Category Archives: san francisco

What’s a girl gotta do to get a hot dog in this town?

And, n0, that’s not a euphemism…

Got a late start today, as I spent the morning installing a new internal hard drive.  Happily, all went smoothly – and I’ve now got 1.7TB of primary storage space and just a bit more on my external backup drive.  That’s a lot of RAW files I’ll be able to store…

At any rate, decided I was in the mood for a hot dog.  So, against my better judgment, I headed to Absinthe (the alternate title for this p0st was “Screw you, Absinthe!” – so that should give you some idea of how things went).

"No hot dog for you!" says Absinthe

"No hot dog for you!" says Absinthe

I gave a quick gander to the menu out front, found the “Bar Menu” and it did indeed feature the hot dog I’d heard about – housemade Kobe-beef-and-pork dog, housemade condiments (‘kraut, mustard, ketchup) and dill potato chips.  Sounds great.  So, I belly up to the bar, wait patiently for the bartender to finish up making a round of drinks and then order a hot dog.

“Sorry, we don’t serve that now.”

“Huh? It’s on the bar menu, isn’t it? I’m at the bar, right?”

“We don’t serve it until after 2:00 – only brunch right now.”  And in this case, “right now” is 1:15.

“Really. Huh. OK. ‘Bye.”

This is pretty much the exact same experience my dad had last month when he tried to get a hot dog at Absinthe.  In his case, he sat at the bar at 7PM and was advised that the hot dog was only served after 8:00. I wonder when the cut-off time is for the 2PM serving?  Frankly (heh), I’m starting to think this hot dog doesn’t exist.  I’ll bet you a dollar that if I show up at Absinthe tomorrow at 2PM, they’ll tell me it’s not served until after 3PM.  Of course, this is a moot point: I won’t be going to Absinthe tomorrow or ever, since I fail to see what is so difficult about preparing a hot dog that limits it to being served only at very specific (and seemingly random) times.

The trip to Hayes Valley wasn’t a total loss, though – I stopped into Paulette’s for some macarons.  Haven’t tried yet, but with flavors like pineapple-coconut and Earl Grey tea, I have high hopes.

So, off I headed to Showdogs.  I’ve been before and I can vouch for the goodness of their dogs. And, of course, as I was mere feet from the entrance, a party of six swooped into line ahead of me. This was pretty much a dealbreaker, as I learned last time that the ordering process at Showdogs is not exactly a model of efficiency. I gave it a couple of minutes, but the line had not advanced by even one person during this time, so I gave up.

On the offhand chance anyone from Showdogs is reading this, I have a couple of suggestions. First, have one person dedicated solely to taking orders and ringing them up as quickly as possible – when they’re also pouring drinks it creates a real bottleneck (no pun intended) in the line. I’m happy to wait ten minutes for my order – but I’m not very happy about standing in line for ten minutes.

Second, get some ropes up or something to keep that line orderly. Having people backed up out the door into the middle of the sidewalk is not ideal (especially given the ambiance of this stretch of Market St.). People in the US don’t know how to queue, so it’s up to you to force them to do so properly.

But kudos on the great dogs last time I visited.  I’ll be back – just have to be sure to get there during off hours.

The Bobo at Zog's Dogs

The Bobo at Zog's Dogs

I finally wound up at Zog’s Dogs, a little yellow shack on Market at Montgomery.  Had a “Bobo” – a zippy little sausage with garlic and herbs – and added sauerkraut, relish and mustard (sadly, they’d run out of spicy mustard and I had to make do with yellow – meh). It was very tasty and just the right size.  The fresh-squeezed lemonade was delicious too.  They also offer a dog with bacon, as well as the “Prop 8” – two wieners in one bun…  Get it?  Hee…  I didn’t order fries, but they looked good – cooked to order and piping hot.

Service was friendly, fast and efficient – yay.  It’d be nice if they had a couple of stand-up tables or a counter – but it’s a takeout joint, so I won’t quibble.  And tables or no, they beat the pants off Absinthe simply by permitting me to purchase a hot dog.  Thanks, Zog’s!

“Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”

Speaker Pelosi totally threw up in her mouth a little bit – and who could blame her? I loved that she added the eye-roll/side-eye right at the end there. You know, right after Harry Reid essentially ceded the Constitutionally-specified powers of the legislative branch to the executive branch?

from Wonkette

Seward St. Slides

sewardstSome of my fondest memories of a childhood spent in San Francisco are visits to the Seward St. Slides. It’s just a little sliver of a playground that consists solely of two enormous (or so it seemed to my eight-year old eyes) concrete slides. My sisters and I would zoom down the slide and race back up for another ride down. We would do this hundreds of times over the course of an hour or so.

