Towse: views from the hill

June 30, 2006

Who wants a boring old cab ride anyway? Or life last night on the 19 Polk line. …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:44 pm

Last night was San Francisco Magazine‘s Sixth Annual Best of the Bay Area Party. The event (a benefit for the Koret Family House) was held down at the Concourse Exhibition Center.

What did we have in store?

RELISH AND REVEL in luxe libations / irresistible hors d’oeuvres / live entertainment / spa treatments / exploratory lounges / a silent auction / fabulous raffle prizes / gift bags with great swag / and much more!

WEAR: Style up!

We paid a bit extra to come in an hour early (6 PM instead of 7 PM) and hey, why not. Koret Family House is a good cause.

Food, wine, Grey Goose Vodka (lots and lots of Grey Goose Vodka on hand) at multiple bars sprinkled throughout the venue, live entertainment, original art, emerging artists, Paris Hilton wannabes, Willie Brown on scene, DJs, lots of lounge places to sit, food, people watching, more food, wine and straight shots of Cazadores Tequila Reposado if that was more your style.

Plus swag.

Who could ask for anything more?

We had a great time. The lounge-around places were of sufficient quantity that we could just sit and watch people when we didn’t want to eat or drink, or when the people-crush in the areas near the food and libations got crushy enough to make me twitch and in need of respite.

The music was loud. The vibe was very hip. I, of course, was dressed as my usual self in black Levis and a black corduroy shirt over a silk blouse. Rockports. Black pair. Oooh. I matched!

Willie Brown’s companion was wearing a short gold frock and high gold boots. There was much black cocktail dress action. Loads of glitter. Leather pants. White satin pants. Too tight pants, too.

Much Cosmopolitan drinking. Sex and the City seemed to be the general theme with some Size -1 types. Oh, sure, there were people in the obese category too, but they were few and far between. And there was some Seattle grunge grunge, but not much. Some retro looks, especially guy stuff. Polka dots! And more little black dresses.

In a crowd of a couple thousand glitzy people, yours truly was not. Glitz and glitter, after all, is so uncomfortable when you ride public transit to and fro.

Public transit to: Left an hour before show time. Walked down to Washington Square Park. Waited at the bus stop for far longer than the advertised 9-10 minutes for a 41 or 45. The 41 was the first to arrive. Got off at Polk. Waited at the bus stop for far far far longer than the advertised 10 minutes for a 19 Polk. Took the 19 Polk to the bus stop kitty-corner to the front door of the Concourse Exhibition Center. Arrived only fifteen minutes after we wanted. Not bad. Another 19 Polk was directly behind ours, of course. Get those buses synch’d and separated, Muni!

Our ticket got us in to the VIP Lounge and foodie stations on that side of the hall while hoi polloi waited patiently outside. We weren’t allowed onto the main floor or the other side of the hall until after 7 PM, when the doors opened for reals.

We were handed Champagne in a flute as we walked in the door and we headed for the foodie tables. Everything was tasty. We also had a nice chat with Andrew Dickson of Andrew Lane Wines, who was pouring his wines in the VIP Lounge. (Lane is Andrew’s brother, hence Andrew Lane Wines.) We tried both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Zinfandel Andrew Dickson brought with him. Tasty.

Being as we were confined to the VIP Lounge until the main doors opened and after thirty minutes or so we’d tasted all the food we had access to, we circled back to Hog Island Oyster Company and slurped down oysters as fast as our oyster shucker could shuck.

Ym. Double ym. Kumamoto oysters and another type that I’ve forgotten. Sweetwater oysters mebbe? Accompanied by lime, lemon, Tabasco or Hogwash. Your choice. Ym. The salty ocean taste of fresh oysters brings back memories of playing in the waves off Manhattan Beach at a tender age.

The doors opened. The music kicked into full force. Over there live music rocked. DJ Label spun music in the VIP Lounge. The confluence of the music systems was deafening, rocking.

We were there for the food. The music and scene were wasted on us, alas, except as a people-watching Nirvana.

I didn’t take notes and don’t remember exactly which restaurant brought what to the table. Food memories run together. Someone (the girl & the fig?) had a mac and cheese dish that involved very yummy cheese and mac, topped with toasted crumbs and a wee slice of truffle. Bocadillos had a fish seviche that was scrumptious. Others had other tasty, noshy bits. Snagging a taste of most (but not all) non-dessert offerings, and taking a double taste of the special ones, I found myself filled to overflowing by the time it was time for desserts.

