Friday, August 31, 2012

More San Francisco Memories

I love your list. I'll comment on some of these in Verdana font. I bet we could come up with an outline of adventures with this list (plus others) as a sort of guide.

23 things I remember from SF in the 80s:

1.  The smell of North Beach in the early mornings, a mixture of strong coffee with steamed milk, freshly baked rolls and fog. - Remember Tower Records in North Beach? They had an annex of classical music and they hired guys who knew all about classical music to work there and help people make their purchases. I miss that so much.

2.  the wall of green that is Golden Gate Park across the street from our place and that little fruit stand with Cliff, who looked so much like Treat Williams selling produce and who knows what else. - Oh, that guy was so cute. I used to hope he was out there, selling fruit every day. I bought a lot of plumbs that year. So unreachable though. The not-interested-in-you-but-nice-enough-seeming guy.

3.  Someone putting the YES in polYESter as seen on the billboard above Stanyan and Frederick Streets. - don't remember, but lots of street art/poster/flier art, everywhere.

4.  Pesto pizza at Crazy Dick's down the street from the sign and across from the park on Stanyan. - Oh yeah. Also, the cockroach neighbor on Stanyan.

5.  the stained couches and round tables at Cafe La Boheme and the books at Picarro with their big glass window store fronts all lit up on a cold, dark night in the Mission - Just an aside: Boheme couches and tables are all still there, but they are much more stained and dirty. The whole place is dingy and uninviting--scary almost. Picarro has turned into a tapas restaurant and they took out all the bookshelves full of books. 

6. Being all nervous when walking in to a warehouse party and then once inside forgetting who I even was because the music was so loud the wooden floors were moving up and down with the vibrations of it and there were people everywhere, in dresses, in wigs, in drag, in costume, undressed and everyone dancing and being part of the crazy energy of a night of secret bacchanalia. - Warehouse parties divided up into "rooms" with movies, DJ, band, performance art, regular art, in each space. Seeing some guy at the party you like from afar and asking him to dance and he does and it's very exciting!

6. Seeing U2 at that venue by the library (is it still even operational?) and REM at the Stone and someone at the Fab Mab. - That was the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and they do still have shows there on occasion. Bono climbed on the big speaker. REM at the Stone--yes--remember Mike Mills kept winking at us from the stage and we kept turning around, thinking he was winking at someone behind us? Apparently he was quite the ladies' man. Fab Mab could have been anyone, but I'd pick the Black Athletes--they were either a punk band or a reggae/ska band, or they just wouldn't show up for the gig. You never knew which version you'd get. They were fantastic live. Saw them at The Deaf Club--a basement space with no stage, only a linoleum floor--dank, dark, probably a total fire trap. Very exciting atmosphere if the band was good. Also Club Foot--little warehouse way out off of 3rd Street with mannequin feet hanging from the ceiling. Saw Beat Happening there.

7. Getting totally drunk and literally dancing on a table at Rockin Robins (I'm not proud of that one)  - Ha ha. I once danced on a table in the balcony at the Fillmore while watching The Replacements below. I was had "backstage access" because the Catheads had opened and we were "with the band." I was so excited to see The Replacements and just assumed people danced on tables all the time. The bouncer was completely stunned and angry with me. "YOU GET DOWN FROM THERE RIGHT NOW!" he shouted with this incredulous look on his face. Like a dad. I was like, sheesh. It's rock & roll, man. Apparently my friend had a fling in the closet with Bob Stinson in the dressing room. He came out dressed in a diaper for the performance and was all sweaty. Exciting times.

8. feeling "safe" at (the) Stud - A lady once pinched my butt there and smirked a bit when I turned to look at her. I was kind of flattered but I didn't know what to do. But yes--very safe and fun. So tiny. Remember the "trough" in the bathroom--yikes. I liked how the bar took up the whole room and the dance floor was kind of an after-thought, but was always packed. It was like almost dancing on top of the bar--it was so ever-present.

9. Rock n Bowl - I never went. I had a bowling phobia due to a fourth-grade bowling birthday party I attended where I was awarded the "booby" prize for bowling so badly. The birthday girl's Mom awarded me with this plastic flute-whistle thing for the lowest score. She did it with a big smile on her face. What a bitch. I was humiliated and didn't bowl for decades. Now I bowl with Jackson and I'm not bad at all. Screw you, lady from my childhood past!

