San Francisco Mayoral Forum

Tonight I’ll be heading over to the United Irish Cultural Center to listen to several of the candidates for mayor tell me why I should vote for them. This is my first time getting involved with anything close to real politics and also my first time stepping into the U.I.C.C.

Scheduled to appear tonight are:  Leland Yee [who’s staff apparently doesn’t like me very much], Phil Ting, John Avalos [a man who took several minutes out of a campaign stop to talk to me personally], David Chiu, Joanna Rees, Bevan Dufty, Michela Alioto-Pier, Dennis Herrera and Tony Hall.

Since I’ll be visiting the United Irish Cultural Center, it seems only fitting that I wear my green suit in honor of Irish heritage even if I’m not Irish myself. It also doesn’t say if there will be drinks or snacks available, but I’ve been told they have an excellent restaurant that I might stop by for some potato leek soup, cod and chips with a slice of Bailey’s cheesecake to finish it all off.

From what I’ve been reading about the political candidates running for mayor, none of them are straying too far from each other for fear of losing a place in the second or third tier of the ranked choice voting. I’m assuming then that many of the candidates tonight will probably be saying the same thing unfortunately, that is unless Rose Pak shows up with the Run Ed Run crew. The only other thing that could get interesting is if I get pulled aside by some of Leland Yee’s crew to have a word about some of my previous posts regarding him.

If I end up spending the night in the bar then at least I’ll have a few friends to sit with me. Slainté!

[gmap width=”650px” height=”200px” type=”satellite” visible=”true” static=”true” zoom=”16″ lat=”37.7358519″ lon=”-122.50300649999997″]


Businesses are Coming to the Sunset

While it may not be a perfect method to see that things are coming back, I have been noticing a distinct trend lately out here in the Sunset — businesses are coming in that are a little bit different than what we had before. These new places have an appealing look to them that makes up want to come inside. Even some of the older businesses are giving themselves a new paint job as well.

My wife saw a place today as we were driving back from a decadent trip to Andronico’s and it’s a little bakery called, Let’s Cupcake. I don’t know how long they’ve been open, but I haven’t noticed them before so it must have been fairly recent. We stopped by and picked up their chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream. At first site, it reminded me a lot like the cupcakes at American Cupcake. It looked like them and the price was the same, $3.00 and they were even packaged the same. It’s a good sized cupcake that my wife and I could share.

We got home and scooped into it. Not bad actually, for the Sunset district I’d have to give it a WOW because you don’t find cupcakes like that out here. We usually only have the Safeway or Lucky’s cupcakes that taste like bad homemade cupcakes. I’ll give them a 3/5 for potential to get even better. The cupcake itself is dense, but moist. There was an intense chocolate flavor that probably came from the chocolate chips inside it. The buttercream frosting was more like a foam than a real frosting which counter balanced the density of the cupcake. Many people don’t like buttercream frostings because they’re usually too sweet, but this was pretty good and not overly sweet.

The place looks like a very nice coffee shop inside with two large flat screen TV’s and free wi-fi [bonus!] The staff is nice and accommodating and while you’d think they’re just cupcakes they have a few other pastries to choose from. They also serve breakfast, but our daughter had fallen asleep in the car and woke up a little grouchy so we didn’t really have time to look around too much. From doing a little google snooping I also found out that the owner, Genesis gives cupcakes to local organizations. Good for him!

Nice place give it a try. I’m glad to see there are a few hipper businesses coming to the Westside. We need to pull in the hip start up crowd out here so most of the people who live here don’t have to travel so far to get to work.



Faux Rain

I had forgotten about this until today. We had heavy fog that to people from Los Angeles would refer to as…rain. You can’t see more than 20 ft in front of you in the afternoon while you can see farther the air is so thick with humidity that if you stand around outside for a half hour you look like you walked into a rain storm.

This is always something you have to be careful of especially when you’re driving as the water will build up on your windshield fast and if you don’t have intermittent wipers you have to be quick with your fingers or you’ll run into something or worse, someone.

Heavy fog also tends to be brighter with the tiny water droplets diffusing the light making you at times wonder if you’d see better by putting on sunglasses. I guess the faux rain of heavy fog is kind of like weather that can’t make up it’s mind.

