Musings from some former inhabitants of the sprawling metropolis that is Prudhomme City

Sunday, August 17, 2008

San Francisco Day Four: Neighborhood Celebration Day!

by CajunKate

So on Day Four of City by the Bay Most Excellent Vacay Ever Sponsored by San Francisco Best Friend/Tour Guide Seth (does this title get a little longer every time I type it, or is it just me?), we slept in to recover a bit from the jam packed first three days of the trip. After all, this was vacation time for both of us.

First stop of the day was Union Square. When we got there, I kind of looked around and said, "This is it?" I'm not sure what I was expecting but, um, it wasn't a square surrounded by large chain stores. For some reason, I had it in my head that Union Square was a train station. I think I kept hearing Union Station and not Union Square. Whatever, I have no idea where this idea came from, but I was pretty disappointed.

Our second stop was my favorite place to visit in any town that has one- Chinatown! I’ll never forget the first time I stepped up out of the subway into Chinatown in NYC. I felt like I had been instantly transported to a foreign country. EVERYTHING was in Chinese, and it had a gritty and “real” feel to it. For the most part, looking around NYC’s Chinatown, you wouldn’t see very many white faces, especially once you got off of Mott Street. In San Francisco, ummmm…not so much. First of all it was incredibly crowded because it was Saturday. Second of all, there were so many white faces if it wasn’t for the signage in Chinese, I wouldn’t have known I was in Chinatown. I was a little disappointed, and then we started hearing all this noise- drums and firecrackers and stuff. We came across some kind of “ceremony” (for lack of a better word). Two sets of dragons, one on each side of the road, were making their way down the street accompanied by trucks edging along beside them with beds filled with drummers and bell clackers. The dragons would move along the street and into a storefront at which point the music would become very dramatic, and the dragons would dance and move partially into the store until the owner or manager or whomever came out and acknowledged the presence of the dragon. If the owner didn’t come out, the music would become ominous and end with the shower and bang of those tiny firecrackers that we call “poppers” (you know, the ones you throw violently at the ground or stomp on). I am guessing it was some kind of good luck ceremony. It was really cool to see, and I tried to get a lot of pictures, but I really only got two cool ones. This is because it was so freaking crowded with tourists! But it was still really loud and fun.

(Seth: That duck is LOOKING at you!)

We only walked through the main drag, then we moved on because I could tell Seth was over it all. I don’t think he’s a big fan of Chinatowns, in general. I’d think this was strange, but so far I am the only person I’ve ever met who actually loves going to Chinatown. What’s up with that? Anyway, when I go back to SF (see how I’m doing that? WHEN, not if) I’m going to Chinatown on a Monday and getting off of Grant Avenue, the main street, and really exploring, even if I have to do it alone due to Chinatown haters accompanying me.

We cut across Jack Kerouac alley to get out of Chinatown and into North Beach, the Italian enclave. This particular alley is one that Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat Generation hung out on. One side of the famous City Lights Booksellers, which the members of the Beat Generation frequented, faces the alley, and it has a mural celebrating the Mexican Zapatista movement on it.

In North Beach, we walked through the streets exploring and just people watching as Seth led me to the Lusty Lady Theatre. The Lusty Lady is the only cooperatively owned strip club in the nation. That means the strippers own it. This is when Seth talked me into another one of those unfortunate, ridiculous poses. And this time there was absolutely no adult beverage consumption to blame. Just me, being a freak.

Closeup of my idiotic pose. Seth's direction: "Act like a stripper! Be sexy!" I think two words can sum up my attempt- EPIC FAIL!

What better way to follow up the Lusty Lady than to go down to TransAmerica Park to see Saints Peter and Paul Church? Yep, from one end of the spectrum to the other in less then ten minutes. We skipped the TransAmerica building this trip. I mean I saw it from afar hundreds of times, but we didn’t actually go there. I’m not sure there is a reason to do so, but I’ll check it out next time (See? Doing it again!). I did take a pic with this giant phallus topped with a pyramid (What? Oh, like you’ve never heard it described like that?).

After lust and prayer time, we went over to Fishermans Wharf. Oy! Crowded was not the word. Tourist hell is more like it. We walked around, and Seth took my picture with Alcatraz. Also, I insisted on seeing the seals at Pier 39.

