Banned

I’m slipping this rant into the scheduled posts. Only because it was time-relevant. lol

I didn’t sleep well last night at all. I have no idea why but I kept waking  up like every hour on the hour. I must have worn Cooper out as well because he slept right up till I crawled out of bed at 10:30 today. Usually, he is up and fidgeting and moving around the bedroom out of boredom. lol I called off to work today. I’m a bit cranky and feeling tired. After I’ve had some food in me, I’m gonna try to take a nice nap.

In other news, the proposed ban on public nudity here is scheduled to be voted on today. I’m at Cove cafe right now and several tables are discussing it. Every table had pretty much the same theme, “why do they have to force it on everyone?” Ironic, considering it was mostly locals doing the complaining. As mentioned, the issue really isn’t about nudity anymore IMO. Instead, it’s about people being forced to endure behavior they don’t like. That is the real crutch of the issue. SF has coexisted peacefully with the real nudists here for decades. Oh they get a few random complaints but nothing major. It’s known and even expected at some of the parks, beaches, bars, and various events here. It is tolerated well for the simple reason people who didn’t want to see it could avoid it. It wasn’t forced on you. With the exhibitionists setting up shop in the plaza smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood, people no longer felt it could be avoided. And that is when the complaints started rolling in, in earnest.

The issue has been conflated and twisted so much by both sides it borders on the ridiculous. Not to mention, something so silly  & foolish has divided the community in many aspects. Not that I’m surprised, good or bad, SF always tends to be controversial. And it won’t be over today unfortunately. I read the ban is being challenged in court as a violation of freedom of speech. I say good luck with that. You’d have to prove some sort of harm for it to pass muster. And considering it only covers public spaces, I find it a stretch to claim it somehow restricts people but whatev. I’ll be glad when it’s over so we can all move on to bigger more important issues.

Come & Go

In my last post, I mentioned the new Sliderbar restaurant that opened. It’s basically a twist on slider burgers. When Nikitas and I sat down, two of our friends were finishing up and gave it a scathing review. Being brand new hiccups are bound to happen so we decided to stick it out, granted our expectations were low.

The food turned out to be pretty decent. They had a diverse menu of sliders and we tried a couple different ones. Other than a snafu with our order getting entered timely, the overall experience (prior to me leaving my wallet like a dumb ass) was pleasant. The food was fresh and tasty.

Of course, like many places that seem to pop up these days, I doubt it will survive the long haul. They’ve taken something that is traditionally a comfort or fast food and tried to put a fancy spin on it. It is hard to sustain a business based on overcharging for fancy mini-burgers. I liked the remodel but I honestly doubt it will survive. They are trying to live on a niche market that is just not built on being pricey. Criolla Kitchen that was there prior was pretty much the same problem. After an owner revolt, the remaining owner ditched the all Cajun menu1 for a more general Southern style comfort food menu with a hefty price tag. Sorry but comfort food by it’s very nature is not price. And trying to charge upscale prices for food you can get elsewhere for a fraction of the cost is just not good business IMO. I will give Criolla credit, their food was very good. But they failed to truly understand their customer base and went under because of it. I fear Sliderbar is headed down the same path. While my first experience was pleasant, it didn’t wow me and I’d be hard-pressed to find myself eating there a lot.

I don’t wish them any ill-will and certainly like having a variety of restaurants in my neighborhood. Sadly, there are 4 burger joints within a few blocks of each other and frankly I don’t see the demand as being that high, even with a high tourist ratio. I could be wrong and I certainly wish them luck though.

  1. Which was what they claimed to be []

Nude

The latest drama to roll SF is an upcoming proposal by one of the Board of Sups, Scott Weiner,1 to ban nudity in public places. While he did include a caveat that excludes fairs and events, it still would ban all forms of nudity in public. Not even your buttocks could be exposed under the new proposal. This is a tad more extreme than even some conservative cities. I’m sure some reading this would be very surprised that nudity, in any form, is allowed in public. While there are several ordinances on the books about lewd behavior, SF currently has no specific ordinance against nudity in general. And many of us here realize nudity is not something to be ashamed of…within reason. And therein lies my rant today.  

Anyone that knows me knows I am no stranger to nudity, sex, or even a little voyeurism.2 But from my perspective, it’s not so much about the nudity but respect. It is plain disrespectful and rude to parade around in a busy residential & business district butt-naked. And your desire to be naked does not trump everyone else’s desire not to see it. It is not shameful to want to avoid it while you are going about your daily routine and/or business. And we aren’t talking about the beaches or even the parks. We are talking right out in the public plazas. I don’t find it disgusting or offensive but I do find it rude and disrespectful. I am rarely a fan of legislating behavior,  but what’s left to do? They have pushed the envelope to the point where no one wants it anymore.  

