Indian Summer in the Tenderloin


When you reach that point of saturation in San Francisco wherein waking thoughts become sleeping thoughts and most are centered on, “Enough fucking sirens!” you realize that it’s time to get the hell outta Frisco because, once you decide to leave, San Francisco does indeed become Frisco once again. The question to answer in all of this is, when do you go back? As it turns out, somewhere around two years.

Two years allows you to do things like I’ve been doing which are living in Spain, writing books and generally writing about wine. During the summer last year, my wallet got picked in Barcelona and I found out that the only way to get a new driver’s license from California is to do that shit in person. After a year of sticking my head up my ass on the subject and realizing I had some expiring airline miles, my meager family, and good friends all reminded me that maybe I should head back to Baghdad by the Bay (I expect none of the current residents to know that reference) and see what was up.

After adventures with Air France striking (because France can strike the shit out of anything) I finally arrived and breathed in the fresh, robust smell that can only be described as wall-to-wall poo carpet on the BART. I was back home.

Crashing with friends at the top of the Loin more or less in Academy Hills, I went out to my old joints, sucking down a super burrito to find that even in the Loin, a super burrito is $8.50. When the hell did that happen? I mean this place has an 86 rating from the health department which is how I like it, but this price was not at all how I loved it. I suppose it’s lack of supply given that my other less good burrito joint on Sutter closed and is now a Papa Murphy’s which needs no comment.

Waking up and enjoying the aftermath of having thoroughly spicy and greasy food for the first time in two years, I headed down to Hooker’s. Thank god nothing there has changed and if anything, Hooker’s just keeps going with a new and geniusier selection of treats to build upon the classic, Third Nut, and Party Girl. I’m a bit pissed with David that out of all the new treats, my favorite had to be the “Curious Boyfriend”.

Fully caffeinated and sexuality thoroughly questioned I made a straight shot for Mid-Market. Does anyone even call it Mid-Market anymore? Honestly, while everyone went on at length about how much it changed, it looked much the same to me. Sure, there are some new buildings there which I realize is a fucking miracle to happen given SF’s Planning Commission and the Society of Those Who Fear All That Is New but otherwise, Market is still as filthy as my grandmother’s mouth after she’s had three Martinis. The amount of human shit on the street is exactly the same and some dude was ripping out a crazy potent deuce between two parked cars just to say, “Welcome home, bitch! OCs?”

Of course as anyone knows, nights are when things get “interesting” in the TL and it was great to see a few new places opening like Tender which brings a wine bar to the inner bowels of the Loin. Although the companion space next door, Huxley didn’t do so much to tingle my business as it just looks like you typical, “farm fresh, wholesome ingredients” yabba yabba whatever for the last 15 years.

I was quite pissed off to see that Big had closed as that was something truly novel and the last time I as in SF, I hit it up often. Sure, it was expensive at $15 a cocktail or whatever it was, but they were made to order and it was a damned cool space.

Also on the pissed off list is the fact that Minx (and previously the Red Room for those who are older) is now a fucking pilates and yoga studio? I’ve never had gentrification rammed up my butthole that hard before but yeah, it hurts. It was surprising to see how much space there is there once you tear out that wonderful thing called, a bar.

I had read about the Nitecap closing and I was never a huge fan of the place as I like shit that’s kinda in mid-dive. But, while in Hooker’s I met the new owners and got a tour. I also got to overhear the conversation they were having which went something like, “dude, there was so much ass” and “whoa, that place was full of ass” and “fuck, I’m a total ass”. The last part I threw in mainly because after seeing what they’re planning for the place, I just have say, take Rye, up the douche factor by 20 and reduce any originality by the same amount. Basically, from what I gathered, it’s going to The Royale but smaller and probably just a touch less class. Sure, prove me wrong, but I’ve seen it before.

Just to give some “original” source material to Curbed, it was nice to see something happening at 907 Post which is the photo above. As to what it is, no clue, although I’m sure that NIMBY warlord David Overdorf is strongly against whatever it may be give that this building is right next to his house and private alley.

