News that the
national average price of gasoline in the U.S. has reached $2.15 per
gallon is laughable to San Franciscans. Last week, one of the stations
at Castro and Market Streets posted a price of over $3.00. I assume
that was for a special formula, diesel perhaps with full service and
a mint on the dashboard. Our high cost of living is one of the truths
about San Francisco. Better to get around by BWM: BART, Muni, and
Transportation issues, never far from the fore, are hot again. Muni
fares and bridge tolls are likely to rise much faster than the new
eastern span of the Emperor Norton San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, by
any other name. Perhaps feeling left out of the municipal discussion,
disgruntled cable car grips and conductors recently staged their own
three-hour wildcat strike in defense of conductors accused of pocketing
The friendliness of cable car grips was a staple of San Francisco
lore for generations, but not these days. It's not that the grip operators
have gotten any less friendly, of course, only that today's marketers
must change their message often in order to keep promotional campaigns
fresh. Lately, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau has been using
the theme "Only in San Francisco," an old chestnut that's apparently
so fresh it's fresh again, like the Boudin sourdough starter that
lives on decade after decade.
Whether grips treat you with warmth and kindness is more likely a
matter of personal karma. I've known people who return from Paris
and swear that Parisians are friendly and hospitable. Not me. I found
that Parisians take pride in living up to their reputation for rudeness.
Here at home, my own experience with cable car grips was decidedly
Parisian until recently. Fortunately, it seems that my friendship
with bell ringing champ Byron Cobb has broken the curse, at least
North Beach is something else that lives up to its legend. The scents
of garlic, coffee, and marijuana waft through the air along with saxophone
music. Outside Caffe Trieste I watch as counterculture publisher V.
Vale, poet George Tsongas, and beat cop Mark Alvarez - a former Mabuhay
Gardens doorman - all intersect at the northeast corner of Vallejo
and Grant. Each is walking in a different direction. Each is a living
example of the truth of San Francisco lore.
It's easy to enjoy a typical day in North Beach. When the sun shines
down on its inhabitants, innocently pursuing their pleasure filled
lives, the Little City emerges front and center.
Over at O'Reilly's on Green Street, a worker is busy repairing an
awning through which a drunk took a dive the night before. Some locals
are gossiping over a table of cold beers and O'Reilly's great french
fries. Everyone hates the Green Street Mortuary's new painted parking
A myth of San Francisco is that we are obsessed with sex. Dale Bullock
is a professional matchmaker for gay couples. His company, Bonds Limited,
is located in the Flood Building. Bullock advertises a "safe and comfortable
process to bring together loving, stable, same-gender companions."
Kudos to Bullock for using the correct term, "gender." His ad confirms
a legend of San Francisco, too, the one that says we just love to
"process" through the means of processes. From Est to Lifespring to
Alcoholics Anonymous, therapy, group therapy, group encounter, retreat,
the Forum and beyond, San Franciscans seem to enjoy the process. Life
is a journey, not a destination they say, but for this San Franciscan
Speedy's Market is a destination. The 30 Stockton is a journey.
That we are a sentimental lot is perhaps the truest of true San Francisco
legends. Emile Santos is a local who wrote to MisterSF.com to share
some of his favorite City landmarks. "One of the most beautiful buildings
in San Francisco," Santos writes, "is the old Flood Mansion at 2222
Broadway, now home to the Schools of the Sacred Heart. It is a great
example of the grand architecture from San Francisco's early years.
Views of the bay from the main hall are phenomenal."
Santos' favorite local joint is one that appears often in "best-of"
roundups. "Marina Submarine on Union Street is 'Mr. Subs' to us regulars.
Nothing reminds me more of Sundays in the city than going to Mr. Subs
and picking up a sandwich while the Niners game plays on the 10-inch
TV in the corner."
A sentimental bunch we are, and why not? Have you taken a look out
your window lately? There it is, this place of incomparable beauty.
That is perhaps our truest myth of all. So don't just sit there. Put
a flower in your hair and hop on Muni or take out that home equity
loan for a gallon of gas and get out and enjoy the warm weather -
while it lasts.
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!