EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Baghdad by the Bay

Carol Doda Has Left The Building

Carol DodaIt was a bit of a sad day when I read that Carol Doda had died. She was one of those people who left her mark on San Francisco in a big way on June 19th, 1964 when she was the first topless go-go dancer in San Francisco. She was 26 years old and probably had no idea how much she would become a fixture in San Francisco for many years to come.

I have to say I’m pretty glad that San Francisco is remembering her at her best. Shen she stopped dancing in the 80’s she opened a lingerie shop in a little back alleyway on Union Street. My girlfriend and I happened to be over there and saw the sign and decided to drop in for the hell of it. There she was, Carol Doda, fully clothed sitting right inside the front door. Geez, the stories she probably could have told then.

She was looking a little rough though. I had only seen some of the pin up photos of her when I was a kid and that’s what I always thought she looked liked, but I could see the lines on her face that told a story all by themselves and I could still see that young girl who was in all the pin ups I had seen. My Dad had one tucked away in his dresser that I’d sneak a look at before I was even ten [BOOBIES!]. I wasn’t even two when she first went on stage topless.

It really sucks when we get old. My Mom always used to read the obituaries and complain that people who died used pictures in their obituaries from when they were young. I don’t know why she didn’t understand it’s a drag getting old for lots of people. In Carol Doda’s case, I’m glad they’re focusing on the young Carol in the photo memories of her. That’s the way she should be remembered and I’m sure the way she would have wanted to be remembered.

Carol wasn’t born in San Francisco, but she made it her home and left a mark on the City. I’m glad San Francisco did it right.

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Beep’s Burgers

Beep's BurgersIt’s not everyday that I visit an old place in San Francisco for the first time, but sometimes those old places change and not for the better and from what you’ve read it just doesn’t seem worth it. On the other hand sometimes those old places change again and it’s worth a shot. For me, it was finally time to try Beep’s Burgers.

I’ve driven past the place thousands of times driving down Ocean Avenue by City College. Beep’s used to look very run down and to me the idea of a drive in selling Asian food and oh yeah, we also can make a burger just didn’t seem very appealing. Things have changed once again and they have new owners and new paint. I have to say it was a welcome change.

Beep’s has come back in it’s original form as a drive in that specializes in burgers and hot dogs, but also has fish and chips, garlic fries, cheese poppers and a few other additions to their menu [note the prices have increased a little since this listing] that make it a bit more inviting than it once was.

Beep's BurgersThe burgers are made using Niman Ranch beef that normally I don’t like it when restaurants have to name their meat, but in this case it actually is better tasting. The bun is kind of brioche, kind of not bun which I actually liked. When you order you’re just getting the burger on a bun with lettuce and tomato. You have to specify everything else, but this isn’t a fast food place even though the wait for your food isn’t very long.

We tried the ¼ lb. cheeseburger and it had that greasy in a good kind of way taste. They got the right amount of fat in their burger. Normally a ¼ lb burger doesn’t make me feel very full afterwards, but this hit the spot when we added the onion rings as a side. Overall it’s a little more expensive than most fast food places, but is more in line with Super Duper and Five Guys price wise. The feel is that of a divey drive in, but not in a bad way. You’ll never feel underdressed here. While it’ll cost you a couple of bucks more than McDonald’s that across the street you’ll definitely enjoy it more.

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AC in SF?

IMG_6619Pardon me for putting on my Grandpa voice, but back in my day the idea of air conditioning in San Francisco was something nobody ever considered. Yes, most of the houses didn’t have insulation or double/triple pane windows so they were always a bit drafty. We did have hot weather, but as soon as it was gone everyone forgot we had hot weather and started talking about how foggy it was.

Things have change though. People did these things called upgrades to their house and when we get warm weather the houses can get hot. The San Francisco mindset is that you don’t need air conditioning here and for the amount of day we get really hot weather I tend to agree, but there are some simple ways to remedy the heat when the problem comes up [like now].

