Towse: views from the hill

November 14, 2007

When I’m 64 …

Filed under: books,culture,music,timewaster — Towse @ 11:41 pm

Talking with an old friend, well, exchanging e-mails and mentioned that I was feeling old.

His nibs and I’d had dinner a week or so ago with a friend who’d turned eighty in August. Eighty-year-old friend is looking good and, really, looks not that much different than he did when I met him thirty-two years ago. He’s involved with crafting little technology whizbang solutions for folks at the VA hospital. He’s a Maker. He hasn’t slowed down much if any at all. He’s just pretty darn cool.

I wrote to the e-mail friend, “I’m seven years older than he was when I first met him. Yikes, I’m feeling old.”

Then I found this test: Are you a hippy?

which gave these stats on the folks who had taken the test:

54% of test takers are Male, while 46% are Female.
93% of test takers are under the age of forty, while 7% are over forty.
78% of test takers have hair shorter than 6″, while 22% have hair that is longer.
7% of test takers were at Woodstock in 1969, while 93% were not.
[That in itself is astounding when you consider only 15% of the test takers were even =alive= in the 1960s. That means that ~50% of the people taking the test who were alive in the 1960s were at Woodstock. Is that even remotely possible?]
54% of test takers prefer John over George at 12% as their favorite Beatle.
15% of test takers were alive in the 1960′s, while 85% were not.
21% of test takers are vegetarians, while 79% are not.
11% of test takers have lived in a commune, while 89% have not.
10% of test takers voted for Ronald Reagan, while 90% did not.
[They forgot to ask how many had even had an opportunity to vote for Ronald Reagan.]

The questions hit me with pangs of nostalgia: “Do you smell like patchouli?” “Do you own an incense burner?” “Do you have a brownie recipe with ingredients you can’t find at the A&P?” “Do you think Bob Dylan has a good voice?”

Do you feel old?

Update> and the doorbell rings. By the time I get there, the doorbell ringer is gone, but there’s an Amazon package under the doormat. “Thank you!” I call. “You’re welcome,” comes the reply from down the path. The package contained a couple books and Kristofferson’s latest.

Earlier this month we’d been at the Fillmore for an AIM benefit. I was reminded again how much I like his words and his voice. A few days ago I put an order in and here it was. I put my new purchase into the CD player. First song was the title song, This Old Road.

Yeah, feeling old. And that’s okay. Kristofferson, after all, is only ten years younger than our eighty-year-old friend and he’s still kickin’.

The Fallon House (reprise)

Filed under: history,photographs,San Francisco — Towse @ 7:28 pm

I’ve written about the Fallon House before but because the folks over at Flickr’s GUESSWHERESF photo pool asked, I’ll gather together the loose threads.

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The house that Carmel built, The Fallon House at 1800 Market St, across the street from Destino, home to the best Pisco sours in the City.

The Fallon House was named for Carmel Fallon, his nibs’ grandmother’s grandmother.

Family history is there on the site.

Carmel Lodge Fallon grew up outside Santa Cruz on her mother’s Mexican land grant. Rancho Soquel included land from the Santa Cruz Mountains ridgeline to the sea, from Santa Cruz to Watsonville. Martina Castro Lodge lost it all within years of the American influx. She divvied up the grant amongst her children, including Carmel, sold off the rest (with her much younger third husband as witness to the transaction) and years later died penniless and crazed.

Simon Cota, Carmel Lodge Fallon’s father, died when she was a toddler. Carmel’s mother, Martina Castro, then married Michael Lodge, whose last name Carmel adopted.

Carmel was the classic spinster rich girl who fell for the dashing Irish adventurer Thomas Fallon. They married and raised a family. The children died of cholera and they moved to San Jose (where Fallon had raised the Bear Flag many years earlier) to raise another family. Carmel, never an easy keeper, wound up whacking Fallon over the head (with what is sometimes called a fireplace tool, sometimes a lead pipe) when she found him in “a compromising position” with the housekeeper/dressmaker/maid some twenty-seven years into the marriage.

Carmel left San Jose and Tom and with her younger unmarried children in tow resettled in San Francisco, where she used her divorce settlement to become a business woman and landlord, owning and operating the Hotel Carmel and the Fallon Hotel.

Carmel never remarried. She built the house at 1800 Market Street and lived in it until her death. Family legend has it that she was up beating out embers on the roof, helping save the building from the fires after the 1906 quake and that for the rest of her life she suffered from “weak lungs” due to smoke inhalation. She did save the house, though. Her house was the first house left standing and unburnt on Market Street after the earthquake and fire.

