san francisco

it suddenly occurred to me how much san francisco had towered over my rock and roll life with it’s trailblazing visions.
in the present tense there’s the simple elegance of apple computers ,which have helped a dumbo like me to continue making music without the big budgets from record labels….thank you!
then there’s the attitude san francisco promoted towards the serious creative possibilities of drugs …thank you timothy leary…i  did indeed ‘tune in,turn on and drop out’…[it was good advice]
then there’s lawrence ferlinghetti ,who in his late eighties STILL has his *city lights* bookstore up and running..he selflessly published ginsberg’s *howl*and saw it spin out into a big bold court case regarding what is or isn’t allowed to sit freely on todays bookshelfs……..then there’s the all important sex…thank you harvey were the first one who opened that big can of political worms that no one else would dare go near,and my life is all the better for it…you got murdered for the likes of me…you were more of a politician than david cameron could ever be…in my eyes david cameron is nothing more than a media cousin to simon cowell.
i know things were happening elsewhere too,but so much of the groundwork and cultural fine tuning that enhanced my life, was laid out right here in san francisco… it flips me out to bear in mind that in england at exactly the same time,tom robinson was doing similar brave work.

on a sunny day in frisco the sense of freedom and absence of judgement is palpable..
nudists are allowed to walk freely in the daylight..and it makes a neat statement,even if i personally don’t think the human form is altogether flattered wearing nothing but shoes and shoulder bags.
a great thing about california in general is that older people don’t have to slide out of view when the skin looses it’s bounce …that miami/south beach neurosis simply isn’t here.
no one needs to hide their age in this town.
there’s a bar at the top of the castro with huge windows called twin peaks..only the worst ageist wankers nickname it the glass coffin cause of the oldsters…but the truth about that famous bar is the really old and the turned on younger ones mix in a very very groovy way there……the oldest regulars in that place actually knew harvey milk’s authentic…not some hard rock cafe tourist trap.

and let’s not forget levis are born out of frisco…one of the last great american business’s that doesn’t reek of corporate greed…it’s still in the family,and i’m told it’s one of the very first business’s that sorted out a good union deal and comfort for the workers…i love levis..they’re sexy…. look at those album  covers…*sticky fingers*….*after the gold rush*….these things are my life.
there really is nothing hornier to me than thick blue levi denim stretched tight across a good meaty arse….male or female.

soooooo…thomas leaves london for frisco and i keenly fly up from the desert to meet him …
the plan is that he would sleep off his jet lagg and i would go out to a pan sexual s&m club called the citadel for a bit of a trip….
i’d been last year , and had the time of my life…
there’s a cool man there who has a big hand in running the place…he conducts orchestras and studies jazz…
after he’d giving me a right ruff sorting, i sat with him while he generously genned me up on the life of billy strayhorn…
billy strayhorn was a sweet shameless talented black homosexual in the 1940’s who wrote *lushlife*, plus various other jazz standards,but also did those great arrangements for duke ellington’s big band.
there is no alcohol on the premises or unkosher drugs…no drunks or tweakers get in….and there are sex police making sure nothing unsafe or stupid happens…
it’s a million times cleaner than any leather bar,and no one is allowed to leave a mess…you clean up after yourself.
there are prison cells and all sorts of things to galvanize the head trip…it’s shameless.. buzzy without any music..intense and relaxed all at once..refreshingly unapologetic……a million miles from my northern irish roots.
one hungry big hairy guy was getting off on being tayzored by another handsome chap in a cop uniform…..japanese rope bondage..mirrors..cages…the scene truly rocked

i get back to the hotel..thomas is out for the count..plugs stuffed in his ears,so i run a hot bath … sink into the water and feel the sting.
we wake up early cause thomas likes his breakfast.. his favourite place is called ‘cafe flore’
it’s been there since the 70’s,and if you ever want to get a sense of this glorious city,go eat there..hang out there…the food is terrific and healthy…cafe flore
after that, it’s time for thomas’s afternoon cocktail,and high times for me..we nash down to twin peaks where the afternoon just rolls by…great to be with thomas again after all this time.
the earthy smell of legal marijuana drifts down the street..the nudists are relaxing on the sidewalk , while business men in suits shuffle about in an easy way…what a fine fine city?!
my other little jonz is haight ashbury..quite different from  the castro….i like the guitar store down there…. the amoeba record shop…..the colour…the hippies..the history…fillmore..janis joplin…grateful dead
malcolm mcclaren was wrong….he said ‘ never trust a hippie’…well i’d trust a hippie easily as much as any punk…infact…there’s really not much difference..

three days of pure sunshine past in a second…i am still tripping on it….
here’s some photographs.[click on them to enlarge]

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9 Responses to san francisco

  1. elbrigaking says:

    I love those pictures, thay are truly amazing, thank you for this great post!


