Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Covid Closures

After 157 years (a long time for us New World Westcoasters) of business, the iconic Cliff House restaurant closed its doors at the end of 2020. The stretch of coastline where the Cliff House structure stands is controlled by the National Parks Dept. Given the building's perfect perch just above the Pacific Ocean, I can only assume that new tenants will be found by the Parks folk sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, many restaurants without the cachet of the Cliff House are gone from the city permanently. 

Here is a rather exhaustive list of SF restaurant covid closures for your viewing 'pleasure'---

  • Angkor Borei
  • Alfred’s Steakhouse
  • Art’s Cafe
  • August 1 Five
  • Badlands
  • Baker Street Bistro
  • Barvale
  • Beachside Coffee Bar & Kitchen
  • Bistro Aix
  • Blind Cat
  • Bussaba
  • Cafe du Soleil (200 Filmore Street)
  • Castagna
  • Castro Republic
  • CatHead’s BBQ
  • Cha-Am Thai
  • Chili Lemon Garlic
  • Cliff House
  • Cockscomb
  • Coin-Op Game Room
  • Dobbs Ferry
  • Dosa 
  • Estela’s Donburi
  • Far East Cafe
  • Farallon
  • Francisca’s
  • Great Gold
  • Hakkasan
  • Harrington’s Bar & Grill
  • Hillside Supper Club
  • Hinodeya 
  • Ichi Sushi
  • Indian Paradox
  • It’s Tops
  • Izakaya Roku
  • JapaCurry
  • Jeanne d’Arc
  • La Boulangerie 
  • Lefty O’Doul’s
  • Locanda
  • Los Guisados Del PatrĂ³n
  • Louis’ Diner
  • Love N’ Haight Deli
  • Lucky 13
  • Mauerpark
  • Mestiza
  • Mikaku
  • Mozzeria 
  • M.Y. China
  • My Pot
  • Naked Fish
  • Nick’s 
  • Nico
  • Nizario’s 
  • Nommo
  • Nopalito 
  • Obispo
  • Orson’s Belly
  • Ozaoza
  • Palio Cafe
  • Pasta Pop-Up
  • Pause Wine Bar
  • Pera
  • Pesce e Riso
  • Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen
  • Prairie
  • Ramen Underground
  • Recchiuti Confections 
  • Ristorante Franchino
  • Ritual Coffee (
  • Rosa Mexicano
  • Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
  • Rusty’s Southern
  • Salt House
  • Seal Rock Restaurant
  • Serpentine
  • Skool
  • Southern Pacific Brewing
  • Stacks
  • Straw
  • The Creamery
  • The Crepe Houses
  • The Grove
  • The House
  • The Little Chihuahua
  • The Riddler
  • The Taco Shop At Underdogs
  • The Stud
  • Thieves Tavern
  • Ton Kiang
  • Triple Voodoo Brewery
  • Trou Normand
  • Udon Underground
  • Velvet Cantina
  • Vive La Tarte
  • Walzwerk
  • Wish
  • Yiyi’s Mandarin Kitchen
The second Cliff House built to resemble a French chateau, 1896. 



The somewhat bland 21st century Cliff House building.
At least the view is stunning.




So long, Cliff House...may we see you again soon!



Thursday, January 7, 2021

Jan. 6th

'Looks like I picked a bad time to stop drinking' my friend texted me today. I thought, what? I texted back: Aren't we winning in Georgia? She told me to turn on the radio. I went to Twitter instead & what I found there wasn't pretty. Domestic terrorists storming the Capitol. Shots fired. One fatality as of this afternoon. This is what trump meant when he told the Proud Boys to 'stand back and stand by'. Mask-less insurgents swarming to D.C. to wreak havoc. At least they'll be easier to ID by the Feds as they opted not to cover their faces while breaking the law. Morons. 

***

I may have mentioned in a previous post that a dear friend, M., was diagnosed with cancer this past autumn. After multiple recent stays in the hospital, her prognosis is now terminal. M. entered into hospice care last week. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit with her this past Monday. I sat on the sofa a good distance away from M. with mask up. M.'s ability to speak was hampered by her difficulty in breathing. I was told by M.'s sister who was there to help with M.'s care that I should expect to do most of the talking. I chatted up a storm, but would have been happy to just sit with her in silence. I really wished I could have held her hand, but Covid-19 prevented that. I told her that I loved her. She told me that she loved me, too. Then she needed her husband to administer her pain meds and I asked if it were time for me to leave. She said that it was. We left things open-ended regarding another visit. Gesturing in the direction of her husband, I told her I'd check in with the Chairman of the Board regarding the possibility of another visit (my attempt at being funny). She told me to check with her Press Secretary (aka her husband--her better attempt at being funny). 

Her husband walked me to the door and I thanked him for letting me visit. We both choked up at bit at that point. I also told him to, please, take good care of himself as he looked to be not eating well. To have to deal with illness and death is challenging in the best of times, but to have to navigate these unfortunate situations with Covid-19 looming over everything just makes it all so much more difficult. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas mood(y)

 -just had to shoo away a motorist in a boat of a car trying to park out front of the house in a compact parking space. Why, oh why do people try to cram their massive metal boxes into a wee spot like some sort of entitled wicked step-sister? 

Look mf'ers: If it don't fits, then you don't sits.

NO.

Speaking of parking, there had been two motor-homes sort of perma-parked on this block since at least mid-November. Last week, two police officers approached the vehicles and knocked on their windows. No one answered the call, but the next day I had noticed that one of the RVs had moved along. I am inclined to think that the owners live in their vehicles full-time. Sadly, there are now areas of town in which scores of larger vehicles sit parked with occupants living inside. 

A quick google search of 'RVs in San Francisco' gave me this: 


An informal 'mixed use' stretch of roadway--Students of SF State University park alongside those who are living in their vehicles (2018). 


***

On December 24th, a small group of us convened on Zoom in order to celebrate the Xmas eve birthday of a friend. There were a handful of us on the call who had grown up together. I hadn't really known the other home-towners as they were solely friends of the birthday girl in junior high and high school. As we all caught up with one another we began to play the 'did your older siblings know my older siblings?' game when it came to pass that one of us is friends with someone who had been a rather high profile comedian in the late 80s/early 90s. I should note that neither his films nor his stand-up has ever tickled my funny-bone. Like other still marginally successful performers, this person has become a vocal right-wing kook on social media. So not only is he not funny, but his political views are shite. Just after one of the Zoomers had said that his older sister had graduated with Mr. Funny (so had mine, btw) & right before said Zoomer mentioned his friendship with Haha Dude I was *about* to talk major shit about the guy. I'm so glad I bit my tongue as I wouldn't wanted to have make the birthday celebration awkward. 

***

I leave you with a photograph given to me by my uncle (the one who has my father's wooden box) that had been in my grandfather's possession. It's a time-capsule of sorts showing my parents' first Christmas in the house they bought after marrying in 1968. Mom is 22 in the photo. Dad is only six years her senior & was a divorced parent of two. I really like this snap shot as every one in it looks cheery and festive.  



Friday, December 18, 2020

Covid & a question

I had wondered when the virus would hit closer to home than it currently has done. A friend, T., and her teen-aged child have both tested positive for Covid-19. It sounds as if they contracted the virus from her ex-partner, but one isn't sure. Given that schools in London are open and children aren't forced to be masked while in class, I would have thought that the through line to illness came from campus to her child and then to her. Fortunately, the symptoms they've both been experiencing are not the most challenging. My friend said that they've both not had shortness of breath or incessant coughing, so that is good. However, T. has been experiencing the sensation of feeling sun-burnt from head-to-toe. I believe my friend referred to the condition as 'sandpaper skin'. Her child has said that food currently has a 'funny' taste. I can only hope that they recover quickly and well. 

***
I know that none of you are 'Dear Abby/an agony aunt', but...

My youngest paternal Uncle recently gave me a small packet of photos his wife had found in a wooden box tucked away in their garage. It turns out that my father had made the box in 1956 as a high school student in his wood-shop class. Why my Uncle has the box confused me as he and my father had had a falling out some years before my Dad died. As one can imagine the sibling rift was caused by squabbles over care of their elderly father and monies associated with said care. -long story short (and from the perspective of my dad): Grandpa had given my Uncle a large sum of money so that he and his wife could purchase a single-storey house with enough space for Grandpa to come and live with them. Grandpa, it should be said, could no longer successfully climb stairs, so this living arrangement would have been ideal for him. 

I hear the monetary 'gift' story as conditional: Uncle receives $$$ as long as he agrees to purchase a one-storey home. Well, my Uncle and his wife bought a two-storey house with the money they received from my Grandpa. When my Dad heard about the home purchase, he flipped his lid and had Grandpa come live with him instead. While Grandpa was alive, my Uncle and Dad were still in contact, if however sporadically. Afterwards it was crickets between them. Grandpa's belongings, I now find out, were left behind at my Uncle's. This included many family keepsakes and the box that my Dad had fashioned in wood-shop class those many years ago. 

I was a bit perplexed as to why my Uncle would want to keep Dad's box, but don't know how to talk to him about it for fear that he'll tell me he will not relinquish it. I want that box, folks. In the same conversation with my Uncle about family photos (and did I want them), my Uncle then mentioned a turquoise ring an old girlfriend of his had given him back in 1970/71. Apparently, some hippie-type up in Marin Co. had fashioned the ring out of silver & mounted a chunk of turquoise on top. My Uncle told me that he'd given the ring to my father (for some reason) and, boy, did he want that ring back! Spoiler alert: I think I may have the ring as I remember discovering a bit of jewelry among my father's personal affects nearly 20 years ago. If I do have the ring, would it be tacky to make a 'trade' with my Uncle? I don't care about the ring, but I do wish to have something of Dad's in my possession. 

Some of the tidbits from the passel of pictures given to me: 

An orange-hued snap of my Grandpa. Dig the bolo tie!




Sunday, December 13, 2020

Erin go bragh

The Irish have been coming to San Francisco and its environs since before California's inclusion into the United States. One famous, early Irish emigre was Jasper O'Farrell. In the 1840s, O'Farrell worked on behalf of the Mexican government surveying much of the land just north of here. O'Farrell also designed the main thoroughfare through downtown San Francisco, Market Street. There is even a street named in his honor just north of the grand boulevard he designed. 

I remember hearing when I was a kid that the Sunset, where I now reside, was a heavily Irish (and Italian) enclave throughout much of the 20th century. Although the Irish have largely been replaced by mainland Chinese & HK immigrants, one still sees traces of the Sunset's Irish past. In the vicinity of my place, there are businesses with names like Behan Builders, Flanagan's Pub & Cara Glass and Sash (the signage mostly in Celtic Font). On my first trip to the local post office, I noticed that a one Maureen O'Neill had left a pile of junk mail on a counter. I guess she'd forgotten to bin it? As I was waiting to buy stamps, there was an Irish gent at the postal counter just ahead of me mailing parcels abroad & purchasing 'thirty international stamps'. I like to think that he was mailing Xmas cards and gifts to family back home in Eire.

An in interesting twist and a nod to the changing demographics of the neighborhood, what was once a solidly Irish bakery around the corner from me, now serves a mix of both *Irish and Chinese baked goods. In the display case, soda bread sits nicely next to sesame balls filled with mung bean paste. Almond cookies a la Chinois are displayed near a massive tray of currant scones. Sausage rolls and a version of Shepherd's Pie (no lamb, only beef) are usually to be had at the bakery as well. 

