The Verb Hotel

I don’t know why I didn’t post about this sooner, but I’m getting to it now, so there. The other night, I was out with Pete in Boston looking for a change of pace; a different bar to go to. We ended up at Bar Louie, which was nice, but pretty dead. However, that is not the point of the story.

While we were walking around looking for a bar, we came across a place that neither of us had seen before. The place in question, The Verb hotel. It instantly caught our eyes, even in the dark, because of it’s striking structural and graphic design. I don’t know if it replaced another hotel or if it’s just a new build but either way, it’s cool.

poolview.jpg.1024x0Photo stolen from The Verb hotel’s website (sorry).

I love the late 50’s early 60’s rock n’ roll vibe I got from the exterior. I feel like it would be the perfect stop on a road-trip down Route 66. It’s a shame it’s in Boston simply because I have no reason to stay there. I mean I guess I could go for New Years or, if I wanted to use the pool (which I do), go for my birthday. Still kind of a waste of money, but nonetheless, something a little different.

Perhaps this weekend or sometime soon I could go there and just ask to take a tour. I love places that take you out of reality and make you feel like you’re in a different time or a different place. This seems like it would fit the bill.

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Larz Anderson Museum x Japanese Car Day

On Sunday I went to the Larz Anderson Museum with Pete because they were having Japanese Car Day. The event is basically a “Cars and Coffee” meet, only with a theme and prizes. Being that Pete has his 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS basically buttoned up, we decided to take a ride down and check it out.

JapanDayPanoramicPanoramic overview of the Japanese Car Show at the Larz Anderson Museum.

Upon our arrival we were told to park on the grass. Pete was excited about this because I guess at other events at the LA Museum, he’s had to park in the lot. In any case regardless of the fact that we got there pretty early, the field was pretty full upon our arrival.

LarzAndersonMuseumLarz Anderson Museum

The first thing I did upon parking was to tape flyers for my motorcycle on the front and back windshield of Pete’s car. That’s right people, after two years of very little progress with my 1972 Honda CL350 (cafe racer build), I’m throwing in the towel. I’d rather see it go to a good home and cut my losses rather than have it waste space in my garage.

Pete was talking to the girl next to us in the old Supra. Being that I didn’t want to wait around for him to finish, because who knows when that would be, I began to make my rounds. The field was littered with an array of old and new imports that you just don’t see everyday; 240 Zs, NSXs, RX-7s, 86s, and even a coveted R34 Nissan GT-R Skyline.

R34GT-RGT-R; I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an R34 in person before.

At the far side of the field there were a couple of cars that, though they seemed out of place, were probably two of the coolest ones there. The first was a Mitsubishi Delica. I had never heard of it before but it was basically a VW Eurovan, only with a higher suspension and four-wheel drive. The second (the one next to it) was a 1983 Toyota Mirage Pick-up truck. Apart from the fact that it was silver, it was essentially the Marty McFly truck from Back to the Future.

When I was talking to the owner, Kevin, about it, he told me he get’s that all the time (the fact that it reminds people of the BttF truck). I mentioned that it also reminded me of the Pizza Planet deliver truck from Toy Story. He said that only recently he had heard about that resemblance but admitted to having never seen the film.

MitsubishiDelicaThis Mitsubishi Delica was straight up imported from Japan; right hand drive and err-thang.

What I thought was cool about these cars was how eclectic they were. A breath of fresh air in a sea of predictability. These cars were exactly the sort of thing you’d never imagine to see at a meet like this. Pete and I had a discussion about this and about how with cars in general, older is just better. The cars are so archaic. There is so much less technology and the materials and objects you interact with have so much more personality. Because some of them were before our time, it is interesting to see how manufacturers were putting out vehicles at that time.

ToyotaMirageThis Toyota Mirage (aka The Marty McFly truck) was sick.

Now, if I’m at a car show and I see a modern Ferrari or something I’m so unimpressed by it. Even when I “met” a Bugatti Veyron at few years ago at the Greenwich Concourse, I was very unfaised by it becuase, though “hand crafted,” it feels mass produced. These older cars may have been mass produced as well but something about the sum of their parts gives them so much more character.

OldElectricCarThis 1910 Baker Electric was on display complete with charging station (in background).

In our walkings around, we came across the only other 2.5 RS in the show. Pete was pining over it as it was in near mint condition with only 30,000 miles on it and had a [$12,000] for sale sign on it. He kept saying how it was like a time capsule and could not get over how good of shape it was in. He eventually met up with the owner and so, know that this would lead to a several hour conversation, I made my way into the actual Larz Anderson Museum.

LarzAndersonHiWheelThere were two penny farthings on the wall and two more on the ground in the corner; how appropriate.