  2. tone-bender says:

    “……even if i personally don’t think the human form is altogether flattered wearing nothing but shoes and shoulder bags….” that’s just genius. and so very true.

    when are you home Sugar-Tits?



    • the only way anyone can carry off going starkers is to wear big manly workie/army boots..then it’s horny..but flip flops,and sandals?..or sneakers..or perhaps spats with sock suspenders?!…it get’s a bit monty python…especially if there’s a carrier bag involved…but hell…it’s still good to know there’s a town somewhere that lives and lets live….i’m hoping some of it will rub off on me[coughs]….i’m just back t-bend..isn’t it cold?…back under the rock now for the next six months…save some money ect ect. hope you and charles are good.


  3. Robert says:

    The picture of the toilet with the red wall and silvery graffiti is worthy of a gallery hanging! I’d frame that on one of my walls at home.

    Love your Tales of the City!


    • hi robert ..the interesting thing about that toilet is, that even though it was scruffy like something out of 1970’s CBGB’S,it was clean…now in england,if a toilet looks like that,it somehow automatically gets license to be filthy as well.


  4. John Lumea says:

    Hi, Mary.

    Last February, I struck up a correspondence with our mutual friend John Howard. Not long afterward, I began helping John to launch and develop his Wikipedia and YouTube presences — and it was around that time, via a comment you left on John’s YouTube channel, that I first became aware of you.

    But, alas, it wasn’t until the last few days that — finally! — despite John’s repeated urgings, mind you — I got around to listening to your work.

    I waited too long. Songs wise and fearless, just the right edge, without a hint of bitterness. Just lovely. Still just letting them wash over me now. Thank you.

    After 12-plus years in New York, I moved to San Francisco last summer, and see from your blog that you were just here.

    Love your line about John as the Queen of English Singer-Songwriters. I agree.

    Do feel free to drop me a line at my email address or via Facebook.

    Thanks again — and best regards,



    • hi john…i love john’s music….he’s soaked up all the people i love without turning into them…a real individual…people like john are important to me at my time in life,cause as i watch so many artists become inert and calcified,he shows that it doesn’t have to be that way..this is hugely important to me..the world conspires to make artists feels silly to continue and develop past as certain age if they’re without the vindication of raking in the dollars….one of the most comical things,is when i occasionally find myself around a dinner table with a load of professional homosexuals bragging about money and the tangible work they’ve done during the week….a dreaded moment comes when they ask me what i’ve been up to..but i now take perverse delight in saying’well,i just sat and listened to records all day’…the table generally goes silent, and i find that very funny…..rebellion in my middle fifties among the middle class gays….of course the truth is a little head is in new songs,much like john,but you can’t really talk about that stuff…best to just get on with it…

      i loved san francisco…i really really love it…i keep thinking i should head east sometime..tangiers/marrakech or somewhere,but my penis and testicles just keeps dragging me back to california….

      it’s very good to hear from a friend of john…

      so nice that you took time to write those sweet words…

      loads of love

      mary of the wilderness.


      • John Lumea says:

        Absolutely, Mary — it’s more than inspiring to see and hear musical artists who are continuing to push their own frontiers and produce compelling work, deep into their careers. Of course, Leonard Cohen is Exhibit A — but there’s also John Cale — Tom Waits — Bob Dylan — Randy Newman — Bryan Ferry — Marianne Faithful, anyone? — and, of course, Scott Walker never gave a shit what *any*body thought was commercially acceptable. So you and John are in some very good company.

        Too, I’m extremely grateful for sites like YouTube and Soundcloud — sites that are democratizing access to music in a way that is enabling listeners to hear wonderful material — like yours! — that otherwise never would be within their reach.

        I love San Francisco, too! — although, if you’d have told me, ten years ago, that I’d be saying that, I’d never have believed you. Not because I had anything against San Francisco — to the contrary, I had *enormous* fondness for the cultural *iconography* of the place — the Beats — the bridge — Berkeley — Harvey Milk — the Castro — but because, growing up in western Kentucky, the whole orientation of my childhood was East Coast. I loved “the city” — and “the city” simply meant “New York” — maybe Boston or Philadelphia. But with the exception of The Tonight Show of the 1970s — Johnny Carson — “coming to you live, from our studio in Burbank, California” — California was a foreign country. (And it was monolithic — no sense, whatsoever, of the vast differences between Northern California and SoCal.) On television shows — drama or comedy — depictions of the city were depictions of New York. Leonard Bernstein — a very early cultural touchstone — he, too, was “New York.”

        It was only when I’d lived in New York for long enough to realize that the reality on the ground often doesn’t live up to the promise of the skyline — only then was I able to carve out enough psychic space to imagine the possibility of San Francisco.

        So glad I did!

        You were in New York for a time, yes? I wonder if we overlapped — I got there in February 1998.

        Did you notice that your line about Leonard Cohen’s new song — “The bar has been raised.” — made it onto the official Cohen site?




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