Eight Lounge Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

1151 Folsom ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 431-1151

Saturday 31 January 2009

Tentatively: whenever they open Saturday 17 May 2008

Prologue:  Look, I’ve been trying to get the lowdown on this place all week.  I’ve sent 2 e-mails.  I’m calling them Friday night to see what the deal is on Saturday.  I may need to actually swing by and get the details.  There’s something called “Mandonna” which I think is either a Madonna drag show — which would be fabulous — or a few hours of nothing but Madonna songs — which would also not suck.  I just need to find out when it starts and if there’s a cover, so I can let you know.  Check back on Saturday (afternoon, please, I’m going to need to sleep in after singlehandely saving the Sazerac, I’m sure you understand).

I was there, I swear.  Totally according to plan.  And the — get this — the doorman talked me out of it.  He said there was a $12.00 cover that there was no way around, and that if I came back the next weekend, I could get in for free and he would buy me my first drink.  Just then, I got word that “The Wizard of Oz” was playing in Dolores Park, from a guy offering to take me there on a motorcycle.  Honestly, can you blame me for postponing the Official Visit to Eight Lounge under those kind of irresistible circumstances?

Third time’s a charm, and this time, nothing is going to stop me.  (Stop smirking!)

Afterword: It all started when I got an e-mail from Big Easy, inquiring as to the status of this project.  I admitted to having gotten derailed by an unimpressive stretch of the alphabet, and resolved to rectify the situation in short order.   In a post titled “E = Enough Already”, I — somewhat unenthusiastically — alerted anyone interested to “save the date”:

As in: enough procrastinating on this project.

To be fair, E is a lousy letter for Bars in The Book.  So I’m just going to get it over with on Saturday 31 January 2009.

More details to follow, but anyone who knows how this ridiculous blog works will be able to ascertain pretty well that getting the E’s over with at last shows little promise in the actual merriment department.  But The Hostess knew this fool’s errand wasn’t going to be all fun and games when she started, and so the prospect of an unenchanting evening is no reason to quit now.

Worst case scenario: I drink 3 shots of tequila in 3 Bars by myself.  Worse Worst case scenario: I drink 2 shots of tequila in 2 Bars by myself and am murdered by a drunken bunch of migrant workers when I walk in the door of the third Bar.  (Which will really suck, because if I don’t get to drink there, it won’t even count as an Official Visit.)

I’m not going to beg you to come (unless you are a burly, gay Mexican who wants to make some extra cash being my bodyguard/driver/photographer), but think how sad (guilty) you’ll feel when you hear about my grisly demise through the grapevine if you don’t.

By the next day, I had all the dealt with the details, and the schedule for that Saturday’s “Spree Through the E’s” was posted under “E is for Expectations”:

One thing The Hostess has learned about expectations — from going to the first 39 Bars in The Book (and from having a chauffeur) — is that the lower one’s expectations are, the better are one’s expectations of being pleasantly surprised. (If you think this sounds like some kind of Zen Buddhist koan mumbo-jumbo, then you’re right. Remember, this year’s motto is “More Divine in ’09”.)

With this in mind, on 31 Saturday January 2009, Saturday’s “Spree Through the E’s” (as it will henceforth be ever-known) will proceed as follows:

9:30pm: Eight Lounge — I am pleased to report that I have (semi-)secured a suitable escort to this establishment (Rocks before Cocks” — whew!) There is some sort of live music show starting at either 10:00 (according to the performer’s web site) or 10:30 (according to the club’s web site), but I don’t really care, because, while I don’t mind paying the nominal $5 cover for my Elegant Escort and I, it would truly surprise me if I were to remain here for more than an hour. I will be sipping a shot of tequila, whilst I survey the premises for your edification, before proceeding to…

Now, I had reason to believe that Big Easy and Dottie P. were going to join me at some point in the proceedings.  (I wasn’t even ruling out an appearance of the famously reclusive Dr. Black.)  And I had the lean and luscious Kevin Banks to get me in and out of Eight. But you cannot imagine my surprise when, as Kevin Banks and I set out to stroll down the block, we had a positive passel of new Barflies with us.  Somehow, while waiting for the appointed hour, the redoubtable Jessica Rabbit had enlisted the lovely Holly-Anne, the best-Barfly-named-to-date Hooker Bait, and the seriously Salawesome to eagerly experience the Spree Through the E’s with Kevin Banks and I…

I”m not sure what Big Easy thought when he saw me saunter into Eight surrounded by such a crowd, but I will not soon forget the thrill I got when he whispered “Grenadine” in my ear.  I knew then and there that E was going to be for Epic, and that the great social experiment that is Bars By The Book was not going to disappoint.

