san francisco tip visual

Stars are just like us! / They wear cool barettes

Violet wears Mara's barrettes

The classi­est fam in Hol­ly­wood loves Mara's bar­rettes; this time Vio­let rocks them. Nice. Buy em here, and pass it on.

san francisco tip visual

Caught in the act! / Jennifer Garner wears Greenaway

File this one under: Holy crap. It has come to the atten­tion of the tabloid-read­ing world that Jen­nifer Gar­ner was seen wear­ing red bar­rettes! But, wait, there's more. A cer­tain bar­rette-mak­ing friend of ours made them. By hand. In San Francisco.


Jennifer Garner wears barrettes


This is from Just Jared, and I must say: If the blog real­ly is just a guy named Jared writ­ing about celebri­ties, my hat is off to him. He pub­lish­es some tid­bit of celebri­ty gos­sip rough­ly every 5 sec­onds. That's ded­i­ca­tion, homes. If you're inter­est­ed in the bar­rettes, you can buy a pair for your­self at Lit­tle Some­thing; if you're con­cerned that they'll make you look like Jen­nifer Gar­ner, you can ask Mara for some guid­ance in the prop­er way to wear them.


Snap snap snap


I'm glad that the bar­rettes got the full paparazzi treat­ment. A cou­ple of pho­tos just wouldn't have been suf­fi­cient. Bet­ter get 17 and be safe. Check em all out.(Con­grat­u­la­tions, you big loser).

food san francisco

Yeah / Yoshi's Gourmet steez

A cou­ple of week­ends ago, I vis­it­ed the site of an Airstream trail­er that Yoshi and I shared out­side Stin­son Beach, Cal­i­for­nia. The trail­er is long gone, but the spot is still the same: Over­look­ing the Pacif­ic Ocean on a scrag­gly lawn at the end of a farm road. We spent many a night sit­ting on a home­made couch out under the stars, lis­ten­ing to a crusty Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain cas­sette, hang­ing out with farm peo­ple, and gen­er­al­ly being our best wild selves. They were sim­pler times, so the wild­ness was sim­pler. One time, police showed up and asked Yoshi if he knew any­thing about the rit­u­al ani­mal sac­ri­fices hap­pen­ing in the area. Naked tod­dlers often woke him up by tick­ling his eye­lash­es with wildflowers.

Yoshi's Gourmet articleLook at our boy now! Gourmet Mag­a­zine. Arti­cles about obscure veg­eta­bles. Lunch­es, brunch­es, inter­views by the pool. What's next? Con­dos in Queens? Indo for weeks? Sold out seats to hear Yoshi Yama­da speak?

The arti­cle is vin­tage Yama­da, remind­ing me of the many excel­lent, excel­lent let­ters and post­cards that I've accu­mu­lat­ed over the years:

I have not put ramps in my pipe, but I have smoked them and also roast­ed, sauteed, blanched, pick­led, braised, and pureed them. I have eat­en them raw and dirty, and I have cleaned so many in a row that I almost wished for win­ter again. This year I may take a few home to put under my pil­low, just because … my pre­cious.

Not sure that I've eat­en a ramp, but I bet they'd be tasty with a rit­u­al­ly sac­ri­ficed ani­mal. Mmm­m­m­mm rit­u­al sacrifice.

food reviews san francisco

Check, Please / Behind the music (and wine)

I always meant to write about my close encounter with pub­lic tele­vi­sion fame — the only kind that's worth pur­su­ing, if you ask me — but some­how I got way­laid by sum­mer­time, its var­i­ous par­ties and good ol times. But I've got a sec, so I should just spill it before the good times take hold again.

Check Please - Sitting at the tableTime spent comb­ing hair: zero min­utes. Time spent iron­ing shirt: zero min­utes. Num­ber of heart attacks my mom would have if she saw this: count­less.

Check, Please! Bay Area is a restau­rant review show on our local pub­lic tele­vi­sion sta­tion, KQED Chan­nel 9 (what!). On each show, three Bay Area res­i­dents sit around a table and dis­cuss their thoughts and feel­ings about three local restau­rants. At the begin­ning of the process, each per­son gets to choose a favorite1 restau­rant; then, each par­tic­i­pant goes to all three restau­rants; THEN, every­one assem­bles at KQED stu­dios to dis­cuss them in front real TV cameras.

So, yeah, it all started back in June.

