Friday, April 17, 2015

Urban Etiquette: Parking Wars

We open on a busy San Francisco thoroughfare.  The time is earlier this morning.  Our protagonist, ME, is just returning to his street from dropping off his adorable daughter at day care.  (Or, as she would put it, "day tare."  She can't do hard c's or k's yet.)

Our Protagonist rolls up to his block and LO AND BEHOLD there is a parking spot not 3 buildings away from his building.

[BRIEF INTERJECTION: I am #blessed enough to live on a street specifically, and a neighborhood generally, where parking isn't that hard.  You can usually find a space within 5 to 7 minutes.  On weekdays during the day, you can find a space basically anywhere you want.  I USED to live in North Beach and no fooling one Sunday night I once spent almost an hour looking for a space and finally found one on Bay Street which if you're familar with the area is NOT REALLY in North Beach at all.]

O.P. pulls into the spot and parks.  BUT WHAT'S THIS.  There's a pickup truck up ahead with its backing up lights on.  Let me illustrate our relative positions with a diagram.

I love trolling with Comic Sans. Someone is going to feel COMPELLED to say something about the Comic Sans.  The yellow thing is a bike lane BTW.
As you can see, Pickup Truck is double parked at least 3 cars up ahead.  O.P turns off his car and then sees Pickup Truck backing up towards him once the traffic clears.  Pickup Truck has his window down and is saying something.

Pickup Truck is staffed by a maybe early to mid-20's kid with a an attempt at a beard.  "Hey man," he says.  "I've been waiting for that space.  I was waiting for traffic to clear so I could back up."

"What, from all the way up there?" O.P. says.  Notice that O.P did not shrug and say "Tough shit, kid."

"Yeah," Pickup Truck says.

Now, at this point, O.P has two options.  He's already IN the space, so he could get out of his car, lock the doors, and walk away.  Like everything else in life, it's like that scene from Seinfeld.

O.P., however, chose Option Two: Roll Eyes So Broadly It's Visible From Heaven, say "Fine," get back in the car, and park around the corner.

HERE'S WHERE YOU COME IN.  Was that right?  Did Pickup Truck have any sort of viable claim on the space from 3 cars ahead?  If he wanted that space so bad, why wasn't he waiting, say, RIGHT NEXT TO IT?  Did someone pull out just as I arrived, when P.T. was already way ahead and he saw it in his rearview and decided to impose a Retroactive Space Save on a space he had absolutely no entitlement to?  What is right?  What is the nature of justice?

In a related humorous story, when The Sister lived in the Lower Haight she was getting ready to pull into a space when an angry woman pulled up next to her and yelled "YOU SAW ME TURN AROUND BITCH" implying that if you see someone turn around to get a space you lose all rights to that space.  I don't even think she saw her turn around bitch in the first place.  Life is complicated.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Show Report: The Replacements, Nob Hill Masonic Center

The Replacements are a group of older gentlemen who play music.  I think I was 15 or 16 when I bought my first Replacements album.  From a record store.  With cash, because credit cards hadn't been invented yet.  They had a moment in the 80's and then a couple of them died and one of them played in Guns N Roses for a while, surprisingly.  Now they're touring again!  Good for them.

We met up at the Summer Place, a divey bar a couple of blocks from the Nob Hill Masonic Center, which hosts music shows when the #Illuminati aren't in there doing up the New World Order.  The Summer Place looked like a Halloween party where a bunch of middle aged people were dressed up as record store clerks in 1988.  Someone put some Replacements songs on the jukebox which felt a little too much like wearing a band's t-shirt to that band's show to me but hey it's a free country.

It was my first time at the NHMC.  Nice room, good sound, all that stuff.  John Doe was opening and I know he's a legendary figure in punk history and blah blah blah but all his songs sounded like a truck commercial.

The crowd was so fucking great because I finally WASN'T THE OLDEST PERSON AT THE SHOW.  It was so dadcore that it made other shows look like day care.  A sea of salt and pepper bobbing along to songs that were fleetingly popular when cigarettes cost 99 cents and Barack Obama was bogarting joints at Harvard Law.  My people had been summoned home.  Look, everybody, I can still fit into my Descendents shirt!

The band was great, of course.  I'm 6'4" and am used to having no trouble seeing at shows.  Hilariously, just as they started, a guy even taller than me came and stood right in front of me.

The Replacements used to be famous for their shambling, insanely drunk shows.  At their advanced age, they can't really drink three 40's of Mickey's and then play anything resembling a coherent show, so instead they just pretended to be drunk.  At least that's what Stephen thought.  Who knows?