No desserts for me. Someone could have, and probably did, fill up to overflowing on just the desserts being served up.

Over the evening, the best foodie bits were

  • the Foie Gras Torchon from Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
  • the foie mousse from Bacar
  • the sea urchin mousse with carrot foam from Chez TJ

Christopher Kostow, the recently-hired (five or six months back) chef at Chez TJ was happy that we liked his sea urchin. I told him of the old days, back when Tom McCombie was still alive, back when George Aviet was married to Beverly. We went out once a month to Chez TJ, making the next month’s reservation as we paid the bill. We paid an arm and a leg for a sitting service that guaranteed your sitter would not be a no-show rather than rely on a neighborhood teenager.

Now, though, we were in San Francisco and hadn’t eaten at Chez TJ in years. You should, he said. I asked him whether he ever used sweetbreads and he said he has some on his menu now — not as sweetbreads per se but as an adjunct to a lasagna dish, and he proceeded to tell us all about how he was using sweetbreads.

Kostow, formerly sous chef at Campton Place, has got to be one of the most extroverted chefs I’ve ever come across and was not shy at all about saying that he was sure of all the food we had last night, his would be the best. He was almost right. His dish tied for best top three.

Partied hearty, we were ready to leave about 9:30PM as the restaurants started running out of food and closing up shop. We grabbed our swag and walked out to catch the 19 Polk, but it wasn’t to be seen. Rather than linger around on the street, we walked a few blocks over to 7th and Bryant where we could hang out at one of the safest bus stops in the city, the stop just outside the Hall of Justice.

Eventually the 19 Polk arrived and we climbed on board to a cheerful greeting from the bus driver. Several other folks on the bus also had their swag bags from the event. One guy was going through his bag, checking out the goodies. We talked to the woman sitting near us about the stuff he was pulling out of his bag. “Where did you get that plastic Veuve Clicquot ice bucket?” I asked him.

The ridership was your usual motley, diverse, evening collection of San Francisco public transit patrons. One woman, sitting near the woman we’d been talking to, had a cane and was complaining that the bus driver hadn’t lowered the bus so she could get on easily. The bus driver calmly disagreed. She said the woman with the cane just hadn’t waited for the bus to lower. One of the other passengers came up from the rear of the bus to tell the older lady with the cane not to give the bus driver grief. He pointed his finger at her while he was telling her off. “Put your finger up your own ass.” and other colorful variants were spewed in his general direction.

“Who wants a boring cab ride anyway?” said the woman next to us.

The “put your finger up your…” barrage went on for far longer than I was comfortable with. The guy wouldn’t move. The woman was pissed off at him. For more than just a couple minutes she kept shouting the same singsong sentence with minor variations at him with her voice rising. He kept talking her down with his finger pointed in her face.

Eventually, someone else calmed them down and convinced the guy to go back to his seat again. Not that many stops later, the passenger with the cane got off. Someone shouted, “Hugs!” “Oh, go fuck yourself,” she replied.

Just another evening on the bus.

The guy with the Veuve Clicquot bucket offered a rose to an oncoming passenger, who sat down near him and then threw the rose on the floor. He acted hurt that she’d discarded his rose and picked the rose up and gave it to another passenger.

“God, how I love this place,” I said to his nibs. “Who wants a boring cab ride, indeed. …”

Our swag bag companion got off a few blocks further up Polk. We got off at Polk and Union and waited a while for a 45 Union Stockton, but one didn’t come and we couldn’t see one coming up Union, off in the distance. We finally decided just to walk home. We had three uphill blocks to the top of Russian Hill and then we’d be going downhill until the park. We’d have three blocks to walk up from the park but we’d have to walk those whether we took the 45 Union Stockton or not. So we walked.

The 45 Union Stockton caught up to us at Mason. We kept walking home.

A lovely end to an entertaining evening.

Brookers has a new job

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:58 pm

Carson Daly has signed twenty-year-old Brooke “Brookers” Brodack to an 18-month talent and development deal with Carson Daly Productions to “help create and act in programs for television, the Internet, and mobile devices.”