I can remember walking the few blocks to school in this kind of weather and looking like I had been hosed down. Umbrellas don’t help, but you can try. They mind at least keep the top of your head a little drier, but not much. It’s also barely enough to keep you from having to water your garden if you have one and there’s almost nothing worse than seeing your neighbor out in their garden with a raincoat watering. I guess that falls into the same category as putting on your winter coat to go out to barbecue in July. It’s a Sunset thang.

Checking my handy dandy iPhone it tells me that we’ll have to deal with this until Sunday when it will stop. Until then, stay dry my friends.



49 Mile Drive, revisited

A while ago it was suggested that I write about each of the spots on the 49 mile drive of San Francisco. Today I decided to write about the next spot, Chinatown only to realize that I had written about it already. So I started to skim through the list and discovered something…I’ve pretty much covered all the spots on this list.

For those of you not in the know, here’s the list of all the current stops [source: Wikipedia]:

As you can see there are few places listed that weren’t in the original 1938 version because they weren’t built yet. It turns out that the route hasn’t changed much, but more over that the stops along the route have changed. While I kind of scratch my head at a few of the places, does anyone really need to stop at the Federal Reserve Bank? I think they’ve covered a good amount of the places to see in San Francisco.
As I look over the list there are a few places I haven’t yet written about. I’ll tackle those shortly along with some of my favorite haunts around the city that I may or may not have revealed yet.



Digital Babylon

The ways of yesterday are the ways of today. I’m enrolled in the Jobs Now 3 program which isn’t like the original Jobs Now program where you could get a job and your employer would be repaid your salary. Now it’s only a $5000 endowment to the person who hires you, but it’s still not bad. There is a catch now though. You have to go through the Career Development Center where they try and find you a job.

This works fine if you’ve just turned 18 and don’t have a college degree, but for someone like me who has a Bachelor’s degree and has worked in the graphic design area for over 20 years and done web development for a good 10+ years you aren’t going to find anything. They do offer training, but nothing for me because I already have a college degree. Then I remembered something that few people know about or pay attention to…iTunes U.

iTunes U is a part of iTunes where colleges offer courses online. The colleges could be Stanford, Harvard, MIT, etc. They’re good courses and the best part is they are free. You won’t get a diploma from them, but if you’re someone like me who wants to learn Objective-C or Drupal, you don’t really need a diploma. You just need to learn it, then put it to use. For those of you out there like me who are skilled workers looking for a job [techie day labors] This is were you need to look. The classes cover the full range and aren’t just for techie types, but might give you an upper hand if you’ve been unemployed for awhile and want to brush up on your skills.

At the very least it’s free and gives you a chance to learn something new. At the worst, read the last sentence again. The ways of yesterday are not the ways of today and you have to use the new tools that are out there to get a leg up on the competition.

The Red Vic is Closing

I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised when I read this. The Red Vic Movie House, not to be confused with the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the next block has always had trouble defining itself and attracting customers.

I’ve never been to the Red Vic, but do remember it becoming the last place to show midnight screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This was not a place for first run movies. They were always fifth or sixth run movies with the occasional independent film from a local that was a first run because no where else would show it. When I was younger and we were far more superficial we didn’t like the idea of going to the Red Vic because they didn’t have typical theater style seating, but couches. Yes, couches like you have at home. Why pay someone money to see a movie that you could probably see at your own home for free on your own couch that you at least knew what had been spilled onto?

All of this is based solely on speculation because not only have I never even seen the inside of the Red Vic, but I can’t even find pictures of the inside so what it was like can only be conjured up in my head. My friends and I always thought of it as a movie theater for hippies because we thought at the time that hippies who thought television was bad for your brane would have to go out of their house or tent to see moving pictures. Maybe I’m right, or maybe I’m not, but I do remember the various hippies I’ve encountered over the years it was rare to see a television in any of their homes.

The Red Vic was at least a symbol of counter-culture cinema for San Francisco even if it never attracted the customer base to keep it alive. Part of me is sad to see it go, but I can’t exactly demand that it stay if I was never interested in offering any monetary support to keep it open in the first place. I’ve lost my love of movie theaters when the prices reached $10 a ticket and $20 for snacks. With our widescreen, high def, flat screen TV’s of today it kind of makes you glad to be able to watch a movies without your feet sticking to the floor and wondering what substance is making your feet stick to the floor. The Red Vic closes at the end of the month with Harold and Maude being the last movie it shows. I have to admit, that’s also a movie I’ve never seen.

