Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tadich Ethic—Part One

As the DC area decides this morning whether or not to delay or cancel the various events and happenings that will impact my LFG chauffeuring duties today, I’ve found a moment to finish a story—one that I began almost one year ago. While I’m pleased to pick up the ball on this blog story, I hope that things won’t be delayed or cancelled today. I’d really like to see my child.
I began a story last year about my very last minute speaking engagement in San Francisco and for some reason, it just fell aside. As I now gather enough fodder to reflect on last week’s slightly less impromptu but still last minute San Francisco reprieve, it’s easy to dovetail the year-old draft story herein. The year-old stuff and the Tadich Ethic meaning will appear tomorrow.
I think it was Longwing who commented or asked over at my tumblr about how could/would  I be at the Mirage in Las Vegas the first of last week…then San Francisco mid-week and back at the Las Vegas MGM last Friday. Well here’s the deal. I did a session last Tuesday at the Mirage. Another business unit within the same company asked me to do a session to close out their week-long meeting on Friday. The client company is so large that they essentially filled three different hotels in Las Vegas. It made no sense to return home Tuesday evening and return to Las Vegas on Thursday for my Friday MGM gig.
My Las Vegas loathing is well documented. There exists no place on earth I’ve experienced thus far that elicits in me the same level of revulsion. Las Vegas renders me repulsed to the point of physical and psychological discombobulation. Wayne Newton rather sums it up for me. And I rolled in there Monday before last amidst a wobbly recovery from a 36 hour tummy bug to boot. I decided that there was no way I could survive the Wednesday and Thursday downtime between talks by just hanging out in Las Vegas and I was in no mood to rent a car and do some kinda Hoover damn Dam sortie or similar. 
So I contacted clients in Los Angeles and the Bay Area and decided I’d decamp to one or the other, based on what client; first come-first served, responded. I’d simply create a business but mostly recreational reason to be in another city. And I was delighted that the first ping-back originated in Baghdad by the Bay. Feeling mildly knocked around after my full-on session in Las Vegas, I was still more than ready to knock around San Francisco.
And the Fairmont atop Nob Hill along with The Mark offered me rooms at a buck-fifty a night. So the Fairmont it would be. I don’t think I can describe the efficacy…the cleansing salve of San Francisco’s crisp-blue skied winter air as I walked out front of the Fairmont on Wednesday morning. My two days in San Francisco were bliss. Cable cars may be touristy but I rode ‘em with glee.
And I liked standing at the corner of  California street on Wednesday evening after dinner at the University Club…when things were quieter…and you could hear the hiss of the cables running just under the street's surface.
The sartorial rounds were brief. There isn’t much to see in San Francisco clothing wise, that a clotheshorse like me hasn’t or doesn’t see in other cities. I will make it a point to get over to Union Made the next time I’m there. Tasty, eclectic, high quality goods for a younger crowd perhaps. But their website alone is enticing enough for me to wanna have a look-see in situ. Alas, I did go to Cable Car Clothiers' new, smaller digs. Let me just say that unless there’s a dramatic reimagining of what CCC was…is…aspires to be—they won’t be—for much longer.
Certainly my bucket hat and wool challis bowtie purchase won’t keep ‘em afloat.
I held no hope that these framed Vanity Fair prints of Bret Harte and Rider Haggard, along with their personal letters, would remain available at Brick Row Booksellers in that building on Geary Street where art dealers and rare booksellers have long since been ensconced. I’m generally not so lucky but alas they were there and I decided to not pass on them again. Rare book dealers and antiquarian print purveyors are a quirky lot. And trust me—I know quirk when I’m amidst it…having learned to embrace my own idiosyncrasies. Or as one of my dinner mates from the University Club on Wednesday evening declared regarding the proclivities of his high end, persnickety clientele… “I’ve made peace with crazy.” Now don’t get me wrong. None of the dealers in the 49 Geary Street building are crazy—just a bit—and delightfully so—quirky. And quirky played to my favor in that for some juju-esque reason, both of the framed images cost me less than what one of them was quoted to me a year ago. And God knows I need some framed caricatures.
With a bit of unexpected extra time on Thursday I ventured over to North Beach and traipsed the mild underbelly of a part of San Francisco that gives me more reason to love the entire city. Unlike the frenetically loud, neonelectrified smarm of Las Vegas, San Francisco’s smarm is patinated. I just wish that I’d a been there when the El Matador was still serving hooch and jazz and hosting the smart set from all over the world when they rolled in to San Francisco. The thirty something year old Barnaby Conrad was told to “do something with the money” that came pouring in after his novel Matador took off…so “I opened a bar.” 
And boy did he “open a bar”. The El Matador hosted not only the smart set but also some pretty good jazz musicians during its heyday. It seems that North Beach was a jazz destination “…in 1963 the jazz scene moved on. North Beach, with its reputation as a louche entertainment enclave, emerged as the San Francisco jazz epicenter and reigned as such in the fifties, sixties and even into the seventies…”
Here with Conrad at the El Matador is Tyrone Power who starred in Blood and Sand…as a Matador. And I suppose that Power’s role in The Sun Also Rises gave these two imbibers a bit more conversational fodder.
Caen and Conrad. Good clean fun fronting the El Matador.
I tracked down the old El Matador location. It’s vacant and man-oh-man if the walls therein could talk. Wanna re-open it or something similar? “Maxminimus” Yep. That’s what we’ll call it. And I’ll open it—from the proceeds of my first novel.
Look at the abandoned El Matador and ponder what once rounded that corner… “Part saloon, part salon, Barnaby Conrad's El Matador was nestled in the heart of San Francisco's cabaret and nightlife district. There, within the space of a few blocks of North Beach's Barbary Coast, one could catch Johnny Mathis singing at Ann's 440 Club, cross the street to the Swiss American Hotel where Lenny Bruce once thought he was a bird and attempted to fly out of a second-story window, and walk a couple of blocks to the Hungry i to check out newcomers like Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Barbra Streisand, and the Smothers Brothers. Still, despite the accumulation of dozens of bars, restaurants, and night spots, the area lacked "a truly chic and comfortable (club), a place where attractive and interesting people could congregate over a martini". Conrad's El Matador stylishly filled the void. On any given night, one might find Noel Coward, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, or Tyrone Power in the club, or hear Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Eva Gabor, George Shearing, or Andre Previn take over the piano.” 

