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  • Best Paperless Office

    Mayor Willie Brown's Office

    Goodlett Pl.
    554-6141
    www.ci.sf.ca.us/cityhall/

  • Best Source of Information on What Willie Brown Is Really Up To

    Nob Hill Gazette

    Those lucky enough to have addresses within spitting distance of Huntington Park get a little extra gift on their apartment doorsteps among the usual pile of Chinese food menus and Independents: the wonderful Nob Hill Gazette, a monthly tribute to old money, young debutantes, and the Bay Area good life. Here, an article about whether you should time-share your Gulfstream V private jet or just buy it outright; there, a piece about the Pacific-Union Club, an exclusive establishment that boasts... More >>

  • Best Organized Anarchy

    Critical Mass

    There's no denying it. Despite all the transit-first doublespeak peppering official conversation and letters to the editor, the jig is up: Nothing holds a firmer grip on the character of San Francisco than the four-wheeled terror. Which makes this fun hour-or-two-long ride across the city during rush hour a political statement -- and a spontaneous one at that, since the ride's never planned until the last moment. Of course, it was much more political a few summers back when cyclists... More >>

  • Best City Transportation Improvement

    Valencia Street Bike Lane

    With all the talk about making it easier and safer to get around San Francisco -- allowing more time for pedestrians at stop lights, extending Caltrain to the Embarcadero and Muni to Mission Bay, and giving Muni a new board of directors -- there's one proposal that has lived up to its promise: the Valencia Street bike lane. Providing cyclists a safe space to ride along the length of Valencia Street in the Mission, it simply, cheaply, and effectively has... More >>

  • Best Local Newscaster

    Sal Castaneda

    A recent survey of local television news broadcasts said what's been on most viewers' minds for ages: The local TV news is a putrid, sensationalistic, dumbed-down, underreported wasteland that substitutes fluff for issues, idiotic anchor chitchat for ideas, and stuff that's caught fire for hard news. We'd work up the energy to be mad at KGO's umpteenth tie-in "story" about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire if its advertorial policy wasn't so deeply entrenched, what with Dr. Dean Edell's drug... More >>

  • Best New Tech Space

    Argonne Child Development Center

    The most exciting high-tech work space planned for San Francisco is really rather low-tech, explains architect Dennis Budd, of 450 Architects. For one thing, the workers won't do terribly much with computers -- they're 4 and 5 years old, after all. The building is a preschool employing the latest ideas in passive-solar architecture, recycled-materials construction, and building-integrated photovoltaic cells. It's the first such from-the-ground-up solar school in California; the architects designed the building to conserve energy in myriad ways. Children... More >>

  • Best Dismembered Piece of Hearst Legacy

    Scattered Remains of the Santa Maria de Ovila Monastery

    No, we're not talking about the stranger-than-fiction final days of the Examiner. To see the most tragic bit of old Hearst wreckage it's necessary to take a walk in Golden Gate Park, where, at the main entrance to the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Garden, stonemasons have cut ancient blocks of limestone to fashion a fountain, walkway, and raised planter bed for the new library terrace garden. Meanwhile, across the park at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, workers have been laying... More >>

  • Best Urban Hideaway for Tranquil Reflection

    Lobos Creek

    The city brings to mind a lot of things, but sitting alongside a quiet creek isn't one of them. Too bad. Perhaps if there were more creek-sitting, there would be less crankiness among the black-clad, overcaffeinated, driving public. Well, it's a thought, anyway. As best we can determine, Lobos Creek (also called San Francisco Creek by some natives) is the oldest and, we think, only continuously flowing creek in the city. The best place to meet up with it is... More >>

  • Best Urban Adventure

    Help a Friend Move Out of the Tenderloin After Midnight

    The law of friends, it seems, is threefold: There will be friends; those friends will move; and when they do, you must help them. It's usually a simple proposition -- unless the friend lives in the Tenderloin, and the only free time she has is after 12 a.m. Pimps, drug dealers, and other colorful characters were playing football in the middle of Post Street, which didn't help the flow of traffic much, and upset our friend quite a bit when... More >>

  • Best Sign That Discriminates Against Vehicles

    "Trucks not advised on Broadway"

    Where do those poor trucks go for advice, anyway?... More >>

  • Best Place to Day-dream About Faraway Places With Strange-Sounding Names

    The Middle of the Golden Gate Bridge

    First thing you do is check the "Ship Traffic" column in the daily newspaper (usually in the business section). Pick a cruise liner or container ship to your liking -- hm, the Maersk bound for Japan sounds good -- catch a bus to the toll plaza, and position yourself in the middle of the span in plenty of time to watch the ship of your choosing approach. You'll see people on the deck below, waving and blowing kisses; wave back.... More >>

  • Best Jann Wenner Memory Under Glass

    Everybody knows what you do if you wind up at the Fillmore and get bored with the opening band -- you head upstairs and take in the great concert posters that grace the walls of the upper balcony and dining area. From Jefferson Airplane to Wire, Bob Marley to Counting Crows, there's ample, colorfully represented proof that a whole lot of history has made its way onto the Fillmore stage. But if you're a regular concertgoer, perhaps the folks at... More >>

  • Best Good Guys

    St. Anthony Foundation/ Glide Memorial Church

    Sometimes, life in our capitalist society can be as forgiving as a sock full of nickels upside the head, and as a result of bad luck, bad choices, or, most important, no money, people find themselves on the streets. In San Francisco, those streets are often in the Tenderloin, where dozens of nonprofits are there to lend a hand -- not enough, some will argue, but still, it's hard to overlook the river of good deeds flowing through the neighborhood,... More >>