As for Eight…it’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be. There’s three distinct spaces on the ground floor (rooftop patio was not open for our inspection, alas).  Front bar (with hooks), middle space (with makeshift stage and a lot of mirrors), and back bar (with a couple of booths and those crazy laser-projected dots on the ceiling).  It’s very dark, on account of there being no windows and the entire premises being painted black. They have $9.00 tequila and $4.00 tequila (of which The Hostess recommends the former).  Big Easy had the following issue with his $9.00 margarita:

Eight: The bartender made my margarita with Rose’s Lime Juice – WTF? The smoking patio pretty much made up for it, though – a narrow passageway between two buildings, with stylized palm trees!

…and he is completely correct about the smoking patio, which is, as far as The Hostess is concerned, Eight’s best feature. (Although, crammed full of smokers, it could definitely totally suck).

Then again, I have not experienced the rooftop garden at Eight, which, for all I know, could really redeem the place. There are, however, more than one other rooftops in the immediate vicinity, should you find yourself in the environs with a rooftop jones. But if you are gay and Asian, by all means give Eight a chance.

My own favorite part about Eight was after we left and Holly-Anne showed her true colors as a fantastic photographer.  She realized that if we clambered (a word that does not get used enough, frankly) into the back of the  pickup parked in front of Eight, that she could get the Bar’s sign in the shot.  I seem to recall her actually sitting in the street to accomplish this photographic feat.  The rest of the evening proceeded to get hazy, but I do distinctly remember thinking, as Big Easy helped me gracefully out of whoever’s pickup truck that was,  that Holly-Anne was my kind of girl.

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El Tin Tan Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

3065 16th ~ (415) 558-9746

Prologue: 11:30-ish:
El Tin Tan — <cue=”dreamy musical effect”> It was the second night of the Holiday Lark III, 2007, when I walked into Coco’s Bar — a 100% Latino establishment — with only a whisper of a modicum of trepidation. Immediately upon the arrival, shortly thereafter, of one Dr. Black, what commenced was one of the most festive evenings that I can barely remember. (Someday, the notes I took that night will be deciphered and I will recount the riotous raucousness of that remarkable evening…)

The Hostess is NOT promising a similarly enriching experience at Et Tin Tan. (Full disclosure: I, myself, will probably just be pretty giddy to have gotten a parking space somewhere in the vicinity.) The Hostess is factoring in time for driving to the general locale, miraculously finding a parking space, and ordering a beer… in Spanish. Thereafter, I expect to leave El Tin Tan, more or less immediately.
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Afterword: We had to take two cabs, and so we were a little discombobulated, and there was the arrival of Dottie P. which we were also awaiting … so The Hostess was, understandably, very distracted, but I did still notice that everyone in this Bar was staring at us. Not in an unfriendly way. But in a noticeable one…as in, “who the hell are these people with different skin color than we have and what are they doing here?”

The boys’ cab arrived.  We investigated the premises, which turned out to be a trio of a floor plan, strangely reminiscent of Eight: front bar, then a space with pool tables, followed by a dance floor (& dj).  Holly-Anne had figured out how to order a White Russian in Spanish, and so she was feeling like dancing, which the rest of us eventually joined her in.  (Holly-Anne’s dancing is pretty damn infectious.)  Especially, of course, Hooker Bait, who got his Barfly name when a certain lovely Latina lady crossed the dance floor for the express purpose of asking him to dance with her  Holly-Anne and Jessica Rabbit danced up some storms with the locals and The Hostess cut a rug with Salawesome!!!  After a while, we were all pretty much dancing together, and the Barflies were getting stared at less noticeably…

The Hostess was feeling strangely culturally ambassador-ish.  Big Easy concurred.  Dottie P. showed up and brought 2 free drink coupons, which were honored in full. The “Spree Through the E’s”  was officially amazing — priceless photos had already been taken — and not even over yet…

I was so intoxicated on $13.00 worth of tequila from Eight that  I confess that I don’t know if they have hooks (but I doubt they do).  Dottie P. says this is an El Salvadoran Bar (as opposed to a Mexican one).  I’m not sure what the difference is if you are 1 of the only 5 white people, or the only African-American or Middle Eastern person, in the Bar (which we were).

