EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Rich | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'rich'

$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.]

DSC01483

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.

SideCar.banner

Things I’ve Learned About San Francisco: SoMA

South of MarketSouth or Market or South of the Slot as it used to be known is an interesting part of San Francisco historically. It was the first area of major development in San Francisco which the 1906 earthquake pretty much flattened leaving South Park as the only remaining houses to this day.

What was quickly replaced with industrial warehousing after the quake now has been converted largely to condos in the area North of 4th street with the condos starting to change more to newer apartments to the south. This part of  San Francisco is where a lot of the people older San Franciscans consider techies live, yes they are in Mission to a large degree, but the big money techies live here.

You have to have big money to afford the condos here. The condos here are all very new, very pretty and there’s no rent control because pretty much everything was built after 1979 if you’re living here. The condos are also very small, but are made up for by the amenities each complex offers. Most of the people I’ve met who live here are different techies than those who live in the Mission. They aren’t sharing the condos with four to five other roommates and in many cases they aren’t renting, but have bought the condos. As you move farther South in SoMA that starts to change as you get less condos and more housing. Many of these condos come with private, enclosed parking, shared grills, tennis courts in some cases as concierge services as well. It kind of feels like Manhattan a little bit without being quite so tall.

Many of the people who live here chose the areas because they love the views and the short trip to work. The price is pretty high for these spots and as I said, they’re also pretty small, but most of the people here are new to the City and haven’t much of an idea as to what things really cost in the City. I picked up a couple of guys here once who kept talking about how much they spent on the previous Saturday night going out and apparently around $500 is where it started to hurt. I suppose if blowing $400 on a Saturday night wouldn’t sting that’s a good indication that they’re making a lot more money than I am. Since these are relatively new places to live they aren’t pushing anyone out so the gentrification everyone talks about in San Francisco is really just moving out a lot of barely used industrial space. My personal experience has been that many of the people here thought really don’t know that they could get the same thing cheaper in other parts of the City so they’re creating a bit of a wave of upscale that’s spreading out through the City.

I used to work down in this area and always found it surprisingly quiet in the mornings. I might see the odd person jogging, but they usually stuck to the Embarcadero area for that, which I would too if I actually decided to jog anywhere. South Park is the last hip spot in the whole area that’s a little oval spot that feels like a part of the Mission was picked up and plopped down here. Note if you’re here around lunch time there’s a huge line outside Mexico Au Parc which lends a bit of hipster cred to the area along with the lines. It feels just like the Mission, except that while it’s noted as $ on most review sites I can get a burrito just as big and better for about half the price elsewhere in the City. I have yet to see anyone who lives in the houses in South Park, but I do know that at least a few of them have been converted to hipster workplaces which is really kind of out of place for the whole neighborhood. Calling it a neighborhood is kind of a stretch really since there is still lots of building and re-building going on and it’s very rare to find someone  that’s lived here for more than five years.

Walking around in the area you can find little parks stuck in any space that there wasn’t enough room to build a workspace with South Park really being the largest area. For me it was always a pleasant, but odd space to walk around because when you find greenery it is often surrounded by lots of noise from the traffic that is constantly afoot. It’s a nice place to visit for a short time, but aside from eating at one of the expensive places usually located on 2nd Street there isn’t much else to do. Once you pass 6th Street the condos mix in with newer apartment buildings and things become smaller and cramped. Food also gets a little bit cheaper but I think that’s in part to the area starting to mix in with the expanding Mission District which I’ll be writing about next.

SideCar.banner

Gentrification Of The Gentrified

"Margaret! Clutch the pearls! Even richer people are trying to move us out!"I read a screed the other day from a resident of the Sunset District who was decrying the Starbucksization of the Inner Sunset District and how expensive restaurants were going in all over and places that should be free to the public now making me show my ID or I have to pay a fee, how can we stop all this gentrification!

Wow. The Sunset District is getting gentrified? Does that mean that the crime will go down and instead of bar fights people will slam their drink down and proclaim I am miffed! I suppose they don’t like that the housing prices are increasing. Maybe they should go back to the old prices that were .02% of what they were when my middle class family bought one back in 1954. Rent and housing prices have been a problem since the Gold Rush era.

