I've always known of Cub Fugazi, but it never occurred to me there was an actual Fugazi who built Casa Coloniale Italiana, which became Club Fugazi. Thank you, Mr. Fugazi. Who knows if there would have been 45 years of Beach Blanket Babylon if you hadn't built a home for it in North Beach?


Not too many bars get an award from the Betty Ford Clinic -- let alone #1 for their Happy Hour! Very impressive.

But I find it sad to see the little popcorns escaping from the blue tape. Clearly, they were once available at no cost during the #1 Happy Hour. A reminder of a joy that is no more.


And on to Columbus Avenue, where we find this gorgeous huge mural celebrating the jazz clubs that used to fill North Beach. It's got a flock of books flying in front of it. Click here to learn more on the history of jazz in North Beach -- "When Bebop filled the night."

We arrive finally at City Lights Bookstore, a destination devoutly to be wished. I knew Jessica would love it. She's a poet, and a damned good one.
There's a little section of the front window that's devoted to an altar to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, renowned poet and founder and owner of City Lights.
He's sometimes described as "the poet who nurtured the Beats." He died last year at 101. One would
think that nurturing the beats is the kind of work that would lead to an early death. But apparently not.
City Lights not only sells books. It also publishes them. Ferlinghetti famously published Alan Ginsburg's "Howl" in 1956, when no one else would touch it.
You see these signs above the door as you walk into City Lights.


I'll end with a photo of Jessica's encounter with a waiter at the Mona Lisa -- an excellent Italian restaurant -- and the classic North Beach view of the beautiful blue-green Columbus Tower. This building housed the first hungry i night club in its basement, where stand-up comedy was born in 1953 when Mort Sahl entertained the audience by commenting on the news. Now it houses American Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola's production company. "The Godfather" came to life in this building. A powerful place indeed.


Dear Bloggelinis: That was my first outing in three months! Admittedly, I overdid it a bit and had some pain afterwards -- BUT NOT THAT MUCH! Mostly, I'm living with
NO PAIN NO PAIN NO PAIN!
HALLELUJA!
Terry

Monday, April 25, 2022

BAUMblog: ON INSPIRING OTHERS

 

You know all those books that we’ve all read that were incredibly moving about people who overcame amazing obstacles to do very important things in the world or very astonishing things in the world or very beautiful things in the world? You know those people? You know how inspired we all are by those people who overcome really terrible obstacles, and certainly sometimes the obstacle is chronic pain, right?  Many people have chronic pain and they live with it and they somehow keep doing their lives even though they’re in chronic pain. And they are so incredibly inspiring to us, aren't they? We are deeply moved by these people. These people have such depths. They have such wisdom. They have a spirit about them. They can never be trampled. You know these people? Of course you do.

I don't give a flying fuck about wisdom and spirit. 
I just want to be free from pain.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Not IF but WHEN!

 


I'm in a support group of old lesbians who meet every other week to talk about issues around death and dying. One of the issues we've discussed is taking care of all the business around our own death in a timely fashion (like as soon as possible), so that it will be easier for our survivors to know our wishes and be able to... well, tie up all the loose ends. Even if you do have a will, it doesn't necessarily have a record of your passwords or the people who should be notified if you, for any reason, happen to leave the planet. Things like that.

Of course, it is so much easier to TALK about things like that than to actually DO things like that. So we all committed to doing SOMETHING before we met again.

One dyke said that she had gone through her address book -- yes, an old-fashioned paper address book -- and marked every person who should be notified when she died. I thought, "Well, that's an easy thing to do, and I happen to have a paper address book too!"

So I got out my most current address book, and put a big green dot next to the name of everyone who should be notified. Now, some people are obvious choices, but then there is the next ring of people. Do they really need to know? Will they be upset if they just hear about it later?

I will never get over not knowing Myrna in New York was dying. Whenever I was in New York, I spent a lot of time with Myrna. I visited her twice in her condo in Miami Beach, for a week each time. But we never kept in touch when I was in San Francisco. I certainly would have gone to visit her if I'd known she was deathly ill. But nobody even notified me when she died! I just found out in a casual way long after she was gone. I can't get over it.

