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03 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Bits and pieces:

For the first time in seven years, I spotted Marian and Vivian Brown and I had a camera at the ready.  They saw me take aim from across the street and smiled broadly.

I wish I could spot the flock of parrots and have a camera ready at the same moment, too.

Ba-da-Bingo is Thursday night.  This month features the Sister Dana Look-A-Like Contest.  The winner of the contest walks away with $50 cash, a $100 Beverages & More gift certificate and a DVD player. 

Every December I mark the end of a successful bingo season with an extra-special event.  This year our December Ba-da-Bingo theme is Porn Star Holiday Bingo!  Trannyshack's Renttecca and our own Sister Grinchetta MC the evening, we're sporting a special live band and every player walks away with a new porn video.  Advance tickets are available online by clicking here

Years ago I dabbled with bondage.  Deciding I should try out any new toys on myself before using them on others, I sat down and handcuffed myself.  I then attached the handcuffs to leg irons.  Unlocking the restraints proved difficult and as I struggled to unlock the handcuffs the key slipped from my grasp tumbling into the floor heater.  The firemen who responded were most amused by the guy sitting naked and handcuffed on the floor of his own apartment.

05 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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The rain poured from the sky on day 21 of Road Trip 2003.  The tires of my tiny car barely cut through the rivers of water to reach the pavement.  The windshield wipers swept back and forth in a futile attempt to manage the deluge.  I could see just past the end of the hood and no further - and that isn't far when driving a MINI.  If I dared take my eyes from the road it was to glance at the speedometer holding at just above 55 miles per hour.

Giant sports utility vehicles and semi-trailers roared past on either side.  The blast of wind from their passing lifted my car and shoved it back and forth in the lane.  Their mud flaps added blasts of spray to the torrential rain taxing my wipers sweeping as fast as they could across my miniature windshield.

I was hungry, tired and desperately searching for the exit to Philadelphia.  Up ahead I saw the shimmering lights of the toll plaza and thought to myself:  "There is no toll plaza near Philadelphia."  Then I learned I was in Wilmington.

Two hours later with a bladder achingly full, struggling through Philadelphia's grueling one-way streets in a vane attempt to find my tourist-class hotel, I thought this must be the worst day of my trip.  I wanted nothing more than to collapse into my bed and awaken to a new morning.

So many of my clients believe with great fervor the natural emotional state of humans is to be happy.  Any deviation from happiness indicates illness.  Long term deviation from happiness indicates a medical condition best medicated into oblivion.  We are to believe, I think, that our experience should be narrowed to a tiny increment of emotions ranging from smiles to laughter and nothing on either end of the scale. 

How can we explore our lives when we limit ourselves to the positive, to the marvelous, to the enjoyable.  Tourism and exploration are not the same.  Tourists travel for relaxation and refreshment.  Explorers look for the new, the unknown, the unknowable.

[This is where, having written myself into a corner, exceeded the allowable limit for Internet prose and having noticed the time, I shall stop.]

On an unrelated note:

I dined with Erika Lopez tonight.  Fresh from her New York Tour, I managed to corral her into working on a special web project with me.  Stay tuned for what I have proposed we tentatively title: "Erika Lopez and Sister Betty's Holiday Tango".

One last unrelated note:

Ba-da-Bingo is Thursday night (which is probably today by the time you read this).  Come out and see if Sister Betty survives the evening...

06 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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There are minor events in life which, although small and rationally insignificant, cause me pause.

Last Friday I managed a photograph of Marian and Vivian Brown.  In seven years of living here I've seen the twins four or five times and for the first time I had a camera at the ready. 

San Francisco has two flocks of wild parrots.  I saw the parrots once, five or six years ago, when I lived near Delores Park.  They perched high up in the palm trees and then rose skyward a riotous green flurry. I often tell people about the parrots but I never saw them again.  Having snapped the picture of Marian and Vivian, I pronounced my wish to see the parrots once more.

I went to bed last night with an odd sense of foreboding; the gentle touch of my unconscious warning me of the day to follow.  Indeed the morning seemed to indicate the foreboding had substance.  Three important failures occurred in rapid succession.  Each failure magnified the first and promised a difficult evening.

Stepping out of my car in a grey and drab mood tailored to match the weather, my ear caught the noise of squawks and wings in a nearby tree.  I grabbed my camera.  Could it be?  There - just outside my apartment window - the flock of parrots were swarming in a fruit tree. 

The birds were laughing and calling while I stood just feet from the tree and filled the camera with image after image.  When I stopped my photography the birds fell silent.  They busied themselves with their lunch and glanced in my direction without interest.

There are at least five parrots in today's photograph.  Can you find them?  [Click on the photograph for a larger image]

07 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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If you live near San Francisco, you can see Sister Dana and I live on CBS this evening between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM.  I am supposed to pick up Dana in half an hour, so I must rush along.

