Thursday, March 27, 2014

Leland Yee: The Lego Version

Sorry about the "instroduced" typo but I don't have the time to go back and fix it now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, kid

Today is baby Beyonce's first birthday.  She has no idea because she's one year old and doesn't understand time or aging. This is probably the last birthday when we can get away with totally phoning it in and not having donkey rides or a party at Chuck E Cheese or whatever unholy Godforsaken kidz thing we'll have to do.

Beyonce, v. 1.0:

Now, you'll note, she's somewhat larger. Perhaps disturbingly, she has discovered that she has the ability to scream:

I know I violated the Sacred Rule of iPhone Videography and didn't hold the phone sideways. Sorry.

Despite the screaming, which can be nerve-rattling, she's what I imagine to be a pretty easy-going kid.  She doesn't get rattled easily and overall she's pretty chill.  I would say we got lucky, because I don't think of myself as "doesn't get rattled easily" or "pretty chill."  So I guess she got the Wife's unflappable gene and my tendency to scream for no reason once in a while.

People always say "Didn't the first year just fly by?"  NO.  That is some bullshit perpetrated by the baby/grandparent industry.  The first year absolutely does NOT fly by.  It seems like about three years.  Well, up until a few months ago, then it started speeding up.  But the first six months at least are about the longest six months of your life.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, kid! This is going to be up on the Internet forever, so if you're watching this stoned with your college roommate or animatronic robot servant or whatever they have in 2031, get off the computer and do your homework!  Or plug the homework module into your brain socket or whatever's going on in the distant future.  Best to President Chelsea Clinton.


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Bars That Time Forgot, an occasional series, vol II: Silhouettes

(In The Bars That Time Forgot, we will, on occasion, pause to remember a drinking place that has shuffled off this mortal coil.)

Silhouettes was a vaguely '50s-themed bar in North Beach, on Union and Cadell alley.

Here's a picture of the exterior, as it approximately looks today.

 There was a large front room/bar, and then a back room with a fireplace and some pinball machines.  Not any place you'd go out of your way to go to, but it was nice to have in the neighborhood.  When I lived up the hill on Union in the very early 90's, we would occasionally go there because it was the closest bar to our house, everyone there was friendly, and it was completely scene-less, which was nice.  Come to think of it, though, most places in North Beach were pretty scene-less back then.  It wasn't really like it is today.  There were still strip clubs on Broadway but it wasn't like the crowds of shitheads starting fights on the sidewalks at last call that you get now.

Since Silhouettes vanished long before the Internet came along, there is very little about the place online.  However, I did find this FASCINATING reference on a site called, which appears to catalog movie locations in San Francisco and to whoever runs, GREAT JOB.  I'm warning you now: DO NOT start looking at unless you have an afternoon free.

According to, Silhouettes was once the "Paper Doll Club" and was in a movie called "The Sniper."  Here's a shot of the place from the film, courtesy

Looks like they opened it up with some windows.  Much better now!  According to, the Paper Doll Club became the 524 Club, Russo's, and Cadell Place before Silhouettes.  I think the Paper Doll Club is maybe the best bar name of all time and somebody needs to jump on that shit right away.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, we should Kickstarter this shit because, drum roll, THIS BAR IS CURRENTLY FOR RENT.

OHMYSHIT.  We will get this place open, rechristen it the Paper Doll Club, maybe with a '50s theme again?  But not '50s drive-in, doo-wop Grease-type theme, but '50s noir, Frank Sinatra, martinis theme!  I know $7000 a month is a big nut, but fuck it, we can charge $12 for a sidecar now.  Who's in?

(I should note that after Silhouettes, this became an Irish bar called The Field for a while and persisted in that incarnation well into the second time I lived on Telegraph Hill, in the early '00s.  It's been vacant ever since.  It's just WAITING for us to roll in and take over and make it our clubhouse.  LET'S DO IT.)

[POSTSCRIPT: I just realized I've been doing this stupid blog for SIX YEARS NOW.  1100-odd posts.  Christ.]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Credit where credit is due: United

As you may know, I've had beef with United Airlines for quite some time.  One time, hilariously, I went to Arizona through LAX and United fucked up 3 out of the 4 segments. But if it's fair to bitch about it when things go wrong (and my oh may do I enjoy that), you must also give praise when things go right.


Once again we were off to see Mom in Arizona.  The less said about what actually happened there the better, but if you follow me on Twitter you know it wasn't particularly fun.  Anyway, instead of giving United 4 chances to fuck it up, we booked a direct flight from SFO to Tucson.  Slightly more expensive (about $370 apiece) but hopefully worth it in the reduced chances of fuckup.  Also, with a kid it's nice because it's one straight two-hour shot instead of flying to LA, getting off one plane, getting on another plane, blah blah blah.

