Thursday, July 31, 2008

The immigration debate gets personal

I don't like the sound of that.

SHIG and I go to a new place. Then I write about it.

Sceney trendsters that we are, yesterday Super Hot Irish Girlfriend and I hit up Michael Mina's new Clock Bar in the St. Francis. It was neither sceney nor trendy. The drinks, however, were pretty good.

I started with a Star Daisy, which is Beefeater gin, Calvados (a brandy distilled from apple cider - no, I didn't know either), lime and grenadine. Sounds pretty good, right? I should have been tipped off by the name, but when it arrived, served up in a martini glass, you can guess what it looked like.

Great. I'm the only man in the place with a pink drink. Anyway, despite the appearance, it was really good. SHIG had the Hemingway daiquiri (rum, maraschino, grapefruit, lime, and grapefruit bitters) which, amazingly, looked manly next to my drink. I didn't think all that much of hers. The bittters threw me off, I think.

I also had an Aviation - Plymouth gin, maraschino, lemon, and creme de violette, which was also very good.

The place itself feels like a hotel bar which, I guess, makes sense, since it is a hotel bar. Looked like mostly tourist clientele. The service was outstanding, and I'm not just saying that because our waitress was a 5'10" blonde girl who looked like a model. Really, she was very attentive and good.

I can't see making a special trip there, but if you're around Union Square and you don't feel like having a conventioneer from St. Louis throw up on you at the Gold Dust, I guess it would a good alternative. Thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It was a simpler time

Whilst going through some old files on a 3 1/2" disc (!) recently, I came across the vintage shot of yours truly:

This was taken in 1991, I believe, on Angel Island. I'm wearing a shirt that appears to be tie-dyed in some fashion, which is worrying. But give me a break; it was a different time.

At that point, I was living in this building in North Beach.

I had a studio. The rent was $685 a month. At the time, that seemed like a lot of money. I made friends with the building manager, though, and she let me park my car in the building's garage for free. Free parking! In North Beach! I think they charged $100 a month back then for parking, so it was kind of a steal.

That year, I watched them dismantle the Embarcadero Freeway. For those of you who don't know, there used to be a big ugly freeway structure that ran along the Embarcadero and cut off the waterfront from the city. It was damaged in the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 and was torn down. That turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to SF, as it opened up the Embarcadero and made it part of the city again. Here' s a picture from around that time:

Hideous, right? This pic doesn't even really do it justice. It ran directly in front of the Ferry Building, so if you looked down Market, all you could see was the big hulking mass of freeway. Ugh.

The other thing I remember from that year is waking up one Sunday morning in October and noticing the sky was a weird color. We walked up Union Street over the crest of Telegraph Hill and could see the Oakland hills on fire. I remember ash and little bits of burned paper falling on Telegraph Hill later that day.

ANYWAY, there's no real point to any of this. Seeing the picture of that 23-year-old kid at the top just made me think.

Better, more current content tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A partial guide to what I did this weekend, in reverse order

Why is it that every time I go to a game, the Giants lose? Seriously, I don't know if I've seen a winning game this season, and I think I've been to at least 5 or 6 games.

Naturally, with Fail pitching, the odds weren't great that they were going to win, but c'mon. It's like they weren't even trying. The worst part about this game is that it was just fucking BORING. Even with beers.

Fail warming up before the game. He's thinking "Man, I hope I don't suck as much as usual."

And so it was. The only bright spot was young Freddy Lewis, who became the first left-handed batter to go 4-for-4 against Randy Johnson. Ever. For some reason, the Hall of Fame didn't request his cleats and cap. Oh well.

Saturday night I found myself at Mission Bar with Super Hot Irish Girlfriend and some associates. I was going to take some pictures but my friend Olu loudly exclaimed that he "didn't know this was a 23-year-old girl's birthday party" and so I had to take pictures with the flash off instead. They didn't come out very well.

You know what's great about Mission Bar? I ordered an Absolut and soda and a beer and it was $7.25. Try doing that at one of your fancy, working-bathroom bars, you snob. I loves me some Mission Bar.

Friday, July 25, 2008

40 going on 28 recommends

1. Mad Men

If you didn’t watch this brilliantly-conceived series on AMC last year, you missed something. Recently thrust into the spotlight by virtue of a boatload of Emmy nominations, this stylish, if glacially-paced, series that’s facially about advertising in the early 60’s but is really about the roles we adopt to deal with each other, is not to be missed. The new season debuts Sunday night at 10 p.m.

2. Popchips

Oh, Popchips, how do you do it? How can you be so fucking delicious and have only half the fat that regular chips have? How can you be so light and crunchy with all natural ingredients? What vile sorcery created thee? I will never leave you, Popchips. Even if they start selling Munchos in my area again.