Of course, the slide experience improved exponentially when my step-mother started bringing a roll of wax paper on our outings.  We’d clamor for a fresh square to sit on as we careened down, ensuring that our little butts generated a minimum of friction, resulting in maximum speed, guaranteed airtime and a dramatic increase in the risk of serious injury…  It was magical.

I’m frankly amazed that the slides still exist, what with both litigation and the coddling of children being so popular these days…

At any rate, this video captures perfectly that, while we can all take part in the simple joys of a slide, the physical experience for a grown-up versus a kid is quite different.


Saw a sexy young man on his bike the other afternoon – a not-unusual occurrence here in SF.  So why did I grab for my camera in this instance?


Because his license plate made me laugh out loud…


What goes around does not apparently come around…

I never do good deeds with the intent of trying to tip the karmic scales in my favor…  But after last weekend, I thought I was due for a little of the good stuff.  To wit:

good-karmaOn Saturday, I helped two ladies in from the ‘burbs, searching for the Orpheum Theater (for a matinee of “Wicked”).  They were on the corner of Post and Mason, so they were not quite on the right track.  They wanted to walk – and they had plenty of time to do so – though I was sure to advise that while the walk to the theater was by no means dangerous, it was one of the less pleasant routes through the city.  So, I also described the two MUNI options that would get them there – and agreed that a taxi would be easy and not expensive.

This isn’t much of “good deed” on my part, though – I guess it’s one of the ways that I show my pride in San Francisco.  The City is not perfect (not even close) but I do love it – and I’m always happy to give directions or (better yet) tell some out-of-towners where to go for dinner (or where not to go…).  Yes, I realize it’s out-of-character for a hardcore misanthrope such as myself – I suppose I’m influenced by the fact that I’ve been the grateful recipient of the kindness of strangers when I’m in a new city, so why not keep the karmic circle intact?

On Sunday, after a late breakfast and a trip to the Renegade Craft Fair, Chris and I were walking toward the Castro when we encountered Jack the dog.  He was out for a walk and appeared to be alone – despite his collar and tags.  He seemed to know where he was going, but we couldn’t really just leave him.  We tried calling the numbers on the tag, but got an answering machine.  Luckily, though, Jack’s address was also on the tag and it was just around the block.

So, off the three of us went, Jack waddling along beside us contentedly, until we got back to the flat listed as the address.  The front door was open and Jack headed up the stairs.  Chris ran up to make sure the dog belonged there and his visibly-stoned-but-very-grateful owner confirmed that he did.

Oh, and after we continued our walk to the Castro, Chris also picked up an errant sock, tossed by a toddler from his stroller,  and returned it the parents.  And yes I’m taking credit for this too, just because I happened to be there…

So why then has this week turned out to be so very irritating?  By 10:30 Tuesday morning, I had declared the week both interminable and insufferable.  It wasn’t just any one thing – lots of tiny things, piling up on one another: the more annoying of my colleagues ramped up their annoying-ness to new levels; the woman in front of me at the soup place who held up the whole line at every step of her transaction; the slack-jawed numb-skulls milling about in the lobby of 1 Market, yukking it up and completely oblivious to the fact that they were blocking everybody trying to go in or out; the freak who lives in the apartment below us who is stinking up the whole third floor with his over-abundance of Glade Plug-ins; the California budget-crisis-and-nude-beach-crackdown; the cold and the damp; the fact that I spent most of Friday setting up a new e-mail template for work, then stupidly over-wrote the data with another e-mail and had to start again from scratch; that our apartment remains in semi-shambles due to the ongoing saga of the new electric heaters being installed.

Meh – I guess I’m just extra-crabby…  It’s really the same trials and tribulations I suffer through week in and week out.  But they seemed to weigh more heavily this week.

I suppose things can only get better.  I am taking Monday off, so I have a nice long three-day weekend to look forward to…  And I have physical therapy this afternoon, meaning I get to leave work early and should be home by 6:00 with a glass of wine in my hand and an 18-pound cat in my lap…  And that’s certainly nothing to complain about.

Oh, and there was a highlight of the week…  Getting to tell the classic “Mrs. Prussy” joke…  That one never gets old.

Why, Long-Haired Woman on MUNI?

I boarded the 1-California yesterday afternoon, headed to see my physical therapist, and seated myself in one of the “backwards” facing rows toward the back of the bus – you know, the seats where you face another row of seats?

