Ugly glasses

When I was a kid, if you wore big goofy angular frames like the ones worn by Elvis Costello on his first record, or Oscar Wao, or Piggy from Lord of the Flies, you would get beaten up or stuffed into a Dumpster. Today, these are your only options! I wonder what poor old Piggy would think, to know that he has been reborn as a fashion icon. Today’s trendiest glasses are all awkward, expensive and absolutely enormous, with huge black bug-eyed frames with weird jagged edges. Anyhow, I was at the eyeglass store in Noe Valley yesterday. The salesman tried a bit of divide-and-conquer. He had me try on some really big frames, and when my wife made a sour face, he waited until she was out of earshot and said, “I disagree with her but it looks like she has the say-so.” Tired of the hard-sell, I went…

Haight Ashbury’s incoherent drug pushers: why must they mumble?

Haight Ashbury’s pushers should all take elocution lessons. How many times has this happened to you? You’ve been walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy comes up to you and makes you an offer that you can’t understand. “Hey you, want to buy some murgahblerghohgohablorojegt?” Yesterday, when I was down in the Haight, shopping for paper towels, a pusher approached me at the corner of Haight and Cole and asked if I wanted to buy a small bag of “green-vomit mushrooms.” I’m sure that’s not what he meant but his pronunciation was terrible! Five minutes later, near the corner of Haight and Clayton, a pusher tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to buy a few ounces of “bagpipe sprouts.”

Scary restaurants

My friend and writing colleague Sam Autman sent me a news story about his favorite restaurant being invaded by cockroaches and serving roadkill to unwitting customers!! I was disgusted. At the same time, I have a pretty strong feeling that many of my favorite greasy hotspots in NYC and other places have shady histories. For example, I’ve always had a strange feeling about my favorite roasted chicken place on the west side. They are nothing but kind to me, but the waiters seem tough. I have a feeling that if I ever complained about the food or caused a scene, no one would ever hear from me again. Long ago, I frequented a Connecticut sushi restaurant that (allegedly) had a double life as a bookie joint. It was right at the height of the designer sake craze. In a snippy and entitled voice, I asked the hulking bartender, “What kinds…

Say what? Plus — fainting at book store

This morning, I had a Phillip K. Dick moment when I (in a rare moment of self-involvement) was surfing the Internet and stumbled upon an advertisement for a used (!) copy of my as-yet-nonexistent, soon-to-be published book. The Internet site assured me that there was “one used copy available” and that I could get it in a week or so — even though the book won’t be published for five months!!! I wondered to myself, “how can there be a used copy of a document that doesn’t exist? And what would happen if I whipped out my credit card and pressed the ‘order’ button? If I did such a thing, what would the postman deliver? I had a vision of opening up a large manila envelope and having an amorphous Rosemary’s Baby bolus of future prose slither out of the envelope and land with a plop on my apartment floor….

Corrected blog entry: The near-squishing of my car ( and my near-pickpocketing by a weird girl)

I’ve been trying to enjoy the storm. For example, I’ve been running all over my apartment, pretending it’s a pirate ship sailing through gail force winds. “All hands on deck! Man the bilge, ya swabs. Fire in the hole.” But there is no denying it. This storm is merciless and nasty. Today, an oak fell over and gave the car parked right next to my car a leafy smackdown, pinning it to the asphalt, slamming the hood, cracking the glass, totalling it. Scary. I had been parked three feet to the right, that would have been my squashed car. This storm is for real. Today, I visited Hayes Valley, and I almost parked my car near the general proximity of “Oak” and “Fell” streets. Not wanting to tempt fate, I moved. In other news, a strange woman pickpocketed me right in the middle of a Castro eyeglasses store, but she…

Cheese shop ownership and psychosis: a direct correlation

Incident one: Just last week, I went into my very favorite cheese shop in town and asked the guy for a small wedge of Fromage D’Affinoir. And the guy’s face fell! He wrinkled his nose and made a disgusted expression as if I’d just asked for the dumbest, most vulgar kind of cheese on the planet. He gave me the Fromage, but he practically threw the thing at me. I got out of there as quickly as I could. Incident two: The other day, I went into my second-favorite cheese shop in town and asked for some fresh ricotta, which, as you know, is very hard to find. The owner asked me why I needed fresh ricotta. I explained that my wife was making me a lasagna from scratch, using a Kitchenaid standing mixer with a pasta-making attachment. “What is she, a mail-order bride?” said the owner.

Hawaii: mongoose, turtles and seriously chubby tourists

I just returned from a wild and crazy trip through Maui and the Big Island. It was a great, great time. I stayed in an actual yurt, ate pickled raw smelly fish, inadvertently annoyed a green sea turtle, stalked a tropical fish, snorkeled in circles and ate mahi mahi fish and chips until my brain was numb. It was an almost perfect vacation, except for the following strange things. 1. In Kona, our next door neighbors were such slobs!!! They never left their hotel room. They stocked up on stuff from Costco, including an enormous bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, which they glurped outta the bottle. Then, they decided to hang out on their balcony while watching TV. To pull off this feat, they arranged their deck chairs with their backs to the water, and turned the TV set up so loudly that it shook the whole floor. We finally…