But I am sure about two things:

  1. Dr. Black sent me an e-mail with instructions to text him when I got to El Tin Tan.  I didn’t get the e-mail in time, so I missed him, but it definitely speaks to his character that he was willing to meet me there.  He is a gentleman, and a scholar, and would have probably been miserable at El Tin Tan, which I’m sure he knew anyway when he generously offered to meet me there, nevertheless, which is just one more testament to the awesomeness of Dr. Black (a phrase to which I am quite, quite certain he will object, but which I will not be retracting).
  2. The “Spree Through the E’s” was going, — strangely enough — swimmingly.  The Hostess was drinking a lot more beer than usual (i.e. ever), but still having a smashingly good time.

Big Easy had this to say about El Tin Tan:

El Tin Tan: The first bar I’ve been in where I was taller than most of the other men! The bartender didn’t know how to pull a beer, resulting in two glasses of foam. Also, they needed to clean their lines, as Dottie P’s beer was apparently skanky. Awesome music! And Salvadoran hookers, to boot!

You know what? As much fun as we had there, you should really thank us for going to El Tin Tan so that you don’t have to.

Finally, in the lady’s defense — and Hooker Bait’s — we have no actual reason to suspect that she was really a hooker.

El Trebol Bar No. 3 Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

3149 22nd ~ (415) 647-5774

Prologue: 1:00am (at the latest & probably way more like 12:15-ish if I am not running late): El Trebol Bar No. 3 — I might wind up being named the next Ambassador to Venezuela … or I might not make it out of this Bar alive. The skinny on the internet has me uncharacteristically unnerved about this Bar, and I hope that my own experience here reinforces my dubiousness about yelpers’ opinions (by which I mean: “masses-schmasses”

and live to tell the tale (somewhat rather eventually), of course.

Afterword: As the evening was balmy (or we were too drunk to notice otherwise), our bunch of Barflies decided to stroll from El Tin Tan to El Trebol Bar No. 3, so it was a good thing I had decided to wear my sensible 2-inch Hightail-It Heels instead of the 3&1/2-inch Catch-Me-Come-Kill-Me ones I’ve been wearing lately.

Stumbling into El Trebol Bar No. 3 would have been a sobering experience, if we had been less collectively wasted.  Big Easy summed it up succinctly:

El Trebol: I’ve never been frisked as completely as I was trying to get in to this bar, even when I was tapped for a secondary search by TSA because their machine sniffed out bomb residue or accelerants on my clothes. Men’s room had vending machines for condoms, cock rings and french ticklers – SCORE!!

Kevin Banks was right behind me in his first attempt at getting in the door and I was beyond a little upset when he got turned away for having some sort of contraband on him (the rogue!).  But he got in shortly thereafter and I could move on to the more important issue of making my way to restroom, which meant my traversing another Bar full of people staring at us, and this time in a less-friendly  manner than the merely noticeable one we experienced at El Tin Tan.  There is no dance floor at El Trebol Bar No. 3, so my mind raced as to how we would manage to win over this tough crowd…

Holly-Anne and Jessica were holed up in the bathroom and would not let me in.  As it happens, they had the foresight to visit the facilities together, which is necessary at El Trebol Bar No. 3, due to the disconcerting fact that the door to the ladies’ room does not have any lock on it whatsoever and is far enough away from the toilet to prohibit any lone visitor from barricading herself in.