The Sunset District like many other areas of San Francisco has been a middle class neighborhood for years. It was even referred to as the suburbs of San Francisco when it was first built because you got to be in San Francisco, but, well, not in San Francisco. Many of the chains that have moved in were San Francisco based companies that just learned how to do it right and got popular and opened more stores. You can even find some such as the San Francisco Soup Company at local malls yet other local chains such at La Boulange are OK to many people because they don’t look so much like a chain.

Then you have…those other chains. Starbucks [started by three USF students who learned the trade from Berkeley based Peet’s Coffee founder] is the banner child to hold up when people like to decry gentrification around here, yet studies have shown that when a Starbucks goes in all the other coffee houses actually do better because people who didn’t have an interest in coffee suddenly do. While friends aren’t supposed to let friends do Starbucks, I disagree. I would rather spend my money at Starbucks and know that I’m going to get a good cup of coffee as opposed to a local coffee shop that the coffee tastes like hot water in cardboard for the same price. Starbucks has just purchased local company La Boulange which I think is a good thing because that means that food from a local company will be sold there. Starbucks also does something local businesses can’t afford to do — offer health insurance to it’s part time employees.

Granted San Franciscans who’ve been here for more than 10 years tend to hate the new people moving in yet forget that they were hated by those that moved in 10 years before them. Since I’ve been here for five decades I’ve had lots of time to hate people, but I’m a little more relaxed now. If you look through out the history of San Francisco you’ll see that people were saying the same thing about change in San Francisco over a hundred years ago. I’m sure the horse and buggy types shook their fists many a time at the new fangled motor cars.

There are no poor people in the Sunset being pushed out which is also the case in many other parts of San Francisco. We have rent control so if you’re already renting a place you’re set. Wife and I were renting when the Web 1.0 boom hit and apartments around us started going for $2500. We simply smiled and continued to pay our $1300/month for our two bedroom house which we did until we decided to move out in 2003. You couldn’t have gotten a place for that kind of rent then just as you certainly can’t now. If you happened to have been like my parents and purchased a house years ago your mortgage payments aren’t going up and if you’ve already paid off the house neither is your property tax because you’re a golden child in San Francisco terms because of California’s Proposition 13.

I am not rich by any means and there are many days where I feel like I never will even get close, but because I’m one of the few left that is lucky enough to not have to earn $50k/year just to cover rent since I’ve stayed in one place for so long and my parents thought ahead, I don’t have to worry as much.

It is sad that people have to have a high income to move here and that businesses have to pay high wages so that people can afford to live here, but that’s part of the problem with a 7×7 peninsula that has no room to grow. I don’t mind that smaller businesses are being replaced by businesses that realize we don’t want to spend $5 on a roll of toilet paper or they have a very narrow demographic of people they’ll attract. I don’t mind that businesses with a sound business plan are moving in and offering up higher paying jobs in places you wouldn’t find those jobs before and offering benefits. I don’t mind one bit that the crime rate is going down around town although I would like to have a talk with the person who imported all the frat boys to the Marina. That’s a form of gentrification I could do without.

Now I’m off to Starbucks and then show my ID card to prove I live here so that I can walk around the Arboretum for free. I might take a free ride up the Harmon Tower at the DeYoung and enjoy the view afterwards. I’m a cheap date. You can have me for less than $5.

#OccupySF

OK, I have to admit that when I started this blog it was supposed to be about San Francisco, not San Francisco politics. Somewhere down the line I posted a couple of articles relating to San Francisco politics and was nominated as the Best Political Blog in San Francisco by SF Weekly. I came close to winning, but didn’t. Now that the election is over I’m going to write my last political article on politics in San Francisco and give it a rest for awhile, so what better topic to write about than, #OccupySF.

People of #OccupySF I feel for you, because I was there 20 years ago and I was also there 40 years ago. Now let me explain. 40 years ago I was just a little kid and the 60’s hippies were protesting everything except love and getting high. In an interview from way back when a girl said, We’re giving up our homes and jobs so that other people can have them so they should take care of us. This was almost always followed by, Get a job you f*cking hippie!

