Coffee to the People is my office

Coffee to the People is where I get most of my writing done, and grade most of my papers, and send most of my emails these days. For me, this place captures the best of the Haight — and I think it has the best people-watching of any cafe in the city. I can usually be found at the Black Panthers-themed table. In other news, it looks like the used bookstore, very close to the coffee shop, shut down, even though it was called Forever After. I wonder what will take its place. Not another crepe restaurant, I hope.

Speeding along the JMT, part two

The broken JMT speed record is a remarkable achievement. Here is an interesting story by someone who made a valiant attempt to do the same thing a while back. It will give you a pretty good sense of what lies in store for you if you attempt to break the existing record. Incidentally, when I hiked the JMT, I had to dig very deep just to throw down nine miles a day!! It’s incredibly beautiful but quite rugged, snowbound and sometimes icy — and as you well know, resupplying is rather challenging too.

John Muir Trail record smashed!!!

This just in. Apparently, Brett Maune has smashed the speed record on the John Muir Trail. According to the forwarded message I received this morning, “He ran UNSUPPORTED from Whitney Portal to Yosemite in 3 days 14 hours and 13 minutes, taking 5:47 off the old *supported* record and over 19 hours off the unsupported record!!! Wow.” Click here for details, and thanks again to Mike for keeping us all posted. Stay tuned for even more details when I can get them. (Rest assured that I am not a speedy backpacker but I’m impressed by people who can pull this off.)

Father lets toddler cavort in filthy birdbath

You’re not going to believe this. Today I was hanging out around Golden Gate Park when I saw a dad let his son splash and play in the unspeakably filthy pond close to the tunnel near the main eastern entrance. I’m talking about that reflecting pond near the Roach Motel, the tunnel with the faux-stalagmites leading toward Hippie Hill. Anyhow, the kid was up to his belly in the slick green water, a special favorite of local waterfowl. A man rode past on the bike and tried to get the dad to remove the kid from the water. In the father’s defense, the bike rider’s approach left something to be desired. He wasn’t exactly diplomatic. In fact, he kept pedaling away from the father and son while yelling, “HEY YOU!!! YOU SHOULDN’T LET THAT KID NEAR THAT DIRTY WATER YA BOZO!” Not surprisingly, the dad didn’t do anything in response….

Spike Jonze profile by Saki Knafo

Congratulations to Saki Knafo for his fascinating portrait of Mr. Spike Jonze. In case you missed it, it was on the cover of yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. In other news, the fiend who stole the Ashbury sign is still at large. Now, the famous intersection just says Haight and nothing. I will do my best to apprehend the thief single-handedly and bring him to justice. I’m presuming it’s a him.

Cactus Eaters makes top 10 bestseller list, outsells Obama (details below)

Finally. At long last, the Cactus Eaters cracked the top 10 bestseller list. Yes, it’s true. More than a year after the tome was released to bookstores, it has reached the top of the heap. For the past 13 months, it has outsold a popular book by Barack Obama and has even overtaken Olive Kitteridge. At some point in this blog entry, I should probably point out that this bestseller list applies to one book store, called Cover to Cover, in Noe Valley, San Francisco. But still, it’s pretty cool. On a serious note — if you’re a first time author, it’s always interesting to see the way books perform in various stores — even within the same city. A lot of it depends on the bookseller’s attitude toward the book and the way it’s displayed (or whether there is a shelf talker.) In the case of Cover to Cover,…

Fiends! ! Haightful vandal steals Ashbury sign

Someone apparently shimmied up the famous Haight-Ashbury marker (where a single signpost holds the Haight and Ashbury street signs) and stole the Ashbury sign. Maybe this was a gesture to drive off tourists — but an exceptionally large gaggle of tourists gathered around the intersection today because the stolen sign made it an even bigger novelty. Anyhow, I hope you will all keep a look-out for that wayward Ashbury sign, which is probably being nailed to the ceiling of the bathroom of a smoke-filled biker bar even as I type this.

Massive free concert in the park: start camping out now. (Neko Case, Lyle Lovett, Doc Watson, Robert Earl Keen, John Prine, Nick Lowe and more.)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass — which takes place in Golden Gate Park this year on October 2, 3, and 4 — is like some strange vision of the afterlife. It’s heavenly in the sense that the music is always fantastic, the crowd is mostly very spirited, and it’s absolutely free. And it’s slightly hellacious because so many of those bands end up playing at the same time so you have to make some hard decisions. Also, because it’s free, some people in the audience don’t feel quite as invested in the music, and so they end up yapping into their cellphones or talking throughout the entire thing. This can be annoying. Last year I couldn’t pay attention during the Gillian Welch set because these drunken dudes in front of me spent the entire time talking loudly about how hard it was to find each other in the crowd. Like, who cares?…

“Girls in Trucks,” Wolf Larsen and much, much more: The Barbershop reading series marches on

Congratulations to Michael McAllister for the continuing success of his “Barbershop Reading Series” — button-pushing literary events held right in the middle of an actual barbershop. This Saturday at 8 p.mA literary “barbershop quartet” will kick things off this Saturday at 8 p.m. at Joe’s Barbershop on 2150 Market Street (between Church and Sanchez) out here in San Francisco. This month’s barbershop quartet includes: KATIE CROUCH, whose debut novel, GIRLS IN TRUCKS, about Southern debs gone bad, was a New York Times Bestseller. KEMBLE SCOTT, author of the bestselling novel SOMA, whose new novel, THE SOWER is a twisted thriller about a San Francisco bad boy who becomes the sole carrier of a manmade virus that appears to be the cure for all diseases. WOLF LARSEN, singer-songwriter, wowed everyone at our opening event this past June with her beautiful voice. Details: The organizers suggest arriving a little early, especially if…

Yoko and more

Drat! — I accidentally erased this. Anyhow, I am trying to set up an online clip file of old stories, essays, etc. For starters, here is a Sentinel story revolving around an interview with Yoko Ono. As I mentioned before, the person who set up the interview warned me not to ask her if she broke up the Beatles (the truth is more complicated, actually; see this month’s Rolling Stone cover story.)