By Joe Eskenazi
This time of year, a trip to Chinatown will leave most San Franciscans befuddled by the dialog they overhear. Indeed, you may think to yourself, “If only I took more German in school.”
Yes, identifying the plethora of visitors who clog our city during the tourist season can be a challenge. And that’s why any serious tourist-watcher can’t afford to pass up the San Francisco Weekly’s 2007 Illustrated Field Guide to San Francisco Tourists ™ -- now available in both English and Esperanto.
Scientific name: Lopus Gazopus
Common name: Great North American Map-Gazer
Song: “I reckon this is the train to Fisherman’s Wharf?”
Description: Making up the vast bulk of San Francisco’s tourist fauna, the Map-Gazer is a ubiquitous sight at the Cable Car turnaround or Pier 39, and often interacts with local inhabitants on F-line trolleys or the Westfield Mall. The species can be readily identified due to its eponymous maps, cameras, white tennis shoes and billowing shorts worn by both males and females (even though San Francisco is colder for 10 months of the year than an ex-girlfriend bumped into while she’s purchasing plus-sized clothing, the species insists on wearing shorts).
Scientific name: Fanaticus Intensicus
Common name: Wandering Sportsfan
Song: “Which Cable Car goes to AT&T Park?”
Description: Traveling mainly in herds, Wandering Sportsfans of many sub-species are identifiable due to their colorful plumage; many wear not only the cap but the full cap-and-jersey ensemble of their hometown team. This is beneficent on their part, as San Franciscans -- hardly a narcissistic or self-absorbed group -- are keenly interested in what city and team the Fanaticus Intensicus are affiliated with. We’re just dying to know.
Scientific name: Nikon Maximus
Common name: Indomitable Japanese Tourist
Song: שרשע קװןלץ?
Description: How many framed photos of San Francisco landmarks grace the walls of Japanese homes -- more or fewer than McDonald’s Burgers served? Whatever it is, be thankful; if the Indomitable Japanese Tourists stopped frequenting the city, San Francisco’s No. 1 industry would quickly morph from tourism to selling apples on street corners.
Scientific name: Continentus Familius
Common name: Howling European Touring Family
Song: Ict de gutten abben bitten Haight Ashbury?
Description: Whether it’s German, French or Italian, it’s going to be bellowed loud and fast in buses, trains, department stores and museums by the Howling European Touring Family. Many of the families choose to adorn themselves with local décor (“Alcatraz Psycho Ward” shirts for the whole family are a particular favorite) but are often given away by attempting to pay in kroner and the propensity of at least one family member to wear agonizingly short shorts – more often than not, it’s dad. By age 16, Howling children often return to San Francisco in the guise of another subspecies, the Young European Hostel Backpacker.
Scientific name: Punkus Greyhoundia
Common name: Semi-Conscious Lost Hoodie Teenagers from Hell
Song: Ha! I bet you a dollar you’d read my sign and YOU DID!
Description: Whether it’s the packs of un-neutered pit bulls on rope leashes, a propensity to defecate in public or black jeans so tight you can tell if the doctor who performed their circumcisions was right- or left-handed, what’s not to love about the Hoodie Teens? The species can do virtually everything but split the atom with a their copious safety pins (though CIA intelligence reports estimate three-to-five years before they achieve that goal). Large numbers of Punkus Greyhoundia could traditionally be observed in their natural habitat in Golden Gate Park – until San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius began patrolling the area with a longshoreman’s hook.