Then we braved the crowded sidewalks to fulfill my dream of eating an In-N-Out burger. It was so crowded in there, I couldn’t take it and went outside, leaving Seth alone to brave the burger enthused tourists. I think Seth summed it up best when, upon emerging, he said, “If Dante was alive today, that would included as one of the levels of hell!” But no matter, as we were soon gorging on In-N-Out, which I must say totally lived up to the hype, at least for me. Yummy and CHEAP!

Next we headed up to Alamo Square. Our reason for this was two-fold. One, I wanted to see the famous Painted Ladies- you know, those four row houses that they show in every TV show and movie set in San Francisco, including the opening credits for Full House? Speaking of which, Seth promised to show me the Full House house, and he NEVER did. Oh well, next time (I’m just gonna keep that up through this whole post, just so you know).

Our other reason for going to the Alamo Square area was to attend a BBQ being hosted by some of Seth’s friends. This was great as it meant I got to actually see the inside of one of those cute San Francisco houses. Here’s what I found out. They’re all carved up into small apartments. Although, the apartment I visited has a fantastic outdoor space, which I would assume is unusual.

This particular apartment was the domain of Erica and Kevin; they’re engaged, and Erica’s ring is gorgeous and very unique. Erica is the sister of Krista, Seth’s old roommate. Got all that? Anyway, Krista invited us, and it was really nice to meet her since I had heard so much about her. She’s very pretty and funny and smart, and I am counting on her to keep an eye on my Seth for me as it is clear she adores him as much as I do. Also at the BBQ were Andrew, Audrey, Kelly, and Sarita, all of whom were super nice, friendly, and welcoming. Now, I know what you’re thinking, What about your RSS? I’m not gonna lie. I balked a bit at the BBQ, but I really wanted to meet Krista, so I sucked it up…along with lots and lots of beers. Beer always helps my RSS. Also, wine. Oh, and hard liquor. Basically, the prescription for my RSS is booze and lots of it.
Oh! I forgot to mention the second coolest dog ever- Jackson! What a sweetie pie! He’s 2nd because my all time favorite dog is Ese, Jen and Tim’s dog. I didn’t take any pics at the BBQ because, even though I have RSS, I know you don’t bust out the digital camera and start snapping away at virtual strangers. At any rate, the BBQ was really fun, and I finally got to see some of the Olympics. Yay!

At about 6:30 PM, Seth and I agreed we were spent, said goodbye to Krista and the others, and headed back to his place. We stopped off at Gordo Taqueria on 9th Street to pick up burritos. I went through my traditional, “no beans” dance with the counter guy, which I have to do at every Mexican place. I absolutely abhor beans, and this can be a real problem at Mexican places. They’re very sneaky with those beans. Luckily, Gordo’s is kind of like a Subway but with burritos, so I walked up and told the guy I wanted a chicken burrito with no beans. Apparently, he didn’t believe me because when we got to the bean part of assemblage, our conversation went something like this:
Him: Pinto beans?
Me: No, no beans.
Him: Black beans?
Me: No, no beans. No beans at all…of any kind.
Him: Refried beans?
Me: No! F**K! No beans, motherf**ker! What about that do you not understand? No frijoles, hombre! Senor! Whatever the f**k I’m supposed to call you in Spanish. Got that? NO f**king beans, POR FAVOR!

Okay, so I didn’t really say that last part. I just said, “No, thank you” again.

But my chicken burrito with no beans was ginormous and MUY delicioso! Mmmmm, we need a Gordo’s in Lafayette. On second thought, scratch that. I’d be back up to my obese state within a week if that happened.

After inhaling my burrito, Seth and I watched the movie Control, a bio pic about the lead singer of Joy Division. Even if you don’t like Joy Division, I highly recommend seeing this movie. It was excellent.

That night I was lulled to sleep by a belly full of burrito, cold air, and flannel pajama pants in AUGUST. I’ll take this opportunity to thank the Baby Jesus again for delivering me into Paradise…oh, and thanks to that Alex guy, too.

Coming soon, Day 5!

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