Gavin Newsom didn't show last night.  Never mind he committed to the event nearly two months ago and repeatedly affirmed the commitment.  Don't vote for him for mayor.  If you were one of the two hundred people who lined up for the show only to have the special guest ignore you, you can click here to send Gavin Newsom your thoughts via email at

You can donate to Matt Gonzales by clicking here.

If you fell in love with Tom Skidmore, the hunky handyman who bared all for the audience, contact me and I'll send you his number.  In addition to being the cutest handyman in San Francisco, Tom is exceptionally competent.

I'm off for another fifteen seconds of fame...

09 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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In the past seven days I've dined with a famous author and playwrite, mingled in the background for a live television show, found a flock of parrots I've longed to see for a very long time, exchanged notes with four porn stars and watched three non-porn movies.  And yet, here on Sunday night, I find myself in an odd sort of funk.  It is one of those generic blue moments which I know will pass and yet fills the present moment completely. 

There are people close at hand and I could speak to them of my sadness.  They would try and sooth me or give me that blank at-a-loss-for-words look.  I keep my existential blues to myself.

During these moments I'm often tempted to look backward at embarrassments and failures of the past.  I have a nice collection of shameful moments from my early years which work well to increase the magnitude of any low moment.  I examine the collection less than I once did but the elements sometimes still poke through the walls of my dreams.

Switching subjects drastically and suddenly, December 4th is the Season Finale of Ba-da-Bingo.  An impressive array of local celebs will be hosting including Trannyshack's Renttecca, Sister Grinchetta and Santa Claus himself.  We also have porn stars Will Clark, Michael Brandon, Eric Michaels and Bobby Black coming to celebrate Porn Star Holiday Bingo. Tickets are available online now by clicking here.  Ba-da-Bingo sells out on a regular night, so get your tickets now and don't miss the event!

Should I feel too blue, I can remind myself that Cuban Television now streams live over the Internet.

10 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I spent the last four hours attempting to make my new wireless printer work on my existing wireless network.  The network works flawlessly, the printer does not.  I dread making a call to technical support.  With a significant part of the day spent considering IP addresses, WEP encryption, bidirectional connectivity and print queues, I find myself lacking any interesting thoughts.

The local newspaper today reported Americans have become so obese as to no longer fit in standard caskets.  A company now offers a line of double-wide caskets for fat people. 

A mortician once commented that he'd have to cut my legs off to fit my corpse in a casket.  Although overweight people can buy caskets, the same is not true for tall people.  The standard casket is six feet and six inches long not including the padding.  If you have the money you can commission a custom made casket, but many funeral homes are known to break, fold, bend and remove the legs of tall people to get us in those standard size boxes. 

Me?  I prefer cremation. 

On a a cheery note, my new, giant, green, yellow clawed monster feet slippers arrived from Tasmania today.  The cats give me wide berth as I walk through the house. 

I wonder - could I have holes cut in the end of my casket so my feet stick out?  Nothing says funeral like fuzzy green monster slippers extending from a casket.

12 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Any valid San Franciscan can tell you that there is here and there is thereHere is San Francisco excepting a few outlying neighborhoods like the Sunset, Excelsior and the Bay View District, which are only San Francisco in name, inaccessible except on decrepit busses and populated by...well...I don't know anyone who lives in those neighborhoods.  There is anywhere outside of San Francisco, generally reached by bridge, tunnel or heading south.  Of course it is only acceptable to live here and we have no more room, so don't even think of moving from there to here.  We do allow you to visit here, but we have no interest in visiting there.

Today, tomorrow and Friday, I have to work there.  I have to drive across a bridge and fifty miles east.  This is much to far from here.  (Unless you continue driving another 3,176.4 miles eastward.  Then you are here, which is there but acceptable as here.)  The commute requires I leave here by 6 AM to arrive there by 7:30 AM. 

On a clear afternoon, you can see over there from here.  The windows of the houses there reflect back the sun setting over the hills here.  When the sun reaches the horizon and turns orange, the windows there look like fires burning on the hills.  We smile contentedly and know we don't have brush fires over here.

As San Franciscans, we're baffled by why anyone would choose to live there when you could live here.  We have flown over you enough times to know what it is like over there and we just can't conceive of not being here.  (Except for Paris, London and Rio, which are acceptable temporary substitutes for here.) Perhaps it is too difficult to move your trailer across the bridge from there to here. 

In any case, everything is fine here.  Hope all is well there.

17 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I now have a comfortable home office in which to spend my days of toil and work.  I like an office where cats curl up at my feet and I can listen to hours of NPR without interruption. 

People seem to believe that "balanced journalism" means giving equal time to opposing sides.  This thought is flawed in at least two ways.  It assumes that any issue can be reduced to two extremes and that the viewpoint of people on either extreme is worthy of being heard.  For our government, this means handing two minutes of airtime to the Democrats and two minutes to the Republicans.

