Drama Talk & Drinks: “I wish she was my grandma…”

If you have grandparents who loved Murder, She Wrote marathons, or if you grew up with an affinity for singing teapots, you can’t help but have a special place in your heart for Angela Lansbury. Who else can make murdering people and cooking them into pies sound so sweet? So, when we heard that at age 89 she was doing a super-limited North American tour of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, we knew we had to see it. So, off we went to SHN’s Golden Gate Theater for a night of laughs, drama talk and drinks.

Katie: Go fucking see this show!

Brittany: IT WAS SO GOOD!

K: If you’re going to throw down some money on a really fun, twists and turns, old-school, straight-play comedy, THIS is where you should put your money, people.

B: It was amazing, and Angela Lansbury is the most adorable, wonderfulest person. I wish she was my grandma. I mean I love my grandmas, but I’d take her as my third grandma any day.

K: Be prepared though, because every time she walks on stage people love her so much they can’t stop clapping. Which was annoying, but I get it.

B: She walks on stage and all you want to do is give her a hug. You can’t take your eyes off her, she’s that talented. Everyone in this show is really talented, but she is exceptionally talented.

K: This is one of the few shows I’d say don’t have a drink before, because you don’t want to miss a thing. It starts off with a lot of British fast wit, and you want to be able to follow it, because it’s hilarious. What I really loved about his play is it wasn’t predictable.

B: There’s a reason some plays survive the test of time. This was written in the 1940s, and it’s still so funny.

The Verdict: If you have the money, or if you don’t have the money go find some money and then see this show. When you aren’t mesmerized by what’s happening on stage, you’re hoping that the scene change doesn’t mean the play is over, because you want it to keep going for another hour. One of the best shows we’ve ever reviewed.

The Drama Talk: The best actors are the ones who you can tell absolutely love performing, and you can tell Angela Lansbury loves being on stage. It’s no wonder she won a Tony for this role. She is phenomenal; you can’t help but watch her and love her. This is a quick, smart, witty play, but with enough darkness and occult elements (it’s a comedy about ghosts) that it doesn’t get saccharine. All the actors are great. With a play this fast you need a tight cast, and they are tight. It’s a national tour, so of course the set and design are top notch. As delightful as this show was, perhaps the most endearing part is watching Angela beam at her curtain call. She really is one of the greats. Don’t miss this chance to see her perform.

The Drinks: We had rock-star parking near the Golden Gate, so we decided to stay nearby and go to The Showdown across the street for drinks. It’s an “Urban DJ Saloon” so, as promised, there was a DJ spinning and an open-mic hip-hop show happening. It was hard to hear yourself over the music, but the drinks were strong and good. Brittany got a martini (since those are the drinks they open the show drinking) and Katie got a gin and tonic, and we yelled excitedly over the DJ about what an awesome show we had just seen.

Blithe Spirit runs through February 1st at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater. At the time of writing, SHN’s website was showing the error “We are currently experiencing high demand for tickets. Please check again shortly.” Since price is variable based on demand, these aren’t going to be cheap tickets. If any are still available you can get yours on SHN’s website. As of right now there are also tickets available on Goldstar.

Lights, fog and magic with KJ Paul

I hadn’t been out to El Rio for KJ Paul Karaoke in a few months, so when I went last night my mind was blown. KJ Paul has seriously upped his game by adding in multiple wild disco lights and a fog machine, which makes singing feel way cooler than it already is. And if you’re nice to him he may even give you the remote to blast the fog freely. So fun.

Keep the party going between Christmas and New Year’s with Uptown’s weekend-long 30th anniversary celebration!

It’s been an intense year for this beloved local bar, so what better way to cap it than with 3 days of nonstop party??? Happy birthday, Uptown!

Everything is free and open to all:

Friday, December 26 – 6pm to 10pm
Birthday Reunion Party
Celebrating Uptown Founder Scott Ellsworth, current and former staff, regulars and all community members. Wear an Uptown T-Shirt and pay 1984 prices!

Saturday, December 27 – 6pm
Musical Review & BBQ Feast
Featuring musicians who have called Uptown home over the years, including Mindi Hadan, Douglas Katelus and Ivy & Devon.

