Up until that day Arthur had spent his life on one branch of a family tree ripe with independent wealth. When they met, his parents joined their respective fortunes—his father’s from a string of agricultural technology patents and his mother’s from a high profile corporate law practice—to bring him, their only child, into a very comfortable nest. He had a cousin that made a fortune with an app that alerts users that their laundry is dry. One aunt made a fortune ghostwriting bestsellers for entrepreneurial men that, like her son, make apps. His uncle was publisher and editor-in-chief of an iconoclastic political magazine called The Ambiguous Review . Then, of course, there were his grandfathers, on both sides, whom he only ever learned to describe as “businessmen.” Call it a blessing or call it a delusion, but Arthur never thought about money. When he finally attempted to fly the nest he only fluttered softly to the ground like a maple seed, where he sank into reverential daydreams about his own lineage. He wasn’t mesmerized by the fortunes, no, but by all the ability, the talent. He was sure that equal, or greater, talent was waiting in him for its moment to flower. It was only a matter of finding the right habitat. After four years of college in San Francisco, and three more years there waiting to blossom, Arthur had relocated to Washington DC, to more fertile ground in which to take root.
I remember raspberry jelly and dead fish all over the kitchen floor. I remember feeling the earth shake like a wet dog and watching the air around it vibrate into particles like water lifting off its coarse surface. A month later we carried what was left in bags from Los Angeles, the city of riots and earthquakes, of fungus and fever chewing the smog bitten air, to Cornwall, on the south west tip of the English island, where the air looked like a wool sweater.
Days there at Goonwinnow Farm started for me when our mother released us children into the lush, moist landscape. Above us the the sky was drooping gray everywhere down to the horizon and illuminated within by a strange tone of sunlight trying to break through it. The hills were green, rolling and dipping one after another as far as I could see in one direction, and as far as the edge of a deep forest in the other direction. Continue reading “The Homes They’ve Haunted”
January 3, 2014
Reading Whitman’s “Out of The Cradle Endlessly Rocking” as the dishwasher gurgles into the quiet morning filling the room. For Whitman, longing for another is a quality communicated to man by nature. A boy stands on a beach, hears the mockingbird’s song, long blues of loneliness for his mate. In singing we inflame the source of life, the reason we’re here, to fuck, to love, to find a mate and transform one’s self into “the here and hereafter.”
“The here and hereafter”; the term brings to mind the image of an open door at the end of a hallway no longer than one connecting two rooms in a small apartment. At the end is another door. Both are open. The image blurs into something like early computer graphics, the walls, the rooms, the doors fade as the seen twists through a mine shaft of sky blue. All that remains: two uninhibited door ways that alight on what looks like a man’s torso. Continue reading “From the Mockingbird’s Throat”
We rode into Oakland on a warm day, keeping the windows down all the way across the bridge. Everything there had the feeling of unfinished plywood, so refreshing and new to me after so long in the increasingly refined San Francisco. The buildings in Oakland were low and the skyline opened up a view of hills all the way across town. The air was turning copper. When the car stopped at a red light a bespeckled Chinese man in a chocolate colored suite crossed the street, his fingers pinched a smoldering cigarette. We parked along an empty lot near Lake Merritt. Rachel cut off the car engine and I filled the silence with, “I think I like it here”.
“I think I prefer it,” she said. Continue reading “How To Survive”
The early morning hour, August 28, 1971: Sergeant George Kowalski, a clear faced young man, with big owl like eyes, and a firm neck, is working the midnight watch for Mission Station. He stops his cruiser at a red light, at 16th and Folsom Streets. Today marks about five weeks for him as Sergeant in the San Francisco Police Department. The day also falls in the middle of one of the most violent periods the City has ever lived through.
Ahead, Kowalski sees the headlights of a speeding car coming towards him, furiously sparkling like the eyes of a hungry animal. The car switches lanes and crosses the intersection, stopping about twenty feet away from the young Kowalski- a Mission high graduate, born in Chicago. Kowalski looks over. He can see two men in the neighboring car through their open window. Then he sees something else, pointing at him like a mocking tongue. It is the barrel of a sub machine gun. Continue reading “San Francisco’s Years of Terror”
“Lowbrow culture and contrarian politics in the capital of the west coast. This issue features fiction by Robert Mailer Anderson and his uncle, Bruce Anderson, some history by Salon.com founder David Talbot, a heartbreaking story about the artist S. Clay Wilson (foreword by Ron Turner) and wicked political insights,” writes Argonaut Editor-in-Chief, the late Warren Hinckle.
I worked for Warren as the associate editor on this issue and wrote the cover story on “the Gold Dust extraction.”
For the first time since coming out in favor of marriage equality, President Barack Obama visited the Bay Area last week. Although never using the word “gay,” Obama did draw huge cheers from the crowd at Redwood City’s Fox Theatre for supporting the right to be, “who you are and love who you love.”
Inside the May 23 fundraiser, which sold out with ticket prices between $250 and $1,000, almost every word of the president’s especially fervent speech was met with enthusiasm, and a few times chants, like “four more years!” and “fired up; ready to go!”
But outside, among the crowd just behind the barricades that bordered Courthouse Square, some gays and lesbians sang a different, more severe tune.
“I feel like the whole thing is an election year ploy,” said James Lee about Obama’s support of marriage equality. “It’s great that he said it, it’s a very symbolic move, you know, it shifts the culture a bit. But it’s not enough and I resent our community being used.”
I covered San Francisco news and politics for the Bay Area Reporter from the end of 2011 to 2013. Read the full article here.