“There is potential for Webisodes, mobile series and definitely a great TV show here. She’ll be an exciting package to present to networks,” Daly said.

Brookers put a heartfelt new clip, titled “Everything Changes” up on

June 28, 2006 – Spray-on foods add flavor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 3:24 pm

Spray-on foods add flavor sez Bruce Horovitz in this USA Today article.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around the fact that “150 spray-on foods hit the market in the past two years” (and I never knew!).

Another hard tidbit to swallow is news that Candy Concepts, maker of TooTarts Sour Blast candy spray, is planning a line of candy sprays so you could, it seems, make your broccoli taste like lemon drops so little Mac will eat his veggies.

This is so wrong in so many ways.

Note: There is also Gourmet Spray from OurPets, to spray on the kibble if your wee chihuahua has lost its appetite.

Cakes and Ale

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 2:47 pm

Today is Cakes and Ale Day in Great Britain.

I learned this wondrous piece of news when I clicked through to Practically Edible (subtitled: The Web’s Biggest Food Encyclopedia) this morning.

June 23, 2006

Miss Snark: The Index

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:23 pm

Miss Snark: The Index

and, of course, Miss Snark.

And a new pic over there <<<<

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 2:55 am

We needed to take some clicks for visas for an upcoming trip to China and Pakistan so off we went last week (19 Jun 2006) to one of the many places in our fair city that take clicks for visas and passports and citizenship applications and what-not.

Here’s how I usedtabee on my “here is who I amz” Web pic. That pic was taken by my dad at a Mother’s Day brunch a few years back. I liked it because he captured me. I liked it because he’d taken it.

(finally found the right pic again …)

My hair’s pulled back tightly in the most recent picture because I was concerned about looking too flyaway for the official paperwork.

I’m also a bit tanner than normal because I didn’t slather on the sunblock while we were walking in the Veneto.

Bad Sal.

Some time soon, perhaps, I’ll have a current pic that doesn’t so much resemble a mug shot at the local juzgado.

June 22, 2006

One last picture of Venice

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 11:28 pm

Well, the last for now.

His nibs just came in with an envelope labeled Venice Dolomites Vienna 1891. The envelope contains seventy-five 2.5″ diameter photographs taken by Mary Burta Brittan, his nibs’ great-great-aunt.

A Vassar graduate (Class of 1882), an artist, a maiden lady, a San Francisco resident, MBB spent a month each summer  summers (more than a month, according to his nibs upwards to three months at a time) at a villa on Lake Como and for years traveled on her own, finding her way to Pompeii, the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan, Japan, cities across Europe and over hill and dale elsewhere. She took hundreds of pictures of her travels using an early model Kodak camera.

Family history has it that she stopped traveling abroad in spring 1912. She’d booked the return trip on the Titanic‘s maiden voyage and, after hearing news of the disaster, decided that perhaps she’d traveled long enough.

Amongst other photographs in the envelope his nibs brought up was this one. Taken 115 years ago. Seems MBB was enchanted by Venice’s bridges and canals too. She took this shot from a perch in a gondola.

  Posted by Picasa

June 21, 2006

More pics of Venice

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 5:53 pm

Canal shot   Posted by Picasa

Grand Canal. Hotel Marconi. Taken from the Rialto Bridge.  Posted by Picasa

Canal shot.  Posted by Picasa

Canal shot.  Posted by Picasa

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Did I like the fact that there are no cars in the city and all transportation is by foot or by water? Um. Could be!

Botanical humorist at work.   Posted by Picasa

I could spend some serious time here …  Posted by Picasa

Man selling pigeon feed in San Marco’s Square  Posted by Picasa

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Another house on a side canal. One of many canal-side buildings in Venice where the first floor has been abandoned or is used (carefully, with precautions for flooding) only for storage.

Acqua alta, the curse of Venice.

Venice is sinking. Come enjoy it while you can. Here’s hoping we find some way to keep it afloat.

June 19, 2006

Dirge Without Music – Millay

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 10:54 pm

A much-loved husband died this spring. His widow posted an excerpt of this poem on her blog. A father of a friend died this spring. I enclosed a copy of this poem in the note I sent her.

… I didn’t realize this poem would speak for me so soon.

