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San Francisco ... Bay Area ... California North Coast
588 Sutter Street, No. 105, San Francisco, CA 94102


North Beach. It can make your head spin. Stand on the corner of Columbus and Broadway on a Friday night with sex shows in one direction and pasta and pretty people in the other, and you can feel your equilibrium go.
From Washington Square: A Little Piece of Heaven

New Features

Time Of Your Life In San Francisco

By Louis Martin

I don't know what it means. It's just a fun thing to do. While presidents drop bombs and lovers thrash out the details of their relationships and businesses scramble for mindshare and marketshare and any other kind of share they can get their hands on, I just go walking. No one gets put down with deadly force, no one is forced to "commit", and I'm never richer for it. But walking is my form of fun and it makes me feel free. For an hour or so I'm a Pacific breeze
fresh ashore, visting my favorite city....

Diamonds, Reality & Spare Change

By Louis Martin

It was Friday. I got off BART at Powell & Market and walked a block up to Ellis, then over to Les Joulins Jazz Bistro. At the far end of the long bar stood Reuben, the manager. He looked exhausted. The cause? Alfie Javier Almonza, his new son, born October 9, 2007. The kid is doing well but exhausting both the parents. I told him there was hope: In just a year or two he and his wife would be sleeping again. I knew; I had been through it. Between sets I had a quick conversation with musicians Charles and Valencia, then split for Le Central. I had too many places I wanted to go tonight and was rushing. Why the rush? Maybe I was making up for lost time, lost sleep; too many babes, too many babies. Slow down, I told myself, then rushed off. Dave and Will are there at Le Central tending bar. We fall into a conversation about Fernet, the San Francisco bartenders' drink....

Camping Out In San Francisco

By Louis Martin

So much for Treasure Island RV Park, I decided. I would "camp out" in San Francisco for a week or two and see how it went. It was Friday night and first I hit Les Joulins Jazz Bistro, Cafe Claude, Cafe Bastille, and Enrico's. I must have had the feeling that I was going out of circulation for awhile to hit all those places. Then I headed down to Ocean Beach, which I thought might be a safe starter. Past the Cliff House I wandered down the hill to the big parking lots below. I pulled into the second of the two lots, the bigger one. I turned off the engine and just sat for awhile in the dark. There were other vehicles in the lot and a couple of blazing fires out on the beach. I could see figures illumintated by the flames. I am sitting there ...

In Limbo: South City

By Louis Martin

... So it was I said good-bye to Paris for awhile. A few days later, on Halloween, I found myself headed back to San Francisco, or more precisely, South San Francisco. I had given up my apartment in The City when I went to Paris, so was planning to stay in South San Francisco until I found another place or went back to Paris. Since I have an RV that I have practically never used, I thought this would be a good opportunity to put it to use. I rented space in Treasure Island RV Park, not on Treasure Island, which might have been interesting, but in South San Francisco. But that is not to say that Treasure Island RV Park in South San Francisco is not without interest. It is in fact a curious place, partly due to its location. Located not in the "industrial" part of the city that everyone driving up 101 to San Francisco is familiar with, but up in the hills ...

Sidewalk Cafe—For Enrico

By Louis Martin

"How was Paris?" I could hear Jen's question even before I'm off the plane in San Francisco. She's was picking me up at the airport. I probably should have refused her offer but hadn't. "Paris is Paris," I would say, delaying the answer for awhile. But I can hear the response to that: "Paris is Paris? That's all you've got to say?" "It is a mixture of all the species," I would then say, hoping to delay things, "it is a chaos, a throng where everybody hunts for pleasure and hardly anybody finds it, at least so far as I could see." "That doesn't sound like you. Who wrote that? It's eloquent; you're not." I was stung by the insensitivity of her remark. But she was right. "Voltaire," I confess. "Voltaire?" "Yes, Voltaire. I had a drink at his old hangout, Le Procope....


By Joe Smith

Many women cut their hair or begin painting their toenails when they break up with their boyfriends. My old friend Misty changes a letter in her name at the conclusion of a romance. She would hate to hear her old name on the lips of a new beau. There are exceptions to this practice of hers. She has on occasion made a double-switch in letters, or even taken what she calls a mulligan, leaving her name the same for the next paramour. But such exceptions are rare. “I’ve had lovers who were bald before,” she says, “and lovers who were married. But I never had one who was both at the same time. Or so … so … what’s the word? Proficient.” Apparently her latest flame was a bone fide chopstick lover. Fork lovers, according to her, shovel sex in ...

On the Edge: Shanghai 2007

By Louis Martin

I had come to Shanghai for the dim sum. I was told by my Chinese friends in San Francisco that Shanghai has the best dim sum in the world. My plan was to spend a week tracking down dim sum, savoring its exquisite flavor, photographing it in its many forms, and taking careful notes so that I could write about it like an expert, thereby justifying my trip. That was the plan, anyway. My first afternoon in Shanghai found me going for a walk. I may have been thinking dim sum when I started out but by the end of the walk, starting on Maoming Road, and venturing north up to Nanjing Road, then west on Nanjing, dim sum was not in my mind. The thought of dim sum had been replaced by the thought of something non-edible: architecture....