The museum itself is relatively small (for a museum) but has a cool collection of mostly older cars from the 1900s. The collection even included an old electric car. I knew that the electric car was not a novel idea, but it was crazy to see that even back then the automobile industry was thinking of alternative ways to power vehicles.

OldCarShowPostersOld car show posters.

However, the thing that stuck out to me was the wall that had three posters for Boston Car shows from the early 1900s. It was crazy because I never thought about the fact that even back then they were doing and thinking simialr things with cars. It made me feel cool to part of a something that has such a long and rich history.

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Comic #6

I’m sure this exact idea has been done before, I didn’t research it, but after reading God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, I was compelled to make this.

Comic#6

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More BBP

As I said in the original Boston Bike Party post, one of the dudes I met on the ride was Jesse. I saw him filming everything with his GoPro and asked if he was planning on making a video. He said that he was and told me he’d let me know when he posted it online. The following is that video.

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Leader x San Francisco

The whole time I was in San Francisco, I kept thinking, “If only I had my bike with me… I’d own this city.” It would have made getting around so much quicker. Sure the hills would have sucked (going up) but they would have been great to ride down. Regardless of all that, the thought of biking in SF kept making me think of this video.

The thing that stuck out to me was the part towards the end where, because he is riding fixed, he is standing on the frame and using his foot to brake the rear wheel. This looked as cool as it did dangerous. However, I couldn’t remember the name of the bike brand or what the video was called.

Finally, tonight, after Googling: fixed gear + san francisco + vimeo (I remembered that it was not a YouTube video) I was able to find it. So, the reason is here is four fold a) because it’s a cool video, b) because it’s topical (San Francisco and BBP) c) because it’s about biking, the forgotten [supposed] theme of this blog, and d) so that I would never again have to search for it.

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Boston Bike Party

I have been looking for something like this for years. I can’t believe -having lived here my whole life and being a cyclist my whole life- I had never attended a Boston Bike Party event. I had heard whispers of it’s existence but never knew when or where they met. It wasn’t until last month that I was randomly curious to know if Boston held a Halloween ride. I Googled just such an event and sure enough came across BBP. After e-mailing them, I got on the mailing list and found out about tonights ride as well as the upcoming Halloween ride (which I will for sure be attending).

BBP_RvsD-1014

I guess the gist of BBP is that they host rides the first Friday of every month (this month they’re doing two thanks to Halloween). The rides meet up at Copley Square at approximately 7:30 and there is always a different theme. This weeks theme was, as you can see, robots VS dinosaurs. It is not required to dress up for the event but it is encouraged. Being that this was my first event and I didn’t know that to expect, I didn’t dress up. However, if I had known what to expect I would have totally busted out my Jailbot costume.

ThomasDaftPunkThis dude named Daniel (I think that was his name) dressed as Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk. Don’t know why my flash didn’t go off.

Basically, like I said, everyone meets up at Copley Square where there is plenty of time to walk around and mingle before the ride starts. I walked around a bit and chatted with people that had interesting costumes. During this time I met with a lot of cool people. I was given a “spoke card” for the event which sadly fell out of my spokes during the ride.

BenderBender – one of the best costumes of the night.

There is one bike, the lead bike, that has a huge sound-system attached to it that blasts sweet music the entire time. Then, at I’m guessing around 8 (I don’t know because I didn’t look at my watch), they wrangle up the cattle to make an announcement about the ride. Then it was off to the streets.

BBP_CopleySquareAn idea of the size of the crowd at Copley. Sorry these pics are so dark and shitty.

The crew piled out in a large slow heard. The pace was very mild, which to me at first was annoying, but eventually I got used to it. It felt like you were in a lazy river of bikes. As you move through the streets of Boston, some of the organizers block off intersections so that the whole crew can get through regardless of the color of the traffic light. This is very necessary as from what I heard we were about 300 strong! I pretty much stayed towards the front of the pack, mainly so I could hear and dance to the music.

BBP_DowntownCrossing300 strong heading into Downtown Crossing.

The ride snaked through the streets and eventually ended up at Post Office Square. There, there was more dancing and people hanging out and socializing. We chilled for about 20 minutes before heading back out again. The ride continued and was met with good spirits everywhere we went. There were people taking pictures with their phones, others with their hands out for high-fives, and cars honking, not in annoyance (although some were definitely in announce) but in cheerful celebration.

BBP_PostOfficeSquareWe took a short intermission at Post Office Square.

There was just an overall mellow vibe. Everyone was happy, peaceful, and super respectful to one another. Sounds lame, but things are just better on a bike. It’s funny because one of the things I like best about biking is that it is a very individual past time. You can do it by yourself, go on adventures by yourself, and be alone with your thoughts by yourself. However, what made this ride so great was that you were in such a big group that you instantly felt the camaraderie between everyone involved.