  • Best Private Library

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    Recently the $100 million new Main Library released a report admitting that, yes, a floor is missing -- and also that it's frustratingly hard to locate books in this white elephant monument to socialite Charlotte Swig Shultz. (Of course, the city paid $250,000 to learn what most library-users already knew.) But the good news is that, ever since the 19th century, the Mechanics' Institute Library has been far superior anyway. A simple computer database makes finding books a breeze. The... More >>

  • Best Guilty Indulgence

    Parking on the Sidewalk

    Yes, it's illegal to park on the sidewalk. But there's something so bold, so daring, so straightforward about it: After all, if the essential parking requirement is open pavement, the city has plenty of that. Sure, some neighbors may yell at you, or leave notes on your car condemning it as a fire hazard (in the latter case, however, we suspect a fellow sidewalk-parker had become disgruntled when he found his spot occupied). But then, when you think about it,... More >>

  • Best Hospital at Which to Have a Myocardial Infarction

    California Pacific Medical Center

    No reservation necessary -- just show up at the emergency room and say, "Chest pain" The most satisfying way to arrive is by hooting ambulance. Any time is fine, of course, but if you want to really stress-test the staff try midnight on a Friday night. We chose New Year's Eve, and were only mildly annoyed when a bunch of medical workers went home early to celebrate the millennium, leaving us to endure a second angioplasty New Year's morning. But... More >>

  • Best Place to Avoid While Driving Blind

    The Presidio

    No, you shouldn't drive drunk. But if you do anyway, you really, really, really shouldn't drive through the Presidio, where the United States Park Patrol runs regular sobriety checkpoints. Recently, a friend of this newspaper was dragged from his car after consuming two glasses of wine, plus an after-dinner cocktail, over the course of a two-hour meal (and if you do the calculations, taking body weight into account, well, let's say things could have got interesting). Fortunately, this person makes... More >>

  • Best Radical Group

    League of Filipino Students

    You'll see their fliers around town, or you can find them at their Web site: The League of Filipino Students supports a youthful national liberation movement in the Philippines that is fighting to extricate that Third World economy from the claws of multinational corporations, the World Trade Organization, and other imperialist rats. That said, the LFS representatives are soft-spoken, intelligent, logical, historically minded, and worth listening to about the ongoing war for worker and peasant independence (with a socialist perspective)... More >>

  • Best Indication That the City's Gone to the Dogs

    Near-Perpetual Center-Lane Parking on Valencia (and Guerrero)

    OK, we can forgive people for shamelessly parking in the middle of the street on Sunday mornings. After all, God doesn't wait for you to find a spot. But the center lane on Valencia? This is a turning lane, people, not a parking lot for SUVs and Jettas. Where is the sign that says, "Asshole parking only"? Considering this has been going on for years now, it's amazing that DPT hasn't found some means to rid Valencia's center lane of... More >>

  • Least Appropriate Vehicle for San Francisco Driving

    Ford Excursion

    Hey! You freaking moron! Your hideous $45,000 behemoth belongs in a Monster Truck Rally with tons of mud, mud, mud -- not on city streets! You can't park in any normal-sized space! In Chinatown and North Beach, people have to pull half off the road so you can pass in the other direction! No one can see past your bulbous fat ass! You get about 8 miles to the gallon, and those gallons cost $2 each! You're in gross violation... More >>

  • Best Four-Block Stretch of Movie Locations

    Sacramento and Mason to Jackson and Taylor

    With its photogenic hilltops, sparkling views, Barbary Coast-beatnik mystique, and atmospheric fog, San Francisco's a great place to make a movie, as generations of filmmakers have discovered. Begin your minitour of local cinematic haunts in front of the Fairmont, the setting for the 1967 stinker Hotel, then cross Sacramento to the Brocklebank Apartments, home to Kim Novak in Vertigo and Kelly LeBrock in Lady in Red. Walk a block west to Taylor -- up the hill is the doctor's office... More >>

  • Best Nouveau Rabble-Rousing

    720 York (at 19th Street)

    The shiny new live-work complex at 720 York St. has arrived: No sooner did its wealthy owners move in than neatly typeset protest signs went up in its streetfront windows. "No to Downtown Office Space," they scream. A large banner proclaims that the new-media-cyber-stock-poof offices cropping up around the Mission District are going to scarf up valuable street parking that the live-work yuppers believe rightfully belongs to them. Next thing you know, these Tiffany-and-Bradley-come-latelies will be keying Cadillacs and Jags... More >>

  • Best Pandemonium

    Ruby Skye

    As anyone strolling down Mason Street on any recent weekend has probably noticed, Ruby Skye ("appropriate fashionable attire required") is the new destination of choice for the city's "hip" crowd. Which, as anyone familiar with this scene is aware, means extremely long lines that can be avoided in four ways -- looking pretty, getting on the guest list, knowing a doorman, or paying one to let you in. Yes, it's a charming ritual: a hundred or so of the name-droppingest,... More >>

  • Best Place to Drink for Free

    Any One of the Numerous Dot-Com Parties

    The best dot-com parties are usually held Wednesday and Thursday evenings and wrap up early enough that the hangover isn't too brutal the next day. Crashing one is easy if you're properly armed -- a dot-com friend's business card will usually suffice. Or, if you're frightened by the drama of impersonation, you can take the more traditional route by logging on to www.sfgirl.com for a list of the week's festivities, then RSVP-ing to any of the given e-mail addresses. At... More >>

