Sunday, June 12, 2011

Did you find anything interesting to do last night?

6:12 AM on a Sunday -- Divisadero & McAllister.

John and Matt stumble toward breakfast options.

"Dude, is that diner open?"
"Wait wait... Who the fuck is that guy?"

"Dude, he's in the middle of traffic doing circles."

"You take my picture? You take my picture on YouTube! That's how we do it... I wanna see a foo acting a motherfucking fool of himself on the street. It's motherfuckin' 6 in the morning -- that shit is funny."

"Cool, but can my friend get in the basket?"

Over to there.

And then back.

"Could you stop the cart now?"
"Nah, but I could play some Sade."

"I ain't lettin you go. How 'bout I own your ass? I got me a Safeway sale on White Boy. I didn't get no 40 acres and a mule, but I got me a white boy."

"Can you let my friend out of the cart now?"

"Maybe I'll trade him back to you if you got some cigarettes. You got some Camel Lights or somethin'?"

"Nevermind, let's get the product shot."

"I wanna get some hits on you tube. You gonna put that shit up? I wanna hit that shit."

Friday, July 11, 2008


There is a fellow who goes by the name of Merkley???. He's a colorful character and when it comes to Flickr photo sharing he is a veritable rock star. I first heard about Merkley from my photographer friend Dan Boud over a year ago while he was visiting with me from Sydney. I'll paraphrase the conversation we had.

Dan: "Did you know that Merkley lives in your city?"

Me: "Who's Merkley?

Dan: "He's an artist guy who takes pictures, mostly of naked chicks, and then posts them on Flickr."

Me: "Lots of people do that. Why is he special?"

Dan: "His are unique. He uses lots and lots of photoshop on them and all kinds of strange props. It's quite elaborate. My friend George gave me his number. I texted Merkley to tell him I was in town but I didn't hear back."

Me: "Dude, Text him again."

Dan: "Apparently he has a big Victorian type house in the city. He has a huge variety of Suicide Girl type women in his work. Some people really love his pictures and the purist photographers are up in arms about all the image adjusting. He's rather eccentric in the way he dresses and he has this great big beard."

Me: "Forget texting. You should call him so we can go see his place."

Dan: "It's a bit intimidating since I don't actually know him."

Me: "If we show up at his place bearing women as gifts he's likely to be friendly towards us."

Dan: "My friend, I seriously doubt Merkley has any trouble getting his own women."

Me: "I need to see these photos."

When I look at Merkley I am always struck by the idea that Will Ferrel would be the one to play him in a movie. He's a bit of a hybrid of Jim Morrison and Will Ferrel with just a pinch of Manson from his bushy beard. I'd like to follow Merkley about so I could get enough material to write a screenplay about him. It's also possible that Merkley is enough of a character that he could just play himself. I highly doubt Merkley would like the idea of a mainstream comedy actor playing him in a movie. I imagine he might say something like, "Will Ferrel can eat boogers from my ass crack." Actually, Merkley has his own blog where he expresses himself, shares his photos and some occasionally juvenile but clever commentary about some of the people he visits. Merk makes me curious about him since there is nothing hidden or particularly mysterious about his work. Or maybe it's just the beard that intrigues me.

I was pleased to see him out at Frisco Disco a few months back. I didn't bother him because he was talking to a lovely young lady at the time and I didn't want to punch a hole in his mojo. He was wearing dark sunglasses and a lovely burgundy suit as I recall. Then a hot British gal at the bar asked me to buy her a beer because she was under age. I thought it was a clever way to get a free beer from me, so I checked her ID and it was legit. She was 20. Then, I looked up and Merkley wasn't there. Like the wind, man. Quiet as a shadow he had slipped off into the night and back to his prop-filled pad. Was he real or was it just in my mind's eye? What I should have done was quickly introduce her to Merkley so he could take her photo in all it's jail-bait adjacent girl-scouted glory. She seemed wild and fancy free-spirited enough to be one of his nude models. Merkely is a true San Fran Freak that makes me proud to claim him as one of our own. He's a heterosexual hero in a town that really needs one. Gotham may have Batman but my San Fran Freaky friends and I have Merkley.

Look there! It's a jaded, bisexual, hipster chic covered in tattoos and holding an ugly little dog. Quick, throw up the Merk signal. The commissioner will need a picture of that one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mobile Dance Pary - SF Style

Some people like to ride bikes at night. Some like to drink. Some like to have dance parties. After the last critical mass Matt and I met up with some peeps that like to roll it all up into one big party.

Mobile Dance Party - San Francisco

From Emperor Norton to the 12 Galaxies

San Francisco has a long history of celebrating its freaks— or eccentrics if you want to be PC about it, which we don’t. Perhaps the most famous San Francisco freak of all time is Emperor Norton. A freak on the scene from way back in the mid/late eighteen hundreds, Emperor Norton (born Joshua Abraham Norton), declared himself “Emperor of these United States” and “Protector of Mexico”, and walked the streets in his elaborate military uniform, doing inspections of the city and giving lengthy philosophical explanations to anyone who would listen.

Emperor Norton

Mentally unbalanced? By all accounts. But his regal presence and proclamations made him one of San Francisco’s most beloved characters. He even had currency issued in his name which was honored at establishments he frequented, including some of the city’s finest restaurants. Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson immortalized him in book characters based on him. And the day after he died, nearly 30,000 people took to the streets to honor him. If you’re interested in more true bizarreness, there’s plenty on his wikipedia page.

Today, the closest thing San Francisco has to an Emperor Norton has got to be Frank Chu (aka the 12 Galaxies guy).

Frank Chu and his famous sign

Much like Emperor Norton, Frank is very well known and much beloved. Like Norton, he’s also leading a crusade against the government—albeit a much more bizarre one.

Every day for over ten years, Frank has taken to the streets of San Francisco by himself with his sign to protest various US presidents, corporations, and the “12 Galaxies”—a galaxy far from our own where he’s the star of a hit reality TV show called “The Richest Family”. Currently, he’s protesting not being paid $20 billion in back royalties for “The Richest Family”. The government is also embezzling his sex life, among other things.

His normal protest route goes through downtown San Francisco. But he’ll also show up at pretty much any organized protest in the city. So, if you’re protesting something, want him or not, this guy’s protesting with you. He’ll also turn up at most big public happenings (street fairs, Bay to Breakers, the Lacy Peterson trail…). Anywhere there’s cameras to promote his cause.

Eventually, Frank became a minor San Francisco celebrity. During the dot com boom, he began capitalizing on it by selling advertising on the back side of his sign. According to wikipedia, as of May 2005 his going rate was $100 a week. A few years later, a nightclub in the Mission district called 12 Galaxies was named in his honor. Frank receives free admission for life (of the club anyway), all the Budweiser he can drink, and regularly gets up on stage to give patrons updates on his protest.

So, when Matt and I spotted Frank at the 2nd annual Bike Music Festival, we had to get an update on him. Apologies for the shit audio. All we had on us was our point-and-shoot digicams.

Frank Chu at the 2nd annual Bike Music Festival

If you want to know the real story on Frank. Like what his clinical diagnosis is, his murky back story, and how he supports himself, check out this amazing little documentary. The guy that made it also made this pretty cool DJ Shadow fan music video using footage of Frank walking around the city.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Burger Porn

Sometimes in San Francisco when you're just relaxing and eating a burger, something sexy happens.