10.  Tasajara bread with dill - That place smelled so good. The upper Haight had some hippie restaurants for a while where you could get bowls of bean stew and brown-colored pancakes, day or night. All gone now.

11. Roommate Referral in the Haight and those unwieldy three ring binders - Reading some of those pages was really scary and entertaining. How should our protagonists meet? I'm assuming we'll have two...? We could have just one, but then who would she talk to about all these weird adventures? Movies hardly ever feature female buddies. This is kind of a "Ghost World" idea.

12.  late breakfast at Mission Rock - Right on the water. 

13. Hamburger Mary's bathroom and french fries - The pictures on the wall were all purposefully askew. Open late-night. Remember the place open 'til 3 am? Name is slipping my mind but it was in a train car kind of in the middle of the city? Burgers and fries. Friendly atmosphere--lots of transvestites. I'll try and remember. I loved that place. 

14.  Five Spice Chicken on Polk - Didn't partake, but I used to buy all my oxford/bowing-type shoes for work (bussing tables) on Polk Street. Lots of cheap men's clothing stores there.

15.  Seeing movies at the Lumiere. Maybe Diva?  The Man Who Fell to Earth? Or was that at the Strand? That was The Strand. Weird movie. Even weirder coming out on Market Street there. Market Street Cinema was a porn theater that briefly became an club. I saw Sun Ra's Arkestra there. My friend May volunteered with a bunch of people to clean the place up to open the club and she said the seats were saturated in ways she couldn't go into detail about. It's a porn theater again. There was an incredibly cavernous Asian restaurant by there--it went on forever, like one of those "rooms within rooms" dreams. Open late night with weird flickering lighting and booths. I went there on a date and it was a really weird atmosphere. I think everyone was on drugs in there. Gone.

16. Aardvaark's on Haight and Ashbury. Still there! Still overpriced!

17. Those old stores on Grant that sold old, traditional Chinese art supplies, like paints and stamping stuff and bambook brushes. Also thrift stores on Grant that sold affordable and really good, cool vintage clothing. I still have a vintage bowling shirt from there. (What is with me and bowling? It was like I secretly craved it all those years.). Also the Postcard Palace--entire store full of postcards. All gone.

18. Musee Mechanique, of course, but at the Cliff House. - And Seal Rock Inn. We called it "Denny's By The Sea."

19. finding China Beach, like it was a new discovery every time I got there. - That's a great setting for a film. No one knows about it except for true San Franciscans. Land's End too with the fallen bunker full of graffiti.

20. Do you remember Ingrid?  Her dad's house was in North Beach.  It was the first time I'd seen recessed lighting; it was dimmed and the furniture was dark and there were mysterious objects placed with care in strategic groupings.  The feeling was ominous.  Ingrid's room was a little wedged shaped corner in the front of the Victorian with just a bed and maybe a dresser.  She was so fashionable and she called her father "Dennis". - I TOTALLY remember this. I still think about it on a regular basis. The colors and clean lines and lighting of that place with the stairwell. Never had experienced someone's parent/child relationship that way. It seemed very sophisticated and scary to me. But a very memorable place. Some young girls are so cool, like they know themselves completely at a young age. I never felt like that then. But I think I do now.

21. New Ping Yuen's fried bread and shrimp soup, so cheap, so yums. - I used to regularly get dim sum on Clement St. And Green Apple Books is still there, I believe. The Richmond is full of interesting Asian and Russian restaurants. Isn't Shem's Deli out there on Geary? Delish!

22. Thrift Town at 18th and Mission where I no longer regret not buying a perfect set of nested Fiestaware bowls for $5 - With the "17 Reasons Why" sign on top of the building. Gone.

23.  Picking blackberries and eating them unwashed on Poppy Lane - Didn't know! But did you ever go down Vermont St., which is even crookeder than Lombard? It's a hidden thing. 

24. That house in the Haight with the crazy old lady and her dressed up furniture and crash pad. Yes, she was the one who wiggled her fingers at us from the closet and said, "Yoo hoooo! It's meeeee!" while we stared, agape.

