As I stood at
the bottom of the formidable Fillmore Street hill watching the crowd
gather for the T Mobile bicycle tournament last week, I hoped Lance
Armstrong would one day come back for more than just a photo-op. When
he does, and if he actually rides in the race, it will be a great
moment when an athletic legend inscribes a line in his legacy with
the graces of a great City.
On Fillmore from Union to Lombard, I checked in with two storied San
Francisco venues. The Silkroute import dealer, in business for 25
years at the location where Alan Ginseberg first read the literary
landmark poem "Howl," is no more. The stage where Ginsberg read was
a part of Silkroute's floor. Now it is dust; the place has been gutted.
The venerable Fredrickson's hardware store has a new paint annex.
I wish them much success. The addition is no doubt attributable to
the rise of the home improvement movement. Nesting is the order of
My own nest is somewhat bi-polar. My marriage created a family with
two apartments that fall just short of one. I divide my time between
Districts 3 and 2. I married well, but briefly thanks to the California
In District 2, there is no question there is a building boom. When
I work here during the day, I share the sidewalks with the housekeepers,
mommies, dog walkers, and no end of tradespeople.
I caught up with Evan Farmer, the host of The Learning Channel's "While
You Were Out," at the South Bay Home and Garden Show on September
Farmer says the 9/11 attacks, "gave birth to the popularity of our
show and shows like Trading Spaces. People started gravitating toward
their families, unlike in the 'anything goes' 90s."
Farmer's show focuses on the relationships between family members
and loved ones and gives someone a renovated room of their dreams
in each episode. After 75 episodes, Farmer has yet to remodel a room
in San Francisco. I wished him luck in getting a permit when the time
Before he left to perform an hour of home improvement stand up for
fans from the 'burbs and beyond, I asked the former MTV host to tell
me what's the hottest trend in home improvement. "Me," he said. Judging
by the audience response, he may be right.
Further evidence of a home-and-hearth zeitgeist came my way when I
heard that Ggreg Taylor, the extraordinary promoter and party planner,
was touting an intimate dinner party at the Phoenix Hotel's Bambuddha
Lounge. The Gatti-esque Taylor has produced memorable parties for
the San Francisco Opera and no end of events for the gay community.
Last week, Taylor announced, "The days of big clubs are over. Good,
small parties are few and far between. There are very few environments
where brains and real interactions are encouraged, where people can
make new friends."
While I was in the South Bay, I heard about a great organization called
PatchWorx. Its web site provides an online community for children
with illness and disability. In addition to support and morale bosting,
PatchWorx is able to create opportunities such as a virtual prom for
some youngsters who were too sick to attend their own.
Amelia Stephens is a pediatric bone cancer survivor and a member of
the original PatchWorx conceptual team. When my brother had pediatric
bone cancer, he endured several painful regimens of chemotherapy and
was cured before it was fully explained to him that what he had was
cancer. In the early 1970s cancer was still a taboo subject. There
wasn't the attention to the needs of kids with illness as there is
today, thanks to the efforts of folks like PatchWorx founder Teresa
Middleton. Visit PatchWorx.org.
In other comings and goings: San Francisco welcomes St. Mary's Square
and the Cliff House back into the fold of great places to visit that
are rich with history. Both were renovated this year.
St. Mary's Square is the best place to observe the inscription on
the tower at Old St. Mary's Church at California Street and Grant
Avenue. "Son, observe the time and fly from evil," is a Biblical verse
that was directed at the customers of brothels that were located across
the street in Old San Francisco. Benny Bufano's steel and granite
statue of Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen has a great view of it.
News that the San Francisco Zoo may lose its accredation because of
the way it treats its elephants comes as no surprise. Always at the
ready with a quip, Supervisor Tom Ammiano had this to say before a
recent board meeting. "There's always a discussion of public-private
partnerships and whether they work. The elephant died; this one's
Ammiano is a hometown hero who was demonstrating for labor on Labor
Day while a lot of us were partying with Carol Channing at Bob Pritikin's
Even Pritikin is nesting. His Chenery Street house, which may become
a future mayor's mansion in San Francisco, has a beautiful new addition.
Pritikin calls it the mayor's suite.
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