However, while waiting to discover the horrors of the bathroom at El Trebol Bar No. 3, The Hostess did make the acquaintance of two men perched at the back of the Bar who appeared to be more or less in charge of whatever might or might not be permitted to happen on the premises that particular evening (/morning, which it was by then).  I believe this was a most fortunate event.  While I was somewhat taken aback when they first said to me, “You and your friends will be perfectly safe here,” (I kid you not),  by the 15th or 16th time that the security guard — who definitely seemed to have been assigned to ensure our safety — repeated this sentiment to me, I was beginning to find it endearing…

The Hostess made it into and out of the bathroom (thank you, science, for Purell).  Our security detail had procured us some tables.  There was even a waitress (which I found surprising, given the overall environment totally not seeming like a place that would have table service).  Holly-Anne decided she wanted to play pool (since there was no dance floor, I suppose) and so she and I entertained everyone with a round of Girl Pool (no calling shots and lots of gratuitous leaning over the pool table), which  I am pleased to say that I almost won (damn that 8-ball!).

Would I recommend you visit El Trebol Bar No. 3?  No, I would not.  The lighting is fluorescent, the security is scary (in that it’s necessary, not that it isn’t reassuring), and the bathrooms are disgusting (Jessica Rabbit took my camera into the mens’ room and got some shots that confirm this is the fact across the gender board).  (And yes, I did just say, “Jessica Rabbit took my camera into the mens’ room…“)  But if you go anyway, will you check for hooks and get back to me on that?

Am I glad that I went to El Trebol Bar No. 3?  Absolutely.  But only on account of the fantastic company I had.  We were just like a mini version of a United Nations delegation, only more intoxicated.  And better looking.

Thanks to a cast of true characters (in order of appearance):  Kevin Banks (my dapper date for the Spree), Jessica Rabbit (who enlisted 3 new Barflies, to say nothing of her heroics in getting the photos from the mens’ room at El Trebol Bar No. 3), Holly-Anne (my new favorite Official Photo photographer, and who I’ll challenge to Girl Pool any time), Hooker Bait (who is obviously a really good sport, and also a fine escort down Valencia St.), Salawesome (who more than lives up to his Barfly name, and is very fun to dance with), Big Easy (who is angling for the “Barfly Who Travelled The Farthest Distance” award, and who helped The Hostess stick to the Spree schedule), and Dottie P. (who not only came all the way from the East Bay, but who rustled up those free drink coupons — well done, D.!).

Fuse Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

493 Broadway ~ (415) 788-2706

Thursday 12 February 9:00pm

Prologue:  Yep, Fuse is in North Beach, so you know better than to try and park anywhere in the vicinity.  The Hostess will be arriving via the 9X, (her virgin voyage on this colorful line), a taxi (if the weather is inclement), or by Pumpkin/Coach (why rule anything out?).  Chica Cherry is coming (despite having her hopes of going to at least one Bar in every letter dashed by missing the epic “Spree Through the E’s”).  And someone else is going to be bringing me a present from Costa Rica (which is, for some reason, apparently not a shot glass).

The Hostess is aware that many of you have free drink coupons that are — as we say in Texas — fixin’ to expire.  Bring them.

If you are reading this, you should come.  Even if you think I don’t want to see you, you should still come.  I’m gong to be wearing a very sexy top that everyone — even you — should see me in.

Rain or Moonbeams, Barflies!

The Lord of My Locks has assured me that my tresses will be burnished to the most shining and golden hue (that money can buy) in plenty of time for The Hostess to arrive unfashionably early at Fuse. Therefore, I will have some time to scope the place out and duly note the particulars before Chica Cherry and the Mysterious World Traveler (et vous?) arrive.

This means I will have plenty of time for pictures. So if the weather co-operates, and doesn’t deter you from venturing out, come pretty*. This is, after all, the only “F” in The Book, so that’s at least a somewhat special occasion, worth looking fairly festive for in the Official Photos. (Besides, the first two of the three “G’s” look pretty grim, so this might be our last chance to bother indulging my our collective vanity for awhile…)

*Actually, come anyway. Scruffy, disheveled, or otherwise unkempt — Bars By The Book is unlikely to judge you. As improbable as that seems, allow me to tell you the tale of how I uncharacteristically attended to the battered and bleeding boy who bravely approached me in the driveway of the Mystery Mansion not long ago. It was at a most inappropriate hour of the morning that he began by beseeching me for beneficence, which was beyond buffoonish for a bedraggled person, such as he, to expect from The Hostess. And yet an actual anecdote ensued. It’s a fairly interesting incident (or so I’ve been told)…

Story-time commences at 10:30, sharp (to allow for a trapeze class, of all things). Group photo to follow. You know the drill, or you soon will.