What will be longed for in another fifty years? Large Escalades pulling up in front of some loud-ass club…Cristal drenched bling-blingers and an upskirt shot courtesy of an iPhone? Where are the El Matadors today?
Barnaby Conrad Jr. has lived one hell of a life and I’m gonna delve into it a bit more when his two memoirs arrive.
Here’s a little glimpse… “At nineteen Barnaby Conrad vaulted into a Mexican arena and waved his Brooks Brothers raincoat at an enraged bull. At twenty-one he escalated from code clerk to vice-consul in twenty-four hours and was sent to Spain where he became El Nino de California (The California Kid) of the bull fights. At twenty-five he was selling books on the subject.”
  And of course there’s Carol Doda and the Condor amidst City Lights book store and the Beats. I’ve yet to stand at the corner of Haight and Ashbury and haven’t made erudite my Hippie studies but is there truth that the Beats felt like their call to action was more worthy than the Hippies?
And was Doda’s topless-bottomlessness plaque worthy?
I can tell you unequivocally that my plein air solo dining before heading to the airport and back to the Las Vegas smarm was plaque worthy. Stay tuned for round two of my San Francisco sortie.

Onward. Having just learned that all is open for business in DC…now I’m gonna go fetch my young’un.



LPC said...

And just like that, there's my city. Makes up for not being able to extricate for lunch, almost.

Next time you are here, I'd love to hear your take on Self Edge, the Holy Church of denim. Not that I've seen you WEAR denim much, but these young 'uns take their pants as your do your, um, trews?

Can't wait for your novel and the bar. Hire a big ol' bouncer and I'll find some ol' way to be the first person kicked out. How does that sound?

Gail, in northern California said...

