Indians, Native Americans and my Mom

A lot of you may not be aware of this, but San Francisco was inhabited prior to us “white people” moving in and taking over by depending on how old you are the Ohlone [modern term] or Coastanoan [older out of date term] Indians. Yes, I said Indians. To me “Native American” doesn’t exactly fit because I was born here in the San Francisco, California therefore that makes me a Native American. I understand “those people” not liking to be called “Indian” because the explorers who discovered this place [like the natives didn’t know it was here already?] thought they were in India. But that’s really a whole ‘nother story that I don’t want to get into here.

My Mom for some reason got into collecting the “Indian” baskets at a very young age. She had a huge collection of Ohlone, Paiute, well, pretty much every tribe you could find here. Her problem was that she showed them off by putting them on shelves without any kind of protection whatsoever and when she died and we started cleaning things up with noticed how covered in dust these baskets were.

I contacted a few friends at museums locally to see how best to clean them up. A couple of them came out and upon seeing what she had their jaws dropped. Some of these baskets are over 100 years old and in perfect condition. We decided to clean out the cabinet that was holding a bunch of crap glass that was pretty much worthless and cleaned the dust off the baskets to display them properly.

These pictures are just a small part of the entire collection that includes arrowheads, jewelry,  rugs and pottery pieces as well. While 90% of these are from California, there are a few from the southwest along with a collection of Kachina dolls that are still hanging on the wall because we haven’t found a good case for them yet.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the “locals” had a very good degree of craftsmanship. A couple of the baskets actually had colorful bird feathers stuck into them that gave them a velvety look. Bird feathers unfortunately don’t last long and they’re hard to replace, but the weaving underneath still speaks for itself. While my Mom didn’t have a drop of Indian blood in her as far as I know she might have gotten some from my Grandfather who had the look of a mountain man with those “chinese eyes” as Pete Townsend once said about all the best cowboys. He probably had a bit in him and it might have been passed down. So this is our little museum we have in our house that’s holding up quite nicely and I thought I share a little part of an odd part of San Francisco with ya’ll.

Heavy Metal Never Dies

After reading about Ozzy and Mötley Crüe and how they tried to kill themselves I thought it would be nice to have a book about Metal in San Francisco from it’s start in 1980 to where it is in present day.  So I’ve decided to write a book on the subject and have it self published.

What I need is to hear from the bands and people involved in the scene because there’s some parts that are a bit foggy for me and some that I missed out on. I want to do interviews for the book with the people who also pushed the scene along like Ron Quintana, Danny D and all of the others. Pics will help as well. I’m hoping you’ll all provide the words and stories that I missed out on, like the East Bay scene which I was only a peripheral member of, mostly seeing the bands when they came to play in San Francisco. Remember some of the old Waller house parties?

San Francisco was the spawning grounds for Thrash Metal that defined San Francisco as one of the big thrash metal scenes, so please contact me with information so I help all of us remember who was who back then.

Why I blog

Oddly enough when I tell people I blog for a living people ask me why. I have to kind of think of that because it doesn’t give me a good enough income to live off of, but it does give me an outlet. I love San Francisco and while I’ve traveled to numerous cities around the nation and world they still don’t hold a candle to being in San Francisco. I want to share my love of this city with them so hopefully those outside the city will want to come, spend money and create jobs that maybe one day I can find.

Then there are my rants. I like to rant because when a problem comes up in my life I’ve found it doesn’t do much good to talk to the person who’s irritating me, because they usually aren’t a person, but a corporate or government entity. I don’t like Chloramine in our water because of the health effects it has on us and our children and pets. I don’t like paypal because they’re a corporate conglomerate monopoly that my letter to them and local, state and federal government have ignored. I even had to leave a part time job because they only paid using paypal and now I could no longer get a paycheck from them.

There are a lot of things going on with me that I don’t like and when I get to write about them I feel a sense of catharsis. My blog is my therapist and I tend not to like flesh and blood therapists because they seem to have more problems than I do. I could write about a former boss that stole my identity and was using it to buy drugs for himself, but I had been ignored by the San Mateo police department possible because he’s up on a couple of felony convictions that will keep him locked up for years to come. I could talk about the trials and tribulations of raising a 3 year old autistic girl who most people wouldn’t know there’s anything wrong with until she has one of her little meltdowns [and I probably will write an article on that soon].

So while I blog about my love of San Francisco, it also gives me a change to vent my middle aged anger on the system that was supposed to work for me. When I become a gray haired old man I don’t want to be that guy walking around on garbage night going through people’s trash to collect recyclables. I don’t want to be a Wal-mart greeter or counting inventory for target, but while I’m highly skilled and qualified, there are also lots of kids living at home with Mom and Dad who can do the job for half what I need.

So please, if you can click on my sponsor links to help a brother out. Send me emails of encouragement or post comments about what you’d like to see here or not see here. I’d love to be able to do this full time, but know that only a few people in the world can do that and I might not be one of them, but I’m going to keep trying. I’ll keep blogging and I won’t go away.

