Wednesday, 5 October 2011

San Francisco continued - days 29 - 32

Day #29
Buggered off to the post office in North Beach for another mammoth posting session – three packages containing CDs, new jeans and unused shirts. As I missed breakfast, I stopped for brunch at the
Burgermeister in North Beach and had a wicked chicken sandwich.

Decided that I hadn’t done enough tourist stuff, so decided to catch the bay cruise ferry, which is always good to pass the time (done this three times already). The fog was interesting this day, obscuring the bottom half of the bridge. Got some very interesting photos. Amongst the plethora of French tourists, I got talking to an American couple. Turns out the wife was an SF native and had bought her husband to see the place, so she wasn’t that bothered by the tourist stuff either. So while he took photos of everything, we just nattered away randomly, completely missing Alcatraz in the process. Turns out the lucky buggers were off to get tattooed at Black Heart Tattoo in the Mission.

Once we docked, I went for a lay down on Maritime Park for an hour. Then decided I was gonna do my own Mission pub crawl after Suzannes on Saturday night. So jumped a cab to my first stop, Dirty Thieves, right down in the Mission at 24th @ Treat. Was a bit wary going in, as it’s a total neighbourhood bar. Its meant to be a “dive bar”, but to be honest, I don’t class any of the SF pubs I’ve been to as dives. Sat down at the bar and was met by the friendliest barmaid ever. Quinn introduced herself, was brilliantly efficient (I was never waiting for another beer), and ridiculously chatty. She didn’t need to make me feel as welcome as she did, but it meant I stayed for three beers, rather than one! Also turned out, shes an old Soho resident. Asked me if I knew the Crown and Two Chairmen, I mentioned the Ship (she worked on Wardour St) and she knew it. She knew too many random details to be faking it. I decide its time to move to the next bar, and she says to pop along to the other bar where she works at on Tues. I end up not taking up the offer unfortunately.

Walk along 24th to Valencia and head to 500 Club and Clares Deli for another meatball sandwich. 500 Club is mental, as they are having an anniversary party for the bar. On walking in, one of Suzannes mates recognises me and starts chatting. I go and get a sandwich (OMG they are AWESOME) then have a beer with Pete. I try and buy a tshirt from the bar (they have an excellent design with an SF Giants logo on the back), but they’ve run out. So the barlady gives me a free beer for the disappointment. WHAT? :-D

Head to Zeigeist for a final Anchor Steam, then leave to take a cab. Before I’ve even waved at one, the door guy has whistled one down for me. Again, incredible. This is the first time a door guy has done something like that.

Get back to the hotel, suitably tiddled and can’t stop grinning about what a fun night I’ve had on my own. Its thanks to Suzanne that I got to know so many great bars. So much so, I emailed Tonio immediately and told him he needs to see these places when he comes to SF next year.

(for links to these bars,
see my previous blog)

Day #30
Took today a bit easier. Headed back down to Union Square to go and see “Drive” at the cinema. I like it a lot. But then I love any film where someone gets their head stamped on until it bursts.

Grab a cable car back to the Wharf and have an Italian meal, then go for a massive walk along the Marina to Chrissy Field. The weather has been amazing today, so everyone is out lying on the beach. The place is overrun with joggers, and I feel bad for not doing any gym or exercise stuff since August. I’m actually slightly jealous of these people!

For the evening, I’ve got tickets for Bob Mould at the Herbst Theatre. It’s a fund raiser/awareness thing for a childrens art/writers program in the Mission, and he was going to be interviewed for most of the event, then play a few songs to end it. It was basically one big promotion for the book, so didn’t really find anything out I didn’t already know, but was cool to see Bob chatting away quite happily. Then he played “I Apologise”, “Hoover Dam” and “See A Little Light”. After the show, he was signing copies of his book, and there wasn’t a massive queue to see him. So I grabbed a Blow Off poster, joined the queue and hoped he’d sign it (as he was signing the book). He was cool about it, and I was incredibly nervous to meet him (again – was just as nervous the first time). I babbled something about the book being great and was great reading the Jon Wurster segment (Superchunks drummer, who played for Bob recently), to which Bob replied “Pffff, forget about it, the guys a demon.” He then asked if I was going to the after show party next door. “We’re playing some records, some rock stuff, and some house stuff if you wanna come along.” Of course I did.

Popped next door to the
Rickshaw Stop, and was pleased to see they had Deliverance on the massive overhead projector. So I grabbed an Anchor and sat down to watch while people arrived. They stopped the film as Ned Beatty got his bumming, and switched it to Logans Run instead. ACE. I get to watch Jenny Agutter naked for a bit now. Bob appears with his bear friends and stands directly in front of me, while the DJ plays weird mashups of Fugazi, Joan Jett, Gang Of Four, Gen X and Ramones. He’s a really shit DJ, but I just enjoy it more because of that. Bob turns round, sees me and goes “Hey, glad to see you came along!”. I just raise my glass at him. The guy rules.

Bob then takes over the DJing duties, and I’m amazed. That big hairy rock dude moonlights as a camp house DJ by night (see his Blowoff nights). He’s playing the gayest house music ever, and he’s dancing around behind his desk, and looks ridiculously happy while he’s doing it. Its incredible, and kinda cool that tonight I saw him do his rock thing and his DJ thing in one night. I finish my beer, grab my signed poster and go home, happy having seen and met one of my heroes.

