A drink named Tenderloin?

There was an article from last Sunday on the Chron by The Cocktalian that mused about drinks named after neighborhoods. It happens a bit in New York, but San Francisco has apparently been devoid of any neighborhood-themed drinks.

There may be some floating around out there for a random locale or two, but when I thought about the Tenderloin, I realized that despite everything about it and all the bars in it, there isn’t a “Tenderloin” cocktail. Koko’s menu had one awhile back, but (and my pardons to Lori, Justin, and Chris) it was a rough mix. Other than that, I can’t really think of a “Tenderloin” popping up anywhere, although I will happily stand nap corrected if proven wrong.

So, with all the “mixology” in this hood, can someone come up with a “Tenderloin” and if so, what’s the recipe? Oh and before you say it, the commentors on that Chron article already beat you to the, “Mix one part urine with two parts crack rock” type of smartass ideas, although I did have to laugh about “the NIMBY – same recipe as a Buttered Nipple, only the cream, like human kindness, is curdled”

Back from Tenderloin the First

Dear Tender Readers, we’re happy to report that we’ve managed to weather well-meaning friends in New York hell-bent on destroying our livers to come back to (somewhat) sunnier San Francisco after a week away. Naturally, while there, we had to run around the original Tenderloin in the US. “What?”, you probably aren’t asking, “There was another Tenderloin?” Yes, like many things on the West Coast, the term “Tenderloin” did not start here but on the East Coast. Tenderloin the First was an area bounded by 5th Ave, 42nd St, 7 Ave, and 23rd St which meant it was right in the heart of Manhattan, just like our beloved district of many an adjective.

But what happened to Tenderloin the First? Well, this thing called the Empire State building got plunked down in the middle of it, as well as well as Penn Station. Still, a great many original buildings in the area have remained as the neighborhood changed. These things can and do indeed happen in cities, although admittedly, once back, our Tenderloin has stayed much as how we left it last week and we now appreciate it even more. Onwards and Loinward!

The Tenderloin’s real problem is the adjectives

As shown by the hoohah with PETA requesting to rename the Tenderloin, there are those who are of the opinion that the name, ‘Tenderloin’ is the cause of all the woes of the neighborhood (as it “evokes the horrors of the meat trade”, obviously).

We would like to put forth the shocking premise that no, that’s not the reason at all. It has to do with a lot of things such as a broken social services system and a free-for-all open air drug trade. Or the fact that whenever someone writes about the Tenderloin they always feel the annoying need to put an adjective in front of it such as “the ______ Tenderloin, San Francisco’s ______ neighborhood”. That really doesn’t do much to clean up the image and it’s not something you see happening to other neighborhoods with problems in San Francisco.

So, this being the case, we are choosing to fight back the one way we know how, whining with a public poll! We present to you, our loyal readers with an appreciation for this generally loathed neighborhood, the chance to vote on the most annoying adjective typically used in describing the Tenderloin. Not because it isn’t true (we’re not disputing that), but because of how indiscriminately and unnecessarily it’s used whatever the focus of the article actually is. Here’s an example of a completely gratuitous negative adjective in an article (from NYDaily News) about Barry Bond’s trial:

They [the 12 jurors] will be asked to consider only the testimony and exhibits they encounter in the packed courtroom at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district.

If your favorite hated word isn’t in our list, just add yours in and comment on why who find it so annoying. This will undoubtedly change the neighborhood’s perception immediately, once hell freezes over and pigs start flying… Happy voting!

New fancy crosswalks on Leavenworth

Back in July 2009, the last three intersections of Taylor before Market street got new fancy crosswalks. Now, more than a year and a half later, it looks like other intersections are getting them too. One such lucky recipient is at Leavenworth and Eddy, where we saw half-finished pretty crosswalks yesterday. This made us wonder, is the the whole neighborhood going to get them soon? And if so, how long before someone sues the city about them for whatever reason it is that he/she makes up?

Out of the Frying Pan & Onto the Fire Escape

Since the day we met Jonathan Hirsch he’s been telling us that he’d love to share some of his writings on the neighborhood with readers of The Tender. Finally, last weekend he wrote to us saying that lately he’s been spending a lot of time just watching the traffic move up and down Leavenworth street where he lives, and that “much has been learned from this simple observation”. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did and that you’ll join us in attending his 2nd anniversary Tenderloin Reading Series event coming up on March 19th.

