"Chicago is the great American city,
New York is one of the capitals of the world,
and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic;
San Francisco is a lady~"
Norman Mailer, author and frequent visitor
Monday found me on the dreaded Haight Street, location of my first non-Ohio apartment in 1991 with Mikey and Craig at 1462 Haight btw Ashbury and Masonic. We each paid $231 for rooms in the 2-bedroom apartment, working part-time jobs and knitting together our own family, often to a Seattle soundtrack and copious amounts of intoxicants. Man, the building is super rundown but maybe it always was and we were too young to care. Onward down the St Mark's of SF, always chock-full of burnouts, scammers and smelly people to the finest record store in America, Amoeba Records. They have everything, and thus picked up Jolie Holland, the newest Mary J., The Decemberists (mistake), an older Patti Griffin and the Isobel Cambell/Mark Lanegan album......Dinner found me at Los Jarritos, a colorful and delicious family-run Mexican restaurant on South Van Ness, eating with the always exceptional and enlightening Eric Moffat. After dinner, we walked over to my old stomping grounds, the Latin American Club on 22nd, where several acquaintances who hung out there 10 years ago still sat, and conversation turned to the apparently popular SF topic of 9/11 conspiracy theories. We retired to Eric's home for a smoke, while swapping inappropriate stories about, ahem, "otherly-abled" persons, and amusing tales of public girl-on-girl action in Texas (Eric having just returned from SXSW). At about 11:30, I realized that our conversation had already been the best it could get, in my favorite EM style, so it was time to go back to Jen's.
On Tuesday, I made my regular trip to a San Francisco landmark, Swan Oyster Depot, my favorite oyster bar ever, and a place I wish for when I think of SF. The six brothers and their family who have run these 19 stools in welcoming and impeccable fashion since 1912 do it right -- no frills and with the freshest of seafood, plus family banter behind the counter thrown in for free. A perfect meal of a dozen oysters, a bowl of NE clam chowder and two Anchor Steams makes me giddy with pleasure, and immediately want to return the instant I step back onto Polk Street.
Out to Ton Kiang on Geary Street between 21/22nd for Wednesday lunch, a big giant GORGE of dim sum with the Beldens. I ate so much I couldn't do anything after the food expanded in my stomach but go lay down for the rest of the day. It's all the dim sum dumplings and fried goodness I've tasted, only much better quality and somehow lighter than the old-school dim sum places in NYC. It's as if the places in NYC were still cooking in a 50s do-wop style, while Ton Kiang is more early 80's new wave style. And no, you really CAN'T this good of dim sum anywhere in NYC, including Flushing......Back to the LAC on Wednesday night with the company of the Jens, the sass of the ParkerandAmy/Gibbs Mo crew and a hiliariously self-deprecating and filthy Mark Eitzel. Several drinks were drunk before going to 12 Galaxies to change our scenery by hiding upstairs from the obnoxious Japanese band DMBQ.
"What fetched me instantly (and thousands of other newcomers with me) was the subtle but unmistakable sense of escape from the United States."~H.L. Mencken, writer