Have fun at the end of the world
Looking back on the past year and a half, I marvel at how many stages of the pandemic we have survived together. From those happy early days when we all thought we’d have a few weeks off to catch up with our Netflix lineups, to the truly terrifying flare-ups, to the brief but exuberant Hot Vax Summer.
As we are now fully engaged in the “How the hell aren’t you vaccinated yet?” Phase of the COVID-19 era, I thought it would be nice to take a little trip down memory lane.
The year was 2020. Everything and nothing seemed to be happening simultaneously. A lot of people who refuse the vaccine today – because, you know, chemicals and Big Pharma or whatever – were sucking up the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine. And even recluses and introverts were desperate for an excuse to get out of their homes.
After we developed carpal tunnel syndrome by pinching and folding all that delicious sourdough and completing all the puzzles around the house, we had to find new, innovative ways to pass the time and stay sane. Below are some of the things that have helped me get to where we are … always must wear masks and fear getting sick from those who refuse to cover their faces.
Burrito with fries inside
I grew up in San Diego, so no matter how good a Mission Burrito is, SD-style Mexican food is always my bliss. While the past 10 or 15 years have seen a handful of carne asada fries and rolled tacos in town, everyone knows the California Burrito is the king of San Diego-style Mexican cuisine. And the best in town is at Wooden nickel. Full disclosure, Nancy Chung the bar owner is a good friend of mine, but I’ve probably tried every California Burrito in San Francisco, and I maintain hers is, without a doubt, the best. A burrito stuffed with carne asada, guac, cream and fries is my ideal version of comfort food and this one has helped me through the worst of the pandemic.
Socially distanced daytime rave
What to do when it’s Halloween in San Francisco but you’re stuck in a pandemic? You go to a social distancing day rave Hollow from hell! I’ve actually attended several daytime parties in Golden Gate Park over the past 18 months or so, but Hellman Hollow’s were consistently superior, and Halloween’s was the best. There are few things that San Franciscans enjoy more than wearing costumes, using funny substances, and dancing in public, and that is exactly what happened on this holy day. Someone pulled up on a big bus with a huge sound system and we all got off. Since this is sci-fi, why wait for Halloween? We should do this every other weekend!
Best barely used arena to explore
If I were Ernest Hemingway, this entry would be only six words long and read: “To explore, new arena, barely used.” But I’m not, so let me elaborate: when the world is closed, exploring the Pursuit center and its surroundings is an absolute delight. From the large outdoor stadium-style seats in the plaza to the giant mirrored spheres by Olafur Eliasson and the adorable ‘The Bay’ mosaic mural by Precita Eyes, there is so much to see. And when you’re done, you can stroll the once dilapidated waterfront and marvel at the weird and wonderful creations that might pop up in the near future.
Best fancy mask store
It is common knowledge that every good pandemic has a fancy mask store. And for San Francisco, this place is The Mask Shop & Castro Stitchery. When Michael Petri was fired from his job at the Chase Center (I imagine for him exploring it is not as much fun as it is for the rest of us), he immersed himself in his passion for fashion and in a brilliant new company. was born. By buying a bunch of fabrics and enlisting other out-of-work friends, Petri created what was literally the must-have accessory for the seasonâ¦ and apparently the season afterâ¦ and the season afterâ¦ and, well , you see the picture (please get vaccinated already). These days, anyone can go for custom masks that come in over 60 fabrics and cost $ 6 to $ 20.
Best bohemian alley
While I have certainly drunk pocket whiskey in Jack Kerouac Alley before, it wasn’t until after the pandemic that the small expanse of concrete and murals between Vesuvio and City Lights Books became a consumer destination. Like so many businesses over the past 18 months, Vesuvio has had to find a way to do its job without letting people sit inside. So tables and chairs were dragged down the alley, and suddenly North Beach felt a little more European. And just to keep things funky, they started making an underground movie series called Magic Lantern, directed by filmmaker Anthony Buchannan and local event producer Lapo Guzzini.