By Joe Smith

“I’m glad I’m in here,” Arnie smiles, “rather than out there.” The shattered lens of his eyeglasses breaks up the flash of lightning into several distinct bolts. I wonder how many his retina records, if he sees something resembling a lightning kaleidoscope. It’s easy to comprehend his happiness at being in my kitchen during the thunderstorm. The baseball cap he always wears is lined with aluminum foil to protect his brain from electromagnetic radiation. Arnie started taking this precaution some years ago, not long after he learned that he had a radio in his mouth. Or, more exactly, a radio tooth, a silver filling in a molar that somehow worked like a crystal set. Without earphones, of course....

Sidewalk Cafe: La Vie Nocturne

By Louis Martin

Tengo una hija que viva en Puigcerda. Now I have found a place I like in Paris: Au Rendez Vous des Amis. They don't throw the customers out after a glass of wine. Some customers look like they have been sitting there since the execution of Louis XVI wondering if he got what he deserved or not. Mais il est froid et venteux a Paris. I decide to pay the daughter a visit. The subway gets me to Gare Austerlizt. Le tren will get me to Latour de Carol on the border. I get a sleeper but I am not a sleeper this evening. I drift in and out, dans et hors. "Vin rouge," I say in my dreams but le serveur hears "vin blanc." Rouge does not sound like blanc to me, but it seems that unless pronunciation is perfect, he does not understand me. She aussi. Je ne parle pas français parfait. Je n'essaye pas même....

Sidewalk Cafe: Hanging Out In Paris

By Louis Martin

Before I leave for Paris I get the news: Enrico's has closed. I walk over to North Beach just to check it out. The sign says THANKS FOR 50 GREAT YEARS! WHAT? THAT IS HOW IT ALL ENDS? It is hard to believe. It is the best of the best in San Francisco. It IS San Francisco. I can think of dozens of places that should close before Enrico's. HUNDREDS. THOUSANDS. There is nothing like Enrico's, never will be again. It is, or was, a one-of-a-kind place. It was not a copy of some other place that made money so an investor said okay, give it a try. It was born in the mind of a man of many talents, Enrico Banducchi, who came to San Francisco at the age of 13 to study violin ...

Honest Food & CitiCrimes

By Louis Martin

CitiApartments, CitiBombardments, Skyline Realty, Flytrap Reality, CitiSuites, CitiCrimes, CitiCiti, CitiTitti, CitiWealth, CitiFilth ... and out of this dank maze of aliases, like primitive man poking his head from the cave, one name emerges ... Lembi. Name makes you cringe? Okay, let's reverse it before we go on and discuss his Brother In Greed: Ibmel. Ibmel relies on your fear. Ibmel counts on it. Ibmel has dog's teeth smeared with blood. Ibmel is an arse swarming with flies. Ibmel would like to rob and murder you but he knows that's risky. He'd also like to rob the bank but that would take guts. So instead Ibmel buys your apartment, cuts what services ...


By Joe Smith

The sun has finally emerged after days of rain. Charlie and I pace the bluffs, our eyes peeled to catch the telltale spumes of whales headed south to tepid Mexican bays to reproduce. “You figure they’re like us?” he asks. “You figure their baby-making equipment shrivels up and retreats inside those great, lumbering bodies when the water’s icy cold? The humpback baritones sing soprano?” Our rubber boots squelch in the mud. The earth is saturated, the bluff's a marsh. And despite the brilliant sunshine, the sea is gray, as though it had sucked up all the gray from the rain it could hold....


send flowers

Winning feels good, especially after losing. I have recently been on a losing streak. But all things come in cycles, even as the lout knows. Faith tells you and the lout that you've hit bottom and will soon rise again.
From San Francisco Cocktail

"Contiamo la moneta" (count the money), said Enrico Banducci's grandfather to him one day in Bakersfield. His grandfather had heard that Enrico, age 13, was planning to go to San Francisco to study violin.
From Beatings & Bar School

logo and white wine

"Women actually have an edge as far as tasting and subtleties because anthropologically, women are super tasters," said Kim Caffrey (below). "They have heightened sensitivity to taste and smell. Having that advantage, they are able to maintain more subtle aromas."
From Grape Expectations for Women in Wine


The sheep scuffling in the chute leading from the pen to the shearing barn huddle together for warmth and comfort. Those nearest the gate press against its bars, craning their necks for a glimpse of their fate.
From Shearing

Although there's no shortage of French restaurants in San Francisco, a down-to-earth neighborhood restaurant offering excellent French fare is hard to come by. Clémentine, taking its name from the bustling street on which it is located, is a true find.
From French Fare à la Clémentine

Skim through the pages of a typical surfer magazine and what do you see? Flip. A surfer "dude" flies up the face of a wave on a Hurley International surfboard. Flip. Another surfer "dude" splashes down the face of a wave in an advertisement for Reef surf shoes. To the side, a backside photo of "Traci" in a thong bikini suggests that anyone who buys these shoes will win her admiration.
From Reframing the Image of Women Surfers

"I love this neighborhood," said Ottilie Valverde, a resident for the last 33 years. "There’s an aliveness here. It’s full of life and wonderful people." She said what differentiates Clement from Chinatown is its international flavor.
From Clement Street: The New Chinatown


Don't Forget 8

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