Oh, the humanity...  And note my aggrieved forearm in close proximity to those layer-less tendrils...

Oh, the humanity... And note my aggrieved forearm in close proximity to those layer-less tendrils...

At any rate, after a couple of stops, a young woman sat down next to me.  Apparently, she doesn’t care to ride facing backwards (or maybe she was just a freak) – but whatever the reason, rather than sitting in the seat like a normal person and facing backwards, she sat facing to the side.  I’m sure this was quite annoying to all of the passengers in the aisle, either standing or attempting to squeeze past her knees and legs in the aisle.

But what was even more annoying for me personally (and anything related to me personally is of greater import), was that her lank, far-too-long, scraggly, baby-fine hair was set aflutter at the merest hint of a breeze, thus coming into direct and repeated contact with my bare forearm, sending shudders of dread and disgust up and down my spine.  Her hair didn’t seem especially filthy or lice-ridden – but I’m super-grossed out when a stranger’s hairs touch me.  It’s awful…

I was tempted to move into the seat across from me – but then I’d have been sitting next to the typical a-hole male rider of public transit, who has to sit with his legs spread as wide as possible.  Why do they do this?  Is it to prove their virility? “Gee, my junk is so HUGE, I can’t put my legs together!”…  I mean, my junk actually is huge and I manage to sit normally.  Oh, and he was also reading a broadsheet-style newspaper wide open – apparently unfamiliar with the proper folding technique for reading the paper on the bus.

So, given a choice between being tormented by hair-touching or leg- and newspaper-touching, I chose the lesser of the two evils…  But now I know how Odysseus must’ve felt when choosing between Scylla and Charibdis…

Day starting off nicely – seriously.

krispy_kreme_glazed_doughnutBumped into a friend on my way to work this morning and stopped to catch up a bit.  I knew she’d just moved, so I inquired as to where her new place is – and it’s on Beaver Street!  Now it’s pretty hard to beat simply living on Beaver St. (not only because of the name, but it’s actually quite a charming little tree-lined street).  But she is not simply living at any old place on Beaver – she’s at 8 Beaver!  And she’s a lesbian! Talk about kismet…

Not to mention that fact that anytime we ever walk down that street, I always say when we pass # 8, “Gee, I hope some lesbian lives there…”  And now I know that one does!

Maybe someday my own dream will come true and I’ll move to 4 Uranus.  Oh, Uranus Street…  We’d pass it all the time as kids, with my mom behind the wheel of her ’72 Ford Torino and without fail we’d all start screaming, “Drive up Uranus! Drive up Uranus!”  Good times…

Anyhoo, then I got to work.  And what do I find in the kitchen, as I go in to toast my 7-grain-and-flax-seed bread?  Two giant cartons of Krispy Kreme donuts.

So, yes, this day is looking pretty darn good so far.  Now if only Sprint would call me and tell me that my new Palm Pre is finally in stock and ready for pickup…

Flour + Water: Simple and Satisfying

Don’t know how, but I somehow managed to get a 7:15 dinner reservation at Flour + Water on Saturday night.  Apparently, the stars were simply aligned in my favor, as my attempt to reserve again via Open Table revealed that there is nothing available for the next couple of weeks – nothing! Not even at 5:00 or 10:30…


Fava Beans with Grapefruit and Avocado

Started off with a fava bean, grapefruit and avocado salad.  Beans were a lovely texture and the most beautiful shade of green.  I did think the salad was just a tad undersalted – and we had to ask for salt (kind of an annoyance – I mean I get the whole “the chef knows how to season, thus we don’t put salt and pepper on the table”…  but I think it’s a bit arrogant).  Adding just a bit of salt took the dish from good to excellent.

Next up was some pasta: mezzelune with zucchini and Meyer lemon.  Delicate half-moon pasta stuffed with ricotta in a fresh and vibrant citrus with some sliced zucchini.  Chris and I both commented (as we did for the salad) that it was completely simple, completely fresh and completely delicious.


Pizza Margherita with Bufala Mozzarella

Finished up dinner with a pizza margherita with bufala mozzarella.  The crust tasted marvelous – though it was soggy in the center.  But again, the flavors of the pizza were straightforward and delightful – the sauce tasted as if the tomatoes had just recently been on the vine.

Desserts did not disappoint.  I had chocolate budino – dark, dense, bittersweet (and with skin – the best part of pudding, as far as I’m concerned) topped with a dollop of coffee-flavored whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.  And it was exactly as delicious as it sounds…  Chris had a crumbly-yet-moist olive oil cake with ice cream and quite enjoyed it.

