Archive for October, 2005

Can’t Steal Halloween Away From Danielle Place

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Alan Aerts is living the American dream in his 6,400 square-foot Monte Sereno, Calif. home, complete with movie theater, pool house, weight rooms, and garages to hold his car collection.

From humble beginnings, Alan worked hard to better himself. In the 1980’s, one day while working as a bread delivery man he saw some video games. Alan began to buy and rent out the games. He was doing well, but there was just one problem, the games soon became obsolete. Some might have just given up, but not Alan. He just switched to soft drink and snack machines. And as they say, the rest was history. In a good year his vending business has brought in $15 million.

As a child Alan loved Christmas and decorations. As an adult, with money to spare, Alan began to decorate. His home soon became a holiday showcase. People from all over the Bay Area would drive miles to see the spectacle. As many as 100,000 cars would come by in a season, and traffic control was hired to ensure safety. One Christmas we took our daughter to see the home and we found it easy to drive by and enjoy.

After some years the constant parade of cars became too much for some of Alan’s neighbors, and eventually the city was forced to step in. They would not grant Mr. Aerts a permit for more than three days.

The decorations came down and a 10 foot tall Grinch pointing its Grinchy finger at one of the more resentful neighbor’s house went up.

Recently I was in the area and noticed Mr. Aerts and some workers putting up displays. I wondered, was Christmas coming back to the Danielle Place cul-de-sac? No. What I saw were spooky bats, pumpkins and witches.

Mr. Aerts told me he didn’t put Halloween up last year and the kids missed it so much he had to decorate this year. He said it was all legal, as he had the required city permits. This year the little tricksters will get their treats and the Grinches will get…

Ichiraku Sexy Roll

So many times I’ve stopped myself from posting here because I don’t have the right photos or have all my thoughts together yet on a particular subject. Well no more. Today I shall talk to you about just one particular sushi roll that rocked my socks off yesterday. I was in a sushi-crave mode, and in desperation, actually went to Waiters on Wheels and ordered up a roll of sushi from Ichiraku. I got a miso soup, an appetizer, and this really crazy roll called “Sexy Roll”. It’s like, a maki with shrimp tempura in the middle, with raw salmon on top, COVERED IN AMERICAN CHEESE. Like, major bells going off in my head telling me this is so sacrilegous. But it sounded really quite delish, so I got it anyway. And my god, it was. Who knew American cheese would go well with sushi? The shrimp tempura was still hot and crispy, and the american cheese melted on the raw salmon was supremely delicious. I would’ve shown you guys a photo, but I gulped it all down before I managed to snap a pic.

I don’t know if it’s “sexy” but it sure as heck is seductive. YUM.


Clearly a question on the minds of most San Franciscans watching coverage of the mother who has apparently thrown her children off Pier 7 on the waterfront.

But this morning, something else makes me wonder why: press briefings by the chiefs of SF police and fire make complete sense (pause for moment of Go-Girls pride that they are both women). Coast Guard? Yeah, naturally. But why Mayor Gavin Newsom? I generally support the Mayor on both policy and political decisions – he’s savvy, and whether you like his substantive policies or not, you have to credit his political accumen.

But while this is a horrible, unthinkable, souless crime, that comes with a whole load of uncomfortable social issues (a 23 year old mother of 3 from 6 yrs to 16 months in age to begin with is a concern, let alone what happens in a community to leave someone feeling as though they have no options), it doesn’t seem to rise to the level of mayoral press conference. I don’t think it is inappropriate by any means, I just don’t get it. Fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, widespread violence, city-wide events – even neighborhood wide events – but this seems sad on a completely different level, one desperately quiet, personal, and frightening. Sometimes I need the calm voice of leadership to get me though it – but here, Heather Fong handles it fine, doesn’t she?


Generally, I like SF columnist Mark Moford. He’s a bit manic, sure, but sometimes hyperbole is the best medicine and a welcome relief from the mundane, staid, typical pacing of most columnists.

But somedays, I wish he’d shut up.

