Monday, August 25, 2014

Fun with the SF Weekly archived restaurant reviews

At some point SF Weekly put a bunch of their old issues online, going back to 1995.  (Sadly, the archive does not seem to include Smarter Feller, the weird, lovable, mostly funny comic strip that was co-written by Dave Eggers and remains the best thing he's ever done, which I say with authority even though I've only read the Staggering Genius book and thought it was OK but a little too self-aware and smug for me but that's fine, good for him.  Here's a good description of the strip: "Eventually, though, the strip evolved into Smart Feller (later Smarter Feller), which started out by taking all of San Francisco's easy targets -- Frank Jordan, hippies, Journey, the Examiner Magazine, guys with goatees -- and napalming them. For weeks Eggers produced brilliant strips on the guy in the Gold Club ads, and by the time he was done, Smarter Feller was a surreal commentary on nothing in particular, a stick-figure Seinfeld whose main character was a talking handbag." R.I.P. Smarter Feller.)

There's lots of fun stuff in there, but I'm enjoying reading the restaurant reviews, mostly because almost every restaurant reviewed no longer exists and because the prices listed for the food seem hilariously low.

Anyone remember Paella La Movida, on 16th between Guerrero and Dolores?  I don't.  I guess it was where Mozzeria is now.

 La Movida is the latest snappy addition to a corridor of 16th Street between Dolores and Mission that has lately been blooming with boho chic. These days the neighborhood, with its slightly seedy glamour, seems a lot like the East Village in New York, or Earls Court in London.

Boho chic!

My friend had the soup of the day, acorn squash ($2.50), a silky, clinging broth that tasted intensely of nuts and butter. I had a cup of the gazpacho ($2.50), the traditional, tomato-based cold vegetable soup of Spain. I've disliked a lot of gazpachos over the years (many of my own making) because the raw vegetables can taste harsh, and a little too much onion can strong-arm the rest of the ingredients. I can't say I would rush back to La Movida for the gazpacho, though it was pretty good -- a creamy, balanced dish that needed only a light sprinkling of salt and pepper to enliven the flavors.

Can you imagine getting ANYTHING for $2.50 now?

Later the same week. Dinner. Drifted languidly along 16th Street through the crowds (lots of brightly colored hair) to Pastaio, a comfortable pasta-pizza place just a few doors away from La Movida. A true California restaurant, with a largely punk-gay crowd in an Italian joint run by Latinos.

Where Pakwan is now.  I don't remember Pastaio either.  I can report they had pizzas for $9.50 and lasagna for $7.95.  "Lots of brightly colored hair"!  Sigh, the 90s.

I like this one too, for "Bistro M," where I think The Cavalier is now, on 5th Street.

Bistro M is celebrity chef Richard's newest baby -- his L.A. first-born, Citrus, has spawned four other eateries. He has also cooked with Julia on TV, but at this point who hasn't? (The way the still-embarrassing TV Food Network, unavailable in the Bay Area, is gobbling up foodies, there's scarcely a person left holding a whisk who hasn't had his or her 15 minutes.)

The "TV Food Network," huh?  I guess it's up to you whether it's still embarrassing, but Mystery Diners is total crap.  This is the best part though:

A word on price. I remember when Rosalie's opened on Van Ness in the mid-'80s and everybody went and ordered up $16 appetizers like mad, kvelling over the galvanized palm trees, canvas dummies thrown around the room (this is true -- I was there) and socialites behaving badly. Well that was then. With appetizers averaging $9.50 and entrees running from $16-$22 (the one exception being homemade chicken sausage for $13.50), this place ain't cheap. 

I don't know anything about Rosalie's on Van Ness but HOLY SHIT $16 was a fuck ton for an appetizer in the mid-80s.  Rosalie's sounds like a hoot, although I'm curious why canvas dummies were being thrown around.  The funny part is that "entrees running from $16-$22" sounds pretty good now.

(A little Googling reveals that Rosalie's was at 1415 Van Ness, which is now a Mattress Discounters.  So they're still in the business of moving fabric-covered things!  HI-YO!!!!!)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Please don't shoot the dinosaurs

This was eventually bound to happen.

