In a letter to the editor titled “Sick of Silke” (April 14), longtime reader Vincent Calluci wrote: “Why, oh why, do you persist in allowing Silke Tudor to write for your paper? Essentially she has been writing the same column/articles for years. … Where many of her contemporaries moved on, Ms. Tudor remained: sad, tired, and kind of out of step.” It got me thinking … OK, not really. But Mr. Calluci's timing was impeccable. It was, in fact, my intention to move off to Brooklyn, N.Y., at the beginning of spring 2004 (for a full explanation, see this week's Night Crawler), but it's no easy task leaving your hometown, especially when yours is the one to which everyone else is mightily drawn. It shouldn't be a surprise that it took me a full season just to part with the topography of this fog-shrouded jewel-box, to drink in the peculiar light, to hike the tree-crowned hills, to skip through the alleyways filled with transitory artwork and transient human feces. It is a testament to these tiny 49 square miles that, even after a lifetime, I could still find unfamiliar streets and undiscovered wonders; that I could stumble across a giant household hog sitting on the sidewalk, eating potato chips with his mistress on a warm Sunday morning in the Sunset; or that I could bump into an Uptown regular giving a puppet show on a darkened street corner in the Mission with enormous, anatomically correct dolls constructed entirely out of twist ties — skeletons, clothing, and all. It is a testament to this city that, even after setting a moving date and joining East Coast mailing lists, I was desperate to glut myself on the abundance of art and peculiarity generated here; to revel in one more “Live at Leeds” show (now “Live Anna's Linens”) with Rube Waddell, wherein four nonstop hours of whooping and howling by Mohatma Boom Boom, Captain Legit, Reverend Whupass, and Max A. Million would draw people off buses, out of bars, and down from their apartments in their bathrobes; to imbibe one more “Rehab” brunch featuring drug-addled bingo, Tenderloin-runaway fashion shows, and free-flowing disco mimosas; to witness one more San Francisco wedding in which the mother of the bride is escorted down the aisle by Darth Vader and the wedding rings are delivered by a giant arachnoid robot. In truth, even as I write these words, I can think of a hundred things that I would like to experience again before I take my leave, but such a farewell could last a lifetime, as it has for many people I've known. So I've booked the truck, packed the boxes, and paid the deposits in the 718. Now all that's left is the hard part: saying goodbye to all the people who have made my life here so rich and complicated and interesting — all the musicians and artists and bookers and readers; all the old drinking companions, dancing partners, and childhood playmates; the friends and family, or rather, the friends who were like family and the family that was more like a friend. I hope you will all come to say you're “Sick of Silke,” too.
The artists performing at the “Sick of Silke” soiree embody that San Francisco trait I hold most dear: the proclivity to blend the foolish and the high-minded, the light and the dark, the sacred and the profane. To that end, Mark Growden will grace us with his soulful spirituals, sorrowful hymns, and smutty singalongs; opera singer Ariela Morgenstern will perform randy pub songs from her Weimar repertoire with the Lotta Legya Sisters; Kitten on the Keys will tickle us with her brash beauty and irresistible dirty mind; the Common Cold, featuring three-quarters of Attaboy & Burke, will render earnest poetry, urban beats, and childlike glee; Roky Roulette will debut a new routine, which does not preclude the appearance of his perfect body and freaky pogo stick; and Hal Robins will elevate all with his quick wit, princely diction, and erudite mind. As for me, I will be sitting in the “Kiss and Yell” booth between 11 and midnight for those with unresolved issues about all the albums I did or didn't write about over the last nine years. As for the rest of you: Thank you for reading, thank you for giving me the opportunity to listen, and good night. “Sick of Silke” will be exemplified on Thursday, Aug. 19, at the Odeon at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 550-6994 or visit www.odeonbar.com.
For those preferring something a little less self-indulgent but equally bittersweet, might I suggest the “Brechtian punk cabaret” of the Dresden Dolls. Submerged in the aesthetic of Weimar-era Germany, but fueled by a Concrete Blonde-style rage, this striking Boston duo composes decadent Tin Pan Alley power pop that explores the drama and comedy of mental illness and romantic obsession. “You can tell from the scars on my arms/ And the cracks in my hips/ And the dents in my car/ And the blisters on my lips/ That I'm not the carefulest of girls,” howls Amanda Palmer over the piano keys, while Brian Viglione marches on with furious drum rolls and pointed snare hisses. Like in Edward Gorey tales or Tiger Lillies tunes, nothing ever works out in the dark, weird world of the Dresden Dolls. But it's funny. Mostly. The Dresden Dolls perform on Friday, Aug. 20, at Café Du Nord with Charming Hostess and Shadow Circus Creature Theatre opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.