the birthday part II: "the rawk" and sweeties
everybody has to rock a little on their birthdays, no matter how old or young you may be, from the cradle to the rocking chair. i was whisked off to THE rock. or the rawk, as i prefer to think of it. yes indeed. alcatraz island. ball-and-chain told me that he was going to leave me there 'cause i'd been so cranky leading up to my birthday. i still don't know why he insisted on the safety cone orange colors...maybe so he could see me in the crowd. and avoid me. or just in case he decided to throw me off the boat so someone else could fish me out and take me home? hmmm...
so i was then whisked off to this mega-tourist attraction that i've never been to despite having been born and raised here in the sf bay area. it's actually a little thing i do, just to be an ignorant ass, for example i've been to flagstaff arizona three times but never went to the grand canyon. stupid, no? hell yeah! stooopid.
well, the rawk. it was a beautiful day. it was crowded. or crowdy, as my mom would say. my flask ran dry and there were some pretty scary euro-trash tourists milling about. think multiple drag-queen renditions of christina aguilera, but not drag-queens. actual girls. maybe. i could hear the thumping techo beats of an ibiza disco every time our paths intersected.
well, we did the audio tour, piled back onto the ferry, sucked down a canned beer and were vomited out back at fisherman's wharf, along with the other tourists, like so many indigestible bits. we then made, what i thought was at the time a fatal tactical error (but ended up very well indeed). we began bleakly wandering around that no man's land past northpoint but before north beach. past the cost plus world market. away from the touists and all businesses. looking for a bar. just as my sturdily shod feet began to drag and my bleary eyes began to dart around in search of a cab, there it was.
sweeties bar. tucked into a residential street in in-between-landia. this tiny little neighborhood drinkery feels a little amputated. as you walk in there is a bar on your right, but it is about 1/2 or 1/3 as long as you might expect. beyond that is a little room the size of a san francisco bedroom (think slighlty larger than a walk-in closet), and off to the left of the entrance is a pool table in a little room. this place is supposedly owned by the same people who own the bar at pier 23, i think it's called?
we were thirsty and the two buck drafts were just right. but we were hungry too. we asked the barkeep if they didn't have some chips or pretzels or some such drunkards foods on hand. he said no, sadly enough, but then turned around and popped down a few delicious truffles from his box of candy. and they were the last two. this was followed by some delicious german wafer chocolates from his personal stash. then he asked our signs, disappeard into another room and came back with two little red boxes containing our respective signs in etched glass. you know the ones. they're round, glass, beveled edges, etched picture and name of the sign. it was inexplicable, but it being, unbenownst to him, my birthday and my being drunken, i was deeply touched.
the bar was pretty well attended for a saturday afteroon around 5 pm, and as we sat there talking with george, the barkeep, it became apparent why. it's the man himself. he told some fantastic tales of a life richly lived, with everything won and lost and won and apparently lost again. a really nice guy, a tremendous presence, good storyteller, it's no wonder business was so rawking. when he got off his shift at 6pm and another girl came to fill in, the place cleared out. poor kid.
so if you're in that area on a saturday or thursday afternoon before 6pm drop in and say hi to george. an excellent guy. a great yarn. cheap beers.
sweeties bar. 475 francisco near mason street, 433 2343. for the next month they will have readings followed by an open mike each sunday starting at 7 pm, i think. local poets and literary types, like thom gunn have participated in the past readings. check it out.