Mister SF remembers Marian Brown in an intimate portrait of an old friend and a San Francisco icon.

Dateline: 1468 Hyde Street, where Mister SF partakes of the final order of potstickers from U-Lee, as the restaurant closes today after 28 years. U-Lee was famous for potstickers that were not only delicious but also huge. They’ve been compared with fists and softballs more often than any other food item in San Francisco. Owner Ken Lee, who ran the restaurant with his parents, says plans are afoot for a new location near the Balboa Theatre in the Sunset District. Fingers crossed.

U-Lee’s famous potstickers. As regulars, we tried to keep it a secret – their fried chicken wings were fairly giant, too.

Midnight Sun Heralds New Day

by Mister SF on 03/01/2014

>> In with the New!

Midnight Sun, 4067 18th Street

As evidenced by our archive, and all throughout City life, changes big and small are usually noticed. San Franciscans like attention to detail. But this one, both welcome and historic, received surprisingly little attention. The Midnight Sun bar in the Castro, open since 1971, recently turned a wall into a window. Such a simple thing. But if, like Mister SF, you happened to show up here at a Dynasty party in the early 1980s, or even rode by as an auto passenger then, you might have still found some men – not all – waiting in line to get inside, with their backs facing the street. It’s terrible to remember that even in the Castro, some gay men were justly afraid that a boss, a co-worker, or someone else would see them and wish to harm them for being at a gay bar.

At that time, the Midnight Sun, a video bar, was quite simply like a gay YouTube channel that served drinks. You had to show up in person, of course, and the fun increased ten-fold as soon as you learned the lines to every camp video from Bette Davis to Dixie Carter, played in rotation. (Here’s a primer: “Wipe my mouth!” and “the night the lights went out in Georgia!” in that order.) And Dynasty every Wednesday night.

The Midnight Sun, circa 1999

I always felt the wall outside of the Midnight Sun was a relic of fear and shame because of what I witnessed in my earliest days here. I also have a contemporary who tells an ancient personal story about crawling out through the back door of Alta Plaza [restaurant] in Pacific Heights to avoid his boss around the same time. The real triumph is how far we’ve come. – HD


Chevron to Reopen When?

by Mister SF on 02/06/2014

>> Only in SF

Dateline: 1698 Fell Street, where Panhandle neighbors were surprised to learn that renovations to the Chevron gas station will not only take longer than expected, they will actually add two days to the month of February. According to a sign posted on the property, the gas station will reopen on February 31. When alerted to the that fact the month is only 28 days long, crew members at the site acknowledged the gaffe and said they expect to reopen “around March first.” Mister SF reached out to Chevron’s corporate office for comment. We expect a reply some time after the 12th of never.

Shoe Pavilion

by Mister SF on 09/08/2013

>> Farewell Favorites

838 Market Street in 2002. Mister SF best remembers this spot as the Headlines gift shop. There was one here and another at 557 Castro. In the early ’90s we all got our David Spada Freedom Rings at Headlines! Shoe Pavilion was a Sherman Oaks-based chain that operated from 1979-2008. As things change and remain the same, the location is once again a shoe store. “If you didn’t get it at Shoe Pavilion you paid too much” was the company’s advertising slogan. (I always preferred Payless, so I guess I overpaid.)

Then and Now >>

Fillmore Hardware

by Mister SF on 09/04/2013

>> Farewell Favorites

Fillmore Hardware, 1930 Fillmore Street, a fixture in the Fillmore for fifty years beginning in 1961. Thanks for helping me hoard all those incandescent light bulbs.

Then and Now >>

The Glass Bolt Bridge

by Mister SF on 09/03/2013

>> In with the New!,Notorious SF

Dateline: Oakland, where Mister SF celebrates the opening of the new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge during its inaugural commute! The bridge replaces the 1930s cantilever section which was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and later deemed seismically unsafe.

The Bay Area’s own “Big Dig,” the bridge was completed at a cost of $6.4 billion – 400% higher than Caltrans’ original, 1997 estimate. But do we always get what we pay for, as the old adage would have it? In March 2013, 32 bolts essential to the span’s seismic infrastructure broke when they were tightened. Not to be daunted from making opening day – nor from collecting on-time bonuses – builders and officials decided to shim the sucker until the defective areas of the span can be braced with steel saddle components. Because, after all, if something expensive doesn’t work properly it’s best to ram it and rig it, right? As Mister SF so often says, we’ll find out together.

A movement is underway in the California Legistlature to name the western, SF-Yerba Buena Island span for former Mayor Willie Brown, though the idea leaves San Franciscans cold according to my own informal survey. Some say a fitting honoree is the 19th Century eccentric Emperor Norton, whose proclamation ordering the construction of a bridge between the City and Oakland was printed in City newspapers of the day. We chose the name “Glass Bolt Bridge” for the new eastern span because it’s descriptive, and because its initials create a reverse bookend with those of “Golden Gate Bridge.”

More About the New Eastern Span
Bay Bridge Official Site


Polk Street Hair Design

by Mister SF on 08/28/2013

>> Farewell Favorites

Dateline: 1435 Polk Street, where Mister SF remembers Polk Street Hair Design, one of the last gay businesses on Polk.

Still Waxing Nostalgic

by Mister SF on 08/15/2013

>> Farewell Favorites

Which witch is wax? Follow the yellow brick road to Jefferson and Taylor Streets, where Mister SF takes his final tour of the San Francisco Wax Museum.

San Francisco, Casual or Casualty?

by Mister SF on 08/07/2013

>> Notorious SF

Dateline: Walgreens, 3601 California Street, where Mister SF observes the phenomenon known as San Francisco Casual.