Both flights were on one of those smaller planes, namely an Embraer CRJ-200.

PHASE ONE: SFO TO TUCSON.  It went great!  The Wife and I were separated by a few rows, and I was handed Beyonce and told to look after for two hours.  Meanwhile, The Wife enjoyed two hours of uninterrupted reading time, something she does not normally get.  I was in seat 1A and guess what?  I was surrounded by a group of 8 women off to a spa resort weekend.  You can imagine the reaction Beyonce got.  That 2 hours fucking FLEW BY.  We got to Tucson 1 minute early.  GOLD STAR FOR YOU UNITED.

PHASE TWO; TUCSON TO SFO.  After a few days with Mom, we were a little PTSD-y and really needed things to work.  I was just waiting for United to cancel the flight.  They did not.  We were sitting next to each other this time which was fine.  The flight left on time and got to SFO 15 minutes early.  Here is Beyonce pointing at Watsonville.

So, all in all, a total success.  Maybe because United Express is operated by Skywest Airlines, posing as United, and not actually United?  Maybe Skywest should take over all of United's routes! Then we'd actually get somewhere.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not extending the Central Subway past Chinatown would be criminally stupid

Even as we speak, massive tunnel boring machines are rumbling beneath our feet in a dystopian future straight from the original Schwarzenegger "Total Recall."  Wait, no, that went off track somewhere.  The tunnel boring machines are actually down there, but they're digging a tunnel from SOMA to Chinatown to make the new Central Subway.  And like virtually everything else San Francisco city government is involved in, they're fucking it up.


OK, we've got stations at 4th and Brannan, 4th and Folsom, Market Street, and Chinatown.  And that's it.  Oh, the machines will keep on tunneling, for sure, and emerge from the ground in North Beach, but you better sit down because you will not believe this shit.  At the spot where they come out of the ground, in North Beach, a densely populated neighborhood with no Muni Metro service?  NO STATION.  Just a hole in the ground.

Fuck, I would happily trudge down into a dirt hole to get the train if I lived in North Beach.  Forget the station, just leave the fucking hole open and lay some tracks out there and we'll make do.

Seriously, another SF decision that makes no fucking sense.  Luckily, someone's trying to do something about it:

But supporters of an extension, who are operating under the name SF NexTstop (the capital T, cleverly, is for the T line that will run in the subway), say taking the line north to the wharf makes sense.
"Without this last link, the Central Subway can never fully deliver on its promises of connectivity, improved commerce or reductions in surface congestion," the group says in a statement on its website ( "We need to complete the Central Subway."
The group, which includes members of community groups from Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Russian Hill, and South Beach as well as the Chamber of Commerce, assembled last year after SPUR - the San Francisco urban planning nonprofit - conducted a workshop on the possibility of extending the subway to the wharf.
"The consensus was, yeah, we've got to build it - now," said Julie Christensen, a North Beach resident and the group's spokeswoman. "We decided we needed to get out there and advocate."
Godspeed, NexTstop.  I hope to God someone listens to you.  Because it really really does not make sense to dig a tunnel all the way to Washington Square and then just say "Fuck it" and walk away.  This is stupid even by San Francisco standards, and that's really saying something.

But hey, maybe the Board of Supervisors can get that damn soda tax passed instead.  Priorities!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We are off to the subcivilized hellscape known as "Arizona" tomorrow to see Moms.  This may occasion a disruption in blogging services, especially if I hang myself in the hotel bathroom.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Bachelor: I wish the Earth sucked me today, too!

We have finally reached the end of This Journey and what I especially like about this season besides the fact that it's FINALLY FUCKING OVER is the slow transformation of Whan from Suave Latin Lover to Mumbling Asshole It's OK to Hate.  This needs to happen more often.  I mean, all these jackoffs are about as deep as a petri dish, but it's rare that America turns on them and it's about fucking time.

OK, on to Chris Harrison and the Live Studio Audience with a M/F ratio typically found only in gynecologist waiting rooms.  CH promises us that this will be "one of the most dramatic and surprising finales" but you say that every time and IT NEVER COMES TRUE.  "Romeo and Juliet" had a dramatic and surprising finale.  The Bachelor just dies of emphysema alone in a hospital bed.


