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People & Places

  • Best Socialite

    Vanessa Getty

    Charity starts at home, and no one typifies this clichéd line of altruism more than Vanessa Getty. Although we have yet to receive a dollar from her to help us out on our incessantly late rent, Getty's philanthropic work is second to none. OK, maybe second to the Stepmother From Hell (you know who I'm talking about). Anyway, what we truly like about dear Vanessa — aside from the rumors of her pissing off her Getty in-laws and her loathing... More >>

  • Best Newspaper Columnist

    David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle

    Nobody wields a sharper scalpel than Lazarus when it comes to dissecting the doublespeak and deceptive practices of big business. His thrice weekly column serves as a consumer tip sheet, alerting readers when banks gouge customers through hidden debit-card fees or credit-card companies sneak extra charges onto monthly bills. Not long ago, with vintage Lazarusian acuity, he skewered an insurance trade group after it floated a self-serving proposal to expand U.S. health care coverage. "What it would do," he wrote... More >>

  • Best Zinester

    Jay Howell

    People love artist Jay Howell for two main — and pretty much indistinguishable — reasons: his boner imagery and his seventh-grade sense of humor. Both are displayed in this lanky pen-and-ink doodler's hilarious publications. From Punks Git Cut to Dogs and Dog Information, his deceptively simple illustrations of hairy mammals and hairier hippies are always hilarious. But the guy has outdone himself with the release of Let Me Tell You Where/Where Not to Stick It, a gut-busting collaboration with Audrey... More >>

  • Best Local Street Vendor

    The Tamale Lady

    Virginia Ramos, better known to her hordes of fans and admirers as the Tamale Lady, has been wheeling plastic coolers filled with her handmade wares around the Mission for years. Stopping into as many as 18 bars in one evening between happy hour and closing time, the Tamale Lady's presence is announced. Shouts of "The Tamale Lady is here!" "Quick, lend me five bucks!" "Grab me a veggie!" resound as the Tamale Lady dispenses hot, fresh tamales with homemade hot... More >>

  • Best Pathological Citizen

    Frank Chu

    While most S.F. kooks are of the frightening, defecating-in-public variety, Frank Chu is quite the Dapper Dan. He's quiet and always sports a slick suit and sunglasses (even at night). Dedicated to the work he does, Chu can be found making daily rounds through downtown religiously and at almost every public event, protesting crimes committed against him by Bill Clinton and unseen enemies from alternate universes. You'd think he were just an ordinary dude until you read his black picket... More >>

  • Best Stalker

    Han Sup Shin

    Mayor Gavin Newsom might be "relieved like a laxative" now that his admirer in diapers, Han Sup Shin, has been served with a restraining order for trying to break into his apartment this past Valentine's Day (so romantic!), but we kind of miss the nut. We could go into detail about the awesomeness that is Shin: His fondness for sporting purple gloves, which signify "divinity and royalty"; his insanely delusional use of the term "President Gavin Newsom"; his (alleged) penchant... More >>

  • Best Illegal Display of Fireworks

    Mission District Roofs

    Living in a third-floor walkup with three roommates may not be ideal, but it has its perks — that's the mantra Mission District residents recite. And they get validation every Fourth of July. As the sun goes down on that patriotic evening, Missionistas climb up fire escapes and crack open trap doors, and set up plastic lawn chairs on the conveniently flat rooftops. Then the illegal glory begins. Bursting up from the streets all around you are fireworks to rival... More >>

  • Best Evening Picnic Spot

    Sutro Baths

    Everybody loves ruins. They're romantic and eerie, and imaginations feed on the remnants to reconstruct the places and lives of yesteryear. San Francisco is too young a city to be rich in ruins, but we do have what's left of the Sutro Baths. The deluxe public bath house opened in 1896, and housed seven swimming pools under a huge vault. It was a last burst of Victorian grandeur that struggled to survive in the 20th century, and eventually burnt down... More >>

  • Best Public Pay Phones

    The Fairmont Hotel

    Those of you without cellphones — all four of you — know that finding a working pay phone in San Francisco can lead to a journey longer than Odysseus' trip to Ithaca. No dial tone, dead mouthpiece, missing receiver — many are the obstacles that thwart the would-be pay-phone user. (And let us not dwell on the most unsettling hindrance of all: the dreaded sticky earpiece.) That's why, for our 50 cents, we like to amble into one of the... More >>

  • Best Brunch Where You Might Also Get Laid


    It's not just the Castro location — ripe with horny and hungover twentysomethings looking for protein from a variety of sources — or the salmon deviled eggs that are so subtle yet tasty that you will want to make love to any and all after just one bite. Instead it's the bottomless glasses of mimosas they serve, like the free-refill soda machine at Carl's Jr. only slightly fancier, that tip this ordinary Sunday brunch over into hedonistic territory. The delightful... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Off on BART

    The Last Car of the Train

    Just a quick search on XTube will vividly tell you what a thousand words can't: Men like to screw around with other men on BART. Specifically, men like to achieve orgasms on the train's last car, which is usually the least crowded of cars. Famously performed on the very last train of a BART car, the action typically (and rather Freudianly) happens while the train is riding in the long tunnel under the bay. From your garden-variety exhibitionist coyly hiding... More >>

