Imaginary BART map

December 9th, 2011 § Comments off § permalink

Ten-car train for Trancas in five minutes.”

Muni can bite me

March 27th, 2011 § Two comments § permalink

(to the tune of “Julia,” by the Beatles)

This is why my schedule is a mess
It’s because I take the goddamn Judah

Judah, tall and grey
Trains that move slowly
So the wait goes on and on, N-Judah

Judah, two-car train
Comes in 20 minutes
Next one comes in 21, N-Judah

And when you show, you’re overflowing
To delays

Judah, transit hell
Traffic in the tunnel
Keeps me waiting on and on, N-Judah

When my errand cannot wait
I have learned I must avoid Judah

Judah, Judah
Trains backed up always
So the wait goes on and on, N-Judah


September 2nd, 2008 § Comments off § permalink

Between Slow Food Nation and the Sunday Streets partial closure of the Embarcadero, I’m pretty sure that the past week’s events have made San Francisco eligible for membership in the European Union. C’mon, Almost-President Obama, make it happen. I want dual citizenship.

Everything tastes betta with pancetta

January 7th, 2008 § One comment § permalink

Brace yourself, Internet, for I’m about to reveal a deep, dark secret.

For the past few years, several of my friends and I have periodically assembled, both in the light of day and the gloom of night, at various fancy pizza places. With gleams in our eyes and growling in our bellies, we gaze eagerly upon their menus, searching for the perfect marriage of crust and topping—one that will set our limbic systems alight with bliss.

Our name is Team Pizza. And our quest is neverending.

Last night, Team Pizza journeyed to the wilds of Glen Park, in San Francisco, to visit Gialina. People: It was excellent. I’d say it’s one of the top five pizzerias in the Bay Area. We ordered four different pizzas, and they were all great. Don’t miss the Atomica, which has possibly the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had on a pizza. I also recommend any of the pizzas that include various pork-related products.

To the Bay Area’s other upscale pizza-oriented restaurants, I say this: Ready your ovens. Proof your dough. You cannot know when Team Pizza will strike, but rest assured that we will. If your pizza is inferior, our scorn will be merciless. But if you delight us with a superior meal, you may be semi-coherently praised by one man with a seldom-updated weblog.

Thug life

November 18th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

According to a recent study, I live in the fourth-most dangerous city in the United States. How delightful.

On the other hand, if I really cared about safety, apparently I would move to Mission Viejo. Thanks, but no thanks.

If the government trusts them, maybe I could

October 7th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

When one of my friends mentioned that it was Fleet Week in San Francisco, and that the Blue Angels would therefore be coming to town, I immediately got on the highest horse I could locate on such short notice. “It’s unconscionable,” I complained. “Does it make any sense for jet fighters to fly in close formation above a densely-populated city? No, it does not. Can you imagine if an accident happened? I don’t think I could ever watch the Blue Angels. I’d feel horribly guilty.”

By the time I wound up in San Francisco this afternoon, I had forgotten this conversation entirely. So it came as a complete surprise when, as I walked south along the Embarcadero, I heard a thunderous roar overhead. Looking up, I saw four jets arcing through the sky in a diamond formation, maybe a half-wingspan apart; they swung out over the water, then curved around and flew over the Financial District.

I still think it’s completely reckless to conduct an air show above downtown San Francisco. However, I am forced to concede that it is also totally awesome.

Bay Area traffic update!

May 4th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

(OAKLAND, CA)—As freeway traffic continues to move smoothly in the East Bay following the partial collapse of the MacArthur Maze, Bay Area city planning consultants are being forced to recant their earlier predictions of chaotic, months-long traffic congestion.

“Look, I was wrong, okay?” said one consultant, who requested anonymity. “I guess I underestimated people’s willingness to ride transit or telecommute. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether we really need those freeways anym—mmph!”

The consultant was interrupted when freeway engineers clapped their hands over his mouth and dragged him to an undisclosed location, where he was found guilty of “thoughtcrimes against the beloved Interstate Highway System and our American Way of Life.” Officials said that he will be released after he has renounced his “pro-bicycle heresies.”


April 29th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

(OAKLAND, CA)—Bay Area city planning consultants are fuming over a Sunday morning explosion that destroyed parts of the MacArthur Maze, according to a well-placed source.

“Aaarrrgghhh,” said the consultant, who requested anonymity. “I can’t go to any of my client meetings without getting on the freeway. And now traffic on every single freeway in the East Bay is going to be a disaster for, like, months.”

“Dammit,” the consultant added.

When asked whether the Bay Area’s freeways are likely to be damaged further in the near future, the Hayward Fault declined to comment, then chuckled ominously.

The Milias Hotel

March 5th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

Joan Didion, in Where I Was From:

There used to be on the main street through Gilroy, a farm town in Santa Clara County that billed itself as “The Garlic Capital of the World,” a two- or three-story hotel, the Milias, where the dining room off the lobby had a black-and-white tiled floor and fans and potted palm trees and, in the opinion of my father, short ribs so succulent that they were worth a stop on any drive between Sacramento and the Monterey Peninsula. I remember sitting with him in the comparative cool of the Milias dining room (any claim of “cool” was at that time comparative, air conditioning not yet having taken widespread hold in Santa Clara County), eating short ribs and the cherries from his old-fashioned bourbon cocktail, the singular musky smell of garlic being grown and picked and processed permeating even the heavy linen napkins.

I am unsure at what point the Milias Hotel vanished (probably about the time Santa Clara County started being called Silicon Valley), but it did, and the “farm town” vanished too, Gilroy having reinvented itself as a sprawl of commuter subdivisions for San Jose and the tech industry. In the summer of 2001, a local resident named Michael Bonfante opened a ninety-million-dollar theme park in Gilroy, “Bonfante Gardens,” the attractions of which were designed to suggest the agricultural: stage shows with singing tomatoes, rides offering the possibility of being spun in a giant garlic bulb or swung from a thirty-nine-foot high mushroom. The intention behind Bonfante Gardens, according to its creator, was “to show how the county was in the 1950s and 1960s.” The owner of a neighboring property was interviewed by The New York Times on the subject of Bonfante Gardens. “If it gets to be Disneyland, I am going to hate it,” she said. “Right now it is pretty and beautiful. But who knows? Someone who has been here as long as I have has mixed feelings.”

This interviewee, according to the Times, had been a resident of Gilroy, in other words “been here,” for fifteen years. If fifteen years seems somewhat short of the long-time settlement suggested by “someone who has been here as long as I have,” consider this: when my brother and I applied to change the zoning from agricultural to residential on a ranch we owned east of Sacramento, one of the most active opponents to the change, a man who spoke passionately to the folly of so altering the nature of the area, had moved to California only six months before, which suggested that he was living on a street that existed only because somebody else had developed a ranch. Discussion of how California has “changed,” then, tends locally to define the more ideal California as that which existed at whatever past point the speaker first saw it: Gilroy as it was in the 1960s and Gilroy as it was fifteen years ago and Gilroy as it was when my father and I ate short ribs at the Milias Hotel are three pictures with virtually no overlap, a hologram that dematerializes as I drive though it.


January 25th, 2007 § Comments off § permalink

Exterior of San Francisco Columbarium

Last weekend, a few friends and I visited the San Francisco Columbarium, the last public cemetery in San Francisco.

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