25. The optometrist shop--I remember that now--like something out of the Great Gatsby - The Later Years. Wood paneling with built-in cabinets and drawers that probably held glasses frames. If ArtHouse had existed (the nonprofit I later worked for), they might have helped set up that place for live-work. It's probably a condo now. Or God knows what. It was very cool but I remember climbing the stairs in the back and the rooms up there were full of mountains of garbage, and probably sleeping people. So scary. Like tip-toeing into an Ogre's Den. We skedaddled out of there fast. 

26. Playing at the Sound of Music with my band and inviting everyone in the audience on stage until there were 27 people up there, banging on any instruments lying around. The nice bartender, Liz, in that scary dive in that terrible neighborhood. She had a British accent and was so warm and friendly. Across the street was Turk Street Studios, where punk bands rehearsed and...did other things. I heard stories...

27. The Vats--former brewery with big beer tanks that punks lived in. I heard stories...

28. The On Broadway and Fab Mab - Punk shows getting shut down by the police on a regular basis. The dressing rooms full of graffiti and coke-addled attendants. 

29. A friend from high school turned into a Goth in SF. When I ran into her she was like something out of Middle Earth--really done up. She had many strange and sad drug tales. Like falling through the roof of her house once--I still don't know why she was on the roof. I'm still friends with her and love her dearly. She's doing really well. I like the idea of running into someone from the past who's completely altered themselves somehow. I also ran into another high school friend who was handling the ticket window to a gay dance club. It was an "Oh." Moment. Those are good moments--when people can come to the City to be themselves. Finally.

More later. This will take some EFFORT. Should be fun. Period piece. I'm thinking of classic story narratives because I'm not very strong at making up my own. But as far as dialogue and setting a location--I love doing that. 

Sorry Verdana is such a big, in-your-face font.


Dee See said...

Sorry for taking so long to get back to your post. It's very chock full of fun and stuff I totally forgot about! I will comment more tomorrow at some point. This holiday weekend has been crazy jam packed and I'm again out the door onto the next appointment in mere moments.

Verdana is big and very readable now that I am on the brink of needing reading glasses. This all happened almost overnight. I have my regular distance glasses, the prescription of which hasn't changed much in decades. In the recent past I've been able to look down with these on my face and read whatever I happen to have at hand, but now suddenly, in the last few weeks, I have to lift the glasses from my eyes to read a book or newpaper, etc., or it's all a dizzying blur. So I am happy to be introduced to the readability that is Verdana. No pesky serifs to weigh words down or fluff out their extremities.

Anyways, I have some ideas for how to proceed. Tell me what you think. Here goes:

0. We should probably come up with a compelling conflict that we want to resolve before we start on anything.

1. We each come up with a story line that includes some (or most or all?) of these scenarios and of course the conflict. These stories can be short treatments like a few sentences or paragraphs.

2. We compare notes and try to merge what works best together from the abbreviated story lines.

3. Come up with bios for our characters so we know what their motives are, etc.

3a. Once we have our final treatment and backstories, we put together an outline for the screenplay.

4. We each take parts of the outline then fill in with dialog, etc., to move the plot along to the next item in the sequence. Kind of like an exquisite corpse to start! :)

5. Continue to burnish until we have our diamond!

OK, that's my amateur's idea of a timeline for building something...tell me if I'm way off here. I'm excited about getting started!


Miss Lisa said...

Yes, this 3-day weekend was nutty. Either complete sloth kicked in or we all ran around like chickens, trying to squeeze in every ounce of activity we could. There was no "flow."

Good ideas! Yes, we need some kind of conflict/course of action here. I'm thinking about it--a struggle for me. I'm just not narratively inclined. But try for some ideas. Back-stories. I think I want one character to be matter-of-factly somewhat hispanic in nature. There is a real lack of that in most scripts. Even in California--weird.

I will ponder this further. FUN.

Dee See said...

I'm so tired but I want to send some ideas before I forget them. Yes, let's write about characters we know. I don't know anything about Latino culture but I can contribute a certain anxiety-infused character!

