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Thursday, October 28, 2004

incentive to vote 

If you still need an incentive to vote, RNM is having an election night party. The idea is to watch the post-election spin while having dinner at the restaurant. The dinner is a prix fixe menu, $30 for three dishes, including some steak and lemon meringue cake, and only $26 if you have a proof that you voted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

begum sumroo 

From the play



$804,129 

$804,129, about the price of a 2BR/2BA condo in Noe Valley, is what Barry Bond's 700 homer's ball fetched in an online auction. Let's go Giants.



Actually, substract the fee for the on-line auction house, the game tickets, the 3 beers and the garlic fries and a marginal tax rate at about 25%, and he's left with only about $525,000. It does not include the cost of litigation which is pending, and for which he has retained a lawyer.

Ok, it is still a nice little sum, but not enough to quit your day job, especially here in the bay area. So I was surprised he did exactly that. He is in for an awakening.

wank of the week! 

The wank of the week is copyrighted by Hooray for Anything, which finds it exclusively in the SF Bay Guardian.

But in the spirit of fairness and equal opportunity that strives in San Francisco, we believe the SF Weekly should not be immune from such snark. Here is our "Wank of the Weekly". It comes from the very top, the Weekly's editor John Mecklin's column, humbly titled Mecklin.
Editing Aaron McGruder's words would be similar to editing Bob Dylan's lyrics

I hear the Bob Dylan fans crying. For those who don't know, Aaron McGruder is the guy behind a comic strip he does not draw himself anymore, and has -self-admittedly- a hard time finding inspiration for. Note to Mecklin: the McGruder defense is not very convincing, as McGruder can make fun of black people as he is black himself. Dan Siegler is probably not a "pregnant tweenage Mexican." Free speech adversaries have won when the free speech advocacy is as week as Mecklin's.

On the other hand, his weak advocacy comes in a batch of 4,000 tortured words and one understands better how Meredith Brody regularly lays 2,000 words of poorly edited non-sense: I thought her editor gave up; turns out he might be enjoying her writing.

it writes itself! 

This week's review of Meredith Brody's column writes itself.

What are the key elements we have learned about her so far:
  1. She likes the rich, caucasian side of the town, especially north beach and the marina. We even counted just to be sure. This week, check: she reviews Tartare, in the shadow of the transamerica pyramid
  2. She likes fancy pantsy chi-chi places. Tartare's chef is George Morrone, formerly of Aqua, the 5th floor, and Redwood park. Morrone's signature dish involves tuna and melted foie gras. Which brings us to:
  3. She likes foie gras. She would have ordered the lobster if it was on the menu.
  4. She probably has little integrity. We cannot prove she attended it, but we know there has been a media dinner at Tartare this past summer. The other big media dinners were at Frisson and Michael Mina. Meredith reviewed Frisson two weeks ago. She does mention Michael Mina in this week's column, which means this review is pending for the trifecta. Odds are she went there and is now trying to feed it to her as a "genuine" review (with the phony 'I tried to make a reservation and got on the wait list, but eventually came through' touch to make it sound otherwise*).
  5. She is out of touch with San Francisco. She concludes her review with I felt proud of San Francisco once again, as if the city was about ostrich tartare served in an actual ostrich egg shell.**
  6. She is boring. Little Chester is back, in a kids-say-the-darnedest-thing way. He does not want to be a chef, he wants to be a reviewer, just like Auntie.


*maybe we are just too suspicious about the media dinner thing, but she dates it a couple month ago. Her nephew Chester usually visits in July, school vacation and all, which seems to match the time frame of the media dinner. Also, on his way to the bathroom, the boy gets invited into the kitchen, requests and gets a signed menu, and cooks his own dessert. Odds of this happening are greater on a media night, wouldn't you think?