In my opinion, no one seems to understand what balance means anymore. It’s “my way or the highway.” We have plenty of spaces, places, and events here that allow, condone, and even support nudity. We clearly have room and place to express ourselves. We do not have to grind it into everyone’s face to get our jollies. Even worse, the so-called nudists have taken to wearing cockrings now and trying to claim it’s ‘jewelry.’  Bullshit. 

Of course, you should hear some of the hang-wringing and stuff being said on both sides of the argument. Everything from the completely logical to the utterly made-up and insane. Some of the comments were so ludicrous as to be hilarious. And I’m sure there are many who do argue against it out of a misguided sense of shame, religion, or not being comfortable with their own bodies. Even in SF, you have the fundies but that isn’t the point.

Then there was the  ‘the republicans are taking over’ and of course, ‘what about the children’ argument. Whatever that means. Children have no idea anything is wrong until you act like it so spare me on that front. If we are going to argue against it rationally, then the reasons should be based on reason, not stupid shams used over and over again. Then on the other side you have ludicrous statements claiming it’s a hate crime or discrimination. This is where they lost my support completely. It is not hate, shame, or discrimination to expect a minimum level of decency in busy public spaces. Asking you to cover your bare genitals is not a hate crime and to claim it is demeans and marginalizes the victims of such very real crimes.

Anyway, I hate to say it but it’s their own fault. Most of the so-called nudists are the same ones you see at the fairs beating their meat for a thrill. Sadly, they have probably given the few traditional nudists involved a bad name now. Having the privilege to be naked wasn’t enough they had to keep pushing it as far as they could. Well guess what? A lot of the locals have had enough and have started complaining in record numbers. And of course, the board of sups, tired of having their inboxes and voicemail blown up over it, has proposed new legislation to ban nudity.

I personally hope that the ordinance gets watered down a bit. I love SF and the freedoms that come with living in such a progressive city. But, being cited for walking from bar to bar in ass-less chaps is probably a bit overkill. And while the police have better things to do,3 if someone called and insisted on signing a complaint, they would be bound to enforce the law. Either way, it is a sad state of affairs when we are fighting over something so stupid and childish when we have so many bigger issues at hand.

Even as gregarious and open about things as I am, I still don’t want to see it when I’m going about my day. As I said, from my point of view it is about respect for others in public spaces and balance. There is a time and place for everything and there has to be a defining line somewhere. Unfortunately, now because of abuse, that line might end up being further to the right than we would have wanted.

On a slight tangent, many have argued for the old days and lamented the loss of the “freedoms” we had in the past. I’m sorry but we can’t have it both ways. We can’t argue for equality under the law and then get mad when we are held to the standards of society at large. We have emerged into the mainstream and can’t turn around. And given the choice, I’d go for equality. Being treated equal under the law and all that comes with that is far far better to me than the loss of a few freedoms. Freedoms ironically developed as a coping mechanism to a society that shunned and hated us.  

  1. Yes, his real name and yes I know. []
  2. Some of you reading can probably speak first-hand. *ahem* anyway… []
  3. and they do! []

Ya Know…

…you live in San Francisco when:

the homeless have specific requests on the amount of money or type of food they want.

someone says, ‘let’s go to the beach‘ and you grab a hoodie.

you see a naked guy walking down the st and no one even blinks.

your bingo host is a drag queen named Bob.

your pastor is a drag queen named Bob.

you can give directions to anywhere in the City w/o mentioning a freeway.

every hill is a different neighborhood.

you feel like you need a passport to drive over a bridge.

‘stro

I was walking home from the gym the other day and snapped this shot. I didn’t put any real thought behind it. It was just a quick pic of the gaborhood. It was a typical overcast day in SF.

Apple guy and I had had a conversation about his pending move back to Texas and I was reminded of my first time here. While he is very happy to be moving back, I couldn’t imagine ever moving back to Texas, by choice. He doesn’t hate it here but I think because he never quite gained a strong financial foothold, he has become frustrated. There are also many things about the South that I guess he misses. I don’t necessarily think his views are overly objective but that is irrelevant. Finding a place to truly call home can be a strong drive in one’s life, I can speak from experience. I wish him all the best.

