When I was living in San Francisco in 1998 I found a bar on Market Street just past Church called the Expansion Bar, which was once rated Best Dive Bar by the San Francisco Weekly. I liked the bartender there quite a bit, although I never had that much conversation with her. I came in one night and asked for a glass of Merlot and she said, "What kind of bar do you think you're in, anyway? If you want red wine, I have some."
Two doors up Market Street from the Expansion Bar was the Lucky 13, catering to more of a punk crowd. The first night I went in there, I got served by a brawny bartender with tattoos all the way from his wrists up past his elbows. The woman who was tending bar with him had the same kind of tattoos. I was carrying a small bag from City Lights that evening, and after a while the brawny bartender came over and asked what books I'd bought. I showed him (I forget what they were, but nothing new and trendy), and he said, "I love City Lights Books. When I first got into town many years ago," telling me that he was now forty years old, "I was befriended by the Di Prima family. You know Diane Di Prima, of course?" Well, yes, certainly I knew of her, although I certainly didn't know her personally. "And through them, I got to know a number of writers who had been involved in the Beat movement."
What a city! Where punk bartenders with intimidating tattoos talk about Beat poets. Whereas here in Honolulu, I've met people in the English Department who've never even heard of Diane Di Prima. Or Kenneth Patchen, for that matter, which truly astounds me.
A few weeks later I went back to the Lucky 13 and the same bartender was there again, but this time ... no tattoos!
Oh! I realized. Temporary tattoos.