Archive for October, 2010

Love those fortune cookies, Part 7

October 12, 2010

I swear I don’t buy fortune cookies in bulk. Nor do I go to a dozen Chinese restaurants a week in the hope of finding the right one to post.

This one comes from a Chinese joint in the Tower District — so-so food (I sooooo miss House of Chao in New Haven), but cool ’50s Chinese restaurant decor and generous portions for very cheap.

And, it seems, great fortune cookie fortunes:

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”

I think I’m past the timidity part. But the experiment rages on …


Ask Aunt Fran: The bathroom thang

October 12, 2010

Welcome back to Ask Aunt Fran — the “ask a transwoman” column that asks the musical question: How much information is too much information?

Before I get to this week’s question, the disclaimer-and-other-important-info stuff:

I’m not a doctor or a therapist, nor am I a professional expert on gender matters. My expertise is firsthand, mostly based on my own experiences with gender transition. And every transperson’s experiences are different and unique, however similar, so take me with as much salt as you’d like (though I prefer a low-sodium diet myself).

This feature is based on questions I’ve been asked throughout this crazy gender ride. If you have any questions, email them to me at (or if you know my personal email, that’s fine, too). All questions will be anonymous, unless you prefer the credit/attention.

So the next question, one I’ve been asked by several people:

“So, which bathroom do you use?”

As I said, how much information is too much information?


MOVIE REVIEW: Smoking a little ‘Wild Grass’

October 10, 2010

Andre Dussollier and Sabine Azema make you want to think twice before returning a stolen wallet.

I walked into Fresno Filmworks’ screening Friday night (Oct. 8 ) of “Wild Grass (Les Herbes Folles)” at the Tower Theatre with a totally blank slate — no preconceptions whatsoever. I left with an overwhelming sense of “Whaaaaaa?”

The latest film by 88-year-old director Alain Resnais (still best known for his ’50s masterpieces, “Night and Fog” and “Hiroshima, Mon Amour”) is about shoes, stealing, stalking, obsession, double obsession and airplanes — and a whole lot of confusion.

The film was nominated for a Golden Palm at Cannes last year and four Cesars (the French Oscars) this year. (Resnais also won a Special Jury Prize and a Special Award at Cannes last year for his body of work.)  I would’ve thought one of the nominations was for Weirdest French Film.


Living large (Solomon Burke, 1940-2010)

October 10, 2010


Solomon Burke: A king in his own domain, a presence in every sense of the word. Photo: Larry Busacca/Wireimage, via


If you woke up late this Sunday morning (Oct. 10), the legendary soul singer Solomon Burke died early this morning at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. He had flown there to play a concert Tuesday night with De Dijk; his new album, “Hold on Tight,” a collaboration written by the band and translated to English (a first for them), is just about to be released.

Burke wasn’t as famous as some of his fellow ’60s legends, but he had the voice, he had the heart and soul. And he was durable; he lasted 70 years and was going strong when his massive heart gave out. And even if you didn’t know of him, if you saw “The Blues Brothers” movie, you certainly know his signature hit, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.” And maybe “Cry to Me” as well.

The Philadelphia-born preacher lived large: He recorded dozens of albums, sang for the last two popes, fathered 21 kids (I interviewed one of them, Melanie Burke, in the mid-’90s for the New Haven Register when she was doing some recording at Trod Nossel Studios in Wallingford, and even talked to the man himself on the phone for a few minutes for the story) and he was massive physically; well over 500 pounds is an understatement.

He was an imposing figure. And the one time I saw him in concert left an impression — true to form, a huge one.


Well he still shines on …

October 9, 2010

Central Park, Sept. 13, 1980. It was late in the afternoon on a hot, sticky, late-summer Saturday. I decided to take the train in with a few other folks from from my college on Long Island to share the afternoon with about a half-million other like-minded people.

It was for Elton John’s legendary free concert in the Sheep Meadow — the first time I would be seeing the consummate showman whose music was a big part of the early days of my tortured adolescence.

We found a spot on the Great Lawn, and somebody passed around some wine and maybe a joint — not a wise thing to do on such a hot day, but hey, I was 19 and stupid — and despite the sight of Elton furiously banging away on the piano in his infamous Donald Duck costume, it was a very mellow vibe. (Wine, joint, mellow vibe — gawd, I sound like such a fucking hippie!)

And as the proud sun began its descent — probably 5:30ish, by its position in the sky at that point — Elton introduced his next song by saying, “This is for a friend who lives nearby.” And with that came the familiar opening piano strains of “Imagine.”

And I looked over at the general area of the Dakota, just blocks away, and I thought, “I wonder what he’s been up to.” It had been four years since I had heard anything about John Lennon — since he won his hard-fought battle with immigration officials for the right to stay in America. (It’s a facet of the Lennon story that came to light again this week when the FBI seized a fingerprint card from Lennon’s 1976 citizenship application, which had been slated to go to auction.)

It was a gorgeous, freeze-frame moment, the crystallization of a beautiful day.

And four weeks later, I woke up on a Sunday morning to the greatest rock radio station of them all — the late 102.7, WNEW-FM — and heard a news item that not only was John turning 40, but he and Yoko were putting out a new album. That was “Double Fantasy,” and soon the airwaves were saturated with the Lennon-meets-doo-wop sound of “(Just Like) Starting Over.”

And two months after that, he was gone for good.

And now, I have a hard time saying “God, he would have been 70 today.” It’s kind of a shock to the system. Not nearly as much as his murder was, of course, but still a wake-up call.