Thanksgiving Humor

So I’ll assume by now that we’re all overstuffed with Turkey or Tofurky and are trying to keep from nodding off so I thought I’d share a joke my old boss Jay Walsh sent me this morning:

“A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said: “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.” John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Groupon Black Friday/Cyber Monday Bonus Offer

As I hope many of you have noticed, Groupon is a sponsor of this website and they just sent me an email telling me that they have several special offers for the dreaded Black Friday so you may not even need to leave home. If you click on the groupon logo it’ll take you to my special page of links that isn’t available to the general public. Apparently when you click the picture it’ll tell you the pageEnjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! It ain’t over until the tryptophan wears off!

My Cat is Senile

This is a picture of my 19 year old cat. She had a little problem because I don’t speak cat, but she had a couple of ingrown toenails which for people is one thing, but for cats think of it as you fingernails growing so long that start to grow into your hand. I took her to my friends at Avenue’s Pet Hospital that I’ve been going to for about 40 years. Dr. Scott Anderson and Dr. Rick Schwach have know our 4 dogs and 2 cats very well over the years and have always offered to help with any problems.

So Morgana is 19 and as I’m talking with Dr. Schwach today I jokingly tell him that I think she’s senile because she meows, LOUDLY for food and water and when I give it to her she’s forgotten I’ve given it to her and meows some more.

Dr. Schwach doesn’t bad an eye, “Well that’s because she is senile. When cats reach this age senility starts in.” OK, that explains a lot to me. I sometimes am woken up in the middle of the night to hear Morgana meowing from the garage and I was thinking maybe it’s because she’s cold or needs food or water or something like that. Dr. Schwach mentioned that the top audience for 3am KGO radio is older people because they don’t really sleep well at night.

I never thought of cats going senile. Our dogs always seemed fine and alert, but cats are kind of new to me. I got my first cat in my 30’s and that was really more because the cat wandered into my house and sat down next to me looking at the food I was eating. After I gave him some steak, Max was a recurrent member of the family. Max died during my trip to London from pulmonary edema that I thank my room mate Jack for taking care of. Morgana was a replacement present from my friend Mike and she’s been doing quite well all these years, but well, she’s senile now. After hearing what Dr. Schwach told me I’m going to start thinking when I hear the meows in the middle of the night that she’s probably starting to see things that aren’t there and I just hope they aren’t scary for her.

Edsel Ford Fong: The World’s Rudest Waiter

I had to go back a couple of decades to remember this, but it was in the early 80’s when I was out with some college friends looking for something cheap to eat. Some one suggested we go to Sam Wo’s. Sam Wo’s is in the heart of Chinatown right around the corner from Ed Jew’s Flower shop. It’s a kind of dodgy looking place since when you walk inside you’re in the kitchen and have to make a sharp right to go up the stairs to get a seat.

The people working there give you kind of strange looks except for Edsel. If you weren’t Chinese he saw you as fresh meat. This was my first time there around 1981 and I remember ordering sweet and sour pork. “You boring, why white people always order the only chinese dish they know. At least you didn’t order chow mein!” That was my response. I then made the mistake of asking for a coke. “No coke, only water. You want coke you go across street and buy it.” Little did I know, Edsel wasn’t kidding.

Two of us walked across the street to a little liquor store and got sodas for all of us and we came back in 5 minutes and the food was on the table. About every 5 minutes Edsel would come by and ask if we were finished. Finally I guess we were finished as Edsel began to take our plates. One of my friends Dan tried to take his plate back. Bad move. Edsel smacked his hand and walked off in a huff with his plate. Part of me wonders if when Edsel wasn’t working if he lost his broken English Chinese accent, but I’ll never know now.

Now some of you are thinking, why would I possibly want to write about a guy so rude. After awhile I kind of got it. Sam Wo’s isn’t much to speak of and Edsel was more putting on a show for non-Chinese people who would venture into Chinatown. Herb Caen used to eat there and he’d always post whatever insult Edsel had offered the night before and Edsel would hold up the column and proudly display it to the customers. It was his schtick and it worked. I was visiting a friend at work around the corner one day and walked past Sam Wo’s and thought of going in and having lunch. But without Edsel being there it’s just Chinese food and no entertainment.

Willie Brown…Herb Caen’s Successor

Willie Brown, what can I say. He is a career politician who was once our mayor that some people said of him, “You’re a crook, but you’re OUR crook.” He just laughed that off with a smile. A politician being called a crook and not getting outraged? Willie has cohones as big as his wardrobe of clothes from Wilks Bashford.

Now that he’s getting up there in years a bit, he’s not slowing down, but he’s moving away from politics and just talking about them. That’s why his “Willie’s World” in the SF Chronicle is one of the first things I go for in the Sunday paper. Willie has been around the block a few times and knows how things work. I get a kick when he says things like, “So I was having lunch with the Governator at the Palace hotel when Micky Rourke walked over and said hi.”

