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Posts Tagged 'class'

$4 Toast, My Thoughts

iMfTrhtWhen I first heard someone talk about $4 toast in San Francisco I knew we weren’t talking about Wonder Bread. No one would have the cojones that big to try and sell Wonder Bread for $4, but of course San Francisco has plenty of bloggers with the cojones to make you think that. These rich techies are paying $4-$6 for a slice of toast!!!! Well, yes bread is involved and yes it’s toasted, but that’s pretty much where in ends for the most part.

Where it started is up for discussion, but people usually point to Trouble Coffee out in my hood or The Mill as the originators. They start with inch thick slices of wheat bread and slather it with butter and depending can top it with brown sugar and cinnamon, peanut butter and honey or whatever the hell they’re going to think up next. For a big eater it’s a light breakfast or a decent snack, but for the average person it’s pretty much a meal. It’s got a lot more calories and nutrition than a slice of Wonder Bread for sure.

The owner of Trouble Coffee said it was a comfort food for her because she grew up poor. For me, I was a kid in a middle class household that wasn’t hurting for money too bad and guess what my Grandmother used to make for me as a treat? Toast with lots of butter and brown sugar. Grandma would toss it under the broiler for a few seconds to get that serious caramelized effect that chefs like to go for now. It wasn’t a poor man’s pastry, it was actually more expensive than a donut back then probably because of the huge amounts of butter and stuff my Grandmother would toss on top of it. While most of the ingredients came out of boxes or bags this was home made for my Grandmother. I still like it today, I just never thought of slicing the bread an inch thick first.

My Grandmother would toss lots of stuff on bread that she’d toast. She used to broil cheese on bread and that was her version of a grilled cheese sandwich. I took a cue from her and toast bread then rub garlic on it and toss some chopped up tomatoes or other vegetables and call it lazy man’s bruschetta. Unfortunately for most people in San Francisco today lazy tends to be the norm. Finding a friend who is a foodie that can cook is kind of rare nowadays. Most of what people are spending their money on food wise has been prepared by someone else. Yes I cook so of course I’m going to not understand why other people don’t, but we’re talking about toast here. You can go to a bakery like Boudin and buy a loaf and ask them to cut it thick for you. You take it home, toast it, toss a bunch of stuff on top [if you’re slick you’ll put it under the broiler…] and you’re done.

The only reason there is $4 thick toast is that people don’t bother to do it for themselves. For the people who started selling it I think it’s a good idea. If you’ve never made it or bought it, it is something special. I had a poor period and a friend of mine gave me a 10lb bag of flour and a jar of yeast. That reminded me I knew how to make bread and I never felt hungry and I was able to do some pretty incredible things with it because when you’re hungry your mind sees everything as something you can turn into food [at least if you’re a guy like me.]

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Incidentally, the $4 toast, after doing a little search didn’t start in San Francisco. It started in Japan as a breakfast item too. It has scrambled egg on top and is sprinkled with chives and is sold as tamago toast for the equivalent cost of…$4

Looks pretty good and I’ll have to give that a try one of these days now.

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Sometimes Teacher’s Have To Strike

Members of United Educators of San Francisco on the march

The following is an article I was forwarded about the SFUSD Teachers that are planning a strike. Most of the news seems to focus on teachers wanting a pay increase, but aren’t looking at the full effects of what will happen. I have bolded and italicized a particular section because as many of you know my autistic daughter is in a SDC or Special Day Class. When she started there were only about 8 kids in the class [this was for pre-school] when she starts kindergarten in the fall there will be 12 kids in the class. The increases they want are unthinkable for special needs kids let alone non-special needs kids.

My daughter’s current pre-school teacher had her students raised to 12 this year and it was maddening for her at times. She did not have enough materials or aides to help her out and was only given a funding of $5/student for the entire school year. I am reposting this because sometimes teachers need to put their foot down. These aren’t teachers in the six figure range, but teachers who are lucky to get $50k/year and they’re investing their own money in purchasing school supplies because the SFUSD isn’t providing them enough to use to teach their classes.