  • Best Smell at a Bad Dot-Com Party

    Lord knows the dot-communists have taken their share of flak for their perceived lack of style and social adeptness. But then, lord knows, some of them have earned it -- like the pear-shaped, pasty-faced, sneaker-and-oxford-wearing geekerati (and those were the women) who attended a certain Internet industry party at the Sound Factory on April 6. It was bad enough that the drinks weren't free, but then a friend remarked, "Someone here needs a shower." Not everyone in attendance was guilty... More >>

  • Best Dot-Com Party Thus Far

    Tixtogo on Treasure Island, Oct. 28, 1999, www.acteva.com

    Of course, dot-com launch parties, thrown for sites selling everything from natural foods to soft porn, get more and more lavish all the time. But none has yet topped Tixtogo.com's party celebrating the launch of its new name (Acteva) last fall. In and around an old Treasure Island hangar were trapeze instructors (after three free martinis we were a little too queasy to deal with the high bars), swine races announced by Mayor Willie himself, an obstacle course, and a... More >>

  • Most Geriatric Radical Group

    Revolutionary Communist Party

    The few persisting members of the once-mighty Revolutionary Communist Party can be spotted from time to time in odd nooks of the city flogging their gun-logoed paper, the Revolutionary Worker ($1). Yes, it still features a 25-year-old picture of RCP Chairman "Bob" Avakian, a Trotskyite who fled to France in 1980 to escape political persecution in Oakland. Caucasian Bob's famous theory was that nuclear war would break out in the 1980s between Russia and the United States, thereby providing petty... More >>

  • Most Bourgeois Radical Group

    The Workers World Party

    These Trots have more fronts than Julius Caesar had knife wounds: Out of their office at Mission and 21st they run an International Action Center, a National People's Campaign, and a bunch of other stuff depending on what's hot and what's not. For many years they were the folks who got the police permits for the demonstrations that used to rock the streets of San Francisco. But a few years back, these mostly white folks terminally confused the masses when... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch the Moonrise

    Broadway between Jones and Taylor

    The one factoid of importance we gleaned from four years of college was that the full moon always rises as the sun is setting. How convenient, to have the big yellow-orange (even blood-red!) sphere emerging from the east as dusk falls, the sky turns violet, and the lights come up across the skyline. Lovers of the big picture embrace Twin Peaks for the whole moonrise experience, but the panorama visible from this particular Russian Hill perch is a perfect cameo,... More >>

  • Best Community Newspaper

    New Mission News

    Editor in Chief Victor Miller has been making a living publishing the New Mission News newspaper since 1980. Month in and month out, the tabloid is stacked in North Mission cafes, restaurants, and stores ranging from 16th to 24th Street. Miller, who likes to masquerade as a miserly curmudgeon, but is rumored to have a heart of obsidian, sells ads, writes, edits, and opens the pages of the paper to aspiring writers, poets, political rhetoricians, and artists. For many years,... More >>

  • Best Dead Newspaper

    SF Frontlines

    SF Frontlines disappeared from city streets late last year, unlamented, unmourned, and basically unnoticed. In a town that desperately needs legitimate newspapers, it was a partial shame to see the provocative Frontlines pull the plug on itself. Toward the end, piles of the tabloid could be seen rotting sadly in odd corners of the yuppie cafes in which they had been dropped with such high hopes that they would actually be read. The paper's main fault was that it suffered... More >>

  • Best Historical Street Corner

    Clay and Grant

    Grant Avenue is not only the city's oldest street, but its sand, mud, and asphalt have hosted a good chunk of San Francisco's livelier moments, particularly on the block around Clay Street. Half a block north from Clay, near 827 Grant, Capt. William Richardson pitched a tent in June of 1835 that he later replaced with the city's first wooden dwelling. Half a block northeast is longtime city center Portsmouth Square, designed in 1839 by city planner J.J. Vioget to... More >>

  • Best Bus Line

    22 Fillmore

    San Francisco's eclectic nature is showcased on a ride up, down, and over a wide array of city terrain. The route starts at the Marina Green's bay shore, proceeds across tony Cow Hollow, and staggers uphill into the even tonier splendor of Pacific Heights, where the vistas out the bus window are staggering. Coasting downhill you pass Japantown, the Western Addition, and ever-groovy Hayes Valley before crossing Market into the even-groovier confines of the Mission. Then, making your meandering way... More >>

  • Best Local Example of Art Deco

    Muni's Streetcars, Market Street, et al.

    Back in the '20s and '30s, municipal streetcars around the country morphed from earlier, clunkier models into sleek, moderne conveyances reminiscent of the Zephyrs, Chiefs, and other streamlined express trains then crossing the country. A few years ago, Muni acquired a number of these vintage gems from Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, and other cities, restored them to their former luster, paintwork, seating, and all, and today they're the brightest aspect of commuting down Market Street. Especially beautiful are the circa 1928... More >>

  • Best Panhandling Pitch

    Last December we were strolling around Union Square with a few friends when we were sidetracked in front of Neiman-Marcus by two people bearing camera equipment and a microphone. "Would you mind telling our viewers your feelings about the holiday season?" asked the guy with the mike. Three of us instinctively backed away, but the braver (hammier) member of our group stepped up to the plate and said something eloquent to the camera lens and, presumably, the great wide world.... More >>