But that’s about the most of it. Some good, some bad, some just Loin. I can tell you that after not being around it for so long, the old problems of the Loin are either exactly the same or slightly worse. This is of course no surprise as the neighborhood is San Francisco’s homeless and addict dumping crowd. Will that be changing anytime soon? Mayor Mustache needs to go ask Willie Brown and get back to you on that one but while you’re waiting, vote Jane Kim, she’s super!

Up in the Loin is the Best Ass in the Bay

The SF Bay Guardian would like you to vote on the hottest ass in the Bay Area to publish in their upcoming Sex Issue. As pointed out by SFist, not all the butts are what we would consider Best of the Bay quality, hell, they might not even be Best of the Bakersfield quality.

But fortunately the Tenderloin is well represented with this hot ass below (#15), for which we of course urge you to vote. If you vote for anything #20 and beyond, we’re not talking to you anymore for any number of reasons that are obvious.

Getting the edge on Town Cutler

We don’t often cover the goings on up on Bush Street as it really is too far up the hill on the edge of Tenderloin Heights. But with the closing of Razor Sharp down on Polk (pictured above) once the Culinary Academy moved, Town Cutler is really our closest full service knife shop, and an awesome one at that.

This is a knife sales and service shop that was opened about two months ago by former chef Galen Garretson. Naturally, you’re probably thinking, “Whatever, I pick up my knifes at Le marché or maybe even Sur la Table down at the Westfield mall.” Sure, you may enjoy doing that, which is fine if you want basic knives. But, when you want something more serious that’s going to keep on cuttin’, you’ll probably want to head up to Galen’s shop.

Galen is an even-spoken guy who has been a knife geek since his early teens and maybe that’s why he became a professional chef (he’s worked at Wayfare Tavern and Quince). One day he realized he was on his way to burning out of the 15 hour/six days a week kitchen schedule so he made the pretty natural shift into being a knife man.

Sure, he’s got your basic Wüsthof line and those are good (we got a few of them at The Tender HQ), but he’s also got crazy fancy things from Japan and in fact he makes a heavy point to specialize in Japanese knives which he contends are some of the finest being produced these days. They’re light, incredibly true, hold an edge like no one’s business, and some use a metal called VG10 steel which sounds more like an energy drink you’d buy at 24 Hour Fitness, but I’ll go along with it being awesome. Yes, they’re pricey, but you do indeed get what you pay for and if you happen to want to pay even a bit more, Town Cutler stocks Wilburn Forge (pardon the string version of Metallica on the site) knives. These… are not at all cheap, like $900 a knife not at all cheap. Despite this, Galen says that he’s actually already sold a few of them already and truth be told, if I had the money, I’d love to buy one and run that baby all over a raw steak.

But, part of the charm of Town Cutler is that Galen was a chef. He knows what you need in the industry which is why he also sells spoons. Yeah, spoons. They’re not just to eat soup and apparently you need them for a lot of shaping elements in professional kitchens. He’s the guy to go to for them too, as well as several other highly specialized kitchen tools such as herb tweezers. And some of those spoons, tools and even knifes are vintage pieces that he finds through various collectors.

If you happen to have a good set of knives and just want them sharpened, that’s also Galen’s specialty. In fact, he’s a bit fanatical about it. My dad showed my brother and I how to properly sharpen knives when we were growing up (a dull knife is always more dangerous than sharp), but it was light years away from what Galen does. He has this six pass whetstone method that goes through finer and finer sanding grits: 1,000 – 6,000 – 8,000 – 16,000 – 30,000 – 160,000. That last one isn’t actually a grit, but a liquid diamond solution that he uses to hone the edge insanely well. He showed us the process from a previous knife with his high powered microscope and it was impressive. The cost for this? $1.50 per inch of blade, which is pretty damned competitive.

And if all of this got you excited, in a little bit more time once he gets settled, Galen is going to be having knife sharpening classes so you too can learn the secrets of the sharp blade. In the meantime, you can just check out some knife porn on the Town Cutler’s Facebook page.

