Bellingham by the Bay

Christmas in July

Do you recall that song from Chubby Checker from the 1960s, “Let’s Twist Again (like we did last summer)”?

Well, I recall this. Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer were dancing on a flatbed truck at the Black & White Ball with Chubby Checker at the Civic Center here in downtown San Francisco.

Gosh, that was quite a few years ago.

Twisting the night away — like any congressional minority leader should be.

Things get twisted over the years.

Twisted in a way we may have expected. But — hold on — it may get better.

Don’t worry. I’m used to getting yelled at. Why should it stop now? My brother, James, would say, “It never helps for you to be yelled at.”

Because there is a Christmas in July. Yes. It is right here at our feet under the dirty sidewalks, and under the broken hearts who have wished for better days. It is the promised land. But promises come and go.

This is San Francisco. A place to have fun. Yes, sometimes too much fun. It is a town without spellchecks.

But we have editors just to keep us in line. Good luck to them. Go ahead, beat me into submission.

I am grateful, as I submit.

After all, it is Christmas in July.

That means we have gifts to give.

It also means we have affection for people we care about. Here in San Francisco — my adopted home town. That’s right, I am an orphan in the storm.

I thought about it. Forty-six years in this City by the Bay. Yes, you betcha — as Ian Whitcomb used to sing.

Am I sorry about living here in San Francisco? Not all the time. But it is like a bad marriage. One gets beaten up — but I always go back for more.

But there is kindness in the vicinity. And there is cruelty as well. One has to play the positives against the negatives. That reminds me. My doctor, Samantha Bessega, who is truly a great physician, said, “Thanks for the newspaper, Mr. Bellingham. Is my name in it?”

“Well, Dr. B. Not this time.”

“Then,” she shoots back, “Why would I want to read it?”

Point taken.

There are talented people in these parts. They are like racehorses. It would be unwise to restrict them. Out of the paddocks and straight into our hearts.

I refer to Soledad O’Brien, the great star at CNN — who retains a place in my heart. Tom Newton, who was a producer at KRON Channel 4, said to me, “When Soledad walked into the newsroom, we knew we had a thoroughbred on our hands.”

When I wrote a profile of Soledad for a magazine, the editor took out that phrase, “… a thoroughbred on our hands.” Spiked it as they say.

“Why?” I asked.

Her response: “You do not refer to women as horses.”

That could engender a dirty joke, but we are above that sort of thing. This is a family newspaper.

Oh, well, welcome to show business. One gets chewed up from time to time.

There may be room for Jell-O — but there is always room for forgiveness.

I confess: I never liked Jell-O. As for compassion, I’ll bite. Lots of sugar. Even the sweet things in life give us bitterness. Perhaps I should give Jell-O a second try. We need a second try. And, for sweet’s sake, we need the sugar. That’s what life is all about. … That is the definition of compassion.

Have you ever looked at a racehorse closely? If the horse likes you, then its riveting eyes — usually brown — will freeze you in your tracks, so to speak. It happened to me. I recall the enormous nostrils. Nothing to snort at. Don’t get me wrong. Honest. Of course, I could not take the horse home. She’d be too hard on the carpets. …

But things get twisted in the right way — well, sometimes.

Here’s an example. It’s KJ Landis. She works at the Urban Tavern in the San Francisco downtown Hilton hotel. But KJ has twisted her kindness in all the right direction. She has a new book out. She is a “Superior Self.” KJ is a relentless advocate for getting kids — even at my age — to take care of themselves. She’s a former professional model. Boy, she doesn’t show it? I also confess that I have affection for women who wear neckties. KJ is devoted to the notion of wellness. KJ wants to make this world a better place. She’s going great guns in a world that has too many. …

And you know the old blues song, KJ. You don’t miss your water until the wellness has gone dry … Sorry about that. But — mark my words: KJ is a thoroughbred.

Oh, one more thing: Buy her book. Who knows? We may all get well together.

Maurice Kanbar likes to remind me, “Bellingham, I do the jokes around here.”

I know my place. Maurice has the floor. Actually, he has several of them. He is the Prince of Pacific Heights. And a very generous man. He loves young people who show some enthusiasm for creativity. For example, the San Francisco Girls Chorus. He built them a house so they could sing. And, boy, can they ever.

What’s that old Benny Goodman tune? “And the Angels Sing.” I’m not in a hurry to hear any angels sing to me. But it’s not so bad to contemplate. As long as they may let me chime in. I’ll bring my harmonica.

Do you think they’ll let me sing, “Let’s Twist Again”?

I’ll check with Nancy Pelosi about that.

But it is Christmas in July. And here, in San Francisco, the weather’s just fine. Let it snow, let it snow … and gosh, let it snow …



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Bruce Bellingham is the author of Bellingham by the Bay. Send him a twisted message at [email protected]. Follow the Marina Times on Twitter @TheMarinaTimes and like us on Facebook @MarinaTimes.