Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our Return to San Francisco

Hi Bloggy Friends,

When Alan and I moved from San Francisco five years ago, we were ready to scram. Four years of urine stench, chilly temps and being thousands of miles from our families eventually drove us away. But as time went by, our fondness for it began to rebloom, so we decided to mark our half-decade away with a spring trip.

We weren't sure how much the town had changed since we left, but we were happy to see a lot of our old faves still thriving — a welcome sign coming from a city that seems to flip businesses like they're going out of, well, business. There does seem to be a fresher, Upper-West-Side chicness blended into the culture, something we learned is the result of relatively local dotcoms that have blown up in the years since we've been gone. Big-namers like Facebook and Google run shuttle services that cart their employees in and out the Bay Area, a move that's driven up rents and added heft to the commonest of price tags. We even hear the grimy Tenderloin will be spiffing up soon with the arrival of the Instagram headquarters. Oh, snap!

For our trip, we mostly stuck to the areas we knew best, strolling through hoods like the Mission, Haight and Castro, visiting our favorite eateries, and reveling in the departure from reality that comes with being in that crazy-ass city. Here are some quick highlights:

A sugar and his scone.
Our Apartment: We rented a sunny little grandma-chic flat near the corner of Octavia and Fulton in Hayes Valley; only two blocks from the hustle bustle of hip Hayes Street. The space was quirky, roomy and fitted with one of the most comfy beds I've ever laid on. And funny enough, the guy we rented from turned out to be the boyfriend of one of the first friends I met when I moved to San Francisco in 2004. It's a small, gay world.

Favorite Haunts: On our first night, we had dinner at Miyabi, a nondescript sushi spot in the Castro that makes the Godzilla Roll, a thick mix of crab, unagi and spicy tuna that's dipped in a deep fryer and drizzled with something orgasmic. Yes, it was just as delish as we remembered. We also had great return-to-memory-lane meals at Herbivore vegetarian restaurant, Samovar tea lounge and one of the best cakeries I've ever known, Sweet Inspiration. I love you, Lemon Poppy Seed cake.

New Places: The trip wasn't all about hitting up places we frequented before; we wanted to try a few new things, too. We had a divine meal at Gracias Madre, a brand new vegan/organic Mexican joint in the Mission. One night we sipped on absinthe drinks in Blackbird, a bar in the Castro that specializes in fancy, old-school spirit and tincture concoctions. It was an awesome place, but my Kentucky came out when I got snippy with a guy who kept shoving us out of the way. I told him to "try excuse me next time." He called me a "cunt." We also stumbled across a beautiful, modern tea shop around the corner from our apartment called Taste, where we each had a cup of chilled rooibos and a French-style macaroon. Le mmm!

Virgin Mary chic.
Art/Fashion: On Thursday we went to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park to see the "Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk," a multi-room exhibition of some of the famed designer's most fantastical couture. There was stuff from his "Virgin" collection, clothing he made for movies like The Skin I Live In, and a bunch of naughty threads and sketches he made for Madonna (hello, cone boobs!). Besides the clothing, the neatest thing about it was the moving faces projected onto the mannequins (see video below). They would jabber and sing, and every once in a while dart their eyes in your direction. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little creeped out.

Science: Partnered with a scientist, it's only natural that our trips involve some sort of total nerdery. After visiting the de Young we met up with our friend Matthew and hit up the California Academy of Sciences' (CAS) weekly NightLife soiree, where we sipped wine, got our sweat on in the humid rainforest dome and trekked up to the Living Roof to peek at Venus through a high-powered telescope. (It looked like a quarter moon). Another science highlight was when we saw a hawk swoop down and catch a mouse in the park between the CAS and de Young Museum. It clawed that sucker up, flew it to its nest and started choking it down. Alan got a picture. I almost barfed.

It's not technically a science outing, but on Saturday afternoon we went to Pacifica to have brunch with a group of Alan's former UCSF lab mates. It was hosted at the home of our friends Traci and Kerim, which sits on a giant hill that faces a valley in the foreground and a peek at the Pacific Ocean in the back. We spent a lot of time with this group of people when we lived here, so it was great to catch up and see them all doing so well.

A gay and his smoothie.
Gay!: On Friday night we went to the Stud in SOMA to see "Some Thing," a drag show that, on this night, was themed "Manly." It was each drag persona's job to incorporate something butch into their mostly experimental performances, and they were all hilarious and wonderfully weird. One drag king, who looked like Hatchet Face from Crybaby, utilized her stage time screaming "Jacob!" and beating the hell out of a cardboard box. That was the whole performance. My favorite was Suppositori Spelling, a drag queen who's been working the SF drag circuit since I lived there. She had on a skirt that was about as long as a fake eye lash, and she hoisted it up to reveal a face she drew smudged on her scrawny butt cheeks that was akin to the way you can draw eyes and lips on the side of your fist to turn it into a puppet. Laying sideways on a bar stool, she flapped her cheeks up and down to make her bum lip-sync the rest of her song. Oh, and it finished her cigarette, too. Puff, puff, ass!

Josh

video














4 comments:

Matthew C said...

"half-century away?" I didn't know it had been THAT long! ;-)

Anonymous said...


Josh, I missed both of you at the
Tanforan Shopping Center
and Alan wouldn't have had to put sugar on a Cinnabon !
I'm wondering would that go under "Art/Fashion" or "New Places" ?
(btw - a little history)Many years ago Tanforan was a Race Track.

~C (*_*)

Anonymous said...

I found your video blog posts by accident - I was searching for information on Jim Morrison and came across your trip to Paris. I can't believe I actually watched every single one of your video posts. But what was absolutely fascinating was viewing them in reverse order. Josh, you're a genuine talent on so many levels. And Allen, you don't need a schmuck in Idaho to tell you how lucky you are. Cheers.

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