Howard’s Cafe

[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 7 ]

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2012 16:57:14
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Hello, Jesse. I was admiring your spectacular cartoons at Howard’s Cafe this afternoon. Bobbie pointed out your tumblr URL, so I could contact you.

I have this blog you see (no!), parts of which will soon be published in the old school formula known as a “book”. You’re probably too young to remember what books are, but that can be dealt with later. o_0

I will need an illustrator…actually, a whole bunch of illustrators, for my true life gay bromance fairytale, “Free Me From This Bond”. Which you can check out here:

I’ve linked those entries in a menu right at the sidebar’s top. Notice I’ve completed 3 chapters thus far, and am writing at the rate of one chapter per week. Of course I don’t expect you to do any illustrations for free. I just want to alert you about my interest in having you among the numerous illustrators I will use to liven up my novel.

Right now, I just rip images off the web and pop ’em in. But of course, I can’t use them for the “book”, as they are copy protected. Plus, I’m sure at least some of the creators of these images would be quite upset to learn I’m using their precious creations to celebrate the gay spirit.

I have no money to spare at this time (and I still survive on a meager disability stipend)…though once the advance payment comes in, I’ll have plenty.

So, when/if you have some idle time, I’d much appreciate it if you read at least one of my delightful chapters…to see if you’d feel inspired enough to be one of my very talented illustrators.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful attention: your art is BRILLIANT! And, speaking from one artist to another in the greatest confidence, I leave you with this thought:

Spacetime means nothing to an old god, either.

In Spaghetti Monster we trust,

Zeke Krahlin (a.k.a. “Jehovah’s Queer Witness”)

PS: I think I’ll put this message in my blog, as the latest entry w/links to your artwork.

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2012 17:16:32
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: My E-Friends
Subject: Fwd: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Just posted this letter to one Jesse Balmer, check out his web sites:

John H.: Of course I’d simply adore having you do some illustrations, too. Prepare yourself: the book will be done in one or two months’ time. You can do as few as five illustrations, or as many as fifteen. Well, I guess the best approach is one illustrator per chapter.

Just replace the present images with a similar-theme drawing of your own (and approx’ly the same size, though up to twice as large is perfectly acceptable…I can shrink ’em down anywayz, using Irfanview). I prefer full-color works, though I’ll leave that up to the artist. I’m sure I’ll be most pleased, even if just B&W.


Zeke the Fantastic Airhead of Heavenly Abode

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2012 23:05:11
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Didn’t expect to post to you a second time, before you bother to respond to my first missive; however:

In creating my blog entry about your art, I want to provide a link to your work, which caption is: “Spacetime means nothing to a new god”.

I saw that fabulous work at Dash Cafe wifi, but now that I am home, for the life of me, I can’t track down that particular masterpiece. So, could you PLEASE give me the URL for that most special creation?

Thanx so much, Jesse. Best to you alwayz.

– Ezekiel

Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2012 11:53:34
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Quoting Jesse :
{{ Here ya go!

Thanks! }}


Well, gotta go now and kick up some dust at the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence‘s Easter celebration at Dolores Park. Will let you know when this blog entry is up…prolly take a week or a little more.

Cheerz, Jesse!

Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2012 11:57:56
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

One more thing (sorry to be a bother): I originally found that marvelous illustration w/caption: “Spacetime means nothing to a new god.” That’s what I’m looking for, but somehow that now eludes me…I want the page with both illustration and caption…or readers won’t get the joke. (I’m very anal retentive when it comes to my blog presentation, even those silly little links which I often utilize for punditry; or puns.)

Thanks again, Jesse.

[ Patient Reader: apparently, Jesse decided not to use the title “Spacetime means nothing to a new god,” and that is why I got confused: he deleted the title shortly after I viewed the incredible illustration. ]

Thirteen videos followed by a whole passel of digital shots:

Howards Cafe from the Outside

Howards Cafe Interior 01

Howards Cafe Interior 02

Howards Cafe Interior 03

Howards Cafe Interior 04

Howards Cafe Interior 05

Howards Cafe Interior 06

Jesse’s Cartoons

Howards Cafe Interior 07

Howards Cafe Interior 08

Howards Cafe Interior 09

The Walk to the WC

Click on any image below, for a larger view:



Howard’s Cafe is one of my escape pods strategically scattered thruout Baghdad by the Bay; whenever I sorely need a break from the rough streets where angel-headed hipsters negotiate for a safe hovel in which to shoot up, snort or raise their legs in blissful amnesia, and from the intolerable noise pollution and general craziness that is The Castro.