Very good wine list, accompanied by some fine recommendations of both reds and whites by the glass.

Chocolate Budino with Coffee Cream and Sea Salt

Chocolate Budino with Coffee Cream and Sea Salt

The meal really did remind of Italy.  The food was far from fancy, yet every ingredient sang – a clear tribute to their quality and the freshness.  It never ceases to amaze me how four or five ingredients of impeccable quality can join together to create such a delicious meal. And the service was pleasantly leisurely – we shared each dish and they were brought out one by one, giving us a chance to really savor them and enjoy our wine and each other’s company.

And an especially pleasant item missing from the bill: the SF health surcharge.  This is a pet peeve of mine, as it is so often included on the bills of very successful restaurants – and, while not enough to make me boycott entirely, it can be the death knell when it’s a toss-up between someplace that charges it and someplace that appropriately prices items on their menu to cover all of the costs of doing business…  And I made a point of telling the Flour + Water’s owner that I both noticed and appreciated his choice.

The only bad part of the meal?  That it appears unlikely we’ll be able to return soon, thanks to its popularity – though I’m sure this is not a bad problem to have if one is a restaurant owner…

Mezzelune with Zucchini and Meyer Lemon

Mezzelune with Zucchini and Meyer Lemon

Olive Oil Cake with Honey-Thyme Ice Cream

Olive Oil Cake with Honey-Thyme Ice Cream

No Marriage for You, Homos!

The California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8 was obviously disappointing to me – but not really unexpected. I guess I’m having a difficult time getting into a lather about it for several reasons… I suppose this is largely because the decision did not really come as a surprise, especially given the nature of the questions the justices asked when the case was argued (they apparently view the people as sovereign – even when the people amend the constitution in such a way as to violate  Article I, Section 7(b) of said document).

And then there’s the complete weirdness and inconsistency of the two decisions: yes, it’s OK to exclude a class of people from getting married; but members of that class who got married during it’s brief window of legality may remain married – despite the fact that the very fact of their being married violates the state’s constitution. Huh? How did the justices manage to wrap their brains around this disconnect? Not that I disagree with the decision – but I don’t see how we can logically have one without the other.

But ultimately, I think I’m OK because this won’t stand. It might take a year or two – but I will eventually have the right to marry my partner here in California. I don’t like waiting – but considering it was something that just a few years ago seemed doubtful that I’d see in my lifetime, I can continue to have some patience.

For some reason, this photo from SFist really struck me. Yes, we gays still have a ways to go before we are guaranteed fair and equal treatment under the law – but look how far we’ve come… Quite a different police response than the one 30 years ago during the “White Night” riots.

Gay Marriage

San Francisco police officer Len Broberg, right, hugs Doug Mezzacapo, left, a married gay man, in front of San Francisco City Hall.

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

What did you do for Bike To Work Day?

I rode my bike to work, just like I do most days…  Unfortunately (and somewhat ironically – you know, like rain on your wedding day), I was hit by a car whilst riding. So not only did I not go to work, most of the riding I did was by ambulance. I have a broken left elbow and I’m seeing the orthopedic surgeon later this morning…  And BTW, typing with one hand sucks. I may have to make Chris start taking dictation…

Judging from the look on my face, they'd just upped my painkillers...

Trial By Jury Duty

ladyjusticeLast week, I had to show up at the courthouse in San Francisco to fulfill my civic duty as a potential juror.  And, as expected, the process of selecting a jury was excruciating, thanks to the small but vocal nincompoops in the jury pool who were unable to give a yes-or-no answer to questions posed by the judge or the attorneys when asked their views on the legal matters at hand.  Honestly, some of them seemed to think they were in a freshman “Philosophy 101” course the way they were pontificating…  So dreadful.

At any rate, the twelve jurors were empaneled and I thought to myself, “Thank you Jesus, I’m out of here.”  It was about 60 seconds after this that I was chosen as the single alternate juror…  Grrrr.

So, the trial started the next day and it appeared to be a pretty straightforward case: a young man was accused of three misdemeanor counts related to possessing and concealing a firearm.  The facts of the case were clear; and the defendant had admitted to the police that he’d been in possession of the gun and led them to where he’d disposed of the gun after it discharged accidentally and wounded his girlfriend in the leg (apparently not seriously).  Defense counsel, in her opening statement, alluded to the defendant’s fear for his safety as the reason for carrying the weapon – he had been shot ten months earlier by a suspect apparently still at large.  So, perhaps some extenuating circumstances, but it was looking pretty likely that the defendant had in fact violated the law.

