Archive for the ‘North Beach’ Category

Mason St. Garden

Mason garden
Sorry for left alignment, can’t figure out that aspect of this site :)

The neighborhood of North Beach has created a garden, from Columbus Ave to Lombard St. It’s cool. The few times I’ve walked by there’s been folks enjoying it. A woman reading a book, a guy eating his lunch, school kids sitting and eating. I heard that this was a “put it in, see if it works” experiment, between the library and the parking lot (“the triangle”) that is under development. City officials were involved, and as you can see there are new trees, greenery, stumps for sitting, etc.

The posted rules include an ominous “no food preparation that involves a health department permit” and oddly “no amplified music” but otherwise it’s a true neighborhood, scrappy endeavor.

I for one thought that right turn from Columbus, onto Mason, was one of the most dangerous corners in the city. I’ve seen a pedestrian get clipped, and always thought it was a matter of time before something really bad happened. It’s downhill for cars, after the traffic jam of downtown North Beach, so they’re racing through it. For pedestrians, it’s an uphill slog that takes a while, and the library entrance is within a few feet meaning there’s kids streaming out of there all times of day.

Biking to Work: Day 3

Little snapshot of life blogpost here. I’m commuting to the East Bay, via bike, from North Beach.

Day 1: Notice the sign on Embarcadero turnstile, “no bikes during commuter hours, 7-9AM” (It’s 10AM). Started this long discussion on FriendFeed. I’m sweaty and exhausted at work, and it’s worst going home- where every staircase is uphill (a quirk of going from an underground station to an overground one).

Day 2: Instead of biking up Embarcadero- which is wind tunnel every which hour or way or day- tack up the streets on the East side of Telegraph Hill. Less wind, a little more distance. I run into an old friend on BART, and I realize the social aspect of public transit cannot be overrated.

Day 3: It all goes by in a blur. It’s faster and becoming rote. I’m not as tired, it’s easier, and I start noticing the signs of approaching fall- ripening fruit on trees, the earlier darkness, and realize it’s great to be outside so much, each day, but still be able to get everything done work-wise and after-work-wise.

Back into the car Monday for the BART strike.

Writers with Drinks, Pamela Z, Easter vigils

pamela_zTonight Writers with Drinks features Pam Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness), Stacie Boschma (Happy Rainbow Poems from the Unicorn Petting Zoo), Laurie R. King (Touchstone, The Art Of Detection), Sean Stewart (Cathy’s Key, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous), Regina Lynn (SexRev 2.0, Sexier Sex), and Minal Hajratwala (Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages To Five Continents). As usual, it’s at the Makeout Room, 3225 22nd. St. near Mission in San Francisco, starts at 7:30 pm, and benefits the Center for Sex and Culture. I’d go just to hear Pam Houston read — she’s always terrific.

If you’d rather see something artsier, experimental music maven Pamela Z (pictured at left) is presenting the second in her ROOM series of performances, tonight at 8:00 pm at the Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa St. at Harrison.

And if you’re up for something mystical, dark and theatrical, attend one of the many Easter Vigil services held at Christian churches tonight. Classically, a congregation would meet in the “undercroft” of the church, the sub-basement where the skeletons are buried, to remind them of the tomb from which Jesus rises. Nowadays you’re more likely to find yourself in a candle-lit church basement, but the service is still great theater, with scripture readings that move from the creation to the exodus from Egypt to the passion and resurrection. Good bets are Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in North Beach, 8:00 pm; St. Gregory Nyssa Episcopal Church on Potrero Hill, 8:00 pm; Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, 8:00 pm; or St. Francis Lutheran Church in the Castro, 7:00 pm.

Signs of Recession, etc.

Lunch As usual, a recession-inspired happy hour roundup: (also starting a new twitter hashtag, #happyhoursf, please use & abuse.)

$1.50 drafts at 901 Columbus, Columbus & Lombard. Watch out, it is truly mobbed come 5 PM.

“94133” zip code specific deal at Tony Nik’s on Stockton at Columbus, Thursdays . Pilsner, $3, some well and cocktail deals too.

$3 house wine (and it’s not shabby) at Capriccio on Mason & Chestnut.

Wow. Besides the sad closures- noticed a bunch of signs on Chestnut, there are some perks. Like this sign at St. Francis Shrine: “You enter us, and we enter you.”