Dirge without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1928)

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.


Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Another "but who are you … truly" Web tool

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 2:53 am

From billo via Lily.

Today I’ve been decompressing from yesterday, mulling about where my life is leading, remembering Dad.

Visual image: a wandering albatross, soaring, turning, climbing. Albatrosses can spend up to 90-95% of their lives in the air. I feel like that now. Hovering. Turning. Waiting for an updraft.

I’m still mulling over yesterday. Decompressing.

Three heart tugs.

  • The “missing man” flyby by the Rag Tag Air Force. I knew what to expect and yet, still, Taps and the “missing man” plane splitting away and flying west until it was out of sight triggered instant tears. How could it not?
  • Jack talking about Dad’s fierce ideas about family and loyalty and what it means to be a Towse: “As long as another Towse brother is alive, no Towse brother will wind up on the street.”
  • Dan talking about growing up as Dad’s twin and about losing his [Dan's] glasses without which he couldn’t see (a not, it seems, infrequent occurence what with wrassling and other such kid-type stuff) and crying and Dad comforting him with, “Don’t worry, Danny. I’ll find your glasses.”

“Don’t worry, Danny.” sums up Dad.

More to follow on yesterday’s memorial when I’ve settled back into my skin.

billo wrote about the MIND test, a simple test with simple questions that are supposed to provide insight into what makes you tick. Herewith, my results.

M- mediative – 2
I- intuitive – 9
N- negotiative – 1
D- directive – 0

My results:

Your basic approach to thinking involves diversity and uniqueness. When you are learning something new you prefer to work alone and explore the new material. When trying to solve problems you generally choose to work on many projects and generate possible solutions. When you communicate you generally use illustrations and are energetic.

You enjoy challenges, tackling new ways to do things or to create new possibilities. You strongly dislike working on only one project at a time unless you have several waiting in the wings. Playing with concepts and ‘almost’ solutions is interesting to you. Hunches, gut feelings, imaginary thoughts that ‘feel’ right are as good as facts and proofs to you. You are known as an intuitive, imaginative and innovative or creative person. Your insights are invaluable tools to you. If something feels right, doing it is no longer a risk. You prefer to actively learn through experimenting physically or in your imagination.

You tend to be a person who likes to try a variety of things or you like to do old things in new ways. Your friends or relatives would probably label you as creative. You are probably a strong risk taker and roll very well with the punches life gives you. You have a strong tendency to be a loner or selective about the people who you spend time with. You can work alone very easily. You prefer work that is that challenging and out of the ordinary. Having to do the same type of work day in, day out would be boring and/or stressful for you.

You are probably a private kind of person, who keeps their emotions to themselves. Chances are you don’t prefer to be around ‘overly’ or ‘instantly’ friendly people, especially those who get very personable and like to clown around. Teamwork, except for when everyone is given a specific task to accomplish, is no doubt difficult or uncomfortable for you. The indication is that you prefer to work with things, ideas, or systems, rather than people.

Your unique score combination represents a possibility of 1 in 5000 people. Your particular pattern indicates that you are a highly factual, logical and practical person. Also you are a highly organized individual and base your decisions upon your own logical, factual analysis. You focus all your efforts clearly on specifically chosen goals, usually one at a time. The human relations parts of your work may be sources of difficulty for you. Dealing with people who like to brainstorm or work on several different projects simultaneously without a distinct plan is probably difficult for you. Working on group projects without clearly defined roles and responsibilities would be annoying to you. Taking a chance, risking, handling your people’s personal problems are all potential sources of stress for you. Working with people who make decisions based upon hunches and gut reactions are difficult for you.

The following nouns and/or adjectives tend to describe PROBABLE STRENGTHS of yours:
simultaneous worker

The following nouns and/or adjectives tend to describe POSSIBLE WEAKNESSES of yours:
not back up ideas with facts
always dreaming
challenge others too much
always changing
get bored too easily

I [ahem] always (well, almost always) back up any ideas with facts. Growing up with five siblings teaches you that much.

The “bored too easily” probably fits better than any of the other descriptions of my weaknesses.

Luckily – well, not so luckily because I wouldn’t have shared this if I really hated the weaknesses stated – the real weaknesses I have slipped under the radar of this test.

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