**The other flash of pride in San Francisco happens when she realizes that Michael Mina, Fifth Floor, and Gary Danko are fully booked one evening. Yes, the rich are having a good time, they got their tax cuts. For everyone else, Meredith Brody does not give a shit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

shorter debra saunders. 

here:
People paying $9 to freely see (anti-Bush) "Fahrenheit 911" is equivalent to a Republican TV conglomerate effort to pre-empt the programing of its local stations to force them to show (anti-Kerry) "Stolen Honor" at the cost of several million dollars to its share holders.

Efforts by Democrats to prevent Sinclair from broadcasting the anti-Kerry biased documentary are anti-democratic and make a laughing stock of free speech. Efforts by Republicans to thwart a pro-Kerry letter campaign organized by the Guardian are patriotic.

no typos 

I was trying to look up craigslist, but inadvertently typed www.craiglist.com,
without the s. I had all the porn filters screaming red alert in a second. Good
thing I was browsing on my cell phone, not my work computer.

Friday, October 22, 2004

All things French... 

This is the condensed San Francisco version of Suzanne Toczyski's list of all things French in the bay area.

What caught my eye:

-October 22, 2004. JEAN-LUC PONTY performs with AL DI MEOLA & STANLEY CLARKE at the San Francisco Jazz Festival. www.sfjazz.org or 415.776.1999 for details.

-October 22, 2004. A BOUT DE SOUFFLE (1959). Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Paris Through Expatriate Eyes regularly hosts presentations, receptions, dinners, film screenings and more with well-known Paris-based authors, artists, filmmakers, and other cultural dignitaries. Mechanics' Institute, 57 Post Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco. Café opens at 6PM for all programs. Programs start at 6:30PM. Tickets: Mechanics' Institute members FREE, public $7. Reservations: 415.393.0100 or rsvp@milibrary.org or www.milibrary.org Paris Through Expatriate Eyes: www.paris-expat.com

-October 23, 2004. OPERATION S, with "Cecilia's French wails," performs garage-rock guitar and new-wave keyboards at Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin), SF. 415.503.0393 or www.theeparkside.com for details. $7. 9pm.

-November 5-13, 2004. GOLDEN JOE. Le Théâtre du Coin présente "Golden Joe," une pièce d' Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, mise en scène par Hélène Charmet. Les 5, 6, 12 et 13 novembre 2004, à 20 heures. Au Théâtre du Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Rd - Palo Alto. Entrée: $ 12. Réservations: colette@beraut.com


The last one I know people in it, it is always very good quality plays, but it is actually in French. I have never heard of the one before last, but they haven't changed their names to freedom wails, so we salute them.

one happy camper 

We can only rejoice for Our Lady Of the Fancy Fine Foods:
The government has temporarily decided against reducing or banning imports of prized beluga caviar, despite having agreed to list the beluga sturgeon six months ago as a species whose survival is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

We overheard Meredith Brody say "Sacramento raised sturgeon just does not taste the same, and Sacramento is so hick anyway".

Thursday, October 21, 2004

integrity watch. 

The rumor around the grapevine is that some big media dinners have happened at Frisson, Michael Mina and Tartare in late July and early August. Unfortunately, the rumor does not name name (thanks anyway for the tip!) San Francisco magazine's Josh Sens reviewed Mina and Tartare, while the SF Weekly's Meredith Brody reviewed Frisson, all in the few weeks following these dinners. Meredith love these fancy schmantzy places, we can hardly wait to see who of Michael Mina or Tartare she's going to review next.

The Chron reviews a lot more (and we expect little in terms of integrity from them, it's the Chron), so it is harder to point a trend (they love Michael Mina, about whom they have had a bunch of features, and they have reviewed Frisson; maybe they would have media dinner or not).



Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Where does the buck stop? 

By way of SFist we learned that the Guardian has filed a suit against the SFWeekly for anti-competitive practices.

I think the Bay Guardian is wrong: the SF Weekly is not discounting its ads because it is getting revenue from the New Times other markets. It cuts the price because that the only way restaurants will put ads in a section with Meredith's column in the lead spot.

chron op ed pages... 

