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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


New work.

cyanotype print of succulent plantNo, not a new job: new artwork! Specifically, cyanotype prints of succulents, one set of what will probably be a long, happy series. (Oh, don't sound so disappointed: you know how I (mis)manage my life: a sane new job near my place of residence is not on the horizon.)

Go to Succulents (Cyanotpes) on to see seven new prints.

(Yes, I know that the listing of all my work at is getting out of hand, and I'm working on some simplistic solutions even as we speak. Well, okay, not really. But I plan to test out a few new organizational schemes soon.)

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posted by Arlene (Beth)7:00 AM

Monday, May 26, 2008


My 1992 Japan Travelogue is now on the web. Seriously.

photography of Arlene with her pen pal and her pen pal's friends in Kyoto, 1992Photograph of two of my pen friend's "associates," pen friend Terue, me, and a few idle strangers, Kyoto, 1992. I cannot believe that my hair was ever that long, or that I wore little wire-rimmed glasses that were that round. Golly. I was, what, 24? I wouldn't believe it if I didn't get it out of my own camera.

I don't know if I have yet mentioned here that Steven has won a scholarship for independent study in his field. Since he works as a gardener in a famous Japanese-style garden, he intends to use the funds to travel to Japan for a few weeks to study the gardens of Kyoto. I am, even now, saving up so that I may join him.

It's funny that he is interested in Japanese design now, because it was a very serious obsession of mine in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the books of various sorts on language and design that I keep throwing at him suggest. My architecture instructors kept telling me that my designs appeared to be very "Japanese," and ultimately I decided to find out if they were right, first hand. Also, I'd had to drop out of school for lack of money, and figured that I could cater to my obsession while earning some money and learning Japanese, all at once. My 1992 travelogue/letter to my pals explains, at great length, that things didn't turn out as I had planned. It was still a great experience, but not the specific experience I had signed up for.


posted by Arlene (Beth)5:30 PM


Lasagna of spinach, feta, and Kalamanta olives (recipe)

This is a simpler variation of my Mediterranean lasagna, with a significantly shorter ingredient list. This is one of those rare, dairy-containing recipes: I haven't been very enthusiastic about dairy products in a while, but still have a special fondness for a type of goat cheese that is sold in my local market, which sinks in a big tub of salted water.

-a dozen lasagna noodles (enough to make three layers of pasta in your pan)
-720 g/25 ounces of the tomato sauce of your choice (plain is good for this)
-2 bunches of spinach, washed thoroughly, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
-one large onion, diced
-a pound of fresh tofu, soft or firm (but not silken)
-3 cloves of garlic
-1/4 cup of olive oil
-2 teaspoons oregano
-3/4 cup of Kalamanta olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
-2 cups of fresh feta, rinsed if salty, and coarsely chopped/crumbled.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the maker's instructions, which usually means 3 minutes for fresh noodles or 9 - 12 minutes for dried. Drain, rinse in cold water, and toss with a little olive oil to keep these from sticking.

Sauté the onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil; when they are soft, add the spinach. Turn the heat to low, and stir frequently. Cover for a few minutes to allow the spinach to wilt. Remove from heat.

In a food processor, blend the tofu, garlic, olive oil, and oregano until it has the texture of a spiced ricotta. This should take less than a minute. Put this tofu mixture into a large bowl. Add the sauté, the chopped olives, and the crumbled feta. Mix well. This is the filling.

Layer in a lasagna pan/casserole as follows:
-just under half of the tomato sauce
-1/3 of the pasta
-half of filling
-1/3 of the pasta
-the other half of the filling
-the last 1/3 of the pasta
-the remainder of the sauce.

Cover with tin foil, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour.


posted by Arlene (Beth)5:25 PM


Fun at the Rickshaw Stop

The Definite Articles at the Rickshaw Stop, May 21, 2008I'd posted one of my invitations to see The Definite Articles ( at their CD release party in San Francisco this past week. The cellist and main force behind the band is an especially clever office colleague of mine, and I was very excited for him when he announced his intention to take a sabbatical to record a CD and polish the band's performance. His sabbatical will be ending next month, now that he has made remarkable progress in his planned projects.