How many people could have the guts to make a statement like that? He is like the glitterati of politics which crosses over to the hollywood world of weirdness. His column on Sundays is true 3 dot journalism just like Herb Caen used to write. He starts off with the state of affairs in San Francisco and ends up with movie and restaurant reviews. I would love to be able to claim myself as the successor to Herb Caen, but I’m more of a bastard child. Willie has it down. This is probably because I spend most of my days living in the boring Sunset District which I love and Willie’s getting a table without a reservation at Tyler Florence’s new place because, well, he’s Willie Brown.

Willie has seen San Francisco’s soft white underbelly and he can still smile about the city. He was asked if he’d fill in as interim Mayor of SF and he proudly said no. He’s been there and done that so I can see that. He needs some sort of honorary title though like City Historian or Ambassador to San Francisco. I think Cyril Magnin had that latter title many years ago. Nevertheless, Willie is a cool guy who I would like to meet one day. I’m envisioning our meet up would be at the Tadich Grill for San Francisco sentiments sake. The Washington Street Bar and Grill or “Washbag” as Herb Caen used to call it was his place, so I think the Tadich would be a better choice.

Nurses say the darndess things.

So I was seeing my doctor this morning and as I figured he wanted me to have a blood test. I go down to the lab and get called by a nurse who’s going to take my blood and she says to me, “Oh Mr. Kauschen, where does your family name come from?” I tell her it’s the name of an eastern province in Prussia. “Have you ever visited your home country?”

OK. Wait.

She obviously hasn’t looked at a map lately, but she’s sure good with needles. As I’m telling my wife this story she blurts out, “Your home country is Jackson.” I thought for a second and she’s right. You have to go back through a whole bunch of generations to find the first immigrants in my family and they’ve called Jackson, California their home since at least the beginnings of the 1800’s. It’s been awhile since I’ve been back there but Jackson is still the same. We used to go up there every summer and my best friend there was the son of the chief of police who all the teenagers called, “Bubble Butt” and he made Jackie Gleeson in Cannonball run look like a civilized Manhattan business man in comparison. They’ve come up in the world a bit lately with their Indian Casino, but it’s still Jackson.

We used to eat outside in the hot summers there and there was always a neighbor coming into the yard while we was eating with a loud, “Hey how ya’ll doin’!” usually accompanied by something grown on their farm or backyard. So yeah, I’ve got a little country in me and I’d have to agree with my wife, Jackson is my home country and I’m a Native American. I didn’t come from anywhere else, I’m an American. Friends of mine in other countries always find it strange as to the fixation of Americans of what countries their descents came from. I guess it that we have nothing better to do that try and find ways to keep us separated. For me it’s better to say I’m an American because at least I know what I am. The area my father came from was at different times Germany, Poland, Prussia and Lithuania. Who needs all that confusion just be American and be done with it.

My Old Pal Charles Schulz

Well, he’s not really my old pal, but he was a buddy of my Dad’s and he got this for me. When my Mom died she had a few valuable things, but they didn’t mean anything to me and she specifically told me to auction them off so we’d have a nest egg to sit back on [note to self, nest eggs run out quickly when you’re unemployed].

But moving back to the story. My Dad used to work down in the Marina Districts at Jack’s Phillips 66 prior to it being broken up by anti-trust laws and turned into the Cow Hollow Motor Inn. He’d start work early and get off around 3pm and walk down to Chestnut street to the Golden Horseshoe bar were he’d get a few beers from that smooth old bartender Freddie the Fox.

My dad liked to talk to people, you know like how drunks like to talk to you when you aren’t so interested in being talked to. But this was back in the early 60’s so everyone was pretty much drunk by 3:30pm. He’s sitting next to a guy who’s sipping away at his drink and scribbling out stuff on the cocktail napkins. One thing Dad was always into was comics and cartoons. We used to lay on the bed Sunday mornings and read the comics together. That was considered quality time for him as he spent most of his days off out in the yard working away at his prized garden. So my Dad notices this guy drawing a dog. “Hey! That’s pretty good, that’s looks almost as good as Charles Schulz” says Dad. “Well, I should hope so since I’m Charles Schulz.”

It turns out that while Schulz was living in Santa Rosa he liked to come into the city and have some fun and a few drinks. Each time my Dad would talk to him and watch him draw. One day mu Dad brought in a sheet of paper from the gas station and asked Charles if he’d do a drawing for his son and this is what he got and gave to me. I think I might have been about 5-6 at the time. I might even have been at the bar as he used to bring me down and tuck me in the corner with a Shirley Temple while he was drinking and talking. Things were different back then.

So here I have the one thing of value that I’m not going to sell. I’ve been told it’s worth a bit of money and my silly side wants to put a plaque on it that says, “My Dad went to Freddy’s Golden Horseshoe and all I got was this dumb picture.” But for now I’ve decided to put it up in my daughter’s room since it makes more sense putting a picture of Sally up in a girl’s room than a boys.