I know I should not go there, it is only blog fodder, but reading the opinion pages in the Chron today, I stumbled upon this, from Ruben Navarrette Jr.:
I think Kerry was just being a jerk and trying to tweak the other side. Years ago, to cut someone down to size, the zinger was: "Your mother wears combat boots." Today, it is: "You have a gay daughter." Or, in this case, your running mate has a gay daughter.

What a strange comment. Is it something parents should be ashamed of, if they have a gay daughter? "You have a gay daughter" is a zinger, to "cut someone down to size"? That is not particularly enlightened, is it? But then again, if you allow the cheap shot, Mr. Navarrette writes for the Dallas Morning News. Dallas, Texas. We rest our case.

enough with the poor people! 

After one express trip into the seedy parts of town (but, asks she, if it is outside the Marina, is it still in town?), Meredith is back where she feels at home: presidio terrace, at the confluence of the marina and pacific heights. And what better way to comfort oneself -after rubbing elbows with the, gasp, less than wealthy- than to have some steamed lobster on sticky rice. Feel better now? Not yet? About a well made (even a little loud) cosmopolitan, the drink of the dot-com bubble?

Wow, that hit the spot. Let her look around, what does she see? I noted three pink sweaters, and two of them were cashmere (sigh of relief) and she has this prosperous, slightly clubby Pacific Heights feeling. Ah, my brothers, my sisters, my fellow cashmere people, we're back together, and we'll never never be separated again. And have some more lobster, please.

The first paragraph is typical Meredith arrogance. Let's look: My tastes in food [are]adventurous[...]there are many, many eaters out there who don't yearn for the shock of the new[...as they are]bound not only by prejudices but also [...]personal taste. I'll rephrase for clarity: I am cool, as I am a food adventurer; some people are not like me, but it is only because they are prejudiced and have poor taste.

The irony is that our food Indiana Jones' adventurous taste can be summed up in one word: lobster. And her exploring territory is the size of my handkerchief, tucked between fillmore on the west, lombard on the south and columbus on the east. She write, one might assume earnestly, I went back to seeking out Albanian hot pots dusted with fennel pollen and crowned with foam, which is codeword for North Beach-ian foie gras dusted with peppercorn.

To complete her recovery from her inner city visit, she'll go next week to Michael Mina's, have herself a black mussel soufflé with a Chardonnay and saffron cream.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

who is he talking about? 

Paul Reidinger talks in his small food-related 'without reservation' column about integrity in the reviewing process.

He says some reviewers review media dinners, in which they are invited by the restaurant. The issues he mentions are real, but the main one he does not talk about is that the reviewing should be anonymous so that the experience of the reviewer and mine are the same. A media dinner where everyone works extra hard because they know who is in the dining room has little in common with my dining there on a slow Monday night.

Anyhow, I am wondering who is the reviewer-that-shalt-not-be-named.

(hint: Paul does read Meredith, as exemplified here. He does not name her there either, but this shoe obviously fits)

He will be back 



He will be back, November 7, at the stick, one more time, in a Seattle jersey.

Monday, October 18, 2004

creepy 

Imagine you are a pretty young lady, flying into San Francisco, tired from the travel. You hop in a cab to the city. The driver laughs when you give him a piece of paper with the address to the hotel: "Fold it, I don't need it." You start driving, you are a prisoner of the cab, doors locked, don't know where you are going, and the cab driver starts showing some interest in you. Yuck, creepy, creepy, creepy. You hang on to your pepper spray, you bite your nails, and you have a big sigh of relief when he drops you off.

Well, that is what is happening this week in the Night Cabbie, one of them amazing Chron columnists. And for this episode of stalking, he finds it witty to title it with the url of a web dating site.

Our frustrated frat-boy driver displays more poor taste: he writes I see a young, genetically blonde female and I read a genetically redneck columnist.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

begum sumroo 

Theater Rasa Nova has opened this week with the American premiere of Begum Sumroo, the Rebel Courtisane. People seem to like it so far!

