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Somewhere in San Francisco
November 4, 2011 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Meanwhile, 6th and Mission St is in the center of city. If you've ever walked it, it's like stepping into the another world, not a pleasant one either. On a rainy night, wandering into Tu Lan, it's famed Vietnamese restaurant, is the closest experience I can recommend to feeling like you're in Blade Runner in America. I work between 5th and 6th on Mission and have wondered and despised how such a place like this came to be. Here's an answer from someone that lives there, which really has me thinking.
posted by straight_razor (106 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
tragically Happy Donut has been gone for years now...nothing like gorging on Imperial Rolls at Tu Lan then popping next store to buy the BEST.DONUTS.EVER from behind bulletproof plexi. ah! those were the days. I haven't been accosted by homeless junkies in far too long.
posted by supermedusa at 3:35 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I live here. On purpose. And I love it.

I'm going to start writing a longer comment now. In case this post gets deleted, send me a Mefimail if you'd like to read my comment.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Neat link. Sounds a lot like Hastings and Main, which has its own soundtrack
posted by KokuRyu at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2011


This was really cool. Thanks for posting it.
posted by cribcage at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2011


I'm seconding what hippybear said.

Also, the artwork in that link is gorgeous.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:46 PM on November 4, 2011


Just to be clear, there's no relationship between the first link and the restaurant other than being in the same 'hood? It's not terribly clear why the restaurant link is included.

The first link is pretty cool, BTW.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:48 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The relationship is that talking about 6th street without talking about Tu Lan would be ... well, it just wouldn't make any sense.

Haven't been to Tu Lan in ages. Could be a little terrifying. And yet there's something about "Beef with Vietnamese Herb" ... oh, I can taste it.
posted by feckless at 3:52 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great post.

I'm constantly amazed at the stark delineation between neighborhoods in SF, most notable south of Market and the Tenderloin.
posted by eugenen at 3:52 PM on November 4, 2011


Part of the charm of going to Tu Lan - is the experience of walking 6th St. - Nelson Algren would have loved the neighborhood.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 3:53 PM on November 4, 2011


Fantastic post. Used to live near there. Loved it!
posted by slackdog at 3:54 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very cool.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:56 PM on November 4, 2011


Also: as a former resident of 8th street (well, alley off 8th) I like the emphasis on how fast things change from block to block. Separate worlds, yep.

Also I can never think about 6th and Mission without remembering the time a MUNI bus crashed into the porn store. This picture is even better.
posted by feckless at 3:58 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The front of the bus crashed through the wall and into the store, thrusting a streetlight into the second floor of the building"

(Giggles adolescently)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:06 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


First time I went to Tu Lan, I was sitting where I could watch the cook. He had an open sore on his sweaty forehead. He wiped the sweat off same forehead with the back of his hand, of course rubbing the wound. Didn't skip a beat in his cooking.

This was also the last time I went to Tu Lan.
posted by jasper411 at 4:07 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still cant believe that my parents let me get on the bus in Modesto, and take the Greyhound to SF starting when I was 12 (1972). The S.F. Greyhound station was a sketchy place located on 7th street between Mission & Market.

I would meet my cousin there and we would buy knives from the army/navy surplus and play SkeeBall. We were still of the age that the insane stream of consciousness from a bum was insight into the real world. It was like a fantasy novel but instead of a wizard with a staff you listened to a legless man with oozing sores tell you who really killed JFK.
posted by pianomover at 4:16 PM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Been there: Street view
posted by lathrop at 4:17 PM on November 4, 2011


I love this cartoon. But romanticizing a neighborhood full of victims of mental illness and substance addiction is a bit difficult for me. I'm sure there's lovely people and places in that neighborhood but it's mostly the city's holding pen for broken people, a true San Francisco shame.
posted by Nelson at 4:19 PM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


I live on Natoma St, one of the two alleys between Howard and Mission, just west of 6th st. So basically right in the middle of "the hinge." (I like that name quite a bit, I'd never heard it before.)

When people ask me where I live and I tell them, I invariably get one of two responses:

1. They give me a sort of pitying look, assuming that for some reason or other, I had no choice but to live here.
2. They laugh, in that way that is an invitation to laugh along with them at how awful my neighborhood is.

Fuck you and fuck you too. Maybe when I first moved here a few years ago, I might have played it off as misfortune, and maybe I would have joined in the laughing, but no longer. This is my home and you are laughing at me.

When I first moved to San Francisco, of course I chose to live in the Mission. I was a 23-year-old, single artist. Surrounded by coffee and bookstores and pretty girls and brunch restaurants - where else would I possibly want to live? I got a tiny little studio and shared a bathroom with three other people. And sure I still like visiting that neighborhood, but that's not a place for grownups. People my age shouldn't spend all day at Ritual Coffee Roasters hoping someone attractive notices what book they're reading.

That's not why I moved to San Francisco. I moved here because I wanted to live in a city, damnit. You know - enclosed spaces, loud noise, a city! And eventually this is where I found myself, in the loudest neighborhood I could find.

You ever look at a map of San Francisco and see how all of the neighborhood archetypes are based in displaced ethnicities? In the 50s the hipsters took over North Beach and in the 90s the hipsters took over the Mission. And today? I dunno, I keep getting all these postcards about art openings in the Tenderloin.

As I've gotten to know the neighborhood better, I've learned something about the people here. We're not comfortable with cool. We're leery of things changing too quickly. This is becoming a different kind of neighborhood, but it's a neighborhood that defines itself by its ability to share, not by who had to move to make space. Today we've got a beautiful Philipino community center right across the street from the chic French restaurant with the roof patio. Today we've got a cutting-edge graffiti art gallery and a challenging theatre company. We've also got extended Philipino families sprawled across multiple apartment buildings taking their kids trick-or-treating. Keep your Mission and your Castro. And your Oakland, for that matter.

You know that abandoned trade school in Detroit they always show pictures of on TV, never showing the gorgeous new campus across the street? City Produce is just a convenience store with a confusing name. The real grocery store - yes, the real grocery store, the kind you went to as a kid before you moved to California and settled for Safeway - is just around the corner.

