Monday, June 2, 2008

MARK TWAIN AWARD's Fun Fast Facts About Frisco

1) You should never call it "Frisco." It irks the locals. Don't call it "San Fran," either.
Call it by the full name, "SAN FRANCISCO," or -- if you are feeling particularly sophisticated -- call it "THE CITY."
2) Don't come to town expecting to see gay men dressed up like the VILLAGE PEOPLE.
You will be sorely disappointed. Gay men only dress up outrageously about twice a year, both times for certain parades.
With their immaculate grooming and office-job attire, gay men actually look like Young Republicans -- one of San Francisco's great ironies.
Besides, it will be tough to spot gay men in San Francisco: The vast majority of The City's residents are ASIAN AMERICANS.
3) Speaking of... if you really want to glimpse ASIAN AMERICAN culture, give CHINATOWN a cursory look, then head over to CLEMENT STREET in the Richmond District.
English-language storefront signs are difficult to find on Clement, and the shops offer some of the same Chinese items for as much as three-fourths the price as the crowded stores in Chinatown.
4) Forget RICE-A-RONI. The real local delicacy is the San Francisco-style BURRITO. Taquerias throughout town sell this full-meal-in-a-tortilla, and Web sites such as (here) devote numerous pages to the best offerings in town.
Locals wash down their burritos with a cold Belgian beer called HOEGAARDEN.
5) Which brings us to the final fact: Despite the wine-sipping image, San Francisco is a BIG BEER-DRINKING TOWN.
You'll probably crack up when you see your first INDIE ROCK HIPSTER guzzling a can of PABST BLUE RIBBON. Don't fear: Most bars have fine beers on tap, with the aforementioned Hoegaarden and Germany's FRANZISKANER among the favorites. You'll want to drink TSING TAO with your Chinese food and ASAHI with your sushi.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Some d--m place across the Bay"

OAKLAND, the eighth-largest city in California, has been the birthplace of numerous notables of the stage, screen, playing field and letters: Buster Crabbe, Robert Duncan, The Pointer Sisters, Max Baer Jr., MC Hammer, Galen Rowell, Jimmy Rollins, Dontrelle Willis, Erik Hogstr-- Oh OK, I'll stop.
Oakland grew from a railroad terminus to become a major West Coast port and industrial center, as well as a cultural melting pot of some renown.
Mark Twain famously struggled to reach Oakland for an 1868 speaking appearance. According to contemporary reports, Samuel Clemens madly rushed around the Oakland and Alameda ferry landings, on the San Francisco side, frantically inquiring about he could reach the site of a dinner "at some d—m place across the Bay."
Why didn't Twain simply follow the example of his namesake MARK TWAIN AWARD? Mark Twain Award had no problem reaching Oakland. He just hopped on BART and rode it through the TRANSBAY TUBE. It was easy!
Mark Twain Award toured the LAKE MERRITT area, even stopping at the famous proto-theme park, CHILDREN'S FAIRYLAND.
Then, after a morning in the city, Mark Twain Award hopped on BART and rode back to SAN FRANCISCO. No problem!