The show was excellent: it was a great room, their performance was tight, the sound was stellar, and their show was very, very well received. They also had swag at this show, and I was able to buy their CD on a little USB thumb drive with their logo on it. (Did I mention that the force behind the band is a geek? Is this obvious now?) It is just SO CUTE.

As I noted on The Definite Articles page on Facebook,
AMAZING show last night! All that, and I am the first kid on my block to have the USB version of Boy Wonder! The sizzling sound you hear is the sh*t hotness of this item lighting the fires of jealousy in all those around me.
It was pleasant to note this in Facebook, since most Facebook users are slackers, and only use the wall feature to send regrets for events that they never intended to attend anyway. (I am delighted that many people I know are decidedly NON-slackers in Facebook. Nearly all such people also have their own websites, I notice.) I also learned that the wall function in Facebook has CHARACTER LIMITS, which really rained on my parade while attempting to post book-length commentary on the common experiences among serious musicians. Dammit.

I'm posting an iPhone photo from the show here. You know that I have a 1971 Nikon F with a powerful flash rig that can effectively light a band from the Paradise Lounge's balcony and produce brilliant, sharp band images... And that I take lovely medium-format black and white portraits. But I am resisting imposing my aesthetic on this particular band. Which is an amusing exercise in photographic self-restraint. Which I don't know much about, really.


posted by Arlene (Beth)4:48 PM

Friday, May 23, 2008


My mother's surgery went well!

The tumors were granulosa cell tumors (associated with her ovaries), and there are no spreading cancers. I am SO relieved!

I'll head out to stay with her for a few days next week while she recovers from the surgery. (If I take up mobile phone blogging, you'll know because of the random extra spaces in the text.)


posted by Arlene (Beth)6:58 AM

Monday, May 19, 2008


This Wednesday, attend a special evening of musical entertainment in SF with The Definite Articles

[A message I distributed to selected office colleagues today.]

Yes, there is a SPECIAL treat in store for you on Wednesday night!

"What could it be?" you ask.

"Is it... a violent riot caused by the Ridiculous Moustache Liberation Front?" No!

"Is it... an attempt at the Guinness World Record for the largest drag queen/king undergarment raid at Civic Center, with the Honorable Gavin Newsom serving as Undergarment Master of Ceremonies?" You wish! NO!

"Is it... the surreal filming of a Björk video, in which she proves yet again that she is merely visiting this planet to make us wonder what other worlds are like?" No!

"Is it... oh, this is hard. Is it... Kind of like an offsite social event organized by some really tall guy who used to work [at My Employer], but executed in a less suave manner?" No. Not at all. This is TOTALLY suave.

"Is it a drunken ruckus caused by dozens of current and former [My Employer's Employees] spending their economic stimulus checks in one little nightclub?" You're getting warmer!

"What, pray tell, could this mysterious event that you are teasing us about unnecessarily be?" you ask.

"Say please," I say, haughtily.


Okay. I'll tell you. This very Wednesday, May 21st, [My Employer]'s past and future Shawn Alpay is having a CD Release Party for The Definite Articles' newest CD, Boy Wonder, at the always delightful Rickshaw Stop at 155 Fell Street in San Francisco (near Van Ness).

You must attend! Really. No, I mean you REALLY must attend. Or thugs from the Ridiculous Moustache Liberation Front will come to your house and, um, "deface" you with a ridiculous moustache. And other punishments too horrifying to be described in a genteel e-mail such as this one.

The Definite Articles perform at 8 p.m. sharp, early enough for even the weakest, sleepiest among you to have a good time, yet still be in your Winnie the Pooh jammies (with feet!) at a reasonable hour.

Bring cash!

Details at The Definite Articles' MySpace Page and

Please share this information with all potentially interested parties.

See you there!


Disclaimer: I wrote this freely and of my own volition on my own behalf and on behalf of all those who are sentimental about Pooh jammies with feet. This is not a [My Employer] event, nor a [My Employer's Parent Company] event. Duh. Attend at your own risk. Also, donít take my word that the passionfruit cocktails at the Rickshaw Stop are as good as I say they are. Your mileage really may vary on that one.


posted by Arlene (Beth)8:23 PM

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Me and lemongrass makin' friends (or, I talk to strangers, but then again, so does my Mom).

