Pin It

Clueless in the Castro 

Wednesday, Jul 15 2009
Comments
Whenever something big happens in the realm of pop culture, I can't help but head to the Castro. I know that every television within a four-block radius will be tuned into the dirt.

Presently I can't afford cable TV, and my computer is so old that I cannot get any streaming stuff on it, so while the rest of you are probably sick to death of Michael Jackson coverage, I have been on a starvation diet.

The day before Michael Jackson's funeral was a sunny one in San Francisco, so I wanted to go somewhere light and airy to scope out the coverage. I hit Harvey's, named for Harvey Milk, which sits on a corner and is surrounded by windows. Most importantly, there is an ever-present TV in the bar with subtitles scrolling down its screen.

On my way in, I was addressed by a young chap with a clipboard. "Want to overturn Prop. 8?" he asked. I did what I usually do with people bearing clipboards — I got him to cut to the chase.

"Money or a signature?" I asked.

The answer was money.

"Do you know about Prop. 8?" he asked me. I assured him that I did. As we were standing on the corner of 18th and Castro streets, I just had to ask if he had come across anyone who didn't know what it was.

"Oh, sure," he said. "You'd be surprised."

"Gay people who don't know about Prop. 8?" I asked, flummoxed.

"Yep."

Jesus God. Here I was, scuttling my ass to the Castro because it seemed the most tuned-in part of the city. But I suppose gay people have a right to be clueless too.

Harvey's consists of a long bar with stools, and then dozens of tables of varying heights. There are neighborhood photos from the 1970s on the walls, and, unlike most of the bars in the Castro that have bartenders over 35, it seems to have a steady stream of hot young servers in attendance. They offer food, but in my opinion the menus are an afterthought. (I ordered a salad which sounded awesome on paper, but when it came it seemed to be a mélange of Trader Joe's products.)

Alas, there was no MJ on TV, but I knew if I waited long enough I would see some. The TV was, however, showing MSNBC, which could only happen in San Francisco. Walk into a bar in the middle of Wyoming and you'll see FOX News. At the airport you'll get the middle ground with CNN. But MSNBC is decidedly liberal.

Hardball with Chris Matthews was on, and the subject was Sarah Palin, who had "passed the ball to a forward guard before reaching the basket" or whatever the hell she was talking about. I was giddy. If I couldn't have some MJ, she would definitely be my second choice.

The bartender leaned in and took my order. Ah, the lean-in of a handsome man — how many tips have been inflated because of this one small act? (He also leaned in to several other guys and kissed them, so I'm thinking I wasn't his type.) A friend of his was sitting to my left; they were talking about the guy's night in jail, which normally would have my ears burning, but I was too intent on reading the subtitles to Palin's speech.

The Hardball pundits were, of course, having a field day, with those on her side again pointing out what a maverick she was, and those on the other side again pointing out what a dipshit she was. Palin said that she'd consulted her family and asked them what she should do, and that they all said "quit." Then the screen showed a picture of her whole family. There was Bristol, her teenage daughter and the mother of her grandchild.

Bristol Palin has recently become a spokeswoman for Candie's Foundation, which promotes teen abstinence. Yep. The company that originated "fuck-me" shoes for teens is now championing waiting until marriage by propping up someone who didn't. Candie's also held a contest to see who could come up with the best tagline for its movement. One young lady presented this gem, which is now emblazoned on T-shirts: "I'm Sexy Enough ... to Keep You Waiting." Gross!

More people were piling into Harvey's. Two raucous guys were at the end of the bar, whooping it up. Every time they yelled out something incoherent yet seemingly impolite, they would cover their mouths and giggle, looking at me guiltily. Whatever, dudes. The bartender shot them a look that said, "Shut it!" It took me a while to realize that they were making fun of Sarah Palin, not me. A lone diner to my right gave me a glance and rolled his eyes. He too had been following the subtitles on the tube.

"She's a peach," he said, which just about summed it all up for me as well.

"See that guy outside with the clipboard?" I said. "He says that he has come across people who don't know what Prop. 8 is. Can you believe that?"

"Is that the school tax thing?" he asked.

Wow. In some ways, not knowing things is probably a blessing on an existential level. If you don't get caught up in shit, you don't have to worry about shit. And I suppose if the gay Log Cabin Republicans can do their thing and disregard their party's gross negligence, then Joe Sixpack can ignore his own best interest as well.

I paid my bill and went outside, marching up to the activist kid with the clipboard with $5 in my hand. "Cool!" he said, writing out a receipt. "Keep up the good work," I said, heading down the street.

About The Author

Katy St. Clair

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed