Another Downturn

February 15, 2014

Date: Sat, 1 Feb 2014 20:52:46
Another Downturn
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Eleanor

After our hearty badinage two nights ago, I figured that Larkin and I were on the upswing. Boy was I wrong. Here’s the skinny:

Today around 5:30 PM I stroll by Twin Peaks Tavern and spot him chatting at the bar, dressed in a military camouflage jacket. So I plan to hang outside after a purchase of ciggies. Walk into the store to see the usual friendly clerk, but this time with an amigo who sits on a stool in the back, wearing a medical face mask. This perturbs me.

After making the purchase I ask the clerk: “So what’s your friend over there wearing a mask for: flu season?”

“Yeah, something like that,” he replies.

So I turn to the masked Latino to challenge: “Are you wearing that mask because you’re in a gay neighborhood?”

Shrugs his shoulders, says: “Yeah, something like that.”

I immediately go ballistic: “Fuk you then, I know how you heteros are! Take our money but don’t give a damn!”

“That’s not very nice of you,” reponds the clerk.

“Not very nice?” I declare, and point to his associate. “So you think what /he/ said was nice?”

I turn once more to the sidekick, ready for a fight. “Fuk you, idiot.”

Then face the clerk again before I depart with my hand on the doorknob: “You just lost a customer. Eat shit.”

(FYI, Eleanor, I vividly recall the height of the AIDS crisis in the late 80’s when the occasional homeless str8 dude would wander the Castro wearing such a mask. A direct affront towards gay folk. They’d /still/ beg for money, yet couldn’t resist their masked bigotry.)

So I finally exit (with a solid *slam*) and seat myself upon the low concrete abutment immediately opposite TPT. Which spot is much closer than my usual station. I’m really pissed, and wish Larkin would step out for a friendly boost. But he does not.

I cross the street then and lean against the green trashcan. An (obviously) homeless dude with ratty blond hair and beard approaches me, so I say “Hi, what’s your name?”

“E,” he replies.

“E?” I say. “Just the letter E?”

“Yeah,” he affirms with an unlit butt dangling from his lips. So I offer him my lighter, which he flicks a couple times, then returns. I like the fact he doesn’t ask me for a cigarette.

“Well, my name is longer but not by much. It’s Zeke, though it has a lot of Z in it.”

Then I tell him what just ensued at NY Times tobacco shop. Upon hearing my tale of outrage, he abruptly departs. Clearly, he is not gay friendly. Then my friend Darin shows up out of the blue some feet away, so I call him over. And tell /him/ about the incident.

Yet he likewise does not respond and drifts away. Few minutes later I find him seated with E, schmoozing like they’re old comrades. (I must add here that while I call Darin “friend” in this email, he’s proven less than that lately.) So I depart towards TPT, see Larkin still there, then proceed across Castro to pause for some minutes at Harvey Milk Plaza. Once I see Larkin step out for a smoke, I cross back and approach him.

“Hey Larkin,” I call. He says “Hey” back, “how ya doin’?”

“Not that well” I admit, then tell /him/ about my confrontation at the tobacco joint, and that I’ll never place a foot in there again. He is unresponsive, as if I had said nothing. So then I query:

“After all the pain you put me through, how come you still don’t hug me?”

Again he stands deadpan, like I’m not there. So I proclaim while pointing at him like an executioner:

“Your meanness is gonna bite you in the butt!” Then I spit at his feet…twice. As I turn to head home he retorts:

“Go and have another bottle!”

What a mean thing to say, so I return to oppose him:

“I doesn’t matter, Larkin! What you say doesn’t matter any more.” (Yes, I did have a couple shots of Vodka to soothe my nerves before stepping out, but it’s a far cry from drunken foolishness.) And he replies:

“Well God bless you.” To which I exclaim:

“That’s a nice thing to say, but coming from you it means nothing. You make no sense.”

Though he hollers something else as I depart (I guess ’cause he must have the last word), I don’t hear what he spoke and swiftly march homeward.

But then from a half-block away, I turn tail to resume my post about 20 feet from Larkin as he chats with his regular sidekick (“Skinny Jake” I call him) and an elderly queer patron with fluffy, semi-long white hair that blows a bit in the breeze. Larkin embraces him fondly (presumably because he knows I’m watching) and says to him:

“You’ve still got a lotta good guy left in you.”

I light a cig and move to the other side near Orphan Andy’s, to get a better view of Larkin (seeing as he adjusted his position where I couldn’t view him behind the lamppost from my previous spot), and continue to observe. I am, to put it mildly, outraged.

Ironically, at this moment E walks up to me and requests a smoke. To which I abruptly say “No!” and he departs (thank god).

Larkin et al soon return to occupy TPT, and I cross JW Plaza. Thinking on this, I don’t see how being totally sober would’ve caused me to be any less outraged by such unkind treatment. I’m sure I’d have been just as nauseated all the way around, regardless.

At this point, I intend to stand /closer/ to TPT (as I did before he shoved me last year in January) and watch Larkin with a direct eye. I will neither flinch from his glance, nor move from my spot. If Skinny Jake or another of his lackeys approaches me, I’ll simply keep my mouth closed and ignore. Or advise them: “Best you stay outta this.”

He can try all he might to drive me away, but it won’t work. He’d have to start shoving me or act violent in some other fashion…but that won’t work, either. I’d have the cops all over his ass in short shrift. Don’t know why he acted that way this eve, after our amicable meeting just two nights ago.

Nor do I believe he holds me in any less regard because of the confrontation. I just don’t appreciate being dumped back into this morass of nastiness after having been through so much difficulty since January. Which I thought had finally come to an end, only to be shafted once more.

This is war. And I hate playing the game. Obviously, Larkin wants to take things this far: open battle. Of course I will win, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory and I have no desire to participate. Now I must expend my energies figuring out how to get him 86’d from all the local bars. Jeez!

– Zeke

[ Lugubrious Reader: I just sent the following letter to 7 local newspapers (4 gay and 3 mainstream): ]

Subject: Please Boycott the NY Times Smoke Shop

February 1, 2014

Dear Editor,

Earlier today I stepped into The New York Times tobacco shop, as I frequently do…because they are convenient and have the best prices for cigarettes anywhere in the Castro. However, this time the clerk had a friend with him, sitting in the back and wearing a surgical mask.

I recall how during the AIDS crisis in the late 1980’s some people visiting Eureka Valley wore these masks so as not to “catch the gay disease.” I even encountered several homeless men wearing the mask while at the same time panhandling. So I found it highly offensive to see this mask worn once again after so many years, here in a shop that profits from the queer dollar.

Once making my purchase I asked the clerk, “Why is your friend wearing a mask, flu season?”

And he replied, “Yeah, something like that.”

Then I turned to that person seated in back and queried: “Are you wearing that mask because you’re in a gay neighborhood?”

He shrugged his shoulders and answered: “Yeah, something like that.”

So I told him what a piece of shit he is, to which the clerk commented: “That isn’t very nice.”

“Not very nice?” I demanded. “You think what your friend said is nice? You just lost a customer!” And out I went with a slam of the door.

In short: I implore all gay residents, visitors and their allies to boycott the NY Times tobacco shop. It is located at 409 Castro Street, just around the corner from Twin Peaks Tavern.


Zeke Krahlin
Long term gay activist and resident of the Castro

Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 20:13:35
Re: Another Downturn
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Eleanor

On 2/2/14, Eleanor wrote:

{{ Good for you re.: the tobacco shop buttwipe. }}

And of course I expected Larkin to say the same thing as you. What a maroon.

{{ Just last night, I saw “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” with a take on the same phenomenon from a different angle. Set in the mid-80s when it was all coming down. How well I recall those dark days.}}

Just saw that movie last week…really well done. But I am so disgusted w/Hollywood refusing to do any gay films that are not either tragic in the outcome, or centered around AIDS AIDS and more AIDS. It’s a stereotype!

Dark, stupid days. AIDS became viewed as a mostly gay issue, and the disease sucked up anything else gay relevant, such as the homeless and very poor LGBT’s, and /other/ deadly ailments that have nothing to do with AIDS.

Turned our community into rejecting anyone else who was not an AIDS victim, did not worship Harvey Milquetoast like God Himself, or did not abide by AA’s 12-step dogma.

Where’s the movie about a gay detective couple…with a positive ending? Seems that most straights can’t love gays unless they’re loving ’em in the deathbed. Or that can’t accept any outcome of gay lovers but tragedy…such as Brokeback Mountain. A hetero author laughing all the way to the bank.

Guess it’s gonna be /my/ novel to make this breakthrough.

{{ Did you ever read AND THE BAND PLAYED ON? }}

Nope. But I understand through the grapevine, it exposes the hypocrisy of gays and how they spread AIDS. Is that correct?

{{ Your frustration over the incident, and then the subsequent indifference of everyone you tried to tell, including Larkin, threw you off your game, I think, so your encounter with him was baffling and unsatisfactory. }}

Most frustrating…’cause no one wants to hear my point of view. They walk away in anger or pity, or /they/ have the last word, and know /all/ about gay issues (especially the heteros). Nonetheless, I’m sending to you an update re. Larkin in my next email. You’ll love it, probably.

– Zeke

Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 20:21:30
The Game Plan
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Eleanor

This morn I thought through the difficult encounters I suffered with the smoke shop and Larkin’s unkind reactions, both which occurred yesterday. Misery vanished in a short while, replaced with yet one more happy revelation:

1) The masked visitor at the NY Times tobacco venue was a setup by the LGBT community itself. They enjoy seeing my hackles raised in the presence of perceived homophobia. Why? Because such events are a necessary process of my initiation into leadership and kudos.

2) While my outrage at Larkin’s lack of hugs after all he’s put me through is well earned, it seems his intent to foment a healthy rage in me as I make my climb to the top. Though personally I don’t think it’s at all necessary, I have to admit what a superb guardian he is…as if he knows me better than myself. Which of course /must/ be true if the man is indeed My Guardian Dragon. He was with me in the womb and ever since.

Larkin is challenging me to go all the way and do battle against his gossip that drove me out of all the local gay bars. He wants me to play this game as a form of honing my activist skills. I therefore presume that he will nip such an escalation in the bud before the plot unfolds where now /he’s/ the one driven out. At which point I will be welcome back into the bars with accolades.

I /don’t/ care to take up arms and deny him those things in life that give him camaraderie and respite. But he did that to yours truly, so tit for tat. I’ve already laid out the battle plan from my side of the chess board, along with how he can end our duel amicably. Which was described in my recent blog entry, “Larkin’s Deadline” (scheduled to post Feb. 9) :

Victory for my side is already assured, I feel it in my marrow. So I decided to let him know my strategy, that he may start this conflict with extra points in his favor above and beyond the tremendous odds he already owns. Yet I am David to his Goliath…and you know how /that/ turned out! In fact, I am /more/ than certain he /intends/ me to win. But not without expending much energy and time on my part.

So this is what I truly resent: that I must continue to be without his dear embraces, and be required instead to act out such a Castro-centric melodrama! Here is a particular strategy I intend, using /gossip/ to turn the tables in my favor (fighting fire with fire):

Should one of his lackeys approach me while standing my post outside Twin Peaks Tavern, this likely conversation will ensue. Let us assume the lackey is a dreary queer soul I nicknamed “Skinny Jake, ” who frequently accompanies Larkin at TPT:

Skinny Jake: “Why are you stalking my friend Larkin?”

Me: “I’m not stalking him. We have been very good friends for seven years. Then when he moved into the Castro he’s driven me out of the bars by calling me his stalker. But do you really believe that?”

Skinny Jake: “Maybe not. I know that Larkin acts fukked up now and then. And I /am/ concerned.”

Me: “Concerned, eh? How long have you known him, really?”

Skinny Jake: “Almost three years.”

Me: “Less than twice as long as we’ve been friends. Larkin and I are lovers BTW, and that will never change.” (Pause.) “Platonic lovers I should explain, though very deep and sincere. I’ve never had such a good friend before him, in my entire 63 years. No way am I going to fail him by fading from his world.”

Skinny Jake: “I find that hard to believe. He says you’ve been nothing but a nuisance all that time, and he’s sick of your pestering him.”

Me: “His modus operandi is to drive me out of his life for good. It wasn’t till last year around March that I learned the truth. He’s a drug dealer, and I don’t mean marijuana. I was getting too close to him, so he figured a way to distance me.”

Skinny Jake: “C’mon Zeke, Larkin hasn’t given the slightest sign he’s a dealer. And he’s very good to everyone he meets.”

Me: “Right. He has tremendous charisma and is incredibly smart. So don’t assume you have him figured out. In fact, once he moves to another neighborhood, he’ll dump all the friends he’s made in the Castro and never look back. I am the /only/ true friend he has. We first met South of Market, that was back in 2006. And he’s dumped all his friends from /that/ cycle, too. Including me, but I refuse to comply.”

Skinny Jake: “So he doesn’t wanna see you any more. Can’t you just accept that and move on?”

Me (after clearing my throat of nicotine sputum): “Ahem. When I say I love him, it also means I /must/ do whatever I can to get him to /stop/ dealing hard drugs. I do /not/ want to lose him to prison. Or suffer the agonized conscience that comes with a customer OD’d from his product. I am therefore out here to provide as many chances possible for us to speak, and inspire him to walk a better direction.”

Skinny Jake: “If any of this is true, Zeke, I’d say you’re a very good friend to Larkin. But I really don’t believe a word you say.”

Me: “So Larkin’s charisma has you totally bamboozled. You are simply his lackey here in the Castro, and he will dump you soon as he moves on.”

Skinny Jake: “Okay, assuming this is true, aren’t you afraid he’ll injure you in a fury?”

Me: “No. He loves me too much. I have the upper hand and will win him over. Don’t think for a moment, though, I enjoy my situation. He’s caused me much grief since the day he shoved me.”

Skinny Jake: “He shoved you? When?”

Me: “Back in January, last year. In fact, you were there but left before the confrontation occurred. When I was trying to speak with him, you showed up on that corner, gave him a cigarette, gleaned the situation and addressed me. You said, ‘Larkin’s an asshole sometimes.’ To which I replied: ‘Everyone is now and then.’ You soon departed, and shortly after that he almost shoved me to the ground. But I stood up to him even so…and he ran back into Twin Peaks while flipping me the bird.”

Skinny Jake: “I was there when Larkin stepped back into the Tavern. He told me you threatened him.”

Me: “No, I love him too much to do that. I said how much I appreciate his friendship, but something is wrong with him, and we need to talk. That’s when he cut things off and split.”

Skinny Jake (pulls out a Camel 100 and lights it): “So you’re /not/ gonna leave him alone? You’re gonna remain out here indefinitely?”

Me: “Yes, you bet I am. And I advise you to /not/ tell him what we’ve just discussed. ‘Cause if you do, he’ll dump you like a hot potato.” (Pause.) “Which may actually be a good thing. For it just might scare him outta the bar altogether.”

Skinny Jake: “I’ll take that into consideration. But I tell you, Zeke, all the time I’ve been with Larkin, he’s shown no sign of dealing drugs out of Twin Peaks or any other bar.”

Me (chuckling): “You just don’t grasp how smart the man is. Of course he doesn’t deal drugs in Twin Peaks. It is his social hangout. But he /does/ cruise older men to provide companionship in exchange for money, that he may pay the rent.”

Skinny Jake: “Hmm. He does act overly attentive to them, with plenty of hugs that border on the lewd. It does make me wonder. But can you blame him, if that’s how he survives?”

Me: “No, of course not. I wish him well and completely support his difficult situation. To let him know he /is/ loved, and never need fear losing me. It is the hard drugs that give me concern.”

Skinny Jake (snuffing out his ciggie on the concrete): “Okay, Zeke, I will not tell Larkin about our talk. I don’t really believe anything you’ve said, but I /do/ sense something troubling about him.”

With that, Jake turns heel to reenter the tavern. And there you have the setup, El. Knowing your typical Castro queer all too well, he won’t be able to resist gossiping my tale to others. Which gossip will then spread throughout all the bars in the Castro and lead to his expulsion from each and every one.

But I do not fear Larkin’s revenge, for I realize that he /wants/ me to take up arms and do all I can to drive him out. I also therefore conclude that at a certain point before this occurs, he will rectify his attacks against me, and smooth my return into the bars. With the added bonus of promoting “Free Me From This Bond” to every single patron he knows and meets…including bartenders, owners and managers.

Besides, I am aware that Skinny Jake may be fully cognizant of his role as gossiper: and therefore be one more member of the GPMC (Gay Pagan Motorcycle Club) that invents these scenarios under the command of My Rebellious Reptile Himself. Which secret society I first discussed in chapter 9 of book 1:

So about an hour ago I stepped out to see if Larkin were at TPT. He was, staring up at the TV screen and hooting along with the rest, over today’s Superbowl.

I parked myself out front, leaning against the concrete divider and puffing on a Fortuna 100. Before I finished my smoke, I meandered across the intersection by the trash can, still in view of his sight. About 10 minutes later I crossed back to 17th Street, this time by a bicycle arc almost in front of Orphan Andy’s. Where Larkin couldn’t see me unless he stepped out.

And sure enough he did, with a slightly-above-average-looking dishwater blond dude about 5-foot-8. They passed right by me on the same sidewalk, so I emitted a “Grrr!” just before Larkin neared. He immediately responded with his wonderful “Arrgh!” as he progressed further down the street to smoke a joint with his consort two doors from me, in the nook of a shop now closed for the night.

Satisfied with our amicable exchange, I once more returned to the trash can to see Larkin pause outside of TPT and talk on his cell phone. Just in case he wanted to come up and parley. He did not, but returned inside. So I then returned hovel to write this piece.

– Zeke

Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 21:52:07
So this makes sense…
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Eleanor

…that Larkin may be a distributor of toxic drugs like crack, speed and junk. Not just that he put distance between us, but that other bartenders and patrons schemed to drive me out. And why would they do that? ‘Cause they didn’t want to lose a most excellent, secure source of their recreational poison!

Explains /perfectly/ the setup last year at Pilsner Inn, where two young men accused me of taking a 5-dollar bill from the counter. And how bartender #1 ordered them to leave, seeing clearly I was being harassed. But barkeep #2 intervened and ordered /me/ to leave, too. Why the diff between them? Because the first was not involved in substance abuse, and the second /was/…whether it has to do with profit or addiction (or both) I have no idea. To refresh your memory, see:

Also explains perfectly why a lesbian barkeep out of the Mix ordered me to leave. She’s in on it, too! And Larkin’s gossip about my being his stalker is a splendid way to keep me out of /any/ bars and, perhaps, blowing his underground career.

Let’s take this all the way back to the Hole in the Wall Saloon, where Larkin and I first met. Then that tragedy occurred, my being dosed with date rape chemicals, with theft of valuable items from my room, and $300 withdrawal from the ATM. Which was revealed in chapter 12 of book 1:

Larkin was in on it! Not necessarily directly (though perhaps). He’s part of this druggie circle that doses and mugs vulnerable older queers. This certainly explains why he showed me /no/ kindness once I informed him about the incident. And why he avoided me so much over many years whenever our paths crossed.

His being a really good friend for some months in late 2012 was, perhaps, a way of defusing possible suspicion on my part. Or delaying it until his next setup, which was to behave in such ways as to make him totally undesirable in my eyes. But it didn’t work, and now he’s getting enmeshed in his own corrupt web.

I envision myself (as Larkin passes by next few times) suddenly coughing “Hack, hack, gurgle/drug dealer/hack hack hack!” We’ll see if this gets his attention, eh?

Otherwise, it’s just an incredible drama played by the local community, that I may be the star. Which /has/ to be the case if I truly believe the Buddha’s words: “We have no enemies, only teachers.”

Destiny once brought to me a most handsome, brave, and troubled man in one bodacious package entitled “Randolph Louis Taylor.” Now I am gifted with my next true love, equally troubled but, this time around, totally redeemable.

What a blessing this is, El. For I do /not/ desire your ordinary schmuck whose depths of heart and courage do not match mine. Larkin /is/ the one.

Or I’m wombat-poo insane, so what the fuk.

– Zeke


The Bay Area Reporter, most widely circulated gay newspaper in history and the world, published my letter suggesting the boycott of a local shop in the Castro.

I posted this letter to three other local LGBT papers, will find out soon enough if they likewise printed it. Though I suspect the incident may have been a prank played on me by some members within our family. Since Larkin hangs out right around the corner from the scurrilous merchant, I do think he’s the progenitor of the antic.

Which also explains his poker-face stance when I approached him several minutes after the script played out.

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