Friday, August 24, 2007

Excelsior To You, Young Man (part 2)

When you tell people you live in San Francisco, visions of cable cars, maximum security prisons surrounded by water, and burritos jump to mind. When you tell them you live in the Excelsior district, you can see the question marks form above their heads. The Ex is such a mystery it doesn't make any of the City maps sold to tourists. Friends who have lived in the city for over a decade don't even know where it is. It's home to McLaren Park, the second largest park in the City next to Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately McLaren Park is arguably better known as a prime location to dump unwanted vcrs and refrigerators than for its awesome ampitheater, soccer fields, playgrounds, golf course and the city's only fully sanctioned skate park. What follows is a series of posts extolling some of the Excelsior's hidden charms.

When it comes to San Francisco landmarks that reach for the sky, the Excelsior’s big blue water tower is never going to get the civic pulse racing like Coit Tower, The Transamerica Building or the yet to be built Transbay Terminal. Most citizens probably don’t know what the thing looks like or even where it’s perched. But its second or third tier status as a city landmark doesn’t stop me from loving it. I think I’d have a strange attraction to the tower even if I didn’t live here. Its monochromatic, highly saturated color scheme coupled with its sexually suggestive design are aesthetically pleasing in a retro and small town way.
From its place of pride high atop McLaren Park, the tower’s home offers great views of the City, the East Bay and The Farallon Islands on a sunny day. Last year they had to tear it down and rebuild it for reasons unknown to me. Seismic retrofitting? Lead in the water? Who knows? I guess I missed that city planning meeting. I was dismayed when I heard they were going to tear it down. I could only imagine what sort of new design monstrosity they planned to put in its place. But lo and behold, they built an exact replica. In a city known for its planning debacles I was shocked that, with little fanfare and little gnashing of teeth, they approved an exact replica. For a short while the hill was graced with two twin blue towers. A pretty cool sight. How the hell I missed the day when they blew up or knocked down the old one is a mystery to me. Rest assured I continue to beat myself up over that one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Excelsior To You, Young Man (part 1)

The Dr's
4826 Mission St.
Nothing says I'm living in the city like eating breakfast in a neighborhood dive bar. To this end The Dr's delivers in a big way. According to the sign, perscriptions start getting filled at 6 a.m. I can't imagine they fire up the pancake griddle that early, but every weekend you can get heaps of pancakes, eggs and the like. As far as atmosphere, the place is bright and loud, and as a bonus you'll be eating on a government issue 6 foot long folding table. The jukebox is a nice mix of classic rock, country and 50's standards. I've even seen couples dancing to Motown hits during the brunching hour. The first time I drank here and the first time I ate here, I felt I was being received with barely concealed hostility from the bartending and wait staff. Maybe it's called paying your dues, because on subsequent visits the service has been downright welcoming in that "Hi, Honey, how are you doing?" kind of way. Plus if you bring a kid they try to load him up with candy. Apparently they serve dinner of the corned beef and cabbage variety on some evenings, but I'm just not that brave.