Afterword: Walking up the street to Fuse, I was thinking how odd it was that I spent all that time drunkenly staggering around North Beach with the Viagra Viceroy and we never once ventured into this Bar. Go figure. Anyway, when I sashayed in the door at 8:45pm, and there were zero other customers, I was not phased in the least. The place seemed to have potential. The vibe is a mash-up of divesque (not actual dive) and night-ish club (not quite night clubby) — a little schizo, which The Hostess can appreciate. The ceiling is nice. The lighting is mostly good (lovely in the bar area, but it’s a little bright over the couch on the far side of the dance floor, which defeats the purpose of having a couch, if you ask The Hostess). There’s an ashtray outside, there are hooks, and the bartender was very friendly, so we were 3-for-3, so to speak, right off the bat.

{In the interest of full disclosure: I was freshly hair salonified — which is something to behold — and I made no bones about why I was there when I walked into the door and asked said bartender if he was aware that he worked at the 43rd Bar in The Book, so it is therefore possible that he may have been trying to impress me … but he struck me as probably actually being kind of a cool guy in real life, too (and he is definitely kind of cute).}

His name is Jamie. And if you go to Fuse and he is working, tell him hello for me. Also, be prepared to marvel at his mad bar-tending skills. Jamie is Officially Inducted into my Bartender Hall of Fame as a true credit to his profession. First of all, he gave me a “Special Grenadine Price” on the premium vodka & soda’s — easy on the ice — he was making me with a new(-ish?) vodka that is made by Patron (WTF?!?). (Well, $7.00 didn’t seem that special, but it was better than the usual 10 bucks, I had to admit.) He remembered exactly what I was drinking — including the “easy ice” bit — all evening. Jamie was also very nice to all the Barflies to whom I introduced him. Then there were the Tom-Cruisey-in-“Cocktail – style shenanigans…

Necessary? No. Gratuitous? Probably. Amusing, entertaining, and pretty damn impressive nevertheless? Definitely. (If you can’t enjoy a bartender basically juggling bottles and mixers and garnishes into glasses with flourish, then there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Skip Fuse and get a life.) Finally, Jamie did what all other credits to his profession do, which never fails to impress The Hostess: he kept the glasses of an entire bar full of people fairly full with minimal wait times … All. By. Himself. I actually watched him multi-task like a madman for a bit, and it was a sight to behold. Jamie seems to have a loyal following who just go to Fuse in order to avail themselves of his flawless service (well, and maybe to try and pick up tipsy chicks, too). If I lived in the neighborhood, I probably would join them (although I would also probably be one of the tipsy chicks — and would most likely have one, or more, other tipsy chicks with me — so I wouldn’t be looking to pick any up).

Except I would definitely only go to Fuse early. I forgot to ask if there is a happy hour when the drink prices are more acceptable. Either way, Fuse is better the less crowded it is, in The Hostess’ opinion. In my infinite wisdom, I scheduled the Official Vist on a Thursday. Something tells me that on Fridays and Saturdays, the clientele tends toward the dreaded bridge-&-tunnelers (a phrase which categorically does not apply to any of the intrepid Barflies who bravely make their ways across the Bay, by any means necessary, in order to keep The Hostess such fine company).

Anyway, if it were too crowed to dance at Fuse, that would be disappointing. And the dance floor is not exactly spacious. When all the Barflies present were dancing at once, we basically filled it up, which was fine by us (and by any sane person there at the time because we are all very good looking, and not bad dancers, either). The Hostess has finally concluded that dancing is a surefire way to have a good time. Even if the music is … well, let’s just say: not great.

Which it was not, at Fuse. In fairness, the music wasn’t exactly great at El Tin Tan either, which didn’t lessen our dancing pleasure there in the least. But the first problem with the music at Fuse is expressed nicely in this Zen koan I found scribbled in the Official Notebook the next day: “too loud for talking; not loud enough for dancing” (the latter bit we promptly ignored). Volume aside, Boom Lolo (currently & technically the newest Barfly) put it best when he described the dj-ing at Fuse that night as very “ipod on shuffle-seeming.” To that I would add: “ipod full of 80-s and 90’s music.” Now, maybe it was “80’s & 90’s Blast-From-the-Past” night at Fuse, which would explain everything. But the dj did not lay down any so-called “phat beats”, and there was no mixing — just “spinning”. However, she would play whatever you asked for if she had it, and she did have Guns-n-Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” — which was a good thing, indeed — so I will not excoriate her here. Dancing is fun, and you can dance at Fuse every night after 10pm, which is good information to have in case a Dance Emergency should befall you.

