Deluxe Club Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

1511 Haight ~ (415) 552-6949

4:59pm Monday 18 February 2008

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Thank you, Webweaver for the free festive art!

Prologue: It’s time for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary! As if that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, it’s also Presidents’ Day, which means a lot of us who would otherwise have to work, don’t — yay! As an added festive element, Mercury is also coming out of retrograde (finally!) so the malaise that so many of the the attuned among us have been feeling will finally dissipate — whew! Last, but certainly not least, this otherwise entirely momentous date happens to dovetail with Day No. 14 of Chica Cherry’s 40-Days-of-Fun 40th Birthday Extravaganza, and she has most graciously decided that celebrating Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary is the Fun Thing she wants to Officially Do that day. (What an amazing Barfly that Chica Cherry has turned out to be!)

After all, she was there when this madness started. The question is, where were you? If you were there, too, then surely you want to come and commemorate the auspicious occasion. If you weren’t there, but have been along on other Official Visits, then this is the perfect time for you to check back in (and get another notch on your Barfly belt…Batman? Wanda? Miss Anthrope?)

And if you have (unfortunately for you) never experienced a Bars By The Book outing, what could be a more perfect introduction to this Tome of Taverns (so to speak) than the one year anniversary party? I don’t want to oversell the evening, but a brilliant neurochemist re-booked his flight to the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans (!) just to be sure he could make it. And another Barfly scheduled the end of her recent bereavement to coincide with having a stiff drink at Deluxe Club with The Hostess on this special night. There are rumors that certain largely anti-social Barflies will make appearances. And Nora Charles is threatening to bring a cake, of all things!

You should come. It’s going to be one for the books, I can feel it. Even if they don’t have a stripper pole, there’s allegedly a dance floor of sorts. If you buy me a drink, maybe I’ll dance with you…

Afterword: What can I say? If you were there, then being there was more fun than reading my description of it can ever be, and if you weren’t there, you won’t believe me when I tell you how much fun you missed. But everyone there deserves to read about themselves, so here goes…

Although the opening time of Deluxe Club was confirmed by Nora Charles and myself on no less than three separate, and independent, occasions, 5:oopm came and went and the Bar remained quite firmly closed. I paced, and waited, and peered in the window, and tried the door; I inhaled the cigarette smoke of dozens of Haight Street denizens, I fretted: repeat (repeatedly). I placed a frantic call or two to Nora Charles. When I was nearing my wits’ end, Ritchie showed up. He’s a Haight Street handyman of sorts (hi, Ritchie!) who spends a lot of quality time at Deluxe Club, and who assured me that the place would open sooner than later. As Ritchie was rolling his second cigarette (the first of which he properly disposed of in the vintage smoking refuse box mounted just outside the door where we were, for all anyone could tell, loitering) who should appear but Chica Cherry, with Scotty just behind her, lending credibility to the whole Bars By The Book (abridged version) I had tried to explain to Ritchie (who seemed to think I was more or less deranged until they showed up).

Handy man, or no, Ritchie did not have the keys to the joint on him, but the pizza guy did! Giovanni was my new favorite person while he unlocked the door, invited us in, and offered to make us drinks (as long as they were uncomplicated). Ritchie split, but Giovanni (hi, Giovanni!) seemed genuinely interested in what we were, in fact, doing at Deluxe Club that night, and he told us all kinds of interesting things about the Bar’s history. (To be fair, Ritchie’s the one who started us down memory lane.) You see, Deluxe Club used to be the Gold Cane, but that place moved down the street, and the former Gold Cane became Deluxe Club, which used to be a gay bar, but became de-gayified when the current owner, Jay, purchased the establishment. Now, don’t ask me how one de-gayifies a Bar, but some of us did wonder. However, before we could delve too deeply into the pondering, Nora Charles showed up with The Cake.

And she didn’t just go to the grocery and purchase a cake. She baked one. (Actually, she baked two, but that’s another story…) Scotty took one look at that confection (The Cake — not Nora Charles — although maybe both, now that I think about it) and ordered one of Giovanni’s pizzas to start. Then Ms Olive strolled in, and it was time for some photos…

To his credit: Giovanni not only got us all drinks, but he managed to bring us a pizza, AND take some fantastic photos of us. For a guy who technically just leases the kitchen space (and has grand plans to restore the menu to its former oyster bar glory) Giovanni went above and beyond the call of duty during the Official Visit, and The Hostess sincerely thanks him for his efforts., wishes him the best of luck in all his culinary endeavors, and hopes he will surprise us with his presence at a future Bar (pizza or no).