Sunday, December 28 – 6pm
Uptown Salon
An evening of poetry & prose by local writers, hosted by Uptown Bartender & Poet Tym Butler.

Don’t go leavin’ town!

[Photo by Ariel Dovas]

A poem for Elbo Room

Local rapper (and monthly Elbo Room DJ) Ticklefight penned this lovely ode to the ‘Bo:

Elbo Room Rap
All I wanna do is a zoom zoom
Pretty soon the ‘Bo is gonna go boooooom
Pinballs go crack when I get a game
Cheap happy hours mezzing up my brain
Walk inside, pitch black like night
Bathroom stall door missing, that ain’t right
Upstairs is a fee, pay to play
If I had my way, Elbo would stay

[link]

["Faux Elbo" photo by Emily Savage]

The Attic, gutted

Our pal Andy, who was probably the best customer the Attic ever had, snapped this heartbreaking photo and talked to one of the folks involved who told him that a new bar will be replacing the demolished dive.  As our other pal Inna notes:

I love how the Chinese lanterns are still there!

Damn, remember when the only thing threatening the Attic used to be that music-hating NIMBY neighbor?

The Uptown will live on, thanks to cool new ownership group

Capp Street Crap reports, in a post titled “I’ll drink to this: Uptown’s employees are buying the bar”:

Some good things are meant to last, even in the Mission in 2014.

After months of uncertainty following the death of owner Scott Ellsworth, Uptown’s bartenders are about to finalize a deal to buy the beloved Mission dive bar. Uptown bartender Shae Green said she, the five other bar employees and one of Ellsworth’s good friends, have just a few legal loose ends to tie up with Ellsworth’s siblings before the bar is theirs.

According to Green, Ellsworth’s sister in Colorado, Pam Stutheit, made it happen.

“She wanted to keep the bar open to honor Scott, a community center for folks,” she said.

Luckily, the soon-to-be owners are also on good terms with the landlord and are taking over the lease, which has four more years on it, with an option of renewing for an additional five years.

News of Uptown’s purchase is a bright spot in what lately has felt like a sea of disappointment.

Read on for more news and photos.

[Photo by Capp Street Crap]

Goodnight Lex

(Via Hillary)

Previously:

Maybe this is just what happens with bars

Local blogger anadromy left the following analysis in the comments section of yesterday’s post about the Lexington closing maybe because the cliquiness of the clientele made it unwelcoming to a potential new generation of customers:

I don’t think this phenomenon is limited to the Lex. It seems pretty common. A bar–straight, gay or otherwise–gets popular. People attach themselves to it and form a clique-ish attitude about who “belongs” there and who doesn’t. This attitude calcifies and over time, the people inside the bar become unwelcoming dicks. (it doesn’t help that the people who give off this attitude are the type of people who spend a lot of time in bars–ie: alcoholics) Potential new customers are scared off. Slowly but surely, the bar’s business wanes and eventually, it closes and everybody laments the passing of another longstanding institution.

Yeah, that does sound familiar.

[Vintage file photo of Pop's Bar by Man Freckles]

The faux Elbo

As conversation continues about the future of The Elbo Room, NBC built a fake version for their family drama, Parenthood, which takes place in Berkeley. Emily Savage spotted the exterior, which utilizes the font, but not the layout.

Guys, they made a fake Elbo Room in LA for the Parenthood set.

A photo posted by @tofuandwhiskey on

Back in reality, Matt Shapiro, co-owner of the club, explains their current situation on their Facebook page:

OK…the blogs are about to roll out the latest “news”…some with more hyperbole than others…
Here is what is really happening:
We are aware of the building owners plans to build condos on this property…Whether they get approval from the city and how long it will take is really anyone’s guess. The one thing that is definite is our lease goes for another year – Matt Shapiro, Elbo Room co-owner.

A different narrative regarding the Lexington Club’s impending closure

A commenter named “Devil’s Advocate” left the following analysis in the comments section of last week’s post about economic gender inequality in SF being partially responsible for the Lex’s closure:

In no way do I intend to offend anyone (which means I’m basically going to offend people, right?) but I would like to offer a different narrative than the ones I’ve been seeing online since the announcement of the Lex closing. Hopefully the tone of this is read positively and that the message isn’t about the Lex but more about the community.