I took the streetcar home after my market and coffee trips, and wound up on the L, beside an older Asian woman. Lemongrass, garlic greens, and carrot tops were all protruding from my tote bag, and caught the interest of the lady next to me. I could tell right away, rocking out to Ladytron on my iPhone, that it was the lemongrass that caught her eye. Lemongrass is one of those things that seems to be in season for short periods of time, and when you find really pretty, fresh-smelling lemongrass, you MUST buy it and plan your meals around it. Because it will be a long time before that happens again.

She looked at the lemongrass. She looked at me. She looked at the lemongrass. She looked at me. I continued to listen to music, while observing her casually with my peripheral vision, but with the volume down low. Finally, she reached over and gestured as if to touch me on the arm, and asked me what, precisely, I planned to do with the lemongrass.

I told her that I wash it, slit it, and simmer it in soups so it will impart its wonderful, fresh flavor. She told me she is originally from Burma, that she uses it in curries, and as she started to volunteer other curry ingredients I suggested fresh ginger - and she knew she could talk to me.

We talked about the complexities of finding good lemongrass; of how she averts her eyes at the naked people running the Bay to Breakers (due to her culture, which trained her not to look at such things, though she is not really offended per se); about the situation in Burma which breaks her heart (and leaves her with less attention to spend on the earthquake in China, which she feels a little bad about, but the images she's seen of her homeland have a stronger hold on her); of the political situation and the disrespect the current regime has shown to monks, which we had both read about; about the complexity of organizing alternative direct relief programs in the aftermath of the cyclone to circumvent theft by the the thoroughly corrupt military government; and about the complexities of unarmed people overthrowing an entrenched military regime in a repressive environment that leaves them few opportunities to organize.

It's the sort of wide-ranging conversation you can have with strangers on public transit in San Francisco: uses for lemongrass, public nudity, and the overthrow of repressive regimes all discussed in one conversation over a ten minute period.

Oh, how I love this town!!


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:58 PM


The coffee bean: more proof that the universe really, really loves us

photo of soy latte with pretty foam pattern at Blue Bottle Coffee Co., San FranciscoMy ulterior motive for today's visit to the farmer's market was to be in the greater Market Street/Powell Corridor, so I could have an excuse to go to Blue Bottle Coffee Company ( and taste the rather famous beverages there. Their cafe on Mint Plaza has been open for a while, and I previously had posted Frank's photos of the cafe/coffee temple, which made me eager to visit. My life-sucking commute to Emeryville had prevented me from visiting on weekdays. So I took my chance and walked over.

Their coffee is good. It's so very, very good. Hot damn, it's good coffee.

It is a bright and delightful space, which was full of perky people. The staff were alert and nearly giddy. Spontaneous levitation and gravity-defying dancing seemed likely to break out at any moment.

I had a soy latte and several Miette cookies. The soy latte was perfect in every way: lovely to look at, lovely to smell, and absolutely smooth. The flavor was strong, and yes, just as with the fabulous Ritual coffees I've had, the plant-based nature of the bean was fresh and tangible. (I love Peet's, but the roasts I enjoy there veil any hint of fruit their beans possess.)

The cookies were the best little cookies I've had in months. Chocolate, peanut butter, and lavender... Perfect. Small, but perfect. I had... Eight? They are tiny, and heavenly.

It was like a spa visit in the middle of the day, if you leave spa visits full of cookies and caffeine.

I need to go back, and do many comparisons between Blue Bottle and Ritual to see which I love more. Even if I never can choose between them, which would be fine by me, it will be very happy research.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:52 PM


Fresh, fresh foods.

I went to the Heart of The City Farmer's Market at Civic Center today, which was awash in cherries and peaches. Those amazing little eggplant that are shaped like eggs and look as if they've been dipped in green and white paint are appearing, along with many purple ones.

I am waiting, obsessively, for tomato season, but am not yet impressed. Most of the roma-style tomatoes looked abused. I picked up some cherry tomatoes, but am becoming impatient.

