You Say Peninsula and I Say Isthmus

My wife and I were driving down to the Dollar Tree store in Daly City today when a random thought popped into my head. I always hear people in San Francisco when they’re driving south say, I’m driving down to the peninsula and I realized that they’re incorrect. Allow me to elaborate.

As you enter Daly City their slogan is, Gateway to the Peninsula! That’s true if you’re driving north, but if you’re driving south once you leave San Francisco you’re actually on an isthmus [pronounced like isthmus be my lucky day.] A peninsula is an area of land with water on three sides connected to the main land by an isthmus. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas usually with waterforms on either side. So technically we should all be saying when leaving the city that we’re driving down to the isthmus.

I’m not sure this idea will ever catch on and I’m surprised none of my teacher in school when we got to geography never pointed this mistake out to us. I suppose they just considered the whole patch of land before you hit San Jose a peninsula would be true, but that would then make Daly City’s slogan false.

See what happens when I let my mind wander. Isthmus be one of the stranger stories I’ve ever written.

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.

A Letter From Uncle Frank

When I wrote my article on the Treasure Island Hot Dog and not understanding how hot dogs had any association with San Francisco it triggered a response from Uncle Frank of the Schwarz Sausage Factory. While the name sounded familiar I wasn’t aware that they had started in San Francisco. Here’s the letter I received from Uncle Frank yesterday morning:

I read your post about San Francisco having no hot dog connection.

I also notice you quote Herb Caen, a serious hot dog guy.

Actually, San Francisco has a proud, although not well known, hot dog heritage. Up until a few years ago, The City was home to Schwarz Sausage Company, a multi generation family business who have been at it longer than Nathan’s of New York.

And they provide Berkeley’s spectacular Top Dog with some of the finest hot dogs on the planet.

How do I know all of this?

We’re The Hot Dog Hall Of Fame (Mr. Caen was a supporter) and we’ve tasted hot dogs all across the country, easily a thousand places in the 35 years we’ve been doing this.

There’s more to it than that but I thought we should introduce ourselves.

A few of our blogs and web sites:

Our web site:
Our blog:
About the collection:
How we got into the weenie trade:
The Presidential Wiener:

With Relsh,

Uncle Frank

I thought I knew a lot about Herb Caen, but I didn’t know he was a hot dog fan, but that makes sense. Hot dogs were always what you got at a baseball game and it was probably one from Schwarz Sausage Factory that I used to get as a kid. While they’ve been sold and are now in Fairfield [like so many other companies that grew too big for San Francisco] You can see their current website at the Engelhart Gourmet Foods site.

Thanks for the info Uncle Frank.

The Blogger’s Dilemma

Since it’s the weekend I’m going to go off course a bit for my wild weekend. I’ve met up with lots of local bloggers and talked about how they keep doing what they do. Yeah, they love doing it, but there’s always something in the back of their head telling them one day, they’ll be able to make money at it and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

Blogging is kind of like the Gold Rush was back in 1850 in California. Everyone’s doing expecting to make it big like they guys they heard about who made it big. I’ve listened to those podcasts where the guys tell you how they did it, but they always left out a couple of things. Let me fill you in on some of those now.

First off blogs and podcasts are very different than newspaper and news websites. When you take out a ad with a newspaper you get printed in maybe one to three editions and then your ad doesn’t exist anymore. If you’re advertising on an online site you probably get the sidebar for say a month and then get pulled.

When you get your ad posted at the end of a blog post that means that as long as the blog is up there people can still find the post. For me articles I’ve written on medical marijuana are still getting hits three years after I’ve written them. There are startups that aren’t still in business after three years, but their ads could still exist.

Second, if someone uses a mobile app or rss reader the ad is there in the post. Sidebars don’t show up in mobile apps or rss readers so they still get it pushed out to them if they search your blog. This makes a very different market for selling advertising on your blog.

Here is an idea I came up with. I used to do a podcast that was very popular and would get over a thousand hits a day. The show from six years ago are still getting hits and some of those shows have surpassed fifty thousand [50,000] downloads. That’s a significant number. I leave the site up because I still bring in between $200-$600/month from an affiliate advertiser even though the show is inactive.