FIRE ESCAPE
Out of the Frying Pan, & Onto the Fire Escape
by Jonathan Hirsch

I recently moved deeper into the Tenderloin. Most nights I stare out the window and watch the bizarre circus side-show Highway 61 that is Leavenworth Street after dark. I’ve been trying to make sense of this neighborhood for years and still feel as though I’m only scratching the surface; this lingering awareness of my own sense of remove from the harsh realities of the TL streets is probably in no small part due to the fact that trying to understand a place like the TL is a contrivance in itself.

The other night I woke up at about three in the morning and a woman was screaming outside my window. “Make it stop” she said, “Just make it all stop”. I watched her from across the street, curled underneath a tree, screaming into the dirt. I felt false there, on the third floor. I was staring out onto a boulevard of suffering from the heated bleacher seats of my bolt-locked apartment. Still every night I am drawn to witness this or some other shit show.

I’ve observed that the desperation of some of the TL’s most downtrodden residents can take on a kind of philosophical fervor that my friends with day jobs, DJ nights, and parents who answer the phone when they call don’t always possess. I may be reading too much into this, but I’ve thought this on so many occasions that I’m beginning to believe it.

I used to live off of Shannon Alley on Geary Street. My girlfriend and I would lean out the window to smoke cigarettes and watch the adjacent parking lot fill with a rotating cast of junkies and other urchins of the street. My apartment was on the third floor at the back of the building. That parking lot was in many ways a continuous keg party, or at least it felt that way every hour or so when a patrol car would roll slowly down the alley and shine a light into the corners of the lot. We’d hear the deflated voices of the squatters float in through my window like an odorous wind saying things like, “Ah, c’mon man!” or “I wasn’t peeing!” or “I was just feeding this cat over here”. There, as now, I felt myself an uninvited voyeur to this particular urban circus.

Five days before last Christmas, the rain was so cold it turned to hard pellets of hail. We sat with our glasses and smokes and watched the beads of hard rain cling to the window like pieces of a broken glass necklace– something you might pick up for fifty cents at the Love Project Curio Shop down the street. Then an ungodly emanation from the street: there came bustling through the open window an ungodly noise that drowned out all the other sound. Cautious we peeked our heads over the ledge and saw her: naked, screaming, and soaking wet. Except for a Santa hat. She disappeared up Geary Street, and I could hear what I only imagine to be mortified tourists shrieking in displeasure at the unfortunate sight of this high-out-of-her-mind resident. They’ll go home and carve our neighborhood out of the travel guides, which is perfectly fine if you ask me. To this end, we can think of her as Santa’s little helper.

Whenever I think this way, about how maligned the TL is, how macabre and unacceptable it is to so many, strangely it brings into question for me the legitimacy of my own existence here. What right do I have to make commentary on the suffering of others? Who am I to make these observations? But that’s precisely it. Here I am in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and I feel at peace in the place that’s all but devoid of the class and grandeur of “San Francisco”. It was something about the genuine, raw utterance of despair from the woman in the Santa hat. Or the woman shouting “make it all stop” the other night. What did she mean by “all”? These are questions I think we’d do well to ask ourselves; questions people in the throes of despair seem to point towards with often-times remarkable clarity.

It is thoughts such as these that dispel my reservations and remind me that we are all just a decision or two away, off the street a couple of steps and up the fire escape from everyone else.

Photo TEN:15 by Beanbag Amerika from The Tender’s Flickr pool

Mid-Market’s just another way of sayin’ the Tenderloin

Ah, Mid-Market, our beloved new district for city development. I mean, Curbed even has a neighborhood tag and lots of retail space is for lease. It seems vibrant and new with the Central Market Cultural District Loan Fund ready to dole out 10, yes $10 million dollars to rebuild Mid-Market, although that’s kinda been a bit of a meh when it comes to loans being given.

Oh yes, everyone is out to revitalize Mid-Market. Famed, city-emptier, Burning Man is looking to move there, maybe in the Warfield building. Tourist-favorite, ACT might open up a theater as well as soon-to-IPO-favorite, Twitter might settle down at 9th and Market (if the city gives them a payroll tax-break). Oh, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite burgers, Pearl’s, big announcement to open their 4th location at 6th and Market by March 15th, as well as a new hostel to take over the currently desolate Grant building at 7th and Market.

Yes, all of this is simply amazing and this revitalization is coming to a part of the city that needs it so bad, not only because it has a lot of gorgeous buildings with empty storefronts stupidly rotting away, but also because this area didn’t even exist a couple of years ago. You see, the truth of the matter is that minus a few blocks sliced off from SOMA between from Mission up, “Mid-Market” really is, wait for it, the Tenderloin.

