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Posts Tagged 'bridge'

The Emperor Norton Bridge

norton.cartoonNow that we have a new span on the Bay Bridge apparently we have to name it. There are members of the NAACP in Southern California who think we should make an exception to the rule of not naming large structures after living people and name it after Willie Brown.

Don’t get me wrong, while I’m one of the few, I actually like Willie Brown. The man has style. The man has an attitude. He has so much attitude that if he was in favor of it being named after him he would have said something already. I guess that’s all part of being a kid born in Minneola, Texas and moving to San Francisco.

So functionally, by saying nothing I think we can take that as a no vote from Willie Brown. It’s part of the passive-agressive way politicians work in that it’s not always what they say, but what they don’t say. Our Governor, Jerry Brown who apparently didn’t learn the passive-agressive technique has just come right out and said he doesn’t like the idea.

So while the people of Southern California think they know what’s best for San Francisco, we need to come up with a counter attack to put the boobs of silicone valley in their place.

I strongly stand with the members of E Clampus Vitus who want the bridge named after Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton. This is a man who in 1859 proclaimed himself to be the Emperor of the United States of America and Protector Of Mexico. The man made his own money that people actually accepted around San Francisco. This is the type of guy that should have a bridge named after him.

As a matter of fact, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is unofficially named the Emperor Norton Bridge. There’s even a plaque on the San Francisco side stating this. Why can’t the politicians see this? We don’t have people like Emperor Norton anymore in the Bay Area and I think that we need people like that to symbolize the rough and tumble, do it yourself kind of mentality that made San Francisco what it is. Not the Mark Zuckerberg’s or Steve Job’s types who are in Silicon Valley, but the real people that San Francisco had who made a difference. There is no Emperor Norton Hotel, Bar or even Restaurant in San Francisco and if there’s a small chance I missed it then it needs to be more in the forefront than in the background as long as they’re doing a good job of representing him.

We are on the eve of the naming of the bridge so I suggest that you email Governor Brown, Mayor Lee and Mayor Quan and let them know that the bridge deserves a proper name.

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Bay Bridge Closure

The New Bay BridgeWell it’s going to be an interesting next five days in San Francisco. Not since the 1989 quake has the Bay Bridge been closed for this long. The new bridge is in its finishing stages over the next few days and here’s what it’s like if you’re going to be driving around.

Traffic in the city was pretty light during rush hour this morning. I have to say that driving down Montgomery Street between 8-9am was pretty easy and stress free since apparently there were a lot of people driving into the City from the East Bay who are stuck with Bart or the ferries now. I’ve heard people say that Labor Day weekend isn’t a big weekend for people coming to the City or people leaving the City, but from what I saw today it was practically down right empty.

I gave a ride to someone in the Sunset District this morning who had to go down to Battery Street. This normally would take me a half hour, but today I was dropping him off in 15-20 minutes. Even he was surprised at how fast we got there. There really wasn’t anyone out there on Franklin, Van Ness, Broadway, Gough, Fell or Oak…it was actually a very nice relaxed drive.

If you’re going to be driving around San Francisco over the next few days there’s a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The Bridge is closed so they’ve cut back on I-80’s lanes. I’d actually try and avoid the freeway unless necessary.
  2. Oak Street is pretty empty. Since the Bridge is closed there’s not much reason for most people to get on the freeway so traffic was light.
  3. Franklin & Gough. Two more streets that feed people to and from the bridge. Pretty open generally.
  4. Bush Street. Ghost town practically. This is a main feeder street for people trying to get downtown from the Richmond.
  5. Treasure Island. You have to get on at 1st and Harrison. That’s the only way to get there, if you really need to go.

Oddly enough places that don’t have much to do with the Bridge [i.e. the Sunset & Richmond districts] were pretty quiet as well except around the shopping areas which were pretty much busy as always. You can add to this a big warm wet hug from @KarlTheFog with temperatures in the 70’s-80’s and humidity in the 80’s-90’s keeping everyone out here, well, moist. It’s kind of like Hawaii for people who don’t like sun too much. Enjoy!

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The Towering Inferno

The Towering InfernoIt’s time to go to the movies again and last night I watched the Towering Inferno to remind me of life in San Francisco back in the 70’s. This is one of those movies that you have to watch to get a feel of what the city was like back in 1975 even though it has plenty of Hollywood sheen added to it.

