Thursday, June 30, 2005

What the Heck?

Are San Francisco supervisors reading this blog?

Because as far as I know, I'm the only one tracking the Starbucks vs. pot club situation. And yet, in today's Chronicle, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd declares: "...right now we have almost as many pot clubs in this town as we do Starbucks." Of course, as more diligent readers of this blog know, that's not quite the case. And Elsbernd appears to be making this statement as if it's a bad thing (!?).

He goes on to say that "we have more pot clubs than the number of McDonald's and Burger Kings combined." I figured I would ascertain this claim as well. Checking the McDonald's Web site, there are 18 locations in San Francisco. Burger King, meanwhile, appears to have 15 locations. So if there are about 40 pot clubs now (as the article states), that claim is on the money.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Victory At Last

Hooray! After multiple delivery attempts, we were finally able to get a couch into our apartment yesterday. The problem was the first set of stairs, which have a low ceiling and a tight bend. We had to remove the railing and a light fixture to get the couch to fit.

I felt a little bad for the delivery guys. They were cheering when they finally rounded the first corner but I had to tell them they had another flight of stairs to climb -- and then another flight after that.

One of the guys complained that the place was like a house in Amsterdam. I thought maybe he meant that the air was thick with "ganja" smoke. But actually it was on account of the building's vertical nature.

Anyway, we now have a foldout sleeper couch in our guest room. Unfortunately, there are too many boxes stacked in the room to actually fold out the bed. But people are welcome to sleep on the couch.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Setback

The quest to have more pot clubs than Starbucks in San Francisco suffered a blow yesterday. Federal law enforcement raided three pot clubs, ostensibly putting them out of business. And in fact, the city attorney's office now says there may only be 35 storefront pot dispenseries (though there are more that operate on an appointment-only basis or via delivery). Meanwhile, no Starbucks has been raided by federal authorities -- to my knowledge.

The heartening thing is, the pot clubs weren't shut down because they dispensed marijuana. Law enforcement officials said it was because the clubs were acting as fronts for organized crime. me crazy, but if you want to launder money from organized crime, is it really a good idea to use a pot club? Whatever happened to waste management firms or those Italian restaurants that never have any customers. Were they like,
"We have all this money that we obtained illegally. Whatever should we do?"
"I know. Let's get rid of it by opening a high-profile business that the federal government considers illegal."
"Good show, chap. Proceed."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Settling In

After more than a month in our new home, I feel like we've finally been welcomed to the neighborhood.

On Friday, for instance, someone took time out of their busy day to pee in our entryway. I feel this is a sign that people in the neighborhood have grown comfortable with us and want to stop by and say, "hello" (in their own way). Sadly, this gesture was lost on Kelly, who has no sense of smell.

Then yesterday afternoon, as we were looking for a parking space, we met a grocery cart-pushing homeless guy named Ray. He shared some very useful local knowledge, such as where to retrieve our things when they are pilfered from our car. Apparently, stereos and other items stolen from cars along our street are promptly sold in a bazaar of sorts at the intersection of 7th and Mission. Good to know!

Ray also offered to clean my car using a special formula that he created himself. It appears to have some nanotech properties because he claimed it would seal microscopic fissures in the metal and return all the plastic moldings to showroom condition. Ray went on to claim that Procter and Gamble has offered him $10 grand for his formula, but that he would prefer some sort of profit-sharing arrangement. Turns out Ray was a chemistry major at Berkeley, so I guess this is all highly plausible -- though he did stretch credulity with some of his other claims:

  • that he also attended culinary school and was Diane Feinstein's chef when she was mayor. And that she tracks him down whenever she's in town and tells him how much she misses his cooking. (If you ask me, given Ray's malodorous condition, I'm not sure food prep is his ideal vocation.)
  • that he was a track star and recently chased down a purse snatcher. The purse contained $8,500, but Ray refused to take any form of compensation, accepting only a hug.
  • that he is writing a book on homelessness and has a publisher but won't pocket any of the proceeds from the book. He plans to donate all the money to muscular dystrophy (or something), because he feels it's important to "give something back."
  • that he is personally meeting with Gavin Newsom on Tuesday to discuss his various ideas for the city.

