Heart of the City Archives

Sign of the times.



Whoever dies with the most fonts wins
by Hank Donat

Several years ago, on a Macintosh SE computer, I was introduced to a typeface called San Francisco. Different shapes and sizes of letters like those in a ransom note made from magazine clippings comprised the San Francisco font. Individually, the characters weren't very lovely or remarkably illustrated, but together they seemed to capture the eclectic nature of the city. At least its designer thought so.

Like a Macintosh SE, the San Francisco font is of no particular relevance today except that this week's column, a strange mix of bits and characters, called it to mind.

San Franciscans will find a notorious reference when Nickled & Dimed, the stage version of the bestseller about a woman writer undercover in the minimum wage economy comes to the Brava Theatre Center on 24th Street October 8.

In the first few minutes of the play, a waitress and her customer get into a discussion about whether the customer may special order poached eggs. How do I know the script refers to the 1997 Geary Street murder of Pinecrest Diner waitress Helen Manicouover by cook Hashiem Zayed? The author is local talent, 30-year SF Mime Troup vet Joan Holden.

On a recent installment of the daytime gameshow The Price is Right, contestants were asked to bid on an all-expenses paid, week-long vacation in San Francisco. The Triton on Grant Avenue near the Chinatown Gate provided accommodations for two. The fourth and final contestant bid a whopping $8,000, prompting host Bob Barker to remark, "It's just up the coast, you know." Actual retail price: $2,673.

Will Durst is one comedian who lives up to his legend. In other words, Durst is still very, very funny. "Welcome to California, where we put the mock in democracy," Durst told the crowd at this years Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park. On the gubernatorial recall Durst asks, "Why is it that Gary Coleman the joke candidate and Arnold Schwarzenegger the frontrunner? The only difference between the two is that Schwarzenegger is tall enough to ride Space Mountain."

Durst and Tom Ammiano discussed the first time Durst performed at Josie's Cabaret in front of a mostly gay audience over a decade ago. Durst was nervous then but Ammiano assured him it only mattered to the Josie's audience that Durst was funny.

Off-stage, the Josie's comedians loved Durst because he was trying to save the Holy City Zoo on Clement. "Ouch," says Durst, "Do you know what I'd have if I put that money in a 401k?" Perhaps, Will, but you have our gratitude, which is worth more than most 401ks today anyway.

Robert and Marilyn Katzman's big red shiny Mack fire engine, which seems to appear everywhere at once in the Marina, Polk Street, and the Presidio, has company among ubiquitous autos. Everywhere I turn lately I see the Imagine Art Bus. Head teacher Marie Rogers is a sunny figure behind the wheel of the rainbow-colored former airport shuttle van. Marie logs up to 50 miles a day going to and from the playgrounds, schools, and community groups where the Imagine Bus is a mobile art class.

Not only is the project a hit, so is the work of its young artists. A 12-foot painting titled, "Yo! Pollack" by Adrian, an Imagine Art Bus student, was sold to a prominent Marin attorney after being included in an exhibit at the CBS MarketWatch office on Battery Street.

Continuity freaks may be consoled to know that the boutique store that has replaced the defunct neighborhood institution Record Finder at 258 Noe Street is called FINDesign.

An apartment manager on Bush Street was asked to witness an inventory of a tenant's unit by a medical examiner after the tenant died in the apartment earlier that day. "The medical examiner is narrating out loud," the landlady tells me, "'TV, VCR, stereo,' he says. Then he picks up a bag of pot from the tenant's nightstand and says, ‘And here's the green stuff we find in everyone's apartment.'"

Socialite Pat Montandon recently celebrated the sale of her non-fiction thriller The Intruders to filmmakers. Pat is the TV hostess and party girl who was married to Melvin Belli for a few minutes and who made a big splash as the Armistead Maupin character who wanted to "rap about rape."

Published in 1975, The Intruders is Montandon's account of a violent curse levied on her 1000 Lombard Street home by a tarot card reader who was "quivering with rage" after Montandon neglected to serve him a drink at one of her celebrated parties.

Those who follow the mayoral election noticed Angela Alioto wearing a splint on her right pinkie finger for most of the summer. When I broke my left baby toe and left pinkie finger earlier this year, I consulted Patricia Kramer of the World School of Massage & Holistic Healing Arts on 32nd Avenue for the Zen meaning and karma of bone density.

"Your left side can be ascribed to the feminine side that has to do with care and heart and love matters," Patricia said then. "Your body may be telling you to embrace nurturing and the feeling side of life."

I phoned Kramer about Alioto's digit, identifying Alioto only as one of the candidates for mayor. Kramer said, "The right side is the aggressive side, the driven personality. The body is trying to tell the person that it needs 'a break' on that side." True perhaps, but not likely to happen.

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!

Contact MisterSF.com

Copyright 2003 Hank Donat
mistersf.com home