SF Weekly Scores Sit-Down Interview With Storm That Rocked San Francisco

The big news -- in print, on television, and here on the Internet -- is the one thing that even a deaf, illiterate caveman would realize if he bothered to poke his head out of his dwelling: It's raining. It's raining hard and people are getting wet. And if you take your dog out for a walk, it's getting wet, too.

But since this is the story du jour, we decided to go right to the source. Publicists tend to become very agreeable when you hold their heads down in the toilet bowl long enough, and, just like that, we had an exclusive sit-down with the storm that blew through San Francisco yesterday and rocked everyone's world.

We met the storm -- who goes by "Leonard, just Leonard" -- at The Tonga Room. The artificial rain falling from the ceiling that usually enhances the place's kitschy charm came over and enthusiastically shook Leonard's hand  -- "Man, I'd drench these bastards through and through if I could, if they let me -- but you ... you!" he moaned, staring up at Leonard like a Little-Leaguer in the presence of Derek Jeter.

Leonard magnanimously provided all the patrons with water -- whether they liked it or not. "Plenty more where that came from," Leonard blurted out. "Don't bother waiting to see the weatherman tonight. That's a fact, Jack."

SF Weekly: So, who were your influences?

Leonard: You know, as a gathering storm, you really have to choose role models that work for you. Lots of storms want to emulate the 1900 Galveston hurricane or the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 -- the big ones. You know, Hugo, Andrew, Katrina of course.

For a while, I admit I was really blatantly ripping off Hurricane Agnes. It's not something I'm proud of, but those were my formative days as a storm and I really hadn't found myself yet. So the notion of flooding a capital city to the point that the governor and his family run like hell and being declared the worst disaster in the history of the state of Pennsylvania -- and, hell, this is a state where subterranean coal fires can burn for damn near a century!  -- that was very intoxicating to me.   

So I had to come to grips with the fact I wasn't going to flood any capital cities or run too many people out of house and home. Not every storm can be extraordinary, no matter what their parents tell them. I figured this out on my own when my father petered out in the South China Sea. He knocked over a few fishing boats, sure, but I later learned that the owners of those boats had just taken out significant insurance policies. We never, you know, found out for sure -- but I have my suspicions. So, really, to be the wettest October storm in San Francisco history -- this is some shit, y'know? I really earned this.

'This kind of thing just creates performance anxiety,' says Leonard the Storm. 'No one can be perfect. Not even Bill -- that's his name, you know. He made a few mistakes. Don't get me wrong; he was great, spectacular. But no storm is perfect.'
SFW: How has your tour been going so far?

Leonard: Well, you know, we started out in Japan as a typhoon -- like everyone says, I'm really bigger in Japan. But, you know, like I was saying, I really didn't feel comfortable being part of a big typhoon. Yeah, I thought it was what I wanted. There was a lot of prestige in that and everyone back in the old neighborhood knew where I was, even if they didn't know what I was doing. Mom was very proud. But I really wanted to do my own thing, you know, go solo, so, well, here I am.

And, you know, there are definite benefits. All of those TV reporters in the silly jackets who have to stand outside and get wet and say "it's really wet! Look! I'm drenched!" Well, those are my groupies. When you're part of a big typhoon, yeah, there are more of them. And they're bigger-time reporters lots of the time. But there's a whole seniority thing. By the time I got a groupie, they're soaked through and all they can think about is brandy, hot chocolate, whatever. Now they're all mine.

SFW: What can we expect from you next?

Leonard: Rain, print that! (Laughs). No, I don't have an elaborate set lined up. I just figure I'll go with what feels natural. That's gotten me here so far and things have gone well, really. Knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people, forcing people to sandbag, mudslides, hell on the highway -- I'm playing with house money, man. It's house money. I never thought this would be happening to me, and, hell, here we are. Success, man, it does not get old. It does not. And I plan on making the Bay Area very wet for as long as I can. Then I suppose I'll blow off elsewhere and retire to warmer climes.

SFW: Any advice for gathering storms?

Leonard: I really don't have any. If you're going to be a great storm or even a minor storm you really ought to do it on your own terms. It's not about what others want for you, you know, it's for you. Don't listen to any windbags. Blow your own dream.

Photo   |   Laffy4K

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