The movie Bullitt is an iconic movie about San Francisco, but wasn’t really about San Francisco. It was a cop movie released in 1968 that is famous for the car chase scene from Fisherman’s Wharf through Pacific Heights and ending with cars driving into the water and, yes…I have a connection to this movie.
Unlike Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, the car chases were pretty accurate for the most part. They kept things together within a few blocks during the scene where Steve McQueen in his Mustang Fastback was ripping and sliding around the streets in that classic green car which I wish they were still producing today.
My connection to this movie is through my Uncle Al who ran Podesta Divers. They were a salvage operation that worked off of the piers of course. He was hire to pull the cars out of the bay when anyone filmed a movie here. While I can’t find it anymore because I was a little kid when Bullitt was filmed Uncle Al got me an autographed picture of Steve McQueen because I loved the car chase scene so much. Little boys love cars and to watch them racing around made them awesome.
The thing that makes this film so iconic for San Francisco is that during the chase scene you get to see so much of San Francisco in a short period of time that it’s almost like a walkthrough at high speed. They did such a good job that the National Film Registry in 2007 selected it for preservation for being, culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. I would agree with them. The film just oozes San Francisco for that time period. The Mustang Fastback used in the movie was made famous on screen and became a must have car in 1968.
Steve McQueen was Bullitt who was a man’s man. He was more bad ass than a honey badger and didn’t take sh*t from no one. His attitude and the fact that he drove that Mustang in most of the stunts made him more of a bad ass of an actor. I was only able to find a part of the car chase scene, but enjoy it and if you haven’t seen the movie yet find a place where you can get it if you love San Francisco because it’s a part of our history and we shouldn’t forget.
I read an article on SFgate today that the Tosca Cafe may be closing. While I wasn’t a frequent visitor, I’ve been there enough times that it feels like home when you walk in the door. It has quite a history that the SFgate article doesn’t cover so I’m going to give you the details today.
It turns out that Tosca opened in 1919 and it was the first place in the United States to serve espresso and cappuccino. Started by three Italians who came to San Francisco after World War I, they wanted to create a bar like they used to frequent in Italy. This made Tosca a keystone of North Beach. Their drinks that they were known for were their cappuccino [which unlike Starbucks has brandy] and the White Nun [steamed milk, brandy and kahlua]. Tosca is also known for it’s Irish Coffee which many people say is better than the Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe where it was started.
Carol Doda was known to be seen sitting in the front window sipping White Nun’s in between her acts at the Condor club. Many other celebrities from around the world have been known to stop in at Tosca’s. Jerry Brown is a regular customer as is Willie Brown. It’s the place to go in San Francisco to find celebrities and it’s a same that the strip club owner landlord wants to shut down a piece of San Francisco history.
I shed a tear today when I discovered that Phyllis Diller died. Many of you vaguely remember her, but I as a young kid in the 60’s remember her well from her TV appearances. Here hair defined the term fright wig, but while she looked scary as hell she was always funny and it was that old school vaudevillian comedy. I actually ran into her as a child when my Mom pawned me off to my Uncle Al. I was about seven. I think I screamed or wet my pants at seeing her in person because she was scary and loud.
While she wasn’t born in San Francisco, but she got her start here at a little club called the Purple Onion. A strange club that my parents used to tell me was at times secretly a gay club where one of the gay partners would dress as the opposite sex so as not to be so obvious. For a female comedienne with a husband named Fang, this was the perfect spot for her. It was quite a club with a bit of an odd bent to it. The Smothers Brothers recorded an album there, Richard Pryor did some of his earliest shows there, I believe Lenny Bruce even got arrested there for his obscene performance which didn’t involve anything more than talking.
It’s a dingy cellar club that had a kind of warm feeling to it like your local dive bar, it’s ugly and dirty, but it’s your place to call home. Beat poets would hang out there for the cheap drinks if Vesuvios was too packed. My old Uncle Al frequented the place with his buddy Larry Ferlinghetti I’m sure.
It’s changed quite a bit since it opened in 1952 unlike Phyllis who has had that crazy old woman look since I was a child. I miss her and am sorry to see her go, but I’m sure her there will be lots of shows on for us in the next few weeks to remember her.
We recently received a free Apple TV and after a few days we’ve decided that we no longer need to pay $93 a month to Comcast for cable TV. We have Netflix and Hulu Plus now so really anything we want to watch is available to us on demand.
We got the new Apple TV through the fact that I use a program called Viggle that let’s you check into TV shows you want and gives you points. It took me a couple of months to build up the 210,000 points to get the Apple TV, but was worth it. I now am building up points so that I get Hulu Plus for free. Currently that means that instead of spending $93.00 per month we’ll only have to spend $7.99 per month. That’s a noteworthy price decrease and I have to say that while we don’t one an HD TV, but an older EDTV [480p] the quality is really better than standard cable TV, plus we can call up the shows when we want to see them.
Add to this that we have an iPad which mirrors to the Apple TV, so we’ve downloaded apps for the local TV stations and we can see live local news as well. All in all we are very happy with our new little toy even though we run into small problems streaming videos from my computer to the Apple TV, but I’ll work the kinks out. Comcast, I’m sorry, but you’ve lost another customer.
I have to admit that I haven’t had to take Muni on a regular basis in almost three years and now that it’s back in my life because of work I don’t like what I see. While for me it’s rather efficient, it’s the way it takes you from one place to another is what bothers me.