I first have to give props to Hollywood in that a large amount of the movie was actually filmed in San Francisco. I remember when the film came out there was a big opening night screening with lots of the cast members in attendance here in San Francisco and not Hollywood. This movie came out at a time when disaster movies were all the rage until they started being spoofed by movies like Airplane! The set designs were über 70’s chic that reminded me of an old James Bond movie more than a place were people actually lived and worked. All the men wore suits and had voices like they smoked too much [which they did back then] and women wore, well I’m not sure what the style was called, but when you see it there is definitely a 70’s fashion sense that comes through. The good thing is that women did look kind of hot back in the 70’s until you realize that the younger women in their 20’s are now pushing 70 today. The men were dashing and a bit on the overly macho side. I had to think for a minute to realize that Fred Astaire would be 114 years old if he was still around today. The lifestyle was pure decadent 70’s in this new high rise building. So decadent that the main office had a secret bedroom off to the side which Robert Wagner and Susan Flannery make use of within the first 10 minutes of the movie.

The cast is a definite who’s who of 70’s actors and actresses. If you don’t know their names you certainly will know their faces. Steve McQueen and Paul Newman are the best known and this movies just shows why people would sometimes confuse the two. Faye Dunaway is absolutely gorgeous in this movie as Paul Newman’s high society girlfriend who is always dressed to the nines throughout the film. One of the things I noticed was how white the movie was, but that was back in the 70’s and that’s the way people watching TV and going to the movies liked it back then. You have two token cast members with O.J. Simpson playing the head of security and Gregory Sierra [anyone remember him?] playing a bartender, so they got their ethnic bases covered for the 70’s. Not a single Asian was used in the filming of this movie which I thought was kind of odd since you’re in San Francisco which has one of the most well known Chinatowns in the world, yet there are no Asians on the streets anywhere. Now that I think about you saw very few Asians in TV and movies back then except for the occasional comic relief in a western or George Takei in Star Trek.

Now then, onto the plot. This is where the movie gets funny looking back. A skyscraper is built in San Francisco which is the tallest building in the world. Obviously since this was the time of disaster movies building up to code wasn’t good enough and they needed better, but they just stuck to the rules and built to code along with leaving a large pile of oily rags surrounded by containers of flammable liquid next to a main electrical box that shorts out. The fire starts on the 81st floor while a party to celebrate San Francisco having the tallest building in the world is going on at the top in the Promenade Room. Apparently back in the 70’s nobody had learned that in case of fire take the stairs not the elevator. This is shown very quickly when Steve McQueen’s character walks in calmly and takes a look at the fire then hops in an elevator three feet away that he takes up to the Promenade Room. Note this is the same elevator that ten minutes later a group of people crowd onto to get away from the Promenade Room only to have the doors mysteriously open up on the floor of the fire serving up roast human to the firefighters. My cousin is a retired fireman and I’ll have to ask him how horribly wrong the fire department handled the fire during the movie. In the end the movie sticks to disaster theme formula of I die, you die, we all die pretty much with only the most righteous believers surviving.

If you see nothing else you should at least see the opening of the movie with the helicopter ride over San Francisco. While not a car chase, the helicopter visuals were spliced together in such a way that wasn’t linear, but hits all the sites of San Francisco. Enjoy the trailer and watch the film if you can find it.

Don’t Move Here!

Talk-to-the-handAs I was spending my day surfing the web I came across a few articles about people who’ve moved to San Francisco like this one. My suggestion is don’t move here. Most of the people who were complaining about San Francisco have lived here for 3-5 years at the most, tend to be hipsters from the Mission, and shop at Whole Foods. They don’t understand that there’s more to San Francisco and I’m going to tell you some of the only reasons you should move here.

First, you’ve got an Aunt Gladys who bought her house in the pre-Prop 13 days and stayed there. Then she died and left you the house. Depending on the size of the house you’ll get stuck with paying between $800-$1500 a year in property taxes and the bit of house upkeep. Having a house handed you means that you have the equivalent of $42k/year income a year since you don’t have to pay rent. If you’re rich buy away. Once your house is paid off you’ll be paying per year less than what you’d pay per month to rent. I have a friend who bought a two bedroom house about 10 years ago and his mortgage is less than what he could get for renting the place plus it has a built in bar.