  • Best Local WPA Project

    The Murals at Coit Tower

    FDR's Works Progress Administration not only gave people from every walk of life jobs during the country's worst financial depression, it left us with several notable public works that continue to delight 65 years later. From 1933 through 1934, a dozen WPA-sponsored artists converged at the base of the then-newly completed Coit Tower and painted murals directly on the wet plaster walls that depicted life in contemporary California -- its industry, agriculture, and so on -- the best mural being... More >>

  • Best Route When Crossing the City on Foot

    San Francisco is one of the tinier cities extant -- 49 square miles -- with neatly delineated aquatic borders, so traversing its seven-mile girth is not only feasible, it offers a saline-to-saline sense of geometric order and accomplishment. Begin at Pier 17 (Front and Filbert) and climb west up the lovely (if taxing) Filbert Steps. Head downhill to Washington Square, go three blocks south to Vallejo, and turn west again, up the equally verdant and debilitating Vallejo Steps to Leavenworth,... More >>

  • Best Place to Imagine Pre-Euro San Francisco

    Baker Beach Once you've gotten yourself to the beach (see "Best Route to Cross the City on Foot" above), avert your eyes, if you can, from the gorgeous deep-orange bridge to your right and take in the unspoiled expanse of seashore, headlands, and ocean stretching before you. Peer at Mile Rock and the Farallons and the infinitude beyond and wonder what's out there, just as centuries of Costanoans and Miwoks did until, to their sorrow, they found out. Many a... More >>

  • Best Two Blocks of Urban Ambience

    Hayes Street between Franklin

    and Octavia A stroll on lovely Hayes can accomplish many miracles, including enlivening the lovelorn and clearing most things dot-com from one's consciousness. Hayes Street doesn't have the bridge-and-tunnel or tourist traffic of more established Haight, Fillmore, and Union, which makes for a most intimate urban experience. Dine alfresco at Absinthe Brasserie and Bar (398 Hayes) and titillate your taste buds by trying the risotto with Louisiana white prawns (wash it down with a glass of Liparita chardonnay). Then linger... More >>

  • Best Place to Shadow Sam Spade

    The Hunter-Dulin Building

    This dazzling Prohibition-era office building, with its gorgeously ceilinged lobby, green marble pillars, and Mayan élan, was built in 1926, two years before the detective-hero of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon set up shop several floors upstairs. After admiring the interior, cover the 10 blocks southwest to Spade's considerably less glamorous Tenderloin studio at 891 Post near Hyde (Spade commuted via the 38 Geary, a streetcar line in his day). En route you'll come within a block or two of... More >>

  • Best Place to Pretend You're Peter Graves

    San Francisco International Airport

    Say what you will about drafty old roll-up-the-sidewalks-at-midnight SFO, it has a certain undeniable international-intrigue cachet that conjures up flutes, bongo drums, and blaring brass sections. Position yourself in a chair by the flight desk and check out the luggage-burdened passers-by: an old German scientist over here, a Hong Kong munitions dealer over there, a faded contessa rummaging for a cigarette right in front of you. Sweat your way through the metal detector -- note to self: leave the Altoids... More >>

  • Best Free Vegetarian Meal

    Quong Ming Jade Emperor Palace

    Located next door to the Chinatown Branch Library, the temple is owned and operated by the Quong Ming Buddhism and Taoism Society, which purchased the building in 1995 from the Korean Baptist Church. Inside, it's filled with golden Buddhas, Chinese gods, burning candles and incense, and altars stacked with oranges; the ceiling is a forest of bright red banners and lanterns. On the first and 15th of each lunar month (get a calendar in Chinatown, but some upcoming dates are... More >>

  • Best Exotic Blossom

    Puya alpestris

    Rising eight feet above a fibrous, palmlike, olive-green base, this succulent's petals are of an unearthly green-to-aquamarine shade; its stamens are a brilliant poppy-orange. When bumblebees drop by to sip a little nectar, the pollen collects in their rear-leg sacs, turning the sacs the same bright orange color of the stamens: cool. This technicolor glimpse into the wild kingdom all around us is only one highlight of a trip to the arboretum's sere, strangely dazzling cactus garden.... More >>

  • Best Place for a Garden Party

    Trocadero Clubhouse

    A delightfully green and lovely place in the center of the Sunset, only a heartbeat from the congestion that is 19th Avenue, Stern Grove is a pleasant surprise in the urban landscape. The interior of the grove, home to summer concerts and croquet, is a meandering grassy meadow shaped by rock outcroppings here and there. The clubhouse, located roughly in the center of this escape, is sort of an indoor-outdoor building, with lots of openings to create the effect of... More >>

  • Best San Francisco Geography Lesson

    Corona Heights

    Getting to the topmost point of dog-friendly Corona Park takes some effort -- a steep hike westward on16th Street until it nearly dead ends, followed by a couple of dozen steps uphill. But once you've made it up the hill and climbed one of the easily scaled rocks at the apex of the park, you'll get an amazing 360-degree, bird's-eye view that's a San Francisco geography and urban planning lesson all in one. From that height, the city, which normally... More >>

  • Best Corkscrew Drive

    Vermont Avenue at 20th Street

    It appears from a distance that Vermont Street ends next to the minipark at 20th Street; once you're there, however, you'll see that this point actually marks the beginning of the street's curvy descent down the back of Potrero Hill. One of San Francisco's best-kept secrets, Vermont features a steeper slope and tighter turns than its more famous competitor, the one where the tourists go. The views along the way are fantastic -- though gazing is for passengers only, please.... More >>