Mara and I were at Pauline's Piz­za, eat­ing din­ner with some friends when we saw Leslie Sbroc­co, the host of Check Please. We're Check Please super­fans, so we couldn't resist the urge to approach Leslie and creep her out with our exten­sive knowl­edge of the show. Lat­er, Leslie and her din­ing com­pan­ion (who turned out the be the pro­duc­er) stopped by our table and asked us to apply to be on the show. Some­how, I was the one who applied, even though Mara would have been 10 times bet­ter. Some­how, I was accept­ed, for rea­sons that are still unclear to me.As I men­tioned in the foot­note, I chose a taco truck as my favorite restau­rant, and this was a slight — SLIGHT — depar­ture from those cho­sen by my cohorts — a fan­cy Noe Val­ley bistro, and a clas­sic Finan­cial Dis­trict steak­house. There­fore, my entire prepa­ra­tion for the show involve craft­ing argu­ments about why they need­ed to give the taco truck anoth­er try. "The ecol­o­gy of taque­rias is rich and diverse," I would instruct them; "each one has its own spe­cial­ty, a thing it does bet­ter than all oth­ers, and it takes time to ful­ly explore this rich­ness." (Any­way, you can read more of this BS in my review on KQED's website).Turns out, my cohorts loved the taco truck. I was speech­less, real­ly. I had noth­ing pro­duc­tive to say to peo­ple who agreed with me. It could have been the wine. (IT'S REAL, by the way). And I drank too much of it, too much for a non-wine drinker, too much for 11am on a week­day (when we taped it), too much to gen­er­ate extem­po­ra­ne­ous bon mots wor­thy of PUBLIC TV. If you're curi­ous about what the blo­gos­phere had to say about my taco truck rec­om­men­da­tion, you need only get a load of this review from a guy named Ely, also from KQED's site: 

Dont eat from El Tonayense, I had a beef bur­ri­to that made me sick! The meat was too oily and mix in with fat­ty fat peices. The bur­ri­to was tiny and the ingri­di­ents had lit­tle favor.

My bad.1 Check Please kin­da repeat­ed­ly implies that each restau­rant reviewed is the "favorite" restau­rant of the per­son who sug­gest­ed it. I chose a taco truck.

food reviews san francisco

I live inside your television

Doug LeMoine - Check Please - Looking at the cameraYou may rec­og­nize me from some­where, some­where like YOUR TIVO.

Pret­ty much the only thing the direc­tor told me: "Don't look at the cam­era." Dang. More on my explo­sion onto the local pub­lic tele­vi­sion restau­rant-review­ing stage some­time soon; until then you can check out my episode of the Check Please Bay Area here.

food san francisco

There's gotta be a burrito place somewhere near here.


Via Bur­ri­tophile, an awe­some resource for all things burrito.

inside art san francisco visual

Luxe life / Animal drawings at the Fairmont

Last Fri­day night was just anoth­er night in the pent­house of the Fair­mont Hotel for Mara and I. We relaxed in seal-skin robes, shuf­fled around in baby polar bear ear fur slip­pers, snort­ed the finest pow­dered snow leop­ard pan­creas, fed Kobe beef to the pigeons who deliv­ered the New York Times piece­meal in tiny scrolls tied to their feet, and gen­er­al­ly killed time. (While enjoy­ing the Coop­er hol­i­day par­ty). When we emerged from a bliss­ful rever­ie, we noticed that the walls were cov­ered with an unusu­al world map.

Flickr photoIt was paint­ed in 1927, by a guy named Robert Board­man Howard. A lit­tle pok­ing around on the Inter­net reveals that his work is scat­tered across North­ern Cal­i­for­nia — sketch­es at the Merced post office, a design for the phoenix on Coit Tow­er, a relief in front of the Liv­er­more post office.

Flickr photoThe Smith­son­ian did an inter­view with him in 1964, where he talks about anoth­er good Nor­Cal project. "Then there was a small the­atre up at Guerneville that I dec­o­rat­ed. They gave me a free hand. I paint­ed all the natives of Guerneville, their por­traits, includ­ing the vil­lage dog. That was quite inter­est­ing. Good expe­ri­ence." Amen, brother.

inside art san francisco visual

Clare Rojas at Gallery Paule Anglim

Lots of intrigu­ing stuff at Clare Rojas's open­ing at Gallery Paule Anglim tonight. Wood­land crea­tures, naked dudes in tai chi pos­es, an excel­lent video of Peg­gy Hon­ey­well play­ing a slow sad song at a rag­ing frat par­ty filled with beer bongs and keg stands, Amaze, Bar­ry McGee, and much, much more. Worth it.

Clare Rojas - It's hard out there for a penguinI call this one "It's Hard Out Here For a Penguin."
Clare Rojas - UntitleableI think this one is unti­tled, but it should be called "Unti­tleable."