But what about the homelessness? Well yes, San Francisco has a major problem with homelessness. A city once known worldwide for its homeless services is now a city where it's safer to be on the street than in a shelter. And if this bugs you so much, then you shouldn't have voted for Gavin Newsom. Quit voting for supposedly liberal politicians that could care less about homelessness. Don't confuse treating the symptom with treating the problem.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:20 PM on November 4, 2011 [65 favorites]


Thank you, roll truck roll. That was an excellent comment.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:29 PM on November 4, 2011


I am one of many people who upon landing in SFO for the first time ever, drove into the City and down 6th Street. That was back in 2000 when the Dotcom boom was in full swing. I was totally shocked at how a city basking in the glow of so much wealth was allowing this to be the very first impression many visitors get of San Francisco. Little did I know I'd be working at a tech job a block from there for most of the next decade. I understand that any vibrant city needs an area where the oddballs can live without threat of hyper-gentrification. But having personally witnessed the pain/misery/strife of that area I gotta think we can do a lot better as a society.

Great artwork on that first link, BTW.
posted by quadog at 4:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I spend a bunch of time in SF each year, and I always stay at a place at 4th and Mission. What I do when I go there is mainly walk around and look at things. The way that the people, businesses, and general feel of the place changes dramatically from block to block in that part of San Francisco just amazes (and sometimes depresses) me. The McNaughton piece does a great job putting into words and pictures some of the wonders and discomforts of being in that place -- expensive yet delicious coffee from Blue Bottle juxtaposed with food stores that don't sell real food, people sleeping on the streets next to some of the city's last remaining affordable housing in the form of SROs.

(If you're at all interested in the history of how this area became this way, you could do worse than reading Paul Groth's amazing Living Downtown: A History of Residential Hotels in the United States [find it at the library, as those are some extortion-level used prices]; Chester Hartman's City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco [one of the best books ever written on urban renewal] and the SoMa map in Rebecca Solnit's Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas.)
posted by heurtebise at 4:31 PM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Man is that area sketchy sometimes. Well, most of the time. It's one of the only places I've seen where addicts will break into a car just to have a place to sit down and smoke crack or shoot up. Not to steal anything. They'd just pick a random old shitty car and bust the window so they could sit down. Sometimes they'd steal motorcycle spark plugs to use as pipes, and you'd find those or plain old glass crack pipes on the dashboard, like they intended to leave you a present of some crack residue to make up for busting your window and leaving crack pipe burn marks on your seats.

Having seen some crack addicts in action using crack logic, they probably thought they were being very generous and that leaving a few cents worth of crack residue was a fair trade for a busted window and "rent" for sitting in the car.

Not far from here - a long time ago - a friend was a Medical Marijuana caregiver for someone who was a legitimate MM patient if there ever was one. I'm not going to name the affliction for safety, but it's a chronic disease that MM will actually help. So he had a legit garden in his apartment. There's quite a few of them in that general area.

I worked there sometimes doing trimming and just helping out. It's boring, tedious work, really. Sticky and itchy. Not anywhere near as bad as harvesting lettuce or strawberries or something truly back breaking, but it certainly wasn't a cushy desk job, either.

We were often up very late to work with the artificial light cycles going on, because usually they were reversed from actual daylight cycles. So when we'd take a break for lunch it would often be 2 AM, and we'd go out to Market Street to the 24 hour Carl's Junior right there on 7th. That Carl's Junior was also pretty sketchy.

Anyway, we'd totally forget what we had just been doing. More than once we stank like skunks, covered in sticky bits of leaf. On the street or in that Carl's Junior random people would stop in their tracks, sniffing the air and then usually say the exact same thing.

"DAAAAAAAAAAAMN something smells GOOOOOOOOOOD!"

People would follow us around. Walking through The Tenderloin or SOMA while you smelled like a giant dank bud was like walking into a hyena preserve covered in raw meat. A couple of times we had to take the long way back to ditch people that were really too curious about where we were going.

This was especially embarrassing and anxiety-making when we'd be in Carl's Junior and the SFPD officers that were usually stationed there after hours would be giving us a whole lot of hairy eyeball. Meanwhile some street dude is standing too close, sniffing us up and down.

The officers would just roll their eyes at us, but not one ever said anything or even made a comment. SF has a really strong hands-off policy when it comes to medical marijuana, so we weren't in any real danger. In fact I was generally glad they were there, because more than once I was worried we were going to get mobbed or eaten. It was still just really, really weird and very much SF.
posted by loquacious at 4:44 PM on November 4, 2011 [32 favorites]


I used to work at 7th and Howard. Lots of entertaining stories. Tu Lan is awesome.
posted by Chuffy at 4:54 PM on November 4, 2011


And sure I still like visiting that neighborhood, but that's not a place for grownups

Dude, come on. Weren't you just asking for your neighborhood to not be mocked or generalized? If you lived in the Mission, you know that plenty of grownups live here. If you look past the millimeter of hipsters floating on top, you see the miles of mostly immigrant families that live here, and have for decades.

Besides, everyone knows that the neighborhood for adolescents is the Marina.
posted by rtha at 4:56 PM on November 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


You're right. That was cheap.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:01 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Used to work near 5th and Tehama. Tu Lan is a grotty Narnia wardrobe of awesome.
posted by zippy at 5:08 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice post
posted by caddis at 5:16 PM on November 4, 2011


When I moved to SF in the early 90s, I split my time between tending at a gay bar on Polk Street and overnight shifts at an adult video store on Market between 6th & 7th. Got to know two different worlds of hustlers. Now all of the gay bars on Polk are gone (unless you want to count the Cinch, which I don't, not any more) and most of the affordable housing that made the Tenderloin affordable has vanished as well. I used have a place on Bush & Jones for $175 a week in 1994, technically an SRO and was very nice. Lots of luck these days.

I've lived on 6th as well, in the Baldwin House (clean rooms the sign said, hahaha) and while I wouldn't want to do it again, I was grateful that it was there at a time when life really sucked. It was a safety net. And there used to be lots of safety nets like that all over SF. But like the cartoon says, the real estate is just too valuable. Oh well. The view is okay from Vallejo. I guess.
posted by dantsea at 5:21 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


No worries. We have drunk in bars and been drunk in bars together!

Bars in the Mission, come to think of it...

I love the alleys like yours.
posted by rtha at 5:24 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to work at 7th and Mission, and I walked down 6th to get to work every day. A sad and fascination display of humanity. I have never eaten at Tu Lan, but I go to Club Six a few times a year to see laughably awful band opening for a great band.

They even wrote a song about Sixth Street.
posted by chemoboy at 5:27 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 5:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I lived right next to Roll Truck Roll for a year in 2008 I think. I never introduced myself, but I saw him a couple of times, his hair color is hard to miss.

