2019 Memorial Day

Posted on May 18, 2020


How do you know you are a writer? Because you have 101 drafts….The anniversary of my blog always gets me to clean out my folders a bit.

I got bagged by the store owner trying to capture this shot, sorry for the fuzz.

Over Memorial we went to visit our friends Lynda and Stephanie. Linda has an air BNB thing, and a car, so we stayed with her and let her tour guide us around while we hooked up with other old friends Jim Alvarez and Stephanie Schmidt. Lynda kept our days both full and relaxing. There is something about the density of SF that appeals to me. We took the train from the airport to Moraga, and every house was built upon the next for mile upon mile. Rather than finding this appalling, I’m intrigued by it, like a many-layered story. All old, densely populated cities do this to me.

First day was wine tasting with my friend Jim Alvarez in the Livermore Valley, a new region for us, and hit a killer Moroccan restaurant for dinner. It’s always nice to hit a new place. Jim also shared his beautiful gardens and Japanese art collection with us.

In no particular order but the order of memory…We spent a day wandering around the North End, one of my favorite things to do in the world, including stopping at one of my favorite bars for Antebellum inspired cocktails, Vesuvio, then City Light Books (which after 50 years may be closing due to Covid) an extensive jaunt through China Town, and a magical dinner at a tiny restaurant, Marconi’s, where our chef was our waiter and I had an elk ragu.  We went to the Marin headlands and got a unique view on the city. I took my first ever trip down Lombard St. I made my requisite visit to Toronado’s something I felt I really needed to do because I took Amber to the one in Seattle and it was a total disappointment. The original in SF was a biker bar that re-invented to serve 50 Belgians without changing one wit of the decor, including the carved tables and the fresh-from-a-Turkish-prison bathrooms. It was, I will hyperbolically add, the coolest bar in America. Now it’s 50 IPAs, the bar tender hands you an article explaining what an asshole he is, how proud of it they are, do not dare to ask for a taster or about any of the 50 beers and you will damn well tip. It was just us and a couple of day drunks and fuck that. Fortunately, the boutique sausage shop next door is still open, Mad Dog in the Fog across the street is still a soccer bar, and the Tic Toc club next door which once only sold sake now has 150 beers. We found this building with the Corporate Goddesses aligned along the top, which is some of the coolest public art I’ve ever seen. I actually broke off from the group to go to the building where the security guard let me in, answered my questions, and gave me literature on them.

We also hit Treasure Island with its mile-long flea market, which was a lot of fun, maybe even more so because of the 40 MPH wind gust and the boats in the bay. They have a half dozen decent wineries there, so that was kind of cool. I’m digging all of the little urban wine centers. Lynda took me on a fantastic tour of the Morinda appellation a few years back. We went out to Port Costa, until recently across the bay from the mothball fleet. I love this town and have always hit it when we were about the only people in the Warehouse Cafe. It used to be they would hand you a 400 beer beer list and a bucket of ice and  you could wander through this packed warehouse back to the old wooden walk in and fill it up. Apparently some yuppie ass fell, hit his head, and sued, so this iconic trip is also regulated to memory. Plus instead of sharing the town with a bunch of bikers now it’s a yuppie family place. Well at least on Memorial Day. Fortunately we arranged the day to miss the band, much to the annoyance of Lynda’s PM friend who had unsuccessfully tried to mend our peripatetic ways all day. I feel bad for her, but it was also great the Amber, Lynda, and Stephanie are great wanderers. Many times we would be blocks apart, and yet it all seemed to work out.

The little Theater of Dreams curiosity shop in Port Costa was open for the first time ever and I kind of dug that, but it also kind of removed some of the mystery behind it. There is a really nice looking restaurant there, but the wait was long and the menu looks like one of those culinary school masterpieces of people randomly arranging things together to shock and awe without really understanding food, so I wasn’t entirely heart broken and by then the simmering hostility between me and the woman trying to PM my vacation had begun to surface.

On the way to the airport we hit Oakland, a town I never thought I would say I wanted to spend more time in but between the Art Deco architecture and the brewing scene it’s pretty cool. W  All in all we packed the weekend and we’d be there now if it wasn’t for quarantine.



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