The district attorney presented his case, calling one witness, the police officer who arrested the defendant and investigated the case.  Testimony as expected, including the defendants recorded statement admitting to both possessing and concealing the weapon.  What was somewhat unexpected was the forlorn nature of the firearm introduced into evidence:  a very old 22-caliber rifle, with the stock and the barrel cut off to make it concealable.

The defense attorney called her first witness, the defendant’s brother.  He testified as to the changes he’d seen in his younger brother since he was shot.  He’d been a typical 18-year-old who liked to hang out with his friends, go to the movies, joke around – but after he recovered from his injuries, he’d become withdrawn, quiet, very wary about leaving the house.  He also testified as to the seriousness of the wounds his brother suffered: five gunshots, a period of paralysis and extensive physical therapy to regain the ability to walk.

The defendant’s sister testified next, and in much the same vein.  Both she and her brother spoke about growing up in their tight-knit community in the Mission district – and the fact that, despite having identified his shooter to the police, their brother’s assailant remained at large, their friends reporting when he showed up at parties in the neighborhood or was spotted cruising down the street.

Finally, the defendant himself took the stand.  And I have to say, it was very difficult to maintain my composure during his testimony.  He was very soft-spoken as he related the facts of his being shot two years ago, at the age of 18: he was hanging out with a group of friends early one evening and someone ran up to them brandishing a gun.  Everyone scattered and the gunman took off after the defendant, chasing him down an alley, shooting him in the stomach, then in the face and then three times in the legs.  He crawled down the alley, a passing stranger coming to his assistance before an ambulance arrived to take him to SF General for surgery.  His recovery took several months.

He also indicated that he had identified the shooter to the police in a photo line-up – and then never heard back from the police.  He spoke about his fear of leaving the house, of walking the streets at night, of loud noises; about hearing from friends who’d seen the man who shot him roaming freely through the Mission.

He spoke about how he acquired the gun – he purchased it for $40 from a homeless man.  It was on old, beat-up, single action rifle that he altered so he could fit it into his pocket.  He fired it into the air once after he bought it to make sure it worked, as he’d never before fired a gun.  And he carried it with him when he went out at night, along with two spare bullets in a homemade strap attached to the gun.  He wanted to know he’d at least have a chance of surviving if his attacker came after him again.

Frankly, it was heartbreaking. And what I couldn’t figure out was this: why are we all here?  Why hadn’t the defense attorney managed to strike a plea bargain for her client?  It was three misdemeanor charges and I didn’t get the impression that the prosecution was trying to throw the book at the defendant.  In fact, he had originally been charged with a more serious felony related to his discharging the weapon and injuring someone. And there appeared to be no dispute as to the facts of the case.  It remains a mystery to me as to why this case made it to trial…

During closing arguments, the prosecutor essentially restated both his case and the law as it pertained to the case.  It really was an open-and-shut case, viewed through the lens of the law.

The defense closed by painting a picture of the tragic circumstances that had befallen the defendant – his shooting, the apparent bungling of that case by the SFPD, his difficult recovery.  And all of it was true and sad and depressing – but none of it changed the facts of the case.  She went on and on to the jurors, about their need to reach their own individual conclusions and to stick with them, no matter what.  It was pretty clear she was hoping to elicit sufficient pity from at least one juror to result in a hung jury – or was she actually aiming for jury nullification on misdemeanor charges?  Either way, it was fairly distasteful. Don’t get me wrong – I understand that it’s her job to keep her client from being convicted.  But there was no disagreement as to facts of the case.   As that old chestnut goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right” – but that seemed to me to be the crux of her defense.

Of course, she didn’t do much to bolster her argument by using slides and charts during closing that seemed to be misstating the law as instructed by the judge, but also doing so using misspelled words and incorrect grammar. Or with her decidedly theatrical demeanor, apparently gleaned from repeated viewings of “Law and Order”.

At any rate, I was quite fortunate that none of the jurors joined the choir invisible during the trial – and thus I did not have to participate in the deliberations.  The jury reached a similar conclusion to mine, finding the defendant guilty on two of the three counts against him.  And I suspect none of them were happy about it.

As with my last interaction with the legal system (when I was sued for hitting a pedestrian with my bicycle – a pedestrian who walked into the street against a red light without looking), I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.  The defendants conviction certainly followed the letter of the law – but there sure didn’t seem to be anything fair about it.

Exciting Times in the ‘Loin


The dream...

