Archive for August, 2006

The neighborhood cafe

sunny cafe

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

At my local hangout today, Main Street Coffee in Redwood City, city council members rubbed elbows with construction workers, policemen, moms talking school politics, and a swarm of tiny children, who play with the patio toys and climb the big rock in the garden. Today was perfect and sunny and mild.

It’s a ten dollar splurge for breakfast – an omelette or chilaquilles, which comes with an enormous plate of other stuff like potatoes and scones and fruit. The food has that homey and wholesome aura and I happen to know that Mona, one of the owners, gets up at 2am to bake every morning. The staff here never quits. They know all our names, what times we are likely to come in and what we’re likely order.

Many other regulars talk to me, and a few stand out. The guy with the purple car” who likes to talk about computers, and of course the guy who plays the dulcimer and the ripply music people play on saws.

Part of its coolness is that it’s unexpected. It’s hidden away behind corrugated iron warehouses and auto body shops in the sort of neighborhood I would from my vast Sim City experience call “light industrial”.

Anyway, it’s been my home away from home for five years.

Cable Car Interval Training

I have a love/hate relationship with MUNI. I love that they have allowed me to be a non-car owner. I hate that their schedules are erratic. I love that there’s a decent amount of interconnectivity between modes and routes, but hate the limitations of their ancillary routes.

One aspect of MUNI I will always love, is taking the California line cable car in to work. In comparison to riding the bus into the city center, the cable car has a completely different air and attitude about it. The operators are generally friendly and even the riders – yes, even those of us who haven’t yet had our morning coffee – are more apt to smile and exchange friendly banter. I don’t even mind taking it in during the wet season, when you have to wipe down the outside benches before sitting down. That said, I don’t take the cable car in very often, as it is not the most direct route for me, but this week I’ve had a yen for it. A yen for the jovial commeraderie that compensates for the lack of such in my currently stress-filled office. Yet my yen has been thwarted more often than not.

Vasco Road Accident Prompts Rational Thought, Double Fine Zone

Vasco Road, Contra Costa County’s favorite bloodbath, is finally becoming a double fine zone. Vasco, which runs from Brentwood to Livermore, has long had a history of treacherous accidents during heavy commute times, but August 14th’s accident really took the cake. During the morning commute, a car crossed into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision and four fatalities.

Reason #549938 to keep road rage in check

I hate reading about these things in my neighborhood, especially since I tend to yell and honk at other drivers who piss me off. I’ll be sure to be especially nice to any green Honda hatchbacks I see driving around my ‘hood, and to be speedy with my U-turns.

The article is in the Merc, but it is kinda confusing, so I’ll paraphrase: A guy in a green Honda yelled and honked at another guy who was being slow making a U-turn. So this guy making the turn yelled back. The green Honda followed him and they kept yelling at each other, ending in them both getting out of their cars and getting in a fight. The green Honda guy then sliced the U-turn guy with a pocket knife. Then they both drove away. U-turn guy: Why did you yell back? Why did you stop your car and get in a fight with this asshole? Dude!

So if you are in south San Jose, don’t pick fights with guys in green Hondas ’cause you might end up with a flesh wound. And if you do see this guy, please call the police.

From the Mercury News:

[The man] is described as a Hispanic male in his 30s, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, with brown hair and a goatee, Muyo said. He was wearing a white tank top that revealed tattoos on both of his arms. Anyone with information is asked to call the department’s assaults division at (408) 277-4161.

My San Francisco Wishlist: Part One

Hi San Francisco,

I really love you as a city. You’re far more exciting and diverse than my native Detroit. You have so many neighborhoods, with so much personality. There are more restaurants per capita here than anywhere else in North America they say. You offer parades and bars and people of every persuasion. But I do have a few problems with you. This is one of them:

Why is so hard to figure out what to do every weekend? Why do I always hear about things after they happen? What I’d like from you San Francisco–what I would really love in this great city of ours, is a centralized calendar telling me everything that is happening on any given day.

Sure, we have Squidlist and MetBlogs and SFist and the Chron for some local events. And every concert venue has their own calendar online. The SFBG and SFWeekly have their own claendars, and for sexy events you can check the ErosBlog calendar. But I don’t want to have to check two dozen sites to figure out what there is to do on any given Sunday. I want to check one.

Why isn’t there a central site that culls all the info about what’s happening, and then provides to us in a simple, searchable interface? Anyone out there interested in engaging in the tireless, thankless task of making one? I know I’m asking a lot here, San Francisco, but it’s only cause I love you.

PS If you have any great suggestions for calendar sites that would fill this hole in my heart, please respond in the comments below.