BBP_FlatTopJohnnysThe ride ended at Flat Top Johnny’s.

The ride ended up at Flat Top Johnny’s in Cambridge; there I got a beer and a hot dog. However, before that there was a sweet dance party -specifically to Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger- during which I got props for my dancing. I talked to a few dudes (Jessie and Carlos) who were really cool. We talked about how awesome this event is and just vibed over the same shit I’ve been talking about this whole time.

After finishing my food I looked around for more of the people I’d met at Copley but I couldn’t find them. Unfortunately I now forget most of their names and I failed to get their contact information. However, I’m sure I’ll see most, if not all of them next time. The night ended up being super mellow and super rad. The routes and final destination changes every time so I look forward to making this part of my monthly routine.

PS my apologies to Anjimile. I was planning on going to your show at PA’s Lounge but the ride lasted much longer than I expected. I’ll catch you at the next one.

PPS going to this BBP gave me ideas for the next BBP: 1) I could totally wear my motorcycle helmet to one of these events as they are pretty silly anyway. 2) I could hand out Hi Wheel Scene business cards to promote this site OR see if they will endorse me. 3) I wonder if I could/should suggest a naked bike ride event/theme? It couldn’t hurt. I’ve always wanted to do one but never knew who to contact to host one. Perhaps this is the route I could take.

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The Orwells

Last night I got to see The Orwells at the Brighton Music Hall. I had never even heard of them until that day, but when a friend invited me to go, I couldn’t pass it up. Apart from basically not knowing any of the songs (that’s actually not true; towards th beginning of their set they did a cover of Build Me Up Butter Cup), the show was great. Their lead singer came out wearing a balaclava and an Eminem t-shirt just to give you an idea of the type of person we’re dealing with.

TheOrwellsThe best I could do with my sweaty phone.

I started off at the left side of the crowd fairly close to the front but as the night went on I was pushed and pulled towards the center. I was in the thick of the mosh pit which was really cool. The only negative was how hot and sweaty and gross I got. The lead singer crowd surfed several times throughout the show. I actually had to help support his legs and his back in order to get him back on stage. A few other people surfed as well. It was a pretty rough show but that’s what made it fun.

The lead singer ended the night by puking all over the stage.

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San Francisco – Day 5

Tuesday – 9/30

I started my morning by taking a bus to Golden Gate Park and walking straight to the de Young Museum. I had asked Shaun when we were in San Jose, if I could only go to one museum, what museum should I go to. He said that though he’d never been, he’d heard good things about the de Young Museum. Additionally, after he told me this, I began to notice signs for the Modernism exhibit and thus my mind was made up. The first thing I did after getting my ticket (which was $2 off because I took a bus there) and checking my backpack at coat check was head straight to the Modernism Exhibit.

FrankStella_ChodorowIIChodorow II by Frank Stella

Once I was given the green light, I began snapping away at all the pieces I thought were interesting. Modernism can be a very hit or miss artform in that you look at some things and thing, “I could have done that.” However, that’s not the point. The point is that you didn’t think to do it and they did. Additionally there is a lot of skill involved in composting what may appear to be a very minimalist piece. Lastly, there may be deeper artistic meaning than what is immediately apparent by the image in front of you.

EricFischl_Siagon,MinnesotaSaigon, Minnesota by Eric Fischl

There were several things that stood out to me. 1) there was an artist who was born in Malden, the next town over from me, who had several pieces in the exhibit. 2) There were a couple Lichtenstein pieces, there that made me happy because a) I don’t know if I’ve ever seen his work in person before and b) because he is one of my favorite artists. The third thing that impressed me about most of the artwork is how big they were. Some of the canvases were… well… very big. Lastly, I loved that, for a lot of the pieces you were allowed to get as close as you wanted to without touching them. This meant examining the finer details that went into actually forming the art, rather than just examining it from afar as a whole.

RoyLichtenstein_PaintingWithStatueOfLibertyPainting with Statue of Liberty by Roy Lichtenstein

After finishing the exhibit I tried to make it a point to hit the entire rest of the museum. [Gay Essay exhibit and other stuff that was cool]. I didn’t speed through it per se, but I didn’t take the time to read about and fully appreciate every piece. I gazed at the ones that interested me and breezed over the ones that didn’t. Luckily, the museum isn’t that big and I was able to get through it in about two and a half hours.

StrawberryHillSkyline from Strawberry Hill at Golden Gate Park.