Sitting at the computer this evening and I hear some commotion outside – sirens and a police officer yelling at people to stay on the sidewalk. I lean out my window and see that a motorcycle cop has stopped all cross-traffic on my corner and the street passing in front of my apartment is empty of cars – and the officer continues to instruct passersby not to stray from the sidewalk. OMG OMG OMG! I’ve seen this before! This is how they clear the streets for a motorcade! But who could it be? There’s no way President Obama could be in town without me knowing it… could he? Perhaps the Vice President? The First Lady?! Who knows? Who cares? It’s gotta be somebody!

I run to get my camera, to record the moment for prosperity. Maybe I should race downstairs for a better view? But what if they pass me by while I’m running down the stairs? Jesus, what should I do?! Better just stay put, hanging out my front window… Oh my god! This is going to be great!

OK, still waiting… And waiting. Hmm… Last time I saw one of these, it kinda ran like clockwork. Just be patient…

OH MY GOD! There it is! The lead motorcycle officer, cruising toward my apartment! And right behind him, lights flashing and siren blaring, an ambulance!


The reality...

An ambulance? Huh? That’s weird. And right behind the ambulance, a bunch of ordinary cars, filled with regular non-famous people who are not members of the Executive Branch of any government, foreign or domestic.

Oh, wait – behind the ambulance. It’s a film crew in a truck – filming the ambulance being driven down the street… For a movie, I guess… Or, even duller, a TV show.

Well, that wasn’t very exciting at all. And it was even less exciting when they did the whole thing over again ten minutes later. So much for my bird’s-eye view of the leader of the free world and/or his vice-president and/or the Queen of England…

As it turns out, the most exciting thing to take place in front of my apartment this evening happened about an hour later.  And it was the same excitement as every other night – a crazy person screaming obscenities.

Sounds like an episode of “The Bong Show”…

"Dude, I've totally got glaucoma..."

"Dude, I've like totally got glaucoma..."

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has proposed that the city of SF allow the Department of Public Health to dispense medical marijuana.  Mayor Newsom’s press secretary, Nathan Ballard, had this to say about the proposal:

The mayor will have to hash this out with public health officials. It’s the mayor’s job to weed out bad legislation. And to be blunt, this sounds pretty bad.

Oh that Nathan – sounds like my kind of bud…

from sfist

La Cicciolina di Boccalone


Mmmm.... Delicious pig face...

Tried “La Cicciolina” sandwich at Boccalone today…  I was a little leery, since it includes coppa di testa (essentially head cheese, plus tongue and trotters), along with lonza (cured pork loin), pickled carrots, radish, mint and chile.  It was pretty darned delicious – though I did occasionally find myself screaming internally, “Pig face! Pig face! You’re eating pig face!”

Oh, and the always-delightful house-made potato chips from Lulu Petite were especially lovely today.

Why, Annoying Lady at Walgreens?

All I needed was to pick up my prescriptions for my inhaler and some ointment (don’t ask)…  And this dame was at the pharmacy counter.  It was pretty clear she’d already been there for awhile, grilling the pharmacy tech as to the most appropriate OTC medication for her runny nose – which, as she repeatedly and loudly announced was not due to a cold or allergies but to NON-ALLERGIC RHINITIS.  And yes she said it in all caps.

She already had a box of Claritin and wanted to know which was stronger, that “or…  or…  oh, I can’t remember…  Let me just run and get it.”  And comes back with a card for Actifed (a card, since in CA, OTC meds that are used to make methamphetamine have to be kept behind the counter).

photo_032409_001“Now, which is stronger?  This one or that one?  I have a runny nose caused by NON-ALLERGIC RHINITIS.”

The pharmacist indicates Claritin is better for a runny nose, as it’s an antihistamine.

“I don’t have a problem with HISTAMINES.  I have NON-ALLERGIC RHINITIS.  I’ve used Actifed before and that works.” (Um, then why are you holding up the line of six people behind you by re-enacting the Spanish inquisition,  only with decongestants instead of heretics?)

“Is the Claritin stronger?  Well, I’ll try that to see if I that helps my NON-ALLERGIC RHINITIS.”

Of course, she is also purchasing a bunch of other weird stuff (trail mix, Q-Tips, cooter depilatory), but finally the ordeal is about over – or so I thought.  I’d forgotten about the fact that one must also show ID and provide a signature when purchasing meth-lab supplies – even if they are being used to treat NON-ALLERGIC RHINITIS.

“What?  I have to sign.  I’ve never had to do that before – ever!  Ha – only in San Francisco!”

Surprisingly, I was able to quell the nearly irresistible urge to give that bun at the back of her head a good hard yank.  Though I suppose I ought to give her some credit for not referring to it as “Frisco”…

“I’ve never had to do this in Las Vegas!”