It is a beautiful story loosely based on historical facts.
Here is the poster:


It still runs today at 2pm, Thu-Sat at 8pm next week, and next Sunday at 2pm, all at Project Artaud Theater, on Florida between 17th and mariposa. Show is 3 hours long, but it is so epic you don't have time to get bored.

Full disclosure: I have a small role in this production.

thanks to SFist... 

He made our day:
SFist would like to point out that Le Blog de San Francisco has been hating on M-Bro in public since back in the day (although privately we've been doing it since we first read the column)

M-Bro? We like that...

(even though we personally would not use the word 'hating', we do believe she objectively sucks, that we can rationally explain why, without resorting to fafblogian suckical casuistics.)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

lonely tower 

The Coit tower is lonely, Meredith got away for once.

She went on one of her "I don't have friends, so I'll take random tourists around" tour. The stopped at Bombay (mentioned already in her previous such tour with the LA visitors), at La Cumbre, Pancho Villa and Can-Cun (all reviewed by her previously), then at Shalimar (whose sibling Shalimar Garden she reviewed already) and Naan-n-Curry.

We can hardly give her much credit for going to the 'loin, when her foray out of the Marina is to re-trace her previous steps, and end up at Absinthe (which she has reviewed of course.)

Blatant disingenuity: Meredith gives us her usual "I have been to NY I'm sooo cool" spiel, writing she once went to a small restaurant off the beaten track in a not particularly chic part of New York City. You'd think it is a simple place. Yeah, right, it has $$$ on citysearch, and the tasting menu she mentions used to cost $50, $85 with a wine pairing. That is her kind of place. The chef she took on her tour charges $4 for naan at his new restaurant. Not particularly chic my ass.

Oh, and she screwed up the title of her review. She might have meant "India Song", which is a love story, a 70s movie and a book and the very cute music of the movie, all by French writer Marguerite Duras.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

balance on paper 

I carried a piece of the Chron with me for a little while. It is this Big Debate article between a Berkeley professor of economy and a Stanford one.

The two quotes above the fold are: for the Blue team, the president has a proven record of bing the opposite of a deficit hawk. I'm not sure what that is, maybe it's a deficit chicken. For the Red team, War and recesion are the two reasons where it is not only necessary to run deficits but good to do so.

One cannot argue with either quote, but there is something very dishonest to pretend they are two sides of the coin. Deficits are good in times of war and recession. Every economist knows this from his Keynes 101. What is not good, is to run unsustainable deficits with no end on the horizon.

I am no economist, but real ones, like Berkeley's Brad De Long or Princeton's Paul Krugman make the point better than I could. Say, Krugman, for instance, this week: Mr. Bush [and in surrogate in this "big debate"] will claim that the recession and 9/11 caused record budget deficits. Congressional Budget Office estimates show that tax cuts caused about two-thirds of the 2004 deficit.


SFist in the right tracks 

The "Meredith Brody sure has luxurious tastes" meme is catching up. Indeed, she likes caviar in the marina. We have been pointing it out a few weeks in a row. And SFist is joining the fray. Remember you read it here first.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Mr. Seguin's goat. 

No, Meredith did not get out of the shadow of Coit tower, she is leashed to it like a goat to a stick. She visited Frisson, at Jackson and Front.

She had caviar and, of course, foie gras. Desserts were a bargain at $10 a pop. The chef was previously of Elisabeth Daniel, a place that Meredith is still beating herself up for not visiting: what, they had lobster two ways, and truffle quenelles, which is what we, San Franciscans, eat every day.

On the review itself, it is one of her "things are not like they used to be" specials: I had a blast the first time, but it just ain't the same the second time. I wondered why she used this formula (she does quite a lot, trust me on this), then I figured it out: she is a lame chicken, so she won't say anything bad without counterbalancing it with something positive. If the chef this week wants to extract out a quote from her for his web site or his next PR brochure, he can find a glorious one. If she had guts, she would write a synthesis of both experiences, instead of patch two conflicting reviews.

kinko's 

The question of the day is: did Meredith get out of the shadow of the coit tower? But, after a little suspense, we will address this in the next post.