  • Best Glory Hole

    Blow Buddies

    What is a glory hole, you might be asking yourself? (Well, you might be asking that if, say, you just moved here either out from under a rock or from under the state of Michigan.) Well, it's a vile and crudely cutout hole, about waist-level high, on a wall or a bathroom stall in which to stick your erect penis. The ideal end result after insertion being that someone on the other side of the glory hole might do something... More >>

  • Best San Francisco Values

    The Castro Lions

    Here are the unpoetic but inspiring words that must have inspired the 1985 founding of the Castro Lions: "Is there a need in your community that is not being met? Consider forming a Lions Club to bring together community service-minded individuals ... " In the mid-1980s, there was indeed a need in San Francisco that was not being met: People, mostly gay men, were sick and dying, and near-universal ignorance and bigotry kept many of them from getting the care... More >>

  • Best Morbid Display of Gay Pride


    Rainbow flags have waved over so many aspects of city life that it's not surprising to find them in a final resting place; still, it's a nice sight. The Columbarium is an exquisite, 110-year-old building in the Richmond where the cremated remains of thousands of San Franciscans are tucked away in niches — or "apartments," as caretaker Emmitt Watson calls them. The more modern niches hold not just urns, but mementos and souvenirs from lives well lived. Thus, the rainbow... More >>

  • Best Cemetery

    Mission Dolores

    In a city famously (and intentionally) lacking in graveyards, this lovely little "cemetery garden" at the city's oldest landmark is a hands-down winner. The gravestones date to the 1830s, but they don't begin to tell the whole story. There are an estimated 5,000 Ohlone Indians buried on the grounds. And for good reason: They built the place, as slave laborers, when Mission San Francisco de Asis (aka Dolores) was established in 1776 as the sixth in the string of 21... More >>

  • Best Place to Spot a Bike Messenger Sitting Still

    One Post

    The sunny steps of the Montgomery Street BART station may not seem like the hub of one of San Francisco's coolest scenes, but depending on whom you ask, they are. Bike messengers of all persuasions relax here between delivering tags: young, old, crazy, sexy, male, female (but not too many of the latter). Hand-rolled cigarettes are smoked, coffee is drunk, crosswords provoke furrowed brows, and the scene is constantly in flux as radios crackle, summoning these fleet-wheeled Mercuries to all... More >>

  • Best Place for Doggie Dating

    Alamo Square Park

    A local, let's call him "Steve," takes his dog twice daily to Alamo Square, and recently veered away from his pooch's regular "business" spot. The reason? "See that girl over there with the golden retriever? I slept with her a few weeks ago and haven't been returning her calls lately." Veering away from the golden's owner, a girl with a teeny Boston Terrier in a sweater saunters up, batting her eyes. Suddenly, some of the reasons for owning a dog... More >>

  • Best New "It" Neighborhood


    People who haven't lived in San Francisco for a few years will raise their eyebrows and make their eyes all big and say, "oooh," if you tell them you live in the area historically known as the Western Addition. What they don't know (and let's try to keep it our secret), is that the area north of the panhandle (NOPA) along Divisadero is San Francisco's up-and-comin'-est new 'hood. It's no longer a place where shoving to get to the front... More >>

  • Best Panoramic View

    Buena Vista Park

    It's not uncommon to see a few European tourists huffing and puffing their way to the top of this park that's true to its name (it means "good view" in Spanish). On a clear day, hiking up the steep 575-foot hill offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and much of the whole Bay Area. Tourists aside, most visitors to the park seem to live within walking distance. This park that's San Francisco's oldest (it was originally dubbed Hill... More >>

  • Best Scenic Stairs

    Harry Street Stairs

    A perfect way to experience the varied architectural and horticultural charms of San Francisco with an elevated heart rate is to climb the Harry Street stairs. The wooden steps climb in a reasonably straight line from Laidley to Beacon Street in the border region of Glen Park and Noe Valley referred to by some neighborhood precisionists as Fairmont Heights. Start out among the preciously painted Victorians and quaint cottages on Laidley, then climb through a panoply of greenery that turns... More >>

  • Best Place to Farm Fennel

    San Francisco Community Gardens

    Now, fennel is something that actually grows with wild abandon all over the city if you know where to look (waist-high, pale-green fronds under the freeway overpass, anyone?), but if you're an urban dweller with a green thumb, there is hope for you if you want to think outside the window box. San Francisco community gardens have numerous plots available in 10 districts. The San Francisco Garden Resource Center offers free workshops and a highly interactive Web site that catalogues... More >>

  • Best Fire Hydrant

    The Golden Hydrant

    It isn't often that a city recognizes a lowly fire hydrant as a significant historical landmark, but this one near the southwest corner of Mission Dolores Park has earned the props. In the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fire, it was here that a handful of exhausted firemen and throngs of volunteer citizens made a valiant (and successful) stand against the approaching conflagration that — except for the water that gushed from the hydrant, after many other hydrants had... More >>

