There's this Italian restaurant called Colosseo on Columbus Ave. in North Beach. I know, what are the odds? Anyway, it must be fairly new because it wasn't there when I lived in North Beach. Oh shit, I moved out of NB in 2004, so maybe it's not so new. Tempus fugit, etc.
For those of you outside the 415/510/650/707 area codes, North Beach is the faux-"Italian" neighborhood in SF. At one point, many years ago, it was actually an Italian neighborhood but now it's just the Italian restaurants and a few other remnants.
There's a big hill called Telegraph Hill that probably had something to do with telegraphs at some point that rises over NB. I used to live right on top of that hill, at Vallejo and Montgomery. There is a neighborhood group called the Telegraph Hill Dwellers who are the villains of this piece and to whom we will return shortly.
OK SO, Colosseo had a quaint idea! They will import the uninomial "LUCA," who, we are told, is a "highly trained opera singer," and LUCA will "serenade customers while they dine." BUON GIORNO LUCA!!! How quaint. Tourists will clasp their hands to their chests and go "This is a uniquely San Francisco moment." I love it! Bring LUCA on!
Did you think it was going to be that E-Z? You funny. It seems that LUCA would be accompanied by "a small speaker system that will provide orchestral backing."
This small speaker system caused the politically powerful Tel Hill Dwellers (henceforth "THD") to lift their dragon-shaped heads from the primordial muck in which they rest, shake off their slumber, and cast a jaundiced eye on LUCA and his boom box. Take it away, Chron!
Representatives from the Telegraph Hill Dwellers did not return multiple calls and e-mails seeking comment. The group has successfully stalled a number of projects in San Francisco, including a plan to build a 430-foot condo tower near the Transamerica Pyramid and the redevelopment of the Pagoda Palace Theater, vacant since 1994.
In comments to the city's Planning Department, the group suggested that it was concerned giving the restaurant a permit for amplified sound could allow the owners, or a future owner, to turn the property into a dance club or concert venue.
That's right. Instead of singing "Non più andrai" from Marriage of Figaro, THD fears that LUCA will sing "Back That Azz Up" from Juvenile's justly-praised "400 Degreez." MUCH AS WE MAY WANT THAT, it is unlikely to occur.
LUCA performing. (As conceptualized by THD.)
Now, a complete review of THD's activities over the years is well beyond the scope of this piece, but let me just say this: You look like idiots.
Luckily, the Planning Commission, FOR ONCE, didn't bow and scrape and now LUCA will be free to sing to the delight of a Couple from Grand Rapids and their bored 13-year-old.
Moral of the story? Now matter how innocuous, how charming, how utterly perfect an idea you have that will bring Joy to the Hearts of Many or maybe Cure the Cancer or whatever, SOMEBODY in this town is going to be against it. In this case it happens to be THD, and they have a history of doing this kind of thing, but it happens all the time. I'm not advocating tearing down Postcard Row and replacing it with a Jiffy Lube and a Rite Aid, but I mean, really, COME ON, when you complain about a guy singing opera with a boom box in a restaurant on a busy street around the corner from a two-block-long Ed Hardy nightmare of strip clubs and vodka-and-Red-Bull bars, you really are crying wolf. Go back to stopping libraries or something.