Parks & Recreation

There is nothing quite like biking down Florida, the sweet yeasty smell of Panorama bread filling the air, unless it is all those things, plus happening upon a burgeoning garden.  This vacant lot, although not a giant pit, is about to become a community space:


The woman in the photo did acknowledge that this is only a temporary setup and that when the lot gets sold the garden will have to dismantle, still, the tub and wooden pyramid seem pretty settled to me. Awesome that the landowner is encouraging of this idea, awesome that someone is taking the initiative, and we can only hope that maybe this economy never turns around and it never gets sold! Who needs a job anyway? I’d rather sit in a fragrant park.

There is a grand opening to be held tomorrow (Saturday), with live music, muraling, demonstrations (surely there is a vacant lot you might like to see turned into a park), and community bonding from 11am to 4pm, and any volunteers to get the park ready beforehand are welcome.



Mission Greenbelt Project

How About a Peace Garden in This Bleak IGA Parking Lot?

The Bermuda Square

As reader sfortunata once remarked, there was, “…a Bermuda triangle of desserts with Dianda’s, Mission Pie, and Anthony’s.”  Anthony’s opened over the weekend with free cookies (I ate 5 this weekend), but there is a new player in town. Behold:


No beating about the bush here, the “Froyo & Crepe Cafe” delivers what it promises.  I had an almond, banana, coconut, nutella and whipped cream crepe and it was a carefully folded slice of happiness.  Despite less than enthusiastic yelps, my tastebuds purred.  I liked my taste of the froyo too.

And with an atmosphere like this (dibs on the couch):

dsc06118And a strangely small number of people allowed inside: dsc06119

I do believe there is yet another reason to leave the Valencia teen streets and maturely mosey to the Mission mid-twenties.

Pros: Crepes, Froyo, Elbow Room
Cons: Fried Mini Octopus
Maybes: Avocado Smoothies?


Cookie Shop Coming Soon
No Farmers, No Pie

Safeway Security Keeps Me Safe

Safeway, 8:30 pm.

After a homeless man saunters out of the store, an alarm is immediately sounded via telephone. Two security guards and a bagger book it out the door, and with an apology, my cashier runs out mid-transaction to watch the scene unfold.

Two minutes later, one of the security guards returns, triumphantly brandishing….soap.

One City, One Book, One Dream

Yesterday I managed to snag a seat on a crowded BART train, getting on at the 24th street station, delighted to have a few minutes to read.  My current book is West of Kabul, East of New York, the 2008 “San Francisco Reads” pick which may as well be called “Lael Reads” because I have yet to see another person doing their mandatory civic duty.  Surely if we all at least skimmed this book our BART and bus rides would be filled with scintillating conversations and good-natured ribbing of the main characters. However, my dreams of constantly striking up heated debates with mysterious and articulate literary strangers hasn’t quite panned out, no matter how visible I make the cover of the book.

So anyway, I sat down and began to read.  It is at this point that my seatmate, a girl in her twenties, begins to complain to her friend sitting in front of her.

“So, I’ve begun noticing that the same kinds of people ALWAYS sit next to me! I mean what is it about me that attracts them?”

She then proceeded to turn and look at me. Then she turned back to her friend.

“It’s always these old Asian women, with lots of shopping bags.”

I am neither old nor Asian, and I carried exactly zero shopping bags.

Girl: “I just wish that once, some really hot guy would sit next to me and start talking to me.”

She then looked over at me again, this time in disgust.

I looked back.  I sensed in her a kindred spirit, someone else who wanted to connect with a stranger. I thought about sharing my book approach with her, but there are only so many hot guys in our city, and even fewer who read, and I deemed this secret strategy too precious to be shared. So I kept silent, knowing she would never know just how alike we were, and that old Asian ladies sit next to me on BART all the time too.

Video Fest 2008

Tonight is the kickoff of Video Fest 2008, held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.  The festival this year received 49 different film submissions of which 17 will be shown either tonight (10/17) or tomorrow (10/18).  From the festival blog:

Video Fest 08 is focused on people’s existence and their surroundings, the relationships that develop between the human being and nature, community, family and their social surroundings.