If you look at the picture I’ve included I found this on YouTube and in its various forms has been called a Redneck air conditioner, Ghetto air conditioner or homemade swamp cooler. If you have a fan then the rest of the parts should cost you about $5. All you need for the simple form I have here is a 5 gallon paint bucket with a lid. You cut a hole in the top  where the fan is and drill out 3 holes in the sides [I choose 2 ?” holes because that was the diameter of the PVC scrap tubing I got was.  Inside you can fill it up with ice from the local store or freeze gallon milk jugs with water and put them inside. My house even with the window’s open gets up to almost 90° in hot weather and this brought the room down to just below 70° in about 15 minutes.

I’ve also attached a video that shows the full instructions if you want to pimp out this home-made AC for few more bucks.  If you want to beat the occasional heat that we get this is a much cheaper and easier way of doing it and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it. It’s not really a swamp cooler as that entails pulling or pushing air over circulating water. San Francisco also has a few higher humidity days that makes the evaporative cooling principles not work so well. If you have a couple of jugs of water to swap out this will keep you going 24/7 for those few days of hot weather we have.

As a last note if you’ve read this far I’ve got a collection of things to write about now that I’ve taken a much needed rest so keep checking back!

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The New Mission

The Sunset VillageI think everyone [well almost everyone] will agree that the Mission District is sooooo 10 minutes ago now. It’s filled with tons of entitled techies who have nothing better to do than move out the long time residents. Well that’s what everyone is saying at least.

The down side is that now people are going to be looking for the that new cool in spot to live and I think I know where that is and I’ve been seeing it happening for a couple of years, but well, it’s starting to take hold now.

It’s the Sunset District.

Yes, you heard me right. The suburbs of San Francisco, the Sunset District that two years ago people who say was too far away to live in has suddenly become the place everyone is saying they love. I think a majority of this has to do with the fact that it was the last affordable place to live in San Francisco. That’s changing quickly though and here’s why this is a problem.

The Sunset District is different than the Mission District. There’s a three story height limit that rarely gets approval to build higher and when it does it’s usually along a major thorough fare or commercial section. The rest of the time it’s just houses, mostly two story with a few three story thrown in, but very few apartments and those are only again along the commercial parts which are few and far between.

The Sunset District is the largest of all districts in San Francisco to the point that it’s broken up into the Inner/Central/Outer Sunset and the Inner/Outer Parkside, but everyone refers to all of it as the Sunset District for the most part. Technically I live in the Inner Parkside area, which is odd because it’s further away from Golden Gate Park than the Sunset, but I’m not a real estate guru, so I don’t understand the naming conventions.

Here’s where the problem is. Since San Francisco can’t spread out any more so it can only go up, but with a three story limit in the Sunset District proper you can’t go up. It would also be very rare to find several home owners willing to sell their houses together so that they could be torn down and have an apartment building replace it. This means that rents and home values will increase exponentially because there is a finite amount of space available and if everyone wants to move here because of all the room, well that’s going to be like trying to fit a square boulder into a round keyhole — it ain’t going to happen. So the only way to limit those who get to live here is by raising the price.

I’m not sure how I feel about this as I’m in a lucky spot that most other people aren’t. The houses aren’t rent controlled unless they’ve been split into two or more units [which Mayor Lee and Supervisor Tang are trying to get illegal in-laws approved] and I’m sure someone will buy the few apartment buildings and tear them down and rebuild them so they won’t be covered under rent control either. This will leave the Sunset in a weird place. My former next door neighbors were 6-8 [I never could tell how many] college students that were splitting the 4 bedroom house along with turning the dining room and living room into places for someone to live. In the near future you could see the same thing, but it wouldn’t be college kids, but well financed workers [I won’t say techies, because there are a lot that aren’t in tech] living like college kids. That’s just weird to me. I guess because I’m old I can’t see a rich couple spending multi-millions of dollars on what I would consider a not so big standard 3-4 bedroom home.