Once I was finished at the museum I explored a little bit of Golden Gate Park. The park is huge so I wasn’t going to be able to get to it all in one day. However, I was able to see Stow Lake and I made it a point to climb to the top of Strawberry Hill. The top of the hill was cool because it was quiet and peaceful and through the trees you got some good views of the city.

DiamondSypplyCoNeon sign at the Diamond Supply Co. on Haight street.

Once I had had my fill of nature, I walked back to a bus that took me to Haight street. Since my day was fairly unplanned and it was my last day, I decided to slowly meander through the shops. I hadn’t really done any shopping the entire trip so I thought that this was the perfect time. I went into Diamond Supply Co., not that I skate anymore or need anything, but it looked cool in there and I wanted to check it out. I also went back into the Burton store and talked with some of the employees who almost sold me a Custom.

BitchesBrewSkateDecksBitches Brew skate decks at FTC on Haight street.

I then went next door to FTC, which was zoo-ed the last time I was there because of the skate competition. The coolest redeeming factor was the painting of the Bitches Brew artwork featured above. Luckily, after that I was hungry because it allowed me to go to Street Taco (Mexican street food). I had seen this place the last time I was in the Haight but I didn’t stop in because I had recently eaten. The food there was really good, exactly how I expected it to be. So far, for my money, the best taco’s are in California.

After eating I continued all the way down to the end of Haight street only to find I was back at Golden Gate Park. Because the park is so big, I was in a completely different park of it. I waded through the hippies and the acrid pot smoke, and enjoyed the quiet, the green, and the sunlight. I somehow ended up at an enclosed Merry-Go-Round where I decided to sit outside in the shade and re-assess what I was going to do with the rest of my day.

I decided to go back up Haight street to see the rest of the shops I’d missed before heading back downtown. The first shop I went into was Amoeba Music. I’d been to the one in LA and this one was no different. It was huge and hugely overwhelming, so I pretty much just aimlessly strolled around before leaving. While walking down the street, I kept getting looks from strangers that would nod or say hi to me. Eventually, one of them just straight up said, “Need some bud?” “I’m all set,” I replied, and kept on walking. I don’t know if it was the beanie combined with the tie-dye shirt I was wearing or it they would have asked me regardless, but either way it was weird.

Super7storefrontSuper 7 storefront

The last thing I did before leaving the Haight was to go back in to Super 7. I was determined to buy something. In spite of the store not being that big, I managed to find myself wandering around it for a very long time. As cool as everything was, I didn’t need any of it. The t-shirts were great but I’d never wear them. The action figures were cool but they’d just take up more space and collect more dust. The posters were cool but I had nowhere to put them. The books were unique but I wouldn’t appreciate them.

Super7interiorSuper 7 interior

The only thing I could have bought that I would have used were the button up shirts or the pullover hoodless sweatshirts. There were only two negatives: they didn’t have any smalls or extra small, and they cost $95 and $85 respectivly. I wouldn’t have really had a problem paying that, it was more that I wasn’t going to spend that much money on something that didn’t fit me perfectly and that I didn’t love (because it didn’t fit me well).

After leaving empty handed, I took the bus to Market street where I walked to Benny Gold. I had heard of BG when he did a colloboration with The Hundreds. I had remebered about the store’s exstance while in the Haight and figured I might as well hit it up while I was in the city. The store seemed to be located in a random part of town; like in an  area where you wouldn’t go or wouldn’t expect a store like this to be.

BennyGoldBenny Gold

Unfortunately, I basically did what I always do in “boutique” stores like this, walked around and looked at the stuff for a few minutes having no intention of buying anything before getting bored and leaving. I felt bad leading the store on like that, but I really just wanted to go to say I went. Once again empty handed, I made my way back to Market street where I took the F streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was basically just wasting time at this point but I wanted to get some clam chowder at the Chowder Hut. It came in a bread bowl which made it more worth it.

The only crappy part about the experience was that I saw a homeless guy picking food out of the trash barrel I was sitting near. He literally grabbed a drink out of the bin, took a sip, and threw it away again. As I mentioned in the day 2 post, the homelessness problem there is huge and very in your face.

Trying to turn a blind eye to all that, I packed up my food and took the Cable Car back downtown for the last time. I then walked to Smuggler’s Cove where I tried there Chi Chi. I don’t know if it was the bartender or if the drink would have tasted this way anyway, but it was too strong for my liking. I only drank a third of before giving up and walking back to hotel. There I got everything ready for my departure then next morning. All in all it was a solid day and a really worthwhile trip.

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San Francisco – Day 4

Monday 9/29

I started my day by taking the F streetcar towards the Embarcadero. My initial plan was to get off there, but while I was riding, I noticed what looked like freeway on or off-ramps right in the middle of the city. I always imagine highways to be located far away from a city so it was weird to see highway-like structured going right between buildings. I got off at the stop before the Embarcadero and began some random wandering.