So bringeth the hipster/loinster debate

So, the debate continues around Nevius’s article about the Tenderloin getting “trendy”. Today, he put up a blog post which covers a great deal of the discussions we had about his article after it was published, and he freely admits to not being in the know. Again, overall we thought the article was good for its format (it’s the Chron, after all), but the whole hipster thing got out of hand and reeked of some higher up, “knowing better”. One can only hope that the reactions might show them the error of their ways, but that’s probably doubtful.

But, out of all of this came a real gem of hipster definition by espresso69 in the comments of the Nevius’ blog post:

If someone calls you a hipster and your immediate response is laughter- you’re probably OK

If someone calls you a hipster and your immediate response is denial and a feeling of being under attack? Brother/Sister- you probably are guilty as charged.

Answer the following as honestly as you can:
1. Do you have a bike and do you ride it everywhere you go?
2. Do you live in the Mission because “it has everything”?
3. Do you have clothing or accessories with birds painted on them?
4. Do you wear woolen and or odd shaped hats regardless of the weather?
5. Do you visit McSweeny’s or other related sites more than three times a week?
6. Has a “design” project of yours ever been featured on
7. Have you ever considered moving the Brooklyn or Portland or Austin?
8. Have you ever defended the “aural aesthetics” of ’70’s “Yacht Rock”?
9. Tim & Eric? Pretty funny, huh?
10. Do you smoke American Spirits because “they don’t have any many toxins”?
and lastly-
11. Have you ever played, or have listened to a close friend play, a ukulele at Dolores Park?

If you have answered yes to 3 or more of the above, well, you are a hipster…have fun listening to the new Bon Iver album (on vinyl hopefully-that’s how it sounds best)

And naturally, it begs the age-old question: Is there actually such a thing as a “loinster” as opposed to a regular hipster (take a look here) or is it more a case of, “like whatever, shut up”?

Our local Darwin Award nominee

The Darwin Awards could very well have their winner for the year, despite the fact that we’re only halfway through 2011.

A man riding bareheaded on one of about 550 motorcycles in an anti-helmet law rally lost control of his cycle, went over his handlebars, hit his head on the pavement and died, police said Sunday.

The motorcyclist, 55-year-old Philip A. Contos, likely would have survived the accident if he’d been wearing a helmet, state troopers said.

I bring this up as we apparently have our own local hero which is the death that we encountered back in March at 525 Hyde. In news that was baked completely from flour processed at the rumor mill, apparently the fellow who died had come home drunk, couldn’t find his keys, decided to try and climb in to his apartment, slipped because of the rain, and then landed on his head, dying in the breezeway of the building. So, there you have it, don’t climb drunk, you could die.

Of course if anyone else has a differing story about this death, we’re all ears, since it wasn’t reported in any of the local news sources.

Pride Parade Roundup

This morning I spent a few hours standing by the UN Plaza listening to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” looped 6,000 times while watching the Pride Parade wedged between an opportunistic dry humping creep and a giggling Latino family. I then followed the music to the Civic Center (which smelled glorious thanks to a beautiful display of BBQ stands) and ended up at home blasted all the way to the tune of disco music. Just before taking a nap I realized I had over a couple hundred photos, a ridiculous t-shirt tan and several crappy necklaces made of shiny beads. There must be an entire city in China making plastic beads for this country’s many parades and celebrations.

I had the impression that this year there were a lot of doggies looking to be adopted, less elaborate floats and more politicians in campaign mode barely making an effort to wear anything Pride-related. Take Jane Kim for instance (our favorite supervisor to pick on because we like easy targets), not only did she look hungover and like she’d just stuffed a quiche in her face, but she was wearing a boring white dress and beige sandals while encircled by a sad entourage of about five lackeys supporters. Although the prize for most boring supervisorial outfit had to be Scott Wiener, dressed like he was going to the office (although he had a whole bunch of people marching with him). When you’re as tall as him, I guess you wear whatever fits and is clean.