Fast forward 20 years and you have me just out of college. I went to college because I was told, if you don’t go to college you’ll be flipping burgers for the rest of your life. Well, seeing as when I graduated from college most of people flipping burgers where younger than me or not U.S. citizens, I probably wouldn’t have been hired at most fast food restaurants anyway. I stayed at home and didn’t have to pay rent, but I kept looking for work. I worked through high school part time and through college part time. When I graduated college [1987 and the total cost back then was under $5k by going City College and SFSU] I had no debt and very few expenses. I finally moved out at 28 [which left my mother in tears for a week] and moved in with a friend to a two bedroom home in the Mission where we paid a total of $800 per month.

I found work through temp agencies in fields that had nothing to do with my degree in broadcasting. I kept looking and I think I was finally hired as a full time employee around the time I turned 30 working for a printer. 19 years later to today I’ve worked at many printers and graphic design firms and taught myself html, css, php, etc. None of these things were available to learn when I was in college, but have kept me going.

How does this relate to the #OccupySF movement? Most of you are in debt and don’t like government and/or corporations. You’re the 99%. So am I, but while I agree that we should tax the 1% just like the rest of us, I see corporations as a good thing. Let me list a few reasons why:

  1. Steady work: Most corporations have enough money that they can keep going when the economy takes a down turn. Sure there may be some lay offs, but in general you’ve got a better chance of keeping your job with a large corporation
  2. Health Benefits: There was a time at one job I had where the boss said, well, paying for health benefits are a crap shoot maybe you’ll need it, maybe you won’t. Not true. I had a stroke at 37 and most people I know once they hit their 30’s suddenly have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and need to take medications on a regular basis and need to see a doctor regularly. Small companies don’t have to give you that and if the company is under 20 employees they don’t need to pay into the Healthy San Francisco thing we’ve got going here.
  3. 401k: It’s nice to have some money when you get old enough to retire and large corporations are more likely to take care of their employees with a 401k. You pull a little money out before taxes and put it away to earn money so that when you retire you’ve got something to supplement you Social Security [you know that ponzi scheme that Rick Perry likes to talk about]
  4. Perks: Large corporations don’t like having their employees turn against them so they placate them by having refrigerators stocked with food and drink for them. The company I’m with regularly stocks a few refrigerators with sodas, mineral water, juices, yogurt, cheese, gummies and energy bars. You practically don’t need to bring your lunch to work at a place like this.
Now today you have protesters who are camping out decrying government and corporations. They have no internet access or electricity and since they’ve been doing this for several weeks they most likely don’t have jobs. I don’t have time to do this. I supplement my income by using online resources such as task rabbit. I’m able to add a couple of hundred bucks more a week from that and another couple of hundred a week through freelance work.
Yes, I always hated the rich guys at the top of the food chain in business because they got to sit on their asses all day and rake in millions, but that was because I wanted that job. I always wanted to be able to provide for my family without any worries just like they did. The problem is that to get to that place you have to work for it, not sit and demand it. Even though I’m a contractor, I look for work ever day and I know that the jobs are out there because I send out at least 10 resumes a day. So do thousands of others which is why I don’t get calls as often as I used to, but I’m out there every day trying to make more money than I did yesterday. This is why I don’t have time to camp out and protest because I have a family to feed.
Many of you may not know this, but San Francisco has a JobsNow! program still in effect that if you can find someone to hire you San Francisco will give them a $5000 stimulus bonus for hiring you. They just have to keep you for five months. There are ways to make ends meet out there you just have to get out there and find them. Enough of the rant, just think about this. Oh and by the way, I’m a progressive, not a republican.

 

[ad#AdBrite]

Goodbye to the California Academy of Sciences

As most of you know I have had a love/hate relationship with the California Academy of Sciences. I love the fact that they have a super eco-friendly building with LEED Platinum certification, but what I have found with the new change is that they don’t have the science so much anymore. I grew up at the Academy and whenever I had a science project at school I would always do my research at the Academy because it was a treasure trove of information and because I was also a member of the Junior Academy I had access to even more.

