An Open Letter to Mrs. San Francisco
I know it's been a long time. That was the deal. No letters or phone calls, until each of us met someone else and felt comfortable talking again. Well, it looks like you met another guy. Of course, I didn't find out from you. It was all over the TV. The parties, the receptions. All my friends saw it. How do you think that makes me feel? I can't help but think you worked in conjunction with the media, just to make me look stupid.
Sorry for the choppy sentences. I'm just real emotional right now.
I guess what I'm saying is, this must be it. I wish it were different. We've worked out these things in the past -- you hung out with other guys (black tie, from what I understand), I had a few flings on the side (a ballerina, a factory worker, nobody special). But we always got back together. We seemed like the perfect San Francisco couple: you a big society figure, me a columnist for a major media outlet, out on the town, joking with the waiters, sitting in the opera box trying not to laugh at Willie's bald spot. All the private little games we used to play: spanky-panky; hide the kielbasa; count the bums. And those occasional mornings where we'd just stay in bed and marvel at the prescience of KTVU traffic reporter Sal Castaneda.
But you probably don't remember any of that now. You're on a private jet somewhere, clinking champagne glasses and giggling over the new bon mot George overheard at the Cato Institute. You had to go and rub it in by hitching up with a big-shot ex-Cabinet member, didn't you? Another old politician-with-a-heart-of-coal, a school mascot tattooed on his ass. I guess that's supposed to be hip or something.
Well, I don't know if you know this or if you care, but I'm doing pretty damn well myself. I now share the page with a cartoon called Red Meat.
I guess I should thank you for all you've taught me. How to eat a flaming dessert. How much to tip room service so mouths stay shut. How to convince Stanlee Gatti to bend over backward for you and make him think he's doing you a favor.
And I know I taught you a few things. The guilty pleasures of Dominican cigars and the Stooges' "Search and Destroy" at full volume on Highway 1. The Rabelaisian charm of going to the Covered Wagon and doing a Jell-O shot from between the breasts of a stripper named Boobzilla. You didn't even know what a lap dance was -- but I have to say, you caught on pretty fast.
If wishes could come true, I'd like to offer a few. First, I guess I wish you two great happiness in the remaining years you have together, even though a part of me will always hurt. I hope you accomplish everything you have left to do in this world. But most of all, I just wish you'd waited.
P.S.: You can keep the enema bag. I was never really into that stuff anyway.
Tales of the Tales
Publicity continues over the upcoming TV series based on the sequel to Tales of the City, the playful Armistead Maupin novel with characters living in a building in impossibly expensive Russian Hill. Less popular is Maupin's counterpart from the 1990s, the pseudonymous "David Hunt," who published The Magician's Tale this past June, a moody novel also set in impossibly expensive Russian Hill (with occasional forays into South of Market and Polk Gulch). After an advertising assault this spring for The Magician's Tale that included banner ads on sides of Muni buses, the book has sold nearly 60 copies at Borders. Bookstores in other areas of the city have had less success.
Russian Hill Books has never heard of the atmospheric thriller, despite it taking place in the neighborhood of the same name. Green Apple Books in the Richmond stocks several copies of The Magician's Tale, but has seen so many people trying to unload used editions the store refuses to buy any more back. A representative admits, "We haven't sold a new copy since June." The primary reason the book seems more popular with tourists than locals would probably be the tone, as in this excerpt, in which the main character, a colorblind photographer, reminisces about her job at a South of Market newspaper called the Bay Area News:
The wages were lousy, barely enough to get me by. I ended up sharing a ratty Edwardian on Cole Street with three News colleagues. But the work was fun, we were young, high-spirited, priding ourselves on breaking stories the mainstream press wouldn't touch. Even more we enjoyed smashing taboos, inserting obscene words into articles, praising alternative rock bands with names like Genitorture and, for the hell of it, kicking the Establishment in the butt.
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