Rather than use my phone, I decided to just use my eyes to find where I wanted to go. This lead to a couple hours stumbling around the SOMA, Financial district, and area under the Bay Bridge. This area intrigued to me for another reason as well. A couple years ago, DC shoes and Ken Block posted a video called Gymkhana 5. This 5th installment in the Gymkhana series features Block taking over San Francisco with his stunt driving skills.

I  had re-watched this video before coming out to SF and there was one location (1:33 to 1:54 into the video) that particularly interested me. This off-ramp from the Bay Bridge seemed to go right into the heart of the financial district. After a long while of roaming around, I finally found the off-ramp in question.

Gymkhana5Site of Ken Block’s first big drift into the city in Gymkhana 5… I think.

These are the sort of things that most other tourists probably don’t care about but area exactly the types of things I like doing. I’ve found more often than not that my “random wanderings” have been fruitful. Sometimes not having a plan is the best plan you can have.

Sidenote: I had noticed this since day one, but every so often you’ll be walking down the street and there will be these small cluster of swarms of flies. At first I thought it was an isolated incident, like I was near trash or something, but then it happened several other times scattered around the city. Not really a big deal per se, it was just weird.

After getting my fill of the financial district I made my way out to the Embarcadero (and passed Mozilla Firefox HQ along the way) where I walked South to get a few pictures of AT&T Park. I didn’t look too far away, and it really wasn’t that bad of a walk, but when you’ve been on you’re feet all day every day for the past three days, and had just started your morning with a two hour (fairly useless in the conventional sense) around the financial district, this walk was a killer. I shold have just been “that guy” and hopped on the MUNI light rail at Embarcadero and gotten off one or two stops later at AT&T Park… but I didn’t.

AT&T_ParkShitty picture of AT&T Park.

After getting a few pics of the park, I contined Westward deeper into the area South of Market street. It is seemingly nowhere a tourist would go as it is mostly just businesses, but I had a mission. I took the #10 bus from 3rd and Townsend to 7th and Townsend. There I walked up one block to Brannan where I knew a particular nerdy home base to be. I began to wander around the intersection of 7th and Brannon. I looked up and down for 790 Brannan, but it didn’t seem to be in the area marked on Google maps. Then, I did things the analogue way and used my eyes. Within seconds I spotted 790, across the street.

The thing that was messing with me was that the building said Oscar’s Photo Lab. I walked over anyway and saw that there was a main door and a second door. I did remember Google telling me that this company was located on the second floor. The second door had a sticker with the logo of the company I was searching for. I was there, but what should I do? I checked the handle and to my surprise, it was unlocked. I opened the door and stepped inside. I realized just walking up the stairs and into the office might not make a good impression, so I stepped back out. Then, I did the most obvious thing possible, the thing I should have done from the beginning and rang the doorbell. Low and behold, moments later I was being greeted at the door by none other than Will Smith. Not that one, but this one…

MeAndWillatTestedMe with Will at the Tested studio.

I had made it to the office/studio of Tested dot com, the beloved YouTube channel and website that I follow. Will asked who I was and when I told him I was just a fan of the show he graciously told me to come right up. He gave me a tour of the studio. Not hard, as it is basically only two rooms, but still it was super cool. He also introduce me to the camera guy (sorry I don’t know your name) and Norm.

MeAndNormAtTestedMe with Norm at the Tested studio.

Being that I had come all that way, I couldn’t leave without asking if there were any assistant positions open at Tested. I was basically given a “maybe.” Apparently they’ve been wanted to hire someone to help out but the higher ups have not let them. However, Will told me to periodically check the site as they would post any jobs on there.

After my very successful visit I was in a super good mood. I began wandering the surrounding area aimless as I didn’t have a plan as to where to go next. I decided I needed to head North, towards the more city part of the city, and that I needed to get food. I don’t really remember how this happened but eventually I found a cool looking burger joint and stopped in.

BellyBurgerBelly Burgers

The place looked really hip with subway tiles on the walls and really cool tables and seats. I ordered a pork belly burger -delicious- and took my time to figure out where and what I wanted to do next. My plan brought me to the Van Ness MUNI light rail station where I took the N train to the Haight Ashbury district.

I had only glanced at the Google map walking directions from the station to the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, so naturally I got lost. However, I soon busted out my phone and re-routed myself in the right direction. As it so happened Grateful Dead house

GreatfulDeadHouseThe Greatful Dead house.