3. Trident Xtra Care Peppermint

Gum has gotten really complicated. There used to be Juicy Fruit and Doublemint and Super Bubble. Then there was Dentyne and Trident. Now choosing a gum is like picking a wine at Bacar. There’s like hundreds of choices. I was on Orbit for a while, then Eclipse. I dabbled a little with Dentyne Ice, but I still hadn’t found a suitable gum of choice. Then I found Trident Xtra Care Peppermint. Assertive mint flavor without being overbearing, and easy to chew. It comes in an attractive gum wallet that goes effortlessly from office to lounge. A good all-purpose gum.

4. Drunk History

At first I thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Then I thought, “No way I would have thought of that, but I’m glad somebody did.” The filmmakers tape a real person recounting a historical event while really drunk. They then get actors (including some fairly well-known ones) to follow the narration and film the whole thing. The results are sometimes hilarious. This is my fave. It’s almost 6 minutes long, but calm your Internet-fried mind that loses interest after 43 seconds and just watch it.

5. John Bowker

If you're looking for a Giants player to like, here's your man. Homered in his first two games as a Giant. Currently third in RBIs among NL rookies. Hustles every game. Subject of a serious crush by Super Hot Irish Girlfriend. May or may not have a girlfriend. Is not on the Valparaiso City Council. John Bowker.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trendy Google professionals, we're on to you

(Taken at 24th & Guerrero)

Well, sure, of course "trendy Google professionals help raise housing costs." Trendy professionals who work for anyone help raise housing costs. Even un-trendy, hopelessly square professionals who watch "According to Jim" help raise housing costs. So what's your point?

In the Mission, methinks, Google is an easy target because it's so visible. Every morning and afternoon, the Google busses that ferry employees from the Mission to Google HQ can be seen trundling around the Mission, loading and unloading their (incredibly young-looking) worker drones. So even though, say, Yahoo might have more employees per capita in the Mission, they just don't have as high a profile.

Picking on Google also kinda sucks because the fact that they use busses must keep a lot of cars off the road and probably results in a huge net decrease in carbon emissions and auto accidents and all kinds of other bad stuff. Good for Google for arranging transportation like this.

What you gotta love about this stencil, though, is the amount of work involved. Check out the multicolored lettering! To do this, the artist has to tote around green, yellow, red, black, and white cans. That's commitment to your statement, even if it is maybe picking the wrong target.

Hey, what about those Giants? The last two games sure have been fun, and last night Richie Aurilia proved he can still play ball. Sure, it's only the Nationals, maybe the worst team in the National League, but the way they're playing now reminds me of that scene in Bull Durham where the team is on a losing streak and then Kevin Costner turns on the sprinklers and they slide around and then remember they're supposed to be having fun and then start winning games. They're having fun! Oh, and I can't find a picture, but did you see the stirrup socks on Geno Espineli? Awesome.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh yay! Vacation pictures!

When I was a kid growing up in Nashville, "Lower Broad" was shorthand for "dangerous neighborhood." It was the few blocks on Boradway leading from the river up into downtown and featured dive bars and broken men and other country-music-type stuff.

Now it's all been cleaned up and homogenized and stripped of any edge to make it safe for the tourists who waddle around and think they're getting an "experience."

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is an iconic country music bar that's been around since forever. It used to be the kind of place where unknown country artists would get a chance to play for a half-hour or so and there'd be a few fights every night. The last time I went there, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, the musicians were only playing well-known country covers, and there weren't any fights, but it still had some of that atmosphere. That's progress for ya.

My Dad's boxer, on the other hand, has never compromised her core values.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hi! So what's your life story?

I would like to take a minute to acknowledge the fine meat products of the Niman Ranch company. In just a few short days, one of their tasty cows went from happily grazing on a hillside in Marin County to sizzling on my Dad's grill. About 5 minutes a side, delicious.

What's the line between friendly and intrusive? Yesterday The Sister and I were doing some pre-big-dinner shopping at a Publix near my Dad's place. The checker, an affable 80-something guy, looked at my ID and started peppering me with questions about what I was doing in town and so forth. At first it was friendly conversation, but after a while I thought he was going to ask for my SSN and Dad's address. Meanwhile, the bagger lady opined that she could never live in California "because it's all burned up." I have no problem exchanging pleasantries with merchants I encounter in my daily activities, but too much is too much. I guess I'm not cut out to live in the South.

Had the big Family Thing last night for Dad's birthday. My nephew, a gregarious, apparently amphetamine-fueled 3-year-old, was delighted by a tattoo I have on my inner arm. Is there a thing with kids and tattoos that I don't know about? Anyway, he seems to be fascinated by trains. I get the impression that Thomas the Tank Engine has produced a whole nation of rail-obsessed kids. Maybe some of it will stick and when they grow up they'll be inspired to build a decent railway system in this country.