There was another highlight last night, when we were treated to quite a show. A man and woman were making their way down Langton engaged in a heated discussion. It went something like this:

"Bitch, gimme my money!!"
"I ain't got yo money!"
"Bitch, gimme my money!!"
"I ain't got yo money!"
"Bitch, gimme my money!!"
"I ain't got yo money!"
"Bitch, gimme my money!!"
"I ain't got yo money!"
"Bitch, gimme my money!!"
"I ain't got yo money!"
"Bitch, gimme my money!!"
"I ain't got yo money!"

And so on... This was loud enough to hear several blocks away, but when they finally reached the front of our place, it hit a crescendo. The man yelled, "Bitch, gimme my money or I'm gonna make a scene!"

I was curious what "making a scene" would entail for this gentleman since he'd already broadcast his problem to everyone in a 10-block radius. Perhaps they would be continuing their debate at the Four Seasons?

Friday, June 10, 2005

It's It, and That's That

Nice to see the It's-It get some props in today's Chronicle. I've been a big fan of this ice cream treat since we moved to Santa Cruz in the 1980s (the 7-11 on Laurel stocked them). So even though I never went to Playland-at-the-Beach, they have a lot of nostalgia appeal for me.

But I wonder about two issues: Have they stopped making the strawberry flavor? Because it's omitted from the list of flavors in the story. And second, why don't they serve It's-Its at SBC Park or the Oakland coliseum (especially since I found them at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles...outrageous!).

Latest Tally

According to today's Chron, there are now 44 pot clubs in SF. Starbucks is holding steady at 71.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Trapped in the Closet

Like you, I've been eagerly awaiting each installment of R. Kelly's five-part "Trapped in the Closet" series. But I missed a couple segments when I was on my trip and became hopelessly confused when I heard the latest installment yesterday (who the heck is Tina?).

Fortunately, they have the lyrics printed online, and I'm back up to speed.

Now, beware, the lyrics alone don't really convey R. Kelly's vocal stylings. Take a line such as,
I said, "Not another one of you sons of bitches say a word!
Cuz all this shit I'm goin' through is unheard!"

The poetry doesn't quite have the same impact in written form. But it gives you a sense of the plotline at least.

Even so, I'm not quite sure the dramatic denouement makes a lot of sense.

Let me see if I have this straight:
R. Kelly meets a woman (Cathy aka Mary) at a club after telling his wife he's going to be out with the guys.
The next morning R. Kelly wakes up next to Cathy. Her husband (Rufus) comes home. Rufus is a pastor.
But Rufus is also sleeping with Chuck (a man!).
R. Kelly then calls home and a man answers.
He races home to find out who the man is, but is pulled over by a policeman along the way.
At home, R. Kelly's wife reveals that the man is her brother (Twan).
R. Kelly then finds a condom in his bed and discovers that his wife has been sleeping with someone else.
R. Kelly demands to know who the man is, and his wife mentions a woman named Tina.
Tina doesn't appear to have anything to do with anything.
But then R. Kelly's wife mentions one of her girlfriend's named Roxanne.
Roxanne knows Chuck.
Chuck knows Rufus (as we know).
Rufus' wife Cathy went to high school with R. Kelly's wife. (So why all the other connections?)
Cathy introduced R. Kelly's wife to the policeman who just pulled over R. Kelly.
Ergo, R. Kelly's wife is sleeping with the policeman.

But is that really a fitting conclusion to R. Kelly's urban opera? And again, who the hell is Tina?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My Trip to France and Italy

A few "highlights" from my trip to France and Italy:

LYON The main purpose of the trip was to go to my brother's wedding, which was held outside Lyon on May 21. Lyon is the second-largest metro area in France and some sort of gastronomical capital. Sadly, I can't comment on this since we only saw the airport. The wedding site was WAY outside Lyon in a tiny village called Saint-Romain.

The countryside in that part of France is redolent of upstate New York, and the air is redolent of cow feces. The local highlights include a paper mill (it's a really old paper mill) and the Chaise-Dieu cathedral, which loosely translates to "God's ass."

Max's wedding was great, despite a downpour during the reception (bad omen?). And as is always true of French weddings, the party went late into the night. (The French have a saying: "Bitches ain't leaving til 6 in the morning." No wait, Snoop Dogg has that saying — my bad.)