On Day of the Dead last year, I made an ofrenda and did a ritual for Myrna. But I still can't get over it.
This is a photo I took of Myrna Danzig during our visit to the Coral Castle in Florida, one of the weirder tourist attractions in a state full of weird places to visit. I think we can all agree that when you have seen the Coral Castle with someone, you are entitled to be informed when that person has died! Am I right? When you're right, you're right! Unless of course you've had a big falling-out. But Myrna and I never had a falling-out.

I had no idea when I started this blog that I would get waylaid by Myrna. But the takeaway is:

Better to err
on the side of informing
too many people that you died
rather than too few.

So I went through my address book and put a green dot next to the name of everyone who should be notified. But now that I think about Myrna, I'm going to go back and put in a few more green dots.

ANYHOW, then I wrote on the first page of my address book. next to a green dot, "People who should be notified if I die." (See photo above.)

And the next time I looked at that page, I just had to laugh. After 15 years of practicing Buddhism, I write "IF"?!?
IF?!?
IF?!?
IF?!?
There's no "if" about it!

My dear Bloggelinis, I must inform you that even the lifespan of a Blogmistress has its limit.

I have been studying the Tibetan Buddhist slogans for almost two years. And before you even start on the slogans, you have to study The Four Preliminaries:
  1. The rarity and preciousness of human life
  2. The absolute inevitability of death
  3. The awesome power of our actions
  4. The inescapability of suffering.

Or, as I've condensed and personalized it:
  1. I'm alive.
  2. I will die.
  3. I have power.
  4. I suffer.

So it's "Not IF but WHEN!" And the title page of my address book reflects that!

And now it's on to making sure my survivors can easily find a list of all my passwords!

"PRONE" UPDATE:
Dear Bloggelinis: Despite the ministrations of three chiropractors, two acupuncturists, a massage therapist and a physical therapist, I'm still in pain. I don't find fault with these holistic practitioners. I think I'm a hard case. I'm now taking the drug I despised in my earlier blog (gabapentin) and hoping for some pain relief. I had an MRI -- finally! Had to demand it, and was motivated to get tough by several of your emails. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm now refered to Kaiser Spine Center and will see another acupuncturist next week. I'm of good cheer because... well, I don't think bad cheer would be helpful.
I'M STILL OPEN FOR VISITORS! Celenia responded to my invitation and schlepped all the way from Martinez (I think) and we had a lovely time. As the garden progresses through Spring, it gets more beautiful. Terry

Thursday, April 14, 2022

I'm in the NY Times Magazine -- "The Issue with Billionaires"!?!

 

I just had to make those photos as LARGE as possible. It's not every day you get your work mentioned (and REVIEWED) in the...
NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
...let alone in the lead story about...
BILLIONAIRES!!!!
It was 11pm Monday night when I read it, so I couldn't call anyone and tell them. Very frustrating. I could not stop giggling. It is so DELICIOUS.

Anyhow.

You see, at the bottom of the magazine's cover, this is "The Issue with Billionaires." So I'm not exaggerating what this issue of the NYT Magazine is about. It's about billionaires.

I am not a billionaire. I am not even interested in billionaires. So on Sunday when the paper was delivered, I glanced at the magazine and threw it aside. But on Monday night, I just couldn't sleep, so I picked it up. The writer Willy Staley starts off talking about how many billionaires there are (2668 in 2022, according to Forbes Magazine's World's Billionaires list), who they are and how the hell Forbes Mag figured it all out. At least 92 reporters worked on assembling the list. Elon Musk is at the top of the heap, as you can see from the drawing on the cover, with $219 billion.

BOOOORING.

But then Staley had a very interesting analysis of the transformation in our society that has spurred the increase of these greedy blood-sucking oligarchs. Of course, Reagan's brilliant idea to reduce the top income tax rate from 70% to 28% in the early 80s jump-started our vertiginous plunge downhill into a plutocracy.

