Blue jeans, denim, dungarees, Levi’s. We might call them different things, but they all started in the same place. Levi Strauss came to San Francisco to form a company in 1873 to sell dry goods from his brother’s New York company. Levi struck a deal with tailor Jacob Davis to make work pants out of a blue denim that is known today around the world as blue jeans.
Opening his business at 90 Sacramento Street in San Francisco Levi Strauss he later expanded the business to take over 63 & 65 Sacramento Street. During this time a tailor named Jacob Davis who was buying hemp cloth from Strauss to repair work pants came up with the idea of the copper rivets to reinforce the jeans. He wanted to patent the idea, but lacking money he suggested to Strauss that they go into business together. Interesting note was that Levi’s first jeans were indeed made of hemp and not denim which didn’t start until 1890 when the first pair of denim Levi’s 501 jeans were made.
Trivia Note: Levi’s 501 originally had a copper rivet right in front in the crotch where the front met the back. Unfortunately several workers at a campfire stood a little too close to the fire and warmed up the rivet enough to give them a rude awakening down there.
While modern jeans didn’t start to spread outside San Francisco and California until around 1920 they finally made their way back east around 1930 with the dude ranch craze that was popular at the time. During World War II Levi’s became the pants of the working class outfitting the thousands of people taking up arms and working for the various defense companies around the country.
It was the 50’s and 60’s that make Levi’s an American icon among the youth of the nation. The 80’s greasers with their slicked back hair had to hand roll the cuffs of the jeans tightly and perfectly to look cool while the hippies of the 60’s let it all hang out with the bell bottoms flapping in the breeze [personal note, I feel that bell bottoms were one of the best jeans ideas of all times to hide skinny calves].
Now every where you go you see Levi’s or some knock off brand just about everywhere you go. citizen’s of Russia were paying hundred of dollars if not thousands of dollars for a pair and now things have come full circle and we lucky San Franciscan’s can do so as well.
Levi’s has opened a store in San Francisco at 815 Market Street in the Old Navy store that used to occupy the space. While the 501 Jeans of the working man are still sold there and are a big seller they’re making newer types of jeans some not using denim at all. They have commuter styles, eco-friendly styles [made from recycled water bottles] and even laser etched styles for the hip fashionistas out there [tattoo your pants because skin tattoos are SO 10 minutes ago!]
After years of wearing Levi’s I had moved away from blue to black generic jeans. They were cheaper, I was fatter and they worked more or less. I actually found some 527 Levi’s slim boot cut jeans I bought the other day and I’ve fallen in love with Levi’s again. Levi’s just fit right. There is something iconic about the fading blue of the denim that I had forgotten and the slight flare below the knees [hence why they are called boot cut] hides skinny calves that the skinny jeans just accentuate. I actually feel younger and from what people have told me, I look younger in these jeans. I’m a happy man. Now to go get my jeans tattooed. Should I get the sailor’s anchor or the pin up girl on them?
Now that daylight savings is in effect and we’ve got more sunlight along with warmer weather coming in I thought I’d share some tips that I’ve developed over the years for how to enjoy the warm weather on the cheap. There are benefits to this that I’ll get into later, but expect to see some old school references to how to do this. There are few things you’ll need which can be adjusted to your needs.
Those are the basics. Feel free to add to the list, but don’t subtract. Start by pulling the car out of the driveway and setting up two chaise lounges [old school] or lawn chairs. Place cooler of beer [budweiser or if you’re a hipster PBR] between them and turn on the music. Don’t forget to invite a friend or neighbor for the other lounge/chair. Long 70’s mustaches not necessary unless you’re going for a retro vibe.
That’s how we used to do it. Sort of like in the picture only with a better fashion sense. While I’m not positive I do believe that it came about from Dad’s getting up in the mornings on the weekend and mowing the lawn and doing all the front of the house gardening and then after cleaning up it would be around noon and they’d pull out the chaise lounge to admire their work.
There wasn’t really much other times you would sit out in front of your house so that makes the most sense to me. If it was a particularly warm day you’d hose down the driveway and sit there in the steam that the breeze would cool down making it a rather enjoyable outing. The Western side of the city doesn’t get a lot of sunny days so you enjoy them more when you do get them and for people here anything above the mid 60’s temperature wise has them passing out with heat stroke so you have to do what you can to cool the place down aside from waiting until around 4pm in the afternoon when the wind kicks up.
If you don’t have a real driveway [a personal parklet?] you can still find a way to make it work. There are lots of areas with smaller half sized driveways or pretty much no driveway in front of the garage that you can find some way to squeeze in a couple of chairs, cooler and radio.
There’s another benefit to this in that you get to walk people walking down your street. Most of them are probably your neighbors. This was the way I met most of my neighbors and if they start talking to you and you offer them a beer you’ve just created a connection that both of you might have a use for in the future. You’ll suddenly find that your next door neighbor likes to tinker with cars and that maybe you can help them fix their plumbing problem. I got rid of my gophers thanks to a neighbor which I gave him some orchid bulbs from my yard in exchange [side note: anyone need some cymbidium orchid bulbs? I’ve got tons of them. Will trade for chocolate.]