South Carolina teen with terrible haircut arrested for threatening to kill dinosaur

So much going on here.
A Summerville High School student who says he was arrested and suspended after writing about killing a dinosaur using a gun in a class assignment has hired a lawyer.
Stone said he and his classmates were told in class to write a few sentences about themselves, and a "status" as if it was a Facebook page. Stone said in his "status" he wrote a fictional story that involved the words "gun" and "take care of business."
"I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business," Stone said.


1. Of course it's absurd, but this is what you get when you mix a country where school shootings are sadly routine with a state that venerates guns so much that the governor, fresh off signing a bill allowing drunks and those about to become drunk to carry their pieces into bars, also wants to eliminate concealed carry permits entirely and let anyone tote a gun anywhere.  So when a student in South Carolina  writes about buying a gun, you don't think "Pshaw, that's ludicrous!", you think, "Fuck, is he strapped right now?"  Welcome to the Unintended Consequences Aisle of Gun Culture Mart.

2. Dinosaurs aren't real.

3. "I bought the gun to take care of the business" sounds like something a sociopath would say, so I support this arrest.

4. Really, the haircut.

5. If you believe that dinosaurs and Jesus lived at the same time, well, it's not a stretch to believing that a coupla stray dinosaurs might still be around.

BANG BANG.  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm trying to figure out what bothers me about this article

It's called "I Moved to San Francisco - and Now I Have an App for Everything."  I saw it on Slate, but it apparently first appeared in Business Insider, which doesn't surprise me at all.  It was probably a 43-screen slideshow in its original form.  Business Insider is the worst.

Anyway, amazingly enough, it wasn't the title alone that put me off.  In fact, I've re-read this article three or four times now and I still can't figure out exactly what about it fills me with rage.  Or sadness.  Or some feeling.  I don't even know any more.  I think I'm past the ability to get mad about how we lost San Francisco.  Now I'm just like the French guy weeping when the Nazis march into Paris.

On to the article.  It starts with a description of how convenient everything is near the author's "Upper East Side apartment" in New York City and how there are two Starbucks within 1000 feet of his Dream Pad.  Two Starbucks!  Already sounds like heaven.

Things are more difficult in San Francisco.

It’s not like that in San Francisco, a city where I now have to walk at least 15 minutes up a steep hill to get to my nearest grocery store. Plus, everything closes early. If I want a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at 2 a.m., I can’t just walk to my corner 24/7 bodega like I could in New York. I’m left unsatisfied and ice cream-less.
Shield your eyes, children, so you don't have to see Upper East Side struggle 15 minutes up a steep hill for groceries.  The nearest Starbucks must be way, way more than 1000 feet away.  Maybe even uphill.  Suicide is looking good.

But wait!  In today's San Francisco, there is never a reason to walk uphill or even interact with any of your fellow recent arrivistes.

New Yorkers are probably already familiar with the food-delivery service Seamless, but in San Francisco there’s a Seamless-like app for everything. Your laundry. Housekeeping. Groceries. Car rides. Even booze. And it all comes almost instantly.
Truly we are living in the Promised Land, where even New Yorkers can get instant food delivery in San Francisco.  When we have finished remaking the city, no upper middle class white person shall ever want for anything again.  Starbucks every 999 feet.

I also tried Washio, a service that will pick up your dirty laundry and dry cleaning and have it back to you within 24 hours. Like Sprig, you manage Washio through a smartphone app to schedule your pickup and drop off times. Washio has an army of contractors—or, in startup parlance, “ninjas”—who swing by your place to get your dirty clothes. They also give you a free cookie with every pickup. The first time I tried Washio, my ninja gave me a bonus—a free pair of underwear as part of a cross promotion with another startup. (Yes, you can also get on-demand underwear in San Francisco.)

A free cookie!  I LOVE COOKIES!  And ninjas handing out underwear.  The future will be bright, and we will all wear clean underwear.

(In case you're wondering, unlike your Mom, Washio charges $1.60 a pound to do your laundry, with a minimum 15 pound order, so $24 for your smallest load.  Before we moved and I had a washer/dryer in my house, I used to drop off my laundry at my local wash & fold which charged $1.50 a pound.  I have no idea how Washio is going to make money.)

