Heart of the City Archives

Mister SF's Message for Spring, 2006

Dear Readers:

The back has long been one of my favorite body parts, and also one of the most vulnerable. Now, as you can see, I'm back. And, I am compelled to dedicated this column in apology to all of my thirtysomething peers, many of whom I've cursed one by one over the years as they bought houses and seemed to disappear inside them. Speaking as one who was swallowed by a house of cards and spit out at Home Depot, I now say, mea culpa.

Several weeks after we moved into a Victorian that was beautifully rebuilt just ten years ago, the front stairs fell off. Only after our first anniversary in the house do I feel as though I've finally dug out. Of course I'll have a list - okay, a list of lists - for the rest of my life, but I'll admit it was a mistake to announce six months ago that we had finished decorating the place. Gaily I announced, "I'll just go back over each room - real quick - and make things perfect." You know where this is going. But, now I'm back. I'm sure those thirtysomethings will forgive me also for coming up with an excuse to include myself among them while the including is good.

Before I go any further, I owe you a wonderful announcement as promised. I've been hard at work on a fantastic way for readers here at home and visitors from other places to enjoy the MisterSF.com experience on the streets of the City. I have written and recorded a Mister SF-navigated tour for the GoCar Rental company in San Francisco. The GoCar is great fun! It was runner-up for Time Magazine's innovation of the year a couple of years ago. (If you lose only to the rocket that went up and won the X Prize, isn't that the same as winning? I think so.) A USA Today reporter was there when a man pulled into the GoCar garage on Hyde Street, tore off his helmet and said, "That's the best experience I've ever had as a tourist!" It doesn't get better than that. I am very glad I waited for the right creative partners before entering into a major commercial project for Mister SF. I really think you will love the result. My tour more than captures the essence of this web site - the kooky criminals, unique movie locations, beautiful places, and other details from the view of a San Franciscan. In fact, it's as if Mister SF is in the car with you. The tour hits the marketplace in a few weeks, so watch for links and more information about booking a GoCar Rental.

Of course, if Mister SF is all work and no play he can only be an imposter. Somewhere in there was a trip to Istanbul and an adventure in pet guardianship in addition to cool events such as the Friends of the Academy Gala, Herb Caen Day Luncheon, Quake Centennial, Ka-boom! aboard Gene Schoenfeld's Higher Hopes, et al. Here's the sum of what I've learned: Nedra Ruiz couldn't get off Noel and Knoller, but she makes great fried chicken.

Thanks to so many of you who kept in touch and kept your eyes on Mister SF, especially Dave Queen, Brian from New York, future mayor Aaron Peskin, and The Great Leslie. At a showing last week of the fab new play by Mark Eisman titled, "Shove," someone asked me, "Were you on strike until Molly McKay resigned?" McKay is the community leader who tried in vain to muster public support for Assemblyman Mark Leno's second gay marriage bill in 2005. I called McKay a failure and said she should resign as Field Director of Equality California. McKay, a lawyer who was married to a woman at San Francisco City Hall on February 12, 2004, resigned last month, deciding to return to private practice. I love the question, and I think McKay made a great decision, but no it wasn't a strike! (Not to worry about McKay's absense from the scene; you can still find her posing for glamour shots next to a tree at an activist's funeral in print editions of issue #929 of the Advocate. - HD)

A question more frequently asked of Mister SF is, "What do you think of the blogging scene and what will you do with "Heart of the City" now that it's no longer available in print?" I don't read too many blogs, but I believe that some great writers may one day rise from the din. I will continue to do what I have always done which is tell stories of San Francisco. I have a million updates to keep me busy while people are riding GoCars. (Can you believe we lost the Gold Spike!?) Now that Heart of the City is online exclusively again, I suppose I could decide to turn my writing toward the mundane details of my life as a gay housewife, but I doubt I'll do that. On the other hand, there were times when I was dying to tell you about my relapse last winter into cigarette smoking following the revelation of painful details in the life my half-brother, a record-setting weight lifter who died from cancer in 1990. Last autumn I found myself in Bogen, in Bavaria, sitting in the office of a Czech guru while he erased cigarettes from my consciousness through two interpreters. It was interesting and fun, as anyone who visited San Francisco's hypnotist, the late great Richard Liebow, will tell you. But there I go again; it's always back to San Francisco. Whether these other personal stories jump from the balconies of my mind remains to be seen. I only hope these bloggers and others who put parts of their identities online will remember to take the time to focus on their personal lives, as I have.

What did we miss; what could we have shared? Ultimately, only so much rain and Billie Holiday. Oh, of course there's the JT LeRoy "literary scandal." Laura Albert was exposed for having contrived the existence of LeRoy for literary fame, celebrity friends, and free side dishes. Albert's exploitation worked for years. "LeRoy," was a sympathetic young survivor of a life supposedly as filled with horrors as that of the also-not-entirely-real literary boy in Jersey Kosinski's "The Painted Bird." The LeRoy hoax also has much in common with a 1990s literary flim flam involving the author of the AIDS memoir, "A Rock and a Hard Place." The LeRoy predecessor, a woman writing as a teen boy, conned several well-known authors including Armistead Maupin. Maupin, whose brilliance is in telling the truth about people through the universal emotions of his rich characters, tells his side of the story in "The Night Listener." (The Boston Phoenix did a solid piece on LeRoy/Albert. Author Michael Bronski also comments on the Maupin/Hard Place link.) Look for this discussion to come to the fore with the upcoming premier of Robin Williams' film version of Maupin's novel. In these examples, including LeRoy and in the City's more obscure Joefire episode, San Francisco is filled with believers. Believers, as fate would have it, are willing and have their own agenda. It is one truth the Maupin/Williams combo of SF greats will have to tell if they are to be successful.

All my warm regards,

Hank Donat
Mister S

(PS: My house is gorgeous now!)

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