The Emperor Norton Bridge

norton.cartoonNow that we have a new span on the Bay Bridge apparently we have to name it. There are members of the NAACP in Southern California who think we should make an exception to the rule of not naming large structures after living people and name it after Willie Brown.

Don’t get me wrong, while I’m one of the few, I actually like Willie Brown. The man has style. The man has an attitude. He has so much attitude that if he was in favor of it being named after him he would have said something already. I guess that’s all part of being a kid born in Minneola, Texas and moving to San Francisco.

So functionally, by saying nothing I think we can take that as a no vote from Willie Brown. It’s part of the passive-agressive way politicians work in that it’s not always what they say, but what they don’t say. Our Governor, Jerry Brown who apparently didn’t learn the passive-agressive technique has just come right out and said he doesn’t like the idea.

So while the people of Southern California think they know what’s best for San Francisco, we need to come up with a counter attack to put the boobs of silicone valley in their place.

I strongly stand with the members of E Clampus Vitus who want the bridge named after Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton. This is a man who in 1859 proclaimed himself to be the Emperor of the United States of America and Protector Of Mexico. The man made his own money that people actually accepted around San Francisco. This is the type of guy that should have a bridge named after him.

As a matter of fact, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is unofficially named the Emperor Norton Bridge. There’s even a plaque on the San Francisco side stating this. Why can’t the politicians see this? We don’t have people like Emperor Norton anymore in the Bay Area and I think that we need people like that to symbolize the rough and tumble, do it yourself kind of mentality that made San Francisco what it is. Not the Mark Zuckerberg’s or Steve Job’s types who are in Silicon Valley, but the real people that San Francisco had who made a difference. There is no Emperor Norton Hotel, Bar or even Restaurant in San Francisco and if there’s a small chance I missed it then it needs to be more in the forefront than in the background as long as they’re doing a good job of representing him.

We are on the eve of the naming of the bridge so I suggest that you email Governor Brown, Mayor Lee and Mayor Quan and let them know that the bridge deserves a proper name.



Mid-Market: It’s Freaky to Walk Around

Everyone is talking about the possibility of Twitter and other tech company moving to the mid-market area. I had the chance to walk around the area today to get a feel for what it would be like if I had to work there. It wasn’t a pretty sight and now I’m going to tell you all about it.

As some of you may remember I have a friend that lives in the Tenderloin just a couple of blocks from where I was today. For people like him Mid-Market works because the first thing I noticed was all the Dollar Stores. If you’re single and on a limited budget Dollar Stores are the way to go. You don’t need the jumbo Costco sized items because they usually go bad before you’ve finished them [except bacon bits which I feel you can never have too much of]. Being able to get smaller food items like cooking supplies cheap is good. So that’s about where anything good I have to say about this area ends.

After noticing all the dollar stores, I started to realize that with very few exceptions I was probably one of the only sane people on the streets. I saw people who looked normal and then they’d start screaming at the top of their lungs and banging on anything that was around. I wouldn’t call them much of a threat to anyone except themselves, but there were a few tourists who for some reason thought it would be a good idea to come up here and found out the hard way they were wrong.

Then as I made my way to Civic Center Plaza I noticed that there at least 40 people sitting around on the granite slabs and almost everyone of them either had a cane or a wheelchair. These were not elderly people either. They were around my ages and in many cases younger. These could have been props if they were asking for money, but they weren’t asking for anything. They were just sitting around talking about nothing much and they just looked like a slab of granite in the sun what about the only thing any of them had to look forward to other than making it through another day.

Suddenly I hear a group of black guys in front of me start cheering, “You go girl!” and the usual cat calls, so me being male turned around to see a woman who thought it was a good idea in the middle of Civic Center Plaza to drop her pants and start peeing. I suppose if seeing a girl peeing is the high point of your day, what exactly does that say about the quality of your life? The stench of barf, urine and excrement is very present here even though the place looks relatively clean.

If you can stomach the smell and want to find food there are a few places, but not many. Mostly fast food places some of which I remember eating at and they didn’t stand up to the same places in other parts of town. There are a few diner style restaurants, but they all served pretty much the same thing. Eggs at Breakfast and burgers for lunch. If you look real hard you might find some teriyaki, but you’d really have to look hard. There’s actually more places to eat a block away on Mission street, but I was walking Market because I hadn’t had a chance to walk this part in several years.

Yes, there is the Main Library which I’ve talked about before and that’s nice, but I don’t think too many techies will be taking their lunch break to go to the library [which oddly enough does have a decent cafe downstairs].

Twitter has been offered a sweet offer from the city to stay here and take up residence in Mid-Market that the city is hoping to bring up that area. So far it looks like that will be a long time coming for this part of the city.

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Christmas Eve: The Way It Used To Be

I woke up this morning and was gifted with a few minutes to lay in bed and let my mind wander. I went back in time to when I was a kid and remembered how Christmas Eve used to go. It usually started around 4:30 in the afternoon. There would be a knock at the door and it would be one of our neighbors with a bottle of booze who dropped by to spread some Christmas cheer.

My Mom would usually start early on December 23th putting together appetizers because she was always known as the one in the neighborhood who could cook. The neighbors would come in and have a few drinks eat a few appetizers and then stagger off to the next house. This would continue until around 8 o’clock when my Dad would have to be propped up at the table to eat and my Mom who was smart enough to switch from gin and tonics to just tonic after the first 3 or 4 could put the meal together.

Back in those times if the cops pulled you over and asked if you’d been drinking you could say “yes, but I’ve only had a couple of drinks” which really meant 8-10 and they’d wave you on or tell you to go straight home. We knew all our neighbors back then so we had lots of knocks at the door and I think our liquor cabinet was stocked for the rest of the year. I was probably one of the few 10 year olds who could bartend and every one thought it was cute. I liked it because one year someone grabbed a brandy snifter and put a $5 bill in it which was my first tip jar.

The next morning was a little rougher for all except myself. My Grandmother was built of steel so she could pound back 4 Manhattans and wake up and wash all the dishes from the night before. Ah, the good ole days. My family never had to go a wandering so to speak on Christmas as it always came to us.

Well, times have changed and I doubt we’ll have any knocking on our door as the only people we know in the same neighborhood now are our new neighbors next door that we might have a drink with or at least say Merry Christmas to and our other neighbors who are Orthodox Jews and Hanukah’s over so they don’t really care. The only tradition left is that I like to crack a bottle of good scotch or small batch bourbon like Knob Creek, but I won’t be swilling them back until I can’t remember what I did tonight. I’ll leave those days to my parents who are gone now, but I’ll definitely raise a glass to their memory.

So to all my friends, be nice to your liver over the holidays and be healthy so we can do it again next year!

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