She’s from Las Vegas – why am I not surprised?  She must be the toast of the town…  Plus I’m sure the dry desert climate really helps with her NON-ALLERGIC RHINITIS.

Bouquets to Art

For the past 25 years (unbeknownst to me), the DeYoung has put on an annual fundraiser, “Bouquets to Art.” Local florists donate arrangement inspired by the artwork from the DeYoung’s collection and then the old ladies (and Chris and me now) arrive in droves to oooh and ahhh – and criticize.  And, as Chris pointed out, everyone really is a critic.  “Oh, I don’t care for the way that branch is placed…  I’m not crazy about those colors…  Carnations? Really?”

So the whole thing is pretty hokey – but the flowers are quite lovely and some of them rather clever as well.  A few of our favorites.



dsc06120 dsc06129 dsc06122a

Why, Mr. Cable Car Conductor?

The San Francisco treat!

The San Francisco treat!

After a long and annoying day, capped off by a trip to the gym (ugh), followed by a return trip to the office to retrieve my phone that I’d left sitting on my desk, I walked to the bus stop at a leisurely pace. had advised the 2-Clement wouldn’t arrive for ten minutes.  So imagine my chagrin when I saw it pulling away from the stop just as I got to the intersection.  Sigh…  Oh well – I’ll just hop on the California St. cable car.

Of course, as I get to within about 20 feet of it, I hear the bell ring and off it goes.  Now mind you, I’m getting on at the terminus right across from my office.  The cable car was just starting to roll from a dead stop, so I sprinted and jumped on just as it got underway – about 10 feet from where it had been sitting at a complete standstill.  “Oh good,” I thought to myself, “I just made it.  I’ll be home soon to get in some Rock Band rehearsal time.”

As I sit down, the conductor came flying through the car to berate me for jumping onto a moving cable car.  Now, I won’t quibble – he’s probably right.  I’m no spring chicken and my hip is just waiting to be broken.  But be that as it may, he didn’t have to be such a major league asshole about it.  He was both shouting and talking to me like a kid who he’d just caught shoplifting.  “Now you know you’re not supposed to jump on like that!  You can get me and the gripman in a lot of trouble! You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?!”  Blah, blah, blah – a regular tirade.  OK, I get it and I apologized (but insincerely…  Ha!  I showed him).  “If you ever do that again on my cable car, I’ll put you off!”  And then he’s staring at me like a maniac, apparently committing my face to his mental mugshot gallery. “And I’ll remember you if you ever try that again on my car!”  Jesus, enough already – point taken.

Of course I wisely refrained from using either my initial response (screaming “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!” as I jumped from the moving cable car, middle finger raised defiantly) or my second (“You know, I’ve been riding cable cars a lot longer than you’ve been skimming the fares on them…”) and just buried my nose in my PDA.

A couple of minutes later, he’s back next to me. “You know, every day we see people do that and they wind up in the hospital! People get seriously injured, we have to call an ambulance!” Blah, blah, blah…  Jesus H. Christ! My response was snippy at this point – “Alright, I get it,” I hissed through clenched teeth.  Lucky for me,  someone else boarded while the car was not moving but in a manner the conductor didn’t find to be up to his clearly exacting standards for safe passage, so his wrath was now redirected toward her…

I figure this annoying cable car trip is just about over.  But then the guy standing on the running board in front of where I’m sitting asks the conductor in a too-loud, overly-solicitous nasally whine, “How long is this good for?” referring to his ticket.

“It’s a one-way ticket.”

“So I can’t use it get back?”

“No it’s a one-way ticket.  You’ll need another ticket to return.”

“So if I want to come back, I can’t use this again?”

“No, you’ll need to buy another ticket.”

“And how much is that?”

OH MY GOD! SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP…  He’s yelling all of this almost directly into my face, my ears slowly dripping blood from my now-shattered eardrums.  And it continues – a lengthy discussion of day passes, Fast Passes, one-way tickets – ad infinitum.

As you can imagine, it’s all extremely irritating.  But to cap it all off?  It wasn’t some hayseed tourist who thought he was on an amusement park ride.  It was some guy who lives here on his way from the office!  “It’s just been so long since I’ve taken the cable, I wasn’t sure how it worked!”  Is it really that complicated?

And what’s with people who ride public transit during commute hours and talk?  Commuting is to be done in silence, eyes shut or glued to reading material or staring at an indeterminate point in space out the window.  There is to be no interaction of any kind amongst passengers or between passengers and operators.  The only exceptions are screaming frantically “Back door! BACK DOOR!” if the back door doesn’t open at your stop; and rolling your eyes in unison with all the other passengers while you all start shouting “Step down! STEP DOWN!” or “Push the bar! PUSH THE BAR!” at the rube screaming “Back door!”