Here's the setlist, or at least the closest approximation that users have cobbled together.  They played pretty much everything you wanted to hear.  "I Will Dare" was messy and fun.  Paul Westerberg forgot most of the words to "Bastards of Young."  I loved the cover of "20th Century Boy" because it's objectively one of the best rock songs of all time so how could you not.  I left shortly before the end so I missed the last 2 or 3 songs but I have to get up at 5:40 in the morning so give me a break.

It was a fucking blast.  Now that the Pixies, Pavement, and The Replacements have all played reunion shows, all I need is for the Smiths and Jason & the Scorchers to get back together and my whole record collection from high school will be complete.  OLD N PROUD.

(Oh, one note - they close the bar apparently at 10:15 or so.  Why you gotta do that to me, NHMC?  There was a lot more music left!)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Look upon the face of evil

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote the songs for "Frozen." If you have a child[*], these are who you can blame for having "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" stuck in your head for the last year.

[*] I don't have a male child, so I don't know if Frozmania is gender-nonspecific, but as far as I've heard, it seems to be at least a girl-centric phenomenon.  The protagonists are both girls, then young women, and the men in the film tend to be either lovable goofs or duplicitous schemers.  Maybe that's why.

You may not probably don't know this, but Robert Lopez also co-wrote The Book of Mormon, a fairly overrated but somewhat enjoyable musical better known as a creation of the South Park dudes.  The only thing Frozen and The Book of Mormon have in common are the fact that they both involve musical notes.

It is also claimed that Robert is an EGOT winner (i.e., Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), but he won a Daytime Emmy, which I think you can win just by wathcing enough episodes of Judge Judy.  I might have won a Daytime Emmy and the notification is stuck in my spam folder.  Until he wins a Real Emmy, his EGOT comes with an asetrisk.

Anyway, those of you without kids may be wondering what I'm going on about because you don't have to listen to the Frozen soundtrack - or, indeed, watch the Disney film of the same name - over and over and over and over.  I don't know what it is about that movie but our 2-year-old is absolutely entranced.  It's basically the only thing she will sit still and watch all the way through which is actually kind of nice when you're home and need to unload the dishwasher.  What's not so great is how we have to listen to "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" and "Let It Go" EVERY SINGLE MORNING in the car on the way to day care.

I guess I'm kind of glad she isn't that crazy about Olaf's song any more, because I actually kind of like it and it hasn't been ruined by being forced to hear it 250 times.

Not bad, huh? If that really is Josh Gad singing, he's pretty good at singing!

There's no real point to this post.  I'm just sick of the Frozen soundtrack and needed to let it out.  The other day I had this realization, and the actual words as they formed in my head were "Blogging is just about seeking and sometimes obtaining validation."  This is so blindingly self-evident that I felt bad for even thinking it.  So this post, I guess, like every other post, is a naked attempt to get validation, in this case for the relatively uncontroversial position that kids like Frozen and the soundtrack is wearing me down.

Here's what I have to look forward to, I guess.  These are movies I have never seen but expect to see a lot of, soon:

The Lion King
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
Any of the Cars movies
That one that looks like it's set in New Orleans that I can't remember the name of

I hope I never have to watch Up again.  That was a total snooze.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Regrettable online fundraising campaigns through history

By now, you know the drill: do something awful, get a lot of press, and someone sets up a fundraising page and you are handsomely rewarded.  (Here's just the latest example.)

If only GoFundMe had existed in the past.

Friday, April 3, 2015

What SF landmark will we lose next?

It seems like not a week goes by without some announcement that a treasured San Francisco institution is closing its doors forever.  Just yesterday, we found out we're losing Capp's Corner, a North Beach institution for like 50 years, and the Orbit Room, a mid-Market bar that I went to once in like 1993 and thought was just OK.  But still!

[BRIEF DIVERSION: It really sucks about Capp's, an old-school family-style Italian place with huge buckets of linguine and red wine in water glasses and shit like that.  Totally sad, but it actually wasn't as good as Gold Spike, which closed years ago.  Still miss you, Gold Spike.]

With all these changes, WHAT'S NEXT?  

Tadich Grill

Is it the oldest restaurant in San Francisco?  Maybe!  Known primarily for angry waiters and sand dabs, this crusty old place is just begging for a makeover.

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: Sp┼źn, a minimalist Peruvian-Roman small plates macaroni and cheese fusion restaurant.


Undoubtedly one of the best bars in San Francisco, at least on weeknights.  No frills, just booze and cheese.  What a bar should be.

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: Bird & Another Bird, a craft cocktail bar specializing in Midori.


Another old-school eccentric institution with no-nonsense drinks and a opera-heavy jukebox.