[gmap width=”650px” height=”200px” type=”satellite” visible=”true” static=”true” zoom=”16″ lat=”37.7693586″ lon=”-122.45120659999998″]



Pagan Babies

Now when I was growing up I was a public school kid so I didn’t understand the concept of pagan babies. I was probably one of the only kids in my school who never had to go to church on Sunday’s even so religion was a bit of a foreign concept to me. I understood that there was this God thing that was bigger than us and loved us, but at the same time was smiting us more than giving us candy bars.

A friend who likes to get into debates with me even though I agree with him asked me the other day how many people did Satan kill in the bible. The answer is 2. God killed millions. I digress a bit, but at times religion is a funny thing to me. When a group of the old Sunset District crew started to bring up pagan babies it jarred loose a memory from my youth. My Mom always used to tell in a ironic fashion about how when she was attending Saint Bridgette’s that she used to bring in pennies to donate to the pagan babies.

What is a pagan baby exactly? Well, from what I can remember and research has given me they were African, Asian and/or Hispanic non-Christian kids that were forcibly converted over to Catholicism by missionaries that were finances by shaking down kids in Catholic schools for their pennies and/or lunch money. My Mother was one of them and so apparently were all the other Catholic school kids in the Sunset.

We aren’t talking about hippy wiccans here we’re just talking about poor, third world children that the Catholic church said, you’re hungry? here’s some food if you believe in our God and become civilized and accept the names we give you. In my search I found a guy who was remembering buying his first pagan baby at 9 years old for $5 [sounding a bit like slavery yet?]. The pagan baby he purchased was named Daniel James and his $5 gave him a  Certificate of Adoption as a Souvenir of the Ransom and Baptism of an Adopted Pagan baby named Daniel James.

DUDE! Ransom and Baptism? I think the Catholic church needed better PR people back then. You’re teaching a 9 year old about slavery and ransom. That makes the nun’s steel ruler seem a bit tame don’t it?

The best part of this is that the pagan babies fought back. This individual received one of those Nigeria bank swindle schemes in the mail wherein the pagan baby he purchased offered him $4 million dollars in exchange for $100,000 paid into a Nigerian bank. The pagan baby even mentioned his purchase by him and offered to meet with him in Nigeria to talk about the old time religion that had helped him so much that he wanted to pay him back for it.

It seems that the pagan babies have learned how to turn the scheme around. I’m wondering now if there’s a linkback to the Vatican’s records of pagan babies from Nigeria. A salam aleikum.


West Portal

West Portal is a little village within San Francisco. It is based on the metro station of the same name where the L-Taraval, M-Oceanview and K-Ingleside all come together. It’s quite a hub of transportation, yet at the same time has a bit of small town feel with a bit of a high price tag.

You’ll find very few chain stores here. I think Walgreen’s still stands out as the only major chain. Most of the shops here are of the Mom and Pop type where if visit any of them a few times the store owners will remember you.

West Portal is a funny area in that before the tunnel was built in 1918 it was rather difficult to get to. The tunnel which no services the SFMTA originally was a hole through Twin Peaks to enable streetcars to traffic people downtown in about fifteen minutes.

It’s funny to travel there during the week because after all the hustle and bustle of the morning commuters taking the trains downtown the place turns very quiet. Parking is everywhere and the place takes on a rather sleepy kind of presence. The only place you’ll find lots of people are at the tables outside the coffee shops, in particular Peet’s where you’ll find the older retired Bohemians sitting around talking about the news of the day over coffee.

You don’t find too many hipsters here and you only see someone at a coffee shop with a laptop occasionally and that’s usually at Starbuck’s. Most of the time you’ll see people here to shop or eat at one of the many restaurants. Did I just say restaurant? Well there are many here such as Fresca serving Peruvian cuisine [sorry, they don’t serve guinea pig] to the Mediterranean Bursa or if you like something less upscale there’s always Mozzarella di Buffala for a quick slice of pizza or authentic Brazilian dishes, yes you read that right or Noah’s Bagel’s for a quick nosh.