I liked the hood, but there is a lot of romanticizing going on. I was buying cigarettes when a dude got stabbed outside Fred's Liquor and Deli. I stepped on a pool of blood (not a smear or a few drops, a thick coagulating pool of blood) outside the nightclub at the corner, because I was distracted by some dude trying to steal my backpack of my back. A friend got knocked out cold outside Chico's Pizza because he refused to give a cigarette to a drunk man. My wife was standing outside our building when some people got shot at the corner of 6th and Minna.

I really liked the place, the violence and dirt are the price one pays to live on a street that is ALIVE. I was OK with this, I am big and can look scary if I want to, but it was hell for my wife walking home and getting accosted every 5 steps.

I lived a couple of years on 21st and Mission. I loved it too. I saw rtha a couple of times at Philz, but again I did not introduce myself. I don't care much for all the super popular bars on Valencia, but I loved all the good eating and drinking one can do on Mission St. itself, on 24th street and further South, the ability to blend in with both the white crowd and the Hispanic crowd. We moved out because of rent increases, and now we live in the Western Addition.

I have manged to live in 2 gang injunction zones so far. If the trend continues, my next place will be in Bayview.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 5:37 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I once saw a video by Killing My Lobster where Sixth St is described as "the street with the crosswalk that's two blocks wide".

Heh.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 5:42 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a bit of SLYT on 6th St:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPlZK1JNI24

It's not very sensational.
posted by dantsea at 5:44 PM on November 4, 2011


I saw rtha a couple of times at Philz,

Say hi sometime!
posted by rtha at 5:50 PM on November 4, 2011


Now i live in the western addition, but if i ever sew you at the Korean food or any of the jazz clubs i will say hi.

Also, there is an old woman who feeds the pigeons at the park on geary and Steiner. The moment she is out of sight a rtha sweeps down from the pine trees and eats one. I have been unable to find the nest.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 5:56 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


So when I first arrived to San Francisco I went with my wife (then girlfriend) to "the city" for her hair appointment on 5th and Mission.

I decided to walk up to the 4th and Market Apple Store (completing one part of my pilgrimage) and then remembered my wife talking about Paulette Macarons up on Hayes St. Looking over the maps I thought "what the hell it's only 5 blocks right?".

So anyway, I'm walking up Market Street and all of a sudden pedestrian traffic dries up. The tone of the neighbourhood changed dramatically to tourist kitsch to red light dive. Thinking naively to myself "they wouldn't put the civic centre in a dangerous district" I pressed on towards 9th. Getting to 9th I looked down towards Hayes and there were no cars parked there. At all. Like nobody wanted to be there and I got this "get the hell out of dodge" vibe.

Now I had just walked through what was probably a remotely dangerous section of the city and thought "well fuck that I'm not going back that way" and headed down a block to Mission Street to walk back to 5th. So I started walking down Mission which after half a block appeared to be a ghetto with charming crack dealers and a burgeoning homeless population. Being a pudgy white boy foreigner I picked up the pace and didn't stop until 7th. After relaying that to my then girlfriend she was pretty freaked that I had walked through the Tenderloin alone and hadn't been mugged. At that point I vowed never to go south of 8th St while walking.

And that's my story about my first day in the City and County of San Francisco.
posted by Talez at 5:58 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing to keep in mind about 6th Street is its location. We've got worse neighborhoods actually, but those are pretty much segregated off in a corner of the city. And as marginalized and violent as Bayview-Hunters Point can be, it is still an area filled with ordinary people striving to improve their neighborhood; we're talking community gardens, parks, a "food oasis" project to provide cheap and healthy food, a relatively new light-rail link to downtown and other parts of the city, and a major (and majorly controversial) redevelopment effort on the site of a toxic-waste infested former naval shipyard.

In contrast, the world of 6th and Mission is right in the middle of things. Here's 6th and Mission on a map. But that doesn't really do it justice if you don't know the City. Here's a quick map I threw together which places 6th and Mission in context with nearby landmarks, places where people actually want to visit.

As you can see, we're talking about a place two blocks from the convention center, a block from a major luxury hotel and a world-renowned rock venue, half a block from a fancy coffee bar, a yummy French restaurant, and the local major newspaper. I measure it as about 2,500 feet as the crow flies from the frickin' Four Seasons Hotel to the epicenter of the neighborhood we're all talking about here. San Franciscans drive through it on their way to/from downtown on a regular basis. This isn't some kind of far-away ghetto we can all ignore, but rather a crazy place, full of heartbreak (and occasional hope) many of us pass through on a regular basis.
posted by zachlipton at 6:09 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


And that is another reason i like 6th street. When I run out of luck and find myself living hand to mouth again I'd rather be in an sro that is walking distance from everything than in bayview, where you have to put a couple bucks in muni to get to the closest decent food.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 6:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, so in response to Talez above, let me just say that I do a lot of walking around San Francisco, and don't hesitate to walk through any part of downtown at any remotely sane hour of the day or night. Tenderloin, 6th and Mission, no problem. Have never felt genuinely unsafe.

Am I doing it wrong?
posted by eugenen at 6:27 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh I love the bay area/SF in all its poison and beauty. I moved out here at 24, clueless suburban girl from NJ. got a job in San Leandro (oooh!) I had to take BART home 11pm or later, to Civic Center, then walk 5 blocks, EXHAUSTED, to Oak & Octavia. a terrifying immersion into serious street but no one ever fucked with me and nothing bad happened. I learned to love it. guess thats why I love my *ahem* "marginal" neighborhood here in NW Oakland. people are friendly, the weather is gorgeous but yeah, things are intense and REAL and sometimes can be scary (ie my husband on his way via BART from work as the Oscar Grant verdict was being handed down. we live by MacArthur BART. it was fine, but nervewracking...) I do love city life though.
posted by supermedusa at 6:44 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


and I've had Talez's "go for a walk---omg where the fuck am I Toto?" experiences. things change so FAST around here...
posted by supermedusa at 6:45 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I doing it wrong?

I do too, eugenen. At worst I have felt uneasy, but never enough so that I altered my travel plans or scared me in any way. Perhaps it's because I'm a reasonably large male and I exude the confidence that comes from surviving unscathed walking down streets for years that I suppose should make me hesitate.

But sometimes I think it's because I never in my life have had someone beat the shit out of me or even confront me with violence. I have never felt that kind of fear that comes afterwards. I have had two bikes and a car radio stolen, but the only emotion that that leaves you with is anger.
posted by chemoboy at 6:50 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, there is an old woman who feeds the pigeons at the park on geary and Steiner. The moment she is out of sight a rtha sweeps down from the pine trees and eats one. I have been unable to find the nest.