  • Best Paperless Office

    Mayor Willie Brown's Office

    Newly released statistics from the paper industry indicate that, despite the cyberinformation revolution, the world is using more paper than ever. Sad for trees, but it makes sense: With today's cheap printers any geek with a modem can print out the Bible, the Koran, the complete works of Shakespeare, and entire dirty magazines. And the United States government remains one of the world's biggest wasters of paper, despite oodles of paperwork reduction acts. But the pulp fiends in Washington, D.C.,... More >>

  • Best Source of Information on What Willie Brown Is Really Up To

    Nob Hill Gazette

    Those lucky enough to have addresses within spitting distance of Huntington Park get a little extra gift on their apartment doorsteps among the usual pile of Chinese food menus and Independents: the wonderful Nob Hill Gazette, a monthly tribute to old money, young debutantes, and the Bay Area good life. Here, an article about whether you should time-share your Gulfstream V private jet or just buy it outright; there, a piece about the Pacific-Union Club, an exclusive establishment that boasts... More >>

  • Best Organized Anarchy

    Critical Mass

    There's no denying it. Despite all the transit-first doublespeak peppering official conversation and letters to the editor, the jig is up: Nothing holds a firmer grip on the character of San Francisco than the four-wheeled terror. Which makes this fun hour-or-two-long ride across the city during rush hour a political statement -- and a spontaneous one at that, since the ride's never planned until the last moment. Of course, it was much more political a few summers back when cyclists... More >>

  • Best City Transportation Improvement

    Valencia Street Bike Lane

    With all the talk about making it easier and safer to get around San Francisco -- allowing more time for pedestrians at stop lights, extending Caltrain to the Embarcadero and Muni to Mission Bay, and giving Muni a new board of directors -- there's one proposal that has lived up to its promise: the Valencia Street bike lane. Providing cyclists a safe space to ride along the length of Valencia Street in the Mission, it simply, cheaply, and effectively has... More >>

  • Best Local Newscaster

    Sal Castaneda

    A recent survey of local television news broadcasts said what's been on most viewers' minds for ages: The local TV news is a putrid, sensationalistic, dumbed-down, underreported wasteland that substitutes fluff for issues, idiotic anchor chitchat for ideas, and stuff that's caught fire for hard news. We'd work up the energy to be mad at KGO's umpteenth tie-in "story" about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire if its advertorial policy wasn't so deeply entrenched, what with Dr. Dean Edell's drug... More >>

  • Best New Tech Space

    Argonne Child Development Center

    The most exciting high-tech work space planned for San Francisco is really rather low-tech, explains architect Dennis Budd, of 450 Architects. For one thing, the workers won't do terribly much with computers -- they're 4 and 5 years old, after all. The building is a preschool employing the latest ideas in passive-solar architecture, recycled-materials construction, and building-integrated photovoltaic cells. It's the first such from-the-ground-up solar school in California; the architects designed the building to conserve energy in myriad ways. Children... More >>

  • Best Dismembered Piece of Hearst Legacy

    Golden Gate Park

    No, we're not talking about the stranger-than-fiction final days of the Examiner. To see the most tragic bit of old Hearst wreckage it's necessary to take a walk in Golden Gate Park, where, at the main entrance to the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Garden, stonemasons have cut ancient blocks of limestone to fashion a fountain, walkway, and raised planter bed for the new library terrace garden. Meanwhile, across the park at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, workers have been laying... More >>

  • Best Urban Hideaway for Tranquil Reflection

    Lobos Creek

    The city brings to mind a lot of things, but sitting alongside a quiet creek isn't one of them. Too bad. Perhaps if there were more creek-sitting, there would be less crankiness among the black-clad, overcaffeinated, driving public. Well, it's a thought, anyway. As best we can determine, Lobos Creek (also called San Francisco Creek by some natives) is the oldest and, we think, only continuously flowing creek in the city. The best place to meet up with it is... More >>

  • Best Urban Adventure

    Help a Friend Move Out of the Tenderloin After Midnight

    The law of friends, it seems, is threefold: There will be friends; those friends will move; and when they do, you must help them. It's usually a simple proposition -- unless the friend lives in the Tenderloin, and the only free time she has is after 12 a.m. Pimps, drug dealers, and other colorful characters were playing football in the middle of Post Street, which didn't help the flow of traffic much, and upset our friend quite a bit when... More >>

  • Best Sign That Discriminates Against Vehicles

    "Trucks not advised on Broadway"

    Where do those poor trucks go for advice, anyway?... More >>

  • Best Place to Day-dream About Faraway Places With Strange-Sounding Names

    The Middle of the Golden Gate Bridge

    First thing you do is check the "Ship Traffic" column in the daily newspaper (usually in the business section). Pick a cruise liner or container ship to your liking -- hm, the Maersk bound for Japan sounds good -- catch a bus to the toll plaza, and position yourself in the middle of the span in plenty of time to watch the ship of your choosing approach. You'll see people on the deck below, waving and blowing kisses; wave back.... More >>

  • Best Jann Wenner Memory Under Glass

    Everybody knows what you do if you wind up at the Fillmore and get bored with the opening band -- you head upstairs and take in the great concert posters that grace the walls of the upper balcony and dining area. From Jefferson Airplane to Wire, Bob Marley to Counting Crows, there's ample, colorfully represented proof that a whole lot of history has made its way onto the Fillmore stage. But if you're a regular concertgoer, perhaps the folks at... More >>