A16 Gets a “B”

Finally got around to trying A16 – they take reservations now, so that was a big incentive…  We lucked out with parking and arrived 15 minutes early and they seated us right away.

I’d read that A16 has a great wine program – and the wine list certainly was extensive.  Many bottles seemed to be on the pricey side, too…  But not long after we were seated, the sommelier that evening, Anaïs, arrived and asked if we had questions.  I told her we’d like to share some half-bottles, what little I know about the wine we like and that we preferred something inexpensive.  She started us with a very nice white, followed later by two different reds (the last one from Sicily and my favorite).  And all this just a bit more than $50.  I was really impressed by her knowledge of wines and how much she engaged us in the selection of the wines, despite a small budget.  We were very fortunate to leave our wine selection in her very capable hands.


Roasted Beet and Farro Salad

As for the meal, we started with a roasted beet and farro salad.  It was a lovely and well-balanced dish, the sweet beets set off by the salty ricotta salata and a nicely acidic dressing.  And the farro gave a salad some substance and toothfulness.  Very good.


Pizza Bianca

Next was a pizza bianca, with cheese, chiles and basil.  The crust was flavorful and delcious and the flavors played nicely.  The rather unfortunate drawback was that there was way too much cheese – it overpowered the rest of the dish and made the crust rather soggy in the center.  Not sure whether we just had some bad luck or if they don’t execute pizza bianca especially well, because the other pizzas I saw coming out of the kitchen looked marvelous, especially the margherita and salsiccia….

Braised Pork and Porchetto

Braised Pork and Porchetto

For our entree, we shared the braised pork with porchetto – and I realize as I’m writing this, I don’t know which was which.  At any rate, there was some sliced pork (the shoulder, I believe) served along side what looked like an inch-thick slap of bacon.  The meat was very nice, though it didn’t bowl me over initially.  But then I tried it with a bit of what I took to be the porchetto.  I’m not sure how it was prepared, but the exterior was wonderfully crispy and salty, while the fatty interior was the texture of soft butter.  It was wonderfully creamy and delicious (well, duh – it’s salty fat…  Or fatty salt?  Either way, a combination that is hard to beat…)  Our side was roasted carrots and turnips – fully-cooked yet still with some crispness and just a bit sweet.  All very good…

For dessert, we shared the house-made gelato, which seemed like a can’t lose proposition.  And for the ricotta gelato with pistachio and candied fruit, it was – the first bite took me right back to the gelateria around the corner from the apartment we stayed in Rome.  It was really delicious.  The other gelato was chocolate – and it was lousy.  It had that faux-chocolate flavor one associates with Carnation Instant Breakfast or Ensure – sort of powdery and artificial and not at all chocolatey.  I was really surprised by how disappointing this seemingly simple and easy-to-create dish was.  I’d actually read that desserts are a weak spot at A16 and that certainly proved true for the chocolate gelato…  But the ricotta gelato was sensational.  Go figure…

At any rate, despite the gelato, it was a lovely evening.  Chris and I really enjoyed ourselves, most of our meal and the fine service.  Then we headed home to get in a few rounds of Singstar before bed.  Who could ask for anything more?

Store of Mystery

Popped into the neighborhood superette on the way home last night to pick up a desperately needed bottle of wine…  Corner stores and bodegas always have a rather fascinating assortment of goods…  To wit…

Off-brand Christmas cookies, next to unboxed cylinders of Ritz crackers.  And shouldn’t those cookies at least be marked down?  It was almost as if they’d recently replenished their supply of out-of-season transfat-laden treats…  And who buys them?  Puzzled non-Christian foreigners?  Sight-impaired shoppers with a sweet tooth?  Stoners with the munchies?  Oh – yeah… Stoners.  Duh.


Now I’m the first to admit that I occasionally need a can of tomato sauce or some jalapenos after either forgetting to buy them at the “real” market or because I’ve run out.  But I have never needed six pounds of either – ever…  And judging from the thick layer of dirt on the cans, neither has anyone else.  Though I must say that if I were looking for a six-pound can of jalapenos, the first place I’d look would be next to the Red Vines…


What’s In for 2009?

On the corner of Union Square last week.


Though, frankly, isn’t it a bit like the little black dress?  It’s always in…  And, yes, San Francisco is a great town…

photo by Ben Golub via The San Francisco Citizen