I was thinking these two females start out thinking they are very different and are competing for a third character's attentions, possibly a guy. They are rivals for his affection. They are played against each other, possibly not intentionally, but who knows. The object of their desires turns out to be gay (maybe he doesn't even realize he is...they are the catalyst). Maybe it happens at the Stud. Does aids play a part to create an ominous background (no gratuitous hospital scenes, though) that could suggest a sad event later in the future after the denouement?

I will think more on this. Lots of opportunities for interesting plot twists...funny and sad and filled with unfulfilled longings maybe the two become friends despite the revelations they are faced with...

Whaddaya think?

Dee See said...

PS: have you ever seen the movie The Day Trippers? I will try to watch it again...not exactly he same but funny and thought-provoking.

Dee See said...

PPS: here's a good source of info (besides imdb) for this film:

Miss Lisa said...

Yes, I did see the Day Trippers when it first came out on DVD and wanted to see it again recently but it wasn't being distributed for a few years. Now I see Netflix has it so I'll re-watch. I remember liking it very much. Great cast. And SO low-budget.

I like your idea of a guy breaking the friends apart. Strangely, I had this same idea myself. Didn't think about him being gay though. That would be interesting. Did you ever meet Eileen McAvoy's friend Robert? He was SO handsome and charming. And gay. Everyone had a crush on Robert. I could see someone like that causing emotional turbulence in young hearts.

OK--more later. I have some mail for you coming up.

Dee See said...

It's so weird working on a screenplay in the comments section of a blog. It could be because this box is so small (I just figured out how to enlarge it so size isn't to blame anymore) or maybe because a correspondence screenplay is a strange phenomenon or maybe it's just odd to write a screenplay. Oh well, it's probably all three and then some.

I wrote my fleeting thought of a plot very quickly so didn't articulate it the way I was thinking about it. I'll try again here:

I was thinking that a protagonist is going out with a guy and she thinks it's going well. She's at first hesitant, like all young women from that time, to get too hooked because you don't want to get burned. So she plays it cool but finds herself becoming more infatuated with this guy who likes to cook, go out dancing, have picnics in the park and on the beach, be a hedonist in general. He's the perfect boyfriend because of all this plus he's good at talking and talking about his feelings, etc. So, she's falling for him against her better judgment or at least the prevailing wisdom of the time. Things seem good until little clues start to prove otherwise.

My original thought was she finds there *was* another woman who was *also* wondering if he was seeing someone else. They have a couple of confrontations and during one of them, the two women discover that their bf is actually not interested in them at all. This is a moment of revelation and out of this they (the two women) become friends (and their lives change). In their own ways, they were each trying to figure themselves out, find their true selves, etc. Was anyone really burned? Were there pointers involved who couldn't point (sorry, it's a reference to the above mentioned film :) )?

Dee See said...

Today's my day off, so I can actually use my mind for interesting meanderings. :) Here's my comments on your comments on my list! :)

1. There's a great music store/cafe in Berkeley on Bancroft across the street from campus that you might really love: I don't think you will be disappointed...the food's good too!
2. Yes, Cliff was memorable somehow but beyond his name and his similarity to Treat Williams and his vague niceness, I don't recall anything else about him. I wonder if that was his trailer or if he was working for someone else. In any case, he was an early adopter of foodtruck technology!
3. That sign is so etched in my memory. I can still see the model posed like Manet's Olympia, only instead of wearing nothing but a velvet choker, she was stuffed into something synthetic.
4. Yes! The cockroach that committed suicide due to a population explosion...I witnessed it jump from two flights up. It truly looked like it was contemplating its fate, pacing back and forth on the windowsill before taking the final plunge. It was unfortunate that the view from our kitchen was right into that person's infested cave. I lost my appetite every time I walked by that window.
5. I loved those cafes. I'd never seen a cafe before.
6. I wonder if there's a book about those warehouse parties. They must've inspired the raves of the 90s. Was the guy who threw those parties named John Grey?
7. That was mortifying and the only time I ever went into that bar. Remember that time we went to that bar in Berkeley and I thought the bouncer said something so I verbally flipped him off and he chased us down the street. I was so...dumb!
8. I remember the pool with the plexiglass over it so you could dance on it. It had these cool blue lights in the water and the whole feeling was so trippy dancing there. That was the Stud, wasn't it?! For the most part I did feel safe there except one time that was a little scary and I had to leave.
9. I didn't know you had a bowling phobia! Historically I've been very bad at it, like most sports. I will give it another try...maybe with Nathanael!
10. We found an amazing place in Marin that you and Keith might like. It's called Radiance and it's in San Rafael. It's vegan and it's like eating in someone wonderful's livingroom. Such a cozy place and the food is fresh and delicious with unexpected flavor combinations. Very reminiscent of Tassajara and similar places of old. I recently heard a Forum show about The Zen Center and Tassajara. I didn't know they were connected to Green's and Green Gulch Grocers.