  • Best Good Guys

    St. Anthony Foundation/ Glide Memorial Church

    Sometimes, life in our capitalist society can be as forgiving as a sock full of nickels upside the head, and as a result of bad luck, bad choices, or, most important, no money, people find themselves on the streets. In San Francisco, those streets are often in the Tenderloin, where dozens of nonprofits are there to lend a hand -- not enough, some will argue, but still, it's hard to overlook the river of good deeds flowing through the neighborhood,... More >>

  • Best Private Library

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    Recently the $100 million new Main Library released a report admitting that, yes, a floor is missing -- and also that it's frustratingly hard to locate books in this white elephant monument to socialite Charlotte Swig Shultz. (Of course, the city paid $250,000 to learn what most library-users already knew.) But the good news is that, ever since the 19th century, the Mechanics' Institute Library has been far superior anyway. A simple computer database makes finding books a breeze. The... More >>

  • Best Guilty Indulgence

    Parking on the Sidewalk

    Yes, it's illegal to park on the sidewalk. But there's something so bold, so daring, so straightforward about it: After all, if the essential parking requirement is open pavement, the city has plenty of that. Sure, some neighbors may yell at you, or leave notes on your car condemning it as a fire hazard (in the latter case, however, we suspect a fellow sidewalk-parker had become disgruntled when he found his spot occupied). But then, when you think about it,... More >>

  • Best Hospital at Which to Have a Myocardial Infarction

    California Pacific Medical Center, Cherry Campus

    No reservation necessary -- just show up at the emergency room and say, "Chest pain" The most satisfying way to arrive is by hooting ambulance. Any time is fine, of course, but if you want to really stress-test the staff try midnight on a Friday night. We chose New Year's Eve, and were only mildly annoyed when a bunch of medical workers went home early to celebrate the millennium, leaving us to endure a second angioplasty New Year's morning. But... More >>

  • Best Place to Avoid While Driving Blind

    The Presidio

    No, you shouldn't drive drunk. But if you do anyway, you really, really, really shouldn't drive through the Presidio, where the United States Park Patrol runs regular sobriety checkpoints. Recently, a friend of this newspaper was dragged from his car after consuming two glasses of wine, plus an after-dinner cocktail, over the course of a two-hour meal (and if you do the calculations, taking body weight into account, well, let's say things could have got interesting). Fortunately, this person makes... More >>

  • Best Radical Group

    League of Filipino Students

    You'll see their fliers around town, or you can find them at their Web site: The League of Filipino Students supports a youthful national liberation movement in the Philippines that is fighting to extricate that Third World economy from the claws of multinational corporations, the World Trade Organization, and other imperialist rats. That said, the LFS representatives are soft-spoken, intelligent, logical, historically minded, and worth listening to about the ongoing war for worker and peasant independence (with a socialist perspective)... More >>

  • Best Indication That the City's Gone to the Dogs

    Near-Perpetual Center-Lane Parking on Valencia (and Guerrero)

    OK, we can forgive people for shamelessly parking in the middle of the street on Sunday mornings. After all, God doesn't wait for you to find a spot. But the center lane on Valencia? This is a turning lane, people, not a parking lot for SUVs and Jettas. Where is the sign that says, "Asshole parking only"? Considering this has been going on for years now, it's amazing that DPT hasn't found some means to rid Valencia's center lane of... More >>

  • Least Appropriate Vehicle for San Francisco Driving

    Ford Excursion

    Hey! You freaking moron! Your hideous $45,000 behemoth belongs in a Monster Truck Rally with tons of mud, mud, mud -- not on city streets! You can't park in any normal-sized space! In Chinatown and North Beach, people have to pull half off the road so you can pass in the other direction! No one can see past your bulbous fat ass! You get about 8 miles to the gallon, and those gallons cost $2 each! You're in gross violation... More >>

  • Best Four-Block Stretch of Movie Locations

    Sacramento and Mason to Jackson and Taylor

    With its photogenic hilltops, sparkling views, Barbary Coast-beatnik mystique, and atmospheric fog, San Francisco's a great place to make a movie, as generations of filmmakers have discovered. Begin your minitour of local cinematic haunts in front of the Fairmont, the setting for the 1967 stinker Hotel, then cross Sacramento to the Brocklebank Apartments, home to Kim Novak in Vertigo and Kelly LeBrock in Lady in Red. Walk a block west to Taylor -- up the hill is the doctor's office... More >>

  • Best Nouveau Rabble-Rousing

    720 York (at 19th Street)

    The shiny new live-work complex at 720 York St. has arrived: No sooner did its wealthy owners move in than neatly typeset protest signs went up in its streetfront windows. "No to Downtown Office Space," they scream. A large banner proclaims that the new-media-cyber-stock-poof offices cropping up around the Mission District are going to scarf up valuable street parking that the live-work yuppers believe rightfully belongs to them. Next thing you know, these Tiffany-and-Bradley-come-latelies will be keying Cadillacs and Jags... More >>

  • Best Pandemonium

    Ruby Skye

    As anyone strolling down Mason Street on any recent weekend has probably noticed, Ruby Skye ("appropriate fashionable attire required") is the new destination of choice for the city's "hip" crowd. Which, as anyone familiar with this scene is aware, means extremely long lines that can be avoided in four ways -- looking pretty, getting on the guest list, knowing a doorman, or paying one to let you in. Yes, it's a charming ritual: a hundred or so of the name-droppingest,... More >>

  • Best Place to Drink for Free

    Any One of the Numerous Dot-Com Parties

    The best dot-com parties are usually held Wednesday and Thursday evenings and wrap up early enough that the hangover isn't too brutal the next day. Crashing one is easy if you're properly armed -- a dot-com friend's business card will usually suffice. Or, if you're frightened by the drama of impersonation, you can take the more traditional route by logging on to www.sfgirl.com for a list of the week's festivities, then RSVP-ing to any of the given e-mail addresses. At... More >>