Cab driver on the way back was awesome. Tattooed punk guy. We compared tattoos and talked SLF. Wicked.

Day #31
Had another tattoo booking with Mary today, but it wasn’t till 4pm. Got up in reasonable time but wasn’t sure what to do to kill some time before the session. So I checked the times and caught a ferry to Saulsalito, across the bay. The fog was mental again. Once we got to Saulsalito, you couldn’t see SF at all, which was a tad disappointing, but whatever. The weather was ace in Saulsalito, as usual! Had a quick mooch around the shops, bought little Jack a pirate tshirt, then had a quick lunch, before catching the ferry back. I like Saulsalito – its very chilled and quiet compared to the city, and its nice to get out on the water. Whats also cool is the random performing bums and/or hippies that line the queue to the ferry. Theres a hippy dude that plays “You Are My Sunshine” to his little mangy dog. I’m sure he’s been here since 2002!

Got to Tattoo City in plenty of time and caught Mary getting her lunch. Doug Hardy was working today so chatted tattoos with him for a couple of minutes, then went into Marys room for the next session. Was cool to see my line drawing of the snakendagger on the wall with all her other work.

This session, she drew straight on my arm, adding NEEDS MORE SNAKES to the snakendagger, and chucking in a mini sugar skull for good measure in the gap between the dagger and my old pinup. Session was ace – was very quick and painless, and we had a good laugh while she did it. The addidtions really add to the original tattoo – it definitely needed the wording! Talked more tattoos after the session, and I definitely need to come back ASAP so she can do my thigh. And another sugar skull in a gap I’ve found since!

Jump a cab and head to Suzanne down at Casanovas. Cabbie is awesome. Turns out he’s an old punk from the
Mabuhay Gardens days, played in bands and supported some cool people there. He told some fun stories. Get to Casanovas, have a beer with Suzanne, then she takes me deeeeeeep into the Mission to Emmys Spagetti Shack. Such a brilliant restaurant, and such a simple idea. They only sold spaghetti, and only in two sauces – one veggie, one not. Its also attached to its own pub, so you can have a been while you wait. The place was packed and there was a 30-40 minute wait. Food was wicked, and so were the mad cocktails they did. Loved this place!

Jumped on the BART and headed back to Hemlock. Suzanne decides to take me on a very sketchy Tenderloin walk to the pub, taking me past loads of homeless people and drug addicts, all selling random shit on the pavement (what looked like stuff stolen from tourists suitcases). Turned a corner and was then treated to all the transvestite prostitutes lining one of the roads. I was well pleased when we got to Hemlock!

Final full day in SF. Really sad to be going, as I was feeling so comfortable here, running around here and there, getting buses, going to fab little delis and stuff. Head out to find an internet café to print off some holiday biz. This takes a couple of hours, and after I find one in North Beach, I have a seat in a little café and have some lunch. Then my old friend Tom calls me. He’s a mate from SF that I don’t see very often, and hadn’t managed to get in contact with him until last night. Head to
Vesuvio and meet up with him and have a few beers and a lot of laughs. I forget Tom is a lot older than the last time I saw him, and I’m pleased to see he can now grow facial hair. We talk about Doctor Who A LOT. After the third beer, he drags me round Chinatown and buys me a pair of orange rubber nunchucks. Then we part ways, as he’s off to another engagement, and I’m having a final beer with Suzanne again. Was so good to see him again after all these years. Man, he makes me laugh.

Go to
Benders and order one of their ridiculous whiskey burgers. Absolutely incredible burger, again in a wicked hard bun, with ground bacon in the burger. Mental. I tell you, Kumas in Chicago is still my fave burger place ever, but I’ve seen some places on this trip that give the place a run for its money for definite. Had some AMAZING burgers on this trip, that’s for sure. I’ll list them at some point…

Suzanne turns up, we have beers, pose with the nunchucks, then we head down to Pops to watch the Giants game. This place is still wicked. Chuck loads of money in the jukebox, so we get a nice punk soundtrack while the game is on, and get served cheap(er) beers by Nikki, the tattooed barmaid (Suzannes mate). I try and buy a tshirt (designed by Lil Tuffy), but as usual, theres none my size. Then some random dude next to me says he has a spare and runs home to get it! WTF??? What a decent fella! He sells it to me for cheap, so I buy him a beer for his trouble.

The Giants lose, everyone poses with the nunchucks, then me and Suzanne head back to Hemlock for a couple more beers. Again, another of Suzannes barlady friends is working so we get free beer. Then its back to the hotel to pack for tomorrows trip to LA.

Once again, Suzanne has been utterly brilliant this trip. She put herself out big time in 2008 and she did it again on this trip. Shes such fun to hang out with and was brilliant to see my mate again. I really did have the best time in SF, and really can’t wait to come again. Its definitely my favourite city, and this feeling hasn’t gone away after 4 trips. I feel so at home here, amongst the bay, the hills, the punk bars and the tattooed people! I really wished I could have stayed another week, but it was time for the next part of my trip. First LA, then Fiji. I must say, I was getting very nervous about Fiji, I just really didn’t know what to expect from it and the so-called "backpacking" experience, esp as I’ll be well out of my comfort zone when I get there, and was already hating having a rucksack. EEK!!

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