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: Tosca, a fantastically overrated nouveau Italian joint with $42 chicken.   Oh shit, wait.

The Legion of Honor

A resplendent neoclassical museum in a gorgeous setting with a so-so collection of mostly European art.

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: It will be the new home of Yelp co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman.

Golden Gate Park Carousel

Since 1914, this carousel has entertained generations of kids who think going around in a circle for about two minutes is fun.

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: The Spinninizer, an interactive Xtreme Xperience that uses space-age technology to spin kids around at over 300 miles per hour with only a 20% chance of death!!!!!!!

The Transamerica Pyramid

An iconic part of the San Francisco skyline, this instantly recognizable tower is what many people think of first when they think of the city.



A regular winter feature of San Francisco for thousands of years, this airborne hydration method has appeared in such films as "Vertigo" and "Basic Instinct."

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: Searing, unending drought.  Almonds.

Mayor Ed Lee

A comically ineffectual figurehead installed to do the bidding of Evil Overlord Ron Conway, a Bond movie-type villain who somewhat-secretly controls everything.

WHAT'S REPLACING IT: Mayr, an app that brings government to your door, usually in less than 30 minutes.  TRY MAYR.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Can you eat at the Rainforest Cafe and live to tell about it? Possibly!

Last Wednesday was my daughter's second birthday.  Happy Birthday Beyonce!  We took the day off work and went to Fisherman's Wharf to see the sea lions and ride the carousel and that kind of shit.  A couple of observations: (1) if you have to go to Fisherman's Wharf, it is much, much better to go on a Wednesday in March than, say, a Saturday in August; and (2) Pier 39 is still as terrifying and touristy as ever.  A shop that just sells puppets!  A man wearing a Bikini Inspector t-shirt!  Italians!

Then we went to eat at the Rainforest Cafe, which is what would happen if the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland opened a restaurant.  Lots of animatronic animals that go off every few minutes and a very loud soundtrack of Reggae for White People.  You enter, of course, through the Gift Shop, where one might purchase such items as a "Bag of Rocks" for $6 I swear to God I am not making this up.  I was hoping it would just be a random bag of gravel and sand but it's those polished rocks but still.

The actual restaurant is upstairs.  The best way I can describe the odor is that it smells like a wet dog.  I guess after years and years of dampness (and it is really humid or something in there) you just can't get the smell out of the carpet any more.

GODDAMIT this picture turns sideways when I post. Fucking Blogger.  Seriously I should have broken up with you a long time ago. Is it impossible to edit pictures in WordPress?  Because in Blogger you have to fucking join Google+ or some shit just to edit pictures.  Fuck that.

That was the view from our table.  The tiger would go off with a loud recorded roar every five minutes or so.  The elephant in the background flaps its ears back and forth.  The kid, of course, found this all delightful.

The food was not as bad as I thought, somewhere between airport and hotel banquet.  It was expensive as fuck, though.  Lunch was $64 after tip for 3 of us and we didn't even have booze, although RC is not shy about pushing fruity tropical drinks on you like you're on spring break.

But fuck it, the kid had a blast and it wasn't anywhere close to as bad as I imagined it would be.  Plus our server, Oscar, was incredibly friendly and nice and he must get stiffed by Europeans all day and to stay that nice must really take it out of you so I tipped him like 25% and should have gone higher but by that point I was starting to feel dizzy and overwhelmed and that tiger kept yelling at me.

There's also a downstairs bar that wasn't in use when we went.  On the way out there was a guy using a selfie stick (ugh) to take a picture of himself in the empty bar.  Where are you in your life when you're using a phone on a stick to take a picture of yourself alone in an empty Rainforest Cafe bar.  Are you shooting an ad for Despair?

Anyway, if I had an extra $100 burning a hole in my pocket and was at Fisherman's Wharf around lunchtime, I might go back.  Not alone, though.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Remember how everybody used to smoke?  (Does not apply if you're a millennial; watch Mad Men and you'll get the idea.)  Now hardly anybody smokes.  I even used to smoke and I quit.  One thing that happened is that everybody who smoked died.  Also, people started looking at smoking as gross and nobody wanted to be around it.

By now, you know that almonds take a gallon of water APIECE to grow.  Think about how much water we could save if people stopped eating almonds!  So here's my idea: a massive PR campaign making almond eating as shameful as smoking.

Here's a few I threw together just to get us started.

(Quick note, I haven't registered yet, somebody better get on that before Big Almond swipes it out from under us.)

We'll also need to lobby local governments to set up NO ALMOND ZONES in restaurants and bars.  "Almond consumption only in designated areas," like by the compost bin.

Might take 15-20 years, but we can make almond eating so repulsive and shameful only West Virginians will do it.