The DJ tried to cater to the foreigners in the crowd by playing "American music," which apparently meant "obscure Kool and the Gang." This was unfortunate, since most of the Americans present had never heard these songs. But it was all good.

MILAN The next day Kelly and I hopped on a train for Milan. It was weird going from France to Italy. When we first got onto the train, the car was positively sepulchral, dead silent. We felt the need to whisper. As more Italians got on the train, it got louder and louder and louder. I thought Americans were supposed to be the loud ones. These people were YELLING into their phones. And hello, what's with the hand gestures during phone conservations? (THEY CAN'T SEE YOU!) But I digress.

We really liked Milan. It reminded me a lot of Paris. The Milan train station, commissioned by Mussolini, is AWESOME. I linked to a picture, but it doesn't really do it justice. You have to go inside and experience the cathedral ceilings and the classical-style friezes — it has kind of a menacing art deco vibe. Really cool.

We also checked out the duomo, which is the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe. The cool part is, they let you run around on the roof. It was raining when we went, so this seemed especially unsafe.

La Scala (the most famous opera house in the world) was not holding performances while we were there, but they did let us go inside and look around. The building itself is not very striking — on par with our own War Memorial, I would say. But they do have one of the coolest collections of busts I've ever seen (including a terrifying one of Toscanini).

We ate really well in Milan. The first night we got there too late to eat at a real restaurante, but the hotel directed us to this pizzeria that was great. Some of the best pizza I've had in a long time (though maybe not a whole lot more authentic than what you'd get in North Beach).

The second night we went to a place for some real Lombard food. This was great too, though there was an incident with one dish. I believed it to be a salad, and was eating it eagerly since I hadn't been getting many "greens" since arriving in Italy. Turns out it was strips of belly fat marinated in vinegar. Ooops. (I also had a problem later when I ordered a teabag — what, what, who said that?)

ROME Whereas Milan was cool and rainy, Rome was hot and sunny (just like you'd expect). In fact, Rome seemed determined to reinforce every preconceived notion I had of the place. For instance, when we got to our hotel, the manager told us they had lost our reservation. Then he told us they had an expression in Rome but seemed to have trouble translating it...from what I could tell, it meant "shit happens."

The good thing was, they put us up in another hotel that was actually nicer. And it was pretty close to the subway, which we mastered pretty quickly (not hard since there are only two lines). The subway was totally jammed with sweaty people...I got so used to saying "scusi" that I continued to say it a week after I got back to America.

The subway also only runs until 11:30 p.m. — and in practice, it stops earlier than that. This resulted in a couple marathon treks back to our hotel (and a bus ride from hell). Kelly also practically assaulted a flower vendor in an effort to get exact change for the subway, but she wasn't in a "good place" just then.

Rome was packed with Americans, which was kind of annoying. But it did make it easy to sneak into English guided tours without paying for them. Did you know that the contests at the Coliseum included a fight between two gladiators and a hippopotamus? (They didn't say who won.)

VATICAN Apparently the pope makes one weekly address, at 10:30 on Wednesday mornings, and we just happened to show up at St. Peter's Square at this precise moment. But we had no idea what was going on at first — the place was overrun and we had to squeeze through metal detectors. We made it out into the square and realized the pope was blessing us...or something (couldn't really follow what he was saying).

We finally made it over to the Sistine Chapel, which was OK. Not sure it was worth waiting in line, but I guess everyone has to see it sometime.

GELATO This was the real highlight. I think we had gelato approximately every 6.2 hours. It was always good, but I'd say the best we had was in Rome near the Trevi Fountain. Definitely beats a belly-fat salad!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Sub Club Update

You heard it here first, but apparently the Sub Club story has now hit the mainstream media (the Chronicle ran this AP story today).

I guess Subway had a problem with people printing counterfeit Sub Club stamps. How is that even worth it? I mean, you still have to buy a soda to get the free sandwich. So you're shelling out $1-something for the priviledge of committing fraud. Shouldn't people be counterfeiting more useful stuff, like McDonalds monopoly game pieces? You can make a sandwich at home for $1.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Joke-E-Oke Update

Wow, apparently the Joke-E-Oke trend is heating up. The RX Lounge is requiring reservations to attend its latest Joke-E-Oke night on June 4. (And apparently "an unnamed media company from LA is coming up to tape Joke-e-oke for a TV pilot.") There's information at this site.