This one is about kinko's. The one on Duboce and Market. I had 4 booklets to be printed out for Monday morning, each between 20 and 100 pages, each to be printed in about 30 copies. So I go in there, Friday evening at 7pm. I was receiving the material to be printed by email, so I had first to connect my computer. The guy at the desk, Edsil, tells me: it is free wireless, just power up, if you have the wireless card. You bet I do so right away. Of course, it does not work: it is a T-mobile hotspot.

They do have a big poster that says: 'try this hot spot free today, ask for our complimentary day pass'. So I go back to the front desk, and ask for it. They look at me like 'what are you talking about?' I walk one employee to the poster, then another, none knows what to do. Eventually they tell me their is an ethernet connection, and I should just wait for the guy using it to be done.

I ask if they could locate the billing account who was set up earlier that day by a lady on the east coast. They can not find it, and Edsil gets testy with me when I suggest he uses the account # she emailed me. Great customer service there...

By now it is 8pm, and I have all the stuff. So I try to set up the order. The one person I am talking to, Becky, is charming, but does not know how to claim the material from a USB drive. The one who knows, Ed, is on "lunch break." Plus, they are not sure they can process my order, it is too big. My problem is that one of the booklet is to big in memory size to be sent over to another kinko's by email. I had tried earlier without success. So I ask them if it is okay for them not to take the whole order, but only this one book. I also explain to them how important it is that I have the book ready by 7am on Monday.

After some back and forth between Becky and Ed, who eventually came back, they agree to. I am supposed to come back the day after at 5pm, to check a proof. The books will be ready Monday 7am no fault. They run me an estimate of $700 for 25 books, so they are not exactly cheap either. I leave the place, it is 9:45pm. I spent close to 3 hours in the place, most of it waiting for a clerk's attention.

I come back the day after at 4pm. There is no proof ready. When they say 5pm, it means they will wait till 15mn before 5 to start doing it. That place is run like a joke. Anyhow, I come back later in the evening, and they do have a 'proof'. A joke of a proof. The sections in the booklets where numbered from 1 to 9. They were in a totally different order in the book. What happened? Easy: they waited too much, and had to produce something, anything by 5pm, but not the correct thing. So the chapter called "introduction" is smack in the middle. Maybe they studied too much Derrida.

It seems to me that the format being ok, I could leave and tell them: just print them in the right order, it will be fine. But NO! I have to sign the actual proof, so I have to wait until the guy puts together the proof. I even have to help him, as it seems I am more competent at dealing with pdf documents than he is. Time spent for this: another hour.

Monday morning, again blinded with naivety, I go there early. They open at 6am, so I show up at 6:30am. And the guy tells me: "I am sorry, your order is not ready." Ok, will it be ready at 7am? "No, it won't be ready. It can be ready by tomorrow. The binding machine is broken." At this time, I am used to Kinko's screwing up, so I stay cool. All I am thinking is, how can I salvage the mess. My idea is take whatever they have done, and have it bound by another kinko's, the one in Santa Clara, where I should deliver the books at 9am.

The guy is okay, but wants me to pay for the whole order, minus the bindings. To which I say: no. If the santa clara kinko's cannot bind the books, I am totally screwed, and the market kinko's would bear no price for their screw up. So the clerk takes the print-outs that were near the front desk, and puts them in the back, for fear I might run away with them! Then he calls the manager, who tells him to make me pay. I ask to talk to the manager, whom the clerk has to page again, and the manager tells me: "you are early, and you have been keeping the clerk busy so he could not complete the order." They say: "we are not responsible, it is the machine which broke!" You gotta believe these guys. Even better "You take the four books that we completed, and we'll recycle the rest". I am like, how does this make either one of us feel better? Eventually, they cut me a price, but I can still not believe that I had to fight for it.

Then I rush to Santa Clara, where they bind the books within half an hour. They did not use the same binding machine: punching holes would have been too time consuming, so they used some tape and glue-like binding. Which they of course could have done at the market kinko's!

