Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Long Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for all those San Francisco residents who are émigrés from elsewhere; it’s the one time of the year when you might reasonably be expected to make the expedition to see your family, however they may be defined, while, on the other hand, anybody who has experienced the long cattle drive of holiday travel might be more inclined to hunker down and wait out the whole weekend with a stock of food and booze. The pull between these two directions leaves the city seeming somewhat hollowed out over the long weekend, and the faces you see when you do go out are just as likely to belong to someone visiting their Uncle Bruce as they are to an actual resident.

I had five days off to look forward to over this holiday weekend, and I went into them thinking that I had a good idea of how they would pass; stock up on food, booze, and pot, hit a couple parties, maybe get a little crazy. Instead I found myself drawn more to the comforts of the hearth and wound up cooking a steak dinner, getting a Christmas wreath for the front door of the apartment, and, god help me, becoming a cat-owning gay resident of the Castro.

Wednesday evening the boyfriend and I were in total agreement for what we wanted: to go out anywhere. We started prowling the Castro around 9.00 PM and were drawn into The Bar by the sound of some decent club electro from DJ PB, who was warming up the crowd for Juanita More’s Booty Call party. It was a surprisingly lively crowd, though I suppose all of us who were there didn’t really have anything to do the next day. The boyfriend wound up talking to a guy from Sacramento who was visiting, and after two drinks we decided to hook up with our friend Matt and see what was happening at The Transfer. We were a bit surprised when we got there by both the sparseness of the crowd and the sound of dub step coming out of the sound system. We had a drink while we waited for Matt to arrive, but since we were feeling self-conscious about being the only guys there not wearing black hoodies, we decided to head back to The Bar. On the corner of Market and Fillmore we ran into Gary of Jeff and Gary fame, passed some time with him and other denizens of Drunk and Horny at an apartment across the street, then headed back to The Bar. After our experience at Juanita More’s Playboy I was somewhat hesitant about another of her parties, but this time the music was much better and the mixing somewhat improved; in fact, Juanita sounded tighter than both the DJ who preceded her and the one who followed, and was considerably better than when we last heard her at The End Up. We hung out for a few more drinks and then stumbled our way home. In retrospect this was the best evening of the entire weekend; the boyfriend and I had the pleasure of one another’s company, we set out looking for adventure and had spontaneous fun with our friends, and when we went home, it was with a feeling of satisfaction that we had found what we wanted for the night.

Thursday the plan had been to visit some friends in the Outer Richmond prior to dinner, come back, cook for ourselves, and head over to Gobble at Temple. Plans that require a lot of activity tend to go astray, however, after many bottles of champagne and a delayed, then sedating, dinner. At 4PM we thought we had better be going, but since “dinner is almost ready,” we decided to stick around to sample the delicacy of Tur-Duck-Hen. At 6.30 we finally sat down to eat, and after our trek at 8.00 PM to find a cab in the wilds of 45th and Geary, we decided we had had enough of socializing for the night, came home, watched an episode of Family Guy, and passed out. Lameness, thy name is mine.

Friday was the day of false anticipation; as some readers made me aware, the all night Disco Party at Mezzanine, for which we have tickets and were expecting this past Friday, is actually this coming Friday, so we went with the back-up plan of Honey Sound System at The Transfer. We arrived early and had a nice chat with Ken Vulsion about their inheritance of a record collection from one of the founders (along with Sylvester) of Magnetone records, which not only includes vinyl but actual session tapes. They will be debuting some of these finds at an upcoming part, but Friday Ken gave a little tour through disco to whet the appetite. I must admit that I still find it hard to listen to disco; hearing Rod Stewart’s “Passion” on Friday night brought back a number of unfortunate memories associated with high school and the Solid Gold TV show, but I will say that, of the various DJs in this city I’ve heard playing disco, Ken certainly is among the best for knowing how to put all those complicated, and often quite cruddily mastered, mixes together. We listened to part of Josh Cheon’s set, but nothing was really making us move, and the crowd was a little odd – I kept having the feeling that the kids there had come thinking that it was Frisco Disco, and several people we had expected to see never showed. We wound up calling the same guys we had hung out with on Wednesday night to see what they were up to – which, as it turned out, was a night of stimulated conversation. We hung out, had some drinks, got a little stimulated ourselves, but still turned it in by a respectable 1AM.