San Francisco is so great.

This is a great post. The illustrations are just gorgeous.
posted by rtha at 6:57 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, rtha is a person? I thought you were talking about a hawk! That anecdote just got a lot more disgusting.
posted by chemoboy at 7:02 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Beef with Vietnamese Herb" ... oh, I can taste it.

I just do eyes. Just - just eyes.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:02 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


And God, the comments on the second link:

I ordered the Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) and it came waaay too spicy...instead of the waitress asking me what level of spicy I wanted my dish when I ordered it.

Like totally girl?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:10 PM on November 4, 2011


A day in the life
posted by growabrain at 7:39 PM on November 4, 2011


Sometimes they'd steal motorcycle spark plugs to use as pipes,

Hate to be pedantic, but those were probably for busting the windows open quickly and quietly.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:15 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, 6th and Mission.

I used to live on 6th and Minna, right around the corner. First in a Single Room Occupancy hotel, and then in an apartment in the same building.

This was right around the end of the dot com era.

Late night Happy Donut (Chinese and Donuts!), Carl's Jr., burritos at Taqueria Can-Cun. Parties at any of the dozens of warehouse spaces in the immediate neighborhood. Nights at POW! and then the End Up.

It was a great time. I don't care what anybody says, there's something magical about that neighborhood. There's a book, On the lower Frequencies, that talks about some of the underground punk and other subcultures that centered around that area.

Even though I live up in Seattle now, I still follow the goings-on in the neighborhood by watching the 1AM twitter feed and related neighborhood communities. I miss that place, it was the perfect place at the perfect time for me.

I'm know I'm romanticizing it somewhat. There was crime. I was once randomly punched in my chest as I stepped out of my apartment. But I stumbled into the Korean grocery next door and people came in to help and comfort me. There was a strange sense of community you don't see in other places. Community you're starting to see again in the occupy movement.
posted by formless at 8:18 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Google search: "bad neighborhoods, San Francisco"

It made the list!
posted by Vibrissae at 8:28 PM on November 4, 2011


What was with that odd place with a balcony that disappeared a few months ago? Just south of Tu Lan, past the Showdown or whatever it's called.

What was with it, really? Was it a front? Who wants to sit on a balcony looking at people stumble across 6th St? No smoking allowed! I suppose I answered my own question ...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:32 PM on November 4, 2011


I lived right next to Roll Truck Roll for a year in 2008 I think. I never introduced myself, but I saw him a couple of times, his hair color is hard to miss.

Holy shit, say hi sometime. Do you ever go to Metafilter meetups?

What was with it, really? Was it a front? Who wants to sit on a balcony looking at people stumble across 6th St?

Are you talking about Passion Cafe? It's still there.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:37 PM on November 4, 2011


Oh man, love this. 6th and Mission is home to a corner XXX video store that would update its sign to "Your Valentine's Day Shopping Headquarters" to promote their wares for the holiday. Hilarious.

I love San Francisco with all my heart. This has become one of my favorite threads of all time for capturing the spirit of this crazy city.
posted by hampanda at 8:46 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sorry, I just can't romanticize about 6th street or the tenderloin. We got people there who literally look like the walking dead. Like they were left out in the weather to rot, like a car up on blocks -- which, yeah, I guess they kinda were. I go there and I just have to look away. (and then later in the year donate to homeless charities when I get my bonus)

But MAN, can you ever get amazing fucking food in those parts of the city. And damn cheap, too!

Anyway, great art, great link.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:52 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, say hi sometime. Do you ever go to Metafilter meetups?

Yeah really. New rule: if you find yourself living next door to a fellow Mefite and you're lucky enough to be aware of this fact, you have to at least say hi.

I did live next door to another Mefite once, but he joined because of me, so that doesn't really count.
posted by zachlipton at 9:15 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am Mexican. I have been poor and I have had money in a 10*sin(x) curve. I have lived in white picket fence suburbs and in neighborhoods where the glue sniffing child prostitutes sleep in puppy piles in the sewers. In world class metropolis and in indian villages in the mountains were they still pray to pre-columbian gods at night. San Francisco is the place where I want to live the rest of my life. 6th and Mission being 2 blocks away from Moscone Center and the Apple store, where Steve Wozniak camps all night to get an iPad is the concentrated stock made of a hundred hams that shows why.

If the green card deal does not work out I expect to be one of the thousands of undocumented migrants living here.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 9:16 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Come hop on the puppy pile with us. :)
posted by chemoboy at 9:21 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I went to 2 meetups. Under another username. I met the legendary loquacious and gave him a little gift. I also met rtha and gingerbeer, klang and his family, amd ambrosia voyeur and her partner. The thing is that I suck at social interactions, I was kind of dickish during the meet ups.

In all my life I have managed to make and keep 2 friends and a wife. Dealing with more than 3 people at a time makes me want to run out of the room and hide under my bed. Just thinking of introducing myself to a stranger on the street makes me physically ill.

For the time being I will keep you all in cyberspace, but I still like you very much.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 9:25 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hate to be pedantic, but those were probably for busting the windows open quickly and quietly.

I'm aware of that, but I don't think that most street crackheads know that particular science hack. It's not impossible, but from my direct experience it is unlikely. They're not really concerned about "quick" or "quiet". My friend had his car broken into multiple times and more than once came out in the early morning to find his car still in use as an impromptu crack lounge.

Plus they have obviously been used as pipes, what having the core removed and charring/smudging on one end and the distinct burnt plastic smell of crack all over the plug/pipe. This is actually a known thing. Motorcycles with easily accessible plugs are the most common target, but I've heard of people having their car hoods popped (after the window was broken, obviously) so that one or more spark plugs could be pulled.

See, there's a logistical problem. You can score crack at 3 in the morning in the Tenderloin, but you can't get a pipe or a bit of brillo because all of the corner stores that sell "glass roses" and chore boys right next to each other are closed after 2am.

Never underestimate the tenaciousness or ingenuity of a crackhead when it comes to smoking whatever they've got. It's really sad and depressing and all that, but "focused" doesn't even begin to describe the actions of a crack addict with a rock and nothing to smoke it out of.

