San Francisco Gay Pride Parade

San Francisco Gay Pride Parade balloons

Think I can get Chris onboard with these for Halloween?

With Chris still nursing his post-surgery shoulder, and my friend Martin, who describes himself as the least gay gay man out there, turning down my invite to go watch the 42nd Annual San Francisco Gay Pride Parade this Sunday (“Why would you want to go to that? It’s a just bunch of gays, parading,” he told me), it was just me and my trusty steed.

The weather gods rolled out a beautiful day for the extravaganza. I biked through several blissfully car-free streets and made friends with a nice couple in a prime viewing spot, until a nearby bum on the verge of barfing sent us scattering. So I tucked into a group of chatty Asian boys a few feet away.

From there, we watched the rainbow-soaked show, complete with politicians waving flags, floats thumping with techno beats, and performers of all types. Celebs included comedian Sarah Silverman and Glee star Dot Jones, whose presence sent the crowd into appropriately gleeful shrieks. My favorite costumes were these incredibly colorful balloon thingies that looked like giant sea anenomes. (Yes, I’m already getting inspired for Halloween.)

Though the whole scene was a bit less dramatic and flamboyant than I expected (I’m still surprised I saw not a single saggy, old-man ass), the whole mood was delightfully, and deservedly, joyous. I thought often of a close friend going through some serious struggles with his family over his homosexuality, and how I wished he was there with me, in an environment that supports people and celebrates their differences, in a city that’s ground zero for gay rights.

And that’s how I spent my Sunday morning: watching a bunch of gays, parading. But considering their collective journey — and my dear friend’s current struggles – that, in and of itself, was worthy of some spirited applause.


An Open Letter to Foie Gras Protesters

foie gras protest san francisco california

A barf-worthy buffet

Hey there, guys. It’s been a busy few months for you, hasn’t it? You’ve barely packed up your Eddie Bauer tents from Occupy, and there you were, right back on the scene, with your protests on foie gras, especially here in the Bay Area.

First of all, I want to say I think foie gras disgusting, too. I’ve tried it a few times (believe me, I feel pretty elitist even admitting that) and for me it takes like a mix of moldy lunch meat, mothballs and Elmer’s Paste. And how it’s made – force-feeding poor geese and ducks to fatten up their livers – is just as vile.

So I’ve never understood all the hype from foodies and Frenchies. But what I’m really having trouble comprehending is why you focused such energy and vitriol on something that takes up waaaaayyyy less than 1% (I know you’re familiar with that number!) of the collective consciousness, and an even smaller impact on the purchasing decisions of the everyday person.

Let’s break it down: Just a guess here (I couldn’t find any official numbers), but foie gras is served in probably less than 10 percent of the restaurants in California. Of those, it represents one, maybe two, menu items. Beyond that, the 98 percent or so of people who have never even tried the so-called delicacy are stuffing their faces with food from factories where the atrocities committed on animals make foie gras production look like The Beverly Hills Chihuahua. What’s more, foie gras fanatics can get their fix at any of the other 49 states that haven’t banned it.

So, in terms of making your effort really count and changing behavior, you’ve done about as much good as rehab has for Lindsay Lohan. Why in the name of hemp didn’t you bring your bullhorns and bullying to any of the thousands of Wendy’s locations, for example, which has been targeted for animal cruelty in the past and is now serving a foie gras burger in Japan?

But hey, hats off to you for the victory – the foie gras ban went into effect this Sunday. I can’t wait to see what you’ll cry fowl, er, foul on next.

How Not to Get Washboard Abs (ie, the Atomic Sit Up), Nasty Airline Passengers and Other Topics of Conversation With Mormons in Row 16

Mormon tours Mormon travel

Mormons: They’re not all full of hot air.

I was about three f-bombs into animated conversation with my Row 16 seatmates on a recent flight when I realized they were both Mormons.


I blame my idiocy on exhaustion and having to run like a scalded-ass ape to make the flight, but somehow the fact that we were departing from Salt Lake City — and that one of them was wearing a BYU cap — didn’t register.