Short list today:
-white peaches (divine!)
-cherry tomatoes (possibly for a salsa-fresca style raw soup)
-strawberries (PERFECT)
-yellow, white carrots (possibly for a raw soup, possibly to eat fresh)
-lemongrass (for Thai curry paste)
-green chilies (for fire-in, fire-out special effects)
-fresh garlic (still tender, with the paper still forming between cloves and the greens still fresh and stiff) (for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and warding off vampires; these will find their way into everything)
-shallots (which I don't generally use, but I have a Thai curry recipe that specifies these, and there they were)
-green beans (for a Thai curry)
-cucumbers (for either a raw soup or salad)
-lettuce (to wear on my head)(I'm just checking to see if you're reading my parenthetical statements, which often have little relevance and just run on and on and on, like a work of philosophy, but even less coherent).


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:36 PM


My mind wanders.

I had gushed back in February about Sophie Calle's book Prenez soin de vois ("Take Care of Yourself") , which is the documentation of her massive project at the Venice Biennale.

I failed to mention that the DVDs that accompany the book are also delightful. There are several different authors, but the films I enjoy most are Calle's. Calle has a still photographer's sense of composition for most of the films: the camera does not move from one lovely, letterbox-proportioned location, but interesting things occur in the frame. The films are really quite engaging: several made me laugh out loud.

There was something about seeing and hearing the interpretations of the break-up letter that inspired a brief fit of silliness on my part, and so I started to write parody break-up letters from difficult relationship situations. Thankfully, I stopped, but I thought I'd share a couple here. Just because.
Dear X,

Our relationship has been completely unique, and I will remember it always, but you know as well as I do that it must end now. I am unwilling to follow your circus to the next town, and I cannot get over the feeling that, when you ask me to put on clown makeup and hang on the trapeze that way, you are really pretending that I am your ex wife. I am so sorry it has to end, though my chiropractor assures me that it is for the best.

Dear X,

We have had a lovely eight month theatrical run together, and so it is with great regret that I tell you that we cannot go on this way. As the actors playing the romantic leads in the play, I was tickled that you wanted to remain in character in our private romance. But over time, your insistence that you refer to me only by my character's name and remain in character, even with my family or otherwise out in the world, has become too much. I don't think it really helps our art to only buy the groceries that our characters would choose, or eat foods that were common in Greece at the time the work was written.

In my own words: it is over. I know my character says the same thing... But since she is illiterate in the play, and I am writing this out to you and sending it by e-mail, I am confident you will see the difference.
Yes, I am frivolous. You knew that. Everything is a writing exercise some days.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:23 PM

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Another Fabulous Bike To Work Day!

Bike To Work Day 2008 logo from the San Francisco Bicycle CoalitionThis year, Bike To Work Day fell on May 15th, the anniversary of my spectacular bike wreck and emergency room visit. Last year, I had been rather humiliated to break my arm so very thoroughly during Bike To Work Week (of all weeks!), and had to have Steven call the coalition up to explain that I wouldn't be able to staff my shift at City College because, um, well, I was in the hospital. Man, that was embarrassing. But now, on the exact anniversary of my harsh encounter with streetcar tracks and pavement, I finally got to staff a gloriously sunny and fun BTWD Energizer Station on the City College Campus.

Bike people are awesome. And the weather was... exotically hot.

According to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's website (
There were twice as many bicycles as cars headed downtown on Market Street for Thursday's Bike to Work Day morning. City counts showed that bicyclists made up 64% of the eastbound traffic, while motorists comprised 32% ó a nearly 31% increase in bikes over last year's Bike to Work Day counts.
green fixie with white rims at City College[Inset image: The Most Attractive Bike award goes to this fixie, which was brought by the City College Energizer Station. Yes, the chain does have white face plates on it, and the bike is immaculate, but its proud owner really did ride it there.]

Added bonus: the Bike Away From Work party at the Rickshaw Stop. I spoke with so many other volunteers that I know (about the things weekday SF cyclists have in common; how the cycling community has so many friendly, familiar, like-minded faces in it (Jared said it's like a big family, and he meant that in the best possible way); environmentalism, paradigm shifts, veganism, and other relevant topics; etc.) had a few good drinks, watched the sometimes painful scenes of Mash SF, and made my cousin think that I was working a reception line. (The secret to making your cousin think you're popular: volunteer at an organization for more than a decade, and then call your cousin somewhere between the club and the valet bike parking lot.)

I chatted with a fellow Green, and we considered going up to the Castro to join in any celebrations in honor of the California Supreme Court issuing a decision in favor of marriage for everyone equally, but I got tired and went home to bed. It was just too hot to remain upright.

