Conversations with the Mission Rocker

For one Mission musician, touring is not an option. In fact, he very rarely performs below 16th street or above 24th- these are the outer limits of his chosen venue.  This wild-haired troubadour is known to most by his soubriquet, the Mission Rocker, or as “that guy with the guitar”.  

We have a tenuous relationship, Mr. Rocker, and I.  The few interactions we’ve had, under street lamps and in alleyways, consist of him chasing me down the street, usually to the tune of “screw all you bourgey brats, and while I’m on the subject, the world is going to shit.” It can put a damper on your night, especially if he chooses your steps as the stage for his angsty ballads.  

And who wouldn’t react with apprehension, when while trying to squeeze your car between two leering red-zones, you are serenaded with the discordant ditty: “Just park the goddamn car already! Nah-na-na. What are you doing? La-la-la-la, just park, for Christ’s sake!”?

But, recently, the two of us had a tete-a-tete and I learned a little more about this not-so-quiet soul. 

“I’ve been playing these streets for 20 years,” he informed me.  “Finally, I’ve been getting a little recognition.”  He mentioned being interviewed for a Citisearch article written a few years back (which I haven’t been able to find) and offered to play me “a little something.”  Bracing myself for some aural assault, I was amused when he began to play a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” which morphed into something entirely different.  After about 5 minutes, I moved to take my leave, thanking him for the song.  

“What’s your name?” I asked. 

 “Don’t you know?” he said, “I’m the King of Valencia.”  I guess that’s his pseudonym du jour.


Renegade Craft Fair

Craft fairs can be quite “marmish” and “kitschy” events, but even so, I usually can’t resist.  There’s a part of me that loves decoupage coasters and crotchet numbers in bright-pink synthetic yarn. But, even though I did not see a SINGLE tea-cosy or coaster at the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason, there were plenty of other novelties to delight in. 

The craftsmen and women at Festival Pavilion are artists incorporating eclectic and modern elements into their wares.  The found, the salvaged, the industrial, the recycled, and the reused, were all on display.  Prices were boutique-high as you might expect from an urban reinvention of “artsy crafty”; Festival Pavilion felt more trade-show than fair.  Not a face painter in sight.   

Here were a couple of artists who stood out:  

Nina Dinoff uses molds to turn vintage martini paraphernalia (swizzle sticks, cocktail picks, etc) into metal bracelets and pins. 

Jamila Starwater Tazewell brought her bright LA based collection of wallets, cardholders, notebooks, condom cases and passport covers.

Amy Cools, designer of AC Clothing and Bags created a great resource called: Afterglow’s Guide to Independent California Shopping.  Amy compiled information about independent designers in California as well as the stores, online shops, and fairs (more crafts!) that carry independent designs. 

I fell in love with local talent, Hilary Williams’, screen prints and paintings.  You can visit her work at her studio on San Jose and Ocean during open studio hours, every Wednesday from 4-7pm. She also makes dolls that are creepily adorable.

Norcal fires still a ragin’

Here’s a snap I took at my house in Old Shasta yesterday with fires 3 and 5 miles away.

Amazingly, the air quality is even worse in other areas of the north state, prompting the California EPA to release a health advisory for Sacramento Valley and the surrounding areas on July 9th.

Since these fires don’t seem to be going away any time soon, Shasta County residents can check for air quality updates at . 

To get an idea of just how badly California’s AQI is in relation to the rest of the nation, go to AIRNow.

Want to take people watching at Dolores Park to the next level?

Despite the fact that Dolores Park‘s weekend visitors make Bi-Rite completely un-navigable, I cherish the moments I spend people watching with friends and warm chardonnay.  So, in honor of the upcoming weekend and the fact that temperatures are projected to hit the low 80s, here is a little game I call:

“A Dolores Park Scavenger Hunt You Can Do While Sitting On Your Lazy Rump” 

10 points for someone outfitted head-to-toe in American Apparel

5 points for that black, ugly, hairless, rat-dog. 

15 points for the “treat man”  (20 if you make a purchase)

10 points for a burner on a tightrope

25 points for that contortionist/exhibitionist couple wearing neon lycra 

10 points for Teddevan with his prophetic sign

5 points if you spot someone wearing heels on the grass (add another 5 if that person falls down at some point)

5 points if the women’s bathroom line is more than 20 people long

1 point per speedo

1 point per hula hoop

1 point per fixie bike


Co-invention credit goes to my darling friend, Lindsay, who never fails to fill my “someone outfitted head-to-toe in American Apparel” quota.  Here she is in all her flaxen haired glory.