I’m pretty sure Jay, the owner (hi, Jay!) arrived next. He plugged in his impressively-loaded i-pod, turned down the lights, and helped Giovanni attend to what was obviously going to be a bigger crowd than they expected so early on a Presidents’ Day Monday (go figure!). I was busy trying to explain The Cake to Jay when Malvolio walked in. And Art (sans Barfly name, which we were hastily able to correct due to some quick and creative thinking) was suddenly strolling in the door. I have to admit, it was getting a bit much to introduce everyone by this time (maybe Scotty was right and we should have had name tags — then again, some of us did have identifying necklaces….)

Chica Cherry started having to take phone calls outside (hey, she has a lot going on right now), and Nora Charles decided it was time to serve The Cake (before the regulars who were wandering in tried to eat it, perhaps). Just as Chica Cherry bid The Hostess adieu, Nora Charles ran out of forks, and Sigerson snuck in. While Sigerson was sorry to have missed Chica Cherry, he and I could always share a fork, so we allowed the scrumptiousness of The Cake (which was shared, of course, with Jay an Giovanni) to console us about Chica Cherry’s early departure (which was really understandable — as she is less than halfway through her 40 Fun Things before she turns 40, and may need to be carried over the finish line, if she doesn’t schedule herself a bunch of spa days in between now and D-day…) Anyway, as we were all enjoying The Cake, and Ms Olive was demonstrating how she got her name by stuffing olives into her bottles of beer, and Sigerson was trying to explain his rather obscure (yet appropriately literary) Barfly name, and Malvolio was trying (not too hard, mind you) not to seem too smug that he actually knew where the name “Sigerson” came from, and Scotty was being apprised of Sigerson’s real name, and Giovanni was bringing out more pizzas, and I was buying Art another drink, and Jay was just trying to keep up with our drink orders without alienating his regulars, I’ll be damned if Batman himself didn’t show up — with another new Barfly, no less (hi, Ben For Now!).

It was like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo and Columbus Day all rolled into one for The Hostess. One year, 33 Bars, 9 Barflies — lots of whom had never met before — and me. Plus, there was The Cake. And I definitely danced with Art (in the absence of a pole) and maybe even had a spin or two with Sigerson (can’t say for sure as I was dazzled by his snazzy shirt as soon as he took off his jacket). We were having so much fun, no wonder the people in charge of the show (comedy?) that was fixin’ to start came over and informed us we would either have to stop telling jokes (that demonstrated the fact that only Batman and I have a truly sublime sense of humor) or take our party elsewhere…

Thank goodness Nora Charles didn’t invite us all over to her place, or I’m quite sure that’s where we’d all still be! Instead, we took what is destined to be the best Official Photo of all time, and went on our (mostly) separate ways. But that was for the best, because now The Hostess — at least — can’t wait to go back to Deluxe Club again. As I like to say, these days, “one has to leave before one can come back” (or something to that effect…)

Alright already, if you have read this far, either you are reeealllly interested in finding out what Deluxe Club is actually like, or you were there, and you wanted to read about how much fun I had with you. What follows is a description of Deluxe Club as it will most likely be when not more or less over taken by Barflies:

Deluxe Club is rather snazzy. Remember in the 1990’s, when there was that weird swing-dancing revival? Ritchie says that actually started at Deluxe Club. The place actually seems a little small for that sort of tossing dance-partners about, but who knows? Anyway, it’s got the ambiance of the sort of place where that could have happened. It’s certainly retro-tastic.

But I must confess, I think one of the best things about Deluxe Club is that it is clean enough — with enough of a respectable, if somewhat genteel and faded, veneer of respectability — that the procession of Haight Streeters marching past outside never even looks in door. Which means you can enjoy some drinks, some music, and maybe some pizza, without getting cancer from second-hand smoke, being hassled for change from fake hippies, or succumbing to the smell of patchouli-scented dreadlocks. In short: Deluxe Club is a haven in the Haight, and I hope to return to it soon. It was also a spectacular venue for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary party, and may give Ace’s a run for it’s money in the end…(Jay? You need to have start selling t-shirts — I need something to wear next year!))

 

 

Dirty Martini, The Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

2801 Leavenworth ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 775-5110

(time TBA) Thursday 21 February 2008

Prologue: It says right on Chica Cherry’s list of the 40 things she is doing in 40 days before she turns 40: “Feb. 21 – Not My Birthday Celebration”, so it’s not her birthday. Nora Charles had her birthday in December, so it isn’t her birthday either. I have reason to believe they’ll both be there, though, since they are picking me up and we are going somewhere swanky for dinner…but it’s definitely not my birthday!

I mean, who would have her birthday drink at such a lame Bar as The Dirty Martini is surely going to be? Certainly not The Hostess. There will be no presents, cards, cake, candles, or other birthday paraphernalia there, so it’s not likely that it’s anyone’s birthday, much less mine. Besides, I’ve decided not to have any more birthdays until I can have what I want for a present, and that’s not going to ever happen, therefore this February 21st is absolutely, positively, categorically NOT my birthday.

