Bellingham by the Bay

Gone like a goose

Bellingham by the Bay

In all of its wisdom, the California legislature, which has a penchant for dragging its feet on budgets and slashing teacher’s salaries, has set its sights on something truly salient: the banning of foie gras, the French delicacy that’s made from the tender, over-fed, slightly-diseased livers of the geese. The over-gorged goose is now gone from the Golden State. It’s a shame, because there are so many overfed politicians gorging themselves at the House of Prime Rib or any number of Sacramento braised-beef brothels who are far-less palatable. (That reminds me of the time Mel Belli, a fierce, anti-death-penalty figure, would refer to Death Row on San Quentin as “The Abbatoir.” Yes, slaughterhouse. By the by, if you ever visit a slaughterhouse, and see how it’s all done, you may stick to hummus for a long, long time.)

One restaurant, the Presidio Social Club, took a stand to resist the ban against foie gras. After all, the Presidio is on federal property, not under the purview of state statute, but there were angry picketers in front of the restaurant, some vandalism, and a cascade of hate calls from well-meaning activists. The Presidio Trust backed down — or perhaps chickened out — and joined the ban. What’s next? A crackdown on menudo? On Spam? On olive loaf? State agents with Tommy guns, and axes splitting open case after case of the carnal contraband.

The French are outraged, of course. In retribution, they may even prohibit the screening of Jerry Lewis movies for a month. On the bright side, there are more areas in San Francisco for dining and drinking out of doors. They’re called parklets and they restore a little charm to the City. There’s now one outside The Crepe House on Polk and Washington. No one is sulking when they’re sitting in this mini-arena; in fact, it inspires a lot of spirited conversation among strangers. There’s also an outdoor area at the staggeringly popular Tony’s Pizza on Grant Avenue in North Beach. Guitarist Michael Ebert adds to the ambiance with his accomplished, versatile guitar-playing. There’s also a new Saturday farmers’ market on Hemlock Alley between Polk & Larkin.

And there’s another side to this life I’ve been living — as the old song goes. I ran into a photo student from Denmark, Trine Hansen, who’s attending the University of Art College, San Francisco’s “other landlord.”

“Show me something that few people see in San Francisco,” she implored. “So I can take some curious pictures.”

So I took her to the midnight show at Diva’s, the transgender-drag queen bar on Post Street, in The Gulch. Photos are forbidden, but the owner, Steve, is a good fellow. So Trine could snap away. The place was mobbed. I encountered a woman who looked somewhat familiar. “I got a face lift,” she explained, “I got a sex change, and now I have a vagina!” Are there Hallmark cards for the occasion? I realized later that the lady was once a prominent commission head at City Hall.

“No. I’m sure [they] have never seen anything like that in Denmark,” Trine said.

The show at Diva’s, both indoors and out on the sidewalk, is a sight to behold. It’s a shame there’s no category in the Grammys for lip-synching. It’s over the top, so to speak. Where would drag queen shows be without Cher? Not likely to be endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce. Next door is a ramshackle hotel, then a medical marijuana club, and Fire Station 3. The firefighters seem to maintain a slightly bemused look on their faces.

Bruce Bellingham is the author of Bellingham by the Bay. Send him on another curious journey [email protected].
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