Archive for May, 2008

Waiting for 36-Teresita

Forest Hill Station, 1917
Forest Hill Station when it was brand-new in 1917, courtesy of the Western Neighborhoods Project. Sometimes I think one of these would be faster than the 36.

Across the street from Forest Hill Station, there is a damp, cave-like bus shelter with a stone bench inside. One afternoon a few weeks ago I was waiting inside that shelter for my bus, the 36, and not too far away was another regular of the line, an older Chinese man with a casually dapper style. He’s pretty recognizable, as his outfit is consistent from day to day: in his slightly worn suit, his durable leather vest zipped up under the coat, that awesome beret pushed back from his forehead, and the large bifocals that cover half his face, he gives you the impression that he takes care to look good, but not to excess. He’s really got more important things on his mind.

For instance, the likelihood (or not) of the 36 ever arriving on time.

You see, the 36-Teresita is one of those lines designated by Muni as “community service,” which in polite English means “unpredictable.” Unfortunately, it’s the line I live on, so I spend a lot of time waiting on that stone bench inside that shelter, repeatedly prodding my BlackBerry for the next arrival time. sometimes predicts that I have twenty minutes to wait, but then the next time I look, it predicts forty minutes — meaning a run has been dropped in the meantime.

I poked the BlackBerry: this time it predicted ten minutes to go.

Soon I noticed our man in the beret was talking to a beautiful dark-haired woman. She was slightly distracted by her children: with one hand she was preventing her restless older daughter from wandering into the path of the oncoming buses, and with the other she was giving additional support to the sleepy infant strapped to her chest. I recognized her: as it happened, I’d seen her at Tower Market several months earlier, when she was pregnant with that very child. It was definitely her: she had an unforgettable face.

I checked my BlackBerry again: eighteen minutes to go. So I started eavesdropping on their conversation.

Upset About the High Cost of Energy?

One way to express your angst over your latest energy bill could be to…


This SUV interrupted my zombie-like stagger toward work this morning… so I took a picture.

I don’t know what the human injuries were, but the PG&E building and sidewalk pseudo-obelisk seemed unphased.

SUV takes on PG&E

Lit up: reading to save rent control

In case you’re looking for something to do tonight, I’m reading, along with Mary Roach, Adam Mansbach and others at Stephen Elliott’s Progressive Reading Series at the Makeout Room, 3225 22nd St near Mission. It’s a benefit to Save rent control in San Francisco and starts at 7:00 pm.

Previously: I interviewed Elliott earlier this year about the series.

Stepping in the right direction; Marriage FAQ

Many of you, like myself, have lots of questions regarding yesterday’s landmark decision regarding same-sex marriages. Equality California was kind enough to send out an email with a detailed FAQ. Check it out! New questions will be added, so be sure to check back on occasion. While you’re at it, join their mailing list and find out how to join or participate!

One thing that stood out is the fact that all this is riding on November’s ballot.

Could right-wing forces take away the freedom to marry at the ballot box in California?

Yes. Because the court based its decision on rights guaranteed by the California Constitution, right-wing groups are trying to amend our state Constitution to eliminate these fundamental constitutional protections and take away the basis for the decision.

These groups, which have received significant funding from out-of-state right-wing organizations, are placing an initiative on the November 2008 ballot that will ask voters to amend the California constitution to reverse the court’s decision and deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry.

Already, many state leaders are expressing their opposition to this proposed constitutional amendment. For example, in a public statement on April 11, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger stated that an initiative to amend the California Constitution to ban gay and lesbian couples from marriage was “a waste of time,” adding “I will always be there to fight against that. It will never happen.”

We agree with Governor Schwarzenegger that these outsiders are wasting their time and money trying to turn California into a state that would use its Constitution to take away civil rights and hurt families. But it will take every one of us to stop this antifamily initiative. For more information about how to get involved, contact Equality For All at

Even though yesterday is cause for celebration, it’s important to realize the fight is far from over! Go out there and educate your fellow Californians and Americans! I have hope that we will not let discrimination be written into our constitution.

Check out some images from last night’s impromptu celebration in the Castro after the jump!


2008 Bay Area Poetry Marathon at The LAB

2008 BAPM

The LAB, located at 16th and Capp in the Mission (that’s one block east of the BART station), is one of the more interesting art spaces in town. For almost twenty-five years it has been a showcase for interdisciplinary, experimental work (i.e., work that involves several media). The show on the walls right now, running through next Saturday, is called Subversive Complicity.

In case you actually follow that link, let me do a rough translation of all that art-speak into English:

The artists involved have created performance pieces (“interventions”) in which they assume various social roles out on the street, and basically behave in unexpected ways for those roles. The aim is to upset preconceptions about these social roles and the way they normally function, and by doing so, get some of these passers-by to think about the social roles they play. And maybe this will even rouse a couple people to constructive action. The exhibit itself documents these interventions. [Note: I haven’t seen the exhibit.]