*

It was about 13 years ago that I got my first visit to the motherland, aka the Castro. lol It truly was love at first sight. I can remember arriving here in wide-eyed wonder, not knowing what to expect. There was a moment on my 2nd or 3rd trip here where I was just walking down the street and it hit me, “I want to live here!” Jump forward about 2 years and I made the leap permanently. It was nothing for me back then to just pick up and move somewhere. Hell, I didn’t have much so it was easy. Fast forward again to present day and I’m still in love with beautiful SF. Make no mistake it has it’s issues. It certainly isn’t for everyone and can be very hard if you don’t have a stabile financial situation. I was told many times I’d grow to hate it, become jaded, callous, and uncaring, or end up strung out on drugs. None of which has happened. The only down side is my dreams of home ownership here are on hold because of my current financial crisis. Ironically, said crisis had nothing to do with SF itself.

I bounced around a lot in my life before landing in SF. I think I was looking for a place to fit in. I never felt truly at home anywhere else. Having landed here and formed roots, I’m glad it happened and have not regrets. I know that I’ll eventually get out of my current financial hole. Maybe then I can focus on home-ownership again. If not, it won’t kill me. Either way, I’m home.

Bi

This Guy is facing felony charges now for plowing thru a busy intersection in SF, not to mention the heart of the Castro. The story grabbed national headlines afterwards because the cyclist, a blogger, took to a local cycling site after the incident making some very careless comments about the guy dying to save his helmet. The comments were eventually removed by the site after massive reader backlash.

Anyway, I mention it because SF is one of the most cyclist friendly cities in the nation. That being said, the friction between cyclists and vehicles has increased exponentially in the last 11 years I’ve lived here. Many point fingers at Critical Mass, a local cyclist event meant to bring attention to the plight of cyclists. Varied amounts of riders gather on the last Friday of every month here and basically set out across the city blocking traffic and intersections. While CM started for good reasons it has devolved into a punk-a-thon of riders looking for mayhem and does more harm to the cause of cyclists in SF than any good it ever created.1

Being a motorcycle rider, I try to be friendly to cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Lord knows there are plenty of idiots in every category. I’ve had peds walk out in front of me, cars cut me off, and cyclists jump in front of me trying to beat traffic. And while I do think CM does create a lot of negative attention for cyclists in SF, I do not feel it is the biggest culprit. LIke many societal issues, it boils down to respect. Very few in any category above give respect to the others. Each feels entitled in their own way.

Many car owners think the own the roads and make virtually no allowances for anyone else. They are oblivious to anyone but other vehicles. Taxis are some of the absolute worst offenders. Cyclists ignore 99% of traffic laws, ride on streets, sidewalks, crosswalks and virtually anywhere two-wheels will carry them. Many are belligerent to anyone who interferes with ‘their” riding or act indignant if you confront them for stupid antics. I had an incident recently where I was walking Cooper. We were crossing at a crosswalk and these 2 cyclist come barreling down the street with no intention of stopping. One girl presumes to yell it me to get out of “her” way. She promptly got cussed out and had she hit Cooper, I probably would have yanked her off the bike and beat her with its chain.2

Many motorcyclists are overly aggressive and try too hard to cheat traffic and road conditions. They tailgate, split lanes, or make turns way too aggressively IMHO. While I do lane split, I try to always be aware of others and even then that doesn’t always help. lol. Pedestrians are no better. They often walk blindly into traffic without even looking to see what’s coming; comfortable in the knowledge they have the “right of way.” Well sweetie, when you get run over and killed because you couldn’t be bothered to look, we’ll write that on your tombstone, “here lies an idiot, he had the right of way.”

Without some sort of combined public education/outreach program the problem is only going to get worse. All of us need to learn to share the road, obey traffic laws or at least pay attention before proceeding, and share the road with each other. I know it sounds very kumbaya but it’s also true. There is no reason we can’t all enjoy the roadways and get from point A to point B w/o someone getting maimed, or worse killed. I encourage you, whatever your mode of transportation, be mindful you are not alone on the roadways and be willing to share the road.

  1. And for the record, there are conscientious, law abiding cyclists in SF and in CM []
  2. I get very defensive of Cooper when I’m out in public. I can only imagine what I’d be like if I had children. []

Snip Snip

In case you missed it, recently a bunch of folks managed to gather enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that would ban circumcision in SF. It made national news due to the oddity of such an initiative. Of course as usual, everyone starts over-generalizing about ‘liberal SF’.  I’ll be the first to admit people here are so initiative happy it borders on hysterical.1 Some things should require a little more review and decision making before just putting it to a vote. But while it was a bit of an extreme, the idea itself did have some merit IMHO.

