A few days ago Mission Mission broke the news that Mission Street Food, the weekly happening where a chef takes over a crummy little Chinese takeout kitchen and produces a strange and wonderful gourmet meal, is getting its own place, to be called Commonwealth.
But it’s not all in place. They are looking for backers so they can buy kitchen equipment. Using the Kickstarter micro-granting site, you can donate a small amount which, combined with donations from hundreds of others, will fully equip their hearth. Plus, they promise to donate half of what they get through Kickstarter to charity after they’ve been open a year. Plus, the whole restuarant project is a non-profit charity-benefitting thing. You can’t go wrong.
A very warm day in the middle of a heat wave. I spend much of the day working on my book in a borrowed room, and at the end of the afternoon I go to the Atlas Cafe in the Mission District to have a cappucino and make a few notes.
As I circle to find a parking place, which is difficult in the Mission even on a Saturday afternoon, I notice an unmarked police car with a plainclothes driver keeping an eagle eye out for something. And a couple minutes later I see three cop cars come roaring up the street. They turn the corner by the cafe.
When I reach its front door I see the cops have detained two Latino teenagers dressed in the baggy, neutral uniform of the neighborhood: white t-shirts and black shorts. There are now five cop cars for these two kids, whom I had idly noticed walking quietly along a block away when I was looking for parking.
Inside the cafe, most of the tables are occupied with people studying or working on laptops. A young woman and young man are playing guitars — mostly ragtime and songs from the 1920s. They play a few choruses and then the woman sings one of those old songs in a clear tenor voice. (Their names, I found out when I looked at the CD they had for sale, are Craig Ventresco and Meredith Axelrod, and here’s a YoutTube video of them performing at the Atlas earlier this year.)
The cops let the two kids go and the police cars drive away. Almost no one in the cafe noticed the roust taking place across the street.
After several songs, the woman’s place is taken by a young man, who plays instrumentals while the woman passes a hat. Then a couple in their thirties — the man in a straw fedora, a woman in a sundress — stand up and begin to dance the tango. The guitarists are still playing ragtime but the dancers are good enough to do the tango to ragtime anyway.
The three-month-old clothing and curios shop BellJar (don’t go too dark) in the Mission is hosting a show in two weeks with work by Jon Carling. The California College of the Arts grad’s ink drawings are imaginative, and, like the shop that’s hosting him, darkly romantic. You can preview his work on Etsy before the June 26 event at 3187 16th St. If it’s anything like the last one, champagne and beautiful tattoos will abound.