F Is for Fun
Given that this city will find any excuse to release balloons into the air, last week Union Square hosted yet another quintessential PR-driven entertainment event -- noisy, dated, and above all else, confusing. From noon to 1 p.m., a crowd witnessed the splashy launch of a new line of Grateful Dead neckties, each with a little Deadhead skull sewed on the back. (Apparently Jerry's ties haven't sufficiently sated that hippie/businessman neckwear market.) In addition to the show of sartorial splendor, live entertainment included the Golden Gate Park band-shell band, bridge-and-tunnel lounge favorite Bud E. Love, the Ethel Merman Memorial Choir, an a cappella group called the House Jacks, hippie clown Wavy Gravy, and two girls engaged in a footbag demonstration (i.e., hacky-sacking). In short, a performance goulash, which grew more bizarre as the show progressed. When Wavy Gravy took the mike and implored the listless crowd to "Give me an F," on his way to spelling out the word "fun," the meaning of the entire event became clear. "Nobody cared," said one participant quietly. "It was sad." For you impulse shoppers, the company that sponsored the occasion, Mulberry Thai Silks, distributes their product through Macy's.
Beanpoles by the Bay
In 1938, a tall woman named Kae Sumner Einfeldt was living in Southern California working for Walt Disney Studios, at that time in production for Snow White. Apparently frustrated with her social situation, Kae ran an ad in the L.A. Times which read: "Six Foot Three, Now What Will It Be?" She met some tall folks, and nine of them formed their own tall-person club that year. The idea expanded around the United States, with the Bay Area's Golden Gate Tip Toppers first convening their chapter in 1946. This weekend, the Tip Toppers mark their 50th anniversary with a series of gala dinners, dancing, a Sunday brunch, and a hike on Angel Island.
The Tip Toppers are an affiliate of Tall Clubs International Inc. (TCI), which unites 60 tall-person clubs throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, England, Australia, Belgium, and Scandinavia, with a total of several thousand members worldwide. But lest you think all these tall folks are a bunch of lanky swingers on the make, they stress that theirs is a legitimate social organization. Tip Toppers are heavily involved in lobbying for larger-size things in the world. Like mattresses. They raise funds to help those with Marfan syndrome, an ailment peculiar to tall people, and also provide scholarships for tall kids. Members attend one or two events a week, stopping by to say "What's up?" at other TCI chapters in Sebastopol, Sacramento, and farther down the Peninsula. Membership is open to anyone who is, well, tall. Women should be at least 5 feet 10 inches, and men should brush the rafters at a minimum of 6 feet 2 inches. Publicity Director Dan Gilmore admits he's but a measly 6 feet 4 inches: "I'm one of the little guys, actually." Tip Topper Hot Line: (415) 281-5664.
Kick a Man While He's Down
The murder of rapper Tupac Shakur has not gone unnoticed in the world of gallows humor, if the University of Wisconsin at Madison's satirical Website The Onion is any indication (www.theonion.com). The newest edition contains a very realistic-sounding story about a heavily armed posse opening fire on Shakur's corpse as it was driven to the cemetery, sending friends and family diving for cover. The Onion slyly reports the attack was the third time since Shakur's death that his corpse had been shot -- one incident occurred as the body was transferred from the hospital to the morgue, and another drive-by while the ambulance was being loaded en route to a funeral home, for a total of 27 rounds. Shakur's funeral was supposedly delayed 24 hours until a reverend could be found who was fearless enough to actually stand near the deceased rap star. Other tasteless Onion stories on the site are teased by equal-opportunity headlines such as "Area Stoners Mistakenly Hold Massive Kemp Rally";"Amish Give Up: 'This is bullshit,' elders say"; "Buchanan Woos Gay Vote: 'I Promise I Will Not Incinerate You' "; and "Chinese Athletes Put Back Into Storage."
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