Sunday, June 7, 2009


So, I'm involved in the 48 Hour Film Festival here this weekend... which means you, my dear readers, may have seen a super questionable title on this here blog sometime in the past 24 hours because we needed a blog window to shoot and the title needed to not be "New to the Bay". And then we ran to film another scene, which meant I totally forgot to change it back, and I just realized 14 hours later that I had done something really stupid. My apologies to any readers whose sensibilities might have been offended. :)

Also, this is a shameless plug to come see our film on June 15th at the Roxie. And while you're at it, come see all of them. They might be awful, but it might also be a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Love for Zipcar.

My mother asked me a few months ago what I wanted for my birthday. I'm not very good with "stuff" - I live and work in a studio apartment with another person, and we have very little furniture in it, so finding a place to keep new things is tricky. I also don't really need anything - I've lived here for nine months with the things I have now, and I can't really come up with a tangible thing that would make my life better or easier.

What I did know is that I wanted to go somewhere. I wanted to do something. While I like to preach about how great riding bikes is, and I go on and on about how fabulous the public transportation options are around here, it's not always easy to do the things I want to do. We don't keep food in the house because we can only transport what our shoulder bags can carry. (I know racks and panniers are an option, but I'm already on a 40 pound, 30 year old bike. There's only so much extra weight I'm into right now.) The Roommate has family up north that we don't see very often because the bus + bike combo to their place would literally take us three hours one way, which is not ideal for a Saturday day trip.

Perhaps the solution is obvious to the rest of you, but it took a little while to become obvious to me: I wanted a Zipcar membership.

Zipcar, for anyone not living in a major city, is a car sharing program. You get a membership, and it gives you access to cars at hundreds of locations for an hourly or day rate. Want to go to the grocery store but can't buy more than you can carry? Get a Zipcar for an hour. Day trips up to see the family? Cars start at $69 for the day. And while that's a little hefty for a rental car, it requires zero advance planning. I can get a car in fifteen minutes. And my closest Enterprise lot closes at 1:00 on Saturdays and isn't open on Sunday, so a Saturday day trip would actually be a two day rental.

Plus, Zipcar pays for your gas and insurance. I don't have my own car insurance - since I don't have my own car - so this is an extra charge that traditional rental car companies have to charge me. I'm also still under 25 for a few months, and Zipcar only requires you be 21+.

I've rented from them three times now, and every experience has been great. I've had to call them for various reasons - a check engine light was on, someone forgot their jacket in my car, etc. - and they're always quick to answer and very helpful. A phone call with the press of one button extends your reservation another 30 minutes, which is helpful for the hourly rentals when your trip hits an unexpected snag.

I pay for their yearly membership rather than a monthly thing, because I just don't drive very much. It's worth $50 a year to me to have the convenience of a car whenever I want it. Carless members of large cities, I can't speak highly enough about them. Check them out at

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Left Coast Smoke.

I was born in Kansas City. For the first eighteen years of my life, my blood was part barbecue sauce. I just can't get enough of it. Sure, I'm partial to my hometown's style, but since I've left, I'll eat just about any of it. Memphis, Carolina, Dallas - bring it all on. Barbecue transplants can't be so picky.

I was sitting inside Shotwell's, my regularly mentioned favorite bar, when one of the bartenders, Dean, mentioned that he was thinking about starting a food cart. Barbecue, he says. Pulled pork sandwiches to start, with slaw and a couple of different sauces.

I became entirely too excited. Way, way too excited. The barbecue options - good, solid sandwiches with pulled, well-smoked meat, drenched in sauce - are few and far between in my neck of the woods. There are a couple of restaurants on Mission that call themselves barbecue, and I certainly mean no offense to their establishments, but they haven't been what I was looking for. I wanted barbecue, and Dean was offering me my chance.

I was worried that we wouldn't end up seeing the fruits of this labor any time soon, but sure enough, I got to be a taste tester the very next Sunday. I fell in love and couldn't get the sandwich out of my head.

They've got a sort of floating campground setup. A crockpot to keep previously-smoked meat warm, and then they heat it up for you, along with lightly toasting the buns, on their electric griddle. There's a tomato-based spicy sauce and a mustard-based milder sauce that's more Carolina style.

They're frequenting bars in the Mission on a fairly regular schedule. I know they're at Shotwell's on Mondays (6-8), and I've heard rumors of them showing up at The Knockout and 500 Club. Stop by and introduce yourself. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. A sandwich with a generous portion of meat, your choice of sauce and a side of slaw will run you $6. You can track them on twitter at @leftcoastsmoke. Good guys, good food. And my answer to beer+barbecue in the Mission.

Edited to add: I ran into Dean and John last night. They're at The Knockout on Thursdays.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Despite living here for nine months as of today, there's still a lot of room to learn things about this city.

Such as, and I am not kidding you, I did not know Muni trains ran underground. There is a good reason for this, I suppose - I ride a bike, and I rarely take public transportation since the collar bone healed up many months ago. I take the BART if I have to meet someone at the airport. That's about it. Also, you can't take bikes on the Muni trains, which is the only other reason I ever consider public transportation - aiding me and the bike in getting somewhere difficult.

But this weekend, I was going to meet a friend who lives in the Sunset, in the part of the Sunset that isn't easy for me to get to. Possible, sure, but we were going to have a few drinks at her house and I really didn't feel like planning to do all that 1 a.m. riding in a neighborhood I'm unfamiliar with was a good idea. Lucky for me, the L runs right down Taraval, a block or two off of her street. So, sure enough, I walk up to Market & Church (a much more pleasant walk than I had imagined; riding a bike has completely distorted my sense of distance and time between places), and I look for the L... which I think should run above ground, because that's where I see the J run, and therefore that's where trains run.

That's not where trains run.

Enter me, looking like an idiot, finally figuring out where I needed to go. Nine months of living here, with a stop one mile from my house, I had no idea that Muni ran underground. I guess there's still time to learn new things.

Other things I've learned recently - my constant whining about wanting more diners (read as: places to give me toast and eggs) close by has been answered by deciding to walk to the Castro. We were seeing Up on Sunday afternoon, and I'll be damned if there weren't three diners on the same block. Toast, eggs, ham, potatoes. These are the things I want on my Sunday, every Sunday. A walk past Dolores Park, up 18th, to have breakfast and catch a matinee at a really beautiful theater.

And, an unrelated note - Left Coast Barbecue, a new traveling food truck very near and dear to my barbecue-covered heart, is now at Shotwell's every Monday night from 6-8, serving up sandwiches that will make you think about them for days to come. Stop by and support the guys - they make a very good product and they're very excited to share it with people.