Archive for January, 2006

Daily Photo – Brakin’
Taking a page from Jason’s recent string of “Daily Photos”, I thought I’d contribute with this shot I took last Saturday while strolling through the Mission. Most of the street murals are tucked away in alleys but I love how this really fun one towers above the intersection of 24th & S. Van Ness. Adding to its vibrancy is the fact that it’s directly above the seemingly clubbing-friendly “House of Brakes” autobody shop. It’s amazing how alternating the normal walking route by just a block or two reveals little pockets of interest you were previously oblivious to. (Not that Hayes Valley isn’t great, but I do miss living in The Mission…)


I came across a great site for exploring San Francisco this evening. It’s Urbantic, and it’s stylish and pretty damn easy to navigate. Urbantic is free to join, and you can post reviews – be it rant or rave about your favorite bar, nightclub, laundromat, whatever – in the Bay Area. What’s really great is that it incorporates ratings, tags, Flickr photos, and Google maps. Pretty brilliant.

A Way to My Heart

I’ve adopted a new favorite café haunt, and let me tell you why. Pearl’s International Beverages serves Thai Coffee and has chilled crême brulées that they torch right there at the counter for you, which made me just melt. They also offer a variety of teas, namesake Taiwanese “pearl” drinks, and espresso how ever you like it.

Oh, my, yum. Pearl’s also displays local artwork, offers free Wi-Fi and has installed long bench just for laptop users (hooray for SF WiFi!), outdoor seating for those warmer days, and what makes it even more special is that it’s not hip, trendy, or full of yuppies (there is a Starbucks up the street).

Pearl’s International Beverages is located at 329 W Portal Ave (between 14th and 15th) and is open from M-F 6:30am-11pm; Sa 7am-11pm; Su 8am-9pm.

Dim Sum Sax

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I picked up a lady that wanted to go up to San Francisco have a quick lunch at Yank Sing Restaurant and then return back to San Jose. A 100 mile round trip with at least an hour waiting time; not a bad taxi fare for me.

I asked her why would she go that far just for lunch. She answered, “For the best dim sum ever.” She also said it was a squeaky clean restaurant.

Yank Sing is at 49 Stevenson, a one way alley of a street, between 1st and 2nd. I couldn’t find a parking spot so I just pulled over as far to the left as I could, closed my eyes and listened to a street musician playing some great sax.

A Resolute Marketing Campaign


Not sure if everyone’s seen the current billboard above Cafe Flore at the intersection of Market & Noe in the Castro. has been somewhat controversial from the start, challenging the argued complacency of current outreach attempts to reduce infection rates. Its aim is obviously to be provocative and it hasn’t pleased everyone on all sides of the debate. Love it or be enraged by it, I’m impressed with the blunt honestly of the message. Even looking up at it while crossing that hectic intersection, it certainly can’t be ignored.

Think Before You Speak

Something my mom told me repeatedly while I was growing up, something I’ve never really internalized, and something I wish the Mayor would start doing. I like the guy, but he keeps saying things that paint him in a less than flattering light.

Like take his latest accusations, for instance: Cable Car riders are being routinely ripped off.

On what grounds does he base this assertion? He’s been on 3 rides and received no required receipt. And he’s seen conductors collect 5 or 6 fares on crowded cars and never give receipts for them either:

“I am convinced, based on my own personal experience, (the money) is not going to Muni, but it’s going in the pockets of some of our well-meaning operators,” Newsom said.

Okay, seriously, you can’t call a bunch of operators theives and then call them “well-meaning” in the same sentence. If they are stealing, how could that ever be well-meaning unless he later uncovers that the conductors were pocketing the fares to pay for Conductor John Doe’s kid’s new lung or something. I know leaders have to couch terms frequently, but this is a little ridiculous.

Conductors are understandably miffed.

And let’s think this through: yes, it is true that of any Muni conveyance, cable cars are the one thing where an operator could pocket the fare. Then again, how many Muni riders pocket their own fares by just stiffing the city on rail lines? (two wrongs don’t make a right, but still.) And then there are the practical realities of cable car ridership. If you have a fast pass, you don’t need to pay and you have your fare proof. For everyone else, there’s no transfers, there’s little chance they’ll escape the watchful eye of the conductor operating such a small car, and the sheer mass of people makes it harder to get to everyone with the stupid scraps of paper.

It is true that the fares slips are the only way to guarantee an operator is NOT pocketing the fare, but unelss there are more indications than a few lax conductors failing to give out paper receipts, it seems like Newsom is picking a fight with people he should probably be nicer too. Or at least he should’ve presented more evidence than a few personal observations.