Oh, Max, what a lovely tribute to our Lady by the Bay. Thank you.

Believe it or not, I started working there when I was 17. My first boss' name was Mr. Wolff (no, he wasn't). It was an insurance company and I started as a file clerk...I didn't care. It was where I wanted to be...the exciting financial district in San Francisco. I knew her from 1962 to 1970 and lunch hours were spent anywhere I could get in a half hour in heels.

A hundred years I live in northern California so far removed from San Francisco it isn't funny but my memories of her will always be very special.

Make your own memories with your little golden-hair this weekend.

Mark M said...

SF is a nice stop for a clothes horse such as yourself, though it skews younger from what I've seen. After stopping by CCC, I hope you went a few doors down to The Hound, I could do some damage in there.

Unionmade and Self Edge are good stops, great food along the way as well.

Gail, in northern California said...

Well, now you've done it...really done it this time. Snippets, buried memories, whatever you want to call them.

When you mentioned the Haight-Ashbury again, it transported me back to 1969. My husband and I were dating. One night we were in the Haight-Ashbury district and stopped in a lovely little restaurant...I'm sure we asked if we could just have a cup of coffee as the hour was late (did they really let us do that?). Perhaps, they simply wanted to close their doors for the evening but suddenly a waiter came over and said, "Every night just before closing we go around to each table and gather up the flowers from each vase." Then handing me a huge bouquet of flowers, he said, "We give them to the prettiest girl in the room."

Now, I ask you, who could forget such a beautiful memory? I can still see them in my mind's eye...yellow, gold, orange ranunculus.

Recently our granddaughter started her schooling at Paul Mitchell. We sent her flowers...ranunculus.

Ian from Downunder said...

Mr Toad says you've had a birthday.

Many happy returns you old poop!!

What did the birthday fairy provide?

Looking forward to meeting you later in the year.

Waremest regards

Anonymous said...

"We give them to the prettiest girl in the room."

You've got me in tears, GailNoCal, I'd not recover from that one myownself!

Max, happy 70th birthday!


ADG said...

Thanks Flo...I'm 69...not 70. And I'll be in Jax in 2 weeks so you and Mr. Flo need to put up or shut up. bam.

Ian....thanks! I got nothing for my birthday because I'm on a constant gift receiving infusion--sponsored by my damn self 24/7/365.

Gail...LOVED all of your SF memories. And yes...I'm reveling in the ever so infrequent LFG overnight. We had burned by me...chicken pot pies for dinner last night.

Mark M. .... I did go to The Hound. It's great. A rather overstuffed with merchandise--middle of the road--but real safe and tasty trad joint.

LPC...Prunella....HA! Indeed...the selection criteria for the bouncer will include requiring those English driving gloves--in black--with the ventilated knuckle holes. Gotta keep those fists ventilated so that they don't overheat amidst tossing lesser physical specimens out the door. WAIT...I have another idea. Why don't YOU moonlight as the bouncer? Bounce-tress? La ejectresse? Prunella the Pouncer? damn.

Gail, in northern California said...

Happy Birthday, Max. Celebrate your socks off with that little golden-haired girl of yours and her beloved sidekick.

Anonymous said...

"And I'll be in Jax in 2 weeks so you and Mr. Flo need to put up or shut up."

Zzzzzzz. Ummh mhuh.

[If she could not get his attention last year dangling Carroll Shelby AND his Cobra, both of em live and in the flesh, in front of his face, what are the odds?]

The Pointer Sisters, where are they, here they ah:

Young Fogey said...

Wayne Newton scares me. When does the alien inside peel off the suit made of human flesh?

Oh, and happy birthday. I hope your nightmares of Wayne Newton were not as bad as mine.

Please don't ever post pictures of him again. I still have to sleep with the light on.

KSA said...

Oh my my. San Francisco gets a little smaller every time I make the mistake of glancing backwards. Glad Tadich's place is still around: best asparagus in 50 states and martinis made by men who know how.

Carry on, ADG.


Anonymous said...

Hahahaha LOL! That is rich! !!