Anyway, I knew right up front the initiative would fail. One, it didn’t allow religious exemptions and two it was very poorly written and overly broad. Circumcision has been part of “religious” ceremonies long enough it would take some serious doing to get something passed that didn’t include said exemptions. Being overly broad, it would have also created to many legal problems for enforcement. In the end, a judge actually ordered it removed from the ballot before it even went to a vote. That in itself is rare so that should tell you just how poorly it was written.

Frankly, I don’t think the government should be legislating something like this. I also think that we’ve become overly dependent on such an unnecessary procedure. While rare, there can be complications from a circumcision. And once done, its very hard to undo and even then its usually not the same. Why risk it unless its necessary? It is true circumcision has shown to be slightly more effective at preventing the spread of HIV. But the studies mentioned were for 3rd-world countries that don’t have ready access to clean water, good hygiene, medicines, etc. How very convenient to leave that detail out. lol And yes, there are cases where it ends up being medically necessary. But said complications are the exception not the rule.

Most people hide behind the “medical benefits” of circumcision to cover up the fact they are just uncomfortable with it. Cosmetically, it may look nicer but that shouldn’t out-weigh common-sense. Making a decision for your child based on a purely cosmetic preference is a bit selfish and extreme. Frankly, I’m glad I still have my hood. Its not overly pronounced or anything weird. When I’m “excited” you barely even notice. Side note here: One time after a “biblical encounter” with a guy, he went off on a tangent about it saying how he disliked it. Wasn’t he surprised when I pulled the sheet down and showed him! lolol True story!

Anyway, for .02, instead of coming up with more laws that limit social behavior, we should focus on community education. Communities rarely focus on public awareness campaigns anymore and its obviously showing. We’ve become a society fixated with telling people what they can/can’t do vs actually teaching people the pros/cons of their decisions.   /rant

  1. Seriously, if you can get enough signatures, you can put virtually anything on the ballot for people to vote on. []

Props

I rarely weigh in on political shenanigans here in SF but sometimes certain issues really need a proper beating.  The most frightening and potentially catastrophic is proposition B.

Prop B will force city employees to start paying their own retirement and insurance costs in full. Costs for themselves as well as all of their dependents. Forgetting for a moment local unions have already negotiated with the city to restructure retirement payments, it totally misleads people into believing the proposed changes will solve the cities financial problems. Even worse, it bars the city from raising base salaries in any way to compensate for the sudden and significant burden it dumps on the worker’s backs. Oh but it gets better, the person who wrote it works for the city as an attorney. Naturally, he exempted himself and his cronies from the cuts. So he expects us line workers to give up our hard earned benefits while he keeps his. Oh yeah, that sounds really fair.

As a civil service worker, I’m extremely afraid of this initiative passing. If it passes, I will lose roughly $450 a month out of my take home pay. I already give up between 30/40% of my gross salary for taxes/benefits. And I only have one dependent. Imagine what it does to someone who has 2 or 3 kids? Not to mention I’ve already given up almost 15% in cost-of- living increases for the last 3 years and any cost-of-living increases for the next 2 years.

If this initiative passes, I’ll be forced to choose between having insurance for myself and my partner or move out of the City into a cheaper smaller apartment just to make ends meet. I’m lucky in that I make a decent salary for what I do. I shutter at the thought of how all the folks who make much less than I do will be impacted by this initiative.

I’ll be the first to admit the city has fiscal problems. This initiative is being sold to the public as an attempt to fix those problems. The reality is its nothing but a political ploy for power and clout. Besides part of it being possibly illegal, it also would cost the City $100 million in federal funding if it passes. This tiny little detail alone negates any positive impact of the ordinance. Not to mention, the fuzzy math used to sell it is deceiving.

I support budget cuts and initiatives that make sense. But blanket cutting hard-working employees benefits to gain political clout is shameful and extremely damaging for SF. Even worse, this proposition pits the unemployed and non-unionized employees against unionized city employees. It does nothing to solve the real problems we all face. I can only hope that people realize the truth of what this proposition means before its too late.

Not So Zippy

**Update** ~ Apparently, they do pay attention to blogs and cyber “stuff”.  I got an email and a phone call from the corporate office. The guy was nice and very apologetic. He gave me a credit, which at this point I don’t care about but I appreciated the offer. The part I did care about was his genuine concern. He made a real effort to understand my problem and listen. He also gave me his personal work email for future problems.

Don’t get me wrong, all is not forgiven but at least someone is finally paying attention. The face I had to bad mouth the company in a public forum to finally get a response hasn’t escaped my notice either.

