San Francisco's "Angel of Hope," carved in Monterey Cypress by Jack Mealy.
Angels in San Francisco
by Hank Donat
It really is a whole new world when even the fringe and frills on Stevie Nicks' mic stand are red, white, and blue. During her first Bay Area performance since the beginning of the war, the ethereal diva provided a sanctuary from world events by lifting the spirits of adoring fans in well worn lace on a musical trip through the Planets of the Universe. The full moon rising over the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View and a warm breeze from the south provided more than appropriate atmosphere. With concerts that are more like revivals, it's always a thrill to ride on Stevie's broomstick. Later, Stevie and collaborator Cheryl Crow bunked in the City for the weekend.
Eva Nova of Nob Hill thought it was mean for Saturday Night Live to depict Stevie performing at a backyard barbecue until she heard that the former cocaine and Klonopin addict gave a concert for a convention of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
A birthday party on beautiful Russian Hill in honor of an equally beautiful friend yielded two great Stevie Nicks stories the day after the Mt. View gig. One was from a dark-tanned woman, a hottie from L.A. who rented a boat in Marina del Rey with some friends about 25 years ago. The friends called to each other, "Look! It's Fleetwood Mac in the slip next to us!" There were Mick Fleetwood and company setting sail in the marina. The story goes that without warning a baggy filled with coke, "stuffed," fell out of the shirt pocket of John McVie and into the marina. Rounding out the legend, Stevie Nicks jumped in after it and successfully retrieved the stuff. I say successfully because Stevie was soaked but apparently the stuff was not. The second story had to do with a lost horse and Stevie being too paranoid to help find it. Well, this was back in the day or back in the day before the day. Now Stevie's clean and sober, like her sobering mic stand which reminds us our country's at war.
Taking my daily war temperature, I start with an inventory of the Bank of America building and Transamerica Pyramid. One, two, check. We're okay. Then I ask myself, am I afraid today? Am I in terror? Today, I'm more afraid that secret racists now feel they have the moral authority to be racist than I am of getting anthrax from my mail. I think a person is more likely to get sick by reading conservative columnist Peggy Noonan's recent online article that advocates tackling dark skinned people with video cameras in public parks than they are of catching a virus from an invitation from the Right One. That's the computer dating service that's been clogging my mail box with their attempts to marry me off for 20 years.
And that's all I'll say about the war, for now. Are you aware that columnists, journalists, TV hosts and commentators are being fired, suspended or threatened for expressing their views in America? You should be. I take it back, I'll also say this:
If people are afraid to travel out of San Francisco or to it, as is evidenced by our declining tourist dollar, it is more important now than ever to support and promote local businesses. These months I've spent building this web site to preserve and promote local institutions have taught me many things. One is that we don't do enough to preserve our intitutions until they become threatened. Let's face it, now they're all threatened, every single one. It's time to promote the locale for locals. I would like MisterSF to be a part of that.
The mayor and Wilkes Bashford's "America: Back in Business" campaign was an okay start, although the graphic depicting the American flag as a shopping bag looks more like an anti-capitalist protest icon - if irony were still alive, that is. (And it is.) But the poster campaign should be just the beginning. I call on the Robin Williamses, Willie Brownses, Barry Bondses, and Sharon Stoneses of the City to be photographed all over town, and not only shopping, but visiting Crissy Field, Golden Gate Park, North Beach, Chinatown, and more. That's exactly what they did in New York where they've shown us how to get back in business.
Back in town this week for the first time in three years are the incomparable Kiki and Herb, aka Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman. In case you didn't know, this pair from San Francisco is the toast of Manhattan with their bawdy take on piano cabaret. Justin is the lush, Kiki. In the early '90s, I sat on a bar stool a half dozen times on Wednesdays at J.J.'s piano bar on Fillmore with my buddy Earl Flewellen and sing '70's songs along with Justin and his cronies, Elvis Herselvis Leigh Crowe, and Johnny Katt. An impromptu prelude to J.J.'s Wednesday Night feature was a rendition of Stormy Weather that Justin and I unleashed (me in my Member's Only jacket, he in his evening gown) in the vocal style of Ethel Merman. It was truly something no audience would want to hear and not a remarkable vignette except that the lovely Marcia Brady-esqe boy sitting next to me emerged from the underground to became an international cabaret icon. Kiki & Herb play at the Great American Music Hall. (P.S. The bitchy persona for Kiki is a huge act. Justin is an angel.)
Also not to be missed is the final week of Eastenders Repertory Company's 106 Years of Comedy at the Eureka Theatre on Jackson. If you haven't seen an Eastenders production, you can't imagine what you're missing. This is the highest quality theatre in the Bay Area. People are still talking about a version of Beckett's Happy Days performed in Berkeley by Eastender Susan Evans about five years ago. Evans' turn in the existential play about a woman buried up to her waist (up to her neck in the second act) after a fallout and who still manages to start the day optimistically was one of the best performances I've ever seen on stage.
Continuing with a New York-San Franciso theme, Happy Days was famously produced in New York starring Charlotte Rae, Mrs. Garrett from the Facts of Life. Rae stars in the upcoming Fact of Life Reunion on TV, sans Nancy McKeon as Jo. McKeon is apparently too famous to appear, being that she now has a series on Lifetime, the network for woman who like to cry all weekend long. McKeon plays a San Francisco detective in The Division.
The new Eastenders festival is a wonderful conglomeration of theatrical lore. One of the featured plays in the series is Reverse Transcription by Tony Kushner. Kushner's Angels in America, the best play of the 1990s, got it's launch at the Eureka more than a decade ago. I attended a performance of that production with Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano, who was either running or had just been elected to the Board of Education. During a between-the-scenes black out, Steven Spinella, as the near death AIDS patient Pryor, had to get out of his hospital bed and move it off stage for a set change. This was visible from the audience as pupils were adjusting. Ammiano, ever funny in the gallows, leans over and says to me, "Pryor must have Kaiser."
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Copyright 2001 Hank Donat