Nov 14 2004

Any occult significance to the Transamerica Pyramid?

One of the searches that led… someone… to the sample of Bad Magic was “Occult Transamerica Pyramid.”

To the best of my knowledge, there is no occult significance to the structure. It’s a front—so big and obviously weirdly shaped, it serves to distract people from the real locations of occult significance in San Francisco. Obviously, I can’t go into great detail about these—I’d hate for anyone to have their eyeballs burned out of their skull as the result of walking into something they read about here—but there are two that are fairly safe.

As you may know, it’s illegal to operate a cemetery in San Francisco. The usual explanation is there just plain isn’t room—SF is bound on three sides by water, and had to resort to landfilling to reach even its present size. The City’s dead were moved en masse to Colma after 1900. (Did they get everybody? We don’t know—most of the records went up in flames after the 1906 earthquake. [And if you believe THAT one, I have some swamp land in Florida you might be interested in.]) Oddly enough, BART—one of the local light rail systems—has a stop in Colma. Almost nobody lives in Colma—the last reported population figure was 1911 people. And one point five million graves. Makes you wonder just who or what gets on and off the trains there, eh?

There are, however, two graveyards left within the City proper. First, the 28 acre San Francisco National Cemetery, AKA the War Memorial Cemetery. Dating back to 1884, it holds veterans of the various regional forts and camps.

The oldest is the Mission Dolores Church Cemetery—established 1776. (And a relative newcomer at that—recall that the Spanish had missions and colonies all through the New World when the first English were still puking their guts out just off Plymouth Rock.) Most of the graves were moved to Colma, but not all. In particular, there still remains a mass grave of various Native Americans—don’t worry, the locals, like the French, waited for a while and then packed bones into a smaller space—and the grave of Will Leidesdorff, the first recorded African-American San Franciscan. Yes, the site’s open to the public; it’s at 16th and Dolores. Just be respectful—for your own sake. Presumably, even dumb people should know better than to fool around at the gravesite of Native Americans and Catholic priests, but just in case: we’re not talking about picking up a poltergeist that writes amusing messages in the mirror while you take a shower. We’re talking about full-blown mind-cracking save-the-last-bullet-for-yourself stuff, here.

But the Transamerica Pyramid… no, nothing occult about it. Nope, nope, nope. Particularly not the 13th floor—nothing there at all.

Nov 4 2004

At least it wasn’t the TV showing Ann Coulter in a bikini

During the storm last night, my stereo was struck by a bolt of lightning. For a few moments, it picked up a broadcast from a hip-hop station in a nearby alternate universe.

John Ashcroft’s the name, and justice is my game
Got some jail cells ready for all those deserving blame.
We’ve got dogs and shotguns and electrodes for your “bits”;
I’m here to protect you from bare naked marble tits.

[A prisoner gets a few notes of “Amazing Grace” out before the power switch is thrown and he fries like a side of bacon.]

Now I go by Rummy, and I ain’t no dummy;
With my war plan goin’ them Baathists call for mummy.
We don’t need many troops, ‘cause our boys are all the best
State fifty-one comin’; them Iraqis sure are blessed.

[Little girl’s voice: “Mom, what does `for the duration’ mean, and who’s that guy standing next to you in that photograph?”]

I’m Big Dick Cheney and I’m here to say
The Democrats can kiss my bootay.
I’m bald and mean and white and phat
With a big Halliburton check to go with all that.
Now, my ticker’s not so hot; that much is true
It’s because my daughter likes girls, and that makes me blue.
Some say I’m a hypocrite, but that nut won’t fit the screw;
Just ‘cause she’s a human being don’t mean others are, too.
Yo. By the way, Leahy: go fuck yourself.

[Muttering: “If I have to sleep with Lynne, I don’t see why Mary can’t take one for the team as well.”]

Well, my name is George, but you can call me double U
I’m a dry drunk rich boy; God tells me what to do.
Got a Stepford wife and and a fresh mandate
Time to clean up the house and bring on the hate.

[Frank Sinatra record scratching: ZOOP ZOOP “Did it my way” ZOOP “My way” ZOOP “Mymymymy My way”]

[A-10 Warthog screeching over Nasiria. Filter, pilot’s voice: “Whoops! That was me; my bad. Sorry, Marines.”]