I see that the Giants kicked off the second half by being just as crappy as they were in the first. The way I understand it, in baseball you have to score runs to win. Unfortunately, this is not my team's forte.

Still trying to work out the picture thing. No one sells memory card adapters for Firewire any more. And, God, I know I'm running this into the ground, but it is so fucking hot here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do not tailgate Jesus

2 observations about modern air travel:

1. Tommy Bahama shirts have achieved full market penetration.
2. The Memphis airport smells like fried food.

So I'm at my Dad's place near Nashville. As predicted, it's pretty fucking hot - like 94 right now or something - but it was actually kinda cool last night.

Unfortunately, technical problems have prevented me from posting any pixx from here, so you're just going to have to wait. I can tell you that I just saw a car with two bumper stickers, one that said "Are you following JESUS this close?" and one that said, "Help stop AIDS, get married and be faithful." So there you go.

To say that it's relaxing here would be a ridiculous understatement. What we do is (1) plan meals, (2) go to the grocery store (sometimes two or three times in a day), (3) make and eat meals, (4) sit outside on the patio and drink beer, and (5) go to bed. Then repeat that the next day. Although tonight step (4) will be augmented with some St. Supery sauvignon blanc I brought from home.

Hope everything's good back in SF. Don't do anything fun without me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Blog is All-Powerful.

Ready for some weird-ass coincidence? Here goes.

On Thursday, I wrote about this guy who wouldn't give up his seat on Muni for an old lady. I'm not going to link to it; just look down. It's the next post right below this one.

Well, guess what? When I got on the train today, there he was! In almost the same seat, even.

So at the same time I get on, I'm followed by a youngish Mom carrying her child. Now guess what happens. Dockers SPRINGS UP LIKE A RABBIT ON CRACK and gives Mom the seat.

Swear to God.

Now, this means one of two things happened betwixt Thursday and today: (1) Dockers realized on his own that he should be giving up his seat, or (2) Dockers reads my blog! If so, Dockers, sorry for sending Hate Waves at your brain. Hope you're OK! Anyway, thanks for getting with the program and giving up your seat.

Pretty fucking unbelievable either way, right?

Moving on, yesterday Super Hot Irish Girlfriend and I took a drive up the coast.

This is the very beginning of Tomales Bay. Actually, this was about the only part of the drive when it wasn't totally overcast. I like taking drives. Since I never drive anymore, it's like an adventure.

Nothing really exciting happened, though.

The next time I post it'll be from Music City. My intelligence indicates that it's normal summer weather there, which means about 115 degrees during the day with 400 percent humidity and people literally dropping dead from heat exhaustion in the streets everywhere you go.

For me and The Sister, it means drinking beer on my Dad's patio at 11 p.m. when it's cooled down to a reasonable 95. See you from there!

P.S. One other thing - I kinda had a slip-up on Saturday and sort of maybe fell off the wagon a little bit. I don't want to make a big deal about it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Urban etiquette: an occasional series

Today's topic: Bad Muni behavior

I'm a little hesitant to get into this area, especially since there's another site dedicated specifically to this, but I just gotta say something.

Guys, if you see an older woman standing on the bus or train and you're sitting down, GIVE UP YOUR GODDAM SEAT.

Just today, riding the train, I was standing in front of this guy who was sitting down. Mid-20's, Dockers-clad, fake diving watch, checking emails on his Blackberry, when this woman who looks to be on the far end of 70 and is struggling with a couple of bags gets on the crowded train. The other seats are occupied by similarly-aged oldsters and a blind guy with a dog and another middle-aged woman. Dockers sits there impassively and stares straight ahead.

Finally, the middle-aged woman next to him gets up and offers Granny her seat. Dockers goes back to sending vitally important emails.

Dockers may currently be suffering from a brain tumor-like headache, because I was focusing intense Hate Waves at his balding head. The other people around just stared at him. Dockers better have two artificial legs or Lou Gehrig's disease, or there's no goddam excuse.

OK, here's the rule. If you're a guy, and you have the capability of walking, you give up your seat for any woman who appears older than you*, any woman who's pregnant or holding a small child, and any man who looks like he could have voted for FDR.

Easy, right? Let's try and look out for our fellow hapless Muni travelers, shall we?

*The reason I say "older than you" is because giving up your seat for a younger woman seems kinda flirty. If the chick's cute, use your best judgment.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I feel so alive!

I’m not drinking right now. No, there wasn’t any big thing like the first chapter of Augusten Burroughs’ "Dry” or anything like that. It was just that I felt kind of saturated after the holiday weekend and just needed a little time off.