One must be completely devoid of intellect to agree to the first point.  Rarely does an issue divide nicely down the middle without undue force and coercion.  Only sound-bite journalism and lax intellectual standards allow our public dialogues to pretend such polar opposites exist.

Balance is less about the first point than the second.  Simply standing guard on one extreme does not entitle someone to equal airtime.  Balanced means viewpoints are considered and accorded time in the light of relevant evidence and data.  The ability to squawk loudly enough to attract a camera is not the same as having something meaningful and factual to offer to the public debate.

"No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." - Lilly Tomlin

18 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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What odd coincidence that President Bush goes to visit a queen on the day Massachusetts says queens have the right to marry.  Consistent with earlier messages, George the Lesser is protected by 14,000 British policemen and 700 Secret Service employees.  This matches the level of paranoia his conservative bunkmates have over the possibility the boys next door might not only be boffing, but doing so legally.

The United States is, of course, powerful and brave.  We can dispatch tens of thousands of troops to topple despots halfway around the world and afford eighty or so billion dollars to patch up the damage.  We don't blink as we tear through the wetlands in our oversize SUVs, clean our guns and stride out to the back forty to survey our lands.  The Soviets pointed nuclear warheads at us for forty years.  Did we flinch?  No we did not. 

Nuclear warheads, however, aren't queer and they aren't asking to be married.  When it comes to the family, Americans need protection from the growing hordes of gay people knocking at the doors of their unprotected anuses.  Why, we queer boys and our lesbian pals have the rest of American quivering in fear that we'll have magazines named Brides or Grooms with little matched sets of cookie cutter boys in tuxedos on the cover.

Anyone with an intellect over 73 knows the arguments of the right against gay marriage are invalid.  This is not a discussion about whether or not I can hold my lover's hand and say "I do".  This is a discussion about continuing to allow repressed heterosexual men to create laws based on their fear of penetration.  What would happen to this great country of ours if all the men admitted they secretly gave their best friend a blow job in tenth grade?

I spent enough years in the Navy to know straight men generally don't care about lesbians.  Most straight men I know would throw a party if they could get their wife to munch on another cooch.  That Bible they are thumping?  It contains more multi-partner sex than an weekend excursion to Thailand with Larry Flint.  It is the fear of penises in anuses that drives straight men crazy.

Do gay men think about bending straight boys over a bench and slipping in the lubed up tube steak?  Of course we do.  Just like straight men drool at the site of a woman regardless of whether or not she is wearing a wedding band or Berkenstocks.

Personally, I'm no fan of gay marriage.  If heterosexuals haven't managed to make the institution work in the centuries they've been in charge, what makes me think I'll fare any better?  Heterosexual couples pump out mixed up children and failed relationships like third world sweat shops earning overtime.  Love manifests in various ways but rarely in the form of a legal contract. 

I do want equality.  I want the health care, estate, property and child care privileges that go with marriage.  Equality isn't a second-class marriage called something else.  It isn't a certificate that says "not quite straight".  I want the government to get out of the marriage business altogether. 

Don't ban gay marriage.  Ban marriage.

19 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I have no interest in separate but equal solutions.  Separate means different and equal rarely translates into equality.  No, I am not pleased you offer me a seat in the back of the bus. 

If the United States holds true to the language of the Constitution, then the rights of citizens must be equal.  Justice doesn't have a hanky tied over her eyes because she is kinky. (Although she does have a curtain over her breasts because John Ashcroft is a bit stuffy...)

Queers are lining up to accept Civil Unions with a smile and a nod.  I call bullshit.  I don't want a separate drinking fountains, bathrooms or schools for queer kids.  My taxes are paid in the same currency as my heterosexual neighbors.  My time in the military was served with as much honor as any straight person.  My love can't be measured or evaluated by the person to which it is given. 

Who wants to imitate the Log Cabin Republicans who bow and curtsy for crazy right-wing politicians and hope for whatever scraps come their way?

If my email is to be a measure, a good number of people agree with my proposal yesterdayDavid and Rick offer two different opinions on this subject.

21 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Normally I can pull myself out of a dark mood with relative ease and speed.  This week I continually scrabbled at the wall of my well while a black mood wrapped hands around my ankles and yanked me back into a grey fog.  A call from Erika broke the spell.  Five days of grey snapped with five minutes of Hoochie Mamma humor.

Browsing a newspaper while waiting for Joe the Barber, I noticed a story about a White House evacuation.  Seems some birds flew across the RADAR screen and the Vice President was whisked off to a secret location while F-16 jets dashed to protect the city.  Can migrating birds be held as enemy combatants?