Summary: it was fun, and bike people rock.

[This entry is actually being posted on May 18th. My apologies if this messes up your newsfeeds.]

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:21 PM


A short list of sights seen daily from BART between the transbay tube and West Oakland BART

-Stacks of colorful shipping containers
-Trucks, speeding out of the port area
-A row of palm trees on their sad, desert island median
-Tanks of fuel, with protective moats
-A haze that obscures the east bay hills
-An engine, pushing empty container trays
-Tiny Victorian houses
-Wow Farm, a small community garden
-The back yard that had the enormous cut-out painting of a hand on the fence, which is now laying, forlorn, on the ground
-Bright red poppies on long stems
-Imperial walkers, along the near, artificial shore.

A visual photo essay on this same topic can be found at my phone photo blog, beginning with Industrial West Oakland 1 (

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Joerg Steineck has a new short film! Hackberry 66 (at You Tube) is Joerg's latest documentary short. This one is part of his southwestern series of interviews, and takes place in Hackberry, Arizona, along historic route 66.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:40 AM

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Delicious soft drinks I consumed in Japan in 1992.

I found it! Not only did I re-discover my 18 page travelogue from my first international trip (which I am re-typing to share as a featurette), along with a summary of each and every postcard I sent while there, and a calendar listing where I spent each evening, but I also found the soft drink list. I KNEW it existed: I just didn't know where.

Soft drinks? Really? Yes, even though I don't drink them here, I had a special need for them there. I am a huge fan of Japanese-style baths: deep bathtubs with water so hot it verges on dangerous if you are unprepared. Before having a heavenly soak each night, and being teased by the locals about my tolerance for the high heat, I prepared: I had at least one can of liquid so I could remain hydrated no matter how long I spent in the tub. Often, I would also have one afterward, if no regular water was available in my hostel room.

Oh, the tubs... *sigh* [harp sound, flashback... sound of my head rattling as I shake myself back to the present.]

The drinks there were... different from the ones here. There was a wide range of flavors that were either undefined (they were not trying to mimic anything in particular) or strangely defined, none of which were like U.S. colas of the time. I didn't keep elaborate notes, because I found many of the drinks indescribable, and because I tended to fall into bed right after melting in the bath. But I did give the drinks star ratings, on a four-star system (four stars means perfect).

A quick note: Japan's towns, large and small, were filled with vending machines selling a wide and peculiar range of items, from pantyhose (for that photo op just around the corner) to hot, pre-sweetened coffee. There was nothing nicer than being out on a cold, November night, walking down a dark, barely lit street while trying to find a hostel, and finding a vending machine full of coffee cans so hot I couldn't hold them, but could put them in my pockets, heat my coat with them, and then warm myself up from the inside with them. Aaaah.

Here is the list, in the order tried:

-Pocari Sweat ****

-Ambasa White Water (which I found to be equivalent to Calpis Water) **+

-Pokka Milk Shake (hot) ***+

-Pokka Lemonade (hot) ****

-Sapporo Ribbon Citron *

-Triumph (implied by the spacing to be another Sapporo product) **

-Fanta Muscat (sweet green grape) ***+

-UCC Melon Cream Soda ****

-Kirin Frunew ****

-Kirin Mets (grapefruit) ***

-Byg Melon Soda **

-Kirin Post Water (another one of those strangely, bodily-fluid sort of names that makes you wonder what you're buying) *

-Kirin Chasse (peach) **+

-Sunkist Lemon Water ****

-Sunkist Pineapple and Lemon Drink **

-Sunkist OR Heart Peach drink (notes unclear) **+

-Heart Drink: Muscat **

-Asahi Cocoa Drink (hot) *

The only item missing from the list for no apparent reason is "pineapple milk soda," which I had several times early in the trip, and liked, despite its oddness. I liked it at least two and a half stars.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:23 PM


How to be totally frickin' bored by nude women: a list.

While at the event described in the previous post, I observed that I find nude women to be extraordinarily boring. I didn't really explain myself, but there are a variety of valid reasons for this. I shared this list by phone/e-mail this afternoon with my colleagues, who probably enjoyed the joke at the time, and didn't need any additional information. But I wanted to remind them that I am not normal. (As if.) So, here is the list:

-Be a heterosexual woman. Preferably one with a low sensitivity to mainstream media imagery. If you can pull this one off, the rest of the list is just icing.

