Archive for April, 2005

Look up

Look upTessa from the NYC Metblog had a really cool photo idea of describing the Dictionary.com Word of the Day with photography. She found her inspiration by just looking up. We often forget about things in the city that aren’t in our day to day field of view and miss an entire world up there. I’ve walked down Market St. countless times but today was looking for new material and I noticed the artwork in the photo for the very first time. I thought it was so interesting that I had to take a pic. How great that someone else across the country was looking up and appreciating their city today as well.

Missed Opportunities

I was lost in a daydream on the train today. A cargo ship ladened with containers 5 high on the deck tooled slowly and gracefully through the bay. The bridge could just see over the top like a child peeking from behind the couch on Christmas morning. Look at all the presents! All I wanted in the world was to be on that bridge headed for foreign ports that smelled like cinnamon. I was lost in my dream staring out the window of that train. As we approached the last station before the train went underground and my muse was lost I glimpsed an old haggard man with a grey beard in a black fedora. He got up and adjusted his luggage like he planned to depart. He was a little bit too wild in the eyes but was clean and didn’t seem to be homeless. I returned to my dream, lost in my music, longing to travel.

After a little time passed while we were still at the station I looked down and a 20 something was trying to get my attention. He was nodding his head in the direction of the front of the car so I turned to see what was up. The old man was standing next to me. In my bubble. Staring straight at me lips moving and I heard nothing but my music. As I turned to give him my full attention he stopped talking and turned back to his seat and walked away. He spent the rest of the trip staring long-fully out the window, much as I myself was doing.

He reminded me a lot of what I envision that I would look like in 40 years time. My mind began to wander and I thought to myself, what if in 40 years you could come back and give yourself a message. Something that would alter your life for the infinitely better. What if everyone could come to themselves as a stranger for a moment and mutter a life changing sentence like “take the blue pill” or “don’t let her go”, something life changing and profound. And what if through the haze of time you forgot that you often rode the train as a young man with microscopic headphones that no one could see through your shaggy hair and you passed your message on to deaf ears. Thinking that when you return your life will be completely transformed into the one you should have had. The life that only a lifetime of not having it can appreciate. Only to be cheated by fate and forced to swallow your lot in life like everyone else. Forced to live with the road taken. But for a brief instant as an old man you had the knowledge that you did what you had set out to do and that you succeeded. Even if only for a brief instant like a train ride in a spring afternoon through your past. On your return would you die of heartbreak or would you cherish the time you had left?

This is what I thought about all the way home. I never did speak to the man. When he did get up to get off at my stop he stood next to me and looked intently at his reflection in the window with the darkness of the tunnel beginning to fade, He then smartly adjusted his black fedora until it was just right, glanced at me with a faint smile and disappeared into the crowd as the doors opened. And I felt sad.

Incredibly Stupid Gun Law About to Pass in CA

Sean over at blogging.la has a great post about a REALLY dumb California Bill that’s been proposed.

What this is doing is redefining what is considered “safe” to include that bit above. So in order to be on the list of “safe” guns, a gun has to have a function that makes a microscopic stamp on every shell casing of every bullet that is fired that would include info about the gun – make, model & serial number. An interesting note here is that no gun in the world does that. There’s not even a working prototype of how it could be done. In fact, no one is really sure if there’s even a way to do it short of redesigning every gun from the ground up.

You following me so far? This bill will require technology that does not exist.

Read the article in it’s entirety

The Two-faced Vietnamese Restaurant

Every once in awhile I’ll go off my usual home route and take BART to 16th and Mission for a bite to eat. I’ve waxed poetic about Ti Couz before, and it’s usually where I tend to go when I’m in the area (excellent crepes, plus top notch Cafe Au Lait and the to-die-for gelato with a shot of espresso — what’s not to like). However, I also sometimes stop by Sunflower Restaurant, which bills itself as an Authentic Vietnamese Restaurant. I’ve usually eaten at their 16th Street shop, which is a couple doors down from the Roxie. It has a nice and simple open-door setting reminiscent of hole-in-the-wall Asian diners prevalent in Chinatown and the inner Sunset (think King of Thai Noodle in the Richmond).

But I have never dared venture to that OTHER Sunflower restaurant, which is right around the corner on Valencia Street. That’s right, there are TWO Sunflower Authentic Vietnamese Restaurants mere feet away from each other. I’ve just never entered the one on Valencia because it looked much more formal — white table cloths, uniformed wait staff, etc. But today I decided I’ll just go in and find out if it really is the same restaurant.

And by all accounts, it is. The menu is EXACTLY the same as the one on 16th St. But boy, is the setting completely different. Instead of a hole-in-the-wall feel, I got a very restaurant-y feel. Carpeted floor, ambient lighting, picturesque paintings of what I presume to be the pastures of Vietnam, etc. I felt like I was entering some odd twilight zone — why were there two restaurants of the same name, with the same menu, located right around the corner from each other, but with completely different settings? Heck, the prices were the same too.

Once I got over my slight amusement over the whole two-faced restaurant scenario, I went ahead and ordered the pot stickers (yum!) and the combination crispy egg noodles (not as yum, but good anyway). Yeah, the food tastes the same too. I wonder what the reasoning was behind the two-storefront business. I guess they didn’t want to scare away the casual diner crowd, and they wanted to entice the white-table-cloth restaurant crowd at the same time. Interesting strategy, though I bet they’ve experienced confused customers coming in looking for the other restaurant.