If you want to solicit a business to advertise with you, you’ll need to point these facts out to them. I came up with a formula that should work for bloggers that will make you money and give the business more than it will get elsewhere. With your blog their ad is delivered right to their face, not buried in a newspaper that as you’re flipping pages they might see, but it’s right there in their face. This means you don’t have to have as large a readership since the readers will see the ad with every post.

I propose the following formula. First install a stat counter such as kStats or Statpress reloaded onto your WordPress blog [15% of the web is run off of WordPress]. Let it run for a few months and count up the visitors plus feeds that are read by the RSS readers. Ignore the spiders and page views. Now multiply that number for the month by 2¢ [.02]. This will be your monthly fee for advertising for a month. By my current readership of 15k visitors and feeds per month that would come out to around $300/month. Keep in mind that every article in that month will still hold the ad until you decide to take down the site so while their paying for a month they’ll still get people who see it later. Paying $300 to reach over 50,000 people directly not indirectly such as what happens with other print and online advertising is money better well spent for a company.

If you are a podcaster, because of the delivery system in place by iTunes [which made up for over 90% of the downloads of my old podcast and still does] the price per hit is 5¢ [.05] per hit. They have a pre made commercial at the beginning or end of your podcast that will be there forever. People tend to seek out old podcasts more so they blog posts so they’ll get more hits for their money with advertising on a podcast not a blog post. Not like a one time run during the Super Bowl for X millions of dollars. Sure they can run the ad again, but they’ll also have to pay for it again. I’m not saying that advertising on a podcast is better than advertising on the Super Bowl, but just show the ways you can go a bit further with your ad dollars if you’re a company.

One of the best parts about all of this is that you can always take a snapshot of your stats and email it to your client who’s advertising with you. If you’re podcasting it’s easier if you’re using a host such as libsyn since they can show you a month at a time with day by day read outs. If you’re site is growing in readership you can offer a potential client a lock in rate at the current month’s price and when your readership grows they still pay you the same amount.

I have tried affiliate programs and some of them work [oddly enough from conversations with other bloggers and podcasters sex toys affiliates seem to rake in the most], but you have to take their word for it that you’ve sold any of their products. I know of people who have told me and even shown me products they’ve purchased from affiliate links yet I have never seen a plus show up on my affiliate account.

This about what I’ve just written and talk about it then post comments because I want to hear from all my blogger friends out there as well. This seems like a good idea to me, now lets see what you think.

The Treasure Island Hot Dog

I’ve had to do some research on this one because San Francisco isn’t known for it’s hot dogs like New York, but I remember growing up my Mom always used to buy Treasure Island Hot Dogs at the butcher shop [she was a bit too snooty for Oscar Meyer]. All I can remember about them was they were about a foot long when you rarely found a hot dog that long. I don’t remember anything about the taste being special, but I do remember the name so as I said, it was time to do some research.

The first thing I discovered was that we, San Francisco, don’t have the only Treasure Island. Apparently there is also one in Florida that also has a lot of hot dog stands. I don’t know where it is, but I certainly don’t associate Florida with hot dogs. The closest association with Treasure Island and the Hot Dog goes back to the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco held on Treasure Island. The interesting part about this story is that the hot dog and hamburger held a rather interesting place there. Because you could buy one and walk away and not have to sit down restaurant style they were not subject to taxation because they weren’t considered meals, but snacks.

That would answer the question why the hot dogs were a foot long. It was just a big snack that you could dump relish, onions, mustard and or ketchup on [these are the typical condiments for hot dogs in San Francisco, no sauerkraut.] So the people who originally came up with the Treasure Island hot dog were kind of trying to make a run around having to pay taxes. Now THAT sounds like old time San Francisco to me. There are apparently hot dog stands on Treasure Island, but I don’t know if they even serve the supposed Treasure Island Hot Dog.

All in all to me a hot dog is a hot dog. It’s a tubular meat delivery device that is more flavored by what you put on in that by itself. If you want to find Treasure Island Hot Dogs for sale you’ll have to go to some old school or high end butcher shops in San Francisco. When I’ve gone into one that has them and asked them why they’re called a Treasure Island Hot Dog no one can tell me. If one of you out there has some more info to share on this let me know. I get a bit OCD at times when I can’t get the answer to my questions.