It didn’t matter, though. These two good-natured dudes, who were friends and co-workers headed to San Francisco on business, barely flinched at my sailor’s mouth, and the two-hour flight felt like 20 minutes as we laughed, talked, and laughed some more over everything from ill-behaving passengers to the gloriously disgusting Atomic Sit-Up (more on that below). It was the most fun I’ve had with strangers since that out-of-control kegger senior year at college (I’m kidding, Dad – put your eyeballs back in their sockets).

Happy Father’s Day From San Francisco, Daddy-o

Its a Wonderful World

 When my dad played “What a Wonderful World” at my and Chris’s wedding, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (or, rather, on the beach).

The trumpet he played is the same one he’s had since high school, battered and banged up and yet, by virtue of its history and the person playing it, perfectly beautiful. When he opened the case for an early practice session I happened to be there for, I caught a glimpse of a dusty old Bayer bottle inside.

It struck me as odd that a high school student would be forward-thinking enough to tuck a bottle of aspirin into his musical case to ward off headaches. Turns out, the bottle held something far more interesting — whiskey, my dad explained, to ward off potential nerves before performing.

He only dipped into it one time, he told me, before some big concert that he of course aced. After trumpet in high school, he taught himself piano and guitar, the latter of which provided the family entertainment when the power would go out many years ago. My mom would light the candles, my dad would pull out his guitar, and my brother and me would listen, enchanted, as this rarely seen side of our father would come alive, his fingers dancing over the strings.

He sang as he played, too, songs I didn’t know but painted a vivid picture in my mind. Especially “San Francisco Blues,” which talks about a lovesick fellow whose girl has left his sorry ass — rightfully and dramatically so — and sailed away on an ocean liner after he admittedly treated her bad.

I’ve logged a fair share of miles walking around San Francisco since moving here almost a year ago. And wherever I go, my dad’s voice singing that song always seems to ring in my head, not so much because of the meaning behind it, but the fact that I’m living in the very same city where it takes place. Especially the line “I ain’t got a nickel, and I ain’t got a lousy dime” — perhaps because San Francisco, awesome as it is, is doing its best to bankrupt us.

San Francisco is about 2,500 miles away from Florida, where my parents live, but I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to my incredible dad, Bob (Daddy-o, to me), and all the innumerable ways he’s busted his hump for his family. Despite the distance, I know he’ll always be there for me, whenever I need him.

And that’s an unparalleled kind of comfort, kind of like a Bayer aspirin bottle full of whiskey, quietly tucked into a trumpet case.

On the DL

It’s taken quite a while to stop feeling like a circus clown on a tricycle in the Tour de France while riding my bike in San Francisco.

It’s no secret that the City by the Bay is also the City of Bad-Ass Cyclists, which can be a trifle intimidating for someone who’s been riding for just a few years. Initially, it showed. Used to be that, at stoplights, I’d barely have my feet on the pedals, anticipating the first flash of green, when scores of fixie-mounted hipsters would scream past. I’d have to dismount and trudge, gasping for breath, up monster hills. And the misery wouldn’t end once I arrived at my destination: Locking up my bike used to look like a crocodile wrestling match, and I’d walk in sweating like a whore in church not just from the exertion of the ride but the effort of making sure SF’s notorious bike-theft scoundrels didn’t make off with my wheels.

Things have improved, though, and I’m pretty comfortable riding in traffic, up hills and even at night. I’ve even survived getting hit by a car. (OK — it was more like bumped, and I wasn’t hurt, as some moronic driver backed into my wheel while I was in a crosswalk. But seeing the speechless shock of an elderly passer-by – all she needed was a strand of pearls to clutch — was validation that I’d cheated death.)

