Sunday, February 15, 2015

The 415 Media Correspondent Ventures Out Into Familiar Territory; 2015 Valentine's Day Solo Performance; You're Still A Young Man, Baby

 IT ALL BEGAN QUITE INNOCENTLY ENOUGH...I was planning a quiet weekend alone, (naturally) perfectly resolute in another Valentine's Day solo performance meaning home alone. Don't pity me, I hate Valentine's Day, as do most miserable people and sane ones. The restaurants are a ripoff with over-inflated prices for mediocre food and 40-dollar wine that could be had at Costco for 10 bucks. SOP for the SF restaurant experience which treats VDay as their preeminent mark-up orgasm; anyway, I avoided--or at least tried to-- the holiday altogether which this year fell on a Saturday night--which means, more hipsters from Marin and the Eastbay, less parking and more aggravation --BUT WAIT--fate caught the best of me and after a frantic text from good friend, Sal Genolenardo,  I ventured out into the streets to see all the blood and gore. Hello BART.

Destination: Downtown San Francisco. North Beach.

As usual, Tosca was packed. Who needs stinkin' Valentine's Day? The joint was jumpin' with enough booze and boobs to satisfy vintage Carol Doda. The bar was packed; Fat Tony Giovanni was sipping his sixth scotch-over which I do believe is a world record but I don't keep tab anymore. He offered me a drink but I politely declined and instead opted to retreat to a lesser-human existence--I'm not a fan of crowds anymore so I took off for the next oasis.

It was unusually warm for a February night with just a smidgen of a breeze. Good walking weather. I know this is sacrilegious to say but I love this climate. We need the rain, sure, but this is heaven --this is Florida without the smell, this is great--think of the misery they're experiencing back east so I like this, it beats the cold. I hate cold.

Billy Emory and his gal pal, Victoria Delebrenze, were having dinner at the counter at Tadich as I walked in; another packed place on this warm SF night. I was planning on leaving early to catch the train back to Oakland but Billy insisted I join them for dinner. Billy is a big shot at Bof A, the big-ass ex-SF bank with the building that used to house the classy Carnelian Room--remember that place? High atop 55 floors up with average food and $300 tabs, (no booze) --I was a victim many times of taking women to the place to impress and dream a little. It didn't work, as usual, but at least the view was good and Ms. Anastasia, who worked the front of the house, would always plant me with a great XO stogie on my way out. She had friends in high places and if you didn't know, she would tell you. BACK to Tadich: Billy, his friend and I ate dinner at the counter. God, this place is so good. Especially when the big shot is buying! I was mulling the scallops but instead opted for the old-standby swordfish with the usual side dishes. We all noshed and noshed supreme until the last loaf of sourdough bread was gone. At Tadich, the secret word is "bread." If you've been there you know what I mean--there is NO bread like the bread at Tadich which I need like Brian Williams needs helicopters in Iraq...Billy and Vick were ready to go as was I but it was still early enough to venture on so as they departed I headed over to the Embarcadero --a full stomach and a little bounce in my step. Hello Boulevard.

BOULEVARD --the little-big engine that is still the marquee place near the water; Jimmy Beal making cocktails like Burt Nolan at PJ Clarke's in NY--every seat in the joint was filled with guys impressing their sweethearts --I counted about 88 blonds and 3 brunettes --in the front room alone! Boulevard doesn't need a Valentine's Day to get the biz --they make bank on a routine basis but the techies and geeks were free-spending so what the hell. I was done with my second soda water --suddenly, hell occurred: the intense odor of vapid Old Spice cologne permeated the bar. Sure enough, some mutt from Fremont walked in with his date --trying to impress her, he smelled like he just left a French whore house. I moved on.

Proceeded over to Battery and a last call at the old hangout. I had the misfortune of running into Teresa Tulips and her band of miscreants --they had just finished dinner at Kokkari. Stop the presses: me, the only guy in the place with about 10 really, really, really, good-looking broads --a single man's personal buffet. Teresa was her usual jovial self and even bought a drink for me; we always liked each other but she was too young for me and was planning on going back to Montreal to work for the Canadian embassy. Which was just as well given my state of anxiety and neurosis --it suddenly dawned on me: What the hell?, why are you out--for god's sake, it's Valentine's Day night! You imbecile you! Very reasonable thought but you know what? It's weird. Other than the schmuck at Boulevard with the Old Spice fetish things were OK, everything sorta jelled and was smooth. Herb Caen would have been proud. All in all a mellow evening. I even saw Willie Brown and his latest blond squeeze looking adroit coming out of the hotel Vitale across the street. I was tempted to yell something at Da Mayor but I held back --Willie still has considerable clout in this town and even a mock insult might have jolted him and me, a placement in Matier and Ross...I walked past the St. Regis on my way over to the BART station where I waited for the next train BACK TO OAKLAND. Tower of Power would be proud. Cue the horn section. Lenny Williams, take it away. You're Still a Young Man, baby.

The night was over.

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  1. "You're Still a Young Man" from O'town's Tower of Power.

  2. Tosca and Boulevard-two of the favorites of Mrs. CGN and I, but never on a Valentine’s Day. Maybe Top of the Mark back in the old days, meaning the 80’s! Never been to Tadich, which is a sin for this native San Franciscan, but been to Sam’s Grill a few times (is it still around?).
    Anyway, thanks for the SF tour, Rich, but what happened with you and your buddy, Sal, not to mention the going-back-to-Canada babe? Sounds like you had some Willie envy!