Local traditions and culture in San Francisco

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    Dashiell Hammett Place

    by atufft Updated Aug 31, 2014

    Among the eleven alleyways dedicated to local authors, originally an inspiration of Beat Generation and City Lights Bookstore co-founder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, is the seemingly insignificant one-way and narrow downhill block linking Pine and Bush Streets, also between Powell and Stockton streets. Not far away at 891 Post is an apartment referenced as that of Sam Spade, which Hammett himself lived in. But, it's also true that Hammett lived for a short while at what was formerly 20 Monroe Street apartment building. Hammett is of course arguably the most talented inventor of the Hard Boiled Detective, the clever back alley, trench coat wearing sleuth, which in fact is the basis for all modern detective series where a solitary hero is involved. Only Sherlock Holmes rivals Sam Spade for king of the detectives. Hammett's most famous novel is the Maltese Falcon.

    Dashiell Hammett Place in San Francisco
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    Jack Kerouac Alley

    by atufft Updated Aug 31, 2014

    On the Road author and Beat Generation Legend Jack Kerouac wrote his best works in San Francisco, and then stumbled died there of alcoholism. The small alley that connected a favorite bar of his to the famed City Lights Bookstore is named after him. The street was a one-way shortcut for garbage trucks cutting between Columbus and Grant Streets, according to Wikipedia authors, but co-founder of City Lights Bookstore, and fellow Beat Generation poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti inspired the idea o getting rid of the derelict nature of the street and remaking the alleyway into pedestrian thoroughfare. After repaving, the alley was dedicated to Kerouac in 2007. The walls of the alley are famous for poetic graffiti of sorts, and it is a good short cut from Chinatown to City Lights Bookstore.

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    SF Mime Troupe

    by atufft Written Aug 30, 2014

    Founded in 1959 by dancer and mime, R.G. Davis, San Francisco Mimi Troupe has evolved from a pantomime performance backed by music, to a politically motivated satire with singing and music. So, this is not pantomime, but satirical slapstick backed up by musical effects. The group became famous for bringing the anti-Vietnam War message to campuses all across the United States. Currently, the troupe schedules summer performances at Dolores Park or at the Peacock Meadow in Golden Gate Park. These are free to watch and very good for a sunny day.

    San Francisco Mime Troupe at Peacock Meadow, GGP SF Mime Troupe in Peacock Meadow, GGP
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    Watch the Fog Roll In

    by riorich55 Written Dec 5, 2012

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    My very first trip to San Francisco was back in 1985. I was a trainer and conducting a training class from Monday through Saturday. The classes were actually in a small hotel I was staying at by a marina on the Oakland side of the Bay, but most evenings I would head over to the BART station and head into San Francisco.

    On my last full day there I had a rental car and got a chance to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and see a few more of the areas that I couldn't walk to. On that drive across the Golden Gate Bridge was when I first saw the rolling fog that San Francisco is famous for. As I crossed the bridge the fog rolling over the small foothills on the other side looked like a boiling witches cauldron. To this day, more then 25 years later, I can still vividly recall that image.

    On our last trip back in 2010 we had the opportunity to stay on one of the hills in San Francisco using hotel points I had earned on business trips during the year. One morning I got up early just so I could walk around the city and take in some quiet moments before everyone else started their busy day.

    On this particular morning the fog was indeed rolling in and even though the photos don't show this fog off as well as being there in person hopefully it will give you some idea of my walk that morning.

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    Get a Shoe Shine

    by riorich55 Written Dec 5, 2012

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    For the most part San Francisco's weather is rather temperate year round. You will never get very hot summer days in the city itself as the Pacific ocean breezes cool everything off. Likewise because of the ocean you will not get any snowy days.

    Thus, after walking around this very walkable city you may decide to shine those shoes up a bit before heading out to one of the many fine dining establishments around town.

    But, if you see one of the shoe shine professionals taking a break on his throne during the day, as seen in picture #2, just let him catch his well deserved middle of the afternoon nap.

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    Anchor Steam Beer

    by Ewingjr98 Written Nov 25, 2012

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    Anchor Brewing Company was founded in San Francisco in 1896, though it traces it roots back to the Gold Rush. In 1896, German immigrants purchased the brewery and gave it the name it still uses today. The brewery burned in the earthquake of 1906, but was quickly rebuilt the following year. The brewery almost collapsed during the "dark ages" of American beer, when the mega breweries took over the beers landscape from the 1960s to the 1980s. The company was saved when purchased by Frederick Louis Maytag III, the great-grandson of Maytag Corporation founder, in 1965. By the 1980s Anchor Steam was a popular beer, and the flagship brand of a thriving company.