In Praise of Blue Bottle Coffee

Photo by Heather ChampI’ve been drinking coffee longer than I’ve been doing just about anything else, save breathing. I was the kid who ditched high school to get a mocha at Nick’s in downtown Claremont (Shout-out to Nick:You’re a putz!) What I’m trying to say here is that, while there may be people who know more about coffee than I, there are very few who have consumed more of the stuff. So I know a little something about the ol’ cup o’ joe.

Which is why you should listen to me very carefully when I tell you this secret: The best coffee in the entire world is made right here in the Bay Area.

Okay, so I haven’t been to every coffee shop in the entire world (though I have been to some in Amsterdam and the coffee was terrible! I just don’t see why people talk about those places. So smokey, too!), but I can say that the very best latte I’ve ever had in my 31 years was a few weeks ago in Hayes Valley when I decided to duck down a little alley to The Blue Bottle Coffee Company.

The Hayes Valley location is only a few months old, but they’ve been in the East Bay for a while. They call themselves “artisan microroasters of organic coffee” which is a phrase I’d usually make fun of but I can’t because I am SO HIGH ON THEIR COFFEE RIGHT NOW.

Ahem. Sorry.

I’m not about to move to Hayes Valley (though, believe me, I considered it just so I could be within jittery walking distance), so it’s a good thing they also sell beans. They’re roasted locally and sold within 48 hours of roasting. And like any good drug dealer, they also sell online.

The coffee is smooth, smoky, and complex. It’s subtle and wonderful. It’s like realizing that you’ve been listening to music with the volume turned up too loud all your life, and once you turn it down you think, oh, so THAT’s what music is supposed to sound like.

THIS is what coffee is supposed to taste like. And trust me, I know. I’ve been up for three nights, rocking back and forth, thinking about it.

Even a bad day can be redeemed in San Francisco

RasputinaToday was just a bad day. Nothing was going right and looked like it was just going to get worse and worse, so I headed to the Muni a little early to head home. Unfortunately it was high rush hour so more suckage loomed. I was fortunate to get a good seat and just relaxed, headphones buried deep and iPod cranked. I have these really nice Shure headphones that let in almost zero ambient noise so if you close your eyes and fade away you can be just about anywhere. I closed my eyes at 2nd & King and didn’t open them again until Carl & Cole. I counted the stops by the movement of the train and knowing the route all too well now. But when you’re in your head with your favorite band the ride is soothing. Amazingly soothing. When I got off the train I was a new man with a spring in my step and the sunset warm on my shoulders. I headed to the Cala on Haight where I got food for dinner and the checker said I had a bunch of unclaimed rewards for wine and pet stuff so I ended up getting PAID $19 to buy my groceries! The day was looking up! And when I got home my old school skateboard was waiting for me thanks to the good guys at Fed Ex. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll be skating downhill to work. So thanks to the Muni my day really had a great finish. But that’s not all. I mentioned I was listening to my favorite band on the ride home. Well that would be Rasputina and as luck would have it, they’re playing in town one month from today at the Great American Music Hall. That’s Wednesday, May 11th if you want to put it on your calendars. I’ve seen them in LA & Chicago countless times and they put on a flat-out amazing show. I can’t recommend them more highly and I already have my tickets so see ya there.

Not so local but for a good cause

There has been some brouhaha going on on our sister sites thanks to the creative writing of Jake “French Benefits” Dobkin. He’s been spewing some serious misinformation about Metroblogging squatting on a domain with his precious “ist’ in it. Well to end the childish rantings, the actual owner of the domain in question, NewOrleansist.com, is auctioning it off and is giving the proceeds to the EFF. I’m grateful to Jake for reminding me what it’s like to be stuck next to some 5th graders bickering on the bus.

Check out the auction!

WENDY WENDY

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The actual Wendy’s where a finger was found in a bowl of chili. San Jose, Ca.

Anna Ayala now says she will not sue Wendy’s over the finger she found in her chili. Gee whiz I wonder why not?

Wendy’s stock fell sharply, and I hope they won’t have to let any of their employes go. I’ve decided to be a frequent visitor to Wendy’s. A salad for lunch a few times a week.

Out Of The Blue, I’m Lost In My Electric Youth

In the time it took me to type this far, I’ve already recalled nearly all the words to Lost in Your Eyes. And why has nearly every song from Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth been running through my head all day?

Because, oh my god, Debbie Gibson will be RIGHT HERE IN SAN FRANCISCO tomorrow night! [insert high-pitched 10-year-old scream here]

Except now it’s Deborah, kids.

A pink flyer taped to a lightpost on Haight let me know that Deborah Gibson – the head that sold a thousand felt hats – is performing tomorrow, April 13, at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. Doors open at 8:30 and the show starts at 9:30. Get your tickets now!

It’s easy to give Ms. Gibson crap over her time on the teen queen throne, but she’s become a fairly accomplished Broadway performer.

Oh hell, Electric Youth will always be one of my favorite songs, and that’s reason enough to catch her show.

APE 2005

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The Alternative Press Expo took place last weekend (April 9th and 10th). It was held at the Concourse Exhibition Center on 7th and Brannan. APE is known within the comic book industry as one of the biggest independent/small press conventions in the country. It is comprised of two days of zines, comics, and hand-made crafts galore. And like the past two years, the husband and I took our place behind the table to sell our wares. Or his wares rather. For the uninformed, Brandon happens to be a rather talented cartoonist, and has been churning out comics for the past three years now. He started exhibiting at APE in 2003 with a half-table, and has moved on up to a table all by himself in 2005. Well, we shared two tables with Entropy Comics, but you get what I’m saying (Gary from Entropy Comics also runs a comic book store out on Ocean Avenue called Comic Outpost). This year, we were debuting his new book The Stereos: In The Garage, as well as selling last year

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