Of course, if you’d like to swing by and buy me a drink for some other reason, I won’t stop you…(that is, unless you have been Banned until March for inappropriate commentary — in which case you know who you are, so don’t even think about adding any more egregiousness to my brief time at this tourist trap!)

Afterword: I had said…

Next up: The Dirty Martini — Thursday 21 February 2008 … the later, the better. The Hostess is pretty sure this place is going to be as heinous as Cigar Bar & Grill was; this Official Visit also to be saved only by the company — which is taken care of (minus the thrilling motorcycle ride Mother Nature is conspiring to deny me, but whatever) — so no one else needs to brave the elements. Really, I mean it.

I do so love it when I’m right! Although I am right so much of the majority of the time, you might think I would have gotten over it by now. But no, I still get a kick of having one of my hypotheses turn out to be completely the case.

OK, so I was wrong about the rain, which meant I missed out on the motorcycle ride unnecessarily. But I could tell from a block away, by the neon blue signs that The Dirty Martini was going to be just as awful as I had imagined. Walking in the door, I could barely keep the smug smirk off my face. What’s wrong with The Dirty Martini, exactly, you ask? Ah, where to begin…

For starters, the bar is in the center of the room, and it is a rectangularly-oval affair, which means there is no mirror behind the bar in which to check (and/or admire) one’s hair. One can, however, order food from the Hooter’s menu (oooh, goody…NOT!) and have it delivered to the Bar, “but it takes forever”, or so the pretty unimpressive bartender admitted. That was actually an amusing thing for him to say, given the time it took him to get around to meandering over to new arrivals to find out what they wanted to drink. And after the wait, cocktail napkins had to be specifically requested. It was thoroughly unsatisfactory barstooling, and that was before the obnoxious conventioneer crowd showed up, which certainly didn’t help matters any.

The Dirty Martini has a golf video game and two pool tables. There’s a small stage, with some dj paraphernalia, and a dance floor. They sell a variety of t-shirts, but who would want one? When Sigerson appeared, neither one of us could figure out why anyone would actually go to The Dirty Martini. A mere one block away is The Buena Vista Cafe, which attracts its share of tourists but still manages to be a delightful spot to drink. When my fizzy water was served in a plastic cup, we just shook our heads.

I will say this about The Dirty Martini: there seems to be a very favorable male-to-female ratio, that is, if you are a female, and you are actually looking for an obnoxious tourist for some incomprehensible reason. And I suppose it does function as a place to contain the tourists, where they won’t get in our way, sort of like Fisherman’s Wharf in general. It also has the distinction of being a Bar Where One Can Hightail It Out the Back, if necessary. (There are three front doors and two emergency exits behind either side of the stage — neither of which has a sign warning that an “alarm will sound” — of course one never knows, but depending on the circumstances, one might not care about an alarm sounding.)

Anyway, as predicted, Sigerson’s charming company saved the Official Visit from being too desultory for words. He bought me a drink (after pointing out a typo on his Bars By The Book free drink coupon — a party favor from at the one-year anniversary Deluxe gala event, which he wisely decided to save for a swankier occasion — not resisting the urge to say “Spell-check doesn’t know what you mean, but I do.”) and he politely inquired about what I would want for a present, if it were my birthday (which it obviously was not). When I said I preferred not to jinx my wish by telling it, he sagely reminded me that those who do not speak about what they want rarely actually get their wishes to come true. Given the very inauspicious location where Sigerson was dispensing his inarguably correct wisdom, I chose to remain coy for the time being. I mean, no sense having to look back on The Dirty Martini as an important venue in my perennially checkered past — or in spoiling my record of being on tropical beaches when I am persuaded to reveal my fondest wishes…

While some of the above description may suggest that the Official Visit to The Dirty Martini even verged on heady, let me assure you that any hint of giddy exhilaration was categorically (heroically, even) in spite of our surroundings. Chica Cherry and Nora Charles were visibly relieved to arrive too late to have time for a qualifying drink there, which should speak volumes. As a final warning, be advised that The Dirty Martini is sure to be even worse when it is packed with the sort of people showcased on its website. </shudder>

Bathroom Biography:
If the best thing about a Bar is its bathroom, well, what more really needs to be said? In the interest of due diligence, however, I will report that the ladies’ restroom is spacious enough to accommodate the hordes of clueless folk who apparently descend upon this place and think this Bar is a good one. There is also enough square footage of mirror for one and all to do the sort of adjustments these types are likely to need to make. (The Hostess does not mean to seem snobbish, but really, I defy anyone astute enough to be reading this to find one redeeming quality in The Dirty Martini, save for the aforementioned corralling of tourists.)

The Barfly Forum Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

This is a place to chat amongst yourselves. via the Comments feature…

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.)