Karmic Reminders

Why do I have a chronic bad back? Is it the few extra pounds I tend to carry about my middle? Or, rather, is it some sort of cosmic retribution for giving my dad mostly good-natured shit about his bad back when I was a smart-assed kid?

I believe I know the answer. In this world, what goes around, comes around, and payback is hell.

Case in point.

I saw some potentially bad news in yesterday’s paper: The Tosca Cafe, one of the places in San Francisco I love most dearly, may soon close. The reason should be very familiar to anyone paying attention. Landlords want ever-higher rents. Tosca’s North Beach landlord is a strip club that’s already made earning a living very hard for the bar’s owner.

Tosca is the kind of place you see rarely these days. A melting pot and mixing bowl of the city’s very heterogeneous population. A place to go and meet people. A place to go and run into lifelong friends. A place to feel like you’re a part of something special. Here’s the kind of place it is: on one particularly memorable night, I shit you not, my pal Fish and I sat at the bar between supermodel and actress Lauren Hutton and a cabbie named Tim. We listened to opera on the juke box. We joked. We told each other stories. And unless I’m very much mistaken, we all enjoyed each other’s company very much indeed.

Tosca is precisely the kind of place that makes San Francisco what it is.

Tosca’s precarious situation should sound familiar to San Franciscans because so many of the city’s most colorful haunts have been disappearing with increasing frequency. Last year, it was the Gold Dust Lounge, told to vacate in favor of, just what we need more of in the Union Square area, a new national-chain clothing store.

To think of North Beach without Tosca is a sad prospect. To think of it replaced by a Hooters or some other corporate girly club is beyond my comprehension.

My only solace would come from my firm belief in karma. These soulless corporate leeches will get their just payback at some point. You can’t take a place like The Tosca Cafe away from my hometown and not expect some measure of rough justice.

Better sleep with one eye open, leeches. With Tosca gone, the universe will be in no mood for mercy.

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