Although I have not often ventured into the Mission Cultural Center, the couple of times that I did, I was extremely impressed.  Once I heard some really good jazz that had people stopping in their tracks and turning the sidewalk into an impromptu theater.  Another time I saw an absorbing exhibition featuring photos snapped by kids and young adults.  If past experience is any clue, this should be good.

Sasquatch Squash

Fall is in the air, and Tree over at Free Farm Stand has proof, one of the largest banana squashes this side of Thanksgiving!  No mere knife could tame this unruly beast, it requires a “sawzall.” Sounds like Tree is going to have a lot of squash in the coming weeks.

Just like Tom said (the guy who brought the tomatoes and squash to me from the country), I cut the squash easily with a “sawzall”, and I wrapped 1 lb. pieces in cling plastic wrap. I still have more to cut up and he wants to bring me more.


Recipes: Honey Glazed Banana Squash, Roasted Banana Squash Soup, Raw Banana Squash Donuts

Throwback – Mission 1989

In an attempt to find out if there was a reason why the sidewalks of Mission Street are tiled, I ran across an article published by The New York Times in October of 1989. Finding it rather poetic, and also an interesting read, I stopped wondering about the tiles, and started reading this rather lengthy article.

EACH TIME AMERICA SEALS ME IN A laminate of deadlines and Dow Jones averages, bills due and bills payable, I journey to a place where urgencies fade, colors brighten and all claims on reality begin to look relative. Just a stroll down the hill – though, like a good Californian, I usually drive – leads me out of my silent, wind-scoured, chillingly pretty neighborhood into a raucous, mouldering, charmingly unscrubbed caldron. Suddenly, the sidewalks are bordered with azure tiles and doused with the perfume of rotting mangoes; the streets are serenaded by thumping basso laments broadcast from souped-up Chevys; the advertisements appeal to a dozen loyalties and languages. Black-shawled Guatemalan women ply the restaurants, peddling red carnations, followed by packs of Vietnamese urchins toting bags of fresh-picked garlics; each available clapboard wall bursts with murals of naked Aztec deities and painted jungles; every sight conspires to defeat grayness and to sabotage the straight-and-narrow. Where thousands have sought asylum before me, I am a refugee in reverse – fleeing the benefits of the Promised Land for the immigrant hothouse and global miscellany that is San Francisco’s Mission District.

Full article here.

Best Restaurant in the Mission?

The 2009 Michelin Guide to San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country released its results today.  Range remains the only restaurant in the Mission to get a star and thus maintains its status as “a very good restaurant in its category.”  Known for being extremely frugal with its stars, the Michelin Guide refused to allow Bar Tartine, Delfina, Farina, or Tokyo Go Go a spot in their coveted constellation, but acknowleged that these places provide a good meal for less than $40.

Maybe its the fact the $40 does not sound like a bargain for me, but I have sadly not yet been to any of these places.  Until then, I will console myself knowing that Range gets 4 stars on Yelp and El Tonayense Taco Truck gets 4.5.

Bald Cats like Literature Too

I experienced it all at Litquake:

The Good: hearing the phrase “earnestly pimpled.”

The Bad: heat so intense upstairs at the Elbo Room I had to leave, thus allowing me to hear the phrase “earnestly pimpled” downstairs.

The Ugly: I like cats but damn cat (Yelp informs me his her name may be Ripley), you need some hair!

Any writers that blew your socks off? Strange characters? Anyone else notice and/or find refreshing that the average age on Valencia rose about 20 years last night?

The Enforcer

Sitting on the good old bus 49 over the weekend, I came across something that is rarely seen in San Francisco – a bus driver who fought for his fare. All too often the driver doesn’t even glance at my MUNI pass and I go for days without actually needing it, wondering why I even waste the $45 dollars each month. That is a lot of ice cream at Bi-rite, well, not really all that much.

But this driver was tenacious. He kicked a middle aged man off the bus for using a senior pass. When someone got in through the back door, the driver refused to budge the bus until this man showed him his transfer. Because this man pretended he didn’t know the bus driver was talking to him for a full minute (sitting down), flashed his transfer (and sat back down), went to the front of the bus to show his expired transfer (and sat back down), and then finally came up with the necessary $1.50 (and sat back down!), we sat on the street for a good 3 minutes not moving. My ride from 26th street to 16th street took 15 minutes.