That map above was pulled directly from the Office for Economic and Workforce Development website. While it is true that this area is the middle of Market (the straight, non-hilly part anyways), it’s also true that it comprises what most people consider to be the Tenderloin, specifically, the heart of the Tenderloin between Polk, Mason, O’Farrell, and Market. Naturally, it makes a great deal of sense given that you if one were to say, “Tenderloin Redevelopment” that immediately sounds like “gentrification” which in turns pulls homeless advocates out from under their comfy rocks to decry it as evil. Call it “Mid-Market” however and they have a much harder time as it’s a much broader and non-stigmatized term.

To a great extent, I’m all for this. Sneaky, even if it is abundantly clear, is quite necessary at times. It would just be nice if people would be honest about it from time to time because when you give a neighborhood a case of schizophrenic identity issues, you sorta get those kinds of developments in turn which while there are successes are indeed “gap-toothed”. Some day, far in the future one can only hope that the Tenderloin won’t become/already be a “Sanctuary District” (that’s a Star Trek reference which is pretty much becoming truth) and that we’ll realize that we just might want to develop the heart of our city and say that’s what we’re actually doing.

(As one geeky ass sidenote, I find it ironic that searching “Sanctuary District A Tenderloin” brings up Jane Kim in the top results)

Your bike humor has me laughing on the inside

The following bike poster has made pretty much all the blogging rounds today (Uptown Almanac, Timbuk2, Laughing Squid, etc.) It’s a decent chuckle and created by agirlnamedtor, so good for her.

It just happens that the Tenderloin “bike” is a bit of bullshit being a locked up frame with stolen wheels. It’s true that San Francisco is generally in the Top 10 for bike theft for the US, which makes sense given the amount of riders. It just so happens that the Tenderloin is not the worst neighborhood for bike theft in the city though. It’s not even in the top five. The Mission is #1 followed by SOMA, Upper-Market, Fisherman’s Wharf, Mission Bay, South Beach, Financial District, Hayes Valley, then Tenderloin tying with Nob Hill and the Richmond.

I think that Kevin at Uptown Almanac sums up the general stupidity of it with, “I have never once seen a unicycle in the Haight”. ‘Nuff said. Do a little research before future charting endeavors.

Play for the Loin! Win the Derby!

You won’t see the interactive billboards in our neighborhood proper, only a couple of them by Tenderloin East Union Square and one on Cyril Magnin. But the Yahoo! Bus Stop Derby currently has the Tenderloin in third place a month after launching on a bunch of Muni shelters around the city (or at least the last time we checked).

I know, you probably want to know how that happened, but what’s more important is to stop thinking and get out and play for the Loin. We might even suggest to play if you happen to pass by one of the selected Muni shelters even if you don’t have a bus to catch. You only have a month left (the derby ends ends January 28, 2011), so hurry! And in case you needed some inspiration, watch Missionite Jeff from Muni Diaries win a few points for his hood and do the same for the Loin.

Why? Because it would be very enjoyable to beat both Mission and North Beach, but also to watch them put on an OK Go show in the actual Tenderloin (that’s the prize). Yeah, I bet they’re thinking they can just away with parking it at Civic Center, but no, I want to see that bastard set up at somewhere like Jones & Ellis or Leavenworth & Eddy.

To see that come about, that means everyone needs to get out there and play, play for the Loin! If you don’t and the Loin loses, we’re going to blame you. You’ve been warned, y’all.

Tender holidays, everyone

To all of you out there, from all of us here, have yourself a dandy holiday, despite the load of crap that it falls on a weekend this year. Drink heavily to deaden the pain of family and see you again next week.

Destroy Lower Haight, vote Tenderloin!

We must crush it, this Lower Haight. It must be destroyed in the 1st Round of the Curbed Cup. There are so many reason to claim hood superiority, but really, it all boils down to crack pipe vs. pot pipe and may the crack pipe win, carrying the mantle for all the cheap eats and happening hood that we have. I mean, the Tenderloin is the heart of the city and doesn’t have “Lower” in the name which infers immediate inferiority. Lower Haight is… uh… someone on some bus line that’s like somewhere not in the center. I think I bumped in to some drunk Lufthansa flight attendants checking it out once because they were bored, but other than that, what is this hood? It’s not the Tenderloin, that’s what it is.

And yes, respect back at you, Haighteration, but we toss down the gauntlet. And to all of you who want to accuse us of being on holiday, let me assure you that we are indeed (another mai tai please, thanks), but we view this with the utmost importance.

Tender Readers, it’s time to show your Tenderloin pride: go vote and crush the Lower Haight!