Archive for April, 2005

Ever Get The Feeling The Employees Hate You?

Nevermind that if you leave, for good, they might not get paid, but whatevs.

Depite their continuing refusal to link back to this site, my latest favorite local haunt still beckons armed with free WiFi and good food (free coffee and iced tea refills don’t hurt either).

But sometimes – especially on the weekends, it’s like they just don’t care. Now, it pains me to slam these kids – hell, I’m here nearly everyday – and eventually, if they’re still googling themselves to rip content for their website, they’ll put two and two together and maybe spit in my food. But enough is enough – at least on this Saturday.

The afternoon started with a nasty little catfight between one of the young male employees and a young female employee. Somekind of pissing contest over who would babysit the outside table resulted in young male employee screaming obscenities at the girl and ordering her back outside. You shoulda seen the face of the elderly lady just trying to read the paper and enjoy her coffee. She was definitely not paying for the privilege of having dude scream “I don’t fucking care, bitch, god, get back outside.” Charmmmming.

After he tired of yelling, things calmed down a bit. Though I haven’t seen the girl lately – which means either she left while I wasn’t paying attention or she’s crammed in the fridge in the back, headless.

And now, they’ve decided that it’s time to rock out to the “punk crap we all like on our own but know our boss isn’t so keen on” channel. Turned up to 11. It’s quite a contrast to the piquant flavors on the cheese plate. I hate being the ol’fogey here, and I love the Beastie Boys as much as the next gal, but not so much in this environment.

Though I’ve heard of restaurants slowly upping the volume over the course of a few hours to prod diner turnover, that’s not why they’re doing this. They’re doing it because, from what I can tell, the cat’s away and some days, the customers just don’t matter.

I really do love them – they try so hard . . . usually. I feel like this place is just steps from true greatness. And I’m rooting for them (see: food, good; wifi, free). But don’t make it so fucking hard, okay?

Fleeting SF momentos #101

Last night, I went to see Princess of Mount Ledang at the Kabuki theater as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. Me and my beau got on the train at the Embarcadero, transferred to the 22 Fillmore on Church St., and made our way up to Japantown. On our way up, we passed by hippie-borne stores, shops selling neon signs, Asian restaurants, and all manner of cafes and coffee shops.

We made it to the theater just on time, and we watched the movie (which was quite splendid — a review will be coming up shortly). I was suddenly struck by the incredible multicultural-ness of this city, and how even though I was miles away from Asia, I still felt like I was close to home. This hit even closer when after the movie was over, there was a brief Q & A with the director, and I suddenly found myself in the midst of other Malaysians in the audience. How bizarre is this, and how awesome, that we could all converge in the same space just because there was this movie that was from our home country. It was like a strange impromptu reunion, like a return home sans expensive flight ticket.

After mingling around with them for awhile, we made our way home. Before getting on the last train, we stopped by the 24 hour Safeway on Church and Market and got ourselves some last-minute eats (yet another awesome part about living in the city). All in all, it was quite a typical San Franciscan evening — a mingling of cultures, a celebration of urban life, and a strange sense of home. At least for me anyway.

Support Your Local Bigfoot

bigfootYou ever ride the Matterhorn at Disneyland? My favorite part was that tight curve when all of a sudden you see this giant white sasquatch. It goes RAWR! and you go AGGH! and then the ride’s over and you stand in line for the next one.

I get to do that every day on my way to work, except that the ride is the N-Judah, the mountain is the hill that separates Cole Valley from Duboce Park, and the sasquatch is a beautiful graffitti bigfoot painted at the beginning of the tunnel (just look to the left on your way downtown).

That bigfoot was painted by the graffiti artist known as Bigfoot One back in the 90s and there are lots more around town. Our favorite local bomber has been grabbing some acclaim lately with shows all over the world and now a nice little interview in the SFBG. (Not to mention an original piece, commissioned by yours truly. Happy birthday, Heather!)

Bigfoot One has some work in a gallery show right here in SF called I’ll Put My Trust In You, which opens tonight (Friday) at On Six Gallery. There’s an opening party starting at 7pm. It’s five bucks to get in, but free if you show up before 6pm. Great art and thumpin beats expected.

And if you see a tall, mysterious figure with long hair and a shy demeanor, it’s probably Bigfoot One. Buy his art, but don’t try to take his picture – it always comes out blurry.

50 on the floor, 50 on the ceiling

Today I finally visited the vividly decorated Mexican restaurant El Toreador today. I usually hit West Portal on Mondays, but since this place is closed on Mondays, I’ve tried to remember to come back another day.

The food was pretty good, the salsa was HOT, the service was decent, and the pineapple-papaya nectar was yummy goodness. The walls are adorned with, well, everything. Toy men with horses, signs, little wooden houses, headshots of 30’s-40’s Hollywood starlets, even Pancho Villa. Each of the chairs has a name painted on the back, today I was Zipper and I sat across from Dilbert. There are 50 chairs on the floor, and another 50 on the ceiling.

How Weird!

As if this city wasn’t weird enough already… get ready for some weirdness in SOMA! It should be an fun and interesting time, and for sure a great opportunity for crazy pictures (if you’re into that sort of thing). The central theme of the event is promoting peace on earth… sounds a bit generic, I know, but it’s definitely a good cause to bring people together for!

There is also a killer Electronica lineup, as well as some Breakdancin’ and Capoeria goin’ on! Arts & crafts, music & dancing, performers… there is something here for all ages!