After getting a few pictures of the Dead House, it was only a short walk to the intersection of Haight/Ashbury. Of the two, Haight street is really where it’s at. It reminded me of Newbury St in Boston or SOHO in New York. There were tons of cool stores like: Kid Robot, Diamond, BurtonLoved to Death, Super 7, and Amoeba Music.

HaightAshburyHaight/Ashbury; obligatory shot of the street signs.

In this area of the city, the hippie movement is still very much alive. It was hard to tell if the kids there were legitimately in to the “movement” and down with “the cause” or if they were just dressed that way because they felt that the should be hippies because they live in the hippie capitol of the world. Either way it was cool to see and helped me feel like I had walked into a different moment in time.

San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. -Hunter S. Thompson

As I made my way down Haight street I found a Burton store. Being a snowboarder, naturally I walked in. There had been a big crowd of people out front and when I entered, I asked the employees what the commotion was all about. Apparently the place next door, FTC, was holding a skate competition on the mini-ramp behind their building. I walked to the back of the Burton store and could see it going on out their window.

FTC_mini-rampFTC mini-ramp as seen from the back window of the Burton store.

I then continued to make my way down Haight. There was a lot of cool graffiti/street art in the area and overall it was just a really nice and vibe-ey place to be. Then, just as had happened after I was done with Alcatraz, I got a feeling that I should find another iconic SF location, this time from a show. After a quick Googling I was on my way to Alamo Park for a view of the Painted Ladies. The Painted Ladies are a series of house on Steiner street that are featured at the end of the intro to Full House.

PaintedLadiesPainted Ladies from the opening scene of Full House.

After spending a bit of time at the park I took the #24 bus Northbound from Hayes and Divisadero to Divisadero and Bush, to the Full House house. This was the house they used to get the exterior shots for the show. Upon my arrival it was instantly apparent that I was not the only TV nerd, as there were two other groups of people taking pictures. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live there. If they ever have to fight through people just to get to their house. If the property is more expensive because it’s “famous” or if it costs just as much as the other houses in Pacific Heights.

FullHouse_houseThe “house” from Full House.

After a few quick pics I walked to the #22 bus and rode it North from Bush and Fillmore all the way to Marina blvd. I started making my way towards the Golden Gate Bridge but soon gave up. It was one of those things where though it looked close, it was still fairly far away. A recent Googling told me that it was 2.1 miles from where I stopped to take a break. This may not sound that bad, but on super tired feet and legs, you might as well have been asking me to walk back to Boston. Plus, it’s actually more like 4.2 miles because you gotta figure you have to walk all the way back. I was not in the mood for an 80 minute excursion to a place I was merely going to look at and have at least been to before. I then climbed a small tree before walking back to the #22 bus and taking all the way South to Market street.

Sidenote: everywhere you went there were these 3-wheeled Go Cars. They were, I guess a cheap quirky alternative to renting a real car, but still, it was weird.

I then took the N MUNI light rail to the Montgomery station and began to walk down Market street. It was dinner time and I was hungry. To my pleasant surprise I found a place called Bun Mee that looked cool and stopped in. I had seen another one at a different location earlier in the trip but had already eaten at that time and so I just kept walking. However, I was really glad that I did go because the food was great.

BunMeeBun Mee

Bun Mee is a Vietnamese sandwich shop and the selection is really different from most typical sandwich shops. They also had this milky/creamy tea that came in an orange can that was delicious. On top of having great food, the shop itself is really well designed. Everything from their scooter logo, to the raw wood and metal industrial decor, to the Shepard Fairey* art on the wall helped it to feel hip and comfortable inside. While eating there, I came to the realization that I can take my time and relax; I don’t have to be going all the time. It may be obvious to most people, but it wasn’t to me.

As I was leaving I got a text from my sister that said, “Go anywhere cool today?” Rather than just text her back, I decided to call and we ended up talking for about an hour as I walked through downtown SF, eventually making my way to Union Square where I spent most of the conversation sitting on a bench.

After we were done I took the F streetcar to Haight where I walked to Smuggler’s Cove Tiki bar. SC was another one of the bars featured on the SF episode of Best Bars in America. After looking at the menu, talking with the bartender and explaining my distaste for hard alcohol, I settled on a Hawaiian Sunrise cocktail.

HawiianSunriseHawaiian Sunrise

The drink was fruity and decilious and just as was the case with the Chi Chi at The Tonga Room, I could not taste the booze. Again, either he put very little in there OR he is just very good at what he does. After that I had a speciality chocolatey-ish beer which is apparently brewed only for them. It too was very good.

After my drinks I made my way back to the hostel where I had two new roommates. One was from Australia and the other was from New Zealand. I got along with them right away. Apparently they work for some camp and spend part of their time in Australia and part of their time in the Berkshires. I wish I had gotten their contact info because I would love to work/live in Australia. I gave them my card but  they have yet to send me an email, and I don’t really expect them to. I should have been more adamant. Guys, if you read this, please send me an e-mail. I’d love to work at that summer camp with you in Australia.

