Table for One
Our second in a series of nocturnal mayoral sightings finds us at Powell's Place fried chicken joint in Hayes Valley. The MO remains essentially the same -- the mayoral limo double-parks out front, while the dapper mayor ducks inside to conduct his business. This night the moment brings no fanfare or exuberant backslapping, just muted whispers from tables of diners. Brown enters by himself -- no bodyguards or babes in sight -- and orders a fried chicken dinner to go, barking, "No butter!" to the kitchen. As the sharp-shouldered mayor receives his piping-hot meal in a paper bag and zips out to the waiting luxury cruiser, someone from Powell's exclaims, "That's my man!" and points to a color photo of Willie up on the wall, autographed to Powell's. The limo roars off with the mayor in the back seat, salivating over his upcoming meal.
Thanks for Coming
One of the most irritating things for a performer to encounter is an unruly audience. Comedian Ron Shock recently enjoyed this experience at Cobb's in the Cannery, as a table of drunks refused to shut up during his set. This wasn't any table of drunks -- apart from some city mayoral debates over the years, this was the worst public behavior I'd ever seen. Opening comic Jim Short suffered through their continual giggling and chatting; he watched as the table of 11 clinked a toast with 11 kamikaze shots. The rest of the crowd was growing uneasy, and the evening had the potential to become a complete nightmare as Shock took the stage.
A former Army man and safecracker who emerged from prison to become a high-ranking executive of Collier's publishing, Shock had a rich life before turning to comedy at age 40. The Texan's drawling storyteller act is reminiscent of a stoner Will Rogers, and suggests a life that might come with a fair amount of patience attached. Such was not the case this evening.
After a few initial interruptions from the table of drunks, Shock realized immediately what was up, walked to their side of the stage, and asked them nicely but sternly to keep it down, with "no talking, no chatting." One of the inebriated idiots sniveled back, "Can we laugh at your stupid jokes?" Shock answered that yes, they could laugh, but he was dead serious about this.
The show continued, and a few minutes later the "people" at the table -- all co-workers -- started yakking again. Shock pointed at them and said, "That's it. Refund their money. See you. Thanks for coming." Cobb's staff quickly escorted the table of 11 out of the club, to much applause. Shock surveyed the now-deserted area in the club, turned to the audience members at tables against the wall, and said with a half-smile, "If you folks want to move over and get closer, there seems to be a big gap here." He then proceeded to completely win the crowd over with another hour of material.
One of the original high-intensity Outlaw Comics from Houston, along with Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks, Shock can still turn up the juice when necessary. As Short commented later, "Those guys don't fuck around."
Ode to the City
Keep an eye out for the final issue of the local street zine Filth, to be published this month. Until then, you can enjoy the current "Control Freak" issue, found in finer cafes and taverns, which contains the ultimate essay about San Francisco, courtesy of Portland's Jim Goad. Some of his choicer observations:
* Almost down to the very last shaved anus, San Franciscans are a xenophobic breed. If you don't speak, look, and act like a San Franciscan, their policy is one of Zero Tolerance.
* Based on an unfortunate long-term trend of Freak Relocation, the town has become a sort of Kurdish tent village of refugee weirdlings. A once-pretty city with happy-floppy seagulls has degenerated into an island of white breads-in-exile who've all fled from hometown persecution. San Francisco's foggy hills have become America's Largest Support Group, a Jonestown for people who were socially traumatized in high school.
* You all need a crowd. You all need a movement. You need to be surrounded by the wool of a million other sheep before you finally feel warm. You all have social consciences because you're zeros as individuals. Your compassion for others is ironically founded on your own self-hatred.
* Are you all high on crack? Does some municipal law require you to either have a glass pipe or a dick in your mouth at all times? Who else would seriously try to argue that rape has nothing to do with sex or that racism has nothing to do with economics? The holes in your logic have been stretched wider than your sphincters. Any honest overview of African, Asian, and Hispanic cultures would reveal more sexism, homophobia, and ethnic strife than you could shake a white dick at. Everyone is born corrupt. White males were simply better at it.
* Maybe we could help San Francisco realize its multicultural dreams by immediately shipping a million or so Third World indigents there. Let them take your jobs while you starve for a while. We could forcibly relocate all the white-hipster undesirables out to Alcatraz, where they'd perform bloody gladiatorial feats to the delight of Kenyan tourists on paddle boats.