Why I’m voting to strike

David Russitano, a member of United Educators of San Francisco and Educators for a Democratic Union, explains why he plans to vote for a teachers’ strike.

May 10, 2012

Members of United Educators of San Francisco on the march

UNITED EDUCATORS of San Francisco (UESF) is mobilizing for the first of two strike votes on May 10. The union was pushed to organize a membership meeting because of a massive assault on educators and public schools.

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) opened contract negotiations by sending out over 500 layoff notices. It tried to split the union by attacking seniority, and then proceeded to demand even larger concessions by, for example, asking to raise class size in K-3 from 22 to 25 stuents.

We already rank highest in the number of K-12 students per teacher, with an estimated 20.5 students per teacher–the rest of the country averages 13.8, according to the California Budget Project. This will make things worse for students and educators trying to work in an already underfunded system.

Not content with raising class size in the early primary grades, SFUSD is also proposing to increase special day class limits from 12 to 17. Special day classes serve students who, because of a disability, can’t function in a standard classroom.

They also want to remove many of the protections for special education teachers to get help from the principal in case of an emergency and limit the ability of regular classroom teachers to give input about students with high needs. Finally, the district wishes to remove the teacher position from a committee that makes decisions about special education.

As Matt Bello, a special day class teacher, noted, “The district is trying to convince us that the proposed special education reforms will be a step forward. How could increased caseloads and class sizes along with the removal of teacher input in district decision making be looked at as progress?”

SFUSD is also asking educators to cover the same material in fewer days by proposing eight furlough days over the next two years if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure passes. If the tax measure doesn’t pass, they want to increase that number to 18 furlough days.

For early childhood education centers, the attack is even more brutal. Regardless of what happens in November’s’ election, 27 days are to be cut from each year. Students at their youngest will be denied some of the basic educational foundations that could help make them successful and ready for kindergarten.

In addition to affecting students, these cuts will bring a huge cost to educators. For paraprofessionals, in particular, the cuts to early childhood education will cost thousands of dollars and take away valuable jobs during the summer when paraprofessionals are unemployed.

Further, the district is going to unilaterally change all of the paraprofessional hours to standardize them at 5.5 hours each day. This is disastrous, as right now, they don’t make a living wage. It means that many will have to give up their second job, while many will also have to scale back their hours. Even worse, these decisions won’t be based on fulfilling students’ needs at a particular school, but rather to meet an arbitrary time requirement.

As Robin Horne, a paraprofessional at Marina Middle School, summed up:

The attacks on paraprofessionals will be devastating to us. We barely make enough money to survive in this city, and we are unemployed during the summer. Many of us are also losing hours, which is a partial layoff. Others will be forced to take on more hours, which will prevent some from holding down a second job. Still other paraprofessionals will be losing their jobs outright.

Paraprofessionals often have a stronger connection to working class communities in San Francisco than teachers, as they are more likely to be San Francisco natives from working class areas in this city. Losing these people will not only be devastating for them, but will also be an attack on working people in San Francisco in general.

Financially, we are looking at a cut in compensation of $10,391 for certificated staff (teachers, psychologists, social workers, nurses and counselors) and up to $3,206 for classified staff (special education assistants, instructional aides, community relations). Substitutes will lose up to $6,983. Those hit the hardest will be early education teachers, who stand to lose $16,307 in compensation.

By any standard, this is the largest attack on our union in the last 20 years. It’s clear that the district is making a major push toward school “reform” at the expense of teachers, students, and communities these schools serve.

To accomplish its goals, SFUSD will stoop to any level, pitting educators against each other by using social justice language as they did around seniority. They are willing to break the law by throwing out whole sections of the contract around special education. It is obvious that they are also going to sidestep collective bargaining, because on May 3, the SFUSD declared an impasse, moving one step closer to imposing these cuts unilaterally.

The district feels confident about pushing its agenda now partially because the union has given into concessions before. Two years ago, UESF took a contract that gave back $39 million during the deepest point of the economic crisis. Most of the money came from eight furlough days and layoffs.

Unfortunately, the union has shown that it is more than willing to share the sacrifice during a recession. However, the district now has enough in reserve to save people’s jobs. It isn’t a question of money; now, it’s a question of will and intention.