    Anchor has six standard beers:
    Anchor Steam: 4.9% abv
    Anchor Small: 3.3% abv
    Liberty Ale: 6% abv
    Anchor Porter: 5.6% abv
    Old Foghorn Barleywine: 8-10% abv
    Breckle's Brown: 6,0% abv

    According to the corporate website Anchor Steam Beer derives its name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. While the origin of the name remains shrouded in mystery, it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate. In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans.

    Anchor steam beer pours a beautiful, clear copper color, with just a bit of head. The body is surprisingly hearty, and the taste is rich and flavorful. An absolutely wonderful beer.

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    Free massage at SF School of Massage

    by sunshine9689 Written Aug 30, 2011

    My massage school has a free clinic. Students give free one hour massages.
    It runs on Mondays/Sundays (10am to 2pm) and Fridays (2pm to 6pm).

    I understand that some people may have reservations, like what if the quality isn`t there. Don`t.
    I have tried spa massages all over SF and some of them don`t even come close to what a student can do.

    Call to inquire about the dates

    Free part may change when the school gets its permit to accept payments. Right now it is absolutely free. ))

    P`S` The school is also conveniently located next to some tasty and cheap restaurants/cafes. :))

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    Small-Batch Artisanal Ice Cream

    by riorich55 Written Apr 9, 2011

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    Continuing our walk from the Mission District to the Castro District along 18th Street we saw a line of people on the other side of the street lined up for ice cream. We had already had a dessert not more then 10 minutes earlier, but when you're on vacation little rules like "only one dessert" are thrown out the window especially when you see something unique. So we crossed the street and venture over to Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop.

    Since it was Halloween Night and a night the San Francisco Giants were played in the World Series the streets in the area were jumping which could have been a reason for the line out of the shop. But after getting inside and having our taste of their homemade ice cream (soft serve) concoctions, we came to the conclusion that lines like this were probably very commonplace.

    The flavors change daily depending on what is fresh. You will always have the standards like vanilla and chocolate, but you never know what will show up on the menu until you go or call the day of. From their website it says that they have no more then 5 ingredients in each flavor.

    All the flavors are written on the glass partition in front of the ice cream. On Halloween they gave them delightful names such as: vampire vanilla, toasted coconut from the crypt (my choice that night), and coffee toffee with weird ritual roaster's coffee. In addition they are very environmentally friendly using cups and spoons that are biodegradable. If you get a chance stop in here on your visit.

    The Scary Server Sue Anxiously Awaiting Her Turn Scary Flavors of the Day
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    Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

    by mindcrime Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I’ve heard about this huge bluegrass festival that took place for 2 days in Golden Gate Park. And the best part of it? It was entirely free!!! From the other side this is bad too because more than 500,000 people invade the huge park! Plan a head which bands you want to listen though because there are several different stages and the festival is full of people so it’s not that easy to walk from one stage to the other. Although we had a printed map (they give it online as pdf file) we got lost at first between the weird (for us) names of the stages:Porch, Banjo, Arrow, Rooster, Star, Tower’s.

    Some blankets and sunblock are helpful throughout the day. Choose a stage and stay there enjoying the music and the mellow vibes around. The area was full of food & beverage kiosks (pic 4) but you can bring your own of course like most of the people do. I saw families having picnic, later the smell of pot filled the air, just in case it bothers you…

    We enjoyed many bands some famous, some other we never heard of. There were about 80 bands!! Emmylou Harris, Little Feat, Allison Moorer, Mavis Staples, Marianne Faithful (pic 2), Neko Case, Billy Joe Shaver, Steve Earle were some of them… Check my short video about it here

    After 16.00 it gets chilly but if a good jacket and an extra bottle of wine will help… The long lines for the WC will lead you sooner or later in the bushes. If you find a good alternative drop me a message. :)

    After the festival end, hordes of people tried to get into buses, it was impossible, we preferred to walk a few blocks north to find one. There were people waiting there too! At the end we decided to get into a bus that was going towards the Pacific! Good idea! We were relaxed, reached the ocean and then returned back comfortable and nice :)

    Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Marriane Faithful live people at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival hungry people at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festiva
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    RoboLoos

    by goodfish Updated May 14, 2010

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    Its official name is The Automated Public Convenience and they're essentially self-scrubbing toilets:
    • Push a button to enter
    • Do whatever it is that needs doing.
    • Stick your hands under the sensor for soap and water: wash
    • Exit

    The RoboLoo locks down for a 60-second clean/disinfection

    Just to make good and sure you don't overstay your welcome, the outside door opens automatically after 20 minutes. It's a polite potty though, and gives you a 2-minute warning. It also doesn't require any coin.

    There are a couple dozen of these scattered about and they scare the hell out of me.