A dark cloud approaches.  Not everything is right in Magic Startup Land.  A wrinkle has arrived that threatens to ruin Upper East Side's User Experience.

The only negative experience I’ve had so far was with Instacart, an app that sends a personal shopper to a nearby grocery store to pick up whatever you need and deliver it to you within an hour. It works as advertised, but the prices are marked up, and customers run the risk of not being able to get what they want because the store is out of stock. Instacart’s shoppers try their best to find similar items, but in my case I couldn’t justify buying a five-pound package of bananas instead of a normal bunch. 
WHAT THE! The unmitigated GALL of marking up prices when you have a ninja who works on commission and tips doing your grocery shopping for you!  They don't mark prices up at the bodega when I go to get ice cream at 2 a.m.!

So there you go.  It's fun to snark at this and we've had our laughs but I still can't put my finger on what it is about this that bothers me.  Maybe it's just the continuing thread of infantilization, with apps replacing your Mom.  Or maybe that the life the author describes is one in which all the opportunities we used to have for interacting with other citizens - going to the laundromat, grocery shopping, going out to a restaurant - are being replaced by home delivery through your smartphone.  If you never have to see anyone from a different social strata (or, for that matter, a different fucking type of company), it's easy to dismiss their concerns.  Why does the Bayview need a grocery store?  Just use Instacart! Why should I worry about the terrible public transit? I take Uber everywhere. Ew, homeless people. Leaving my apartment is the worst.

It's a lot of things.  Welcome to the New San Francisco, I guess.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We have received some disturbing video

Let's momentarily set aside our own little Tiananmen on the Mississippi and review some disturbing footage we have recently received here at 40GO28 HQ.

First up is Sarah Palin.  Remember that this woman once had a reasonable chance to become President of the United States.  Well, not really, but much closer than us.  If just 12 or 13 states had changed their mind and swung McCain's way, and then he was accidentally shot in Florida while trying to go to the dentist or buy a newspaper, today we'd have President Palin telling Vladimir Putin to get his troops out of Usain Bolt.

Here's the video:

She appears to be - and I say appears to be because I'm not sure Sarah Palin even knows what she's saying - responding to the claim that a worker in America should be able to survive on the minimum wage, which I personally think is a reasonable proposition but not Sarah Palin.

(Credit to some poor bastard intern at Slate who had to transcribe this group of words that were put together and tumbled out of this lady's mouth in no particular order)

"We believe?” Wait, I thought fast food joints, hurh. Don’t you guys think that they’re like of the Devil or something ... Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint that you just don’t believe in, thought you wanted to, I dunno, send them to Purgatory or somethin’ so they all go vegan and, uh, wages and picket lines I dunno they’re not often discussed in Purgatory, are they? I dunno why are you even worried about fast food wages because ... Well we believe in an America where minimum wage jobs, they're not like life time gigs, they're stepping stones.

There appear to be at least two ideas going on here.  One is that "liberals" don't like fast food joints, so why would you care what happens to the people who have to work there?  Oh, Sarah.  This may be a difficult concept for you to grasp, but it's possible to not endorse a product but still care about the people who are forced to work to produce that product.  I feel terrible for the poor schmucks who have to put together your brain-damaged drivel and put it on the Internet!  See?

Also, we're liberals, we don't believe in Purgatory, although watching this video is probably a close approximation.

The second idea is at the end.  Minimum wage jobs aren't supposed to be "life time gigs," but stepping stones.  OK then!  You need to get off your ass and CREATE SOME MOTHERFUCKING JOBS and then hire some fast food workers.

Video #2 is an advertisement for Modelo Especial, an unexceptional Mexican beer that wants to grab the dbags-who-think-they're-hipsters market.

Although the problems with the scenario depicted in this ad are legion, here are my main points:

1. "Good thing you invited Tommy, who triples your street cred."  What, because he's wearing an Urban Outfitters beanie and some Warby Parkers and didn't shave today?  Maybe he triples your street cred in a nursery school or an Applebee's.

2. "You order three Modelo Especials, earning seven slow nods from the crowd."  When is the last time you gave a fuck what some 20-something toolbag at the bar was ordering, let alone gave a "slow nod" to indicate your approval?  If seven people a a bar gave me a "slow nod" when I ordered a cheap Mexican beer I would assume they were all in town for a Parkinson's convention.