*I wasn’t sure if it was really his stuff, like if he was actually involved with the store, or if  the art was done by someone who was ripping him off. Either way it looked cool.

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San Francisco – Day 3

Sunday 9/28

I woke up early-ish because I knew I had to be at Fisherman’s Wharf by 10:30 for my 11am ferry to”The Rock.” The first thing I did was to buy a 3-day pass for the MUNI. For $23 I could ride the bus, the Metro (light rail), the street car, and the cable cars on and off with no limits; solid deal. I couldn’t remember how long it took via the cable car to get from Powell street (downtown) to Mason Street near Fisherman’s Wharf. So, being the punctual person that I am, I arrived at Powell by 9am. I wasn’t able to fit on the first cable car that came by but I was able to get on the second. The cool thing was that it was pretty full so I had to ride on the “outside,” the epitome of the San Francisco cable car experience.

As I expected, I arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf much earlier than I needed to. So, I took the time to walk around and explore the more Western part of the wharf. I made my way down to the Hyde street cable car station, just to see where it was, and by the time I got there it was time for me to make my way to Pier 33.

SF_SkylineSkyline from the ferry.

The boat ride to Alcatraz was really cool. There were nice views of the skyline and the Bay Bridge as you left the pier and excellent views of Alcatraz as you approached the island.

AlcatrazAlcatraz from the ferry.

The second I got off the ferry I was like a kid at Disney World, I literally could not stop grinning. Again, thanks to my many hours of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 (as well as having seen the 1996 movie The Rock several times), I had intimate knowledge of the prison’s layout. I was impressed at how accurate the game was. I almost expected Bam to come out from behind a rock and give me the shopping cart challenge.

SwitchbacksSwitchbacks

I continued to make my way up the switchbacks, stopping every two seconds for pictures and going into various buildings along the way. One cool thing was that while I was there, there was an art exhibit going on. I didn’t really care to much for the art itself, but what was cool about it was that it was being shown in buildings that aren’t typically open to the public.

After checking out some of the art, the lighthouse, and the Warden’s house, I made my way to the Cellhouse. This is where criminals like Alphonse “Al” Capone spent some quality time.

BroadwayAlctrz“Broadway”

Once in this main building guests could get an audio tour of the prison. I chose not to do this. Not that I didn’t care about all the specific things that happened and where they took place, I was just enjoying going wherever, whenever I wanted to. Eventually I found what I was looking for, an entire row of open jail cells that you could actually sit in.  I purposely wore my black and white stripped shirt in the hopes I would get the opportunity to take a picture in one of the cells. I found a woman who didn’t seem to be busy and asked if she wouldn’t mind taking my picture. She was clearly a photographer because when I got my phone back there were several photos on it taken from various and “artsy” angles.

PrisonerMe in a cell.

After escaping from my cell I made my way back outside. I went down and around the South side of the island and up a long flight of stairs to the eeriest part of the prison… the recreation yard. For one, as I hoped would be the case, there was no one there. Literally I think it was me and two other girls. But for another, all that was there was a dirt field where the prisoners could play baseball.

RecreationYardBaseball field in the Recreation Yard.

I could go on and keep talking about every little thing that I did and post every single picture I took, but that would take forever, and frankly we don’t have the time. After exploring and taking pictures for about two and a half hours I caught the 1:25 ferry back to San Francisco. At that point I had worked up a pretty big appetite and I knew exactly where I was gonna go for lunch.

I hopped on the streetcar and took it Westbound to the last stop. I then took a short walk to the promised land… In And Out Burger. It was a zoo, as I expected it would be. However, the line moved fast and soon I was ordering a cheeseburger, animal style, with fries and a chocolate shake. While I was waiting, I kept eyeing the paper hats the employees had on. I was planning on trying to ask for one when I was called to get my order but was thwarted (in the best way possible) by a “mind reading” employee who asked while walking by me, “Want a hat?” and handed one to me.

InAndOutCheeseburger – animal style

Eventually my order was called but it was so busy that I had to sit with an elderly Asian woman. I didn’t mind but I felt weird asking. Oh well, it worked out fine. Upon leaving I found that there were plenty of free table outside; again, oh well. I walked over to the Hyde street cable car that I was planning to take to the top of Lombard street, only to find that it was closed. This forced me to walk up Hyde, which sucked on the one hand, because it was so steep, but was cool on the other hand because I got to take pictures like this…

HydeStreetHyde Street looking down at San Francisco Bay.

