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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

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04.15.03, tuesday night

Yesterday, we found ourselves in a sleazy wonderland in east Oakland, the sprawling apartment house of a man who J suspected of being a pornographer. But J suspects that everyone is potentially a pornographer.

Intrepidly, we toured the dark, labyrinthine realm . . . Our host's own apartment, furnished with moth-eaten dirty bear rugs, ferns, and dangling shiny orientalia culled from flea markets and thrift shops. . . Several movie sets littered with power tools and rigged with walls on rollers . . . The interior of a saloon from the 1870s, made of dark wood and embellished with marble, no doubt frequented by cannery and drydock workers in its heyday . . . A rather medieval contraption that once ferried invalid mothers up and down stairs . . . Cat-piss-stinky corridors that finally led to a very unremarkable apartment, outfitted with cracked mirrors, port-hole windows, and furniture from various eras. Potential neighbors anonymously and elaborately hacked up the black plague as George scanned our faces nervously.

"Check out that floor!" he chuckled, with the same enthusiasm he had expressed for what he called "the magic of movie-making". It was no more than two feet of glossy wood, upon which the lucky occupant of #7 would have the privilege of resting their feet as they pissed or shat.

Later I guessed correctly why George had seemed to familiar; he was wearing the same puffy purple jacket he had worn when he had played the piano at the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, crooning like a resurrected Liberace, he of the ursine upholstery, hookah-and-Buddha decor, and regularly lit incense. He was George R----, Real Estate Developer.

The LMBC is an archaic social association comprised of bolo-noosed white old businessmen and city dignitaries such as the Police Chief of Piedmont. They assemble faithfully every Thursday morning at 7, to pledge allegiance to a flag, carol “God Bless America,” and tell really bad jokes, for which they must contribute a Quacker fine. The LMBC's mascot is the goose. J said something about never feeling more like a godless Commie than during those two hours. On Thursday, J and I will miss Robert Pimentel's demonstration of ice sculpture (weather permitting).






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