But wait — wasn’t this post about a poetry reading?

That’s right. Tomorrow night from 7-9, The LAB is to host the first of four evenings in the 2008 Bay Area Poetry Marathon. (The other nights, all Saturdays, are June 28, July 19, and August 30.) Admission is on a sliding scale from $3 to $15. Will you know who the poets are? Not necessarily, but I can assure you that won’t matter at all. Check out Suzanne Kleid’s verdict on last year’s event:

Going to a poetry reading, especially one of poets one hasn’t heard of, can be nerve-wracking: is it going to be embarrassingly confessional, or boring, or bad? I’m not normally a poetry person myself. I’m sure there were dozens of allusions and techniques totally lost on me. But there were also sublime moments, along with some interesting and funny ones, and not a dud in the bunch. [The curators of the show have] clearly put a lot of thought into who they’ve chosen to read, and if watching skilled people do interesting things with language sounds like your idea of a good Saturday night, I recommend coming to cheer on the Poetry Marathon as it rounds into the final stretch. They even serve beer.

Her blow-by-blow review can be read here at KQED.

[Much thanks to Kemble Scott for mentioning this event in his great newsletter, so I could report it here.]

Heat Taunts BART Users on Spare the Air Day

May 15th was not only a “Spare the Air” day and “Bike to Work” day; it also was a day of record temperatures in The City. As the day went on, the heat soared to 97 degrees in the city.

As noon approached, trouble began to brew on the BART system. For the next 8 hours, the system was plagued by delays of 45 minutes or longer.

I met the BART problem head-on at rush hour last night. I arrived at Civic Center at about 4:40pm. Trains were being held in between stations and at stations for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. The first train only went to 24th street/Mission, so I didn’t get on. Then I realized, soon enough, the trains were ONLY going to 24th Street/Mission, where you would have to transfer.

17 minutes later, two more trains came and went, absolutely packed to the ceiling. Finally, I got on a train. At 24th Street, something strange happened- the train went backwards. Apparently, while I was zoning out in iPod land, the train had suddenly become a Richmond train and just started going the other way at 24th Street.

At 16th, I disembarked to attempt another try towards my destination. Alas, my “SFO” BART train, again, suddenly became a Richmond train and turned around. But, at least, this time, I managed to GET OFF the train at 24th.

The platform was packed with people, the trains kept turning around. Then two more packed trains rolled by. Finally, I braved one of the packed trains. My last BART train of the evening made several long pauses to cool itself, but I did finally make my destination at 6:20pm.

BART passengers delayed by heat wave


Outside Seating Round-Up

Walked by Zeitgeist last night and it was a nightmare to get in- there was quite a long line. Friend mentioned that she wanted a blog post that listed all of the nice outside eating areas, so here you go:

* Medjool on Mission. Huge roof deck with capacity for crowds. Tiny little elevator, but that’s the only real drawback.

* El Rio, of course, huge deck

* The Ramp- huge back deck with open area

* Personal favorite: Fish! in Sausalito, lots of deck and locally fished seafood.

* Almost all of the Ferry Building restaurants have outdoor eating

* Epic Roasthouse & Waterbar on Embarcadero

* Palomino & Gordon Biersch have outside areas

* The Waterfront on Embarcadero has a wind-protected open area

* Pier 23 has a tarp enclosed back area (they may open it once in a while)

* Most North Beach places have outside sidewalk seating.

* Metro Hotel on Divisadero near Haight has a beautiful back garden.

Please comment with your favorites!

Also see: Eater SF’s El Fresco Options, CitySearch Round-up

What’s in Gavin’s desk? Altoids and Rolaids

Gavin Newsom applauded by staff after gay marriage decision by Calif. Supreme Court. AP photo by Eric Risberg

One of the photos accompanying today’s Chronicle story on about the gay marriage decision gives a glimpse into San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s desk drawer: Altoids, and a large bottle of something that looks like Rolaids, or maybe aspirin. Both standard equipment for a busy politician. (What, no hair spray?)

A Companion for Your Commute?

There is a reason I carry a camera in my bag every day. I have three digital cameras, constantly charging, of various sizes, on the ready to capture news, odd sightings or anything in my path.

Many questions from folks have been launched at me while wandering into BART on a daily basis… “Do you want to take a FREE personally test?”, “Do you have some change?”, “Do you know where I can get some pot?”…

Yesterday, I heard, “Would you like to buy a rat for $5.00?”

(Insert trusty camera here)

This is Mia, and she sells rats in BART for $5.00.

(I used to have rats for pets and it broke my little heart
when they only lived to their meager lifespan of 2 years)

Mia and her rats

It is about time…

Thank you to the mayor and thank you to all the great people who lobbied and supported the right for all people to be married in the eyes of the law. Proud to be a californian today.

Great MLK quote from Dennis Herrera, “The arc of history is long, and it bends toward justice”.

Go Connecticut Go!

Here’s some video footage of the Gav at city hall yesterday.

More video and poll after the jump

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