In the evenings if you want to experience a bit of old school it would be best to stop by the Philosopher’s Club to get your drink on an debate the state of politics with the locals. Be careful though for fisticuffs might ensue! While there are at least four bars on the strip of West Portal you’ll hardly ever see a fight though. This is a place where the genteel upscale people live being bordered by Forest Hill. It’s a step up from the working class here.

In general West Portal is well, nice. It’s a safe place to visit and shop. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face and there is a great sense of community here. The Merchants get together to fund decorating the parking meters for the holidays and they have a yearly arts and crafts show on the sidewalks that always brings the locals to visit.

Oh and in case you’re interested, I’ve started making neighborhood t-shirts at the behest of my Sunset District neighbors. You can see some of them at my Baghdad by the Bay Store.

[gmap width=”650px” height=”200px” type=”satellite” visible=”true” static=”true” zoom=”16″ lat=”37.7409222″ lon=”-122.46581939999999″]



The Aftermath…

Yesterday was the day we chose to celebrate the US unfollowing George III. So how did we all fare? Well from accounts of friends and family no one blew a hand off not even my friend Nikolai, the mad Russian who plays with fireworks like most of us played with toy trains as kids.

I noticed something this year that I hadn’t noticed in years previous. If you’re out in the Sunset at least [not sure about the rest of the city] you don’t really need to take a trip down to Crissy Field to watch fireworks. All you need to do it walk out into your backyard or peer out the window from any high point in your house to enjoy the show. Last night was pretty spectacular.

While the noise ran all day it didn’t really get started until around 6pm when we started to hear the M-80’s and bigger going off. They are always used to start the evening around here because they aren’t much to see, but they let everyone in a four mile radius know you’re there. These are usually accompanied by a few bottle rockets and the occasional dim bulb who sends up a decent skyrocket before the sun goes down.

The place really starts to get going around 9pm. This is where the surprises came in this year. Our house was rocked several times by what I first thought were sticks of dynamite only to walk outside and see skyrockets that were more bang than flash. These sounded like canons going off and all the car alarms were being triggered. I think my next door neighbor was sitting in his bedroom waiting for the next bang to pull out his keys and turn off the alarm because his car would only beep twice and stop. Close to 10pm is when everything kicks in for the final finale. Down by the beach there were very large shells being launched that rivaled the size of the Crissy Field shells. The only difference was since we’re up on a hill the were exploding at eye level.

If you get out to the Sunset on the Fourth of July probably one of the best places to go is the Northeast corner of the Sunset Reservoir. It’s high enough up and unblocked by most buildings that you get a clear shot down to the beach and all around you. I’m hoping one day when my daughter who slept through the thunder of the fourth starting at 7:30pm will be awake and we can make a trip up to the reservoir to watch the fun. I think she’ll enjoy it a lot.



The Weekend to Blow Sh*t Up

Welcome to the 4th of July weekend. A day where we all drink up and under the influence of alcohol light explosive devices, or in many of our cases the safe and sane fireworks of the Red Devil fireworks company.

The funny thing about this is that San Francisco ever since I can remember has outlawed the sale of even the safe and sane fireworks on top of the unsafe and insane fireworks such as the firecrackers and M80, roman candles, bottle rockets, skyrockets, you know…the fun stuff.

If you wanted to get the legal fireworks you had to go to Daly City at first and now Pacifica to get them. These were always cities with open spaces that were overgrown with weeds that dried out in the summer unlike San Francisco which had very few spaces  with dry weeds that could catch fire.

As a kid I remember my parents always telling me how a bottle rocket that flew up several hundred feet in the air and fell down through the air could land on your roof and set your house on fire. Unfortunately for her no one’s house ever caught fire in this fashion and none of the sparks from the large blasts at Crissy Field ever blew down on anyone’s house to burn it down either.

This got me thinking last night. Why is it that areas with the largest amount burnable material are allowed to sell fireworks, but large cities surrounded by asphalt that doesn’t burn aren’t? Is it a deal that the fireworks companies cut with big cities to get paid off to not sell there and give a kickback to the suburbs?

I honestly don’t know, but at least have some fun this weekend and blow sh*t up.