I joined the line at Blue Bottle in Mint Plaza in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood at 8:40 a.m., on the dot. Despite the early hour, the temperature was already in the eighties. The light and sky were big and empty in the way that the light and sky are only in the West. When I moved here, in the nineties, everyone used to debate whether or not “SOMA” was a real thing. Once largely empty warehouses and live-work lofts, it's now full of excellent restaurants and soaring apartments and there’s even a Whole Foods on 4th street, and so, we've all arrived at the conclusion that it does [...]
When Zynga honcho Mark Pincus bought a house in San Francisco, everyone gushed. It sounds okay! According to the Wall Street Journal, "Spanning four levels, the seven-bedroom home has an elevator, six fireplaces and views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Dutch Colonial Revival house was never previously on the market; it had remained in the Newhall family since it was built in 1907." Not everyone was so impressed, according to the new Vanity Fair which I am now going to go out and buy. According to Trevor Traina, "San Francisco’s undisputed social king," “Their house needs a lot of work but also has superb potential, so I’m [...]
As a non-Jew who watched The Ten Commandments every Easter/Passover as a child and occasionally marries into Jewish families as an adult, I have been deeply disappointed with the reality of American Passover Seders. Expecting buckets of lamb blood for door painting and ominous bearded nomads reciting death tales from memory, instead I got people talking about college basketball around a glass-and-bronze dinette set piled high with unsavory seasonal items from the supermarket. That nobody at the table really believed in G-d never helped, either. How is He going to strike us all dead when he doesn't even exist?
While there's a lot more interesting food options for Pesach today—[...]
On the night after the Heaven's Gate UFO cultists were discovered dead by mass suicide in a San Diego suburban McMansion, I was standing in a dark patch of the Presidio, watching the Hale-Bopp comet and its forked tail over the Marin Headlands. Someone passed around binoculars, somebody else passed a little pipe around, and after a half hour everyone was cold and bored and we drifted back to the battleship-gray Victorian on Haight Street that I shared with a rotating group of five or six pals.
My bedroom was just a large closet on the upper floor, with enough room for a narrow mattress and a chest [...]
The toughest part of writing about San Francisco's Jejune Institute "thing" was trying to describe it, something I attempted to do for this site twice. In a first piece about the citywide game, which was put on by a group called Nonchalance, I went with "[p]art public-art installation, part scavenger hunt, part multimedia experiment, part narrative story." For the follow-up, I added "underground alternate reality game" to the mix. Both summaries missed the mark, partly because of my own inadequacies as a writer, but also a symptom of the project's sprawling originality—it wasn't like anything else out there, and that was part of what made it [...]
Does the modest increase in gun regulation proposed by the White House today seem too crazy to comprehend? Here is how quickly big things can change: In the not so long ago era of Bill Clinton's second term and "Friends," when the Drudge Report was what the old people already had as their home page, you could still smoke almost anywhere in California. Restaurants, bars, concert venues, the beach, outside elementary schools. And then the No Smoking laws came to pass, and despite threats of violence by rednecks, within a few months it was all over. Short-lived protests like the "private clubs" that some Central Valley truck stops [...]
Like many people who moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s, I did it because San Francisco was cheap. It didn't have the lowest rents—in the California of three recessions ago, a Silver Lake bungalow or blocks-from-the-beach Santa Monica apartment were even more affordable than the chilly city by the bay—but it was the only West Coast town you could survive in without a car. With a $35 Fast Pass, all the smelly buses and dinky Muni trains and even the cable cars were there for the riding to and from work, whether you were a bartender or a waiter or (like me) a very fast typist irregularly [...]
"2013 may be the year San Francisco turned on Silicon Valley and may be the year the world did too."
Had to literally get up and walk away from my computer at the second Sarah Lacy quote. http://t.co/zFjLq9usLo
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) July 8, 2013
It was fun yesterday watching these quotes from Pando's Sarah Lacy spread across Twitter last night, each person discovering it afresh, so that every time I checked Twitter, there was always someone having a bad feeling. Sarah Lacy, founder of tech news site Pando Daily, which is based in San Francisco, said “If I had more friends who were BART drivers, I would probably be very sympathetic to their cause, and if they had more friends who were building companies they [...]
"Most of my buyers are averaging four offers before they have one accepted," my new real estate agent in the Bay Area said yesterday. "It can be an emotional and stressful time."
Probably! And especially if you're moving from a still-depressed housing market, which is roughly the area between the Eastern Seaboard and San Francisco. But, as NPR is reporting as I type these words, the American housing market (in the coastal elite cities) is "fast changing." From causing the collapse of the Earth's economy just five years ago to a breezy NPR feature about an insane couple putting in offers at 2 a.m. after driving by a new [...]
A notable baby was the victim of a shameless thief last week in San Francisco, and city officials are warning that such crimes are almost certain to occur again. The well known infant's diaper bag had been innocently left unattended at the city's Hall of Justice when the baby's foster mother forgot to the crucial personal item while going through the security line.