Torani Bacon Syrup: So Wrong it’s Right!

My wife and I were out shopping yesterday and wandered into Cost Plus just for the heck of it. I’ve always liked the food section because you can find odd foreign foods. Well today we found a truly weird food and it comes from San Francisco’s own Torani Syrup and it’s bacon flavored.

I posted the picture you see to the left on FaceBook and that started a mass of comments after I said, I’ll get some as soon as I figure out what to do with it. Torani suggests Manhattans, Old Fashioned, Bloody Mary’s and Milkshakes [GACK!] My friends came up with better ideas, vodka bacon on the rocks, bacon carbonara sauce, etc. I’m sure more will come. I added Chocolate bacon truffles because after trying bacon dipped in chocolate I can see why people like the combo.

Torani has a few suggestions of it’s own in the recipe section such as a Bacon Bourbon Sour, Bacon Alexander, Canadian Bacon and Bacon Margarita. These are all drinks and you can see the whole list by going to their recipes section and running a search for all recipes using bacon syrup.

Something I thought of afterwards was that there is no bacon involved in the production of this just like with Bacon Salt [which incidentally is one of my favorite things to add to french fries or popcorn], so that means that it’s kosher and vegan friendly as well as being fat free.

Everything bacon seems to be the new thing with Baconnaise, Bacon Pop, Bacon Lip Balm. Hell, I’ve even heard that there making a bacon flavored personal lubricant. So expect to see more and more of this sort of thing because as almost everyone will agree, who doesn’t like bacon?

If I haven’t given you enough on bacon then you might want to read this blog.

The Broderick Terry Duel

I just learned that dueling apparently was still in fashion in 1859 and it was here on the edge of great city near Lake Merced what was known as the last great American duel was held on September 13th, 1859 between John C. Broderick and David Terry. This little known duel is marked with only a plaque so I had to do a little background research to find out the story behind the duel.

Two men, both having suffered the disappointments and frustrations of political failure, were egged on by their…friends into fighting a duel for which neither of them had much stomach. After the election of 1859, Terry insisted on making a speech accusing the faction which had defeated him [for chief justice of the state supreme court] of being “the personal chattels of a single individual,” of belonging “heart and soul, body and breeches, to David C. Broderick.” The next morning, Broderick was overheard by a friend of Terry’s saying: “I have said that I considered him the only honest man on the supreme bench, but I now take it all back.” This was the provocation that led Terry to demand satisfaction. The duel was fought, and Broderick mortally wounded. On his death bed, he said: “They killed me because I was opposed to the extension of slavery and the corruption of justice.” Terry was tried and acquitted in Marin County. The duel resulted in post-mortem martyrdom for Broderick, and aroused such a hatred for Terry in San Francisco that he was forced to retire to Stockton.

In a footnote to the history of this duel, the two Belgian .58 caliber pistols [Them’s some big bullets] used by Broderick and Terry were sold at auction in San Francisco on November 25, 1998. The cased single-shot pistol set, including a copper powder flask, loading rod and mallet, were purchased for $34,500, at a Butterfield & Butterfield auction, by an unidentified private collector.

This memorial to Senator Broderick, in the California Police Gazette, was published September 17, 1859, four days after the duel, and one day after Senator Broderick died.

On Friday, Sept. 16th, ’59, at half-past 9 a.m., Hon. David C. Broderick, Senator of the United States from our State, died from the effect of a wound received in a duel, fought on Tuesday morning last, with David S. Terry, formerly Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California. With the manner of his wounding we have nothing to do; the daily press, in their partisan opinions, have given many different statements in regard to it, and to them we refer for the particulars of the duel; our task is merely to speak of a fallen hero, a good man gone to his death. For days previous to his dissolution, the gloomy countenances of the whole people told how great was the feeling for the wounded man, and the groups of sad faces at all points in the city, showed the intense anxiety for his welfare. All hopes, however, proved fallacious, and while the bright sun was shining over our beautiful country, while everything in nature was arrayed in loveliness, and while a multitude of eager friends were awaiting the results of the efforts of his physicians, the spirit of the great man, the self-made leader of senates, the warm friend, the truthful and magnanimous antagonist, passed from the body and took its silent flight to the great unknown world of space. Not only does a State mourn for its champion and defender, not only does the population of the Pacific slope wail for the loss of its favorite, but a whole confederacy—a whole people, are full of sorrow and regret for his death. As was said of another, “The heart of a nation is throbbing heavily at the portals of his tomb.”