Though, the reverse is also true. I've seen addicts (in the Tenderloin and elsewhere) spend hours methodically picking their way up and down several blocks of street carefully turning over every scrap of trash or leaf looking for any tiny speck of anything that even remotely resembles a bit of crack - and then immediately try smoking it whether it's a white chunk of dried bird shit, a lost peanut, toe cheese, bits of pebble from the road - whatever. If it's white-ish and pebble-ish they'll throw it in their pipe and try to smoke it. Sometimes multiple times just to double check.

I really wish I was making this up. It's hella depressing.
posted by loquacious at 9:44 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I met the legendary loquacious and gave him a little gift.

Oh, hi. I know who you are now, but I don't remember your original handle.

Carsonb now has the pocket knife you gave me. I was moving (again) and needed to travel light (again).
posted by loquacious at 9:47 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Wait, rtha is a person?

She really likes her pigeons.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:08 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought you were damned charming and not at all awkward. My partner, contraption agrees!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:08 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if you are who I'm thinking you are (did you arrive on a bike?) you were awesome and I wish I'd spent more time talking to you. I didn't get a dickish vibe at all, though I do remember recognizing the all-too-familiar symptoms of social awkwardness.
posted by contraption at 10:12 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


And now I have read this thread and will bow out because I DON'T LIVE IN NORCAL ANYMORE and might cry.

But I tell you, there are Mission neighborhoods down here too. Just more tacos and fewer burritos, as far as I can tell. ;)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:16 PM on November 4, 2011


As a recent transplant to SF, and someone who trains (when I'm able) at 8th and Howard, I'm finding this thread (and the art at the link) awesome. I'll have to try to make the next SF meetup.
People have warned me about 6th st, but now I feel like I have to check it out for myself.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:30 PM on November 4, 2011


i had to leave san francisco a few months ago. i've been homeless, but living in a lovely house with friends since mid-summer, in san diego. tonight they advised me it is time to go - just as i started a job and felt like i might be getting my feet back under me. but it's a crap job, not even enough to cover basics; not yet.

so... i was sitting here in a dilemma, trying to decide if i should take what little cash i have and fly back to SF in a couple weeks. i moved there 12 years ago, from SD, with no job, no apartment lined up, and only $100 in my pocket. i crashed on a couch or two, then found a temp job and checked into a series of SROs until i could find a room to rent, and eventually a tiny studio. (tho none on 6th street - closest SRO i stayed in was this little place right above Asia SF. LOUD AT NIGHT but clean and friendly. an dirt cheap. i think it might still be there.)

and eventually, i flourished - pretty much. until this year, when it all tanked. so i came back to my "hometown"in the southland to see if i could make it a go. an while it has been real, and good, like they say - it hasn't been real good. i dunno, should i stay or should i go? this thread has made me so crazy homesick for SF that i think i must have the answer.

and when i once again flourish and have a few bucks to throw towards a glass of whisky, i wanna see all of you there at a damn meetup, ok? or even just Ayn Rand and God, since crowds of more than 3 make him so nervous, and his namesakes will probably hog up the whole booth hahaha.
posted by lapolla at 10:54 PM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


@thsmchnekllsfascists

No, using motorcycle sparkplugs as improvised crackpipes is definitely a thing. Here's a hilarious Craigslist post (from SF, no less) as proof:

Hey, Crackhead!
posted by Green Winnebago at 11:03 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


People have warned me about 6th st, but now I feel like I have to check it out for myself.

I can't really speak for safety for others, because I've learned that I need to acknowledge that I'm a highly unattractive target for mugging or picking a random fight with. I'm large, ugly, visibly high strung and street-aware.

But you should be fine during normal high traffic daylight and early evening hours. Go check it out. Eat some food. Watch people.

The Tenderloin (and what is being defined as "The Hinge" in the post) is weird. It's not all crackheads or something, and it's certainly not the most dangerous place in the world or even just the Bay Area. It's interesting, and diverse and alive. It has real problems, too, and they shouldn't be romanticized.

Chico's pizza on 6th at Minna is actually pretty tasty and good for grabbing a quick slice for a snack and walk and eat. Taqueria Cancun is just around the corner 6th and Market and is probably one of my personal favorites for the SF/Mission burrito.

One of the things that actually made me most anxious about The Tenderloin an the other pockets around SOMA and such wasn't any fear for danger for myself.

It was how tourists would wander just a couple blocks from Powell and the Cable Car turntable, nose buried in one of those free downtown maps with an expensive SLR camera danging from one arm, an open purse or unsecured bag, and just be totally oblivious to where they were. And not just during the middle of the day, often at odd late night hours.

Besides the obvious potential for getting relived of your stuff it was also strange and uncomfortable to see the incongruity and how they didn't seem to be aware that they were stepping over people that were living right there on the sidewalk. We're talking about people with issues like a recently amputated foot wrapped up a dirty blood-clotted bandage the color of a dirty gutter or other major and easily seen problems. It's vexing. (Granted, locals often behave the same way.)
posted by loquacious at 11:20 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


eugenen:
Okay, so in response to Talez above, let me just say that I do a lot of walking around San Francisco, and don't hesitate to walk through any part of downtown at any remotely sane hour of the day or night. Tenderloin, 6th and Mission, no problem. Have never felt genuinely unsafe.

Am I doing it wrong?

Are you male? Reasonably fit-looking?

Your answer significantly changes the equation.
posted by joshwa at 11:23 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


After having my wallet with the green card in it stolen from the bus down from Chinatown to Market, I had to make a police report in order to get it replaced. Walking to the relevant police station was such a nerve wracking experience for this timid Asian lady that the lady cops took pity on me and drove me back home in their patrol car. They were kind enough not drop me outside my house telling me it wouldn't look good. I would move back to the city of San Francisco in a heart beat.
posted by infini at 12:49 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Posts like that one are the primary reason whenever I'm on a computer I come to this site.
posted by Hickeystudio at 5:38 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I doing it wrong?