And speaking of personal observations: don’t you think if a conductor were in the habit of stealing fares, he wouldn’t likely steal THE MAYOR’S FARE right in front of him?

I don’t get it, Gavin, you’re smarter than this.

Chill Out in The Big House

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David Louie of KGO-TV Photo by Joann

I had been working hard today and didn’t even have time to listen to the news. So, when I saw news vans parked at Wendy’s at the intersection of Monterey Road and Alma Ave., I got curious. After spotting David Louie of KGO TV News, I pulled in next to him.

Anna Ayala and her husband (Jaime Plascencia) had planted a piece of a human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s Chili last spring. Instead of a big settlement from Wendy’s the couple will do time in the big house.

“Hi. David. What was their sentence?”

David Louie told me that Anna Ayala was sentenced to nine years and her husband to about 12 years.

Mr Louie went on to say that Ayala and Plascencia will be made to pay restitution for the workers’ lost wages. But that could take some time.

I told him, “I bet they (Ayala and Plascencia) are already trying to think up some creative ways to accomplish that!”

Next Stop Isn’t

Munit Metro riders might have noticed rather muted information signs lately alerting us to some necessary Muni system upgrades. See, the overhead powerlines that get you from Ocean Beach to PacB&T Park or wherever else you go on rails, continue right into the underground. And they always have. For like 30 years. Without replacement.

The wire’s time has come. Beginning tonight, Muni underground stations between Embarcadero and Church street will be closed from 9:30(ish) on each evening, Monday through Friday. Magically, the wires will still suffice on Saturday and Sunday nights. And grap an extra hour sleep on Saturday morning because the stations open an hour later at 7am.

No, Muni won’t leave you high and dry (or cold and wet, judging by today’s weather) – bus bridges will be running to all effected areas.

The Kicker? The service interruption is projected to last for about A YEAR. Oi.

Yet there will still be post-Giants game serve from The Park Formerly Known As 8000 Different Forms Of An Unruly Telecom Co.

Do you depend on the J, K, L, M, or N Lines? Check out the Muni site for more info.

I suppose the disruption could be much worse. I’m not usually downtown that late on a weeknight – but I’m sure that infrequency guarantees I’m going to forget about the lack of normal service and be very annoyed. Of course, doesn’t take much these days and at least there will be somewhere for folks to direct their general anger. Of course, there won’t be Muni agents to yell at. So really, everyone wins.

Except Bart station agents, probably.

Appreciating the fact Public Transporation is still run by humans

The train I didn't make it on

Have you ever noticed that the BART Train driver sticks his/her head out to make sure people are still trying to board, or leave trains, especially during rush hour? I don’t know about you, but that brings a ‘feel good’ vibe to me, especially after my last trip.

In Kuala Lumpur, there are several rail transportation systems, servicing different places. One of them is called PutraLRT. Putra LRT does not have a driver. Yep, run by computer. Efficient? I question that.

It’s pretty good in terms of time, but here’s why. The computer thinks it knows when you are are done embarking and disembarking from the train. This train (see pic) I was trying to get on? Before passengers were done disembarking, it shut its doors and took off. The look of one female who was trying to get off was priceless.

2nd time around, the same thing was about to happen again. I was just about ready to get on the train and the doors started shutting again. I pretty much threw myself in (the doors do stop if it detects people *caught* in it).

And one other thing (praising BART again) when a train gets full, the conductor will get on the PA System and tell you to move your ass onto other trains.

The Manuscript is On the Road

Jack Kerouac, mimicking Capote in a high-pitched voice, “Oh, they don’t write, they typewrite.” after he heard Truman Capote’s famous dismissal of the (Kerouac’s) novel On the Road.

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Does the younger generation, that was born knowing how to use a computer, have any idea just how arduous it was to use a typewriter? If a mistake was made you would need to pull out the paper, rumple it up, toss it in the trash, put in a new sheet of paper, and start all over.

When Jack Kerouac, in the spring of 1951, sat at his typewriter and wrote On the Road he did not want to slow down long enough to even put in new paper. Jack improvised by typing it on a roll of pasted together paper. The book was completed in three weeks. (Wonder what he could have done with the new iMac with Intel Core Duo?)

The On the Road manuscript-scroll will be on exhibit at the Main Public Library on Larkin Street

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Exhibition: January 14 – March 19, 2006
Main Library, Lower Level, Jewett Gallery
100 Larkin Street (at Grove)

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”
On The Road

“Dean, don’t drive so fast in the daytime…ah hell, Dean, I’m going in the back seat, I can’t stand it anymore, I can’ look.”
On the Road

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