Dee See said...

11. Yes again, to the idea of female friends.
12. I had these insane and I mean insane roommates who all worked at Mission Rock. Their dealer moved in and I moved out.
13. I don't remember the train place. Hamburger Mary's bathroom is most prominent in my mind because I barfed the french fries up there more than once. >:P
14. Ricky and Oren loved that place so we went there a lot. There was a leather store there called Johnson's. Ingrid got her classic motorcycle jacket there. Why do I remember these annoying details?!
15. Yuck. The theaters on Market were all disgusting. But in retrospect, I would have liked to have seen the architectural wonders that were probably ubiquitous in those places and completely ignored back then. Did you know there's a full-on secret theater behind The Stinking Rose? I only know this because I went back there once when I worked at Cafe Americain.
16. Seriously?! I thought a Gap moved in there in the 90s.
17. Oh, Quantity Postcards...I miss that place, too. It was so fun. And the poster stores on Columbus. There are still interesting places around there but you're right, it's just not the same. There's little that isn't glitzy and only interested in your wallet. Sad.
18. We've stayed in the "Denny's By The Sea". It's very dated.
19. China Beach and Land's End should make appearances in our screenplay. Maybe at either end like bookends?
20. I wonder if she had to be an adult because of her family situation? I wonder what happened to her. Last I know she was practically engaged to a very quiet guy who was into regatta sailing named Andrew. See what I mean about remembering silly details?!

Dee See said...

21. That deli...Shenson's! If you want good eastern european comfort food, go to Cinderella's in the Richmond. OMG I'm salivating just typing it's name. Try the Siberian casserole with mushrooms and rice noodles. Like I said, omg.
22. There was one of those in Sacramento that said "19 Reasons Why". I wonder if they were related and what the significance was. This one was over a furniture store called Hamilton's Furniture. We thought it referred to the number of letters/punctuation in the store's name. I just found this link: Sad.
23. Vermont Street in Potrero Hill?
24. That woman...that classic. We must use!
25. I still think about that place. Do you remember walking into the back, behind the showroom, where he had his workshop? I remember dust specks floating down beams of sign light pouring down through the broken sky lights above. Was that a hallucination? It must have been because the upstairs was dark and cavernous like you say, so how could there have been skylights on the first floor? The toilets upstairs were clogged with excrement and there were piles of filthy clothes filling the halls. The stairs we walked up were barely able to support our weight. Yes, we ran out of there as fast as we could. But that day was so strange. We were walking from the museum and as we passed the storefront, I had a most strong pull to go inside even though there were padlocks all over the door. It literally called to me and when I tried the handle it broke free and we were inside this magical place. So strange.
26. I don't think I ever went to the Sound of Music. Your show sounds fun...your band is so fun! Puppy in the Body of a Man!
27. I heard about those vats, too. I might have gone there but don't remember. My addled memory strikes again.
28. Those places are legendary.
29. Is that Martha? She had some amazing life. I love the idea of running into someone from the past. Did I ever tell you about Tammy? Remember her roommate Laurel who had that birthday party with the Chippendale and the whipped cream on the banana? Tammy ran into me while I was at work a few years ago and started jabbering to me about all that stuff, loudly while I was on the desk. I was so mortified because I hadn't passed probation yet and wanted to make a good impression. I almost asked Tammy to keep it down, but then suddenly, she said very quickly, "shhh! Stop talking about this stuff! My sons are here and I don't want them to hear it!" Then these two fresh-faced guys walked up and she introduced me to them. They've both since graduated from high school and seem pretty straight laced.