From the official website:

The Sixth Annual How Weird Street Faire will take place on May 1st, 2005 in downtown San Francisco. Howard Street (at 12th) will once again become “How Weird” with 4 City blocks filled with crafts and art, music and dancing, perforfmers and merriment.

This year will be feature more live entertainment and DJs than ever before! An epic seven stages from Anon Salon, Tantra, Moontribe, Sunset, Pacific Sound, El Circo, Space Cowboys, Opel Productions, Sound of Mind and so many more!

SFIFF ’05: Malaysian edition

princess_of_mount_ledang.jpg

As Robin Jean pointed out a week or so ago, the 48th San Francisco International Film Festival is in full swing from April 21st to May 5th. Some of you may be overwhelmed by the movie choices this year, so allow me to recommend a few movies that hail from a rather underrepresented country in international cinema — Malaysia. Note that I am extremely biased because this is also the same country where I was born and raised.

There are not one, not two, but a total of five movies from Malaysia at this year’s festival — quite a record in my book. And I plan to be at all of them. Here’s a listing of all the Malaysian movies this year, complete with date, time, and location, after the jump. I particularly recommend Princess of Mount Ledang and Split Screen: Two Films by Amir Muhammad. No need to thank me, really.
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You Say Courageous, I Say Condescending

Or at least, misplaced . . . .

In college, I read a book about this: people who participate in 24-hour or week-long street retreats where they “witness” abject poverty and the plight of the homeless.

The Chronicle this weekend told the story of a such a retreat, sponsored by Faithful Fools Street Ministry (an organization for which I have the utmost respect. Their copy shop is also a staple of Hastings’s Law students’ first-year experience):

The 13 of us on retreat were an artist, a lawyer, two nuns, five ministers, two seminarians, a playwright and a businesswoman. All of us had committed to spending one week last month walking alongside the poorest people in San Francisco, sharing their food in the soup kitchens and hunting for shelter beds or for cardboard to put between us and the cold concrete.

People always want to know why we do this. It’s so courageous, they say. When our retreat group met 10 days after we came back inside, we agreed that courage doesn’t enter into it. After a week of this walking, it comes to feel like the most ordinary thing, and that’s what makes it hard to explain.

Just what the homeless need, increased competition.

The writer insists that most won’t understand the motivations behind such an activity. I get it. As Scout taught most of us at an early age: you can’t really know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. That is absolutely true. I won’t pretend that I can appreciate exactly how bad it must be to be homeless. I’m very blessed not to know – and I hope that I will continue to be so blessed.

I can only imagine if I were in line waiting for food from a limited source and a group behind me confessed they were on a retreat to learn more about my lot in life, I’d be kinda angry. Curious, too, and perhaps a bit appreciative that someone was paying attention. But the bottom line is: don’t take food that someone truly homeless needs! Don’t take up the good sleeping spaces outside or in the shelters. Don’t use your vacation time and wages to go live on the street – use it to get someone else off the street for a day.

A day of intensive interviewing, witnessing, observing, fine. But playing dress-up like this seems wrong.

Helping Others in the Bay Area

With our busy lives, we often forget that there are others out there that can use our talents, services and hearts. I started doing some volunteer work last year that is very tough, yet can be incredibly rewarding. It has enriched my life like no other activity I have ever done.

I thought that sharing this feeling with others is worth a shot. The following are some local organizations that are currently looking for a few good volunteers, specifically to help others.

  • Hands On Bay Area: a wide variety of community service volunteer opportunities. They can find projects to match your skills.
  • Civic Center Volunteers, County of Marin: Hearing & Vision Screeners, Job Coaches, Peer Counseling, as well as Administrative volunteers and more
  • SF Food Bank: Food distribution, administrative volunteer
  • Bill Wilson Center, Santa Clara & San Jose: Phone counselor, Grief Support, as well as multiple opportunities in working with youth
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society, San Mateo: visits in homes of needy, homeless help centers
  • Best Buddies CA, bay-area wide: Friendship programs for all ages with intellectual disabilities. They offer E-Buddies (friends over e-mail) opportunities as well.
  • Crisis Resolution Services, Walnut Creek: Trauma Interventionists
  • Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), SF: Dog walking & pet care for people with AIDS and other disabilities

Any help you can give is greatly valued, no matter how small you may think your contribution may be. You can find opportunities more specific to your skills, interests as well as physical location at Volunteer Match (also a Bay Area company).

Post any organizations you volunteer with in the comments, as well!

SF in pictures: Sutro Tower

Shot this photo yesterday morning. When I finally got up to the tower and stared up at it I really was glad there wasn’t an earthquake. The tower is damn impressive when you get right up to it. It’s a tough walk from the Haight but not terrible at all.

NYC taxis in…. San Francisco?

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Evidence of “Rent” production was all around South of Market today, and a prime example of that were 3-4 bright yellow NYC taxis parked on 3rd Street this afternoon. I saw lights, cameras, mics, all from our office’s vantage point. And I THINK I saw Rosario Dawson, but I can’t be sure. I’m not sure I get why Rent director Chris Columbus decided on SF instead of NY — it sure wasn’t the fog, I’ll tell ya that much. Still, it’s a tad exciting having all these film cameras about, since I’m still pretty wide-eyed gee-whiz about this kinda crap.

I took some pics of the taxis with the camera (no actors, alas) — shall upload once I get home. Pic uploaded! The pic shows the NYC taxis getting rounded up on the truck at the end of the day.

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