Back when the Lex opened, San Francisco was a different city almost entirely. It was a place for the outcasts, queer, gay, whatever you want to label them and it was a safe place. It became a local haunt, got divey-er (is that a word?) as the years went on and more recently it’s become a place that has been failing for a few reasons.

Gentrification. If I hear this word one more time, I’m going to scream. Understandably, the neighborhood has changed. The city has changed. Times have changed and if businesses don’t evolve, they are doomed.

Yes, a lot of lesbians moved to Oakland. As a uhauling bunch, we have issue with staying put, not nesting, breaking up, trying to find roommates, and thus Oakland became a cheaper and more feasible option. However, just because seemingly ‘all’ the lesbians moved to Oakland, that doesn’t mean that ‘newer’ lesbians, perhaps slightly less ‘alternative’ but lesbian nonetheless have moved to the city – seeking out that same sense of safe place, community and acceptance as happened previously when the Lex first opened.

However, that newer group of lesbians finds the Lex completely unwelcoming. Based on my own personal experiences, trying no less than about 10x going there, trying to make it work, trying to like the place that seemed so ‘cool’ – but it was the same horrible experience every time.

What the Lex became is so far from the original purpose which is why I feel (not know) it’s now failing. The people who have been going there for years, working there, hanging out there made the place so uninhabitable for ‘new’ people or even non-locals visiting. All sitting around the bar, casing every person that walks in, chatting up their bartender friends who then didn’t serve anyone else. It seems liked you were walking into someone’s living room or a house party that you weren’t invited to. How could a business survive when it turns away the only people (besides the regular crew) that ever wanted to go and spend money there?

They needed to reinvent. Not with fancy drinks or using mason jars and endless succulent displays, but they needed to whip their staff into shape. Welcome the lesbians that haven’t found their way in the city. If they keep talking about the shrinking lesbian population, they must simply be talking about their own little clique of girls who have moved to Oakland because I still see plenty of lesbians aimlessly walking around the Castro in search of a hangout because they feel uncomfortable in the Lex.

People talk about the Lex now like you’d talk about an alcoholic who finally died. You don’t talk about the final years, you look at the Glory years. And yes, in its glory years it was vital to have a meeting place like this, where women/queers/trans all felt comfortable, but that comfort soon turned to clique and exes and everyone’s already slept with each other and it became a cesspool. Let’s also be frank, it’s dirty. It smells in there, it’s not accommodating for women to even use the disgusting restroom. Is that how you think you attract business and maintain customers?

I think it’s a good thing (hear me out) that the Lex is closing because it not only shows a sign of the times changing (NOT in a gentrification way) and now hopefully lesbians can come out of their dark hole, cliquey bullshit and actually socialize with one another in other bars/clubs, etc. There are so many lesbians in this city, not JUST the ones that all congregate around the pool table at the Lexington. We don’t all look alike. Some girls are femme, butch, etc etc etc, the labels go on for days – and now that the alcoholic has died, it’s time for this community to find new life in a new era. I have to also think that while rent was raised for this establishment, it could have easily ‘tried’ to do something a bit different to show the community it was versatile and not just stuck in its glory days, but I fear it won’t.

We deserve better than the Lex of current days. We deserve to treat each other with courtesy, respect and know that we’re all in this together. We’re all facing adversity, we’re all a minority and instead of creating tensions and clubhouses, we should be saying hi to each other and being nice or at least acknowledging each other with this gigantic chip on our shoulders.

I for one am happy to see what comes after the Lex closes and I hope that everyone can band together to support each other – even the clique crew that never welcomed us into that bar 

Also of note, this comment was followed by three more:

  1. “Thank you for writing this. The Lexington has not been a good bar for a while.”
  2. “This was excellent. Thank you.”
  3. “Great reply. Thank you.”

If you’re not aware, it’s rare for a comment on this blog to receive so much positivity.

[Photo by Lexington Club on Instagram]