Today, his targets were the oddly large Duggar family of Arkansas. I’d watched a documentary about them before. They’ve just welcomed their 16th – yeah sixteenth – child. All of them are named with J-names. They wear clearly homemade clothes and sport out-of-date dos. There’s probably much about this family that conflicts with west coast life – or most of American life in a 2.2 child world.

He starts his column by ironically swearing how wrong it would be to judge the family. But then he kicks things into gear:

It’s wrong to be this judgmental. Wrong to suggest that it is exactly this kind of weird pathological protofamily breeding-happy gluttony that’s making the world groan and cry and recoil, contributing to vicious overpopulation rates and unrepentant economic strain and a bitter moral warpage resulting from a massive viral outbreak of homophobic neo-Christians across our troubled and Bush-ravaged land. Or is it?

My first though is “ease off there buddy.” These people manage to feed all these kids without public assistance. They likely pay taxes. The kids aren’t roaming wild down city streets. And that whole overpopulation argument is misleading since most western, developed countries have small birth rates. Some countries like Italy and Germany are almost at zero growth and countries like Japan are facing a critical shortage of kids – with overwhelming percentages of their population over retirement age. This isn’t a problem unless you’re a fan of pasta, beer, or sushi – in which case you should start shipping oysters and spanish fly to those countries stat.

Forget Gavin’s issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples – it’s THIS kind of attitude that builds a wall between us and the vast swath of America lying between us and the other childless coast.

Moford clearly fears the baby boom of midwestern “megareligious” children. What’s the solution? Limit their breeding? Why not start breeding megaprogressive kids out here? At the end of the day, doesn’t it come down to manpower anyway? Isn’t that why we aren’t harder on China with their billion+ population? To be fair, Moford does wonder where the funky tattooed parents of 16 are – but one wonders how he’d handle that situation.

Why is it acceptable to assume these kids will be “homophobic, asexual Christian” righters?

Moford avers that regardless of which God in which you believe, “it’s a safe bet that hysterical breeding does not top her list of desirables.” I’ll leave aside the use of the word “hysterical” (period or especially in this context). Then he really piles it on in the last graf:

Ah, but this is America, yes? People should be allowed to do whatever the hell they want with their families if they can afford it and if it’s within the law and so long as they aren’t gay or deviant or happily flouting Good Christian Values, right? Shouldn’t they? Hell, gay couples still can’t openly adopt a baby in most states (they either lie, or one adopts and the other must apply as “co-parent”), but Michelle Duggar can pop out 16 kids and no one says, oh my freaking God, stop it, stop it now, you thoughtless, selfish, baby-drunk people.

No, no one says that. That would be mean.

“Stop it now,” he says to this woman whom I’m assuming he has never met and who has never done a thing to him, nor have her children done a thing to him. Nor likely will they ever do a thing to him.

I can’t help but recall the film “Cheaper By The Dozen” (good lord, the original) in which a visitor makes a disparaging comment about the size of the Gilbreth family. It was not well received – as it shouldn’t be. Should we emulate China’s one-child policy? Which gender gets left on a mountain top to die here, Mr. Moford?

He’s certainly entitled to his opinion and to express it. But I wonder who taught him that saying such things about someone else’s family – a lot of someone elses’ mother – was polite behavior?

Keep your vitriol for George Bush or corporate America or Osama bin Laden or chicken pox or dog-poisoners or axe murderers. Not some Arkansas mother who fits into your narrative snark for the week. That is bad breeding.

‘Twas a Warm Night in San Fran (or: an ode to Zeitgeist/a flagrant rip-off of a Christmas fave)


burrlogo.gifSF has some of the best burritos around, bar none. But there are also a good share of “eh” taquerias out there as well. How does one know if a taqueria is worth checking out? It’s only natural that there be a website dedicated to finding a tasty wrap in the city. Burrito Eater lists taquerias by name and neighborhood, as well as based on recommendations and visits. aims to be the Web

San Francisco Poster Fair


October 28-30, SF hosts the 12th Annual Poster Fair at the Fort Mason Center. Click on “shows/auctions” and scroll down or call 800-856-8069 for more information. The show runs Friday from 5-9pm, Saturday from 10-7 and Sunday from 11-6. Admission is $12. Posters, which the site claims are all originals and never reproductions – are probably too expensive (for me, anyway).