Eastbound Bay Bridge Closed Labor Day Weekend

A reminder to folks coming into and out of San Francisco this Labor Day weekend: the eastbound (lower) deck of the Bay Bridge will be closed beginning 11:59 PM on Friday Sept. 1 until 5:00 AM Tuesday Sept. 5. Labor Day Weekend typically sees lower than normal traffic volume, and project planners hope to complete the necessary construction in one weekend before fall, when there will be weekends with larger amounts of traffic. has a handy PDF factsheet for download on their website. has an article on the most recent construction: the installation of a steel span earlier this morning.

Mission’s Most Irresponsible Father: Follow-Up

My worst fears and suspicions have been confirmed. I made this post yesterday about the 5-month-old girl plucked from her father’s car while he went to buy cigarettes after a failed search for crack, which I initially incorrectly noted was a mission for weed.

The child’s body was found in McLaren Park. According to various news sources, particularly this article from the Chronicle, the father is a suspect.

Ten Reasons San Francisco Rocks During Burning Man

onionbmimage.jpg10. Smell of patchouli is restricted to Upper Haight.
9. Prices of glitter, fake fur and hot glue return to normal levels. Meanwhile, Discount Fabrics closes doors of all locations for one day, fills employee break rooms with money and swims in self-made swimming pool of cash.
8. No white dudes with dreadlocks for seven square miles.
7. San Francisco ‘smug’ levels ratchet back to ‘tolerable’ in absence of arty hipster trust fund brats and 2.0 leeches.
6. Super annoying guys don’t hit on me in bars assuming I know what the fuck they’re talking about when they use terms like “the burn”, “the man” and “off the grid”.
5. Don’t have to ride motorcycle defensively around street detritus of Barbie doll heads, Legos, or little plastic dinosaurs that drop off art cars when fog breaks down plastic-epoxy bond with auto paint.
4. Parking is easier, you can actually get brunch at Boogaloos, and Mission bars are fun.
3. For a minute, STD levels in San Francisco drop (but rise again sharply after the festival).
2. At house parties, there are no chicks that become uncontrollably drunk and then attempt to show you how they can “fire dance”, accidentally setting fire to the host’s potted plant/small dog/infant.
1. No hippies. ‘Nuff said.

Actually, not enough said. I know lots of people who get extra happy about a burner-free San Francisco, so add your reasons San Francisco rocks to the comments if you want! (This post inspired by Jess’ post and The Onion’s No One Makes it to Burning Man piece, image via.)

Metroblogger cracks MSM: Violet Blue to Chronicle

Congratulations to SF Metroblogger Violet Blue for her new job as a San Francisco Chronicle columnist!

You go, Violet Blue! Cut a wide swath!

A library junkie in the deep PQs

the PQs, where I hang out

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Here’s my hangout lately on the Peninsula: Stanford’s Green Library. You can get into Stanford Libraries even if you aren’t a student, faculty, or staff, by signing in as a guest. Park on Galvez in the visitor lot for $1.50 an hour.

The books stretch dimly into the far distance, smelling of stodgy dust. I tend to collect enormous armloads even when I’m just in there after one book; I walk in and my head goes sideways. Yesterday it was three armloads of books lugged to the window-side desks. I skimmed, read, squeaked with joy, sticky-noted, xeroxed, typed, annotated.

It is good library etiquette to leave the books out on the tables in neat stacks, to be counted by shelving clerks and included in proof of library use in the monthly statistics.

The third floor PQ section has got most of the poetry in Spanish. but if you poke around there’s way more. The Dewey Decimal stuff used to be in the basement, down a long long tunnelly place like a bomb shelter or a steam tunnel complex way out of the building, but now most of it is in the very odd bit of the library that has no heating. Concrete and steel girders, steel staircases you can see completely through, claustrophobia extreme, and the ceilings just overhead even if you’re a gnome, so that when you’re on the 7th floor of the Weird Scary Annex you walk out – if you can find the exit – on the third floor of the real library.

It was like leaving a skyscraper submarine to walk out of that into the sunlight, and the empty campus, and get a sub-normal cup of coffeepot dregs from the nearby “cafe”, which is nasty beyond compare; sparsely populated by stale rice crispie treats and pigeons.

Every smart campus should have a cooking school on the side, to ensure good cafes. The Stanford Masters in Barista Studies! Picture it!

Berkeley’s main library, when I can get in and I can’t without an ID but I’ve managed it anyway, has its own special loveliness. They have open stacks, but with shelves on wheels. You turn a capstan sort of wheel to move the stacks around and nip in between the newly opened crevasse. Again – submarines.

San Francisco State’s library has almost no formality to it. It’s reasonably big – it’s a bit crowded and grungy – The books I want are almost always checked out. What I can say for it: it’s lively and the people are more interesting. It’s the city park of University libraries in the Bay Area!

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