Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thanks for the Joy

So, I'm watching this PBS special on the music of the '70s, where they bring out all the old fossils and get them to perform their greatest hits...and most of it's really just good, cheesy fun (Gary Wright doing Dream Weaver, Leo Sayer doing When I Need You, Taste of Honey doing Boogie Oogie Oogie, etc.).

But then Dobie Gray comes out and does Drift Away.

I swear, it almost made me cry. His voice is still so incredible, and he's just this genuine, classy, amazing presence on stage. I can't even describe his performance. It just moved me beyond words.

Here's the clip (god I love youtube).

Friday, July 06, 2007

Apropos of Nothing....

I have decided that the difference between the Italians and the Irish is that the Italians find romance in tragedy and the Irish find tragedy in romance.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Art at Your Feet III

In keeping with our Barnyard Animals on Utility Hatches theme, take a gander at these three geese I found in front of a shop on 16th Street in the Mission. I'm not sure what they are trying to tell me. Are geese—like their pastoral compatriots, the sheep—natural followers? Do they need a measure of goading to be their own geese, as it were? I wouldn't have thought so. Certainly, the noble up-tilt of their heads on those long, straight necks suggests a certain level of innate uppitiness. Is this, perhaps, an anti-foie gras statement? Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Goodbye, Nancy

Two weeks ago, we heard the news that Nancy Tannenbaum had died. Nancy was a bandmate of my husband's nearly a decade ago, in a band called Whitey Gomez, but in recent years she'd been living in New York, and we hadn't seen her or heard from her much in quite a while.

Despite that, I thought of her fairly often. Whitey Gomez was only together for a couple of years, but there are so many stories about Nancy that we still tell...so many things she did or said that were utterly, unforgettably her. The time she told a fellow performer--a puffed-up local rocker whose music and attitude she loathed--that his set had been so good she wanted to give him a blow job right then and there. The time a massive, clueless oaf stood in front of her in a club, blocking her view of the stage, and--rather than take him to task--Nancy just laid her head softly on his back until he got creeped out and moved away. The time she spat obscenities at the bartender in a backwater Oregon strip bar because he tried to stop her from coming in to use the bathroom. Never mind that if a fight broke out her male bandmates were going to have to take the punches. Nancy had to pee.

Nancy was a unique combination of fierce and fragile. A little fireplug of a gal, with a go-for-broke guitar style and a penchant for fast motorcycles. In an online personals ad, searching for romance, she described herself as "kike dyke on bike." That was Nancy.

She couldn't have been more than 5'2", but she had huge talent. Hunched over her guitar, with her face screwed tight as if she were trying to get the lid off a particularly sticky jar, she'd wring out twangy honky-tonk riffs and blistering, surfy runs. And when the song was over and people clapped and cheered, she'd look up, delighted and surprised, as if she'd finally opened the jar and springy fabric snakes had popped out.

On the other hand, she had a volcanic temper--explosive, white hot and unpredictable. It cost her jobs, bands and friendships, that temper, and I always wondered if that's what it was supposed to do. Test the connections. Sever the weak ties before she depended on them and they let her down. Or the other way around, maybe. She once confided in me her fear that the band was going to dump her and walk away. I told her, "They won't walk away unless you push them away, Nancy." She stared at her shoes, glumly, as if that were a foregone conclusion.

I don't know that I've ever met anyone who wanted to be loved as desperately as Nancy did, or who seemed as convinced she wasn't lovable. And, yet, lovable she was. She was howlingly funny, in an endearing, off-kilter way, and so much smarter than she let anyone give her credit for. Joy could overtake her as quickly and completely as anger. She had survived some hard living. She loved her friends. She lived for music.

The day she died, she was driving her brand new red Ducati through the streets of Manhattan. She died because she swerved to avoid hitting a jaywalker. Because of her decision, he ended up with only a head injury and a broken leg. She was thrown and died on the way to the hospital.

Fierce and fragile.

That was Nancy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Art at Your Feet II

This beauty of a bovine gazes balefully from a utility hatch in front of Beck's Motor Lodge on Market Street.

I think she is, perhaps, the loveliest cow ever to grace a utility hatch.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

No Visible Means of Support

Perhaps I watched way too much of The Jetsons as a child, but I always thought technology was supposed to make our lives more efficient. By now, we were all supposed to be zipping around in flying cars and leaving the drudgeries of life to the robot maid. Weren't we? I'm not the only one who feels ripped off: my friend Stephen has been known to grouse, "Where the hell is my hovercraft??" Where, indeed, Stephen... where, indeed. It's probably in some undisclosed government warehouse with my Replicator.

Instead of whipping up perfect casseroles with the touch of a button, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and psychic energy wrangling my technology...coaxing my browser to open Wikipedia without crashing, force-quitting out of applications that have inexplicably gotten their panties in a bunch, and praying that twackity-thwackity noise my computer is making isn't the death throes of my hard drive.

Email has become my bad boyfriend—he treats me like dirt, but I can't live without him. Unreliable, mercurial and insensitive to my mounting frustration and my longing for stability, that Email is one bad mutha-shutyomouth.

A spammer has filched my domain and has been using it to send prodigious amounts of crap to people all over the world. I know this because I get the blowback—automated "out-of-office" and "delivery denied" notices fill my inbox, along with an occasional note from a real (and really ticked off) person—usually in a foreign language, which makes any attempt at explanation on my part pointless.

This has been happening for several months, with no sign of letting up, and now my legitimate emails are beginning to hit walls of resistance, erected to keep spam-spewing scum like me out. It's a form of identity theft, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it, short of retiring my domain name and starting over. My clever attempt to set up an alias so that I could get past the ramparts of one client's system resulted in me wiping out the contents of my Inbox and my Sent Mail file with one cavalier keystroke. Clearly, I am not as smart as the spammers, and that really chaps my ass.

Meanwhile, emails to me are being rejected by my own email provider, Speakeasy, for what appear to be entirely separate reasons...though I can't be certain they are separate, because the 12-year-old I spoke with in "tech support" won't stop playing World of Warcraft long enough to actually investigate an issue that isn't covered in his phone script.

Why do I always get those guys? You know them: new to the job (or any job, really) and trained only so much as handing someone a binder and pointing to a desk with a phone on it constitutes training. Unfamiliar with, and uninterested in, the technology they are charged with supporting, they seem to get paid to sound young and earnest as they consign your trouble ticket to the bit-bucket of obscurity.

So here I am, venting my frustration into the blogosphere, knowing no one will read it, knowing it will change nothing. I might as well stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and shout my complaints into the chasm...but, hey, it feels good anyway.

Ain't technology grand?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Art at Your Feet #1

One of my favorite things about San Francisco is that everywhere you go, there's art. Not the big-ticket public art you see in Chicago or Paris, but little scraps of wonder scattered on the sidewalks like so much confetti.

Whenever I stumble on one of these little works, I feel as if I have a delicious secret. I photograph it with my horrible cellphone camera, and tuck it away in my pocket.

This stenciled pigeon, which I found at the corner of Van Ness & Market, says "thank you for your filth."