For years, Mr. Broderick has battled for principles which he considered right and of late he has exercised all his strength of mind and body for the advancement of those principles. Just having ended a political campaign with credit to himself, and full of high aspirations for the future, he has been cut down in the prime of his life, and all his hopes and fears are now as one.

Cold in death, the body, which formerly contained a mind such as only a God could create, lies calmly awaiting what disposition is chosen for it. There will be parade and pomp and a gathering of multitudes, but will these indemnify us for the loss we have sustained? Will the funeral ceremonies do ought towards healing the terrible wound in the body politic?

No! for such a man can never have his placed filled, he will always be missed. When occasions of this kind are forced upon us, we feel too deeply the great effect, the years will pass before the sacrifice will be forgotten. Time cannot entirely obliterate it, and the memory of the people will cling tenaciously to the circumstances. For our State, we are sorry. The shock sustained in consequence of this last terrible act will have a tendency to injure it deeply. We have, from the first days of California, have been more or less stained with the blood of our people, and the efforts of the cooler portion of our community have been unsuccessful as to the prevention of these foul blots. One after another of the damning consequences arrive, and California is forced to recede instead of advancing in the paths of civilization. When will we cease to be so terribly scourged and take our place among the enlightened of the age? If not soon, we will cease to exist as a people, for strife and bloodshed will annihilate us. Let us hope that a better spirit will hereafter prevail, and let us also hope that the successor of Mr. Broderick will be as honest and upright in the discharge of his duty.

It’s kind of hard to imagine that in the city know for hippies and pacifism that two men would be taking shots at each other, no less in the quiet area around Lake Merced, but I’m sure life was very different at the end of the California Gold Rush in San Francisco.

Why The Hell Is My Daughter Speaking Dutch?

Every once in awhile some really strange happens that catches me off guard. My daughter who I’ve mentioned previously is autistic. She doesn’t talk much, but this is getting a lot better. I suddenly noticed her saying phrases that weren’t English and of all things sounded Dutch. It turns out that she was indeed speaking Dutch. How did this happen? I can blame it all on Sesame Street.

Sesame Street is shown all around the world in just about every country if not every country. Add to this an iPad and YouTube and there is where it all started. She’s going to be 5 at the end of the month and took to the iPad quicker than a pair of senior citizens I was hired to teach them how to use one. Since she loves Sesame Street and understand how YouTube works she finds lots of videos to watch. the odd part is that when she selects a video it shows suggested videos to watch. She watches a bit in English and there might be a suggested version of it in Spanish or Dutch as the case may be.

I don’t mind her speaking Spanish because, well that is a language I can at least understand. Dutch is one of those languages that I don’t even know how to say anything that would get my face slapped in [there are 12 other languages that I know how to get my face slapped in, but that’s another story.]

I understand how a young child’s mind is very malleable and it is very easy for them to learn new languages. I get a kick when she walks in the room and says hola or wants me to do something and says vuelve conmigo. That I can understand, but when she starts singing the Teletubbies theme in Dutch it becomes a little creepy. She even gets the lispy S at the end of teletubbiesh.

Since she has creeped me out quite a bit with this I felt it only fitting to torment my beloved readers with the Teletubbies intro in Dutch. Enjoy and be horrified.

Surfing San Francisco

Now that my Mother is gone I can come out publicly. I was a teenage surf bum. My Mother would always tell me the horror stories of how surfer’s would get pulled into the undertow and sucked out to the Farallone islands. I always thought that was a bit of overkill, but she just never wanted me to surf.