3. "Then you remember your ace in the hole, Dylan, and his encyclopedic knowledge of garage rock."  OH GREAT THE THREE GUYS HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME ARE TAKING OVER THE JUKEBOX WITH THE ONLY SONICS SONG ANYONE KNOWS BECAUSE IT'S ALREADY BEEN IN 28 COMMERCIALS.  Great going, Dylan.  Your encyclopedic knowledge of commercially palatable garage rock is going to get all our asses kicked.

I'm apparently not the only one bothered by this ad.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What the hell is a Swagga Suit

Thanks Giants for showing me this:

Oh good, now grownups can wear onesies and advertise their team loyalty at the same time.  This is going to be a big hit with the Adult Baby community.  But hey, this is the way dressing is going.  We are in the "Oh, Fuck It" era of fashion.

This is what San Francisco used to look like:

Image from the fascinating site History of SROs in San Francisco
Now we'll all wear Swagga Suits to the store and pretend it's normal.  Once you break down the onesie barrier, you have gone all the way.

I know, insert stock image of Abe Simpson shaking his fist.  Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Star Spangled Banner (v. 2.0)

Oh say can you see
My badass APC
Get the fuck off the street
We're the militarized police

Whose broad rights and what laws
Will we trample today
Your First Amendment
Is no match for my HK

And the road flares' red glare
Tear gas bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
There were cops everywhere

Oh say did that riot policema-aaa-aaa-aan
Tell you get the fuck inside
Or he'll tear gas you toooooooooooooo

Friday, August 8, 2014

Your Outside Lands timeline for today

12:05 Shotgun beer under the Crossover Drive bridge.

12:10 Enter festival grounds. Idly wonder who or what Night Terrors of 1927 is.

12:12 Oh, they're one of those swooping chorus electro pop bands.

1:43 Stop by the "USPS Janis Joplin Tribute." Now even the fucking mail is sponsoring acts at music festivals.

2:15 Run the Jewels. Hey, a black person! On stage, anyway.

3:05 In case your Mom is with you, "Magician Jon Armstrong" at the "Gastro-Magic" stage. Does Magician Jon Armstrong do food magic or something? Maybe he can make monkfish edible.

4:03 Eat mushrooms.

4:15 Attempt to dig up bottle of Fireball you buried last week.  Dig up raccoon skeleton instead.

4:48 Mushrooms beginning to take effect.

4:50 Decide to wear raccoon skull.

6:15 Is Bear Hands real or did Vice make them up? Why are they rotating in space and shooting out plumes of color?

6:28 Ascend to Third Plane of Astral Reality. Disappointingly, no complimentary food on this plane.

6:44 Visit the This Is Fucking Offal food truck, order sheep's gall bladder sliders.

6:56 Vomit up sheep's gall bladder sliders.

7:18 Halfway through Tegan & Sara remember you don't like Tegan & Sara.

7:22 Realize that all 120,000 people here are now heading towards Kanye stage.

8:40 Get to back of Kanye crowd.  I can see him!

9:38 Disjointed crying.  Escorted out by security.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What's going on with the Top 3 songs in the country right now?

Dedicated readers (or reader, I suppose) know that from time to time we like to put our ear to the railroad track of popular music and get our skull crushed and mangled by whatever the Billboard Top 3 songs in the country are right that day.  It's been a while!  Let's do it again.

The Number One song in the country right now is - and I am having trouble with superlatives here - one of the Worst Songs Ever Created by Man.  It's called "Rude" by a band called Magic! with an exclamation point so you know they're EXCITING!  It's barely even a song.  Whatever you do, don't click "play."

You did it.  You clicked "play," didn't you?  I'm sorry.  Look, I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here because Jia Tolentino at the Hairpin has already done a brilliant longform takedown of this song that is so good that you'll want to print it out and frame it.  Suffice it to say that not only is this a bad song; the creators should be put in Gitmo and terrorists should be released to make room for them.  Released to Canada, though, since Magic! with an exclamation point is from Canada.  (And the phrase "Canadian reggae fusion band" is the scariest collection of words since "Guy Fieri's donkey sauce".)