I kept scanning the article, hoping to find more glimmers of understanding of our broken economy . And then I noticed the words "San Francisco", and I stopped scanning and started reading:
Last summer I was wandering around the neighborhood where I grew up in San Francisco, one substantially changed over the last decade, like every corner of that city, by the enormous fortunes generated in Silicon Valley.
FYI, my neighborhood has not changed AT ALL in the 45 years I have lived here -- except in the price of housing. Staley continues:
San Francisco is now home to 81 billionaires, at least according to WealthX. That's almost two per square mile or about one for every 10,000 residents -- the highest concentration in the world, As I was walking, I came across a homemade sign hung in the window of an old Edwardian. It read: "No Billionaires! $999,999,999.99 is enough already!"
YES! THAT WAS MY WINDOW!
THAT WAS MY SIGN!
I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT NOBODY NEEDS MORE THAN
NINE HUNDRED NINETY-NINE MILLION,
NINE HUNDRED NINETY-NINE THOUSAND,
NINE HUNDRED NINETY-NINE DOLLARS,
AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!
EVEN IF YOU WANT TO GUARANTEE THAT
YOUR CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN
& GREAT GRANDCHILDREN &
GREAT GREAT GRANDCHILDREN
NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MONEY,
YOU STILL DON'T NEED MORE MONEY THAN THAT!
EVERYTHING ABOVE THAT NUMBER
SHOUL BE TAXED AT A RATE OF 100%!
WE'VE GOT TO TO CHANGE OUR TAX SYSTEM
IN ORDER TO CREATE
A MORE JUST AND EQUITABLE SOCIETY!

Staley goes on:
The sentiment was comically San Franciscan: stridently in line with contemporary liberal values, and at the same time openly tolerant of extreme inequality. Why would it be okay for someone to have $999 million and not a billion?
Now, this is my very first review in the New York Times. I did think it was going to be for one of my plays, but it turns out it's for my window. I must dissect his condescending attitude:

"Strident"? STRIDENT?!? STRIDENT?!!??!!!!!

Staley writes an entire article trashing these billionaires multiplying like cancer cells, and outlining their destructive effect on the world. And when I propose a simple solution -- getting rid of the whole category labeled billionaires -- he calls me strident. How very Democratic Party of him. He describes the problem but doesn't have the guts to even CONSIDER a solution.

And what the hell is a "comically San Franciscan" sentiment? Has caring about the world become an amusing stereotype? Are San Franciscans the only ones who are so foolish?

Plus he doesn't get that I was being funny. He thinks I am actually saying it is perfectly fine if people have one penny less than a billion. Doesn't the "already" that ends my statement signal clearly that I'm saying something serious and making a joke at the same time?

And, finally, how dare he use the dismissive "homemade" to describe my beautiful sign? Yes, I made that sign in my home. I printed out each letter on a separate piece of paper, taped all the pieces together, bordered them with some decorative tape and spaced out the lines so they filled the window nicely. How often has he come across such a carefully made sign in the window of any home? That was a magnificent sign! (Well, I didn't feel that at the time, but now that it's been treated so disrespectfully, I realize that it's magnificent.)

Oh well. I can't really blame him for not getting the joke. Almost no one understood my billionaire window sign. Maybe I should have explained it more, as I have in this blog. It was one of my least successful window signs. I didn't leave it up for very long. Maybe a month or so. One day, after the sign was gone, as I was leaving my house, a woman was walking by. She shouted "No billionaires!" as she raised her fist to the sky. I said, "You're the only one who got it!" She replied, "I loved that window sign." I thought, "Well, I have to be satisfied with that."

But it turned out that someone else walked by the window who would be writing less than a year later about billionaires for the New York Times Magazine -- the absolute pinnacle of magazines.

Serendipity. One of the great joys of life. So many gifts given to me by serendipty, each one a total surprise.

I'm still giggling.

Bloggelinis: I would like to point out the tile underneath the window. Ain't it wonderful? 2013 was The Year of Tile. I spent an entire year trying to find the right design and colors. It's not like picking paint colors. If you make a mistake with tile, you're stuck with it a looong time. Did you know there are an almost infinite variety of different tiles available in San Francisco? I spent an unbelievable amount of time in tile stores and just walking around the city, looking at what patterns others have made with tile.