Unfortunately when you push too hard against your child not doing something it only makes them want to do it more. Good work Mom. I had a friend that lived a block from the beach and we found a couple of boards at a garage sale out there one day and picked them up for around $50 each [this was back in the 70’s when things were cheaper]. I had no idea how to surf other than watching people surf on TV. We did make skimboards that you’d throw on the surf as it washed in and then you run and jump on it so we at least knew how to wax the boards.

Ocean Beach is actually not the best place to surf. Unless there’s some really bad weather the waves aren’t that great and yes there is that nasty undertow, but I was a very experienced swimmer so that wasn’t too much of a problem. Ocean Beach was surfing as I knew it [our spot was Kelly’s Cover] until one day when my friend bought a car and suggested we try out the waves at Santa Cruz [I would never try Mavericks]. We packed up the station wagon and go on the road one weekend. I had never really been to a surfer town before and our jaws dropped when got there and saw girls in bikini’s everywhere. I was in heaven.

I also didn’t see anyone in wetsuits like you had to wear in San Francisco. It was all surfer shorts. We grabbed the boards and hit the water. Much warmer than San Francisco and very smooth waves. It was a lot less work than the waves in San Francisco and I think because of that there were more surfers. While we were taking a break a couple of the locals came up and started the conversation with, ‘Frisco right? [Grrrrrr]. Yeah, let me guess, the wetsuits gave it away? Yeah. OK so there was an apparently rivalry between SF And Santa Cruz and I wasn’t even aware of it.

I ended up giving up surfing when I turned 21. I don’t exactly know why, but I just lost the desire to go out into that freezing cold water. When my wife and I got married we did take a trip to Hawaii and I was tempted again, but I didn’t go for it. I suppose I didn’t like all the little fish swimming around in the water bitting at the hair on my legs. That and the fact that the fish were probably bigger as you went out farther. I’ll just keep it in the back of my mind for now and maybe one day I give it a go again.

The Day I Bought A Burger

Looking back in time I thought I be a bit nostalgic today. There was a time many years ago when I finally got my first car. It was a 1979 Silver Anniversary TransAm. That was some car to have as a first. I was 28 when I was able to get it. A friend of mine worked on cars a lot and he fixed this one up and tricked it out in every way. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of six years so I kind of considered this a good consolation prize.

I hadn’t really driven before because it wasn’t really necessary in San Francisco and I just figured that anywhere I needed to get in the city would take me about an hour on Muni. Things were about to change for me. I could date outside my neighborhood for one. Hell, I could date outside the city even. It took me a while to realize that. Since I wasn’t used to driving even though I got my driver’s license at 21 I mostly just drove around the neighborhood. Then about a week after I had the car I drove and bought a burger.

It wasn’t really much of a trip and I wasn’t even really that hungry, but I drove the car across the park the Richmond to the Jack in the Box on 11th and Geary and bought a burger and fries. I sat in the car eating them and just realized that I had the ability to do something as stupid as hop in the car and drive 10 minutes to get a burger. Not an hour on Muni, but 10 minutes. The world suddenly got smaller. I kind of had a feeling like Mel Gibson in Braveheart where I wanted to stand and scream FREEDOM! [granted in the movie he had just been castrated and disemboweled, but I’ll leave that part aside.]

Soon I worked up the courage to drive on freeways and suddenly I was driving to friends houses in South Bay or Marin for parties. Why I actually got so good at driving that I was pulled over on Mission street at 4am and had a cop screaming at me for going 75mph. I didn’t get a ticket that night, but did realize that I was letting things go to my head a bit.

I dialed things down a notch and started getting better gas mileage. I remember being outraged at having to pay $1.39 a gallon for premium gas. Times were good back then. There was less to worry about we all had jobs and money and I could drive all over the city to buy stuff. I miss my TransAm, but I don’t miss having to wonder if it would start in the morning or having my head under the hood changing the spark plugs every couple of months [the car had 139,000 miles on it when I bought it.]

The car lasted me only about eight months before it became too much of a burden and I had to sell it after getting a toned down 1984 Firebird. It wasn’t turbo-charged like the TransAm, but it still had a lot of muscle. I still have fond memories of that first car and it’s huge ass tires and how I learned to drive it slow so I could get girls to stop and look at me. Those were good times, yep, good times.