Making the Pilgrimage Back to Roots
Aug 06, 2010 | 1110 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SAN FRANCISCO … There’s a primal attachment to one’s place of birth… If I grew up in suburban privilege in the ’50s, by the ’60s I’d leapt from Roman Catholic to karmic hippie. In the ’80s it was EarthFirst! (and now the Rainbow Family). For all that, I’m a city boy. I spent ten years as a young adult courting danger and traipsing the windy hills of “Baghdad-by-the-Bay,” as revered Chronicle columnist Herb Caen liked to call SF … Caen the city’s unlaureled bard. Horace of the Golden Gate. Gossiping and telling stories and calling up important political details, puns & bon mots, opinions, confabulations. He called it “three-dot journalism. His daily column was the greatest breakfast grab-bag of rant and fact and hilarious tale. Guaranteed to entertain, often surprise, sometimes infuriate – caenfetti was San Francisco’s ticker tape champagne.

IRIS & HER MAN FAN … Gorio and I had decided last year that if I had to attend a political meeting in Reno, we’d take an extra week and drive out to the San Andreas Fault to see Iris Willow, his big sister and my oldest child. Last year Iris and Bert Fan were living in Vientiane, Laos. I had the good fortune to visit them there and travel with them for a holiday in Bali on my way home. This year she & Bert are back in SF’s Mission District – on South Van Ness, just a few blocks from St. Luke’s Hospital, where I made my first appearance … Bert had landed a dream job with Flickr and Iris was publicity & special projects chief at a small art tile company over in Dogpatch. Only a couple days together, but jam-packed & jelly-rolled.

FOOD TO DIE FOR … We waited for a good half-hour for a slim table at the Mission Beach Café. Well, actually, Bert and Gorio waited and Iris and I made the ritual dash to an industrial coffee-house a couple blocks south of 14th & Guerrero. Independently owned. But big as a warehouse. One of the best mochas of the trip (though still not as good as Mouse’s in Ouray) … “Lines,” Iris told me. “In the City there’s always lines.” … We made it back to the café just in time to be seated. And recognized. Former Telluride Times-Journal editor Matt Lewis shouted out a hello and we had a nice chat. He wished all his Telluride friends well … The breakfast was superb. I had wild mushroom benedict with spinach, caramelized onions, truffle mornay sauce and potatoes. I didn’t try the “forebidden rice-white bean cake,” but we all had a good laugh at the faux pas (or perhaps the rice had been spoken for earlier…) … I wasn’t overwhelmed by the meatballs at the faux-dive five-star Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack in Bernal Heights, but the décor was rad. Urban metal funk … What did deliver me, signed & sealed, to the ranks of the Bay Area’s food junkie cult was dinner at Weird Fish, just a quick walk from Iris & Bert’s apartment – clam chowder, calamari, ceviche, fish tacos, and a plate of mussels that Gorio devoured with relish. Moderately priced. Their own farms supply part of the menu. On Mission near 18th … To my nostalgic surprise they’d converted the old Lucky Market in Noe Valley (my main SF stomping grounds back in the ’70s) into a Whole Foods. So I indulged and bought a half round of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam organic triple crème (think brie at its best). And, for the first time, found a most wondrous new caffeinated confection – Java Rocks. Javas Dark, to be specific. Less than a third of a pound kept me awake for 12 straight hours – driving Nevada to Colorado (and in theobromine heaven). Wholly addictive.

UN VOTE ON WATER … One of the most important international decisions on human rights was made at the United Nations in New York last week, and the American media has been virtually mum about the story. No editorials, no talking heads, no public discussion. Maybe because the U.S. joined some 40 other countries in abstaining from the vote to make water and sanitation basic human rights – which means that water should no longer be bought and sold as a commodity. A majority of 122 nations, world-wide, approved the measure, while Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and others like our government abstained. None opposed … Activist Maude Barlow of Blue Planet and Food & Water Watch called it “historic.” The successful resolution was introduced by the Bolivian ambassador to the U.N., Pablo Solon.


Never People can talk about rivers all they want –
peace and beauty, how they always
change yet stay the same.

Something big and moving to look at,
end of the day.

Around here, we’ve lived with the river
all our lives and never touch the water.

-Michael Adams
(but the poem’s about Pittsburgh)

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