Oh wait, my mistake.  Those are somebody else.  Anyway, Whan's got the whole fam here in St. Lucia, including brother Rodrigo (hipster 'stache, bad skin) and cousin Rodolfo (clothing by GapKids) and Smoking Dad, who the producers have taken the cigarettes away from for this episode.  Hey, has anyone ever heard Whan speak English to Camilla?  Seems like they're on a Spanish-only basis.  Anyway, here comes Clare!  She interviews with various members of Whan's family and they all dis him!  Good for them.  Mom says he's "heeperactive" and "so energy."  Wait, what?  Not on this show.  Rodolfo wants to know if she'll "run away at the first sign of trouble."  I'm not sure if he's blowing up JP or Baby Mama.  Meanwhile, Dad's getting a little handsy!


Clare is shuffled offscreen and Rootsy arrives with a dress showing off her Twitter logo tattoo.  Smoking Dad's not so into her!  Meanwhile, Mom paints a grim picture of her joyless future with Whan - she'll make him breakfast, then he'll be "watching TV, with you, if you are there."  THIS IS AWESOME.  Mom asks if Whan is the kind of guy she wants and then Mom's all "You sure?"  His family is fucking throwing him under the bus!  Because hey, who knows you're a total dickbag better than your own family! IT KEEPS GOING!  Rodolfo wants to know "how much fighting you can take."  Like, you know a slap isn't a punch, right?  You can get knocked around a little and not go whining to the cops, right, sweetie?

Back in the studio, CH wants to hear from "Bachelor Nation."  Haha, one chick says "this whole thing is going south."  Here's Sean and Catherine from two seasons ago.  Oh man, ABC slathered too much fake eyelashes on Catherine and she has to blink like a movie projector.  Surprisingly, they have nothing to add.

Last date with Clare.  Finally getting some helicopters up in this bitch.  We got some drama right off the bat!  Clare tells us in her voiceover that when the mics were off, Whan whispered something to her and now she's devastated!  It's "something no woman wants to hear" and "some sexual thing I don't want to repeat"!  Oh shit Whan, save the Japanese schoolgirl thing for the honeymoon!  Wait, back at the hotel, she says it was because he said he didn't know her at all?  That's not sexual!  BORING.  There's a lot of blah blah blah about nothing and I started checking my phone so who knows.

Then we got a last Boat Date with Rootsy, where Whan describes his ideal future: watching sports on TV by himself!  I guess Mom was spot-on with that shit.  Back at her hotel room that night, Rootsy is wearing a tablecloth, for some reason, and freaking out because he won't say he loves her.  I think that's in the contract but whatever.  She gives him a photo in a Walgreens frame and a card that says "I love you" and then STARES AT HIM INTENTLY like the POWER OF HER GAZE can force him to say it but he won't and now Rootsy is mad mad mad.

Let's wrap this shitshow up and hit the bar.  Everyone's arriving by boat like it's D-Day but for marriage.  Clare comes ashore in a blue chiffon curtain and some costume jewelry.  She's on with a bunch of stuff about how great he is and then he's all "I wish the Earth sucked me today" which I don't know but can't be good.  He dumps her and instead of the usual blubbering GIRLFRIEND GETS PISSED.  " I would never want my children having a father like you" and RIGHT ON CLARE.  Humorously, Whan says "I'm glad I didn't pick her."  What, and pass up a life watching TV in Sacramento?  ARE YOU FUCKING HIGH?

Here comes Rootsy.  Girlfriend is ready to get proposed to.  Whan's like "I gotta ring here in my pocket" but you will not be saying hello to my little friend.  I'm not even sure what happened but I'm pretty sure he didn't propose to her but she didn't break down crying so I don't know.  Who gives a shit anyway.  This finale was about as surprising and dramatic as an episode of This Old House.  TK out.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Not crazy about the new Smithwick's design

Smithwick's is a solid red ale brewed in Ireland.  The consensus on Beer Advocate seems to be that it's fine, nothing spectacular, but not bad.  I like it a little more than that probably.

Smithwick's used to have a perfectly fine package/bottle design.

You've got your castle, your 18th-century date to show how long it's been around, a little bit of green, and a nice scripty logo.  Like Beer Advocate would say about the beer itself, it's fine, nothing too good or too bad.

Smithwick's was doing fine and then, I imagine, they hired a consultant to jack up sales.  This consultant, a heartless, emotion-free autocrat, told them they had to redesign their perfectly good logo and packaging.  Smithwick's - and again, this is just my theory, I don't have any actual proof - hired the same design firm that works for Axe Body Spray and Uber and any other design you associate with assholes who wear flip flops and yell into cell phones on the train.  This is what they came up with.