To fight against cuts, UESF has taken halting steps towards organizing the membership. It was clear from the start of bargaining that the district was going after a lot. Yet the current leadership hesitated for months in calling for a strike vote.

They continued to rely on their “skills” at the negotiation table to try to beat back the attack long after it became clear that SFUSD was not giving in. The membership was asked to trust that the bargaining team was doing the right thing and to wait until our activity was needed.

Unfortunately, our union leadership seems to be more afraid of active membership than SFUSD. For two months, at each bargaining session, UESF was asked for more and more. Yet the leadership was unclear about organizing for a strike vote until after the April 24 bargaining session.

Now that they are backed into a corner, they finally organized a strike vote for May 10. They are scrambling to make the membership meeting successful–we must have at least 900 people at it for a quorum. We have lost valuable time in preparations.

Parkside Theater: San Francisco Grindhouse

I watched a movie the other day called American Grindhouse [if you’re into film making you should see this]. I’d learned more about the genre than I could from the Quentin Tarantino movie of the same name. This stirred up some memories in my mind of the old Parkside Theater which was a top notch theater in it’s day, but took a turn towards the Grindhouse genre when it was sold and became the Fox-Parkside as we all knew it.

Grindhouse films were always low budget films that focused on many seedier ideas such as T&A, gratuitous gore, racial exploitation or all of the above. For me, after seeing American Grindhouse I had to see some of these films that I wasn’t old enough to see as a kid because most were made in the early 70’s and I wouldn’t turn 18 until 1980. WOW! Now I know why people were talking about Pam Grier films. She was always having clothes come off in her movies. I couple of little know grindhouse girls who showed up frequently were Anitra Ford who was the first female model on the Price is Right. The other was Victoria Vetri who was the 1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year and born in San Francisco [and that was also the first issue of Playboy I ever got to see!]

The titles of these films pretty much told you what to expect in the films, The Big Bird Cage, Caged Heat, Invasion of the Bee Girls. You knew that there would be lots of nakedness in these films. I knew it, even though I never got to see one of them until recently. So how does the Parkside fit into this? Well when I was in 2 & 3 grade they were a first run theater or close to first run. They had a thing during the summer where your parents would buy you tickets for Tuesday or Wednesday matinees so your parents could get rid of you for a few hours. I still remember buying Mike and Ike’s, Good and Plenties or Red Vines at the food counter which were larger than a box you would buy today [the Red Vines are about the same size] and it would cost you 16¢. The extra penny was to cover tax. I may be dating myself here, but you could go to a movie with $5 get in see the movie with popcorn and a drink and come out with change.

It was a respectable theater for the most part. Not one of the bigger theaters like you’d find downtown or in higher class neighborhoods, but it was a good working class theater. Then something changed…

In the 70’s it was sold off [1976 according to my my friend Woody at the Western Neighborhoods Project]. Things changed. The seats were pulled out of the downstairs and during the day it was a daycare center for kids. At night it ran grindhouse pictures or when they could get them older movies like Dr. Zhvago [always a big one they’d show]. Blacula, SuperFly, the aforementioned movies where all weekday evening movies. On Friday’s and Saturdays it was a different kind of grind house. I think smokehouse would have been more appropriate. Friday’s the fun started at 6pm and on Saturday’s it would start at noon. They would run every rock music film from the 60’s or 70’s they could find and seating was moved to the balcony. I remember a few nights when you could barely see the screen for the amount of pot smoke floating around. You would hear the clanking of beer bottles and people would be making deals trading beer for joints or vice versa.

The bathrooms upstairs were a good place for people to exchange drugs and liquor and puke. Back then they were pretty in line people that wouldn’t throw up on the way to bathroom, but knew their limit enough to get to the bathroom first. I think because of that time I have films like Jimi Play’s Berkeley, Woodstock, Tommy, Song Remains the Same as god knows how many other movies burned into my brain. I can’t always remember their names, but I know there were a couple with Pink Floyd, Santana, Janis Joplin [not at Woodstock]. It was like I was living through the 60’s again only I was old enough to understand it now.

