The Answer to Betty White Fatigue

The Answer to Betty White Fatigue - Phyllis Diller as Fast Pass Spokesperson! - San Francisco

While we were at a pawn shop on Mission Street, Steve spotted this. (What’s with the two jumping fishes?)

MUNI should totally bring back Phyllis Diller for the Fast Pass! At 93, she’s got 5 years on Betty White. I even did their graphic design work for them:

Phyllis Diller on the Clipper Card, San Francisco

Mayhem on the Streets of San Francisco

I know squonk about video games, but apparently there are expectations that the new San Francisco edition of this languishing franchise will revive its cred:

Driver: San Francisco takes the long-running yet languishing Driver series back to its purest, most French Connection-y roots, and introduces several new game mechanics, hundreds of licensed vehicles and plenty of graphical improvements to bring the game up to speed with other next-gen racing titles.

It sure looks beautiful. I dig the Seventiesploitation soundtrack and, naturally, the locations (don’t you miss the old Muni shelters?):

Walking the Wiggle

Joel Pomerantz,

On the recommendation of Haighteration blog, I took the ThinkWalks walking tour of the Wiggle on Thursday evening.

Guide Joel Pomerantz was bursting with knowledge about the history of the bike route, going all the way back to pre-colonial times (no, the Ohlones didn’t have bikes, but they supposedly followed the same route when walking), and also is an expert on San Francisco generally. Notably, he charmed a random anarchist on a BMX who tried to sieze control of the crowd at one point – the kid ended up sitting and listening for a bit, before bumping fists with Joel, screaming, “Anarchy in the USA!” and riding off.

I enjoyed Joel’s thoughts on SF’s hidden waterways (an ongoing obsession of this blog), and especially his warnings that when the 100-year storm hits, the MUNI tunnel, tubes, and grates in the Duboce/Church/Market St corridor will quickly submerge, forming an underground river that will rush across the Bay and produce a geyser on the other end in Oakland! Great stuff.

There was an impressively low median age on the free tour, and it was almost all locals. (Hey, passers-by who snickered, “tourists” under your breath – suck it, joke’s on you.)

The Wiggle Mural, San Francisco

We met up at the Wiggle mural on the backside of Safeway, and there I became fixated with the fantastic diversity of traffic that converges at the Church/Duboce intersection. I’ve lived in this neighborhood and walked through this spot millions of times, but you get a totally different feel for it when you linger in this spot for a bit, especially at rush hour.

Bonus time lapse video below:

Hey BART, is This Really Your New Signage?

BART Signs, San Francisco

A few weeks back they painted the Powell/Montgomery/Embarcadero BART stations. Great, right? Well, in the process, they changed the signs. Not that they were so great to begin with, but the ones they replaced them with had me convinced that these were temporary ones until they were able to hang some fantastic new signs that would match the new paint scheme.

I can be naive.

So now it’s a couple months later and we still have these signs, and let me say: First off, is that sign laser-printed onto a sheet of copier paper? I think it is. Secondly – and I don’t expect BART to have a designated typography designer on staff or anything – but exactly who printed this thing off and thought, yeah, people will be able to read that from across the platform; no, wait, maybe I better squish it a little more and re-print them. Finally – and I’ve seen this happen multiple times now – since these signs are posted at a height that is below the height of a BART train, when there’s a train in the platform, the signs are completely obscured; so what happens is there will be either some tourists on board the arriving train with me, or someone who was sleeping and just woke up, and the person will jump up when the doors open, in a panic, and look to see what station they’re at – no luck.

Stuff like this makes me sad. It makes me sad because sometimes I like to entertain the notion that San Francisco is a special place where the people who live here and the people in charge of stuff actually give a damn, that they’re proud. This blog is based on that innocent premise. But other times, I’m reminded that, to a large degree, it’s just not the case, that we are one big earthquake away from Louisiana status. Not that useful signs in the BART platforms would change anything, mind you, make us any safer in a disaster. But, c’mon, can’t SOMEONE who works at BART pretend that they care about the little stuff (although, tell the tourists who end up crossing under the Bay only to have to find their way right back that this is a little thing)?

Cheer me up in the comments.

San Francisco Streetcars Rusting in Missouri

San Francisco Streetcars Rusting in Missouri
Photo by Scott Tiek

This is a twisted tale of sequential tragedies ending in this snow-bound cemetery for historic San Francisco light rail cars. Well, the cars supposedly originated in St. Louis back in 1946 before coming to SF in 1950s, so they’ve sort of come home to die (though the shot above was taken in St. Charles, MO).

Along the way, the streetcars did a stint in South Lake Tahoe.

I’ll let the reader navigate the ins and outs of this story, but it involves lots of snow, streetcars as sushi bars, pre-recession business deals, and oxidized metals.

The one upside: the photography.

(Spotted @)

26 Nixed

24-899 from 1943

24-907 from 1943

It’s bad enough that the elimination of the 26-Valencia will wreak havoc on my personal life. But it turns out that the line I often stumble upon to get home has been running since 18-fucking-92 (shown above in its 1943 variation).

Back then, it was a trolley that ran from Steuart St. near the Ferry Building all the way down to the cemeteries in Colma. Shit, if that still ran, I could take it to Target!

The final insult is that, apparently, electric streetcars themselves were largely built in San Francisco as a way to develop the Sunnyside area – my homeland – for its real estate. And this is how I’m repaid – with forced late-night pedestrianism and wallet-thinning cab rides.