I have to take the 48 Quintara to whatever metro will get me to Civic Center and then board the 19 Polk towards Hunters Point to get me out to the Potrero Hill area. It’s takes about 45 minutes which is good considering, but there are a few things that I encounter along the way that I don’t like.
People need to bathe more often. The stench on Muni now is unbelievable. People seem to me like they bathe maybe once a week if that and you’re lucky if they shave once a month.
Why do y’alls have to be so loud. If you’re talking to a person next to you there’s no reason to exceed 100 db even if the bus or metro is loud.
Driving apparently is no longer a required skill to navigate a bus. There is this kind of fascinating experience when you get stuck standing or are not sitting in a front facing position I can only call the air hump. It’s the constant gas to brake ratio that literally makes you look like you’re having sex with the air. It is an annoying feeling to have to spend 45 minutes humping the air in front of you and is especially creepy if it’s a crowded bus.
People who ride Muni now are rude. I was yelled at a week ago by a girl because in trying to see if I could get 3G access on the Metro [you can’t except for Castro station or BART] I held up my phone in a somewhat vertical manner and she yelled at me to not take a picture of her. I really didn’t have an interest in taking a picture of her and if I really did I would have used a decent line and asked her so she’d remember me. So now I am a dirty old man for holding up my phone on the Metro. Also most people on Muni have a frown on their face.
The buses and Metro generally need work on them. This is something that’s been mentioned in numerous articles before, but part of the bad driving by people is because the buses are older and need work. I’m sure this would help with the air humping action as well as the frowns on everyone’s face.
The Clipper Card is still a mystery. When I have it filled and tap it, it sometimes beeps once or sometimes twice. I have no idea what either one means and there was one time when I got on and tapped it and it turned out it wasn’t loaded, but no one seemed to care until I tried to transfer and they were checking the cards. I will continue to claim that I didn’t know if they check my card on any bus trip and I figure that should go over well because they need a machine to tell whether or not your card is valid and there’s nothing that tells you whether it’s valid or not.
If my family had two cars this wouldn’t be a problem as parking where I work is easy. Hell, it’s even free for me, but I can’t leave my wife without a car for the better part of day because she starts to get cabin fever after a couple of days. What would be the best for me was if I could just spend all my time in the Sunset and only have to run out of the house for little trips around the neighborhood, but you know, like all of you, we need jobs to work and there ain’t no one looking for web designers and code monkeys in the Sunset…yet. If you are, contact me immediately.
So Monday night we have to put out our garbage. Twice in the last six months for some reason they haven’t picked up our garbage. I call and they tell me that they’ll pick it up the next day. OK, fine by me, but today we had a knock on the door…
The guy who’s picking up our trash says to my wife that the next time they don’t pick up our trash and have to come back the next day that they’re going to charge us $20. Does this sound like a shake down to you? I put it out, you pick it up. I put it out, you don’t pick it up that’s not my problem. I’m paying you to pick it up.
I called up Sunset Scavengers [kind of sounds like their seagulls doesn’t it?] and the woman I talked to was typing up a ticket for me to the Supervisor and she’s a nice woman, but she speaks what she’s typing and says, Didn’t pick up garbage twice in last six months, driver said there would be $20 charge next time, what the f*ck is going on here?
Well, it wasn’t the best customer service, but I have to agree with her.I think if this happens again I’ll have to ask my wife to ask the guy’s name and it’ll probably be Vinny.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in awhile and that’s because I’ve taken a real job that I have to do a 9am to close to 5pm almost everyday in the office. I know that sounds vague, but for someone who has had a bit of hipster life without the bad clothes for the last three years it’s a big change. Most of the companies I’ve worked for have been work from home or work is like home so it’s a bit different for me now and to add to that I work in a part of town that I never went to before 9pm.
I work in the Potrero Hill district of SF and after a week and a half I’m starting to get a better feel for the area. It’s a mix of industrial, commercial and residential which is a lot different than the Sunset District, oh and the sun shines there on a daily basis. When I can drive into work I get free parking and can get there in 20 minutes. When I take the bus it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get there.
Getting used to heat during the day is something new to me. My nordic blood of the Sunset makes me sweat when the temperature passes 60°. I worked in SOMA for a short period where the heat got up into the 80’s every day and all of us were sweaty messes, but that was a print shop this place is a little more upscale and you have to sort of look like you’re working at a business so it’s a different area.
Not just in that aspect, but also in the fact that in the area around 16th and DeHaro where I work you won’t find a corner store anywhere so you pretty much need to bring in everything you need to work with you. Great when I drive in, but kind of a hassle on the bus.
When I used to come out here was about 20 years ago when the music scene had declined to the point that the Bottom of the Hill was the only place left for bands to play. Now there’s Thee Parkside for bands, but I’ve never been there. Other than that there’s very little else to draw me to this part of town. The only grocery store is Whole Foods that is ridiculously expensive, but there’s tons of really nice upscale condos all over the place, so the Potrero has a ying and yang aspect to it.
There are lots of restaurants and you’ll see lots of hipsters sitting out in front in the sun eating their lunch, but you also have a few, but small number of crazy types walking down the block yelling at the top of their lungs. Most of the businesses are also a bit on the upscale side as well even though they’re in old building from the early part of the 20th century.
This is a new experience for me, so it’s going to take me a while to being out here. It’s definitely a part of San Francisco I haven’t really experienced before and I have to say when I get on 280 South at Mariposa my car literally bounces up and down and I’m still trying to figure out why.