    APC on Telegraph Hill

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    we leave things on the street

    by rkearns Written Oct 3, 2008

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    it may look as if the streets are dirty from time to time, but we leave clothes, furniture and even food on the streets because we know it will be gone within an hour. if we don't finish all of a meal, we'll leave that half sandwich on the top of a trashcan so the homeless people don't have to dig in the trash....or we just hand it to them. if we don't want our bedside table, we put it outside, and it gets picked up pretty quickly. sure beats having to throw it away.

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    Summer...not exactly

    by Mambino Written Jun 17, 2008

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    Mark Twain once said “The coldest winter I ever experienced was a summer in San Francisco.” A bit of an exaggeration, but it is chilly. When I lived in SF, we always used to joke with one another that you can spot a tourist in the summer if they are wearing shorts. If you are spending your time in the city, you should have a sweatshirt with you at all times. That foggy air has some bite to it, and it can roll in at any moment. So don’t be deceived by blue skies and sunshine – those moments are fleeting.

    That said, if you’re going to be in SF Sept or October, you should be okay – in fact, consider yourself a genius for timing your trip in the fall. Sept and October, as a rule, provide the most consistently warm days of the year in the city. Any other time, you’re rollin the dice.

    Keep in mind, I’m speaking about the city. If you are going to cross either bridge (Golden Gate or East Bay) the temperature tends to rise a good 10 degrees.

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    1906 Earthquake Survivors: St. Brigid Catholic

    by atufft Written Feb 28, 2008

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    San Francisco as a whole is not a very religious city; however, it does have a wealth of churches, many of them Catholic. During the 1970's through early 1990's many parish churches were closed for lack of attendance and funding to keep them open. In 1996 though, new Archbishop Levada reopened four churches for places of worship and one as a homeless shelter. 107 year old St. Brigid Catholic Church, located on the corner of Van Ness and Broadway, has stayed open longer than some others due to its function as a school as well as church. Nevertheless, the building is in need of serious renovation and seismic retrofit, a project for which there has been insufficient funding. The church got a boost when San Francisco declared it a historical landmark (#252) in 2005. The building was originally designed by Shea and Shea and reflects a Lombardi-Romanesque style. The granite used in building the church had been previously acquired and piled on the lot over a number of years by a forward thinking church father, during the change over from stone to asphalt style street pavement within the city. Thus, the constuction is remarkable for it's use of used materials. Though damaged during the 1906 earthquake and fire, the church was been improved and expanded until 1947 when a company in Dublin, Ireland manufactured and installed the present stained glass windows. See the link for interior shots. During my quick drive by, I noticed a terrific need to clean the stone exterior, but otherwise this church has some extraordinary stone carved details and thus is yet another marvelous example of church architecture in San Francisco.

    St. Brigid Catholic Church Detail of St. Brigid Catholic Church St. Brigid Catholic Church
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    The Legend of the Panhandle Pigeons

    by Karnubawax Updated Jan 31, 2008

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    There’s a bit of an urban legend surrounding the Panhandle – a one-block wide, ¾ of a mile long strip of park connected to the eastern boundary of Golden Gate Park near the Haight/Ashbury.

    The story begins back in 1992. There lived in San Francisco a crazy man named Michael Kagan, known to locals as 'the Pigeon Man,' who would feed the Panhandle's pigeons. "If you disturb my pigeons,” he’d often tell people, “I will kill you."

    Late one night, a young musician named Buck Naked (the singer of the popular local band “Buck Naked and the Bare Bottom Boys”) was walking his dog. The dog disturbed the pigeons, Mr. Naked and Mr. Kagan got into an altercation, and the “Pigeon Man” shot Buck – killing him. The "Pigeon Man" was immediately captured and given a permanent coop of his own.

    The urban legend is... since that time, the Panhandle is known by its total lack of pigeons. You will find pigeons in every park and on every street in San Francisco... EXCEPT the Panhandle! For some reason, they just don’t go in the park!

    Now, truth be known, I actually have seen pigeons in the Panhandle. But it is very rare to see them, and they only stay on the edges near the street. I have NEVER seen a pigeon in the middle of the park.

    And... according to some people ... sometimes... late at night... you can hear a voice calling “Here boy!” But, when you turn around, there will be no one there!

    Panhandle Pigeon

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    Halloween's the national holiday of San Francisco

    by GenuinelyCurious Written Dec 12, 2007

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    Every fall, ghoulies and goblins and 30-year-old "schoolgirls" with push-up bras haunt the City's streets in search of fun and frivolity

    For years, the Castro district held the best Halloween celebration in the City. The area, well-known as an enclave for the gay lifestyle also had an ornate and fabulous Hallowe'en celebration featuring drag queens and various scenes.

    All that changed on Halloween of 2006. Shots broke out and several people were wounded. In 2007, the City elders decreed that the Castro would not allow to close off several blocks and become the playground for adults that it had been for as long as I can remember... and so an era ends.

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