Eventually I got to the top where I was met with a mass of people all with the same idea as me. I hate that I am a quintessential tourist, but who cares, I like doing touristy things sometimes. I spent a good amount of time taking pictures of, walking down, taking more pictures of, and walking back up the “Crookedest Street.”

LombardStreetLombard street

Somewhere during this time, because I had The Rock on my mind, I got the idea that I wanted to visit another shooting location from the movie. The scene/location I had in mind was the area where Sean Connery meets up with his daughter. I didn’t know what it was called but a quick Google search led me to the shooting locations of the movie. The location in question, The Palace of Fine Arts.

PalaceOfFineArtsPalace of Fine Arts

I then made my way to the #30 bus and took it to the last stop which just so happens to be a few blocks away from the “palace.” Upon my arrival I was blown away by how big and how impressive the columns and structures are. I slowly made my way around the park area just admiring how cool everything was. After maybe 15 to 20 minutes of admiration, I had another realization. The day before I had Googled Industrial Light and Magic (the visual effects company that did all the special effects for Star Wars as well as countless other famous blockbusters) and confirmed my thought that it was in fact located in San Francisco!

This lead to me frantically re-Goggling ILM to find to my pleasant surprise that the PFA (where I was) is essentially located  accross the street from LucasFilm and ILM. I then made my way across the street to the park where I assumed these two icons to be located. As I walked around the park in front of these big, nondescript buildings, I wondered if I was in the right place. I walked around these buildings in search of something that said ILM or LucasFilm, but found nothing. The lack of fanboys as well as the lack of seemingly any security prescense really made me begin to doubt myself.

After walking around the far side of the facility and then back to the park out front, I grabbed a seat on a stone wall at the opposite end. My feet were miserably tired and I was ready to give up, but something told me to give it one more chance. “Use your iPhone Kyle,” I heard a strange ghostly voice in my head say. The voice sounded an awful lot like Alec Guinness, so I listened to it. I looked at Google maps one more time and noticed something I hadn’t before.

Suddenly my feet felt like they could run a marathon. I got up and quickly made my way toward the back of the complex. When I got back there, there was a security booth at the entrance to the parking lot. “Look like you belong, look like you belong,” I chanted to myself. Then, in the distance, standing atop a stone pedestal was the master himself… Yoda.

YodaFountainYoda fountain

I had found the Yoda fountain, the trademark of this iconic building complex. There was another fanboy, an older man with his wife, taking pictures of the fountain. We chatted for a bit and I asked if he would take a few pictures of me in front of it. He obliged without hesitation. Afterwards I took a few moments to appreciate how far I’d come to be there, before heading back to the MUNI bus stop.

I took the bus downtown to Columbus street. I got off there as I’d seen the street my first day in SF but hadn’t gotten a chance to explore it. It seemed like a cool street filled with shops and restaurants. As I made my way down Columbus I walked past Washington Square Park. Eventually, out of nowhere came yet another pleasant surprise. A little backstory is that part of my goal while in SF was to visit the bars featured in the show Best Bars In America. I was able to find one online before I left (which I will mention in the Day 4 post), but the other was very illusive and the BBA website was useless.

So I’m walking down Columbus and I look up and though I didn’t remember the name I knew I was at the right place. The outside is unmistakable and exactly how I remembered it from the show. Regardless of the fact that it wasn’t that late, I had to go in and get a beer. Entering the bar helped to re-affirm that I was in the right place; here were plaques on the wall that I recognized. But the clincher was when I saw the thing that said “est. 1948″ because I remembered thinking that the bar was a year younger than my Mom.

VesuvioVesuvio – featured on the show Best Bars in America.

After enjoying a drink, as well as eve’s dropping on the conversation next to me, I made my way over to the California cable car line. I literally had no need to ride it, but a) I had the time and b) I wanted to be able to say I rode every line I possibly could. This time, not only was I haning on, but I was right at the front of the car and got a few solid vids of the ride. Upon disembarking however, I was sort of in the middle of nowhere and it was getting dark and chilly. I took a bus down to Market street and then, after a bit of a MUNI mix up, took the BART to 24th and Mission where I got off and walked to The Royal Cuckoo, a bar that had been recommended to me by my sister’s boss.

The bar, though cool-ish was sub-par. Mostly because I was tired -and the bar was a long walk from the subway- and hungry -and the bar didn’t serve food. After half a beer, I left. I made my way back to the hostel where I asked the front desk if there was a fast food joint or a pizza joint nearby. The woman informed me that there was a pizza joint a block up Larkin. I grabbed a couple slices of Hawaiian, took it back to the hostel, ate a slice, planned my next day and organized my shit, then went to bed.

PS this is my 500th blog post!

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