A long time ago in a Trader’s Joe’s far away…wait, nope scratch that, I mean the Trader Joe’s at Stonestown. I went in the other day because we had run out of…tempura shrimp. Alas there was nothing in the freezer case and I walked to the back to ask an employee if they had any in stock in the back. She rushes out to verify that I had just told her there is no tempura shrimp in the house. She then runs off to find a manager or someone to ask about when it will be coming in. I wait…
About five minutes later she comes back and informs me, Oh, we don’t have it because we’ve discontinued stocking it. WHAT?!?! Now if you remember back a few days you’ll remember that they had discontinued it, but at my request restocked it only to find out that it was selling and that they had sold out when I went back only to have the staff running around frantically to calm down Tempura Guy™ so that he would not level the store.
Well apparently I wasn’t scary enough the first time since this impish little waif did not fear The Wrath of Tempura Guy™. Tempura Guy™ goes into stealth mode and upon returning home visits the Trader Joe’s website and using the contact form sent a noted regarding the Stonestown Trader Joe’s that they had discontinued, then restocked, then discontinued again a produce in less than a month! Add major sabre rattling and huffing and puffing to the electronic correspondence and click submit.
Tempura Guy™ loves his keyboard lycanthropy and the power it brings him. Tempura Guy™ feels good about himself and his love of the holy tempura shrimp, hallowed be thy panko encrusted name. Then, it happens. The Darth Vader theme ringing from his iPhone alerts him to a phone call from Trader Joe’s. Tempura Guy™ answers and hears the voice of a stammering store manager apologizing profusely, something akin to…
Lord Vader, we, I a mean…uhm, well…I am terribly sorry Tempura Guy™, I don’t know who told our crew member that, but they were terribly misinformed and we have two cases in the back to fulfill your needs and desires for tempura shrimp and we are stocking our freezer cases right now. Ok, that sounds a little creepy to me. I mean it’s not like I’m buying it for sexual gratification, I just like the taste of it. He really did use the words needs and desires.
So now I am off to Trader Joe’s where I will hear whispered conversations as I pass the crew members of, it’s Tempura Guy™ as the crew members step out of my way. I think I will add to the frivolity by asking to speak with the manager and shake his hand for coming through for me. If I had the time I would make some sort of stupid plaque that says something like, Tempura Guy™ blesses this Trader Joe’s.
Tempura Guy™ is happy now. Apologies to Lord Vader and Khan.
It’s time for me to get back to the 49 mile drive and today, it’s all about J-Town as we called it in high school or Japantown. The Japanese who mostly lived in Chinatown in the 1800’s after the 1906 earthquake needed a new place to live and moved to the sandy, crappy, yet spacious Western Addition. In this area near Geary and Gough street started a Japanese community that came together to hold their own.
Starting in 1960 and finishing eight years later the major investing Kintesu Corp. of Japan’s American branch finished building a unified Japanese Culture and Trade Center that we know today as Japantown. At the time of it’s opening it was the largest collection of Japanese culture for Japanese ex-patriots and others to experience. I remember it was a cultural stop for many of us as school kids to learn about Japanese culture that had been previously overshadowed by Chinatown.
During this time sushi wasn’t common place and about the only Japanese food people actually knew of in San Francisco was probably teriyaki of one form or another. Japantown opened up to the non-Japanese people who visited it a chance to discover yakitori, sushi, sashimi before they were common place. There was also the Kinokuniya book store where you could learn more about the culture and history of Japan in English or Japanese. It offered a wide selection of materials and is still one of the largest Japanese bookstores in America.
Most of us today think of Japantown and think of the Cherry Blossom Festival this month or the Nihonmachi Street Fair in August. I think of the Cherry Blossoms a lot at this time because you can see them around the city, not just in Japantown springing to live with their pink to lavender blossoms bringing color to the streets. Then there is also the Japantown Queen that is crowned at the end of the festival that make all the men in San Francisco drool.
Sadly though, Japantown hasn’t changed much since it opened. There are still great things to see there, but most of the stores within it for the most part sell very cheap looking trinkets that look like the stuff most people complained about in the 70’s as “Made in Japan” crap. The Kinokuniya book store is still there and while it hasn’t changed either, is still an good place to go. The food is still good, but it really isn’t anything to set it off from the tons of other Japanese restaurants around the city. What IS a great find is the Japanese grocery store there the Nijiya Market which will show you some things that you won’t find in your average grocery store even if it’s in a largely populated asian part of the city. There is also the Asakichi Incense Store that will show you that not everything that burns needs to smell like sandalwood and patchouli.
While it does need an update, there is a great deal of things to offer people who want to feel like they’ve taken a trip to Japan without having to pay the airfare. Check it out.
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Oddly enough it was earlier last week I was thinking about writing this long before the earthquake hit Japan. It’s one of those funny, duh kinds of things that just has me scratching my head sometimes. Notice the sign to the left. Good idea to know which direction to go in case of a Tsunami emergency.
I’d like to talk a little bit about tsunamis and San Francisco. We used to get tidal wave alerts fairly often out in the Sunset with warning to expect flooding. You know what we used to do? Drive down to the beach to watch and see if the big wave ever came. Absolute opposite to what a person should do, but we did it anyway. Guess what. No tsunami’s ever came. Even if we did get a big one there’s a few hurdles it would have to cross first.
- There’s either concrete walls or rock and sand piled up at the beach that reaches close to 30 feet. The waves that devastated Crescent City in 1964 topped 20′. We’d need something a lot bigger than that.
- The 8.9 or 9.1 quake that hit Japan has no chance of happening here according to experts because of the way the San Andreas Fault is built, plus our fault line is inland, not 10=15 miles off shore.
- If a wave did manage to pass over the rock, sand and concrete it would have to drop about 40′ into a trough like area that runs uphill for about 4 blocks before you’re at the same level as the top of the sand.
So all in all we’re pretty safe. My house is over 100 ft above sea level so I know I’m safe and if there’s ever a chance I’m not then there’s pretty much no where in San Francisco you’d be safe.
Now back to the picture. That picture was taken at the foot of Judah street right across the street from Java Beach cafe. If you turn 180° this is what you see. OCEAN BEACH! Ok, I kind of took a few liberties with the picture, but basically the sign is right across the street from the beach.
Yes, this sign was money well spent for people who ride on a short bus to their meetings at the low IQ club. No where else further up Judah is there another sign except over on Lincoln Blvd where there’s one a block up from the beach. No other street has signs like this so I suppose the city of San Francisco is telling residents that if you live in the northern part of the Sunset District you probably aren’t very smart.
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