The baby, known only as "Baby Nash," is famous because two police officers saved his life with CPR, and also they "drove him to the hospital themselves," which was a selfless sacrifice that saved the baby's life. Earlier, the baby's biological mother had abandoned him somewhere.[...]
A common wild animal that lives throughout the San Francisco Bay Area is leaving local residents scratching their heads in utter amazement. The animal, a coyote, became trapped in a backyard in the popular Mission District. Who has a backyard in the Mission? Mark Zuckerberg? Let's say "Mark Zuckerberg." He trapped a coyote in his immense backyard behind his mansion, which violates your privacy.
"Mission District Coyote is telling no tales," reports the local CBS website. What did Mark Zuckerberg do to this coyote, so that it cannot tell tales? What is a wild member of the canine family if not a beloved storyteller? "A wayward coyote trapped [...]
San Francisco's once-barren industrial waterfront between the Giants ballpark and Candlestick Point is rapidly becoming a 13-mile-long green patchwork of restored wetlands, parks and a maritime museum connected by bicycle paths, walking trails and the nearby Third Street MUNI light rail. It's part of the greening and peopling of Port District waterfronts that includes an accidental bird wonderland where a cargo pier was never completed, the open space around Candlestick Park (which will be demolished this year and replaced with 6,000 homes) and lots of little pieces along the shore being put together by the Port of San Francisco and the city's parks department.[...]
As cities get cleaner and greener—some of them, anyway—wildlife is pouring into urban areas. There are bald eagles nesting over Washington D.C., red-tail hawks swooping over Central Park, coyotes in Chicago (and everywhere else), and now a wild river otter living in San Francisco, where such creatures haven't been seen in half a century. The mysterious otter took up residence in one of the freshwater spring-fed pools in the ruins of San Francisco's Sutro Baths, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It munches on the carp-sized former-pet goldfish that have themselves grown huge in the freshwater pools, and everyone loves the otter because otters are [...]
A tall man with a boy’s face stood outside Philz, a $$-on-Yelp coffee shop with a branch in the Tenderloin. He approached the sleek pre-yuppies going in and out and said, “Excuse me?”
He was white and young and fairly clean—nothing like the bums they’d ignored all day—so many stopped. When he then asked for change, they would duck and weave into the AC’d haven of $4 coffee with fresh mint sprigs. (The nice ones stumbled over an apology.) He moved on.
This Philz (a Bay Area chain) is on Van Ness and Turk, a block from Polk Street and its famous gay and transgender prostitutes. It backs up to [...]
"'Asking prices' are not that at all. They are 'marketing prices.' Buyers should never reflexively assign any validity to the price advertised on any particular property. Listing agents purposely under price their properties for sale and set an offer date. 'Why?' individuals may ask. They do it because it works." —Are you in the market for buying a home in the San Francisco Bay Area? Sorry to hear about that.
Michelle Shocked had a following in the 1990s for her leftist lo-fi folk music, but now she's an old bigoted religious fanatic. This is fairly well known—she's basically Victoria Jackson—but booking agencies were still putting her in clubs until Sunday night in San Francisco, when she went into an anti-gay rant at Yoshi's Supper Club.
"When they stop Prop. 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization, and Jesus will come back," Shocked told the crowd at Yoshi's in San Francisco, before many of them reportedly walked out. "You are going to leave here and tell people, 'Michelle Shocked [...]
Who says there's no job security in media? Everyone says that, because it's true. But there are inspirational exceptions. Meet 94-year-old San Francisco Chronicle science reporter David Perlman, who cranked out 111 articles last year and continues to work full-time at the paper. He still loves his beat and his desk is in a sunny corner of the Chronicle newsroom, so there's no reason to quit working now.
After all, he said over a burger at a South of Market dive near Chronicle headquarters, "I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do all my life, be a reporter."
"The Municipal Transportation Agency—and residents' love-hate relationship with the notoriously late and overcrowded public transit system—has been the bane of many mayors, with current Chronicle columnist and former Mayor Willie Brown once famously saying he would fix Muni in 100 days. That was in 1995." —Even though San Francisco has the only real public-transit system of the Western United States, it's still kind of a mess. It's also what New Yorkers talk about during the three months they spend shivering in the frozen dark of winter: "Oh but that Muni system, that's why I could never live in a beautiful coastal city where it never gets cold but ladies can [...]
Two statements heard on the KQED Forum show's "Restaurant Roundup" segment, just now, that might trigger a response from you, the restaurant diner:
- "San Francisco starts the restaurant trends, and New York grows them."
- "New York has twice* the population, but San Francisco has the better restaurants."
* Yes we know that's not at all true; the NYC metropolitan area has 19 million people; the Bay Area has 4.5 million people.
Photo by Orbakhopper.