-Spend 11 of your formative years in a swimming pool up to 5 hours daily in summer, either receiving or giving swimming lessons, interacting innocently (at least until the later years, and then acting innocently but with non-innocent thoughts) almost exclusively with nearly naked, wet peers, and losing 55% of ingrained modesty.

-Date someone with a taste for low-budget porn, in which the nude actors all look so bored that you begin to assume they are forgetting their lines because they are daydreaming about the exciting career they missed out on by dropping out of dental assisting school.

-Visit the [local awesome spa] communal baths on girl's night once a month. See dozens of intimately placed tattoos each visit, few of which are the least bit novel or interesting.

-Swim a few times a week at the [local fitness club] at 5:50 a.m., during the semi-official Elderly Chinese Ladies' pool hour, and compete with the over-60 crowd for the better showers. Begin to identify with the other patrons, catching yourself saying, "when I swim with all the other old Chinese ladies..." Seek professional identity counseling.

-Go to [well, really any strip joint will do]. Sit at the bar, and watch the semi-clothed performers [and their potential clients] up close. Feel creeped out.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:16 PM


Out of My Element: An Evening at a Strip Joint.

"Arlene inside a strip club. I would not miss this! :-)" - Peter

"In all of my years, I would never have imagined that one day, I would be in a strip club with Arlene Graves." - Michael
It is an open secret in my office that one of my colleagues is a cocktail waitress at a Broadway strip club certain evenings each week. This colleague likes the money, likes meeting guys (even though they are the kind of guys who frequent strip clubs), and likes drinking. She believes the club is glam. And so, when making plans to throw herself a 29th birthday party, she immediately chose a room upstairs at the strip club.

As has been explained to me, there are two types of clubs where women take their clothes off: the kind of club where alcohol is served and employees must keep something (anything) covering their lower merchandise; and the kind of clubs where alcohol is not served and employees take all of their clothes off. The sort of club where my colleague is a cocktail waitress is (obviously, by the nature of her job title) one of the former, a so-called gentleman's club, as if gentlemen pay money to see women take their clothes off.

A number of invited guests balked at the venue, and I was one of them: while I believe that women have a right to take their clothes off (and do a wide range of other services while naked) for money, the non-stripper-owned clubs charge the girls for just about everything, and are based on a very exploitative model. I think all the strip joints should be collectively owned by their workers. Also, I find naked women to be extremely boring. (More on this in a separate entry.)

ANYWAY, I also work closely with this colleague, who was excited about having many guests at her party, and knew I could count on Peter (a friend of more than 20 years and someone with previous strip club visitor experience) to attend with me. So I attended my colleague's strip club party.

Struggling over what to wear to a strip club? This was the most stereotypically girly thing I have done in years. The fifth top was the winner: something from the drag queen shop, under a close-fitting cardigan. Everything else was too respectable. Apologies again to Peter for being 40 minutes late.

Highlights of the taxi ride: I took a taxi from my neighborhood down to Broadway ($30 plus tip). My taxi driver provided some entertainment:

-He played country music on his radio, which was amusing, because he is not from this country, and so has no excuse, especially since he was fluent in English and could understand the sappiness being expressed.

-The first country song that came on I actually thought was a parody until it continued too long. It was about having a child eating fast food from the golden arches, spilling it upon himself, and swearing, which inspires his father to realize that he is a bad influence on his child. It was the worst song I have heard in years. It wasn't even as good as Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle" yet was ripping off that song's sentiment, for those of you who are also elderly and remember that song. (And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon. "When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when, But we'll get together then. You know we'll have a good time then..." I looked these lyrics up on Google, so that I don't have to admit that I know almost all the words by heart. Ouch.).

-The next country song I couldn't hear, because my ears were bleeding from where I clawed at them to make the noise/pain stop.

-The cabbie ranted about the obvious evils of putting baseball stadiums in cities where they will clog up traffic. (Because baseball is all about managing traffic.)

-The cabbie said a range of unfortunate things about City employees, unbidden and apropos of nothing in particular, not realizing that my husband is one.