Yeah, I also am curious if you are male. I am not an easily scared person. I've lived in plenty of cities, and I wander around at night all the time without really worrying about getting into trouble (one time, in DC, I walked home from RFK alone, after midnight, barefoot - long story). I love San Francisco. Love love love it. The time I lived there was a far too brief 10 weeks, but it was the best 10 weeks I've had in years. All that said...as a woman, San Francisco kind of scares me a bit. I have never been harassed on the street the way as I was there - it was a constant thing. Mostly just people yelling obscene things, but one time a guy on a bicycle followed me for several blocks (while also saying obscene things) and I was honestly not sure if he was going to try to hurt me. I lived in the Mission at 16th and South Van Ness - a little gritty, but not a bad neighborhood at all, and I still often felt unsafe. I've been through the Tenderloin and other sketchy-ish SF neighborhoods on occasion (and there are indeed cool things to do there!), and I loved roll truck roll's comment, and I don't want to be scared of anything or anywhere, but being out alone in SF put me on edge a bit, and I don't that's entirely unreasonable.
posted by naoko at 7:50 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm 49, and my family moved to Austin when I was 15, but man, you never get a place like that out of your blood. When I was a kid, I used to roam the breadth of that city with a nickel and a book full of MUNI transfers (I had a system where I'd keep 'em for a month until the date rolled around again - the ones the drivers carelessly forgot to punch or tear properly were especially valuable) and some of my strongest memories are of the sounds and smells of places like that. The old Greyhound station was a sensory wonderland for a 10-year-old boy who loved machines and the romantic idea of travel. You could just feel 1000 stories surrounding you there.

I feel like I live in a sort of bucolic semi-retirement these days, and I miss the sensory overload that the big city provides, sometimes. I miss just wandering on foot & on bus. You can't really do that here- things are too spread out and there's too little return for the effort.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I flew into SF for the yearly Apple WWDC conference I'd stay at the Renoir hotel on 7th & Mission. A third of the price of the normal conference hotels. Walking back to hotel at 2am or so drunk as a skunk was never a problem. I really wasn't worried about my safety. But yes, again 6'3" male here. When a bunch of us stayed there, include 5' something girl it opened myeyrs somewhat.

I live here now and party of my daily(ish) commute takes my up from Civic Center BART to Hayes Valley. I see a lot of stuff, huge homeless problem here. Kind of insane how bad it is.
posted by schwa at 8:19 AM on November 5, 2011


Yeah, male, nerdy-hipster-looking. Should have specified. Point well taken.
posted by eugenen at 9:58 AM on November 5, 2011


I have never been harassed on the street the way as I was there

Well, to be fair, you DID live in the Dudes Hollering At Chicks capitol of the whole damn city. Even up where I live near 22nd & Valencia it isn't as bad. Go to the Sunset or Noe Valley and you'll find that sort of thing practically nonexistent. The area around the 16th street BART stop is one of the sketchiest parts of the city -- although there's also a ton of cool stuff going on around there.

Just a friendly reminder that there's a multitude of San Franciscos going on inside of San Francisco.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:53 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just a friendly reminder that there's a multitude of San Franciscos going on inside of San Francisco.

A city of micro-climates and micro-neighborhoods.
posted by chemoboy at 12:04 PM on November 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I went there last summer. I really didn't get the damn place.

I managed an SRO in an old mill town in Massachusetts for three years, so I get what they're all about, more or less. I was in a neighborhood kinda like 6th street, but things were just much more under control. The city was totally corrupt, and the neighborhood was absolutely blighted by drug addiction, but people on the street were a lot healthier, and the city is a good 40 minutes away from Boston.

If the real estate is so valuable, then why doesn't the city crack down on the SROs for code enforcement and run them out of business? Why don't the SRO owners just sell out to big developers? Why don't homeless services attend to the bandaged folks screaming at the air? You don't see untreated mental illness like that in Boston, or NY. What's up with everybody in SF being so PC, then letting this big mess fester down there?

I'm not saying everything about the place is bad. It's great that there are SRO's and that there are low income residential neighborhoods right there in the heart of the city. The place would certainly be more pleasant for the residents if they dropped some section 8 in there along with a ton of clinics and code enforcement. It would be like Lowell, or if things are done correctly, a better version of Boston's old Combat Zone.

Going to the Mission was one of those moments that contributed to me realizing that the West coast is just so unfathomably different from the East that I can't even pretend to understand it. Can someone please help me out? I'd like to think that we're not so different!
posted by shushufindi at 12:05 PM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, to be fair, you DID live in the Dudes Hollering At Chicks capitol of the whole damn city. Even up where I live near 22nd & Valencia it isn't as bad. Go to the Sunset or Noe Valley and you'll find that sort of thing practically nonexistent. The area around the 16th street BART stop is one of the sketchiest parts of the city -- although there's also a ton of cool stuff going on around there.

Just a friendly reminder that there's a multitude of San Franciscos going on inside of San Francisco.


Fair. Like I said, I was only there 10 weeks - those 10 weeks were just a lot more intense harassment-wise than anything I've experienced in my years in DC and Boston put together. Didn't really do Noe Valley. Sunset was indeed very pleasant, although also has much less of a "city" feel (and is easily 19 degrees colder than the Mission at any given time - the micro-climates are really fascinating). Most of my time was spent in the Mission/Castro and the Financial District, although I did try to see as many other neighborhoods as possible. I'm not claiming to be an expert on San Francisco by any means, just sharing my own narrow little window of it.
posted by naoko at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2011


I'm not claiming to be an expert on San Francisco by any means, just sharing my own narrow little window of it.

Well, to be fair, San Francisco is only ~49 square miles. Every experience of it is a narrow little window.

Also, I've walked across the city (like, from SOMA to the shore in Golden Gate Park) at 3am, high on several hits of quality Owsley. TWICE. Without really knowing my route, so I was wandering a bit. Never felt threatened once. I'm not exactly a huge scary person, but it may help if when you walk through bad neighborhoods you project an air of knowing where you're going and intending to get there quickly. The only city I've ever felt truly threatened in was New Orleans at 2am while trying to find my way back to the streetcar line I took from the place I was staying to the place I went to party.
posted by hippybear at 12:29 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must agree with hippy bear on "walking like you know where you're going' making the difference. I was never familiar with the tenderloin except by bus (living on the hill) but walked 8 to 10 blocks to get to Borderlands bookstore in the Mission with rarely a twinge.
posted by infini at 12:47 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's up with everybody in SF being so PC, then letting this big mess fester down there?

San Francisco is broken. The PC doesn't help; there's a big coalition of well meaning people who think any effort to require mental health care for the crazy people living on the street is a violation of their civil rights.
posted by Nelson at 1:10 PM on November 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can appreciate what the author is trying to say about the neighborhood - that it's a neighborhood of people and that this is their home. It's a hopeful message which flies directly in the face of how the rest of the city marginalizes and forgets this particular demographic. Too often the idea of neighborhood gentrification is embraced without recognizing its impact on the city population which can barely afford to live here as it is, much less in multi-million-dollar condos or townhomes.

But until the city does something to address the root causes of homelessness and make sure that those who need help get it, 6th and Mission isn't going to go away.

