Monday, June 29, 2009

San Francisco Gay Pride Parade 1: Uncut

A delightful new neighbor, who happens to be a beautiful, young heterosexual woman, had never been in town for the annual Gay, Etc. Parade which takes over our Civic Center neighborhood for a weekend.

So I promised to drag her to the parade with the following advice.

"You don't want to watch the parade because it's long, slow and dull. You have to march up Market Street instead."

We walked from Civic Center down Mission Street to the staging ground in the Financial District, arriving 90 minutes into the affair which was in its dull, corporate contingent stretch.

Shunning the evil Wells Fargo float, we marched onto Market Street with a group who self-identified as Levi's employees.

We walked faster than the parade pace and caught up with a tiny Emeryville group...

...which was trailing an Oakland fire truck covered with lesbians...

...and a float of glamour girls of all genders who were part of a large crew who were proud to be from Oakland.

In truth, the San Francisco Gay, Etc. parade has long been a venue principally designed for Bay Area suburbanites and greater Northern California, which is part of why it's fun. The tourists gets to go wild in the city streets.

Our favorite group that we marched with was an anti-circumcision platoon dressed in penis costumes...

...and carrying great signs.

San Francisco Gay Pride Parade 2: Celebrities

"What was your favorite edition of the gay parade?" I asked one 67-year-old veteran.

"The first one in 1970, definitely. I lived downtown then, and the route went up O'Farrell Street. It was such a shock. Plus, George Maharis from 'Route 66' was the Grand Marshal that year which took a lot of courage."

For an entertaining paean to the openly out gay actor, click here for D. Stephen Heersink's "Gay Species" blog.

Besides touring musical stars marketing their show...

...there were plenty of politicians in convertibles...

...though I was sorry to miss Gavin Newsom being harassed by leftists protesting his public health budget cuts (click here for an account in Fog City Journal).

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were on an unusually downbeat float...

...with a death bell tolling while they held up ironic tombstones.

They seemed to be making political points, but it was a bit too high concept.

They could have just held up signs with pictures of Michael and Farrah and it would have worked as well.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tranny Fest at Dolores Park

On a gorgeous late Friday afternoon, there was a festival for the "Trans" community at Dolores Park which preceded a march at 7 PM (click here).

As San Francisco's Gay, Etc. Pride weekend has become larger and more commercial with each passing year, cultural offshoots have appeared, such as Saturday's man-free Dyke March and Friday's new Trans March for transvestites, transgenders "and their fans."

The large crowd at Dolores Park enjoying the perfect weather...

...was a mellow, interesting mixture of homo and hetero park neighbors sunbathing...

...getting a buzz on with beer...

...and watching entertainment up the hill at the Trans stage...

...all being being filmed by Dina, the former producer of the legendary public access show, "Tranny Talk."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bye Bye Bybee

A small demonstration took place at noon on Thursday at 7th & Mission in front of the luxuriously appointed federal courthouse that houses the Ninth Circuit Federal Court...

...under the watchful eyes of a number of Homeland Security officers across the street.

They were calling for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee, who was one of the more notorious legal enablers of torture by the Bush/Cheney administration (click here for a fuller account by the indispensable Jan Adams).

Code Pink and a consortium of other peace groups were asking the simple question, "Why is Lynndie England in jail for the torture of prisoners when the people who ordered her to do so are continuing with their pampered lives in prestigious jobs?"

To the tune of "Bye Bye Blackbird," the crowd was singing "Bye Bye Bybee"...

...and in a spontaneous moment, a couple of old peaceniks started dancing to the song.

Until a few top people in the Bush administration responsible for torture are legally punished, this isn't an issue that's going to go away.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

All Star Tamales at Heart of the City

In Civic Center's "Heart of the City" farmers' market, which is open on Wednesdays and Sundays...

...the most popular food booth belongs to an East Bay company called All Star Tamales.

They distribute their 14 varieties of tamales out of their headquarters in Pittsburg, and at four farmers' markets around the Bay Area: in Walnut Creek, downtown Oakland, and Alemany and Civic Center in San Francisco.

The lines in the Civic Center on a Wednesday can be daunting around noon when all the nearby government office workers come by for an inexpensive lunch of $2.75 for a single tamale, $5.00 for two, and even cheaper as you buy more.

This doesn't deter many people from their corn meal fix, and the usually grungy United Nations Plaza along Market Street turns into an open-air carbohydrate heaven.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Solstice Cruise

The boss of my partner domestique has a 49-foot yacht, and to reward his workers for creating special effects for a Korean tsunami movie, he invited them for a Saturday cruise.

The boat is berthed on the northeast side of Tiburon, so we were able to cruise by homes belonging to the other 1% of the population...

...who are grotesquely wealthy...

...from the other end of the telescope.

The day was too exquisitely beautiful to spend much time seething with class resentment, though...

...and for every ostentatious yacht in the Sausalito harbor...

...there was a decaying sailboat covered in junk nearby.

My favorite Sausalito harbor story involves Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison and his 192-foot triple decker yacht which was called Izanami after a Shinto deity since Mr. Ellison, though Jewish, fancies himself something of a Japanese warrior. Somebody then took a picture and it was published mirror image in a boating magazine where the name backwards spelled "imanazi." The boat was subsequently renamed "Ronin."

FDR's old yacht, the Potomac, was also hanging out in Sausalito for the afternoon rather than its usual Jack London Square berth.

We continued past the Sausalito sewage treatment plant that's been dumping thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the bay over the last couple of years, possibly because rich people's waste doesn't stink.

Finally, our captain gunned the engine and gave us a thrill ride under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was too cool.