I received my renewal notice from the Academy a few days ago and noticed that last year we paid $159 for a family membership. This year they have risen the price to $199. While that’s less than a dollar a day that kind of thinking only applies to food, not an Academy of Sciences membership which has now entered into the luxury realm. They’ve raised their prices to $29.95 to gain entrance to its hallowed halls, but once you get inside it feels empty. See the fish! See the rainforest! See the planetarium! (sorry all our shows are filled for the day) See our living roof! Oh, here’s some crap we’re using to fill in the space while you walk to our cafe to plunk down another $50 on top of the $100 you just put down to get your family of four in the door on top of the parking fee.

I’m not taking it anymore. While I grew up there and learned a lot through my activities there the Academy has been rebuilt to serve science to the rich, not the masses. This prompted me to send them the following letter:

Dear California Academy of Sciences,

It is with great regret that I will not be renewing my family membership this year. You price for membership has risen too much over the years to make it feasible for my middle class family to afford anymore.

I grew up as a part of the Academy of Sciences, attending classes at the former Junior Academy while volunteering at Steinhart Aquarium and eventually moving on to work in the Junior Academy and Planetarium. The Academy gave me great benefits at the time that gave me much more than I was learning in school and had me understanding organic chemistry at the age of 12 to the point that I was regularly pointing out errors to my teachers.

That was many years ago. Back when a $25 membership would allow your entire family and two guests walk freely about the Academy that wasn’t so incredibly packed as it is today. We also used to have free monthly meetings and a magazine delivered to us each month and I always looked forward to the free members night that gave us all behind the scenes tours of the aquarium and all the other departments at the Academy.

While the prices obviously have to rise over time, your costs less than 10 years ago prior to the rebuilding of the Academy were $65 for a family membership and came with eight guest passes and you still had the members night. Today that would cost me $1000 and on my budget that makes it unavailable. I have had the standard family membership which when I paid it last year was $159. If I were to renew it today it would cost me $199 which I still cannot afford.

There was a time when the California Academy of Sciences served the people of San Francisco. Now it would cost a family of four $100 to spend a day at the Academy and to me that is unacceptable. I regret that what the Academy once offered me it no longer offers the people of San Francisco and that my daughter will grow up without having access to what I had. I regret that there are so many people flocking to the Academy and giving up their hard earned money to view the aquarium, rainforest and planetarium with a few bits and pieces strewn about. There is no more Wattis Hall of Man, no more Hall of Birds, no more Hall of Minerals, no more North American Hall, no more Life through Science, no more Swamp and no more Entomology room. You have retained African Hall, but the only thing people seem to pay attention to is the penguin exhibit with the rest of the hall being the only quiet, open space in the Academy.

I used to be able to spend an entire day at the Academy of Sciences, but now I can take it in in under two hours. While the Academy has grown in square footage it has shrunk in what it is offering its patrons. I have friends and family who come to visit here and they would love to see the Academy of Sciences, but as soon as I tell them the price they choose to go somewhere else. I used to be able to give them my cards to use, but now you insist on members to show their ID to get in. True, you do offer the one free day a month which is by far the worse day to visit the Academy as it is so crowded it is probably coming close to passing fire code violations on occupancy.

I am not sure if I will ever return to the California Academy of Sciences again unless there is a change back to serving the people of San Francisco by not selling the sizzle instead of the steak at a high price, but by serving up science to the masses that teaches them and gives them a better understanding of the world we live in and how fragile it can be.

Sincerely with deep regret,

Eric Kauschen

The times, they are a changing. Please share this with your friends. I think it will be a long time before you hear me mention the California Academy of Sciences again.

UPDATE: After doing a little fact finding I’ve just discovered that the family membership was $60/year until 2008, A mere 3 years ago and offered the benefits of 4 free academy passes that they valued at $7 each not the $29.95 they ask today, three years later.

[gmap zoom=’16’ center_lat=’37.7703997′ center_lon=’-122.4664991′]

[ad#AdBrite]