But before there was dancing, there was Joe and his friend, either Josh or Chris (who I could not manage to keep straight for some reason). They had dropped either Josh or Chris off in some strip club and kept me company at Fuse until Jessica Rabbit and Goomz (another new Barfly) arrived. Another good thing about Fuse is that the walls behind the bar are mirrored, so you can simultaneously check that your hair looks OK and keep an eye on who is coming in the door behind you. This came in handy when Mysterious World Traveler (M.W.T. — unless I hear otherwise) Re-fly walked in and almost failed to recognize me on account of the fanciness of my hairdo. He proceeded to present me with my present from Costa Rica, which I loved even if it wasn’t a shot glass. In fact, it was a good thing it wasn’t a shot glass, because Chica Cherry snuck up on me with an entire shoebox full of shot glasses — all individually wrapped in tissue paper! — and M.W.T. Re-fly pointed out how that would have made just one shot glass from Costa Rica seem rather paltry, in comparison.

As I headed to the restroom to complete my Official Inspection of the premises, I discovered another important fact about Fuse: there are some terrain changes — ramps and uneven thresholds and such — that it is probably a good idea of which to remain aware, especially those of you in high heels, or who may be somewhat intoxicated (or both). As I negotiated my way back from the restroom, I saw that, somewhat to my surprise, Sigerson — of all the Barflies in the ridiculous blog — had joined us. Although he did not have a present for me, he did recognize me (in fairly short order), and he also agreed not to dwell on his disappointment that he had already seen the somewhat-ballyhooed shirt I was sporting. Furthermore, he had bought me a drink, which — as everyone should know by now — always warms The Hostess’ heart. (Oh, and he assured me that he hadn’t spiked that drink, which was charming and chivalrous of him.)

Right about then — or shortly thereafter — M.W.T. Re-fly pointed out something else … namely: that the free drink coupons The Hostess has been handing out for practically an entire year have a typo on them!!! Rather than stating they are “not valid unless signed by The Hostess“, they apparently purport to be valid only if SINGED by me, which is altogether an entirely different matter. A measure of Hilaritas ensued. Since I am as much of a strict grammarian as M.W.T. Re-fly is an astute observer, I asked Jamie for a lighter with which to properly singe the coupon. He gave me some matches, which would never do, so I went outside to borrow a lighter from a smoker, whereupon a kind lass offered to singe the edge of the coupon with her lit cigarette — which, in retrospect, was certainly the safest thing to do. (In the future, I shall make a more scrupulous use of spell-check, but as a nod to this amusing anecdote, all outstanding coupons are hereby declared valid for one additional year and will be honored in full, whether signed, or singed.)

Heavens to Betsy if Salawesome and Hooker Bait didn’t suddenly appear next! It was really getting fun to keep introducing people to each other by their increasingly colorful Barfly names. Good thing I was implementing the Water Program (one fizzy water in between each Real Drink), or I might have had difficulty keeping everyone straight. I don’t know if Jamie ever met all the Barflies, but he was quick with the fizzy H2O refills which was way more important than him knowing anyone’s name (besides mine) …

Speaking of names, I kept remembering Joe’s, even if I could never get Josh and Chris sorted out — which is too bad because I took two very cute pictures with Joe and either Josh or Chris. Speaking of pictures, there’s a nice one of Chica Cherry — who seemed satisfied that I was in good company but therefore unfortunately left before the dancing commenced — and I under the blue Fuse sign. Speaking of leaving, the motorcycle gang left en masse — managing to escape being photographed, alas — but Mother Nature could hardly be expected to keep the forecasted rain at bay much longer, and not even The Hostess wants to ride on a motorcycle in the rain, so I didn’t hold it against them. Besides, it was a school night…