Legally, I’m done

October 8, 2010

It's the little things that make us the happiest sometimes. In this case, very little.

I don’t know why it takes California so long to process a simple driver’s license. In Connecticut, from whence I came, the workers take your photo at DMV and you sit and wait a few minutes as they process something like four licenses at a time. Here, it takes two weeks from the time you go to DMV to the time you get it in the mail.

Well, it took two impatient weeks — and then two more even more impatient days, actually — but I went out to the mailbox yesterday afternoon, pulled in a honking haul of useless paper, and next to last on the bottom of this pile was an envelope for me from the DMV.

I rushed into my room, ripped it open —

Yep. My new license. At last. New photo (makes me look a little fatter than I actually am, but it was better than many DMV photos I’ve seen), Fran for a first name …

and “Sex: F.”


At least from a legal standpoint, my gender transition is finished. All that time and money distilled into a tiny piece of laminated plastic.


Dangerous driver alert: Red-light runner vs. bicyclist

October 7, 2010

Hi. Just using the only weapons I have at my disposal right now — information and a blog:

Just got back to the house and want to let you know about a dangerous driver who blew a red light and almost hit me on my bike — then went on without a shred of remorse.

At 4:55 p.m., I was sitting at the light on Fulton at Divisadero (the Iron Bird intersection). Our light turned green, and just as I was heading into the intersection, a driver heading west on Divisadero rolled through her red — didn’t even slow down — and just missed hitting me:

White Chrysler 300, very well-kept

California plate 6KUZ392

Driver: Female, long dark hair, possibly Hispanic, 30s-40s, medium to large build. Was wearing shades, so I didn’t get a look at her eyes.

I took off after her, and she was stopped behind traffic at the light the next block down.

“Hey!” I yelled as I pulled along her passenger side. “You ran the red and you almost hit me!’

She looked at me, shrugged me off and then pulled away, headed toward H Street and points north.

A simple “I’m sorry; I won’t do it again” would have probably sufficed. This excuse parading as a human, however, showed not one bit of remorse for almost injuring someone else. Given that, I would imagine she would’ve done a hit-and-run had it come to that.

She left too quickly for me to take a photo of her plate, and for a brief second I considered calling the cops. But given other friends’ experiences with them, I figured they would have laughed or told me they had more important things to do. No blood, no foul, after all …

Of course, no one would have laughed had I — and without health insurance — been hit by this evil thing. And as I said, had she hit me, given her reaction, I figure she probably would’ve run from the scene.

So anyway, as I said, I’m using the only two weapons at my disposal — info and my blog. I’m not advocating taking any actions or doing anything violent — that’s not my way. But just keep an eye open if you see a woman with long dark hair driving a white 300.

Ask Aunt Fran: The sexuality thing

October 5, 2010

Hi. Welcome to the second installment of Ask Aunt Fran — the place where you ask me questions you may have about this wild gender trip of mine and I answer them best I can. I started this segment of my blog because I get questions from both friends and strangers alike, and since the transgender world is kinda foreign to a lot of people who know me, I want to foster some understanding.

If you have any questions related to gender matters, email them to (or if you have my personal email, that works, too). Keep in mind that 1) I’m not a doctor — I don’t even play one on television — or any other sort of medical or mental healthcare professional, and all answers are based on my personal experiences; and 2) All questions will be answered anonymously, unless you really want the attention …

So here’s this week’s question:

“So, do you like boys or girls?”

As Casey Kasem would say, details coming up …


MOVIE REVIEW: A well-connected ‘Network’

October 2, 2010

Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg: The dump that launched 500 million profiles.

As of this point, I do not have a Facebook account. Nor, despite way too many prods from way too many people, do I really care to.

Not that I live a TMI life, but I don’t want people knowing more about me than I care to let them know (although if you read this blog, you know that a good chunk of my life, to some extent, is a pretty open book). Much worse, I’ve heard and read way too much about the site’s Byzantine privacy settings structure — and, worse, Mark Zuckerberg’s seeming disdain for others’ privacy matters.

Besides, the same people who are noodging me now and saying “You’ve gotta get on Facebook!” are the very same ones who said “You’ve gotta get on MySpace!” three years ago. And in a year or two it’ll be or something else some other socially dysfunctional genius concocts to facilitate social interaction in the name of generating hits and satisfying advertisers.

Of course, there was one time a friend posted a link to one of my music posts from here on Facebook, and I amassed what is still my all-time one-day record for page views. So, if at least to build a readership for the blog, I still might one day put up a profile. But I’m certainly not in a rush.

But the founding of the social phenomenon of our times is, indeed, a fascinating story — the inspiration, the formation, the ego-tripping, the wildfire speed at which it eventually spread from Harvard to the world, the friendships left crushed in its wake, the money and the power — and I’m interested in reading Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book “The Accidental Billionaires,” which formed the basis for the most talked-about film of the year so far: “The Social Network.”

As someone who’s always leery of movies based on true events — after all, you never know what and how much the creators are embellishing — I left with a feeling of not knowing whether I have a feel for the real Zuckerberg after seeing writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher’s film version, as translated on screen by Jesse Eisenberg.

But I do know that whatever the real story, the one on the screen was very well presented. To keep one’s interest in a two-hour film that’s essentially about a socially inept guy, a lot of keyboard tapping and a hearing in a law office, it had better be. It’s pretty much as good as the massive buildup.