Signs of the Times: Happy Hour

So one thing I’m noticing in these cheaper times… happy hour deals.
3$ wine and hummus at cafe capriccio

In my little neighborhood, there are an abundance of $2 beers.
– Chameleon on Leavenworth & Pacific
– 901 Columbus at Lombard & Columbus (pre-dates recession)
– The Guinness deal at Kennedy’s (pre-dates recession)

New happy hour deals:
– Sapore on Lombard & Taylor
– Capriccio ($3 house wines) at Mason & Chestnut

Share your happy hour deals!

Stacey D’Erasmo’s new novel ‘The Sky Below’

The third novel by Stacey D’Erasmo — a New York writer but one who lived in the Bay Area for a couple of years as a Stegner fellow at Stanford, and whose second novel was set here — is about a young man named Gabriel and his struggle to become himself — whether that self is actually a bird, an artist, or something else. Along the way, he lives in a seedy motel in Florida, buys a house in Brooklyn, and flees to a commune in Mexico.

Reviews have praised the novel’s beautiful prose. On Sunday the New York Times said: “Gabriel’s voice is irresistible… he’s a brilliant narrator. Vibrant and precise, his storytelling is memorable not so much for its individual phrases (though plenty are exquisite) as for its overall sense of immersion into a distinctive world.”

D’Erasmo appears at City Lights Bookstore on Wednesday at 7:00 pm.

After the jump, a short interview

Bill O’Reilly Smears SF & North Beach

He introduces it as a “where Obama is leading us,” in “traditional America vs. secular progressive America”. What is scary about SF? We’re so despicably tolerant. We get to know our homeless. We talk about sex, and we condone marijuana. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Bill O’Reilly Smear from Huffington Post.

Great quotes that have been getting attention on some discussion groups:

“You wouldn’t go to the Presidio at night, I wouldn’t” – Bill
“Every city has a tenderloin, and North Beach is San Francisco’s” – Bill
“Lots of dopes everywhere. Those clinics are everywhere.” – Bill

Working the Neighborhood

Lunch in north beach
I walked two precincts Tuesday- mine, and an adjoining one up the slope of Telegraph Hill from Washington Square Park. I was getting out the vote- and in my precinct we got almost 70% out (by our numbers) and also stumping for David Chiu. The crowd at Mabuhay Gardens was thrilled when the first reports came out that he got 38%, ahead of Alioto’s 24%.

So it was an odd Supervisor race- I didn’t pay attention to the politics, just tried to stick to the platforms & issues. The weird thing about District 3 is that it’s basically 1/2 of downtown, long and skinny. Lower Polk, Financial District, North Waterfront, ritzy Russian Hill & Telegraph Hill, and North Beach. As a North Beacher, you have some issues but you can’t hog the limelight. So I went for the well-rounded candidate (see: Cheat Sheet for more details) I worked on election day so I didn’t have to sit at home on my hands in front of CNN.

The best part was meeting neighbors. Some of the cool people I met on the beat:
– A very overwhelmed college student/election worker, who was in a tough position but she tried really hard to do her work in less than ideal circumstances, as it was hard to even to get a bathroom break.
– Alioto’s wife, who I stood with for about 2 hours and chewed the cud. Official congratulations on your new baby!
– Aaron Peskin, who chauffered me around the Hill and otherwise was a super supportive worker
– Matthew, campaign worker who killed an hour with me talking about his problems moving to SF, a topic that brought up all kinds of nostalgia for me
– Sorry to all the absentee voters- I have no idea why the election office didn’t know you had voted yet (and that fact kinda scared me, to be honest).
– Young woman who does Chinatown alleyways, volunteer-run.
– The guys from the DNC who stood on my corner and helped out a ton
– The teacher’s union guys who showed us the defunct dot-com office in your headquarters. I am *so* going to write about that.

The Have-Nots

From my window
You might have slummed it- I did- a period where you just had no cash. I was in Paris (hence the photo) and felt keenly the lack of money and opportunity in a large city. Being an urban dweller we can’t stop ourselves from developing “blinders.” I’m the first to admit it. Friend from Kentucky was walking around the Tenderloin with me, and kept stopping to talk to folks sitting on the pavement, giving them lists of shelters and just listening to their stories. I wasn’t upset at him, just made me realize how we do it, we turn a blind eye. Visitors from Minnesota were really shocked, and I was helping to explain the situation to their daughters- 15 and 11- who hadn’t seen a homeless person in real life, ever. My explanation? A kind of rehearsed, jaded, insidery opinionated rant on Reaganomics in California (they were very conservative Bush supporters) and how in SF it’s “easy to be homeless.” I’m not proud of my rant, but it’s what I felt at the time and is justified historically, and factually, at least. I did keep repeating, “It’s self-medication,” as most of the folks Reagan kicked out of halfway houses were addicts or managing pain and mental issues in their own way. Still, just because it can be explained doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue. Hopefully, with a solution.