So since it was a school night, at around 11:30pm, the question of who the rest of us were going to get to take our group photo in front of the red Fuse sign over the door came up. Did I mention that Fuse is strategically located amid almost nothing but strip clubs? Well, it is, which meant that anyone tottering by was either drunk & disorderly or visibly vagrant, and I was not about to hand my camera over to either of the above. While I tried to figure out if the shot would even be possible from any angle (I am the daughter of a photographer, after all), some or all the remaining Barflies began making a ruckus about a fire hazard. I found this quite ironic, since at least half of them are smokers and, until they met me, at least some of that half of them were known to toss cigarette butts on the ground, which is not exactly considered to be a model of fire safety.

It turned out that they were agitated by the fact that there was a man sitting in the driver’s seat of some enormous black SUV that was parked, conspicuously, directly in front of a fire hydrant. Admittedly, a parking infraction was occurring. However, The Hostess wasted many an hour, back in the day, driving around in agonizing circles throughout North Beach, desperately seeking a parking space (a fact made only more ludicrous considering that I employed a chauffeur at the time).  So, let me state, for the record, as anyone else who has tried to park a car in that neck of the woods can tell you: there are way too many fire hydrants in North Beach. It would not surprise me if there are even more fire hydrants than bars in North Beach — the redundancy is that ridiculous. I’m sure that if I had bothered to check, I would have found that at least one of the other three corners at the intersection where Fuse is located has another fire hydrant on it. It is entirely possible that all four corners of that intersection have fire hydrants on them. In short, The Hostess could not possibly have cared less about the man — who seemed to be someone else’s chauffeur — blocking one damn fire hydrant amongst the positive plague of them in North Beach.

Truth be told, I’m glad that man was parked in front of that particular fire hydrant. He obviously wasn’t too drunk to be driving somebody somewhere shortly, and he definitely didn’t have anything else to do, since he couldn’t really stray too far from the illegally parked vehicle. So I decided to press him into service as our photographer. While reluctant at first — remember, a bevy of Barflies was boisterously bemoaning his parking strategy — I did politely persuade Kareem to take our picture. He was quite nice about it, and even took a couple of shots to be sure we got a good one, thereby demonstrating, I do hope, that not everyone who parks in front of a fire hydrant is necessarily some sort of degenerate.

The Barflies insisted on driving me to the garage where I had stashed the J-car. That was sweet of them, but if you have ever wondered what happens when five (or maybe somehow six?) fuddled folks with a sketchy-at-best understanding of the one-way street system between North Beach and Union Square try to get from Point A to Point B, the result is circuitous, to say the least. If you happen to find yourself in a similar predicament and then, for some reason, consider heading to the Embarcadero in an effort to get there — come hell or high water — maybe reconsider that plan if time is of the essence. And if Market St. gets involved, it is definitely time to inquire why the person with the frickin’ GPS on her phone has not fired that thing up yet. Then it’s time to giggle, because you can walk to Point B from anywhere by then, if necessary.

Just as I arrived safely at the Mystery Mansion, Mother Nature unleashed a torrential downpour that was so impressive, I paused on the porch to watch it.  As I did so, I pondered the following:

  • Wasn’t it cool when that guy playing the saxophone on Market St. switched, mid-song, into “Isn’t She Lovely” just as I walked by?
  • Wouldn’t MUNI be more fun to ride at night if the lighting were, say, pink?
  • As for presents: is it really the thought that counts?
  • Is it odd that Fuse has those weird videos of drunk people doing dumb things in bars playing on the big TV screen over the bar?
  • Wasn’t it sort of amazing how far back Sigerson dipped me on the dance floor without once dropping me on my head?
  • Would I go back to Fuse someday?
  • Shouldn’t I know exactly how to drive from North Beach to Union Square by now?
  • Wasn’t it great that it didn’t start raining until the exact moment I got home (and would it really be so terrible to ride a motorcycle in a downpour)?
  • Would the evening have been totally perfect if only the trapeze student had not flaked?
  • If I have as much fun as I do with old friends and new ones (and complete strangers), do I really, as I profess, not like people?

(The unequivocal answer to all of the above is, of course, is YES.  And if you are reading this, you are probably an exception to that me- not-liking-people-thing.)