I finally found that Escher-like design when I met my niece Rose for brunch in Boogaloo Cafe in the Mission. Lucky for me, I had to use the bathroom -- and there it was! The design, that is. Not the colors. Searching for the colors was endless too. One day after it was all done, I was returning home and as I unlocked the door, I was thinking, "No matter how great the tile below the window is, it could not have been worth the incredible amount of time I spent on it." Someone happened to be walking by, and she stopped and said, "Oh, you live here? Every time I walk by, the tile makes me laugh." I said, "Thank you SOO MUCH for telling me," and I thought, "Okay, I guess it was worth all that fuss." Actually, I get a lot of encouragement from passersby -- AND from my Bloggelinis, don't I? Terry

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Unspoken, Except by Herself

Has anyone else noticed that our newly confirmed Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, describes herself as a dark-skinned Black woman? Not just a Black woman but a DARK-SKINNED black woman. She is owning something that is rarely talked about when we talk about race: That the burden of discrimination falls more heavily on people whose skin is darker. I think we all know that this is true intuitively, but it's never mentioned. Certainly the mainstream media, which wrote extensively about Jackson's life, was silent on this issue. And for good reason. They almost certainly would have been accused of racism for focusing on the skin color of our wonderful soon-to-be Supreme Court justice. I myself would not be writing about it now if Judge Jackson had not claimed it for herself publicly.

So what does it mean to be a dark-skinned black woman? It means that when employers are looking to hire someone, for the Supreme Court or any other job, even if they are specifically SEEKING a Black woman, they would probably be more comfortable hiring a LIGHT-skinned black woman. Say, more like Condoleezza Rice than Ketanji Brown Jackson.

There is an extra price to be paid for dark skin. I have a friend who is Black and an actress. She is incredibly talented, brilliant in comedy as well as serious drama. She's also beautiful and graceful and tall and slender and a great singer. She checks all the actress boxes except blond and blue-eyed. One afternoon, she was having lunch with me and another friend who was white. She had to leave early because she was going to an audition. It was for a new play at a major theater that had a large cast -- all Black. It was a very political play with lots of singing and dancing. What's not to like?!? The whole theater community was buzzing about it, and my actress friend passionately wanted to be part of it. I was excited for her and certain she would be cast. As she was getting up to leave, she expressed anxiety about her appearance. After she hurried off, my white friend said, "Why would she of all people be worried about how she looks? She's so beautiful!" I said, "Yes, but her skin is very dark and maybe that makes a difference." Still, I was sure she would be cast.

I was wrong, and I was shocked. When I went to see the production, I saw that no one in the cast was as dark-skinned as my friend. There was also no one as talented. It just didn't seem fair.

Of course, life is unfair for almost everyone, not just dark-skinned Black actresses. And in my experience, art is even more unfair than life. So it is possible that my friend not being cast had absolutely nothing to do with the beautiful deep color of her skin. But I doubt it. It was a BIG cast.

So, kudos to President Biden for choosing an incredibly qualified DARK-SKINNED Black woman as the new Supreme Court justice! And kudos to Ketanji Brown Jackson for publicly claiming her dark skin!

I can't help but wonder if the color of Justice Jackson's skin contributed to the total contempt the Republicans expressed toward her during the hearings. Do you think those slime buckets would have treated her with more respect if her skin had been lighter? I do.


Bloggelinis: Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy and empathy and information in response to my blog about my painful right leg. I haven't answered all your emails yet. I'm writing all the referrals down and am learning so much from your experiences. Truly, so many of us have been felled by intense chronic pain. I also talked for quite a long time with my friend, Tara, a disability rights activist. She had so much wisdom so share about being disabled and dealing with the health industry. Strengthened by all the encouragement, I wrote my doctor demanding an MRI, which is the first step in actually diagnosing what's going on. Amazingly, my doctor agreed, and I have an appointment in two weeks. I think maybe today I'm a little better. I haven't spent much time prone. That's a good sign. Again, thanks for your love and concern. Terry