Of Legos ...
Perhaps because of last week's book festival, the Bay Area has recently whelped a host of interesting new tomes. SF Weekly readers who remember my cover story last year on Mal Sharpe (see "Mal on the Street," May 24, 1995), the man who mastered '60s man-on-the-street interviews, will be interested in Weird Rooms, by Mal and his wife, Sandra. It's a strange and fascinating coffee-table collection of photos and interviews with people who have decorated their homes to excess.
Paging through the images of rooms packed with fake fruit, smiley faces, monsters, Legos, or abalone shells, the reader will understand how much sense it makes that most of these people live in the Bay Area. Try Pomegranate Artbooks in Rohnert Park.
Not to be outdone in weirdness, Berkeley's Ten Speed Press offers The Compleat Cockroach, an exhaustive exploration of the world's most repulsive living organism. Readers will giggle with delight after discovering that roaches can survive a complete decapitation. Blattaria fans will whoop with joy upon realizing a cockroach breaks wind every 15 minutes, and that insect flatulence is said to account for 20 percent of all methane emissions on Earth. ... Mating rituals, roach racing, poems by an early 20th-century cockroach newspaper columnist named archy, reports of children's eyelashes being nibbled by roaches, tiny sculptures of roaches golfing and hot-tubbing. ... And people say the written word is dead.
If anyone in the Bay Area is qualified to edit an anthology about masturbation, it's Joanie Blank, the sex educator who founded Down There Press, the Sexuality Library, and the Good Vibrations empire. First Person Sexual compiles over 40 personal masturbation experiences from men and women, stories as detailed and explicit as you'll ever need, whether you're home alone or finishing a sandwich in the lunchroom. No photos or illustrations; none needed.
Don't Eat the Brown Satay
Ron Reagan Jr. sits on a fashionable sofa, a large Webstock '96 banner behind him, smiling effortlessly at the encroaching photographers and video cameras. Downstairs roars the opening night party for the much-hyped "Internet Community Festival" at Silicon Reef on 17th Street near Folsom, where the khakis and expensive black blazers loiter at the satay peanut sauce bowl, admiring each other's designer eyeglasses and ignoring the table of mouse pads and "stress balls" adorned with the Webstock "DO something" logo.
But Reagan doesn't have time to consider that. He's about to interview cyberspace impresario Andrew Shue, better known as "Billy" on Melrose Place, who is the celebrity figurehead for this feel-good festival that will enrich and educate the world -- plus end homelessness as we know it.
A makeup artist quickly dusts their TV-friendly cheekbones, the room's door is shut to keep out the riffraff. It's time to tango. With a camera two feet from his face, Shue answers questions about the project with expert eyebrow-expressing sincerity: "It started four years ago ... an army of doers ... computers is a big part of it ... it's an exciting time." Then Shue stuns the entire room: "Let the people who live in the community be the ones to solve the problems."
Reagan smiles. The interview is over. Shue takes off his mike and is approached by a big guy in a dumpy sweater from KFOG, who snivels, "Andrew, could I ask you a quick question about this becoming a reality?" Shue obliges, and is then besieged by two young women from another local radio station, who gleefully take the actor's picture. A blond woman bristling with walkie-talkies sees the unauthorized photo session and kicks them out of the room.
Later, they fume: "The dirty blond bitch threw us out!" exclaims one. "She says, 'What does your station need photos for?' "
The other jumps in: "Just because we're radio doesn't mean we're not visual!"
And that was the most exciting moment of the entire evening.
For several weeks a Mission dive bar known as the Tip Top Inn has been featuring its continuing series of superspecial celebrity guest bartenders. This Friday, Nov. 8, none other than the author of this esteemed, highly influential column will be toiling behind the plank. Order something easy. The Tip Top is at 3001 Mission.