Quin's Progress


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Happy Fountain of Boobies

Starbucks always gets my name wrong

Starbucks always gets my name wrong

Yesterday, I went to get my underarms lasered, and if you’ve ever had that done, you know how much I suffered.  So painful!  I swear, I need to take a wooden spoon with me to bite on.  But, as they say, beauty is pain, and if you read my post about Tata the Thai Face Slapper, you know I’m not afraid of it.  Anyway, the laser doctor (who looks and sounds just like Mr. Chow from the movie “The Hangover”) has his office in Union Square.  So, afterwards, I grabbed a latte at Starbucks and went to sit in my Happy Spot to wait for my ravaged armpits to stop stinging.

Ruth Asawa's "San Francisco Fountain." The "HH" stands for Hyatt Hotel that commissioned it in 1970.

Ruth Asawa’s “San Francisco Fountain”
The “HH” stands for Hyatt Hotel

I have several Happy Spots in and around San Francisco, and the one in Union Square is at Ruth Asawa‘s “San Francisco Fountain” on the steps outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Stockton, between Sutter and Post, right next to the Levi’s store.  I could be in the foulest of moods, actively planning my foes’ murders, but if I “set a spell,” as my Granny would say, in this spot, invariably, my smile returns, and my foes get to live to vex me another day.

Superman flying through downtown San Francisco

Superman flying through downtown San Francisco

This fountain is whimsical, magical and thoroughly, unabashedly fun.  It’s a fun-tain.  Completely covered in kajillions of comical little figures that look like they’re fashioned out of Play-doh, it is actually a relief map, of sorts, of the City of San Francisco.  Although I think anyone would love it, it really does take a denizen of our fair City to catch and truly appreciate some of its more obscure details.

Chinatown

Chinatown

It’s built into some brick steps, with the edge facing west at the top of the stairs representing the ocean, and the edge facing east toward the street representing the bay.  Scenes and figures depicting City landmarks, history and life adorn the fountain walls and rim, in roughly geographic order.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Bridge is complete with its ever-present traffic, and its glorious towers extend up the side of the fountain wall and over the top of the rim into the water.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

There’s Coit Tower peeking out on top of Telegraph Hill, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, the old Mint, City Hall, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Filbert Steps.  I can’t fit pictures of everything in this post, but, you name it, it’s there.  It really is a full tour of San Francisco all in one place!

"Support Your Local Chicken"

“Support Your Local Chicken”

Every time I come see this fountain, I make my way around it, inspecting it closely, laughing at the little figures and scenes, and I always, without exception, find something that escaped my notice before.  Like this time, I discovered this little chicken truck.  Look, how cute!

IMG_2459IMG_2419This is kind of juvenile of me, I know, but, one of my favorite things about it is, if you look closely, there are naked boobies all over this thing.  Everywhere.  It’s fabulous!  You know my old saying, “Everyone Loves Boobs.”  Young/old, men/women, gay/straight, it doesn’t matter, we’re all united in our affection for boobs.  Boobies are the universal singularity.  You know I’m right.

boobiesIMG_2398There are lots of lounging, tangled lovers sprinkled throughout, too.  I love that.  How can that not make you smile?

A shout-out to Carol Doda, the famous stripper

A shout-out to Carol Doda, the famous stripper, and her fantastic boobs

The fountain was commissioned by the Grand Hyatt in 1970, and created by artist Ruth Asawa, known as the “fountain lady” for her works like this one, as well as the gorgeous mermaid fountain in Ghirardelli Square–another of my favorites.  She molded the figures out of bread dough, and let it dry hard before it was cast in bronze.  She also built a model of the steps that the fountain would be set into in her back yard, to store the bronze panels as they were completed, so she could visualize the map of San Francisco as it took shape.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

Asawa enlisted the help of a bunch of school kids and other visitors to mold some of the figures, to give life to her idea to “show what many hands working together could do.”  And as the plaque on the sidewalk explains, “[p]erhaps the most remarkable aspect of the fountain is that, in the end, Ruth succeeded in proving her point; it is her work, produced by many hands, and like all great folk monuments, it belongs to everyone.”

IMG_2474Notwithstanding that lovely “this belongs to everyone” sentiment, if I ever find the owner of this tag handle, I will sit on him and pound upholstery tacks into his gums and then squeeze lemon juice over the wounds.  I mean, really.  What the Hell?  Don’t get me wrong, I live in the Mission District, I can appreciate graffiti as street art.  But don’t be tagging works of art.  Especially not one as purely joyous as this one.  It’s bad, bad karma, not to mention, disrespectful and just plain rude.

As with every other time I’ve visited this spot, though, even this crude offense faded away and gave way to laughter and levity as I explored the happy little creatures that inhabit the fountain walls.  Thanks, Ruth, you made my day — again!

The old Fleishhacker Pool--once the largest pool in the world

The old Fleishhacker Pool–once the largest pool in the world

Not just boobies, there's naked bottoms, too!

Not just boobies, there’s naked bottoms, too!