  • Best Smell at a Bad Dot-Com Party

    Lord knows the dot-communists have taken their share of flak for their perceived lack of style and social adeptness. But then, lord knows, some of them have earned it -- like the pear-shaped, pasty-faced, sneaker-and-oxford-wearing geekerati (and those were the women) who attended a certain Internet industry party at the Sound Factory on April 6. It was bad enough that the drinks weren't free, but then a friend remarked, "Someone here needs a shower." Not everyone in attendance was guilty... More >>

  • Best Dot-Com Party Thus Far

    Tixtogo on Treasure Island, Oct. 28, 1999, www.acteva.com

    Of course, dot-com launch parties, thrown for sites selling everything from natural foods to soft porn, get more and more lavish all the time. But none has yet topped Tixtogo.com's party celebrating the launch of its new name (Acteva) last fall. In and around an old Treasure Island hangar were trapeze instructors (after three free martinis we were a little too queasy to deal with the high bars), swine races announced by Mayor Willie himself, an obstacle course, and a... More >>

  • Most Geriatric Radical Group

    Revolutionary Communist Party

    The few persisting members of the once-mighty Revolutionary Communist Party can be spotted from time to time in odd nooks of the city flogging their gun-logoed paper, the Revolutionary Worker ($1). Yes, it still features a 25-year-old picture of RCP Chairman "Bob" Avakian, a Trotskyite who fled to France in 1980 to escape political persecution in Oakland. Caucasian Bob's famous theory was that nuclear war would break out in the 1980s between Russia and the United States, thereby providing petty... More >>

  • Most Bourgeois Radical Group

    The Workers World Party

    These Trots have more fronts than Julius Caesar had knife wounds: Out of their office at Mission and 21st they run an International Action Center, a National People's Campaign, and a bunch of other stuff depending on what's hot and what's not. For many years they were the folks who got the police permits for the demonstrations that used to rock the streets of San Francisco. But a few years back, these mostly white folks terminally confused the masses when... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch the Moonrise

    Broadway between Jones and Taylor

    The one factoid of importance we gleaned from four years of college was that the full moon always rises as the sun is setting. How convenient, to have the big yellow-orange (even blood-red!) sphere emerging from the east as dusk falls, the sky turns violet, and the lights come up across the skyline. Lovers of the big picture embrace Twin Peaks for the whole moonrise experience, but the panorama visible from this particular Russian Hill perch is a perfect cameo,... More >>

  • Best Community Newspaper

    New Mission News

    Editor in Chief Victor Miller has been making a living publishing the New Mission News newspaper since 1980. Month in and month out, the tabloid is stacked in North Mission cafes, restaurants, and stores ranging from 16th to 24th Street. Miller, who likes to masquerade as a miserly curmudgeon, but is rumored to have a heart of obsidian, sells ads, writes, edits, and opens the pages of the paper to aspiring writers, poets, political rhetoricians, and artists. For many years,... More >>

  • Best Dead Newspaper

    SF Frontlines

    SF Frontlines disappeared from city streets late last year, unlamented, unmourned, and basically unnoticed. In a town that desperately needs legitimate newspapers, it was a partial shame to see the provocative Frontlines pull the plug on itself. Toward the end, piles of the tabloid could be seen rotting sadly in odd corners of the yuppie cafes in which they had been dropped with such high hopes that they would actually be read. The paper's main fault was that it suffered... More >>

  • Best Historical Street Corner

    Clay and Grant

    Grant Avenue is not only the city's oldest street, but its sand, mud, and asphalt have hosted a good chunk of San Francisco's livelier moments, particularly on the block around Clay Street. Half a block north from Clay, near 827 Grant, Capt. William Richardson pitched a tent in June of 1835 that he later replaced with the city's first wooden dwelling. Half a block northeast is longtime city center Portsmouth Square, designed in 1839 by city planner J.J. Vioget to... More >>

  • Best Bus Line

    22 Fillmore

    San Francisco's eclectic nature is showcased on a ride up, down, and over a wide array of city terrain. The route starts at the Marina Green's bay shore, proceeds across tony Cow Hollow, and staggers uphill into the even tonier splendor of Pacific Heights, where the vistas out the bus window are staggering. Coasting downhill you pass Japantown, the Western Addition, and ever-groovy Hayes Valley before crossing Market into the even-groovier confines of the Mission. Then, making your meandering way... More >>

  • Best Local Example of Art Deco

    Muni's Streetcars, Market Street, et al.

    Back in the '20s and '30s, municipal streetcars around the country morphed from earlier, clunkier models into sleek, moderne conveyances reminiscent of the Zephyrs, Chiefs, and other streamlined express trains then crossing the country. A few years ago, Muni acquired a number of these vintage gems from Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, and other cities, restored them to their former luster, paintwork, seating, and all, and today they're the brightest aspect of commuting down Market Street. Especially beautiful are the circa 1928... More >>

  • Best Panhandling Pitch

    Last December we were strolling around Union Square with a few friends when we were sidetracked in front of Neiman-Marcus by two people bearing camera equipment and a microphone. "Would you mind telling our viewers your feelings about the holiday season?" asked the guy with the mike. Three of us instinctively backed away, but the braver (hammier) member of our group stepped up to the plate and said something eloquent to the camera lens and, presumably, the great wide world.... More >>