And Chris has really ratcheted up his pedal prowess. He’s a bike commuter and rides at least 15 miles, usually more, to and from the train station every day. A few months ago, he tried out for and made a local cycling team (with the awesome name Roaring Mouse) – no small feat in these bike-obsessed environs – and even once slogged through 82 rainy miles from our house to wine country. Here’s what his legs looked like after that journey (and no, he’s not wearing leggings):

We’d always enjoyed riding in Atlanta, but here, it’s become ingrained in our lifestyle. We ride whenever we can: to dinner, to meet our (admittedly few) friends, and, best of all, around wine country. Biking has become something we cherish as a couple (and no, we don’t always dress like such buffoons — this was for a circus-themed ride, a terrific monthly party-on-wheels called San Francisco Bike Party. But now that I think about it, this getup would have perfectly matched my initial feelings of ineptness.).

But, at least for the next few months, biking will be on hiatus, as Chris had an accident about two weeks ago and injured his shoulder. It will require surgery, which is scheduled for next week, and he’ll have at least six weeks’ worth of physical therapy before he can ride again. And while we both know it could have been so much worse – his helmet took a significant ding after he launched over the handlebars – the whole situation just really bites ass.

Perhaps it’s out of compassion for his plight that I’ve ridden exactly twice since his accident. Aside from missing him beside me, I’m amazed (and disappointed) how much bike-specific fitness seems to have slipped from my body in just two weeks. En route to run some errands in the neighborhood, I huffed and puffed like the Big Bad Wolf up hills I’d barely broken a sweat over before. My quads groaned, my calves squealed and my messenger bag felt like I was hauling a bowling ball, and a few self-deprecating thoughts began to bubble up in my brain.

But I quickly silenced them. Because at least I can ride – or run or do yoga or whatever other form of sweat-inducing activity I choose – unlike a sweet, sling-wearing man at home on the couch, watching the Tour de Whatever and biding his time until he’s back on the saddle.

Baaah in Bernal Heights


Just an ordinary relaxing Sunday afternoon in our San Francisco neighborhood of Bernal Heights: late lunch at Moonlight Cafe, browsing at the bookstore, ice cream, and meeting a nice fellow neighbor and his pet goat, Fiona.


Fluffy the Big Lots cat

Meow: Meet Fluffy, the Big Lots cat who provides big laughs

Meet Fluffy. I’m not a cat person, but how can anyone not love this wretched creature, out of pity at the very least? I mean, just look at that mangy, falling-off fur. And that snaggletoothed, mid-screech mouth and disturbingly arched back. It’s like it caught a glimpse of itself in the mirror.

Its ability to scare at least a few — if not all nine — lives out of anyone, and therefore, elicit uncontrollable laughter from me has more than paid for its $15 price tag at Big Lots.

Fluffy was a Halloween gift from Chris a few years back, but he’s become a year-round presence in our household because he’s so freaking good at frightening people. Just ask my mom, who didn’t exactly relish being greeted by him when she stepped out of bed or the shower when my folks were visiting. My gigglebox still gets turned over when I think about how she shuddered in fear every single time she caught a glimpse of that cat, which, thanks to me, crept in her footsteps for five solid days.

So she begged Chris to put him in a place where I couldn’t find him, and since I avoid his closet/man cave at all costs – it’s more terrifying than Fluffy himself – he figured that was just the spot.

I can’t even remember what required my recent presence in that godforsaken warren of crap, but finding Fluffy and taking him out of his months-long hibernation was well worth it. I put him on a table in our bedroom while I schemed our next plot and its victim.

Fast forward to a few days later, when I was changing clothes in my closet. At the time, Chris was across the landing in our bedroom, in the line of sight of both Fluffy, in all his hideous glory on the table, and me, in all my naked (wouldn’t quite call it) glory in the closet.

Now, Chris has always referred to my lady bits in the most respectable manner. So when he piped up with, “So, babe, pulling out the cat, are you?” as I stripped off my pants, I was more than a bit taken aback.

Wrong cat, as it turns out: He was referring to Fluffy, not me.

Touché, Fluffy. Way to turn the tables, you prankster pussy.