{ metropolis devoured }
a tribute to my san francisco

3/4 oz scotch whiskey
3/4 oz local politics
1/4 oz public policy
1/4 oz disaster preparedness
1/2 oz alamo square

Shake over neighborhood dives & venues, strain into a chilled cocktail dress, garnish with a sprig of gov 2.0, and serve.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My brother is not a morning person...

Mac Attack, about to start his shift. Or whatever he does over there in Iraq.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bloggers rights here and abroad...

Afghanistan has no free media. No big surprise there, I hope. 25-year-old Nasim Fekrat of Afghan LORD champions the next best thing in Kabul: blogging. Yes, folks, blogging is good for more than just trash-talking gossip and exposing your crippled emotions to the world wide web. Some have thought above and beyond the personal blogging model and use online publishing tools to freely distribute useful ideas, scientific research, informed opinion, and independent news from the ground.

A blogger writing in a (re)developing country encounters many daily obstacles: electricity outages, lack of computers, lack of internet access, lack of transportation, government intimidation, you name it. That is Afghanistan. We are not surprised (although, with initiatives like Nasim's, we are hopeful).

Halfway around the world in New Hampshire, where - and please correct me if I missed something - freedom of expression on the Internet is still in effect, autism awareness blogger Kathleen Seidel faces intimidation tactics from a lawyer who doesn't like what she has to say. Following an in-depth exposé detailing the financial gains of the anti-vaccine attorney versus the impact of the cases he litigated on the medical community, Ms. Seidel was hit with a subpoena demanding 4 years worth of financial records, taxes, personal communications, research notes relevant to her blog, and other material listed here (pdf). Ms. Seidel won a self-drafted motion to quash the subpoena and the judge found the attorney's actions to be "an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent", stating also that he has set a dangerous precident for the future silencing of bloggers.

In this case, the attorney thought he could get one past Ms. Seidel and intimidate her into silence. But while Ms. Seidel, armed with an extensive history in research as a professional librarian, was able to resolve the subpoena issue in her favor, many bloggers without the right resources would have simply acquiesced and deleted their statements (or online presence altogether) for fear of legal consequences.

Meanwhile in Kabul, Nasim says of his blogging workshops: "in order to build this country, we need to inform people", and Reporters without Borders supports his mission to enable citizens to share real, independent news.

We here in the States need to be more of an example.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The price of vanity...

Two years ago, when I first spread my wings and took off from the old college nest atop Lone Mountain a brand new honors graduate, I was advised to apply for some kind of a management position with the city's 311 call center to get my foot in the door, so to say, in the world of city governance. I thought about it but decided I'd spend the majority of my time being utterly annoyed by people who are too lazy to Google their own damn answers (any means that reduce the necessity for plain folk to think for themselves are a bad move for a government in my book, and if I wanted to get all conspiratorial here, are the first step towards brainwashing), so I declined.

Now, I find myself curiously surprised that this service is not only used at all, but is actually popular enough for the Mayor's office to expand its budget. It's a service easily replaceable by two things that at least 85% of its users have: five seconds of their time and a computer. Operators at 311 don't have any magic tools; they have the same Internet that lives in your computer. Their "special training" doesn't go any further than learning how to navigate the city's ridiculously designed and poorly coded website, which any citizen could use with swiftness if the city chose to implement a more efficient search function. Even without that, poke around links for 20 minutes and you'll find the same exact answer they'll give you, without leaning on city resources. What, you don't have an extra 20 minutes to find the number for the Department of Public Works to fix a tipped-over newsrack, Dean? Or, I don't know, how about lifting it back up yourself, if you can?

Chances are, Dean could very well fix the problem himself. But with the veritable Mayor chirping "Oh, don't you worry your pretty little face, the city's got it handled!" at every news camera to increase his popularity and media presence, Dean sees an alternate solution: don't take any responsibility for fixing your environment, because you don't have to. Cheers, Mister Mayor. You really do make this city so much better.


Fucking prick.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Local seafood ups and downs...

It's time to debunk the pearl of wisdom imparted on us by elementary school teachers everywhere: you can't judge a book by its cover, widely interpreted to mean that you don't know what something will be like until you personally experience it. Fact 1: if you let your publisher slap an ugly or cliche cover on your precious work of art, you likely did not have the straight common sense to create a masterpiece to begin with. More relevant to my experience this weekend, Fact 2: if you're in a restaurant full of people you would not normally eat with, stop right there and walk on out, you should not be eating there. Don't even bother giving the very vague menu a second chance, just cut your losses and move on.

On Saturday my lovely roommate and I decided to head out of town for the morning/afternoon, concluding our day in Sonoma's hills and fields with a lunch in Bodega Bay. Maybe it was the fact that we were completely starving that made us overlook the fact that The Tides was full of old folks, who generally tend to have a palate for bland food... maybe it was the grim but peaceful grey bay sprawling under our window, with a lone bird perched atop something that looks like it was once part of a boat. Maybe just bad judgement. Maybe we wanted to give our spoiled-by-eating-in-San-Francisco tongues a break. Bad decision! The wooden fish decor should've tipped us off. Say, what kind of a crab sandwich can you get for $22? Let me tell you: two pieces of sourdough bread, topped with a shredded crab/mayo mixture, a slice of tomato, and melted with cheese. A total waste of fresh crab, if you ask me. Crab cakes? Kind of burned, and served with a giant pool of the oiliest marinara I've ever had, a wilted leaf of lettuce, and a $13 price tag.

What was I expecting from a place that has children's menus printed on a fish-shaped cardboard? Or a place that has so many kids in it, to begin with...

I bet this place rocked back when it looked like this...