After three successive days of vacation, Saturday arrived and we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves, nor was there anything really compelling on the club schedule. The boyfriend had a cold, and after hanging out with some producer friends, eating a steak dinner, and soaking in the hot tub, he was ready to call it an evening at 10.30. I, on the other hand, had been offered some after-dinner digestive powder, and was feeling restless – I wasn’t exactly in a mood to go out and party, nor did I really have anyone to go out with, but I also didn’t feel like playing Xbox until I was ready for sleep. I compromised by taking a walk to return a video, thinking I would find something along the way. I checked into The Bar, but it was already more crowded than I was interested in dealing with; the same was true of Frisco Disco, and since my haircut didn’t match up with those of the other kids in line, I got the sense it wasn’t exactly my scene (which seems to have been proved true by a reader report of the evening). I stood on the corner of Filmore and Market for a few moments, contemplating my options, before finally turning and heading up to Drunk and Horny at Underground SF, thinking that I could at least hang out with a few people I might know there.

Unfortunately, Drunk and Horny proved to be more depressing than simply staying home. Though I am good friends with many of the folks involved with that party – Sparky had been one of the people eating dinner with us previously in the evening – I really cannot relate to that particular scene. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why this is; it’s certainly lively, there are lots of guys who are having a good time, and on this occasion there was a go-go boy with a Mohawk, loincloth, and hot tribal tattoos that would normally make me drool – but every time I go there I feel this sense of distance between myself and everyone else. I think this may be because Drunk and Horny has been very good at crafting a high-school/collegiate vibe that, in the end, makes me feel kinda old and lame. This is largely because of the music; either it’s good-time party standards that make me remember my own high school dances, or it’s contemporary “urban flava” that is all the stuff that became popular after I left college. Thus, musically, I get caught in space that either make me feel old, or out of touch. If I had felt moved to dance, and perhaps flirt a bit, I probably could have passed a couple hours there and gone home feeling well-spent, but as it was it only added to the out-of-synch feeling that dogged me throughout the night – I was out of synch with the boyfriend, who was tired and out of sorts and wanted an early bedtime, I was out of synch with the crowd at Drunk and Horny, and I left feeling out of synch with the whole vibe of gay San Francisco on a Saturday night. I went home to the last resort of many gay men who find that their Saturday has not gone quite the way they would like; I checked out some online porn, took care of business, had a drink and a Vicodin, and passed out on the couch watching episodes of Futurama.

When Sunday dawned I was still feeling kinda geeked out from the night before, but this was the day of the kitty. On my way to feed a friend’s cat, I got a call from the boyfriend, who had gone to the gym, telling me that there was a cat rescue service with kittens down at Castro and 18th. Our plan had been to go check out the kittens at Macy’s, but after he called I knew exactly how the day would turn out. Sure enough, by 3PM we had obtained an Abyssinean kitten (now named Disco Biscuit, Disco to his friends, Mr. Biscuit to you), I had had my first experience in a Castro pet store (nothing will make you feel more bourgeois, I assure you), and our friend Kitty had come over to meet our newest family member. Up until that point I had been firmly determined to check out French Kiss at Pink that evening, but now, staying home and bonding with my new friend seemed more important, and more appealing, than another night out on my own.

I had Monday off, and it was a day of reflection. I had started the weekend with definite party agenda, but, in the end, had only really gone out to one event on it. Instead, it was the spontaneous moments of going exploring with the boyfriend, meeting up with friends to hang out in their or our apartment, and those moments of bonding around our new kitten that had seemed the most satisfying to me. When I thought about how unhappy I had been on Saturday night, I realized it wasn’t because I had gone out by myself – I’ve done that often enough, and the boyfriend even thinks that my spirit of adventure in doing so is an admirable quality – but because I had felt so sunk down within myself. I had wanted connection, and fun, and adventure, and instead I only wound up feeling alienated. It put the point to something that I’ve felt for a long time – that the only reason for going out is to have that sense of connection to others through the sharing of experience; when going out is just about “making the scene” it’s an ultimately shallow experience. You’re there, but that’s it, and in your “thereness” you realize just how alone you are (the being of being in being is awfully painful, as you Heideggerians know). If there’s good music and dancing I can feel myself in connection with something else, and with other people, but if all that I’m doing is standing around with a drink in my hand, then I might as well go home. As another long holiday approaches I hope I’ll have more opportunities for experiences that bring me closer to others, whether they’re in a club or just hanging out with the people I want to know.

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