Second, if you choose to rent and now isn’t the best time you pretty much missed the boat by about 15-20 years. If you do decide to rent try to stay there. We’ve got a thing people refer to as rent control. My wife and I rented a two bedroom house 10 years ago that we payed $1200/month. Mind you we moved in there in 1997 before the dot com 1.0 pushed rental prices up to a ridiculous rate. If we stayed there we might be paying $1500/month…for a two bedroom house. When I first moved out to the Mission and that was around 1991 I split a two bedroom house with a full living room, full dining room, big kitchen, two huge bedrooms and a sun room for $400/month and that was my share. Our rent never went up while we stayed there and any fix ups the house needed we got to take off the rent.

Other than that, don’t move here. Rents are high and some of the employers are paying stupidly low wages. People who work in grocery stores and the like are here because they live with there parents, inherited their house from their parents or are section 8 disabled. Seeing guys in their 50’s who live with their aging Mom or Dad isn’t something to look down on here because they’re able to live here and go out to dinner at a nice restaurant every once in awhile while working for $17/hour. If you don’t already own and have your house paid off you need to earn about $35-$50 an hour to live like you would in other parts of the country. I don’t understand why some people move here and work long hours and then go shopping on the weekends for prepared foods because they don’t have time to cook or they go out to eat for half the week at an overpriced eatery when they could make enough food on the weekends at home for the whole week if they just made the effort, but that’s not my place to judge. I did used to shake my head when I worked with a girl who made $14/hour, lived in the upper haight with several roommates and would go to Whole Foods to buy her lunch. I would go around the corner for a $2 taco and bring a soda from home if I hadn’t brought my lunch and this was last year.

If you move here you don’t know the City well enough before you move here and don’t understand things like you can get the best and cheapest burrito outside of the mission because there aren’t those kind of hipsters where this place is located. You can get good food cheap if you know where to look [hint alley ways], but you’ll only know that once you’ve moved here and been around the City for about six months.

PBR is not what cheap San Franciscan’s drink. It’s Budweiser. PBR also tells everyone you’re a broke hipster and you’ve just labeled yourself even if you weren’t trying. While there aren’t that many born and raise in SF people left they’re the ones with the money in this city. Face it, until you’ve got 30 years under your belt here you’re going to have a rough time of it.

By all means though, come and visit us. We have a lot to offer. Great parks and museums and as others have noted great food. Affordable housing just isn’t one of those things.

Happy Birthday Golden Gate Bridge!

Today was the official opening day of the new plaza for the Golden Gate Bridge falling in line with it’s 75th anniversary being this Sunday, May 27th. So I had to take a trip out and see it for myself.

WOW, it’s actually a pretty nice place. It reminded me a bit of Lands End Lookout, a lot actually. Which is probably because after talking with one of the nice gentlemen who worked there who told me all about the bridge like I was a tourist I found out that apparently that’s the way the Parks Conservancy does things. Pretty much same shape just a bit bigger, but still nice to walk around in. Not as much information or displays regarding the bridge inside, but lots of books and DVD’s you can purchase to learn more.

The real place to learn about the bridge is by walking around outside the pavilion. That is where you’ll find lots of open air exhibits about the building of the bridge. The cafe that is across from the cafe is definitely set up to fuel people talking a walk across the bridge. I wish I had known that on my first trip across the bridge, but at least I know enough now if I decide to do it a second time.

The Golden Gate Bridge Roundhouse which used to be a restaurant for traveling motorists has changed now to be a place where you can book tours or if you’re feeling brave have a picture of yourself taken against a green screen that will make you look like you’re walking up the bridges cables or you can have a family shot as if you’re standing on top all for the low price of $20. Of course now that I’ve written this article I can’t do it because I would have liked to have told people I knew someone on the inside who let me take a walk up the cables.

For those of you who aren’t in the best shape it’s not so bad a trip. Not too much walking and the what I believe are newly installed bike lanes look pretty good. A note to those of you who don’t like bikers, these lanes are separate from the pedestrian walking areas and it’s pretty obvious.

