Part One … San Francisco is by far the favorite of the vastly geographically separated trinity of metropolitan areas I call home. Last September I left the wicked awesome confines of Boston to embark on a business trip to the City by the Bay. This business trip turned out to be all pleasure.
So my plane lands on an early Saturday afternoon. I was to stay with the JilliBean at her crash pad on Sutter & Jones for a few days and then check into the Grand Hyatt for the remainder of my stay. My post-sortie ingress plan was to take the BART from the airport into downtown San Francisco, meet up with the JilliBean, drop my gear off at her pad and cruise the city. I’m never one for plans anyway.
I get off the BART at the Powell station and the first things I notice are how many more bums were around than usual and the awesome weather. I mean awesome weather. You know, the perfect kind that only San Francisco can provide. The kind of weather that has something for everyone. Warm, sunny and a slight breeze mixed in with extreme cold, wind and gloomy fog. A paradox like no other.
So I step over my quota of bums and call the JilliBean. No answer. I call again. No answer. I call one last time. Beat. Luckily, I had accounted for this contingency in my ingress plan. So I’m on my own in downtown San Francisco for a while, where do I go to kill some time? The Gold Dust Lounge, that’s where!
Where else would you go if you were a busted ass kid like me wandering around the shopping mecca/tourist trap that is Union Square? A bar! Not really a bar, more of a saloon. Near the southwest corner of Geary & Powell, the Gold Dust Lounge is a throwback to the old San Francisco days which existed way before I was probably born. High-back chairs and benches accented with gaudy red velvet padding and model airplane paint gold trim. Totally worn out wood paneling, old smoky mirrors, wicked tarnished brass lamps and cherubs painted (or probably wallpapered) on the ceiling. The second you walk in you’ll notice the smell. It’s a kind of like stale beer, ass, piss and a hint of vomit smell. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Pssssst … it’s the smell that keeps the tourists out.
If you’re lucky, you can score the table immediately to the left when you walk through the entrance. It’s a small round table that juts out a bit towards the sidewalk behind a semi-circular window with small red velvet padded brass stools. There is no better spot in the city for people-watching while sipping your suds in peace. I walk in and my table was taken. Beat! So I waddle up to the bar with my extremely heavy woodland MARPAT duffel bag, desert MARPAT backpack, Targus laptop bag and Lowepro camera bag. I had that look as if I just traveled 3000 miles and I need a beer! I order a Stella draft with a Wild Turkey on the side. You know, the J.Ho Combo. At last, I’m home.
I score my drinks, sit down and absorb the fact that I’m back in San Francisco wishing it was to stay. I used to sit at the same bar while my former better half and her friends would go shopping in Union Square. I’ve stumbled in and out of cabs while coming and going from this place. I miss it. I never really missed the bathroom though. I give it only one star. I had to go wizzle, so I walk towards the back and hold my breath as I walk in the tiny bathroom. What was the first thing I saw? What was the perfect San Francisco greeting? I had to take a quick picture.
Indeed, I’m home. No town in the world does obscene bathroom wall literature better than San Francisco. Just to the left this shot someone wrote, “Michael Savage for President.” Then someone had crossed out the Michael part and wrote in Dan. This is just a taste of how polarizing the political landscape can be in this fine city. Actually, I believe Michael Savage and Dan Savage are equally irrelevant.
The next fine example of San Francisco bathroom wall literature was one of the most timeliest I’ve ever experienced. See below …
I had to adjust my flash a bit from when I took the first shot. It says, “100 years till the next one! Go home Bostonian! Don’t like home? Women are ugly? Weather is awful? California … priceless!”
Interesting comment. I assumed they were talking about the Red Sox winning another World Series. The funny thing is about six weeks later, the Sox did just that! The rest of the writing is spot on, though. Trust me. I’ve lived both places. Trust me, San Francisco is in no place to say another city has ugly women. We’ll save that topic for another rant.
After several J.Ho Combos and many, many tall tales shared with the bartenders, it was time for me to continue on my travels. I didn’t get to stop by the Gold Dust again during my trip, but the short time to water up and reminisce was all I needed. The two pictures below are a shot of the Gold Dust entrance taken from my hotel room and a picture of the J.Ho Combo.
Check out the Gold Dust if you’re in the area. Live jazz almost every night.
Too be continued …
Yankees suck! Giants too. Both Giants.