Note that all the movie links above are only to the Wikipedia references, but if you have NetFlix you can stream them and see how open the movie industry used to be. The only scary part about watching these films today is I remember how hot some of these women were back then only to discover that most of them are turning 70 or older this year. Yes, your Grandma had sex.

Exile In The Sunset: Now available on CD!

I just received my proof copy today of my new album and it looks great. Since I’ve approved it you can now purchase the album on iTunes or on CD now.

If you click on the final artwork picture to the left it will take you to the page where you can purchase a CD version. If you’re in San Francisco and can attend one of the meet ups I will personally autograph it for you.

There are two special tracks on the CD that I did to pay tribute to two people who have influenced me. Track 11 is called Satching with the Alien and is a tribute to my old guitar teacher you may have heard of before, Joe Satriani. The other is track 12, The Power and the Glory which is a tribute to Yngwie Malmsteen since he showed me how I could combine my classical music training with hard rock guitar.

This was a fun album to record and I think I’m getting better at playing all the instruments myself. There is more cohesiveness on this album than my last from three years ago and I like the fact that everything has clicked into place. While it might be another three years before my next album those of you who don’t know me know that I also compose and perform classical music. If you go to iTunes and drop my name into the search engine you’ll find a few more of my older albums there that have a bit of a Danny Elfman nod to them. Not Oingo Boingo Danny Elfman, but more Beetlejuice Danny Elfman.

In case you’re a bit on the lazy side and don’t want to scroll down on the side bar I’ve included the media player in here so you can try before you buy as I like to say. You can hear all the tracks and with a click or two you can purchase the ones you like from iTunes, but for the full CD be sure to click on the picture to take you to the page. I’d like to thank my old friend Derrold who gave me the idea for the title. While the title sounds nice it’s really a reference to the Sunset District of San Francisco which can on some days be almost as inhospitable as Antarctica, but I will always love it here.

*Sunset District People*

*Sunset District Incorporated*

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49 Mile Drive: Stop Four, Haas-Lilienthal House

The Haas-Lilienthal House is San Francisco’s finest Victorian house museum, and is open to the public year-round for docent-led tours. In addition, it houses the offices of San Francisco Architectural Heritage and functions as residence and popular event rental site.

Built in 1886 for Bavarian immigrant William Haas and the family, it was occupied by 3 generations of his family until it was donated by them to Heritage. The Haas-Lilienthal House was opened to the public for tours in 1972. It is the only intact private home of the period that is open regularly as a museum, complete with authentic furniture and artifacts.The House beautifully exemplifies upper-middle class life in the Victorian era. Considering its age, the House has never been significantly remodeled or modified and remains one of the very few examples of its era in the neighborhood. Built of redwood & fir, the House withstood both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes with only minor damage.

Designed by Peter Schmidt, it is an exuberant example of Queen Anne style, with its prominent open gables, varied styles of shingles and siding, and turreted corner tower topped by a “witches cap” roof. The original cost of the House was $18,500 [significantly more than the average for the day, which was $700-2000] Because it was the house of a merchant and not the mansion of a millionaire, it is an informative illustration of how early San Franciscans might have lived at the turn of the 20th century.

William Haas was born April 24, 1849, in the village of Reckendorf, Bavaria, to a family of modest means with many children.

In 1865, sixteen-year-old William and an older brother, Abraham, sailed for New York City. He arrived in San Francisco on October 9, 1868, and joined the grocery firm of Leopold Loupe and Kalman Haas. His first recorded address, in Langley’s San Francisco Directory of 1869, was the Nucleus Hotel, on Third and Market.

The Haas-Lilienthal House tours are every Wednesday, Saturday [noon-3pm] and Sunday [11am-3pm]. Tours leave every 20 to 30 minutes and last about 1 hour. All visits to the house must be guided. Reservations are not required. General admission is $8, and admission for seniors and children under twelve is $5.

You can also rent out the house for special occasions. If you are interested in renting the house [you can get it for 8 hours for $2950 January-November, $3400 in December] You can visit the SF Heritage Site for more details.

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