Otherwise the drag queens were (as usual) the most glamorous and better dressed people, the SFPD and fire department marchers got the most applause, the leather gang got photographed the most, and the Google Legion had the coolest t-shirts. We always find the same-sex parents marching with their children cute, as well as the couples who’ve been together for decades showing their love. But we particularly enjoyed the marchers in support of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, which were quite a large number by the way. Now if only there was a Chinese Marching Band to play during this parade like the way the Gay Marching Band plays during the Chinese New Year Parade…

For those who missed the fun, here are a couple of photos for you. We hope you had a great weekend and are making sure to moisturize after all the sun or, well, whatever else you got.

Tender tattoos

These days, tattoos are about as rebellious as hitting snooze on your alarm clock. That said, it’s always nice when someone breaks out of standard sleeves mode (as seen on the right) and says, “Fuck it, I want a shovel on my calf for the rest of my life!” Also awesome in the Tender tattoos department (but not pictured) is the streetcar on farm:table Kate‘s arm.

Loving the public library, loving living in SF

During the last week we have greatly enjoyed two cartoons by local illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and, while we haven’t exactly been fans of some of her work in the past, we have to share them here.

The first one, which is part of her Meanwhile series over at The Rumpus, is a heartfelt tribute to the main branch of the San Francisco public library that we absolutely adore and make good use of as much as we can. If you love it as much as we do, it will make you all soft inside and hopefully you’ll run to return those long-overdue books you’ve been forgetting to return for a while now.

The second one, on today’s The Bold Italic, is a companion to a piece by Broke-Ass Stuart titled “Living in SF means…”. Although there’s no specific mention of the Tenderloin, I’m sure you’ll see yourselves in many of the descriptions, maybe substituting one word here or there. We particularly enjoyed this part:

It means having places you love close up forever. It means having friends get married and move to Oakland. Friends who leave to join the Peace Corps. Friends who go to rehab. Friends who lose their minds. Friends who move back to wherever the fuck they’re from. Friends who OD and never move again. It means dreading the inevitable earthquake that will ultimately wash this city into the sea.

Living in San Francisco means never leaving the house without wearing layers. Having just one wardrobe. Owning lots of hoodies. Owning lots of scarves. Owning lots of hoodies and scarves for your dog. It means having pale legs that get sunburned every time it’s warm out. Calling in sick to work because, for once, it’s 80 degrees and you want to drink a 40 in the park. Enduring the cold summer months and savoring the warmth and festivities of Indian Summer. It means being worried that the term “Indian Summer” may not be politically correct.

A brush with the Tenderloin

We’re big fans of Mona Caron’s mural “Windows into the Tenderloin” which, like everyone else in the neighborhood, we excitedly watched her painting at the corner of Jones and Golden Gate during nearly a year in 2009. If you still haven’t stopped by to admire it, we urge you to do it asap as it beautifully captures the spirit of the neighborhood in a unique and inspiring way.

Also, the mural depicts a lot of the well-known characters of the streets of the Tenderloin, and recognizing each one of them can be a fun game to play. Last Friday, right before the Art in Storefronts launch, we caught the screening that documents not only the making of the mural but also a lot of those characters so familiar to all. The film, directed by Paige Bierma and aptly titled A brush with the Tenderloin, is only 22 minutes unfortunately and not available online (only the trailer). So you’ll have to catch it in some festival or maybe at the public library at some point.

After the screening there was a Q&A with both the film director and with Mona Caron, who mainly received praised by all the local residents for including them in the mural and making them feel part of the community. One such person, whom we had often seen in the area but had never talked to at length, is Indian Joe — pictured here with Caron on the left and Bierma on the right. As you can see, he’s a big fan of Alice Cooper and thanks to the film we learned that he recently had the chance to hear his idol play in San Francisco, after his Tenderloin friends collected money for his ticket. He loves talking, so if you ever see him around, make sure to say hi.

Friday Eye Candy

We’re constantly working on product placement at The Tender, having it take up at least 75% of our Tender Time. In this instance you see above, we’ve managed to slide in one of our old stickers alongside chiseled abs and the winning smile of local confectioner David “Hooker” Williams. We’re not exactly sure who that dude is above David’s shoulder, crapping up and otherwise sexy product placement opportunity, but rumor has it, he’s a Tender author.