Dennis Peron is the one person in San Francisco best known for his advocacy of marijuana decriminalization. Brownie Mary briefly shared the media spotlight during the AIDS crises when she was arrested for providing chocolate baked edibles.
Home Baked by Alia Volz published 2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tells the story of a lesser known purveyor of magic brownies who managed to operate surreptitiously in the city for several decades. The book focuses primarily on her mother Meridy Domnitz Volz, an aspiring artist who moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee.
Meridy Volz cautiously began selling Sticky Fingers Brownies in the 70s to street artists along Fishermen’s Wharf, a primarily tourist area on the northern part of San Francisco. But a decade later when the AIDS pandemic was devastating the gay male population, her brownies not only provided a tasty treat but helped many overcome wasting syndrome by stimulating appetites.
What went on behind the scenes was much more complicated both in terms of the personal dynamics and the unexpected business challenges. The author reveals a part of San Francisco history that comes as a surprise even to a native and long-term resident like myself.
Yoav’s personal and professional life is all about maintaining strict control over not only the present but also past and future as well. However, it begins to unravel when he no longer is able to have his way.
He is haunted by the unresolved trauma involving his relationship with his father and fears growing old. He rejects the implications of a surprising announcement by his best friend Alma, and the reaction of his lover Dan.
The two individuals closest to him manage to overcome the challenges while he relentlessly pursues a self-destructive path.
15 Years directed by Yuval Hadadi (Israel) 2019 is now available on DVD/VOD from Breaking Glass Pictures.
Opening Night directed by Isaac Rentz (USA) 2016 raises the curtain on the complex drama behind the scenes of a Broadway musical.
The film follows the fast-paced work routine of a stage manager as he prepares performers and crew for the opening night of a show. There are both funny and poignant moments. Sex and romance are ever-present issues.
While a conventional boy-girl love affair is the prime focus, there’s a generous mix of sexual and racial variety to enjoy.
Opening Night will be available in the US as a DVD from Wolfe Video 1 August 2017.
Thousands of gay men came to San Francisco during the Seventies in search of sexual freedom.
It was a place where they could live out unfulfilled adolescent fantasies with many opportunities for overindulgence. There were over a hundred gay bars in the city as well as other venues where we met one another. It was a wonderful time to be here but there were also unpleasant aspects to this apparent paradise.
Sex, Drugs & Disco by Mark Abramson, (2015) Wilde City Press and More Sex, Drugs & Disco by Mark Abramson (2016) Wilde City Press are the author’s San Francisco diaries from the pre-AIDS era.
His plans for graduate school in Boston to study with poet Anne Sexton were derailed by her suicide the previous fall. So the author headed west after college in Minneapolis to join his friend John Preston who was then the editor of The Advocate.
Abramson was young, attractive, self-confident and horny, finding it relatively easy to indulge in the physical pleasure he constantly craved. Even though the period covered in these two books occurred forty years ago, what went on then is probably not that different from what goes on in the present with the help of numerous apps.
The first of the two books covers the last half of the Seventies while the sequel goes from 1980 to the spring of 1981 just before his move to the Russian River. The diaries include his social life, friendships, work experience, and writing. He periodically longs for more intimacy while continuing to pursue easy sex without commitment. A relatively good life for a Minnesota farm boy in the city.
His style is clear, direct, and honest. These two books provide a picture of what it was like for at least some of the men who lived through that special time and I look forward to reading his AIDS memoir as well.