Also, it should be noted that the majority of San Francisco's late-night food establishments are in the 'loin.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:20 PM on November 5, 2011


6th and Mission has the highest crime rate in the city. A friend lives a block from that corner. His theory: "...but it's all bum-on-bum violence."

I've walked Mission, between the 20s and 4th, several times at 4am. Cabs and police cruisers pass down both Mission and Market every couple of minutes. The homeless are silent, taking their couple hours sleep. At 7th and Mission is a plaza filled with workers waiting for the buses to their swing shifts. That one plaza is more busy, and brighter lit, that during daylight hours.

For those few late, late hours, whole blocks manage to pass for a random working class neighborhood. As long as you ignore the lumps of flattened boxes and threadbare blankets pressed against a wall or storefront every 20 feet or so.

On one 4am sojourn, I passed two guys at 5th and Mission who appeared to be using nothing but hand tools to dismantle a luxury auto. God knows how. But they'd already managed to strip it down to an carcass, piling seats, parts, etc across the pavement. Maybe they're a testament that time and determination make all things possible.

They didn't mess with me. Me and the passing cops didn't mess with them.

It's a fringe area in so many ways. Anyone want to show me around it? I'm moving in next week.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:30 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. Lady likes to draw people's backs.
2. Rumpus' mobile stylesheet renders this completely illegible on my Android phone and my iPad by serving up super low-res pixellated versions of the images instead of the real things.
posted by egypturnash at 3:41 PM on November 5, 2011


1. Lady likes to draw people's backs.

If you read the whole thing, you are rewarded with a bunch of smiling faces. It changes the mood of the whole piece.

2. Rumpus' mobile stylesheet renders this completely illegible on my Android phone and my iPad by serving up super low-res pixellated versions of the images instead of the real things.

I don't mean to say wah but ... wah! Am I sounding like a cranky old man by suggesting you look at this artwork on a computer and not on the bus?

Cabs and police cruisers pass down both Mission and Market every couple of minutes.

This is probably one of the things that makes me almost carefree about walking around in the Mission at odd hours. On 15th and Mission, 3am, cop cars are circling like sharks. The only time I ever have seen a cop in the 6th Street neighborhood is riding up 6th (it's an artery) or that time my coworker found a dead body.
posted by chemoboy at 4:21 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I read all the way to the bottom. And yes, you are sounding like a cranky old man. It's a handful of watercolor drawings and some even sparser line drawings, there's not a ton of information in them.

And my second point should probably me made in Rumpus' comment section so it can maybe get fixed someday.
posted by egypturnash at 5:17 PM on November 5, 2011


And actually on my second point, the second time I tried to read this was on my iPad, in a lazy morning contemplative mood, and it still got the illegible low-res illegible treatment. Which is a shame because the iPad has rapidly become the device of choice for "kicking back on the sofa and slowly reading stuff". So , I mean, you definitely get cranky old man points for being all "READ THIS ON THE COMPUTER".

Anyway, I'm rambling. It's a nice little piece.
posted by egypturnash at 5:22 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fair enough. I think the people most moved by this are the ones who have already been moved by 6th Street in some way.

Also: An iPad is not a computer (yet)! What is wrong with Bit-o-Honey as a halloween candy? Get off my lawn! Young people use curse words!
posted by chemoboy at 7:18 PM on November 5, 2011


Grew up mainly in San Francisco. God be with the days of wandering with my sister at large in the city, using our feet, and the aforementioned Muni transfers and the very cheap kids fare. Joined a Youth Center, and got into Candlestick for 50¢ and hot dogs, and cokes or a bag lunch from the Youth Center. Got into a food fight with some guys from another Youth Center. Still have some beads purchased at Yoné Beads. Cried when my favorite one broke last year.
We'd go to the General Store and get each week's Filmore Auditorium post-card sized concert posters. Up until the point when we had hot and cold running riots, unannounced as per 'The San Francisco Formula'.
Then us free-range kids got our wings clipped. Then we moved to a rural area. We could go nowhere without a ride.
Then I returned with my children ages later. It was nothing like the 60's. You can't really go home again.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, The Mission used to be the Irish neighborhood. There was a distinctive Mission District accent, which I have. There was a lot of Irish nationalist activity, and there was a small Orange lodge. I remember the first Palestinians, Christians from Jerusalem. They sold candy bars and sodas cheap in the foyer of their apartment building. Some friends and I used to get candy from them.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:24 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the early 90s I volunteered at a moving needle exchange that finished up on 6th and Mission. Right outside a porn store, because they would tolerate us and IIRC, let us use the bathroom. I met some wonderful people, particularly the injection drug users who would exchange a shit ton of needles for friends who were scared to deal with us (the cops were still busting needles exchanges then), and also saw some things that I still can't stand to think about.
posted by goofyfoot at 8:53 PM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am Mexican. I have been poor and I have had money in a 10*sin(x) curve. I have lived in white picket fence suburbs and in neighborhoods where the glue sniffing child prostitutes sleep in puppy piles in the sewers. In world class metropolis and in indian villages in the mountains were they still pray to pre-columbian gods at night.

Somebody needs to dub this over the 'tears in rain' scene and up it to YouTube.

'C-beams!'
'Child prostitute sewer puppy piles.'
'...Jesus, you win.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:53 AM on November 6, 2011


Why don't homeless services attend to the bandaged folks screaming at the air? You don't see untreated mental illness like that in Boston, or NY. What's up with everybody in SF being so PC, then letting this big mess fester down there?

There was a community health clinic near me that provided services to the poor, in addition to more social services up in the tenderloin. And San Francisco was one of the first cities in the US to offer needle exchanges for IV drug users, in part because of the awesome work of goofyfoot (Thank you!) and others like her.

I understand that SF has a reputation for being PC, but it really was (is?) at the forefront of social services for the poor and unprivileged.

If the real estate is so valuable, then why doesn't the city crack down on the SROs for code enforcement and run them out of business?

There were a series of fires in the late 90s, early 2000s that led to laws requiring sprinklers in every room in SROs in SF. Although it was never proven, there was a common belief, at least among people I hung out with, that the fires were purposefully set by owners or developers so that properties could be sold.

Going to the Mission was one of those moments that contributed to me realizing that the West coast is just so unfathomably different from the East that I can't even pretend to understand it. Can someone please help me out? I'd like to think that we're not so different!

We're not so different. We both care about our neighbors and friends. We just might tolerate a little more crazy.