I first discovered Howard’s in the First Year Of My Destiny when I arrived in San Francisco for the very first time, homeless. The year? 1973. The Place? By the decrepit rotting old piers (long since usurped by a splendid baseball stadium), and run-down bread trucks driven by the most sweet natured and handsome hobos you could ever hope to Biblically know. And it’s been a platonic love affair ever since: the folks who ply their trade at This Flat-Out-Patriotic All-American Style Eatery are the sweetest on the planet.

It’s an easy ride in the N Judah streetcar from the piers to the Inner Sunset, where Howard’s is located on 9th Avenue between Irving and Judah streets.

Ever fantasize about having your very own Alice’s Restaurant (the TV series starring Linda Lavin, not the movie) in your ‘hood? Well, seek no more, Beloved Reader! For I have found Our Very Own Mecca of True Neighborliness and Good Spirit, right here in the Heart of the Inner Sunset. Thank Goddess it’s not called “Mel’s Diner”: think about it!

Speaking of “good spirit,” my brief affair with the bar next door, “The Mucky Duck,” did not end well. I was excommunicated precisely because I am gay and not in the closet at all. I befriended several women there, who I thought would welcome a break from their men always talkin’ sport and shop. I have many delightful true tales about my street activism, and quite a broad sense of humor. Well whaddya know? Turns out their vestigial sex organs…err, I mean to say “their boyfriends”…were jealous of their fiancees’ attention suddenly directed solely towards yours truly. I really should get back to the topic of this comment missal, so I’ll leave you to read my Mucky-Duck blog entry later on at your leisure. Just click right below:


I’ve never yet had the immense pleasure of meeting The Great Howard Himself, but I’ve managed to glean that he has since bicked the kucket–quite a number of years ago by now–while the employees keep his memory alive by actually celebrating his sterling spirit, each and every friggin’ day…except perhaps for those major holidays like New Year’s, ML King Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, and Christmas (and perhaps Earth Day), where they take a little break to enjoy their own family, other friends.

Now how sweet is that? Their food is home-style hash browns at their very best (w/sliced scallion luminous from the sizzling grill’s kiss of canola oil: crunchy green/white veggie buttons scattershot across a lumpy bed of toasty-golden-crusty Russet). Whatever else they serve there is guaranteed to be a Patriotically Gustatory Delight with a splash of southern hospitality w/a Northern California twist. Their java rocks like the 0-Six Earthquake. You will not be disappointed (to say the very least) if you should order a slice of homemade apple pie or lovingly decorated carrot cake, along with a piping hot cup of Howard’s Golden Brown Elixir.

Remember Petula Clark’s song: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go – downtown”? Well, Kind Readers, this eatery is such a friendly place to dine and hang out, you may as well replace Petula’s “downtown” with “Howard’s”. Many low-income and starving artist types gather here…along with all other sorts of eccentric, unique and genuinely sweet natured folks. From the elderly to the young, the smartly dressed to the shabby. Asian, Caucasian, African American, and all others representing the international haven that is San Francisco’s pulse. Very few places remain in The City, where a stranger can walk in, sit down, and strike up a hearty conversation with another patron, and even make new friends. Without intent to exaggerate in any manner, I must conclude that Howard’s is the veritable heart of the Inner Sunset.

After years and years of visiting Howard’s Cafe, I have come to realize: the owner surely must be a very compassionate and joyful spirit, to have left such a gloriously amicable legacy. Now, my heart aches to know YOUR story, oh employees and regulars of such a divinely excellent restaurant. I invite you, Bobbie, Leo, Ann, Shelly, Cassie et al, to post your memories of Howard (or Howard’s), and any other true tales that have occurred around that person (or place), which you’d absolutely love to share with the world.


PS: For more Howard’s fun, check out: “8 Howard’s Factoids“, “Howard’s Calendar” and “Cruising Howard’s Cafe“.

Add to this story with your insightful comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: