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Archive for the ‘hippies’ Category

San Francisco and hipsters

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 21, 2014

Here’s a humorous Lonely Planet inspired video of “tourists” finding out about hipster San Francisco:

And here are two “man-in-the-street” interviews of folks in San Francisco speculating about what exactly constitutes a hipster:

Finally, all you really need to know about hipsters in San Francisco:
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Posted in hippie, hippies, hipsters, life, Lonely Planet, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, San Francisco, The Mission | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

San Francisco, Paris of the West, part 5

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 27, 2013

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I once asked the late, great Bruce Roehrs why he lived in the Haight.

“All the bars I like are in the Haight,” Bruce said.

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I was never a fan of bars and “bar culture,” even when I was a drinking man. And I’ve never been a fan of the Haight-Ashbury. I arrived too late for the hippies, even to visit during their heyday. Then the Haight careened, crashed, revived, gentrified, and here we are in 2013 with the part circus, part zoo, part snooty neighborhood off-the-main-drag but on all the tour bus routes that is today’s Haight. There are plenty of accounts of the Haight, starting with David Talbot‘s Season of the Witch, which I critiqued on my other blog. For other histories, and some primary sources, consider the Diggers Papers site, including the various links provided there. Since I’m not into pointing out which Haight-Ashbury Victorian was rented by what famous psychedelic band, or where Anton LaVey held his Satanic black masses, or when white power skinheads tried to take over the neighborhood, let’s get on with a few Haight-Ashbury points of interest.

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Goorin Brothers Hat Shop (1446 Haight Street) is a fabulous find and potential haberdashery, now that I’ve taken to wearing styling head gear. If you don’t want to visit the store in person, you can check out their website and shop for hats by shape, by lifestyle, and by what’s new. Goorin’s is not some Parisian boutique. It’s a chain, but it’s service is high quality and it’s inventory is impressive. Cool. The Pork Store Cafe (1451 Haight St) is a wonderful place to get a heavy duty, stick to your ribs breakfast or lunch (or dinner) up to 3:30-4:00 PM. The food here is rich and large-portioned, and the lines are always out the door and down the block. Don’t bother worrying about your diet or your cholesterol levels if you intend to dine here. And don’t look for four star Parisian cuisine. This is comfort food, diner food, piled high food. Heart attacks are extra.

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Cole Street Hardware (956 Cole Street) is in Cole Valley, up from the Haight. And while the whole Cole Hardware chain is great, this particular store goes the extra mile, with inventory, with service, with resources. Cole Street Hardware has a handyman/contractor/etc referral service that links people in surrounding neighborhoods with skilled workers and professionals. Cole Street Hardware is all American do-it-yourself, not available in Paris. A real find. Finally, there’s Amoeba Music (1855 Haight St) at the end of the block. New and used music; vinyl, CDs, DVDs; movies on DVD or blu-ray; posters, books, turntables, etc; there ain’t nothing you can’t find at Amoeba, understand? Nothing like Amoeba can be found in Paris. Nevertheless, Amoeba has to struggle in order to survive, now that music and movies are digital, downloadable and streamable. So patronize them, damnit!

Below are a couple of shots of the Golden Gate Panhandle, to the north of the Haight. Not grungy and encamped with gutter punks like the entrance to Golden Gate Park proper at the end of Haight Street, the Panhandle is a cool, shady, relaxing strip of parkland buffering the Haight from the rest of the City. These photos also buffer the above section of this post from the section below.
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I’m returning to Noe Valley for a few more entries. The Haight is not my favorite neighborhood. I’m much more at home in Noe Valley and the Castro. The Castro got a thorough treatment in part 4, so this should round out Noe Valley, started in part 1.

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I love libraries. I love hanging out in them, reading books and newspapers in them, writing in them (both long hand and on computers), researching in them, etc. I love the smell of books, the tactile feel of printed paper, the sounds of their mandatory silence. I have an SF Public Library card, and I frequent my local libraries often. Noe Valley Public Library (451 Jersey St) is architecturally classic, with renovated interiors that are quite comfortable. I never visited libraries in Paris, but I would say my love for libraries is world-wide. Given right-wing attempts to gut the public sector in the United States in general, and to defund public libraries in particular, your public library needs your support. Just down the block is Video Wave (1431 Castro St), a tiny store stacked from floor-to-ceiling with rentable CD, DVD, and blu-ray movies. They have the entire Criterion collection, and also sell movie related “concessions” such as popcorn, ice cream and candy. Video Wave, as well as a number of other Noe Valley and SF small businesses, have been harassed by an abusive lawyer taking advantage of provisions in the California and Federal ADA laws, hoping to make a quick buck suing mom-and-pop sized stores for lack of compliance for disability access. Never mind that these establishments can’t control such access because they are often owned by absentee landlords who don’t, or won’t comply. Video Wave has spearheaded efforts to amend the ADA laws and to compromise with this rapacious lawyer (and it’s just one). But they’re still under threat of bankruptcy and closure. Patronize them!

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Contigo (1320 Castro St) is a Spanish Basque restaurant offering small plates (tapas), Spanish wines, excellent service, and a congenial atmosphere. Their Spanish hams are imported directly from the Iberian peninsula, and the churros and hot chocolate for dessert is a marvel. I’m sure similar cuisine is available in Paris, though we never found anything comparable. In Paris, whenever I noticed the bright red and yellow Presse sign above a shop or kiosk, I knew I could look for my favorite newspapers. Those Presse signs were everywhere. Not so in the United States, where I guess most people don’t read. In Noe Valley, Good News newsstand (3920 24th St) has the most comprehensive selection of newspapers and magazines around. Its owner, Sam, a Palestinian originally, is a cheery, friendly, helpful man always willing to aid the customer in finding what they’re looking for, and if necessary to special order what they can’t find. This store is a neighborhood staple. Standing around and browsing the shelves, you can watch all the locals come in for their favorite publications, and their cigarettes as well. A really fine store.

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I’ve mentioned the French interest in tea, and the tea shops of Paris, which really can’t hold a candle to a good American tea shop. David’s Teas (3870 24th Street) is just such a place, where there are umpteen metal canisters lining the long back wall filled with white, green, oolong, black, pu-ehr, mate, rooibos and herbal selections, and most of these further differentiated into straight tea vs flavored tea. Further divisions into organic, chia, etc. can be had, depending on the type of tea. You buy in bulk or by the cup, sample ahead of time, and sit around drinking your purchase. They have a quarterly catalog and also sell tea-related accoutrements. Wonderful. Speaking of tea, Lovejoy’s Tea Room (1351 Church St) attempts to replicate the experience of an authentic British tea room, complete with scones and crumpets, finger sandwiches (without the crusts), jam and marmalade, Devon cream, and the like. There’s more, much more, including pub food, and many more types of tea than would normally be found in your average British establishment. You can decide on a particular service (sandwiches, salad, tea, pastry) or order a la carte. I say!

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Chloe’s Cafe (1399 Church St) is a favorite of ours for breakfast, albeit with a somewhat limited menu. You can get eggs, but only scrambled. The rest of the menu is pretty standard, homemade potatoes, and fabulous buckwheat pancakes. My wife and I would each order a different, separate dish and share them. It’s small indoors, but offers sidewalk seating in good weather (much like a neighborhood Parisian cafe), and there’s always a 15 to 30 minute waiting list. The last stop on this Noe Valley tour is Omnivore Books (3885 Cesar Chavez St). I can’t say enough about this place. Floor-to-ceiling books devoted entirely to cooking. You heard me, cookbooks! Cookbooks by cuisine, cookbooks by ingredients, cookbooks by chef, cookbooks by preparation, antiquarian cookbooks, cooking monographs, the science of cooking, damn, this place have everything. And if it isn’t here, they will order it for you. Oh yes, there’s also select cooking magazines. There are special events (author presentations, book signings, food tastings). They even sell fresh eggs from free range chickens! There is no place like this on the planet, let alone someplace like Paris, where food and cooking are a religion.

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Finally, this is not a place, but an institution, the Noe Valley Voice (P.O. Box 460249, San Francisco, CA 94146). This is a neighborhood newspaper that, yes, is heavy on the advertising, but also local news of note. If something happens in Noe Valley, you can frequently find it covered in the Voice. Plus, there are police blotters, rumors, classifieds, all you need to keep up with what’s happening in the neighborhood.

Posted in Bruce Roehrs, Chloe's Cafe, Cole Street Hardware, Contigo, David Talbot, David's Teas, Golden Gate Panhandle, Good News newsstand, Goorin Brothers, Haight-Ashbury, hippies, life, Lovejoy's Tea Room, Noe Valley, Noe Valley Public Library, Noe Valley Voice, Omnivore Books, Paris of the West, Pork Store Cafe, public libraries, San Francisco, Season of the Witch, series, The Diggers, Video Wave | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

City living

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 8, 2007

I couldn’t have said this better myself. You can find the original commentary here in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

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CITY LIVING

By Steven Jones

City living isn’t for everyone. It gets messy, crowded, stinky, loud, scary, and downright weird. Sometimes people block your car even when you have a green light and pound their fists on your hood if you honk. They wear outrageous costumes, play silly games, and follow ridiculous trends. They yell and laugh too loud right outside your window when you’re trying to sleep. Occasionally they pee in your doorway, graffiti your wall, grab your ass, or barf on your shoes.

But that’s city living, and I love it.

If you want clean and orderly, there are plenty of small towns and suburbs to choose from. You can probably even get front and back yards and a roomy house big enough for 2.5 children and assorted pets for what you’re paying for your apartment here. Tempting? Then you should do it. Really. We’ll all be very supportive of your decision to leave if it comes to that, no hard feelings. I might even help you pack and find a new occupant for your place.

But if you want to shut down our party or expect us to dance around your delicate sensibilities, we’re gonna have to fight. And guess what? We’ll win. There are more of us in this crazy town than there are of you … and we aren’t afraid. We dodge SUVs on bicycles, brush past ranting lunatics, stand tall against cops in riot gear, pierce painful parts, bring strange people home to do unspeakable things, cavort with revolutionaries, and take way too many drugs. So there’s no way we’re caving in to the NIMBYs, the conservatives, or the complainers who want to banish our beloved chaos.

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has long embraced true city living, from the Summer of Love and its hordes of hippies to the summer of 2007, when our glorious urban messiness is being threatened by the forces of gentrification, corporatization, homogenization, normalization, and stagnation. Once-radical neighborhoods like the Castro and the Haight are increasingly filled with aging homeowners, some of whom have grown frustrated with aspects of city living they once embraced.

Increasingly, however, these tragic naysayers are being confronted by groups such as the San Francisco Party Party, which was created to oppose the forces that are suburbanizing our great city. Last Halloween I donned a beard and stovepipe hat and joined the Party Party’s Abe Lincoln brigades as they cruised the Castro. Why Abe? Why not? Two dozen Abes strolled past the phalanxes of cops on overtime whose presence the nervous Nellies had urged (and who couldn’t stop violence from breaking out anyway), whooping it up until the party was shut down at the ridiculously early hour of 10:30 p.m. and city water trucks chased the partyers away, a sight that almost made us weep – and provoked the crowd into a state of restless frustration.

City living is about keeping the party going, not ending it. It’s a massive pillow fight in Justin Herman Plaza. It’s placing your body and bike in front of the angry guy in the Hummer who wants to cut through Critical Mass. It’s the drunken decision to get another tattoo or the hungry impulse to try an unfamiliar taquería. It’s wearing a chicken suit to confront a cowardly mayor. It’s watching Willy Wonka or the World Cup on massive screens in Dolores Park that somebody set up just because they thought it would be cool. It’s a bonfire on Ocean Beach, a blog argument over the latest city hall scandal, a giant purple head suddenly appearing in Golden Gate Park, street dancing at the late, lamented How Weird Street Faire, a bunch of wasted Santas bar crawling through North Beach, a sunny afternoon at Zeitgeist, a shopping trip to the Haight for a good pair of Burning Man goggles.