And I do mean “a little.” I’m just taking off until my trip back to the ancestral homeland next week.

Like I’ve said before, it’s no big deal. I’m not craving alcohol or anything. It’s just boring. What it makes you realize (and by “you,” I mean “me”) is how much of your social life involves alcohol in one way or another. Going out to dinner means a bottle of wine (and, more often than not, going to a bar afterwards). Band practice means PBR. And then maybe going to a bar afterwards. Nice weather means Zeitgeist. Meeting up with friends? Bar. Cooking dinner at home? Wine. And then before you know it, you’re drinking 4 or 5 nights a week.

The thing is, drinking is fun. Remember the old awning over Shanghai Kelly’s on Polk? It said “Drinking Makes You Witty.” It’s kinda true. There’s a fun social aspect to drinking that can’t be denied. And, as everyone who lives here knows, San Francisco is a drinking city. Always been that way. One of the best things about living here is the ability to go out and not have to worry about driving, since there’s always Muni or cabs and it’s a fairly compact city.

So don’t mourn for me, my friends. I’ll be OK. Super Hot Irish Girlfriend (who, BTW, is also on board) and I will watch movies and take walks and do whatever it is you do when you’re not drinking.

I promise you, I will not post any “I really got in touch with myself” bullshit. Just don’t expect the blog posts to be as interesting for the next week or so.

Monday, July 7, 2008

So that happened

Hope everyone had a nice holiday and you didn't become grievously injured by fireworks. I spent the actual 4th at the Giants game (watching them lose, like every game I go to this year) and later at The Dubliner.

- Had dinner Thursday night at Incanto on Church. Now, I'm not a food blogger by any stretch, but I sorta know when something's good, and this was really, really good. A+++++++ WILL DO BUSINESS AGAIN.

One humorous note - the couple that sat next to us were unintentionally hilarious. After first telling the waitress 5 or 6 times that he was a vegetarian, he asked her if they had a "chopped salad." She told him, as she already had once, that everything they had was on the menu. So he says - I hope you're sitting down - "Can the chef chop up the salad for me?" Do you also want your wine in a sippy cup, cowboy? Grow the fuck up.

- I had the recent misfortune of reading The Raw Shark Texts, which I gather has attained some kind of cult following, probably due to its bullshit dime-store mysticism and faux veneer of Deep Thought. It's actually a carefully constructed screen of apparent meaning concealing nothing. The plot is far too abstruse to describe in a few sentences, but essentially a guy wakes up with amnesia and then slowly learns that he's being chased by a metaphysical shark that feeds on thoughts. God, it's painful just typing that. Avoid. Avoid.

- We were over at Vintage Microwave World HQ in the East Bay with Stephen and Jessica on Saturday and man, was it ever nice over there. Anyway, they're dogsitting Daisy, who's maybe one of the cutest best smartest most attractive dogs ever. It made me yearn to get a dog. But the problem is, I don't want just any dog. I want that specific dog. Alas, she already has an owner.

Oh, also, Jessica's enchiladas? Kickass.

- New Locked Up Abroad tonight! Oh, wait, it's about a guy who gets kidnapped by some rebel group in Colombia. That's no good. I only like the drug-smuggling backpack kids who get suckered into taking 5 keys of blow from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Drag.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Douchebag Index

This guy Mark Ecko bought Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball at auction for $752,467. Fine, however you want to spend your money.

So then this douchelord takes the ball and fucking defaces it by having an asterisk cut into its surface as some kind of statement about the allegations that Bonds used steroids during parts of his career. Look at this:

Stupid, huh? It's like some hockey team taking the Stanley Cup and engraving "HOSERS" over the Maple Leafs on the trophy. Or something like that, maybe. I don't know anything about hockey, so I'm just guessing.

Anyway, then Mr. Publicity Whore gets into this big thing with the Baseball Hall of Fame because he wants to "loan" them the ball he just defaced and they don't take "loans." You either donate something or you don't.

In the end, Jackass folded and donated it.

So this idiot who became a millionaire making clothes beloved by mallrats and suburban faux-gangstas everywhere fucked up a one-of-a-kind piece of baseball history just to feed his obviously desperate need for attention. Way to go, jackass. Happy now?

But the Douchebag Index is by no means limited to classless media whore "clothing" designers. In this corner, we have "Dumpster Muffin," one of the Berkeley tree-sitters who've been camping out in a couple of trees on the UC Berkeley campus to protect them from being cut down or something. Humorously, this ancient old-growth forest they're trying to protect was planted in 1923.

Anyway, Dumpster Muffin came down out of her tree and was promptly taken away for medical attention and a good jailin'.

This story has been pretty extensively covered and there's not much more to add except to say that these people are douchebags.