Entries from San Francisco
It is Christmas eve. I am in San Francisco, in the Castro, ordering a burrito (or “wrap” as they are now called) at one of the six million restaurants there. I order and they say it will be about five minutes. So I go outside and sit under a tree and look around at the other 599,999,999 restaurants and smoothie shops and I feel sad, thinking how magical the Castro was when I first visited San Francisco and thinking that now it’s like some huge food court at any suburban shopping mall. Where is all the activism? Where are the carefree drag queens with glittery cheeks and powdered mustaches running around dressed as nuns? Where is all the bad disco music? Indeed, where are the bottomless chaps!? All that remains of the old Castro, it seems at the moment, is the alcoholism and Walgreens. And even the Walgreens, drunk on its success, is reinventing itself. I start feeling bad about everything bad in the world. I feel so cynical. I start to doubt everything and for several minutes I even debate whether a burrito is going to satisfy *my* hunger. Yeah right! On my walkman I hear Desmond Tutu urging forgiveness. Can I find it in my heart to do that? It seems so hopeless I begin to weep. Boo hoo! I don’t want to go on feeling sorry for myself though, so I go inside and get a napkin, wipe my eyes and blow my nose and ask for my burrito. The employees look around for it and tell me that since I wasn’t there when it was ready they have donated it to the AIDS Foundation. They say they’ll make another. So I stand around waiting and ABBA walks in the door. Of course, everyone in the shop is going ga ga. However, there are only a few people in the shop, so the gaganess doesn’t ever reach a screeching level. Thank goodness. The boy behind the counter, when he stops laughing and turning to his co-workers and saying, “Ha, ha, ha! It’s Benny and Angetha and Bjorn and Anni-Frid, well, ha, ha, ha! It’s ABBA.” When he stops laughing and talking to his coworkers, he asks what the musical group has been up to. The bearded one answers in a Swedish accent that they’re working on some stuff that he thinks everyone is going to like very, very much. Agnetha turns to him and smiles and is about to say something when Patsy, the tall blonde lush from Absolutely Fabulous, walks in and snips, “Oh gawd, honestly, everywhere you go it’s more goddamned ABBA.” Benny laughs. Patsy laughs and she and Agnetha take each other’s hands and kiss the air next to each other’s cheeks and mutter things to each other but I can’t hear any of it. The boy at the counter asks if I’d like chips and salsa and I say yes and take my bag. ABBA is leaving too. Outside, the police, wearing sequined lavender uniforms with ridiculously large and shiny badges, have closed off the street to traffic. There’s a huge crowd gathered around a helicopter in front of the Castro theater. ABBA, all of a sudden wearing Ray-ban aviator style sunglasses, makes it’s way through the crowd and boards the helicopter. The two ABBA women start throwing condoms, bubble packets of lube, and colorful flyers to the cheering crowd. Benny on a megaphone is shouting, “Veee luv ju Zan Franzisco. Happee Holeedayz Zan Franzisco!” Come to zee Bjorn Again at zee Pleasuredome dis Zundee!” I look over toward the theater and Patsy is in the box office wearing a BASS name tag and processing charge cards. In the intersection at Market and Castro, a chorus of children with Rudolph noses and antlers is singing Chiquitita as the helicopter begins its ascent. The crowd below is smiling and waving and screaming back:
Polo and Benson & Hedges. What is the sound of one collar popping?