The recap: 3 trips to kinko's, 4 and half hours, countless arguments due to thorough incompetence. And all this obviously due to very poor management, as the santa clara kinko's ran very efficiently. My recommandation: avoid that kinko's at all cost.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

wingnuts 

I picked up a copy of "The Patriot" while spending the day at Cal. The Patriot is the newsletter of the Berkeley Republicans. They present themselves as a minority (in the right, though) oppressed by the liberal tilted environment.

I was reading it on my bart ride back to the city. Man, these kids have no idealism it is scary. An article about the driver's license for illegal immigrant is illustrated by a cartoon of a person receiving his license in one hand while holding a bomb in the other. It hints that an illegal immigrant = terrorist, and witholding the license from them makes us safer. Fact 1: most of the terrorist who did attack America were here legally. Fact 2: Terrorists planning to blow up a bomb probably have little qualms driving without a license.

Then comes a review of Clinton's "My Life". Clinton admits he decided to register for the Vietnam draft in order to maintain his 'political viability'. The reviewer writes this means Clinton "always looked out for his own interests, even when freedom was at stake." So is he saying the Vietnam war was a war for freedom? True, but not on this side. Whatever the point is, one has the impression that George W. Bush's conduct at the same time, his nose bleeding from snorting coke while disobeying orders, would not be found faulty.

Next Josiah Prendergast finds natural that the President would state that "a dictatorship would be easier to govern under." To those who object, he says: "Never mind the fact that most political theorists consider absolute monarchy the most stable, efficient form of government. But really, Aristotle, Cicero, St. Aquinas and Plato were all part of the Vast Right-Wing conspiracy that now runs our nation."
In other words, Stalin was right, and Greeks philosopher who lived in a Republic really wanted a dictator to tell them how to think.

I don't know much, but I know better.

craig's lecture. 

I am a big fan of Craigslist, but I was somewhat shocked to see Craig Newmark giving a seminar about "building on-line community." It was advertise in the Learning Annex, the free hand-out that you found in random places (I was reading over the shoulder of this lady on bart).

The other topics border on ridiculous, a la "how to become a millionaire." And Craig was there in the middle of it. Participating in a scam to milk people out of whatever the registration fee is, so that they too can create Tomslist and Jodieslist.

the end of Californa 

Gov. Arnold Schwartzeneger signed into law a regulation stating:
Farmers will be not be able to force feed ducks and other birds to enlarge their livers to produce the delicacy foie gras. SB1520, by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco.

Oh man, oh man. The first concern should be for Meredith. Poor lady, what will she eat when she makes her north beach rounds? She'll be stuck with the lobster and the oysters.

This is a tragedy, though, and I for sure hope there is a loophole in this law. Or at least an exemption for the French tribes of the bay area. Maybe sonoma could secede from the state.

There seems to be bi-partisan support from the Republican governor (why does he want the governement to decide what should be in my plate?) to the Democrat sponsor of the bill. Dunces.

on the money... 

Meredith Brody makes us feel like we are really smart. Last week, I looked at her bias towards the ferry building and north beach. This week, she visits two places, one in North Beach, one in the Ferry building!

Paul Reidinger gripes about the ferry building being just another food mall, and Meredith Brody likes it so much that he must be right, with a safe suburban tastes.

Meredith's opus this week is a masterpiece: it is a compendium of what makes her a mediocre food writer. The lenghty opening on a tangentially related subject that one slogs through, the restaurants in the "good side" of town, the missed attempts to be interesting (oh my, she wrote something was "artfully artless", or maybe it was "artlessly artfull". Note to Meredith: if you want to create an oxymoron, don't take words that exactly negate each other), and then the last sentence:

If I squinted a bit, the chic columns of stacked black wood disappeared, and creamy art nouveau walls hung with old mirrors seemed to swim into view in their place.

If I squint a bit when I read the previous sentence, it starts to make sense. No wait, it does not. Maybe if, instead of squinting, I'm snorting lsd, maybe then.






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