San Francisco Archives

October 2, 2002

Dot-com Diaspora

Meg Hourihan is leaving San Francisco and her reasons for doing so kind of resonate with me.

Unlike Meg, I don't know that I'd say I'm ecstatic about my move back East. New England may be a place that stays in your blood -- Ohio is more like something you find in your stool.

"I'm not sure California would ever really feel like my home nor would Californians ever feel like my people."

That's a fairly concise summation of how I felt about California for my five years there -- like a permanent tourist. Californians were never my people. (Which is more a sad statement on my own self than on the many fine friends - both native to the state and transplants like me - that I met while there. Good people are in California, and some damn fine drivers. Oh, and good Indian food, but that's beside the point.)

So I'm back in Ohio, amongst my deep-fried people.

November 15, 2002

Emperor Norton

One of my favorite characters from San Francisco's amazingly storied past is the beloved Philip Norton, self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States:

"Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abdominal word 'Frisco,' which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor."


January 20, 2003

SF Kite Photography

Some great, albeit hard-to-read panoramic photos taken by kite. They were done in 1906 immediately following the great quake in San Francisco.

(Link via Elegant Hack.)

February 27, 2003

Panhandle Mnemonics

If you've lived in San Francisco for any length of time, and you still find it hard to remember which road heads East along the Golden Gate panhandle, and which one runs West, then use this simple mnemonic device:

"Oak to Oakland, Fell to the Fog."

March 8, 2003

A nice reminder

I think this posting will officially end my week-long run of SF longing. But it's a good way to end it -- here is a nice photo gallery of shots from around the city.

May 30, 2003

The Gauntlet

This SFGate article describes the lead-foot bedlam Along 19th Avenue. Another pedestrian died on Monday. The driver did not even break pace. And the “normal” state of affairs continues to terrify:

The intersection bears the scars of countless crashes. The traffic-light control box has been hit, destroyed and replaced. The power-pole conduit has been hit, destroyed and replaced. The mailbox has been hit, destroyed and replaced.

On the south side of the intersection, the street-light pole in the center island was struck by a car last year and stands bent over, like an old man. On the north side, the street-light pole is missing entirely -- taken out in a crash a few years ago -- leaving the intersection only half-illuminated at night.

I can vouch for the sorry state of pedestrian affairs on 19th Avenue. When the wife and I lived in San Francisco, we had a brief but intense flirtation with the Taco Bell Chalupa (Chicken Santa Fe, if you must know.) The closest Taco Bell to us was a mere block or two past the dreaded Highway 1 corridor.

Some nights on the way home from work I'd curb-straddle the Escort near 19th and Irving (facing North) and dutifully wait for the light to make the crossing at a flat-out run. (The article's right -- you've got NO TIME to get across with the light - forget about the elderly, or anyone laden down with, say, a big bag full of Chalupas.)

It was a toss-up in my mind, whether 19th Ave. traffic would take me before the saturated fat did.

(19th Ave Link via kung fu grippe.)

October 28, 2004

Ware on Valencia

I'd like to spend some time with this the next time I'm in San Francisco:

As you may know, Chris Ware, one of the world’s great artists, designed this mural specifically for 826 Valencia. It depicts the parallel development of humans and their efforts at and motivations for communication, spoken and written. It’s a very complex mural, and requires its most devoted viewers to study it for about an hour, from the middle of Valenica Street, by far the best vantage point.
And a burrito. Most definitely a burrito.

Oh, and here's someone's higher-res capture of the mural.

January 31, 2005

Warm Heaven

If you have occasion to visit Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco's Inner Sunset, I highly recommend it. Aside from their delicious gourmet pizzas, there are also the world's most wonderful scones. (I used to like them warmed in the microwave for ~15 seconds, then topped with butter.) And even though there are .. oh, about 6 coffee shops in the neighborhood, I used to make the trip to Arizmendi just to get a sip of their small-batch, carafe-brewed nectar. So much better than a huge 2-gallon batch of bitter brew from Starbucks or the Beanery. (Don't get me wrong, I love the 2 Beaneries, too.)

What has me thinking about this old favorite neighborhood haunt? Why, playing around with A9's cool new local results with photos. Also cool is this hot-off-the-presses hack that returns a city-street's worth of photos from A9s database. (Found via onfocus.)

March 21, 2005

Gardening on Alcatraz

A friend of mine has just started doing this and it looks like a wonderful opportunity. Alcatraz is one of those things about San Francisco that I never tired of...

March 24, 2005

Driving North on 280

More California reminiscing.. Here's a nice little movie of driving north on 280 that basically recreates the drive I took every day for 5 years. (Okay, after about the 3d year, 280 wasn't as common as braving the HOV-lane on 101 with my carpool-buddy Jim.) As much as I hated spending 2-3 hours in a car every day, you gotta admit that 280 is one beautiful highway to spend it on. (Found via Matt Haughey.)

April 9, 2005

Why I Miss North Beach

Why I Miss North Beach
Originally uploaded by soldierant.

April 10, 2006


I found this interesting little history page about SF Chinatown's Tong Wars in the 20s, that ends on a violent footnote:

Drug use in the 1920's was not restricted to opium dens of the Chinese Tongs. Heroin, a new drug formulated to help addicts of opium break their habit, had begun to appear in San Francisco. Retired Officer Charles Foster recalled his first experience with heroin users.

"There was this guy named Kelly," said Officer Foster, "who went on a rampage one night in the 1920's. He got himself all hopped-up and got a gun and jumped into a cab, and he told the driver to take him to Potrero Hill. There was this old guy there just getting dressed up to go to a restaurant for dinner. He was walking down the sidewalk toward the Mission, just minding his own business, and Kelly jumped out of the cab and shot him, for no reason. Then he went on a rampage. He took over the cab and took off over the Hill, and he shot two more people in the chest down around 11th and Folsom. He drove all over town, and he took a shot at Chief O'Brien down around Fisherman's Wharf, although I don't think he knew who he was. The Chief just happened to be there on his way to dinner. Finally, they tracked him down in some cheap rooming house South of Market, and they got him after a shoot-out. That was the first I ever heard of hop, but we sure heard a lot more about it after that. That was the start of the whole thing."

Congratulations, Kelly! Boldly breaking new ground. Now there's some Irish pluck. (Link found via peterme.)

November 19, 2007

Ah, Sony Metreon we hardly knew ye

My friend Erik points out the latest ugly incident at San Francisco's Sony Metreon. In a way, this makes me sad.

As Eric points out, the urban mall was indeed lauded at the time it opened for being high-concept, high-rent and family friendly. They used to have cool exhibits (a Maurice Sendak "Where the Wild Things Are" one that literally spilled out all over the second-floor, and a cool "How Things Work" one as well. I never saw that one.)

The second-floor arcade was designed by Moebius, fer chrissakes. Add in retail stores from Microsoft (this was shortly after the first few Apple Stores had opened, and I think M$ was maybe under the delusion that they could buy a couple-thousand square feet of cool, too) and Sony. On paper, it was truly a great mall. (Yes, just a mall, still — the emphasis was undeniably on retail and consumption.) But it was evident, even early on, that something was… off about the place.

The arcade games (which were custom-built games, from what I could tell) were kinda… lame. Yeah, there was that one where you bowled an enormous bowling ball from the top of Pacific Heights and down into the streets of San Francisco. But that was fun for, oh, about 6 minutes.

And it was obvious that the only real reason most folks came down to the Metreon was for the movie theaters. Those were at capacity for just about every show. (My wife and I adopted a strategy—we used to go down there on Saturday mornings around 10am for new releases. Just about the only time of the weekend when you'd have at least a little seat selection.)

And, of course, being an urban mall, the movie theaters overwhelmingly attracted one demographic: smelly, noisy and sometimes-violent teenagers. It wasn't uncommon to see fights down there.

The Microsoft store sank within 6 months, and was replaced by some off-brand 'technology store' (selling most of the same high-tech crap, but w/no MS endorsement or merch.)

To be honest, I'm surprised to hear that the Metreon is still open at all. It's been ~6 years since we moved away, and it was already on a visible down-hill slide by the time we left.

December 1, 2008

Dining in SF

If you're visiting San Francisco soon, or live there now, heed the dining advice of my homeboy Bradley. The guy's a native (well, Sunnyvale—close enough when you're from Ohio) and he's got a talent for sniffing out delightful experiences that are off the beaten trails. Regard, Bradley's recommendations...

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About San Francisco

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Soldier Ant in the San Francisco category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Columbus is the previous category.

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