Let's put that unpleasantness behind us and move on, to Number Two: "Fancy," by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX.

Iggy Azalea is inspirational proof that even a knockout blonde from Australia can somehow make it in the entertainment business.  I'm not even going to attempt to unpack the layers of cultural appropriation going on here.  Maybe I don't get it because I'm not in the "murda bizness" like Iggy Azalea.

I don't really have much else to add about this song.  I give it three "whatever"s.

Number Three is "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith.

The best of a bad lot, I guess.  I don't really know anything about Sam Smith but I gather from the 3 minutes of online research I just did that he's renowned for his incredible vocal range and whatever that's fine good for him.  The song is a little boring but I guess it's heartfelt and that's more than you can say about the other two.  So good for you, Sam Smith.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see what the Top 3 songs were 20 years ago today.  Ready for this?

1. "Stay" - Lisa Loeb
2. "I Swear" - All-4-One
3. "Fantastic Voyage" - Coolio

So that proves it!  Music really was always better 20 years ago from any given date ever in the history of time.  In 2034 we'll be pining for the emotional resonance of "Rude" by Magic!.  No, that will never happen.  That is not true.

One final note.  In looking at the Top 10 I noticed that #6 is "Maps" by Maroon 5 and at first I got really excited because I thought Maroon 5 was covering the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but disappointingly it's a completely different song.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Since it's Friday, no one wants to read my thinkpiece about how the Trade Deadline is a metaphor for America, so let's keep it simple today and do some unfocused scattershot ranting about Muni.  That'll get us pageviews!

1. I sent out this #hottake a couple of days ago:

Let me expand on this thought. Amazing as it may seem to an outside observer, yes, there are places on some lines - maybe every line, fuck if I know - where the bus stops at one end of the block, picks up disgruntled and/or self-medicated San Franciscans, then drives a hundred feet to the other end of the block AND STOPS AGAIN.  This is pure lunacy.

Here's an example, on Turk Street between Hyde and Larkin.  The 31 stops at both ends of Turk on that block.  Why?  NOBODY KNOWS.

Not really.  I'm sure somebody knows.  There's probably some kind of algorithm that determines how far you can go without having a bus stop and putting the stop on the next block would be 14" farther than the algorithm allows.

This is stupid.  No wonder Muni is so fucking slow.  There are too many goddam stops.

2. Every fucking day, the breezy, infuriating SFMTA Twitter sends out something like this:

I can't say for sure what this shit is about, but I have a good guess: some drivers didn't show up for work.  If this happened in a normal setting, the organizational entity would account for this and bring in replacements.  With Muni, what happens is that bus run just gets skipped.  Bay Citizen explains:
Muni and AC Transit rely on an “extra board,” a group of on-call bus drivers who fill in if a driver is late or absent. Muni schedules about 1,200 drivers each weekday and has about 100 on call. AC Transit schedules about 525 drivers during the week and has 150 on call.
In the past, when all of the on-call drivers were working, Muni would pay overtime to drivers who were off to come in and cover any remaining shifts. But faced with a $29 million budget shortfall and out-of-control overtime spending, Muni decided last month to skip bus runs instead.

Got that?  Instead of replacing the drivers and keeping all the scheduled runs going, Muni just says fuck it and that's why your bus looks like this:

3. They still can't figure out how to keep the system running smoothly on days when there's a Giants game at AT&T.  OF COURSE more people will be riding Muni those days.  This has been going on for FOURTEEN YEARS.  In 14 years, one single human being can progress from mewling in a crib to flying a Cessna 172 over Toronto.  That's just one person!  Muni has a team of people, presumably, and in 14 years they haven't figured out how to move a slightly larger than normal number of people around a ballpark.

4. If I can audibly hear music from your headphones, you are going to have permanent hearing loss and in 30 years some poor minimum wage employee is going to be yelling at you "THAT. COMBO. MEAL. DOES. NOT. COME. WITH. A. DRINK."  Give that person a break and turn it down some.

Whew.  That's better.  I've relieved the pressure and now the voices will be quiet for a while.  Have a nice weekend.