Ye Olde Tiled StepsThe neighborhood itself is changing which I don’t think is a bad thing overall. There were lots of businesses that you’d drive by all the time, but you’d never have a reason to go into them, or if you did it would only be once in maybe five years. There are restaurants that you can’t figure out why they’re still in business when you never see anyone go in or out of them. Clothing stores that are tiny and you can’t imagine paying five times what you would pay online for their t-shirts. We’re starting to get people to notice that there’s a beach that’s kind of cool to visit more than the few sunny days out of the year and the area at the foot of Judah Street has evolved into a new area being called La Playa. While that area has been around for awhile and was a bit alone and to itself there are a few other places that have little things that make gentri-sense tingle:

  1. Twisted Doughnuts: OK, it’s a doughnut shop, but it sells maple-bacon doughnuts for $2.75 each. Bacon and doughnuts is a true sign of hipsters.
  2. Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company: Yes, we have a brew pub in the Sunset now. I actually like the idea that I don’t have to leave the Sunset to go to a brew pub, but now the parking along Noriega is nonexistent.
  3. Lou’s & Grubbin’: These are two gourmet sandwich shops. They’re both good, but they have lines out the door most days and I’m not sure where the lines are coming from.
  4. $4 Toast: Trouble Coffee seems kind of like a veteran now because it’s been there for a few years and they were one of the businesses that started people talking about how ridiculous SF has gotten. Maybe it’s all their fault that this started, but I doubt that.
  5. The Tiled Steps: There’s a few of them in the Sunset and someone’s redone them and now it’s a thing to take pictures of them and have your picture taken by them. Oh, did I mention that they’re in heavily residential areas?
  6. Taco Tuesdays: Once a thing of Nick’s Crispy Tacos and the Blue Light bars in Polk Gulch and the Marina we’ve had The Taco Shop at Underdogs attracting crowds now. They’re so packed on Tuesdays that they’re flowing out into the streets.
  7. The Poor Man’s Marina: I actually heard someone use this term to describe the Inner Sunset and I realized it’s kind of true. If you condensed down Union and Chestnut streets to 4 blocks you’d pretty much have the Inner Sunset. It’s been that way for a long time, but it’s gotten bigger and denser since 2010. More restaurants and bars per square foot than you can imagine. It’s a nice place to visit, but I can’t imagine living there now.

Now when I tell people from outside the Sunset that I live here it’s not that’s so far away, but I love the Sunset! It will be interesting to see what happens. I’m already seeing homes selling for past the million dollar mark out here and I suspect unless there’s a significant event that doesn’t make people want to love San Francisco the prices won’t go down any time soon. There are things I like about the changes, but the increase in traffic I’m already seeing I’m not liking very much. Hopefully someone will come up with an answer to that. You will notice I’ve left out the links I love to pepper my articles with and there’s a reason. I don’t want to make it easier to visit for you. 😉

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Toyose: Let’s Eat In The Garage

oHappy 2015! I’m really hoping you’ll be seeing more of me this year as I want to make more time to write. I know I’ve been slacking a bit, but I’m trying to get back out there cover new stuff that’s out there as well as the old. That being said…

I still have to go to this place, but the number of times during the week I have to drive people here is amazing. Toyose is a “Korean” restaurant in the Sunset District that’s be built into the garage of a residence. Yes, you read that correctly. It is in the garage of a house in the Sunset District. I’m not sure how legal that is, but it’s been getting enough coverage that there’s been no reason for them to be closed down and they have a 100 out of 100 by the health inspectors.

Now I italicized Korean because it seems to me that it’s more a nod toward Korean food, more like Korean fusion food. Yes, there’s kimchi, but Korean food is so much more than that. It’s a late night place which is usually when I’m dropping people off or picking them up. They’re open from 6pm-2am every day [yes, every day] and for some reason it pulls people way out into fog and cold of the Outsidelands at 46th and Noriega late at night.