Happy creatures at the beach

Happy creatures at the beach


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Well, Slap My Face and Call Me Sally

Flotation Tank

Flotation Tank

You all know how much I love wacky spa/beauty treatments.  Nothing against a nice aromatherapy facial or Swedish massage, those are lovely, but my taste runs a little more toward the outré. The experience is really what draws me, more than the potential effects.  Once, I read in a magazine about a “Past Life Regression Massage” treatment available in NYC, and I actually flew there just to do it. (Well, I also got to visit my bestie, James, while I was at it.)  Basically, a massage therapist massages your feet while a hypnotherapist sits by your head and tries to get you to recall your past life.  It was a hoot and half, and I don’t even believe in past lives.  And then, there was the “Mayan Experience” treatment in Playa del Carmen, where you lay in a hammock and a girl in a traditional dress lays on the ground underneath and kicks you in the back.  All I could think the whole time was how that girl was going to go home laughing that night, saying to her family “Guess what this crazy Gringa paid me two hundred bucks to do to her!”  So far, I’ve only found one weird spa treatment that is just too out there for me, and that is the snake massage in Israel, where you get naked and they drop a big tangled cluster of about a dozen snakes on your back and let them unwind themselves and crawl all over you.  No thanks.  I would never stop screaming.  But, flotation tanks, flesh-eating fish pedicures, bird poop facials, Korean herbal hoo-ha steam treatments…bring it.

Tata the Thai Face Slapper

Tata the Thai Face Slapper

Well, imagine my excitement when I found out that, right here in San Francisco, we have the only genuine, certified Thai “face slapper” in the U.S.!  Oh yes, you read that right.  Face slapper.  Her name is “Rassameesaitarn New Series World,” but she goes by “Tata.”  She and her husband, Mawin, run Face Slapping Natural, where Tata will use her extensive training, and the back of her hand, to slap the years right off  your face.

Five dollars, please!

Five dollars, please!

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Several of my friends offered to slap me for free when I told them I was doing this.  Fernando even offered to pay me to let him take a shot.  But, none of them are certified by the master in Bangkok, so I had to make an appointment with the real thing.  And I am so glad I did!  From the moment you walk through the door at Face Slapping Natural, you know you’ve entered another world.  It’s a festival of bright colors and mirrors, with giant images of Thai elephants in yoga poses.  Tata herself is a work of art.  Petite and soft-spoken, she wears lamé MC Hammer pants with t-shirts, and each time I saw her, she had on a different headdress, each one rivaling a Rose Bowl Parade float.  The first one had about five full-size stargazer lilies on it, and a gossamer butterfly that was as big as an open volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  The one pictured here, with the parrot, was the fourth and final one, and I wasn’t even sure for a minute if it was a real parrot or not.  (It’s not.)  Oh, and she wears a surgical mask all the time, because she has allergies.

You have to pay five dollars for the initial consultation, and they mean it, they collect that fiver up front.  But once you hand it over, the two of them take it to a big box in the center of the room that has holes cut in it like swiss cheese, and say a Thai prayer over it, drop the five dollar bill into the box, and bow.  Then  you can begin.

The Slapping Room

The Slapping Room-Where the Magic Happens

The actual treatment takes place in a special, mirrored salon equipped with TVs, on which Mawin plays whatever music video Tata is feeling that day.  My first time there, it was Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and something by Justin Bieber.  So, you sit on a tree stump stool, Tata stands behind you with her hands on your shoulders and fixes your gaze in the mirror.  When she’s ready, she gives Mawin the signal, he turns on the music, and she starts to bounce…and then dance around you…and then bitch slap you to the beat of the music.  I swear, I will never hear “Single Ladies” again without flinching.  But once you get used to it, it isn’t bad.  She has a definite technique, and it doesn’t hurt as much as it’s just kind of jarring.  She uses the back of her hand, not the open palm, so it doesn’t sting, and she is very careful to use the fleshy side of her hand over any boney areas, like your brow bones.

For me, Tata said I needed “contouring” more than wrinkle reduction, so she concentrated most on my chipmunk cheeks.  By the fourth session, she was really letting me have it.  And you know what?  After I finished my four session slapping series, a number of people asked me, without prompting, if I had lost weight, saying my face looked thinner.  Tscha.  Just sayin’.  And Tata says, if you rinse your face with cold water every day, the effects should last a year.  Not bad, considering Botox is only good for a few months, and costs way more!  Ahem…or, so I’ve heard.

Anyway, at the end of my last session, Tata asked my permission to draw my eyebrows in better, because she said their sparseness had been bothering her.  So, she drew me some honest to goodness Thai-brows to match hers, but that kind of made me look like a maniacal ventriloquist’s dummy.  But, I thanked her for them anyway.  As I was leaving, Mawin told me to check back with them soon, because Tata is going back to Thailand to get certified in “Butt Punching,” to firm and shape the derriere, and to prevent what Mawin called “Cellu-butt.”  If that’s not a real word, it should be, because it’s about as disturbingly graphic as someone promoting butt punching services could hope for.  So…you know I’ll be back.