Number of US military fatalities in Iraq to date:  504
Number of US military fatalities in Vietnam in 1962*:  53

I served on several ships which were built before the Vietnam war.  One day during a port call, a middle aged guy flagged me down on the pier. 

"You ever been in the engine room?" he asked while pointing to the ship. 

"Yep," I replied.

"I was on that ship during Vietnam," he told me. "We used to sit above the ship service boiler and smoke reefer."

The sailors in my time didn't smoke reefer on board, but they did use the bilges to smuggle heroin back into the United States.

*The US Army dates the beginning of the Vietnam conflict to December 11, 1961, although the US was involved as early as the 1950s.

25 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I have been so busy with work in the past few days I've not thought of much else.  Even so, the howling by the Democrats about the Green Party is hard to miss.  The Democrats are kicking up such a ruckus you would think they were Republicans worried the boys next door were getting married.

If I were a Democratic strategist, I would be concerned.  The Green Party continues to grow in popularity and is showing success in election results.  Those votes aren't coming from former Republicans.  A victory in San Francisco puts the Democrats one very small step closer to becoming Whigs. 

I will be spending Thanksgiving at home with the kittens this year.  MUNI Guy is off to Central California for a visit with family.  I have either unknowingly fallen to the bottom of the social register or too many of my friends are unemployed to host dinner parties.  For the first time in years there have been no invitations to dinner.  C'est la vie!  I shall use the time to catch up on all those little projects that cling to the edges of life - or I will watch movies all day.  I have yet to decide.

26 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Last night I visited a dumpy dive diner for comfort food.  Two seats down from me at the counter sits a man in a trench coat, dark rimmed glasses and fedora hat.  He nurses just a cup of coffee.  He is either a private detective who is overplaying the roll or a mental patient just this side of insanity.  Sometimes I feel the same way.  I'm not certain if I'm overplaying my roll or just teetering on insanity. 

I think if God exists, we are just actors in a sitcom playing on his television.  I suspect I'm cast as Phoebe Buffay (the ditsy girl on Friends) without the benefit of blond hair. 

When we die, I expect God to look at me like my mother used to after I got a shot.  "That wasn't so bad, now was it?" God will ask, just like my mother did.

"Die, bitch, die," is what I will think. 

God, unlike my mother, will probably be able to read my mind and cast me into hell.  This, of course, is the unfortunate problem with comparing God and my mother.

27 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Today is the 25th anniversary of Harvey Milk's murder and it is appropriate it fall on Thanksgiving.

Time Magazine wrote:  "To be young and realize you were gay in the 1970s was to await an adulthood encumbered with dim career prospects, fake wedding rings and darkened bar windows."

In 1977, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California and one of the first gay politicians in the United States.  His election was a significant event for both queers and the country.  Harvey believed queers need visibility to gain equality.  He ran for office - and lost- three times.  Undeterred, Harvey worked to create coalitions of queers and straights.  The fourth time his coalition building worked and he was elected to the Board of Supervisors.

Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk were shot in city hall by Dan White, a former member of the Board of Supervisors and arch-conservative.  Dan White was sentenced to seven years in prison for the murders and the queer population of San Francisco rioted in what would later be called the White Night Riots.

Harvey predicted his death and said: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

Harvey's death helped motivate generations of queers to leave their closets and demand equality. 

We stand on the shoulders of giants.  It's easy to forget that less than thirty years ago, queers were thrown in prison for simply holding hands, the idea of a queer politician was laughable and employers routinely fired employees for the merest suggestion of homosexuality.  Today we have openly gay members of Congress, schools for queer kids and whole neighborhoods where straight people come to check out the cutting edge queer lifestyle.

As easy as it is to forget the giants who came before us, it is equally easy to become comfortable with the second class acknowledgement we enjoy.  Queers relationships still fail to have equal recognition under the law.  Queers are still punished and thrown out of the military, denied security clearances and murdered at an alarming rate.  Two weeks ago I was at a blue-collar meeting where someone said:  "Well, at least we still have the fags to beat on."  We still have a quite a distance to go.

Harvey was famous for saying: "You gotta give them hope." 

Indeed he did.

Thank you, Harvey, for giving your life for those of us who came after you. 

Learn more about Harvey Milk:

Uncle Donald's Castro Street: Harvey Milk
Uncle Donald's Castro Street: White Night Riots
Time Magazine:  Time 100 Heroes and Icons
Books: The Mayor of Castro Street
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27 November 2003 - Later

Rail Tripping and Stairways of San Francisco now have entirely new designs. 

The photograph above of Sister Betty was taken by Erik during Road Trip 2003.  Erik is both a talented graphic artist and a wonderful traveling companion.

29 November 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

I just completed the most recent addition to my trains section:  a virtual tour of some antique railcars.  Click here to take a look.
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In other news:  Ben reveals the Homosexual Agenda in this entry.


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