My favorite local charity: North Beach Citizens. What’s yours?

This post was inspired by Blog Action Day, if you’re a blogger please contribute by writing about poverty.

North Beach/Chinatown Political CheatSheet

North Beach from Coit Tower Yikes there’s a lot of people running for the District 3 Seat. OK I’m going to create a little cheat-sheet, and update it as I get more information (as this will take forever to write). Feel free to add in comments corrections/additions. I picked out four major issues:

  • Crime: escalating homicides, and the ongoing Broadway Corridor issues.
  • Development: everyone’s abuzz with the plywood-ing of North Beach, and general development efforts (letting in chains, not letting in chains, spot zoning, etc.).
  • Transportation: The Central Freeway is coming! And, well, the usual suckiness of the 30-Stockton crowded scene on Grant St. any given day, and oh, the rudeness of drivers… cycling hostility, I could go on.
  • Rental Protection: Whether you’re for it or against it, it’s an expensive city and people get elbowed out- like our firemen & teachers, and rising rental rates mean less interesting mom & pop stores.

The chart reflects my notes made from the candidates’ web sites and not any other journalistic writeup, observations, conversations or gossip (that’s at the end!).

M. DeNunzio W. Pang D. Chiu
Crime MD: a priority, not top WP: unknown/low DC: former DA, high priority
Rental Protection MD: Important, as he’s into senior services WP: unknown/low DC: high priority & a plan
Development MD: Very strong, pro-development, though no plan WP: Lots of ideas, very important, lots of energy. DC: focus on small business & merchant corridors
Transportation MD: into transportation spending WP: unknown/low DC: cyclist & bus rider, high priority
L. Johnson J. Alioto C. Cheng T. Gantner
Crime LJ: foot patrols, after-school plan, SAFE. Top priority. JA: foot patrols. CC: n/a, active in homelessness (as assoc. with Crime) TG: foot patrols & meet weekly with Central Station
Rental Protection LJ: pro workforce-housing, not jus subsidized JA: unknown/low priority CC: active in community benefits TG: unknown/low priority
Development LJ: a priority, end to spot zoning, work with Planning dept. JA: incentives for new merchants. CC: focused on world trade relationships TG: a priority- active in Merchant Assoc.
Transportation LJ: unknown/not a priority JA: unknown/low priority. CC: Currently very active in RENEW SF and other transit committees TG: unknown/low priority

Candidate Sites:
Lynn Jefferson (LJ)
Wilma Pang (WP)
Joe Alioto, Jr. (JA)
Claudine Cheng (CC)
David Chiu (DC)
Tony Gantner (TG)
Mike DeNunzio (MD)

More reading:
Extra! ‘Culture of fear’ stalks Grant Avenue! by Tony Long

Joe Aliot, Jr. Enters SF Sentinel

District 3 – S.F.’s hottest supervisorial race Wyatt Buchanan of SF Gate

Opinion & Hearsay
So, I know someone who knows someone in the David Chiu campaign, and he sounds neat. I met Lynn at a fundraiser, and she was nice and eager to fix things. I walk by the Alioto headquarters every day. I haven’t really noticed my favorite shops endorsing one candidate or another. I’m mostly concerned, personally, with transportation and the plywood issue. I’m impressed with Connie’s Angel Island experience, that’s a really interesting bipartisan, historical and cultural level. Wilma has some energy and interest, and I like the global perspective that the Chinatown candidates have.

The issue with this race is that the 3 major areas- North Beach, Downtown & Chinatown – require someone who doesn’t have a real core bias, and can manage the peripheral, but also important areas- North Waterfront, Russian Hill & Telegraph Hill. If you get someone really entrenched with the residential communities like Lynn or Alioto, you miss out on the other areas- same with a Chinatown vote, as well as city-wide concerns (as transit is important across the city of course). So I looked at the more well-rounded candidates, that seem to target and address the issues that I’m mostly concerned with, and ended up with… drumroll please… David Chiu. Note: subject to change.

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