Who Boogaloos?

Oh, Boogaloo’s, you “brunch spot of all brunch spots” in the mission. Come rain, come shine, come in-between grayness, there will always be brunchers queued to partake in your sloppy, vegan and meatetarian friendly, faux-mexican goodness.  

So, who are these loyal participants? On weekends, the answer is: anyone willing to wait 45 minutes for Valencia corridor convenience and eggs. 

But, what about those people who flock to the Boog on TUESDAYS?   Since 11:30 is too early to lunch, and hours late for “breakfast o’clock,” I’ve reasoned that these people are part of the mission elite who BRUNCH on weekdays.  Lets call them, “hipsters who brunch.”

Yesterday morning, the crowd seemed especially busy, so I decided to treat my unemployed ass to a bottomless cup of coffee, a square-cool combo and some people watching with the hopes of better understanding the mysterious order of people engaging in this unpretentious, yet indulgent, ritual. Here are my findings:

Type A. The Unemployed or Self-Employed: Like me, these persons tend to stay too long and order too little. What else have they got to do?  In groups, they are often found splitting side dishes three ways, and asking their server to refill the creme pot for the fourth time. 

Type B. The Parents:  Found in both the male and female breed (how progressive is California!), these doting and mature individuals are clad in the most trendy and ergonomic of “baby-wearing” fashions.  While shoveling whole-grain O’s into their children’s mouths, and 22nd Street Steak Sandwiches into their own, they discuss adult topics like the trials of job-sharing and how to fit two carseats into a Mini. 

Type C. The Night Shifters:  They are just what you’d expect from your local bartenders, servers, and bouncers: pissed off. 

Type D. The Financially Secure:  These trust-funders and Silicon Valley early-retirees are so subconscious about their prosperity that they skip Zuni’s in favor of slumming it.  Despite best efforts, these someones betray themselves by opting for the “real maple syrup” upgrade and never asking for doggie-bags. 

Type E. Truants:  In true Dylan style, these “forever youngs” have called in sick or late in order to ditch their hangover over a plate of soy-chorizo hash. 

So, how does our new generation of “hipsters who brunch” compare with the “ladies who lunch” of yesteryear?  While the number of mimosas may not have increased (those miserable matrons could drink most of us under the table), the diversity of characters certainly has.  And more power to them if they have somehow shirked the 8-6 travail, even if only for a day.

Stevland Hardaway Morris

I went with my family to see this Motown great (better known as Stevie Wonder) play to a packed Shoreline on Saturday night. My sister, Sydney, and I were asked to be in a promo pic for some radio station, most likely because we were the only women under 35 they could find.  But, lest I give you the wrong impression: that 40+ crowd still knows how to rock an amphitheatre and so does Stevie.  And even if you find fault with the 58 year old artist’s aging pipes, you have got to love an icon who will break off a song mid-verse with, “that’s enough of that one.”  No apology needed, Stevie.  You’re way past that.

Online Interactive Language Learning

If you are planning an international vacation,  or simply want to look like less of an “idiota” when ordering at your local taqueria; look into courses on  Though still in beta mode, this site provides an economically non-committal alternative to pricey language courses or books, offering free multi-level language courses in Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.  

One of the benefits of the course is the option to chat with other students of the same language and level.  Also incorporated is a peer-feedback system for audio files which helps to satisfy the oral component of language acquisition. 

A great place to dabble, brush-up, or cram in your language of choice.

Brave New Traveler researched 7 other online resources for language learning.  After playing around with their suggestions, here are the two sites I found most useful.

BBC Languages Best for French, German, Spanish, and Italian. For these languages, BBC offers an evaluative set of questions that help you locate material on the site that is best suited for your level. I especially love the “Mi Vida Loca” interactive video for beginning Spanish learners, an example that the site is geared towards middle and high-school age language learners.  There is also quite a bit of material for beginners in Greek, Portuguese, and Chinese as well as some online and classroom resources for various other languages, including Urdu, Japanese, and Polish. 

MIT shares its language courses online, complete with downloadable course material and assignments.  Courses are also available in foreign literature, art, music, history and culture, to supplement your language studies.  If MIT Open Coursework doesn’t yet offer what you are looking for, you can sign up for an RSS feed that will notify you when new classes are added.