  • Best Local WPA Project

    Coit Tower

    FDR's Works Progress Administration not only gave people from every walk of life jobs during the country's worst financial depression, it left us with several notable public works that continue to delight 65 years later. From 1933 through 1934, a dozen WPA-sponsored artists converged at the base of the then-newly completed Coit Tower and painted murals directly on the wet plaster walls that depicted life in contemporary California -- its industry, agriculture, and so on -- the best mural being... More >>

  • Best Route When Crossing the City on Foot

    San Francisco is one of the tinier cities extant -- 49 square miles -- with neatly delineated aquatic borders, so traversing its seven-mile girth is not only feasible, it offers a saline-to-saline sense of geometric order and accomplishment. Begin at Pier 17 (Front and Filbert) and climb west up the lovely (if taxing) Filbert Steps. Head downhill to Washington Square, go three blocks south to Vallejo, and turn west again, up the equally verdant and debilitating Vallejo Steps to Leavenworth,... More >>

  • Best Place to Imagine Pre-Euro San Francisco

    Baker Beach Once you've gotten yourself to the beach (see "Best Route to Cross the City on Foot" above), avert your eyes, if you can, from the gorgeous deep-orange bridge to your right and take in the unspoiled expanse of seashore, headlands, and ocean stretching before you. Peer at Mile Rock and the Farallons and the infinitude beyond and wonder what's out there, just as centuries of Costanoans and Miwoks did until, to their sorrow, they found out. Many a... More >>

  • Best Two Blocks of Urban Ambience

    Hayes Street between Franklin

    and Octavia A stroll on lovely Hayes can accomplish many miracles, including enlivening the lovelorn and clearing most things dot-com from one's consciousness. Hayes Street doesn't have the bridge-and-tunnel or tourist traffic of more established Haight, Fillmore, and Union, which makes for a most intimate urban experience. Dine alfresco at Absinthe Brasserie and Bar (398 Hayes) and titillate your taste buds by trying the risotto with Louisiana white prawns (wash it down with a glass of Liparita chardonnay). Then linger... More >>

  • Best Place to Shadow Sam Spade

    The Hunter-Dulin Building

    This dazzling Prohibition-era office building, with its gorgeously ceilinged lobby, green marble pillars, and Mayan élan, was built in 1926, two years before the detective-hero of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon set up shop several floors upstairs. After admiring the interior, cover the 10 blocks southwest to Spade's considerably less glamorous Tenderloin studio at 891 Post near Hyde (Spade commuted via the 38 Geary, a streetcar line in his day). En route you'll come within a block or two of... More >>

  • Best Place to Pretend You're Peter Graves

    San Francisco International Airport

    Say what you will about drafty old roll-up-the-sidewalks-at-midnight SFO, it has a certain undeniable international-intrigue cachet that conjures up flutes, bongo drums, and blaring brass sections. Position yourself in a chair by the flight desk and check out the luggage-burdened passers-by: an old German scientist over here, a Hong Kong munitions dealer over there, a faded contessa rummaging for a cigarette right in front of you. Sweat your way through the metal detector -- note to self: leave the Altoids... More >>

  • Best Free Vegetarian Meal

    Quong Ming Jade Emperor Palace

    Located next door to the Chinatown Branch Library, the temple is owned and operated by the Quong Ming Buddhism and Taoism Society, which purchased the building in 1995 from the Korean Baptist Church. Inside, it's filled with golden Buddhas, Chinese gods, burning candles and incense, and altars stacked with oranges; the ceiling is a forest of bright red banners and lanterns. On the first and 15th of each lunar month (get a calendar in Chinatown, but some upcoming dates are... More >>

  • Best Exotic Blossom

    Puya alpestris

    Rising eight feet above a fibrous, palmlike, olive-green base, this succulent's petals are of an unearthly green-to-aquamarine shade; its stamens are a brilliant poppy-orange. When bumblebees drop by to sip a little nectar, the pollen collects in their rear-leg sacs, turning the sacs the same bright orange color of the stamens: cool. This technicolor glimpse into the wild kingdom all around us is only one highlight of a trip to the arboretum's sere, strangely dazzling cactus garden.... More >>

  • Best Place for a Garden Party

    Trocadero Clubhouse

    A delightfully green and lovely place in the center of the Sunset, only a heartbeat from the congestion that is 19th Avenue, Stern Grove is a pleasant surprise in the urban landscape. The interior of the grove, home to summer concerts and croquet, is a meandering grassy meadow shaped by rock outcroppings here and there. The clubhouse, located roughly in the center of this escape, is sort of an indoor-outdoor building, with lots of openings to create the effect of... More >>

  • Best San Francisco Geography Lesson

    Corona Heights

    Getting to the topmost point of dog-friendly Corona Park takes some effort -- a steep hike westward on16th Street until it nearly dead ends, followed by a couple of dozen steps uphill. But once you've made it up the hill and climbed one of the easily scaled rocks at the apex of the park, you'll get an amazing 360-degree, bird's-eye view that's a San Francisco geography and urban planning lesson all in one. From that height, the city, which normally... More >>

  • Best Corkscrew Drive

    Vermont Avenue at 20th Street

    It appears from a distance that Vermont Street ends next to the minipark at 20th Street; once you're there, however, you'll see that this point actually marks the beginning of the street's curvy descent down the back of Potrero Hill. One of San Francisco's best-kept secrets, Vermont features a steeper slope and tighter turns than its more famous competitor, the one where the tourists go. The views along the way are fantastic -- though gazing is for passengers only, please.... More >>

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