On one hand, I had places to go and things to see.

On the other hand, I was secretly happy.

But then I think about how incredibly long it would take to get the bus moving if everyone went in through the front door: stops at 24th and 16th street would probably take at least an extra minute or two. And then I get angry at the people who go out the front door who have clear access to the back doors and who are in no way physically challenged. I am even occasionally upset with the old people who insist on pulling carts everywhere – if you have enough gumption to pull a wheeled basket up onto the bus, you are strong enough to exit through the back door.

Bus rides are often long and angry for me.

And then I read how poor MUNI is, and how they are thinking of raising the monthly fare. Couldn’t I just send 10 people to the front of the bus to pay their fare and add my extra $15 dollars that way? Maybe by making people follow the few simple rules about entering, exiting, and paying fares, not only would we have a better funded system, but is possible it would no longer be one of the slowest public transport systems in the nation.

I need a bike.

Literary Death Match at Amnesia

Although no one actually died last night at the Literary Death Match, I died a little on the inside when my least favorite competitor actually won the final prize, a cardboard crown. The night featured a whole host of characters – and the other three d. matchers (Tom Perrotta Tom Barbash, Rhea De Ross-Wiess, and Damion Searls), all of whom had written some extraordinary pieces provided a laugh a minute. Maybe next time the winner should be chosen based on merit rather than who can find an audience member with a belly scar. Just a thought?

I often forget how rewarding hearing authors read their own works can be. Promoted heavily at this event was Litquake when a Deathmatch that will rate even higher on the Richter scale will occur on October 6 and whose last hurrah, the Litcrawl, takes place in the Mission on October 11 and is FREE!

Mission Pie to Serve Pizza Pie!

I heard whispered rumors of such a phenomenon, and so I decided to walk into the lion’s den. I stepped into Mission Pie and demanded an answer from the teenager behind the counter. With darting eyes and a hushed voice, he confirmed that this is indeed the case. Mission Pie will soon expand into more than a sweet treat store: pizza is on its way!

Apparently, a new kitchen or something unimportant like that has to be finished and it won’t be done until probably late this year, but I didn’t really hear the specifics. I was in a pizza haze, imagining a late night slice on the way home from BART, laughing joyously with a friend. There may have also been a warm breeze in the air and a friendly bum on the sidewalk.

Has anyone told Serrano’s?

Is chicken pot pie next?

Will Mission Mission ever get sick of Mission Pie stories?

Nuclear Care Bear

If, as Wikipedia says, “the Care Bears’ ultimate weapon is the ‘Care Bear Stare,’ in which the collected Bears stand together and radiate light from their respective tummy symbols,” then I think the Care Bear Stare just got a whole lot more powerful with the help of an atom bomb.

Scare Bear? Beware Bear? Despair Bear? Ooooh, the delicious possibilities.

Another Hole in the Head: Exte’s West Coast Premiere

Another Hole in the Head Film Festival starts tonight with a selection of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films.

I just watched Exte: Hair Extensions (with subtitles), a j-horror film playing at Roxie Cinema tonight at 5pm:

Given that the first line in the movie is, “My nose hair is out of control lately,” the movie got off to a great start. Luckily, it had the elements I look for in all my movies: a crazy dude who wears wigs, an innocent girl who enjoys narrating her life, and possessed hair. Still, what I liked best was that the storyline isn’t all about hair growing on tongues and death (although there was quite a bit of that), it actually dealt with some real issues – ie abortion, child abuse, and the black market organ trade.

Kinda interested in seeing 305 too. Who doesn’t love a good mockumentary?

Environmentally Friendly Apartment for Sale

Sunset Magazine’s Idea House has a for sale sign out front. After talking to the man with the keys, I learned it is not the main house that is on the market, but the smaller apartment attached to this amazing house. He offered to show it to me, apparently mistaking my jeans for a cocktail dress. So, if anyone is willing to loan me, say a million dollars (it is listed at $995,000), I will be saving a bundle on heating and water bills – I should be able to repay you sometime in the next couple hundred years.

Perks: windmill, solar panels, blue kitchen, front row seats for Garfield Square soccer games.