While it may not be too much more than your average art sale, for those who like this style, it’s probably a great opportunity to gussy up those bare walls most renters must live with. It’s one of my favorite types of art – so maybe I’ll see you there!

Piss Where?

I just recently read an article in this weeks Guardian entitled “Pissing in Tiger’s woods” about how “so much money” went to Harding Park’s renovations and have left other City parks without restrooms. Well, it infuriated me a bit, because, with the exception of the clubhouse, there are not any restrooms on the course either. So, if you plan on playing Harding Park, you better go before or be prepared to wait until the turn. There are two areas with porta-potties – but COME ON…who wants to use a porta-potty after spending $100+ bucks on a round of golf? There should be more research before bashing. Below is what I wrote to H. Brown of SFBulldog:

I just read the article “Pissing in Tiger’s woods” in the Guardian.
I completely sympathize with your outrage with public park politics
here in SF, but also let you know a couple things about Harding Park.

Things aren’t always what they seem. The renovation of Harding Park
was accelerated due to the tournament, but some very important key
things weren’t completed, or looked over all together. Tiger didn’t
have a bathroom either, unless he walked back to the clubhouse, which
was completed just 8 weeks ago. There aren’t ANY restrooms OR
drinking fountains on the course. The customers are forced to use
porta-potties (with no option for hand-sanitation) and buy water from
the beverage cart. From my understanding, there were two fountains
on the course at holes 2 and 14 that were removed during
renovation. There are two slabs on the course supposed for
restrooms, with no intention in sight.

The clubhouse isn’t finished either, while it may look so
aesthetically, a few key things are not finished on the inside, and
the basement has been flooding. The same half-assed-ness that
applies to other parks in SF apply to Harding Park. From what I was
told, the last of several construction companies bid a million
dollars less for the final contract, and as the saying goes, “you get
what you pay for”.

He wrote back with ” ….that means they’ll be spending another couple of million to get the
course finished? Let’s see. It made money every year it was opened
until they ‘renovated’ it and now it costs 10 times as much to play,
uses 20% of Park & Rec budget and loses money? But, what’s a
picture with Tiger worth? … Priceless.”

The course isn’t run by the City, but by management company Kemper Sports, the City oversees all agricultural and the initiral financing. So, in order to get anything done, one would first have to go through Kemper Sports and then the City of San Francisco. What a mess.

Loma Prieta

earthquake3.jpgearthquake2.jpgearthquake1.jpgearthquake4.jpgSixteen years ago today, the Bay Area was shock like it hadn

After tonight, it’ll be a missed connection – run to the Red Vic!

For a week now, I’ve been doing one of the things I do best – putting off something that I really want to do, in favor of really important activities (see: Sunday evening Eliza’s take-out feast, mainlining red wine, watching ’80s sitcom moms escape abuse on Lifetime…). The subject of this week’s procrastination? A trip to the Red Vic to watch a movie I’ve really been wanting to see, 24 Hours on CraigsList.

I’ve included the description below, just in case you’re feeling a bit on the lazy side and don’t feel like looking it up. I’d carry you to the Red Vic to watch the movie, too…well, no I wouldn’t. But you should go anyway. Two more showings before you’ll have to wait for NetFlix in order to see it: 7:15 and 9:15 tonight at the Red Vic (1727 Haight Street).

Our film:

From a single post on craigslist we assembled 8 film crews to document a random day-in-the-life of what has evolved into the world’s largest community board. Not just the “Best-Of” or the “Success Stories”, but a real, down-to-earth look at the fastest-growing grassroots cyber-community in the city that started it: San Francisco.

This is that day: August 4, 2003:

An Ethel Merman drag queen searches for the perfect backup band for her Led Zeppelin covers. A suburban professional woman assembles a diabetic cat support group. A couple seeks the perfect rabbi for their marriage. A would-be mother finds her ideal sperm donor. Doors for sale, one night stands, compulsive roomates, transsexual erotic services. The mundane and the sublime, the ridiculous and the profound, all come together to paint a portrait of a thriving, humanistic community in the midst of an ever-accelerating culture.

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