I discovered Zipcar when I first moved to SF. For those not in the know, the concept is simple. Instead of having to rent a car by the day or week, you rent by the hour. Your hourly rate includes the cost of the car, insurance, and gas. The process is also very simple. With registration, you get a card with a digital chip in it. You log online via the web or various mobile apps, sign up for an available car of your choice, show up, slide your card over the scanner, start the car and drive away.  Great idea right? It used to be.

Zipcar started out as a bright, fun, spunky little company with a novel approach to renting cars. A niche market for sure, but in a city as dense as SF one would think there is virtually no way to fail.

Where do I start with my frustration? I don’t know if its because they’ve grown too big or just plain greedy. Either way, this fun little company is ranking one step below AT&T for all time worst customer service right now in my mind. Oh yeah, you begin to feel my pain.

It all started about 2 years ago with a car that had a flat tire. I didn’t notice the flat until I hopped in the car to drive away. I made it less than a block, turned around, drove back to the spot and notified the company. Imagine my surprise when 2 weeks later I got a bill for the repair. I called, got a credit, and went on my merry way. A month later I find a suspicious charge on my bank statement. Turns out I got re-billed for the flat. Even though I went out of my way to help, because I physically drove the car before noticing the flat I got tagged with the bill. As disappointing it was, I accepted my part in the process and ate the cost. I figured one hiccup along the way was acceptable.

Sadly, things have gone from bad to worse. I’ve experienced so much frustration since then I’ve lost all faith in the company. Granted, no business model is perfect and one that depends as much on its customers as it does its employees is bound to have problems. I totally understand that. But when I do have problems, the outright lack of concern and open disdain from the employees is not acceptable. More often than not, the line employees seem more intent on putting me in my place and citing policy vs actually listening. Out of the last 10 reservations, 4 have gone smoothly.

Today, I show up to pick up my car and its not their.1 My time slot arrives, still no car. I call in to find out what’s going on. I’m already feeling annoying expecting the worst. The rep couldn’t find the car or a previous reservation. After some digging he discovers the car was taken out of service for repair and returned. Apparently not as the car is missing. After some more searching with no luck, he offers to move my reservation. Keep in mind my start time has already come and gone. He ends up moving me to another car 4 blocks away. To be fair, he did adjust my slot and gave me an hour credit. However, at this point neither of which was any consolation. I’m just plain tired of crappy to non-existent service.

I show up at the new location to find my 2nd car parked and ready. While I’m picking it up, I notice the car I was supposed to have is parked 2 slots away. Stupid me, I was considerate enough to call back and let them know where the first car was. The 2nd rep didn’t seem to comprehend. Mind you, I am pretty angry at this point and I’m being none too polite. Her stupidity only made it worse. I finally got her to understand what I was saying or at least I thought I did. As I’m preparing to end the call, she says, “ok sir, I have changed her reservation and your new drop off time is all set.

Excuse me? No ma’am. One, I was already in my new reservation so she was flat out lying to me. Two, my slot was already adjusted so double whammy. I finally lose my temper, let loose a string of obscenities about her stupidity and hung up. I’d had it.

I’m at the point now where I’d dump them all together if there was a easier alternative.2 City Car share has a footprint here but they are much smaller and don’t anywhere near the number of cars or pickup spots.

Customer service is a dying art in most companies these days and to see a company with so much potential fall so far in such a short period of time is extremely disappointing.

  1. If the car isn’t in use you can pick it up up to 14 minutes early with no extra charge. []
  2. Of course, if they keep this up, someone better will eventually replace them. []

Fog-ville

Apparently, this is turning out to be one of the foggiest (read chilliest) summer on record for SF. If you’ve ever been to SF, you know we tend to have Indian summers.1 You also know that June/July are known for their chilly evenings. The chill is from the fog that rolls in late afternoon/early evening. We get plenty of sunshine mind you. We also get very little to no rain once the rainy season is over. And speaking of rain, we had an exceptionally long rainy season this year as well.

Anyway, as I said, this year has been especially foggy. Normally by now the fog has begun to decline and the warm weather has set in full force. Ironically, last summer was extremely warm.2  I think poor Apple guy has begun to get a little frustrated with the lack of warmth. Spending a good many years in Florida, and more recently big ole Texas, he has become accustomed to warm weather. He will adapt in time as we all do but I can tell he gets frustrated at times. I don’t blame him either.

I’m hoping we’ll get lucky toward the end of the month that the fog will finally recede and give us a couple months of warm sunny weather before winter sets in. Only time will tell I guess.

  1. Summers that are later in the season than you would normally expect. []
  2. But global warming is a total myth. []