If you want to make a breath taking outing some day you should do both the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion and  the Lands End Lookout because you’ll have to drive along Lincoln Boulevard. Not the Lincoln Boulevard that runs next to the park, but the one that runs through the Presidio. You will get views that you just can’t see anywhere else. I’ve made another little gallery of the pictures I took for you. Enjoy!

Burying The Hatchet With The Bay Bridge

As I have written before I’ve always disliked the Bay Bridge mostly for the part about it being easy to get out of the city, but hard to get back in. I have had to wait close to an hour on some weekends because of the back ups. Well things have changed a bit now.

Now that I have Fastrak, it’s a little bit easier. I got a task from TaskRabbit that I thought was virtual, but turned out that I had to drive to Berkeley. Crap, I’ve got to drive the bridge. Well the task went quickly and my gracious task master gave me the added bonus of a tip of over five pounds of homemade chocolate, but that’s for another article.

So there I am during the week driving home at about 4 pm and I see the traffic starting to slow down a bit. OK, here it comes. Actually, wait, why’s everyone getting out of my lane? Apparently people who travel to the East Bay for some reason don’t believe in Fastrak. I was in an empty Fastrak lane and breezed through unhindered.

It was actually, well, kind of nice. It almost reminded me of my daily crossings of the Golden Gate Bridge, just a whole lot longer. I may actually have reasons to visit the East Bay every once in while. If you don’t have Fastrak I suggest you get it. It saves you time and money and you only have to put $25 on it to start. It work not having the hassle of the slow downs to pull out your cash.

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Festivals in Golden Gate Park

This morning at 10:30am P.M.W. will take the stage followed by MC Hammer at 11:30 in Golden Gate Park. They don’t talk about Thursday as the start of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, but it’s here. I’m sure as I type this MC Hammer is warming up his voice and doing his morning yoga to limber up for his Thursday morning performance that no one is talking about.

Festivals in Golden Gate Park are a blessing and a curse. The Park is the real slot in San Francisco, not Market Street. It cuts a long path into San Francisco almost halfway across the city. It’s three times the size of Central Park in New York and yet has only five ways to cross it. All except two [which I won’t mention] are packed during rush hour. For the next four days, one of the less congested routes across will be closed to traffic pushing the burden on the 19th avenue corridor for those of us [like me] to get to the Golden Gate Bridge to get to work.

Growing up as a kid in San Francisco I loved the music festivals in the park. I didn’t have a car then so I didn’t bother thinking about what it was like if you had to drive across the park during one of them. Now that I do and have to commute to Marin I realize that it doubles my commute time making it take a little longer than if I had to take Muni downtown. That’s not so bad compared to the horror stories I hear all the time from people who have to take Muni, but still I had to plan a bit knowing this.

The festivals in the park have gotten more elaborate over the years and this week proved it to me as I could see people starting set up on Monday. What they are bringing in for this music festival is a lot of equipment. I haven’t seen lighting rigs this elaborate since my last Metallica concert. This gives a kind of weird feeling to Golden Gate Park which is supposed to be a nature preserve, but now you drive across it and are seeing big, hulking towers of metal  rising up along side the trees. The days of a flatbed with a few generators as the stage are gone. The hippies have gone pro.

For this weekend in the park there is a huge cast of entertainers to appear most of which lean more towards the hardly more than strictly bluegrass variety. The show is expected to draw 750,000 people from a city of 850,000 people. They won’t all be San Franciscans so you can expect some ground shaking from the overload of people this weekend. The show has been going on for eleven years now and is always a big event for San Francisco. They have yet to jump the shark which will come when they schedule a band like Slayer to play. I don’t think that will happen soon.

My suggestions if you’re going to go is to use Muni. It might take you a little longer, but it’ll be easier. I’ve seen signs that there will be shuttle services in the park so that will help as well. Prepare to do a good amount of walking and as always this is the Westside of San Francisco so dress in layers because you’ll go from freezing weather to blazing heat during the day. Judging from the weather of the past few days and the fog of this morning layers is a good thing. I unfortunately won’t be attending this year as I don’t like large crowds anymore. I’m sorry I’ll miss out on seeing Buckethead and my old friend Chris Issak [who I’ll probably run into at a local sushi joint], but if you’re going I wish you all a safe and enjoyable experience.