Laughter in the Heart of America?
The entire community of Oklahoma City paused this week for a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of the tragedy and to give the photographers time to reload.
Such a powerhouse week for disaster. The so-called Unabomber, now apparently working out of Oakland and responsible for another recent mail-bomb murder, may soon be joining the pages of the New York Times. S.F. State journalism students, take note: The Times is willing to cut deals for freelancers.
The sudden "appearance" of nationwide militia groups brings up the notion that our Constitution has somehow been forgotten, that our Founding Fathers have been ignored. Let's give credit where credit is due here. Yes, our Founding Fathers drafted a document for the new republic, but they were also half-blind, lecherous alcoholics who grew hemp, wrote essays on farts and impregnated the hired help. It makes sense that whoever holds these "fathers" up on a pedestal also would follow the paranoid ramblings of a Michigan janitor who has his own shortwave-radio talk show.
The apocalyptic chain of events is not lost on the city. The Bay Area traditionally reacts to tragedy with reverie. At a party given by Susan Horsfall and Carole Vernier, among others, celebrating the first anniversary of Richard Nixon's death (complete with a DJ blowing the dust off old boomer songs: "Say, wait a minute Chester, now I'm a peaceful man"), a tasteless joke circulates about a new rehabilitation project called Tempura House -- "for lightly battered women."
At a recent show at the Punch Line, Barry Weintraub imagines a meeting of panicked Ryder Truck Rental representatives, sweating from their association with both the Oklahoma and World Trade Center bombings: "Fuck, isn't there a U-Haul dealer anywhere near here?" And Marc Maron re-enacts the long-awaited thrill of finally gaining access to an Internet chat room and discovering the excitement of the information superhighway firsthand:
First typist: "Do you like dogs?"
Second typist: "Yes, I like dogs!"
First: "I'm living it!"
Suddenly cops kick the door down, with guns pointed: "There's the dog fucker!"
For a more feminine diversion from the world, check out the weekly Women With Balls comedy showcase at 8 pm on Thursdays at Cat's Grill. This all-female show celebrates its first anniversary May 4, but according to producer Mimi=Freed, any male comic can take the stage -- "if they show up in drag."
Also celebrating a first anniversary is the Scairy Hairy Toy Company, located at Little Frankensteins, a comics shop at 3804 17th Street and Sanchez. What youngster wouldn't find solace from terrorism in a homemade toy named the Dammit Doll? For adults, the store offers original comic art by folks like S. Clay Wilson and Roberta Gregory, plus an actual three-hole, miniature golf course.
In an especially good mood these days is photographer Charles Gatewood, despite the rejection of his newest film, Bloodbath, from the San Francisco International Film Festival. The three-minute short features the cutting of human flesh, followed by scenes in which actresses Danielle Willis, Dharma and Violet drink each other's blood. It's the newest dangerous game in the hardcore underground, according to Gatewood, veteran director of many tattoo and piercing documentaries. So dangerous that the festival's selection committee provided the following comments:
"Well, I learned something new about people, but not about filmmaking."
"Disturbing but seemed pointless. Not very interesting."
"After the initial shock value, it's pretty pointless. Tedious necroporn."
"I needed more development beyond the sensationalism of the imagery."
"Too pornographic/blood. Too gross."
Those who don't find the prospect of Bloodbath too gross and desire a free catalogue of Gatewood's work should send a proof-of-age statement to Flash Video, Box 410052, San Francisco, CA 94141. Say you saw it in the Weekly.
It's already a media clichŽ that the world is increasingly apocalyptic. But while bombs detonate from coast to coast, gun nuts in cammo gear play army throughout our country's wooded areas and political parties continue to blame each other, the real trick is finding out how to have a good time amidst it all. Our Founding Fathers did.
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