L.E. Leone

Regis lives



"Show me a sane man," Jung said, "and I will cure him for you."

I saw this on a billboard on Turk Street, I think, but I didn’t catch what it was advertising. Jung’s psychotherapy practice, I guess. But that seems like a waste of money to me, Jung being dead.

"Show me a dead man," I said to Earl Butter, my passenger . . .

And . . . and . . .

"What?" said Earl Butter.

I didn’t know. Which is why I’ll never be on a billboard. I can’t complete a thought, let alone . . . um. Well, I can throw a curveball and I’m alive, so I was going to go play baseball after I dropped Butter off in the Mission.

We’d just had lunch at my new favorite Moroccan restaurant in my old favorite neighborhood, the Tenderloin. Tajine. Jones Street.

Maybe I can be on a bumper sticker.

For example: Regis lives.

I wear a ring with 86 and 99 on it. Don Adams, Barbara Feldon. Dead and alive, respectively. Over a really red, really cuminy, really good sausage sandwich with some kind of salsa or chutney or something on it, tomatoes, onions, Earl Butter informed me that there are now more people living than there are dead ($6.95).

This astounds me. And like so many things Earl Butter tells me over lunch, it changes everything. For starters, we no longer have to be afraid of zombies. We’ve got them outnumbered. Barring big bombs and/or bird flu, it’s a power play from here out. Night of the Living Dead? Not scary.

Secondly, I can’t help wondering: When they counted, which side did they put Jesus and Elvis on? Dead or alive? Because judging from some other billboards and bumper stickers I keep seeing, there seems to be some question on the one hand. I can’t remember whether or not I ever pointed it out yet in this column, which may account for some of the confusion, but . . . Jesus? He died. Look, Christians, even if the cat did "come back to life," so to speak, he died again. He’d of had to by now, or else he’d be 2,000-and-some years old. So get over it already, and get real.

And don’t worry. Yeah, they’ve got Socrates, Jesus, Elvis, Jung, and Don Adams . . . But we’ve got Regis. Everything’s going to be OK.

The chicken ($8.50) was a little dry, but the preserved lemon sauce that it was drenched in was fantastic sop for the great homemade Moroccan bread. And there were good olives and, oddly, a handful of french fries scattered artfully about the leg and the thigh, sticking up like arrows out of General Custer (dead).

This is a tiny restaurant, Tajine. Maybe just six or seven tables. Very cozy and superfriendly. Sandwiches go for seven bucks with meat, five-fifty without, and entrees range from seven to eight-fifty, except for the brochette royale, which is basically everything, lamb, chickens, and ground beef, with soup and salad for 12 bucks.

And thirdly but not leastly, all kidding aside, if we got more people now aboveground than under it, you gotta wonder at least a little, if not to distraction, what this says about our planet in terms of, you know, real estate trends and compost.


I know, I know, you’re on that already. Well, my job is poetry and poultry, not politics or theology, but has anyone suggested yet tax breaks for the childless, state-subsidized sex-change operations, and, I don’t know, the supreme naturalness, in an overpopuutf8g species, of same-sex marriages?

Damn, we’re nostalgic, ain’t we?

Well, we got Regis! Regis saves. And he lives, I know, because I just heard him on the radio. He’s pushing grape juice instead of wine. Welch’s. Blood of Regis.

Another thought occurs to me. It occurred to me awhile ago, actually, but I saved it until last, so as not to ruin everything. It’s this: that Earl Butter got his story wrong. Heard wrong, misunderstood, or even lied to me, for kicks. He’s a notorious kidder. And I’m a pretty gullible traveler. It does seem far-far-far-far-fetched, huh? People have been dying for a pretty damn long time. How can they possibly be outnumbered by the living?

Listen, I gotta go now. I have a therapy appointment, and groceries to get, and I have to do my makeup. You do the work. Look it up online, think about it, figure something out, and get back to me. *


Tues.–Wed. and Sun., noon–10 p.m.; Thurs.–Sat., noon–11 p.m.

552 Jones, SF

(415) 440-1718

Takeout and catering available

No alcohol

Credit cards not accepted


Wheelchair accessible

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I’ll finish the poem in a minute, but first I have to put on five more sweaters, go break up the ice in the chicken waterer, and saw up another armload of scrap wood for the fire.

Where was I? Pittsburgh, calzone. You know, as much as I’d love to only write about out-of-town restaurants now, by way of being nutty, I just