Ugh.  It doesn't even look like beer any more.  Now it looks like one of those faux malted douche juices like Redd's Apple Ale.  In fact, look:

It's like the exact same colors and typeface and everything.  I'm sure the experts at DoucheBranding have done extensive research and know that packaging should be red to catch your eye in an increasingly crowded shelf ecosystem or whatever kind of shit they say, but it looks awful.

DoucheBranding also convinced them to make a TV commercial featuring - I am not making this up - a CGI squirrel who runs around the Smithwick's factory making beer at night.  Apart from the obvious problem that YOU CAN'T MAKE BEER OVERNIGHT, they didn't even have the decency to use an Irish band, instead opting for the Kaiser Chiefs.

Smithwick's is now owned by megacorporation Diageo, so I guess that explains a lot.

(One postscript - I just learned from rading Diageo's Wikipedia page that, in addition to Guinness, Red Stripe, Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Tanqueray, Smirnoff, and Rumple Minze (shudder), Diageo owns bourbon fetish object Bulleit, which has done an incredible job of positioning itself as some kind of artisanal handcrafted bourbon when in fact it's just part of Everything Co.  Good job, Bulleit!)

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Bars That Time Forgot, an occasional series, vol 1: Doctor Bombay's

(In The Bars That Time Forgot, we will, on occasion, pause to remember a drinking place that has shuffled off this mortal coil.)

Doctor Bombay's was on 16th between Guerrero and Valencia, where Double Dutch is now.

Photo found on Thanks!
As you will see, most bars that fold become other bars.  I guess it's because once you have all the bar stuff in a room, it makes sense to keep it as bar.  After Doctor Bombay's closed, around the time of the first dot-com boom (another recurring theme), it became Cama and then Double Dutch?  Or was there something else in the middle?  I can't recall.

Anyway, Doctor Bombay's was a vaguely tropical/desert mishmash inside.  There was bamboo and hieroglyphics on the wall.  Maybe some kind of fake palm trees?  It's hard to remember.  It's hard to remember because the house specialty was something called "Pixie Piss," which had a kind of Sweet N Sour candy taste and, if memory serves, was pink or red? I think?  It had a lot of spirits in it too, so the details are vague.

DB drew an eclectic crowd, typical of the Mission back then.  I do remember they had better-than-average DJs, and an especially good Britpop night.  Remember when having Britpop nights was a thing?  It wasn't a Destination Bar for me, but I was always glad to find myself there.

Doctor Bombay's probably closed around 1999-2000, somewhere in there.  RIP.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Slow-Down Pull-Away: A disturbing new trend in Muni fuckery

First off, if you're here expecting a recap of the Bachelor sit-down interview show, SORRY.  I can't.  In fact, I will use the opportunity to announce that, after next week's inevitably Most Shocking Finale Ever, I will be forever resigning from recapping the Bachelor.  I really can't do it any more.  I feel like it's more sad and fake than funny now, and it feels like a slog to do it.  Plus, every yahoo with a keyboard is recapping the Bachelor now.  If you need to read someone's take on the Fantasy Suites, you'll be able to find a jackass whose sensibilities match your own without much trouble.

That said, I will venture into the fray one final time to do the finale of this season.  Then that's it.  We can still be friends.

NOW on to today's topic: the Muni Slow-Down Pull-Away.  By this I mean when a bus approaches a stop, slows briefly to make you think it's going to stop, and then ACCELERATES AWAY FROM THE STOP without stopping.  The fuck?  This has now happened to me twice in two days, and maybe 3-4 times over the past month.  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON MUNI.

Monday I'm waiting for the 5L around 8:30 a.m.  Here it comes.  It's about half-full, and there are no other busses at the stop.  It slows down and starts to pull over, then SPEEDS UP AND MERGES BACK INTO TRAFFIC.  I yelled a curse word.

GIS result for "Fuck you Muni." Originally from Muni Diaries.

There are only a few possible explanations.

(1) The driver did not look to see if there was anyone standing at a normally crowded stop at 8:30 on a Monday morning, assumed nobody would be trying to get anywhere at that particular time, slowed down just for the fuck of it, and went on his way.

(2) The driver consciously decided to fuck with everyone at the stop by faking them out, making it look like he was stopping, and then pulling back into traffic.

(3) Someone on the bus was having a heart attack.  The person having a heart attack said "Driver, I see my cardiologist there at that stop!"  The driver started to pull over. The person then said, "No, that's not him.  My mistake.  Please, on to the hospital!"

(4) The driver started to make the stop, saw his ex-wife standing there, muttered "Fuck that bitch" under his breath, and pulled back into traffic.

Happened again this morning with the 31.  Almost exact same circumstances.  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

Final thought: Maybe it's me.