is a living, breathing organism. So say those who, over the
years, have attempted to describe the changes in urban landscape and
social culture as acts of nature. Cities, they would have you believe,
Never was this description more apt than it is today. Our city is
expanding and contracting, churning and gurgling before our eyes -
from the startling sight of blacktop on the new Octavia
Blvd. to the growing list of churches and theatres slated for
demolition. (On the chopping block: Coronet,
Harding Theatre, Sacred
Heart Church, St. Brigid's.
On the rise: Music
Concourse [New De Young, Academy of Sciences, garage], Bay
Bridge on-ramps, Lucas Digital
Arts Center, Helen Wills Playground,
New Federal Building, Bay
Bridge [eastern span], Lake Merced, Third St. Light Rail, New
I-Hotel. Down the pike: Rincon
Towers, New Transbay Terminal,
When then-mayor Willie Brown turned over a patch of ground across
the street from Pac Bell Park in October of 2000, he promised that
a neighborhood would soon emerge. Last week, I visited South of Market's
new Safeway near the CalTrain depot then wove my way past the UCSF
campus on King Street. After taking coffee out from the Brickhouse
restaurant at Brannan and Fourth I met with art dealer James Bacchi
at his Arthaus gallery across the street. When Bacchi's basset hound
Fred greeted me at the door, ears flopping,
eyes somehow sad yet dancing, I knew it was a neighborhood.
That Mission Bay and San Francisco
would become a center for the biotech industry may have been inevitable.
The birthplace of biotech is a City saloon. In 1976, when 455 Clement
Street was Churchill's bar, Genentech founder Robert Swanson forged
an alliance with DNA pioneer Dr. Herb Boyer over beers there.
The group Ask a Scientist hosts Bruce Conklin of UCSF's Gladstone
Institutes for a lecture on the potential of stem cell research to
provide cures for Alzheimer's, spinal cord injury, heart disease and
stroke. The talk starts at 7 p.m. on February 15 at the Bazaar Café,
5927 California Street. Visit askascientist.com for further information.
Last month, Apple Computer introduced its $99 iPod shuffle and the
low-priced Mac Mini at its Moscone Center exposition with the company's
usual fanfare. Apple does fanfare almost as well as it does product
design and innovation. But, here's something that doesn't make international
news during product release campaigns. You can't get either of these
new whiz-bang toys, not even at the company's flagship store on Stockton
Street. Not yet, anyway. Weeks after Apple's big news, the company
is still asking customers to wait for its two hottest products. For
a few weeks longer, patience is the biggest must-have for Mac fanatics.
North Beach Leather is holding a big sale at its Post Street store
as it too ushers in change. The company is selling off its entire
North Beach Leather line of goods. The retailer will soon have a new
name, West Coast Leather.
McDonald's Books is back. The self-proclaimed "dirty, poorly-lit place
for books" returned after a hiatus for earthquake retrofitting. When
I visited the shop, a longtime favorite for bibliophiles at 48 Turk
Street in the Tenderloin, owner Itzhak Volanksy was still unpacking
some of the thousands of boxes of used books he packed up three years
ago. At the risk of sounding positively contrary, I found the place
extremely well lit.
In other merchant news, Buffalo Exchange, an institution for used
clothing at Polk and Washington, has moved to booming Valencia Street.
Last week, the living, breathing organism that is the City coughed
up some of the usual suspects in other-than-usual places. I nearly
failed to recognize District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval at Mollie
Stone's in Pacific Heights. Later, in North Beach, only Pat Murphy's
big bow tie gave away the online newsman who's usually chasing scoops
at City Hall.
Now, finding Craigslist founder Craig Newmark at the corner of Cole
and Carl puts things back in sync. Newmark is right at home in his
Cole Valley neighborhood, where I ran into him, literally, as he was
making another important deal via cell phone across the street from
his unofficial satellite office, the Reverie coffeehouse. What was
that about a small town masquerading as a little city?
Only in San Francisco can you go to a dinner party in a mansion and
one week later attend a dinner party where all the guests of honor
are homeless, and see so many of the same faces. That's what came
to my coffee soaked mind as woman-about-town Blandina Farley greeted
me at Marc Bruno's monthly dinner and mixer with homeless folks at
Bocce Café on Green Street.
Bruno's regular dinner night, "Bringing Two Worlds Together" is an
unqualified success not just because it feeds dozens of homeless people
each time. The evening also helps the homeless to build practical,
emotional, and psychological connections with the North Beach community
and beyond. Public Defender Jeff Adachi and a rep from the Department
of Human Services were on hand with information on City programs.
Friends joining in from the neighborhood also included Supervisor
Aaron Peskin and his wife Nancy Shanahan, and restaurateur Lorenzo
The north side truly cares for tsunami victims. Last week, the Telegraph
Hill Dwellers raised some bucks for tsunami relief at the new Café
Divine in the Dante Building. Next comes the Taste of Italy Ristorante
Crawl, from 5-7 pm on Wednesday, February 23, sponsored by restaurants
of Columbus Avenue. The evening will begin at Figaro for appetizers
and wine, then on to Steps of Rome Trattoria for pasta, and finishing
with tiramisu and cappuccino at the Steps of Rome Caffe. Proceeds
benefit AmeriCares. Mangia!
Welcome to MisterSF.com. Please visit the site
often to keep in touch with San Francisco, for your own amusement,
and to use the Local Joints
section as a portal for independent businesses. Keep your money in
the neighborhoods... Watch this space for observations,
interviews and more from around town. All other sections of MisterSF.com
are also updated continually, so come back and watch us grow!