Yesterday was quite the day. The best of the bay and my life rolled into a less than 12 hour stretch of time. There seemsto be so much going on this weekend, I can barely keep up, but I'm tryin', folks, I am tryin'.
First was a one-year birthday party for baby J. at Lake Temescal in Oakland. One year of life on earth is a big deal, and the birthday boy was taking it all in stride, and didn't seem tired at all the whole time we were there. He was playing and jumping on his lil' one-year-old legs with all the other babies and kids, including my godson K., whom I only got to see for a short while since we had arrived late. His mom had just fed him so he was nice and full and happy (and heavy! I swear the kid's gained weight since I saw him two weeks ago), and smelled fresh and clean and innocent as only babies can. H. and I consumed small portions of BBQ chicken, hot dogs and potato chips, and were a little taken aback at the lack of rice at this Filipino-Vietnamese family shindig, but there was some shanghai lumpia and remnants of a grilled salmon that had been devoured by the party-goers that actually came on time (a novel concept, eh?).
I'd forgotten how nice Lake Temescal is, and it was especially lovely yesterday afternoon, partially because the weather was so warm, that perfect Oakland weather, and partially because the park was nearly empty, a shock on a nice day like yesterday. So H. and I enjoyed the sunshine and heat while we caught up a bit with folks we hadn't seen in a while--H. ran into his old DJ-buddy M., whose girlfriend C. I know, small world--and took a quick walk around the park. The place brought back some old, buried memories for me: it was the park that my ex and I had planned o have our wedding in. Going back there now, I marveled at how I could pick such a spot for my wedding. The park is nice but it's right next to Highway 24, and you can hear the steady buzz of cars zooming by as you stand among the redwoods. But I was a different person back then.
After the baby-party, H. and I did some quick thrift-store shopping--I got a cool kelly green shirt that shows off my shoulders very nicely--and then headed back to Frisco for the Writers with Drinks literary salon, held at the boho-sexy Makeout Room, which is one of my favorite bars in SF because of the friendly bartenders and eclectic crowd, and the stiff pint-sized margaritas ain't too shabby neitha'.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, since I'd heard about WWD from a couple other writer friends, and then caught Marianne Villanueva's posting that she was going to be reading there this Saturday. Another event I've been to at the Makeout Room is the infamously fun burlesque show, which for a while was happening every Monday night but is now a not-so-regular occurrence there. The show was hot and diverse, featuring plus-size women, skinny-pole women, and in-between women of all colors, and the crowd was more than half women, many of them queer.
Well, the Makeout Room and WWD didn't disappoint last night. The MC, Charlie (like the perfume?) was a lithe tranny girl in a sweet lacy strapless dress that I was eyeing (I'm feeling the vintage stuff right now, can you tell?), and she was funny as fuck. She would go off on these wild imaginings while introducing each writer, proclaiming that one writer was Sonny Bono's secret gay lover, that another had started her own religion for lapsed Pentecostals, Mormons and Baptists, and that Marianne Villanueva was famed for her contributions to 'reverse geneology'--the science of trying to prove that you are not related to so-and-so.
Charlie's saucy introductions led to intriguing performances from the diverse and heavily queer lineup of writers, most notably from Will Franken, a brilliant stand-up comic who can both imitate the sound of a record playing backwards with uncanny skill and mock the 'John Kerry is God' political circus being played out before us with freakish skill. The man is a walking radio drama. Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, from LA-LA land, read some poignant and funny poems about childhood and killing insects and frogs. And porn-lit powerhouse Jack Fritscher rocked the crowd (and probably disturbed some of the non-hardcore folks, like myself) with his pre-AIDS, queer-punk, BDSM-style Robert Mapplethorpe-related fisting (yes, I said fisting) story.
H. and I were rolling and stimulated, shocked and awed by the freaks on the stage--and I say 'freaks' with the best possible intention. I'd been getting a little bored with the standard literary readings: nice, lyrical poems about washing dishes or death or vanilla heterosexual sex. And after living for the past year in Frisco I was beginning to wonder if this City still had the queer, radical, post-modern edge that it's so famous for. Well, folks, if you're looking for just one brief glimpse of that edge, check out WWD, and you'll see that it's there and gleaming and sharp and singular. And thank God.
I felt for Marianne, who had emailed me previously that she had never been to the Makeout Room and didn't know what to expect from the reading. I know her work would never fall under the 'erotica' category per se, but I was still looking forward to hearing her read amidst the glitz and red drapery of the Makeout Room. And she delivered gracefully, giving a shout out to the Pinays in the house (there were like four of us) and bravely delving into her nuanced story of a Filipino Everyman (is that an oxymoron? I don't think so), Vic, and his office love affair with a beautiful Vietnamese woman, Selena. I'm looking forward to the upcoming release of her new book--Mayor of the Roses--which she says should be out in early 2005.
And finally, copyright / intellectual property law attorney (I told you the lineup was diverse) Lawrence Lessig educated us all on the dangers, absurdities and general fucked-upedness of intellectual property laws. Read his blog to find out more, especially if you're a writer or artist of any kind. Deep stuff.
Oh, yes, and finally finally, H. and I stumbled through the Valencia street gentro drunkenness over to T.'s new digs--a POC Mission district mansion if I've ever seen one--to belt out some karaoke tunes for her 29th birthday. Good folks, loud singing out of tune, and alcohol. Who could ask for anything more?