Doing this lets you take life slowly for a little while and all it costs you is the beer. Maybe you’ll break out the little grill on a hot day and cook up some burgers with your neighbors [which is a good reason to have a freezer in your garage.] It lets you have company without having to clean the house. Gives you a chance to meet your neighbors and if you live on an East/West facing street you might get invited across the street when the sun goes away on your side or invited over before you get the sun in the afternoon. Think about it, we need more of this.
When my Mom was alive she couldn’t mow the lawn and wanted to get rid of the old behemoth electric mower we had. She found a great gardener who was only charging $15 and he’s come and mow the lawn every other week. Then his prices started to go up until they were $30 each time and he’s only show up sometimes once a month. He wasn’t really doing anything else like fertilizing the lawn so there were weeds taking over and we decided to make a change.
I had used the old electric mower, but hated having to deal with the bag after wards and the fact that a lot never made it into the bag and sprayed all over the sidewalk. I had read up on reel mowers and found that if you mowed and just left the cut grass on your grass that it would break down adding more nitrogen to your soil meaning less fertilizer which is one of the things grass needs the most. So we went ahead and plunked down $60 on a low end reel mower by American Lawnmowers. From the reviews they said that if you have anything growing too tall it won’t cut them and they were right. We have several weeds that are about 8″ long that just got pushed over and not cut so I had to pull those by hand.
We also had some other flat weeds that were the type that you could grab the weeds in hand and twist them around and get the root out. I did that first before starting to mow. Well I have to say that after smoothing out the piles of dirt the gophers dug up and pulling the weeds my wife estimated that it should take me about a half hour. When she says a half hour she always undercuts it expecting me to take longer so she can come out and ask me what I’m doing out there [Kind of like your Mom when you’re a teenager int he bathroom for too long].
Total time was less than 15 minutes and I actually felt a bit of a burn in my arms afterwards and was a little out of breath. Remember, I’m not an athlete and typically work desk jobs so this was a good work out for me. The results weren’t the best, but at the same time the lawn is studded with all kinds of grasses since the sod that was originally laid down wasn’t top shelf stuff and our neighbors have let their lawn turn into a veritable weed factory next door, but I’m suspecting with a little weed and feed and continued effort that within a month things will be looking better. from my research the grass we have is fescue and other cool weather grasses so we should let it grow to about 3″ before cutting it and cut it down to about 2″. I was a little quick on the cut this time because while there were sections that were 3″, there was a lot that were barely an inch.
Reel mowers are not not known for doing edging very well, but we don’t have a fence on any sides and only have a bout 2′ of brick wall that makes it difficult so that wasn’t really a problem. I found that if I started cross ways and then when lengthwise it was easier, but I think next time I’m going to do cross and lengthwise all the way across. I’ll get a better work out and then maybe I can pull out an old chaise lounge and a cooler full of beer and sit and talk with the neighbors about our front yard gardening. I also noticed last night that our automatic sprinklers had some wrong heads installed. There are wide and thin shot heads and with our lawn they could have been wide shots installed in the corners instead of wide on the sides and shorts on the ends. I’m going to have to make a trip down to Urban Gardeners nearby and ask them how to fix this since I don’t want to tear up the whole lawn and put new sod down and re-do the sprinkler system. While I can do simple plumbing, when plumbing and landscaping come together count me out.
Originally a U.S. Army post built in late 1800’s for coastal defense during the Civil War [good job guys!], Fort Mason expanded in 1912 to include docks and storage for shipping overseas soldiers and equipment for wars. It hasn’t really changed too much since then since it was finally decommission and handed over to the National Parks Service in the 1970’s.
While there have been some minor improvements, it’s still pretty much storage facilities except for the few rooms that can be rented out for events, Greens, The Blue Bear School of Music and the Italian American Museum. I’m sure there’s more there, but I just haven’t come across it other than attending a meeting of the San Francisco Aquarium Society a few months ago and attending traffic school there several years ago.
The buildings are starting to look rather worn out though and something needs to be done to bring these 13 acres of land to be more useful to the city other than a parking place for Off-The-Grid food trucks every Friday night. Now Fort Mason Revisited has asked 20 design firms to come up with designs to revamp the place and I say good for them. Yes, there’s lots of historical nature to the place having been used by the military during all the wars up to and including the Korean War, but it now needs a big change to serve the people of San Francisco.
Of the 20 firms selected, they have until June 15 to say whether or not they’re in and then three of the firms will be selected to start work this summer. There’s no telling what will come of the place, but I hoping for the best. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a place that’s built off of modern designs with added solar and wind power to electrify the place. The city is also in the process of trying to extend the F line to Fort Mason through an unused rail tunnel in upper Fort Mason. I think that would be a good idea and I believe they should retain some of the nautical themes that have been in place so it coincides with all the boats docked next to it.