Apparently when you’re good and drunk [something I wish I could do every once in awhile, but unfortunately can’t anymore] there’s 3 things people like to get there:

  1. Soju: Sure you’re drunk already so why not get more drunk. If you’ve never had it it’s kind of like an Asian version of vodka with only around 25% alcohol so you’re more maintaining your drunken state than making it worse. It’s pretty boring on it’s own so they mix it up with all kind of flavors and yogurt even. Peach seems to be the recommended flavor.
  2. Chicken Wing: Well, ok, who doesn’t like chicken wings when you’re drunk. These aren’t your typical buffalo wings though, they’re in a spicy Asian marinade that will help wake your body back up after a night of drinking.
  3. Seafood Pancake: Yes, pancakes can be savory and no you don’t put syrup on it. It comes with a dipping sauce and looks like you can share it with a few others. I have no idea what kind of seafood is in there and from what everyone I’ve dropped off tells me neither can they, but they got 100 out of 100 from the health inspectors so at least it’s clean.

l-1There are lots of other choices for food like potstickers, garlic cheesy fries, fish cakes, all good sounding foods for when you’re out drinking. Apparently if you’re just going there to drink you can get free popcorn with your soju. Now to you see why I’m saying there’s a nod to Korean food here.

It’s a real mash up of food, but the fact that when you add in that it’s in a garage that’s been converted to a restaurant [yes, the garage door is still in place] it just makes it hip enough to attract people who want to try something different. Wife and I usually don’t get to try most of these places for dinner because we don’t usually get to go out at night, but I think we’ll have to make an exception and get a baby sitter. I’ve been told if you walk in you’ll have to wait between 20-40 minutes depending on the day and time, but they do take reservations. Toyose has a website and I use that term loosely.

Now that people are finding that the Sunset District might be one of the last places they can afford to live without having a bedroom smaller than the bathroom it’s suddenly not so far away as people used to say. A few blocks away is La Playa the spot the Westside Hipsters™ have built for themselves, sort of. Many of the places were there, but turned hip overnight while a few new places have popped up in the past few years.

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Lightning Storm - Golden Gate BridgeOK, we got wet. We got real wet, but everyone is making fun of us about it now. Some are calling it the storm that wasn’t, but I think we handled it pretty well.

San Francisco got 3.5″ of rain [some places like the Sunset District actually got 4″]. That’s a lot of water and it was the 11th wettest day in SF history. It just didn’t seem like it because it was something San Francisco rarely gets — warm rain. When it rains in San Francisco there’s usually lots of big huge cold drops that chill you to the bone. This was a lot of small rain drops that constantly kept coming with no let up. People focused on the rain, but that wasn’t what they needed to focus on.

Wind was a bit of a problem and the lack of proper drainage caused the real problems. San Francisco was ready for the most part though. STAY HOME. Was the phrase of the day and people listened. That was even easier when most of the power was out east of Stanyan Street and North of Market. Nobody had much reason to go into work if there was no power. Lots of my friends where told not to bother going into work because there was no power so that stopped a lot of problems from happening. There was less traffic on the roads so there were less crashes even though there were quite a few car drownings outside of SF, mostly in the East Bay and down on the Peninsula.

These were in large part why we didn’t have many problems. We were prepared. They compared it to the last big storm in 2008. It wasn’t quite that bad and I actually had to drive to work in Burlingame that day and the wind was so bad that I got blown off the road when a big rig that was next to me sped up and the wind it was blocking suddenly whipped around and hit my car causing me to fishtail off to the side of the road. The puddles were bad from the flooding because they were big and muddy and when a car next to you hits one your windshield suddenly becomes a wall. If you’re traveling at 60mph this can be kind of scary, but most people weren’t out driving.