Or maybe for you it’s something else, something I’ve never thought or heard of, just some eccentric thing you and your freaky friends like to do. San Francisco has thousands of dynamic social pockets, big and small, each with its own passions, routines, and language. And not all civically spirited events are exotic, either. I’ve felt the abstract joy of the Bay descend during the most pedestrian of tasks, like when this great old guy in the Mission fixed the loose soles on my combat boots (bought used on Haight for $20 a few months ago and walked down many wild paths since) and made me a new key for my dog walker, a woman whose control over a large and combustible crew of canines borders on the miraculous.

Whatever our ideas of city living may be, there’s a reason we’re all living in the city, making San Francisco what it is. Some of the corporate-owned publications in town seem to enjoy mocking the free-living, forward-thinking sensibilities we embrace, dismissively deploying their “only in San Francisco” eye roll or casting progressives as somehow floating outside the country’s political spectrum.

Don’t let them put a ding in your wa, as my DJ friend Syd Gris likes to say. We know that it’s the rest of the country that’s the problem, not us. Luckily, there are a million things to do in this beautiful and bountiful city while we wait for the rest of the world to catch up

Posted in anti-suburbanization, Bay Area, City Living, gentrification, Giulianism, Haight Street Fair, Halloween in the Castro, hippie, hippies, How Weird Street Fair, life, NIMBY, NIMBYism, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Party Party, Steven Jones, Summer of Love | 3 Comments »

Oh joy!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2007

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Both my Guardian Weekly and Monthly arrived on Friday of last week. I’m in heaven. There’s nothing more civilized than spending a leisurely Sunday morning reading newspapers over breakfast.

I’ll get to the Weekly later. The Monthly has two articles of particular interest. In “Slogan’s Run,” Catherine Rapley talks with Ji Lee, a disgruntled New York ad man who does these great detournements of billboard and online advertising with cleverly phrased and placed word bubbles. His stuff can be seen here.

Then there’s Ed Vulliamy’s retrospective on the 1967 Summer of Love (“Peace, Love and Understanding”), done through interviews with survivors like Country Joe, Bob Weir, Paul Kantner, and Barry Melton. Generally a worthwhile piece, although I have a few criticisms.

The writing is done in a staccato style that is a bit jumpy, and makes the interviewees all sound the same. He clearly states that the Summer of Love was seen “to reach what was for some the revolution’s climax, for others its nadir.” Yet no one who soured on the hippie ideal is interviewed. What we are left with is at best a flashback, and at worst nostalgia.

Which brings me to my final criticism. For the most part, I’m positive about the hippie counterculture in particular, and about the 1960s in general. However, I just don’t buy the cliched reasons for the collapse of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury that started even before 1967, which Vulliamy repeats ad nauseam. It was the hordes of young people that flooded the Haight which the community wasn’t prepared to handle; it was hard drugs like speed and heroin that started to replace soft drugs like marijuana and LSD; it was the commercialization and exploitation of the hippie experience. To my mind, even all three of these reasons combined don’t entirely explain why the hippie counterculture went bad. Perhaps having a few disgruntled and dissenting voices could have helped shed new light on the subject.

The then-and-now photos of some of those interviewed are fun.

There’s also a horrific article about a ruthless Nigerian militia, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, and a nicely eclectic music section, among many other interesting features. I’m glad I subscribed.

Posted in 1967, Bubble Project, counterculture, Guardian Monthly, Guardian Weekly, Haight-Ashbury, hippie, hippies, Ji Lee, life, LSD, marijuana, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Nigeria, Peace Love and Understanding, Summer of Love | 1 Comment »