  • Best Place to Walk in Circles

    Grace Cathedral

    Talk about the benefits of going nowhere! Labyrinths, those circular paths leading to a center, have been around for centuries and in Europe they were a common feature of medieval cathedrals. Aficionados have long recognized labyrinth-walking both as a kind of spiritual journey and as a way to clear the head and lift the mood. Which is exactly what the Rev. Lauren Artress, a canon at Grace Cathedral, had in mind when she pushed to have the landmark Episcopal house... More >>

  • Best Dashiell Hammett Haunt

    Building at 891 Post

    OK, Dashiell Hammett fans, we know you can never get enough. Some of us see Sam Spade, the famed author's famous detective, around most every corner — or at least at the spots immortalized in The Maltese Falcon. There's John's Grill (at 63 Ellis), where Spade loved to chow down, and the splendid Hunter-Dulin Building (at Montgomery and Sutter) where Spade kept an office. But perhaps no locale is more Hammett-friendly than the apartment house at 891 Post St., where... More >>

  • Best Little-Noticed Shrine

    Fisherman's & Seaman's Memorial Chapel

    Nestled on the inner harbor side of Pier 45, this small wood-framed chapel, built in 1979, is a charming memorial to the memory of Bay Area fishermen who've lost their lives at sea. It's also something of a touchstone for San Francisco's mostly Italian, mostly Roman Catholic fishing community, which traces its origins to Sicilian immigrants from the early 1800s. Officially known as St. John the Apostle Oratory, the chapel received the blessing of the Archbishop of Palermo during a... More >>

  • Best Place to Wait on a Plane

    San Francisco Airport Museum

    Dedicated to commercial aviation and SFO's role as the "Gateway to the Pacific," this museum constitutes an island of sanity amid the hustle and bustle of SFO's concourses. Step inside this 11,500-square-foot trove of flying lore and you're transported to an imposing model of the 1937 San Francisco Airport Administration Building. Rotating exhibitions are mostly, but not always, aviation-related. Currently (through August), exhibits include a collection of early aircraft engines and propellers and another of 20th-century silver and metalwork. Open... More >>

  • Best New Old Skyscraper

    New Old Skyscraper

    When it comes to tense relationships, Hatfields vs. McCoys have nothing on architects vs. building code inspectors. Take the example of 450 Sutter St., the 26-story, Art Deco landmark designed by Timothy Pflueger, the architectural mind behind the Pacific Stock Exchange, Union Square Plaza, the Castro Theater, and the California Academy of Sciences. The historical landmark is an odd combination of Mayan motifs, Art Deco-style angled spires, and San Francisco bay windows — all clad in terra-cotta. And it works.... More >>

  • Best TV Reporter

    Dan Noyes

    While local TV news the nation over continues to take flack for obsequious coverage, our hometown reporter Dan Noyes has fashioned himself into Mayoral Enemy No. 1. Back in January, the chief investigative reporter for ABC 7 incited Gavin Newsom's old spokesman Peter Ragone to point into the reporter's face while spewing idiocies and later to deny having blasted Newsom critics on blogs under cyber-aliases. And that's just the press secretary. While hundreds of shouting constituents and chicken-suited critics fail... More >>

  • Best Girl for Gavin

    Jennifer Siebel

    It's a close call to pick just one from the smorgasbord of suitors vying for a spot in Mayor Newsom's heart since his divorce: the CSI: Miami starlet, the friend's wife, the 20-year-old Republican with a porn name, the stalker with a purple glove. But this year, we've gotta give props to Gavin's current squeeze, actress Jennifer Siebel, for her dizzyingly desperate attempts to save face after being quoted saying that in Newsom's affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk "the woman is... More >>

  • Best/Worst Politician

    Gavin Newsom

    Ah, [sigh] Gavin, if the city only had a nickel for each time you were compared to a Ken doll, we could fix the Muni. Three years having passed since Newsom first boosted our glittering city into the national limelight by allowing gay marriages, Newsom staged a comeback in a big way this year with the revelation of his affair, his alcohol problems, and (let's not forget the actual politics) by approving the first universal health care plan in the... More >>

  • Best Talk Radio Host

    Bernie Ward

    OK, so the guy is not sexy or suave. He looks like a plump systems engineer from Middle America who'd vote Republican. But this is radio, so what do we care if KGO's Bernie Ward isn't a looker. If you can sit tight through sermon-like pauses (he used to be a priest) that last so long you end up tapping the radio to see if you lost the signal, you're in for a program where he lives up to his... More >>

  • People & Places Readers' Poll

    Readers' Poll Winners:

    Best Comedy Act: Uphill Both Ways Best Stripper: Jade-Blue Eclipse Best Writer: Dave Eggers Best Activist: Medea Benjamin Best Mechanic: Aaron at Advanced Audi Best Morning Crew: KFOG Best Radio DJ: Dave Morey Best Talk Radio Host: Dorka Keehn Best Newscaster: Dennis Richmond Best Politician: Gavin Newsom Worst Politician: Gavin Newsom Best Neighborhood: The Mission Best Weekend Getaway: Napa Best Place for a First Date: Golden Gate Park Best Place to Get Married: City Hall Best Change in S.F. since... More >>

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