-Where Kearney empties onto Columbus, the cabbie was shocked - *shocked* - that the Muni bus turned left onto Columbus from the right hand lane. He noted that Muni drivers are "nasty people who live in the projects." Well then.

-He had no comments whatsoever regarding the fact that I was attending a party at a strip joint. He was no fool: he wanted a tip.

Highlights of the strip club: where the venerable rock venue The Stone once sat is now a topless joint. I was carded by a man who didn't look at me - obviously. The party was held in a private room upstairs, which allowed me to avoid entering the main floor of the strip club, instead simply going to an elevator off the lobby and going straight upstairs.

The room had nice carpet, a stage with a pole, a full bar, several large booths, and room for a DJ and dancing. The bartender wore an improbably tiny outfit, and made terrible drinks, but the crowd was jovial. Strippers were not in evidence, though their shoes were periodically visible behind a curtain at the back of the stage (which one observer termed "creepy"), and they would periodically come out of the dressing room, not completely dressed as is their habit, to make their way to the elevator and the main club, their brightly reflective rear cheeks reminiscent of the rear view of herds of antelope in nature films.

Peter pointed out that, to earn the right to say I had been inside a strip club, I would have to go down to the main floor with him. I was reluctant, but he suggested that the bartenders there would be much better. I agreed instantly.

There were TWO fantastic highlights of the downstairs main strip club area:

-the Belvedere cape cods (a.k.a. vodka with cranberry juice) were tall, strong, and fabulous

-a perky young woman in a blue, sequined sailor suit did a strip routine to a dance-mixed version of the Love Boat theme song. I am known for my sick imagination, but even I could not have made up something so cheeseball/surreal.

The rest of it was a lot like on television, and generally creepy: women gyrating over men with a glazed look in their eyes... *shudder* My main activity was commenting to Peter on how I thought it wiser for the strippers, when working the crowd to sell private dances, to cover up their rear ends somewhat. Thongs may be popular, but they do not suit everyone: some of those women had cheeks almost as abundant as my own. Also, while I could care less in general about women's footwear (beyond Dr. Martens and Chuck Taylors, which are quintessential wardrobe must-haves for any woman who wants to be just like me), the clear-heeled shoes and other remarkable footwear artifacts would make any drag queen drool. In fact, I had only seen such footwear on drag queens until last night. That was educational for me: I hadn't realized that some of those shoes were actually made in women's sizes! This was a revelation.

We returned upstairs to the party, socialized more, danced a little (which included me dancing with a boy who did not appear to be a member of the party, who wanted to know why girls would come to a strip club at all: in retrospect, rather than saying our friend worked there, I should have said we were all hookers and porn stars, though I feared that would complicate subsequent conversations with other guests), socialized further, and excused ourselves without being able to find the birthday girl/hostess, even with her tall shoes.

We were at the club from 10:40 p.m. to 1:40 a.m., at which point we left to beat the post-last-call 2 a.m. rush. I was in bed around 2 a.m., and slept like a baby, if a baby had four cape cods proportionate to its body weight and slept better than I generally do.


posted by Arlene (Beth)8:18 PM

Sunday, May 04, 2008


I'm on the Winner's page at the UnScene Tour website!

See my name in lights at ONLINE :: UnScene Tour - Photography's Emerging Artists.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:21 PM

More soon. Really. I'm trying to clean my house. Like, REALLY clean my house. That sort of cleaning that involves taking all the rugs outside, washing the inside of the refrigerator after taking everything out of it, and other things that I would ordinarily do every so often, which I am now doing ALL AT ONCE, room by room, which shows that I'm in a once-a-year, full-on, full house cleaning fit. I'm making things better overall, but much, much worse in one particular room in this phase of the process.

And I'm also experiencing something a lot like 'cat-newspaper syndrome,' a syndrome I just made up based upon my past experiences. In this syndrome, your cat doesn't want to sit on your lap when you're reading or cold or calling to it, but if you try to read a newspaper, it will not only want to sit on your lap, but will actually want to sit on the newspaper so it is impossible for you to read it. It will then spend all day with you, especially if there was something in the paper you really want to read. But it's such a nice cat, and it's pleasant to have it sleeping on your lap. It's just... what remarkable timing.

I don't have a cat. And I read the news on-line. But otherwise this is very close to my domestic life when I try to write.

Anyway, more when I can post more.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:20 PM

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