Power outages are something that we have to deal with from time to time so I think most of us were prepared. I was lucky in that we stayed connected the whole time. For the most part, San Francisco fared pretty well.

432819_1280x720On the other hand apparently people in the East Bay and Peninsula weren’t used to having to deal with lots of rain and the biggest problem was the sewer systems couldn’t handle it. There were lots of flooding in the normal places like freeway underpasses, but there were also some flat areas that from pictures looked a lot like New Orleans after the levees broke during Katrina. Hopefully those areas will think about that now and clean out their sewer lines before the next storms come through which should be happening soon. San Francisco needs to think about this as well. I noticed there were several sewer crews out after the storm unsealing sewer lines that were plugged that probably wouldn’t have happened if they had taken care of it before the storm.

On the upside, all of California got really wet and contrary to what some people have been saying, yes, this did make a dent in the drought. More rain is coming and that will make things much better. Northern California got the most rain with some places getting over a foot of rain in one day. We’ll still need quite a few good soakings to help fill up the reservoirs where waters had dropped severely over the past few years and we aren’t out of the darkness yet, but it is getting better. Oddly enough, this was something I was saying several months ago about El Niño. Yeah, I pretty much predicted that one accurately. December and January were always our coldest and wettest months of the year. El Niño just made them warm and wetter. Expect to see more heavy rains, probably not quite as big as the last storm, but overall this will help California and the drought quite a bit.

Just a last note, you all know how much I love to put photos in with my articles, but for some reason I’ve run into a little problem I need to fix that’s not allowing me to post photos at the moment. This is not fun as I collected lots of storm porn photos to share with you.

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Candlestick Shopping Center

CandlestickSo it looks like the remains of Candlestick Park are going to be transformed into an African Diaspora themed shopping center with 6000 units of housing. I suppose San Francisco could be called the city that never learns and I’m going to tell you why.

At least this time they aren’t pushing the affordable housing button to get everyone to go along with it. Sure a certain amount of those 6000 living spaces will have to go to those in need, but you’d be surprised at what looks like a person in need sometimes.

Nobody seems to remember what San Francisco was saying when Mission Bay was going to be built. Affordable homes in San Francisco! Finally you’ll be able to get a house! Back then in the 80’s that meant a house for under $100k if you can imagine it. I shook my head and my girlfriend at the time asked me, Don’t you want to be able to afford a house? Now look at Mission Bay. It’s got a high priced ball park surrounded by high priced restaurants with high priced living. It’s one of the most expensive places in SF to live now. I suspect the same thing will happen to Candlestick.

I was over in that area a few months ago and noticed that there’s lots of old houses in bad shape that are being torn down and replaced with condos. For most people who think they know San Francisco this part of town barely looks like San Francisco. The houses still there are no more than two stories and there’s lots of sun all the time. There’s next to no shopping for the people who live there and if you’re lucky to find a convenience store there will be bars all over the windows.

San Francisco is going to change all that now. There’s going to be bistros, and theaters, and pocket parks, and performance venues, and a hotel. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to the smell of Candlestick [people used to refer to it as Candlestink Park.]

If there was ever a part of San Francisco that will show the biggest change from gentrification it would be this area. It will look nice and safe, but it will take quite a few years for that to really happen. Mid-Market where all the tech companies are trying to bring about some change is still working on that. They’re working so hard they want to build a land bridge so their workers don’t have to use the streets and interact with poor people.

The Hunter’s Point area is sort of a part of San Francisco that no one knows about. Sure, people talk about how hip it’s getting [that’s actually the Dog Patch area of the Bayview, not Hunter’s Point.] There are a few houses around lots of open spaces that either parking or places for houses to be built. The reality is that if they’re putting in affordable housing [right now it’s at a whopping 63 units out of the 12,000 planned over the next 10-12 years] they need to realize that people living in affordable houses don’t shop at Michael Kors or Saks which they’re planning on moving in there. As I said to a friend of mine today, they don’t build housing for poor people.

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