So, lesson learned, we went back to the good ol' city, a box with half a crab sandwich and one and a half crab cakes went into the fridge to most likely never be eaten, and I went to pre-game at Fresca in Noe Valley for a sea food experience that doesn't involve giant dollops of mayo, people asking for cream soda, or noisy children. Young adults and real adults alike were dressed up in that casual SF way we all know and love (meaning, I changed out of my flip flops and did something special to my hair, so consider me ready for public), sangria was not too sweet and being poured liberally, and food came out at the perfect time: just as the pitcher was getting empty.

If you're a pescaterian, or just a lover of ceviche like I am, you won't be disappointed with the variety on the menu. The plates that seem small when they come out are actually deceptively filling. When they say "jumbo", they mean jumbo. You can get a sampler of 3 to 5 different ceviches, each with its own distinct sauce that compliments the fresh and delectable protein: coconut milk with jalapeno, chives and Andean corn for lobster and crab; squid ink sauce, cilantro and rocoto aji for prawns and halibut; jalapeno, soy, white truffle oil, and Andean corn for the hamachi.

Andean corn is a biodiverse and sustainably farmed crop brought to us by the Slow Food movement. It's larger, meatier and more starchy than the sweet corn we usually eat in the States, with a texture and taste that don't interfere with a strong tasting sauce, but provide a much needed solid balance. The rocoto aji is a type of "very hot" pepper native to Peru and Bolivia, and a staple ingredient in all traditional and modern Peruvian kitchens. Together with cilantro, ever present in Latin cooking, the three ingredients form the base of all Peruvian cuisine.

The devil's in the details, folks, and a good restaurant will always remember this... not try to compensate for volume with whipped mayonnaise. So lesson for today: if you wouldn't want to be friends with your co-diners, quickly find an alternate solution to your hunger.

P.S. Rest in peace Tastespotting, you provided me with hours of amazing gastronomic day dreams. May you sleep well in internet heaven, nestled in the soft bosom of every other lost internet phenomenon. However, please welcome Food Gawker to the scene; FG, please live up to the shoes you're here to fill.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Oh Hillary...

Where was this months ago? http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/07/clinton.unity/index.html


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Election day wrap-up...

It's Friday and I finally have down downtime at the ol' corporate office to write about the way Tuesday night managed to capitalized on "progressive" disaster. Basically, could it have gone worse? Maybe. But not by much. Many of my devoted readers (all 10 of you!) don't pay quite as close of attention as I do to news coverage of local politics - and god bless you for that, you're much better off - so here is the important recap: Despite all the extremely hard work the Senator, her staff, and hundreds of volunteers put into the campaign on the phones and on the streets, the simple truth is that voters don't really care about who they are electing; they, quite sadly, care about superficial things that will not have any impact on a politician's legislative record. Like "Oh he's a nice guy" - so?; or "I heard she's mean!" - once again, so? Oh, and Prop F failed while Prop G won, and most people who aren't "on the inside" still had no clue what they were voting for, they just remembered the two months worth of cleverly shot Prop G commercials that ran on cable.

I myself took on a Liberty Heights precinct, at that point mostly for the benefit of physical fitness. They don't call them "Heights" and "Hill street" for nothing, let me tell you.

Around 6:30pm I took over the Senator's list and began phoning retires in Marin County. By 7pm, they were all too busy watching the news for Barak Obama coverage to talk to me very much, and at that point I'd been at it for 15 hours (an actual figure, not an exaggeration) and started the count-down to scotchy scotch scotch time. At 8pm I promptly put on mascara and some blush for the cameras that I would later make all possible efforts to avoid, grabbed a couple of cups of ice, and began pouring the 15-year highland.

I even offered a drink to Supervisor Peskin, who declined, saying that by that time he was at capacity. I won't relay the actual words he used. Who declines a scotch from a tired girl but bouncy hair?

The rest of the night involved nervously watching election results trickle in with DCCC members Debra Walker and Rafael Mandelman and drinking more at the El Rio in the presence of everyone I know. Typical.


Monday, June 02, 2008

A farewell to Eugene: It's been a great long drink with you, my friend!

If I've been absent from updating for a little too long, it's all thanks to the second election to come down upon Californians this year... and it's not the last. We sure do love to practice democracy around here, don't we? It keeps us all occupied... and keeps our streets abundantly littered with colorful, absurd, and sometimes printed on recycled paper with soy ink campaign propaganda. If you're a frequent voter like me, you'll get a good 10 pieces a week - so the lesson to be learned here is keep your opinions to yourself! I kid, I kid.

The second item taking precedence over my social calendar is much more sad. May 26th marked the last week before bootcamp for my dearest friend Eugene, who's leased his very able (although after this week, well-saturated with Tennessee whiskey) body to the Army for the next 3 years, where he will be a proud officer making 18-year-old boys give him twenty or something. You'd think that for someone like me, a dedicated civilian (that's right, I'm dedicated to being a civilian) who nerds out to COIN blogs all day long and has Big Brother Marine imparting his sage wisdom on me from Iraq (do they have wifi in the barracks now?), it'd be no big deal. But I'm already missing the way he'll knuckle his way through my freshly-curled hair 5 minutes before we catch a cab to go out, destroying all my "getting ready" efforts in one fell swoop; the way he teases me about my love life; the way he gets drunk on Jack and makes incoherent comments until I catch up on enough Glenmorangie to understand what the hell he's talking about...

Basically, it's been a great few years in SF with you, buddy. I hope to catch you on the flip side, and long before that, your break before Officer School. You be well out there, you hear!

Featured flaked by Erik and myself, the very handsome future Officer Eugene.