An Irish anchor, if you will, is the Irish Cultural Center located a few blocks from my home. In more robust times, one could take dance lessons, language lessons and have a meal at the Center's on premises restaurant. I've not been in since I was a child. Unfortunately, the pandemic has meant that the Center isn't currently open to visitors. Although for a time there was a 'beer garden' set up in the Center's back parking lot which recently had to cease operations in light of current Covid restrictions on dining establishments here in SF County. 

Building's facade. Note the four counties of Ireland just under the banner.



Happy times at the Irish Cultural Center

*and English

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Sunset

At the old place, we lived about a mile from my father's maternal grandparents' home in Bernal Heights. Now, coincidentally, we live about ten blocks from my father's paternal grandparents' house in the Sunset District. Both houses were sold out of family hands, before I was born, in the 1960s. I have an acquaintanceship with the woman who now owns the house in Bernal Heights, so I've been in to see the digs. It's a neat older (for California) home constructed in 1917. That home's highlights include: 12' high ceilings, finely detailed parquet flooring put in by my great-grandpa, a carpenter by trade, and a massive larder. Up until recently, I wasn't sure where the other house stood. After chatting with both of my Uncles, one of whom had actually lived in the Sunset house with his parents as a small boy, I now have its address. I took a bike ride by the place yesterday. I have to say, for a nearly ninety-year-old house, it is holding up nicely. It would be great to be able to have a peek inside, but I'll just have to settle for seeing some old family photos. Too bad I don't know who in the family is in possession of them. 

Here's a snap of the Sunset house I took--

1930s, semi-Mediterranean style home 

The Sunset District, in the early 1900s, was known as Outside Lands and still largely sand dunes. My father remembers riding his bike out to the beach from his house in southeastern San Francisco and encountering 'hills of sand' en route. By the middle of the 20th century, most of the region once known as Outside Lands had been developed into what was then considered suburban housing and re-named the Sunset District. Our pocket of the Sunset, where we now live, was one of the last to be developed in the 1940s. 

From what I understand, it isn't clear how the Sunset District received its name. For me, it would seem so named for the lovely sunsets one is treated to by just looking west toward the ocean. 

Here's a stunner from two nights ago taken at Ocean Beach, now, luckily, just down the road from us--






Thursday, December 3, 2020

Getting to know you...sort of.

There are six houses on my block, three homes on the south side of the street and three on the east. The house directly across from us has its blinds open, if it even has any, day and night. I spied a woman at her window watching me as I was standing at mine surveying the street on the day we moved in. This woman is often to be seen in her kitchen futzing around. (Now that I have put curtains up, I see her less often.) I have taken to calling the woman in the window No-Curtains Nancy

No-Curtains has a spouse who is hardly ever seen. Yesterday afternoon, however, as I was coming back from the shops, I noticed that the man of the house had let the dog out for an unsupervised walk along the block. The dog, a sad-looking Chow mix with an awful lion cut, left a 'deposit' in front of its neighbor's house. He then sniffed around a few parked cars before returning indoors. The poo was still on the pavement as of 9.30am this morning. 

Stoney B, the guy who lives next door, earned his nickname because we see him (smell him?) going out to his garden to smoke a blunt at regular intervals throughout the day. We don't yet have blinds for the window that looks out toward his deck, so we are regularly treated to the sight of him out there, ear buds in & joint lit. We think he lives with his elderly parents.

As for the other three households, there is not much to report. No one seems to be coming or going. Maybe they all work-from-home? Maybe they're retired and keeping their contact with the outside world to a minimum? In normal times, I would have probably made an attempt to at least introduce myself to my immediate neighbors, but, fearing viral transmission, I have kept away save for the odd wave, socially distantly, of course. 


A snippet of the new 'hood courtesy of Hoodline 



                                                               

Covid Closures

After 157 years (a long time for us New World Westcoasters) of business, the iconic Cliff House restaurant closed its doors at the end of 20...