[Mob beating the crap out of someone with a Middle Eastern accent pleading for mercy. Over it, George is saying, “Need some wood? Do you, punk? Need some wood? Need a little MORE wood?”]

[Everyone, in chorus:]
It’s time to meet the new boss, it’s the same as the old boss
We’re following a prophet, and it’s time for your loss.
We’ve got the Senate and the House, the highest court’s on borrowed time;
If I was you, I wouldn’t think of stepping out of line.

Nov 2 2004

Extremely early exit poll, San Francisco precinct 3915

Or, “How rumors about sinister covert organizations get started.”

This morning, I put on my usual black ensemble and added an overcoat. As it was still a bit dark out, I brought along a flashlight so I could read while I waited. (No need—the sky lightened considerably after I left home at six.)

I figured I’d either be the first one at the polling place, or there’d be a line around the block already. It was the former.

At this point I should probably mention I live down in the Mission District—and not the “nice” part, either. I happen to like it. My neighbors may be poor and not necessarily speak English as a first language—but they’re polite, law abiding, and they work their asses off. Still, they are a bit reserved around me—I grew accustomed long ago to people looking at me and wondering if I was a particularly clueless undercover INS agent.

The group running the polling station gave me the hairy eyeball. I smiled and tried to look nonthreatening—with limited success. Bald six foot fishbelly-white people kind of stand out in my neighborhood.

A few more folks drifted up. Many Hispanics have a foolproof way to deal with suspicious looking white people; a fellow said “Hello,” smiled very politely, and then switched over to high-speed colloquial Spanish to chat with every other soul there but me. But I’m used to that, too.

By the time the poll opened at seven, there were maybe ten people waiting. The fellow in charge stepped out and asked, “Okay, who was here first?” Nine fingers pointed at me.

I went. I inked the appropriate lines, and headed for the ballot box.

The kid manning it was in his mid twenties, I think, although he looked twelve to me. Very softly and very nervously, he explained that since mine was to be the first ballot into the box in precinct 3915, he wanted me to sign the paper receipt scrolling out of the box as it notes each ballot as it goes in. I nodded, and picked up the pen. Thought about the probability of there being funny business today, given that the incumbent routinely disappears people who argue with him to Guantanamo Bay. Now, John Hancock always wrote his signature really big—despite the legend, he didn’t make a crack about King George III’s eyesight—but a legend doesn’t have to be true for it to provide a good example. I signed—big. Then printed—big. Then added my phone number—big.

By then, there were people queued up waiting for ballots—and watching me. The fellow in charge said, “Uh, sir, could you also verify that there are no ballots already in the box before I lock it up?” There were two hatches in the side, both open. “Uh, it’s kind of dark in there, I know…” In fact, it was pitch black; the polling station was a garage, lit by a few bare bulbs scattered around.

“By a remarkable coincidence,” I said, and pulled eighteen inches worth of MagLight out of my vest pocket.

I heard a sigh from the queue. I looked up. A dozen people were grinning at me. I don’t know if they thought I was a paranoid reporting to the Democrats, a Republican saboteur, a junior diplomat dragooned by the UN Elections commission to go in early and then phone in a data point, or what—but all dozen knew just from looking at me that something was up. I looked back at the guy in charge; he was wearing the same grin.

When Fate hands you a role, however minor, you either play it or get off the stage. Ergo, I would like to publicly state that San Francisco precinct 3915’s ballot box had no ballots in it when I inspected it. I also have two grimy spots on the knees of my trousers to add weight to my statement that I knelt and felt all around inside the damn thing. The first ballot cards in there are numbers 471193, 616543, 616545, and 616548; I have the stubs.

If any traitorous maggot feels like gaming this election in my precinct, be warned that one of the few things I’m far to the right about is guns. And my .357 only holds six rounds—so I practice enough to make sure that’s all I’m ever likely to need.


Walking home, it occurred to me that as of 7:20 this morning, I represented 100% of all the voters in my precinct who had cast a ballot in today’s election. So I chased myself down the street, tackled myself, and demanded to know how I voted.

Based on this extremely early exit poll—the sample size was only one, but on the other hand, every single person who had voted to that point agreed to answer this reporter’s questions—precinct 3915 shows 100% for Kerry. (In the local Board of Education race, it’s 100% for a fellow named Starchild—a local escort / exotic dancer.) That’s not enough to call anything just yet—but we can hope.