Well, we are a little different, we have better burritos then you guys ;).
posted by formless at 2:13 AM on November 6, 2011


Why don't homeless services attend to the bandaged folks screaming at the air? You don't see untreated mental illness like that in Boston, or NY. What's up with everybody in SF being so PC, then letting this big mess fester down there?

I thought that SF ended up being a bit of a magnet for homeless people of various sorts because the weather there is pretty moderate year round so there isn't any real winter to deal with, like you would have in Boston or NYC. I mean, I heard that someplace, but don't have any real experience or knowledge about it beyond having heard that someplace.

Since it's a bit of a magnet, you end up with a lot more of the problem than other places, too much for local agencies to effectively manage.
posted by hippybear at 6:54 AM on November 6, 2011


Well, hippybear, it's not so much that people are saying "if I'm going to be homeless, SF is an awesome place for that." The homeless I have met fit more into the mold "Kansas sucks, so I came out to SF because it fit my lifestyle and I wound up homeless."

I'm guessing that's not what you meant but I just wanted to clarify.
posted by chemoboy at 7:31 AM on November 6, 2011


Um, no offense to Kansas. Sorry. You've got a nice, flat state there.
posted by chemoboy at 7:34 AM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought that SF ended up being a bit of a magnet for homeless people of various sorts because the weather there is pretty moderate year round so there isn't any real winter to deal with, like you would have in Boston or NYC.

By that reasoning, why not move to L.A. or San Diego? You know why not.

A city once known worldwide for its homeless services is now a city where it's safer to be on the street than in a shelter. And if this bugs you so much, then you shouldn't have voted for Gavin Newsom. Quit voting for supposedly liberal politicians that could care less about homelessness.

Too true. But San Francisco is more conservative than people think.

I don't really like "the hinge" but I agree that area doesn't have a name. I call it "Sixth Street" which encompasses, well, Sixth St. from Market to Folsom, and all the attendant alleys with their own unique characteristics. The big "U" around it is SOMA. Sixth Street is just different.

Sixth Street seems really drugged out to me. And it always remind me of Andrew Cunanan. For some reason, I got it in my head that he hid in SROs on Sixth Street after killing Gianni Versace.

The Tenderloin has always seemed a bit crazier and more of a powderkeg, particularly that "Sit/Lie" area, like Turk/Jones.

I used to try to get everyone to use "Van Ness Corridor" when I lived on Franklin St., but I don't think it ever caught on, probably because it's a fairly dreary, nondescript, commercial neighborhood.

Ah, here's the place on 6th with the odd rooftop patio that doesn't allow smoking: Passion Cafe. I swore it was closed, but the Twitter account indicates not. What's up with that place? Trying to buck the very long odds? Steal the Theater crowd?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on November 7, 2011


Here's what happened at Passion Cafe, though if I recall, owner Steve Barton has since admitted that his initial plans to shutter the business, and then the plans he spoke about here to make it a turnkey, were made at the height of frustration. Being robbed twice in a week by the same guy understandably makes one annoyed.

I think Steve, like a number of business owners with new ventures in that area, didn't quite understand the way things work on Sixth. The gentrification he's banking on will never hit that street, at least not on that block between Market & Mission. The SRO's are never going away, they are either owned by a non-profit called the Tenderloin Housing Clinic that has fat contracts with SF to house its indigent population, or they are owned by independent operators who have a "unique public-private partnership" with the city in which SF gave them sweet terms on renovation loans (or just had the city do the work) to upgrade the space, under the condition that 85 - 90% of the rooms house their welfare clients. This is the epicenter of San Francisco's Poverty, Incorporated, sloppily contained the way the city leaders like it.
posted by dantsea at 9:01 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yikes. Thanks for that info. I totally agree here:

The gentrification he's banking on will never hit that street, at least not on that block between Market & Mission. The SRO's are never going away

Perhaps that's why no one has commented on the ending of the comic? The

"I don't think this place is going to be around much longer. It's valuable real estate."

I guffawed a little. Maybe one day in the long future, but I can't see it happening any time soon either.

Showdown seems to be hanging on OK. I suppose a few bars/clubs have done OK there. Club Six is still around as well.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:06 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that Passion Cafe, Rancho Parnassus, Miss Saigon, Boxcar Theatre, and 1AM were all partially funded by SFRA as a part of the 30-year plan for 6th Street. This also included a Mercy Housing center to replace Hotel Hugo/Defenestration (previously) and the huge new SOMA Health Center (which I think also has a floor of low-income housing), as well as grants for renovations at existing businesses (see the new look at Mission Cleaners).

After a few months of utterly unpredictable hours, it looks like Rancho Parnassus is closed too, and that's a bummer. When that place originally opened, it was awesome to be able to come in at night for a snack or coffee. Then it stopped being open nights and I kind of forgot about it.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2011


I'm not sure why I said "Rancho Parnassus is closed too," when Passion Cafe is definitely not closed. I did not know about the attack and multiple robberies, that's really too bad.

BTW, I do recommend Passion. I've had some very good, affordable food there. And yeah, I think a lot of their business is theatregoers and private events.

My wife has had the experience of being in Tu Lan when a fight broke out. Those guys are pros at getting the problem people out the door and locking the place down. I'd imagine they don't teach you that at culinary school.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:45 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The SRO's are never going away, they are either owned by a non-profit called the Tenderloin Housing Clinic that has fat contracts with SF to house its indigent population, or they are owned by independent operators who have a "unique public-private partnership" with the city in which SF gave them sweet terms on renovation loans (or just had the city do the work) to upgrade the space, under the condition that 85 - 90% of the rooms house their welfare clients.

If the city is so involved, then why don't they enforce codes like crazy. At least make the buildings nice places to live, if you're subsidizing the living daylights out of them. Do a lot of SRO tenants have section 8? It seems like keeping your section 8 is a major motivating factor in keeping crime in neighborhoods down up here.

How are they tying welfare in with housing? If somebody is eligible for the DTA, then they're automatically given housing or something? DTA gives you like $300 (not all in cash) in MA, so you're still screwed for rent unless you can find a subsidized room.
posted by shushufindi at 4:31 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Negative on Tu Lan. Despite its Julia Child pedigree, it creeps me the fuque out. Got bad food poisoning there, which is extraordinary in light of my diet and constitution.
posted by ergomatic at 7:57 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Despite its Julia Child pedigree, it creeps me the fuque out.

If you go upstairs, you don't have to watch the dirty guy cook.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2011


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