Gallery Paule Anglim is at 14 Geary in down­town San Francisco.

baseball san francisco


I've said it before: I don't like Bar­ry Bonds. So it may seem strange that I want­ed to be there when he hit home run num­ber 756. But con­sid­er this: I love base­ball; the record for career home runs is, like it or not, one of baseball's hal­lowed mile­stones; Bonds plays in my city; the Giants were begin­ning a home stand as he was poised to break the record. Too many stars were aligned for me to NOT try to get into a game. I could always boo, right? So, on Tues­day, August 7, I rode my bike to AT&T Park, hop­ing to get lucky and fig­ur­ing that I wouldn't. Imme­di­ate­ly, I got real­ly lucky, scor­ing an amaz­ing tick­et in the club lev­el (a $70 val­ue) for the price of two AT&T Park beers. At that moment, I had a good feel­ing. A cou­ple of hours lat­er, Bonds faced a 3–2 count, and I decid­ed to join 45,000+ oth­er fans in point­ing my dig­i­tal cam­era at the plate. Up to that point, I made sar­cas­tic remarks about medi­at­ing the expe­ri­ence in that way. Now I'm post­ing my crap­py ver­sion on the Inter­net. Why? I don't know. Any­way, a moment lat­er, Bonds drilled the pitch into deep, deep cen­ter field and the stranger next to me grabbed my arm and start­ed jump­ing up and down.For the next five min­utes, I high-fived a lot of peo­ple, and some­one gave me a hug as I was film­ing the cel­e­bra­tions. Fire­works explod­ed over McCov­ey Cove; stream­ers rained down; the Nation­als left the field; Hank Aaron con­grat­u­lat­ed Bonds asyn­chro­nous­ly through a pre-record­ed video. It was sur­re­al, but fes­tive and exciting.Of course, there was also a weird vibe. Peo­ple seemed to feel per­son­al­ly grat­i­fied that they got to wit­ness his­to­ry, but few seemed real­ly, tru­ly hap­py for Bonds. Few peo­ple said: "Wow, good for Bonds.†Those who did were either peo­ple who pos­sessed amaz­ing capac­i­ties for for­give­ness and seemed gen­uine­ly hap­py, or younger guys with way too much bit­ter­ness who saw Bonds as a kin­dred spir­it. The rest of us said: "Wow. I can't believe I saw that. Wow. This is real­ly weird." After hit­ting the home run, Bonds left the game. It was the 5th inning, and the Giants had a 5–4 lead; the Nation­als came back and won. My ques­tion: Who does that? Hank Aaron? No. Dimag­gio? Nev­er. Ted Williams? God no. Sort of a per­fect end­ing to a con­flict­ed, sur­re­al night.

architecture san francisco the ancient past urban

San Francisco / Maps and earthquake shacks

San Francisco in Maps: 1797 - 2006

This week­end I got an incred­i­ble book about San Fran­cis­co called San Fran­cis­co in Maps & Views. I usu­al­ly avoid glossy cof­fee-table his­tor­i­cal books because they're so often filled with dis­ap­point­ments — bad col­or, bad print­ing, messy lay­out, unin­spired writ­ing, PLUS they're real­ly expen­sive. But THIS ONE. This one is dif­fer­ent. The maps are very well-repro­duced, high-res and col­or­ful, and all are sup­port­ed by detailed and sur­pris­ing­ly engag­ing com­men­tary. After I got over the ini­tial thrill of using it like a flip-book and watch­ing my neigh­bor­hood evolve, I start­ed to notice small­er trends in land-use evo­lu­tion — a plot labeled "orphan asy­lum" became "hos­pi­tal;" many things labeled "cemetary" became "park" or "civic cen­ter." "Dunes" become "the Sun­set." I was also intrigued by the use of pub­lic places as refugee camps after the big one hit in 1906. Appar­ent­ly, SF car­pen­ters sprang into action and built thou­sands of makeshift cot­tages for the earthquake/fire refugees, turn­ing many well-known SF pub­lic spaces into refugee camps, includ­ing South Park, Dolores Park, and Precita Park, and lots of the then-out­ly­ing, unde­vel­oped areas, like the Rich­mond and the Sunset. 

Earthquake_shacks_in_Dolores_ParkA shack on Biki­ni Ridge would have been puh-ret­ty sweet. (This is Dolores Park, believe it or not). Pho­to: West­ern Neigh­bor­hoods Project

As the city began to return to nor­mal a year lat­er, a few of the refugees decid­ed to use the cot­tages — or, "shacks" as they were com­mon­ly known — as more per­ma­nent res­i­dences. Some indus­tri­ous peo­ple com­bined mul­ti­ple shacks into one res­i­dence. Incred­i­bly, a few shacks are still around, and nat­u­ral­ly folks have orga­nized to pre­serve them. (Here's a 2002 Chron­i­cle arti­cle about efforts to save some shacks in the out­er Sun­set).

Cumby_shackI believe that this is the house that is list­ed as 300 Cum­ber­land on the West­ern Neigh­bor­hood Project's list of known shacks. The crazy thing is that this is at the top of an insane­ly steep hill, like un-bike-ably steep and long, so it must have been built there rather than trans­port­ed from Dolores Park. On the oth­er hand, who knows? Peo­ple were crafty back then, right?

Final­ly, here's a map of the loca­tions of the known exist­ing earth­quake shacks. Seems like a good project for a week­end afternoon.