Carmel Lodge Fallon was in her nineties when she died. Her great-grandson, his nibs’ father, could remember visiting his great-grandmother when he was young. She wasn’t your warm, cuddly great-grandmother but rather a dour old woman, dressed in black.

One of the children Carmel brought with her to San Francisco, Isabella (Belle) Fallon, married Nathaniel Jones Brittan of the City. His father, John Wesley Brittan, had been a young hardware store clerk in New York until the hardware store owner had the brill idea to send his young clerk out to California shortly after the Gold Rush with a shipload of hardware supplies to sell to the 49ers.

JW Brittan sold out all the supplies he’d brought, kept his share of the profits and settled in the City, bringing more hardware on other ships around the Horn. He made a good living selling hardware, pans and pick axes to the gold miners and hinges, door knockers and nails to the San Franciscans.

NJ Brittan and Belle had three children, a set of twins Natalie and Belle, and Carmelita, his nibs’ grandmother. The girls were raised for the most part down the peninsula on NJ Brittan’s Rancho San Carlos. NJ’s name and the ranch are entwined in the history of what eventually became San Carlos. You can still see Brittan Avenue and streets named after Belle and Carmelita (but not Natalie, why?) from when the ranch was subdivided and sold.

As was the case with many of the Brittan and Fallon holdings, there were squabbles over rights and inheritances. Lawsuits and lawyers ate up what money and property there was. The Fallon House in San Francisco was sold to honor a pledge Carmel Fallon had made to the San Francisco Opera — but only after the Opera had to sue Carmel’s estate.

Eventually, and appropriately enough — our older son’s gay — Carmel’s house became San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center.

And there ends a short history of Carmel Fallon’s house at 1800 Market.

Morning fog blows in

Filed under: photographs,SFOBayBridge,weather — Towse @ 3:16 pm

Clear as a bell here since before sunrise. The fog, though, she’s blowing in.


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Update>And just as quickly gone. Clear, sunny day. And I have fish to fry. Back later.

November 13, 2007

Tree trimming … and it isn’t even Christmas!

Filed under: causes,life,politics — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 10:14 pm


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Talk about a job I wouldn’t want! I can’t even stand at the edge of the roof without getting shaky knees.

Tree trimmers are trimming the trees down the hill from us, trees which caused such political uproar a year ago or so and resulted in new rules regarding tree cutting on private property. Siblings of the trees were taken out three years ago. These remaining trees are supposed to remain in place and be taken care of until they can’t be maintained. The City’s indemnified the owner from any lawsuits that might arise should the trees topple over or break a limb.

The guy up in the tree checks his knots frequently. He has an ally on the roof of the building just east of the trees and an ally on the ground, who is cutting the fallen branches with a chain saw. The guy in the tree has done most of his work with a tree saw on a long pole but just now switched to a chain saw.

Earlier today, the neighborhood e-mail list flashed with a “someone’s cutting the cypresses” note, followed by a note from Mark Bittner that the cutting was all in order.

The neighbors are watching. The parrots are sitting on someone’s railing to get a better view of what’s going on because their usual tree perch doesn’t have a good line of sight for the trees being trimmed.

When allz done, I’ll post before and afters.

Update: Gone for the day. Ropes still in trees.

November 7, 2007

What we see from the hill

Filed under: politics,San Francisco — Towse @ 7:18 am

His nibs said, look at … that … those vehicles going into Pier 29 …

What is that all about?

Oh, OK.

Ballots were taken from polling places to Pier 29 for preliminary processing.


Pier 29? Why there?

Fine. Those are the tail lights we’re seeing.

Election results will begin pouring in at 8:30 p.m.

Filed under: politics,San Francisco — Towse @ 2:19 am

Final counts will be posted by

… oh, two weeks from now.

All the absentee ballots and those cast “early” at City Hall will be counted and released by 8:30 p.m. Those that were cast at the polls today? Well, there’s this problem, see?

November 3, 2007

Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main

Filed under: life,music,photographs,San Francisco,SFOBayBridge — Towse @ 11:59 pm


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Lovely sailboat out on the Bay this afternoon.

We’re off to the Fillmore in a shake to see Kristofferson and Kitaro, Taj Mahal, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Peter Coyote and Charlie Hill for the Longest Walk II. Maybe Buffy Saint-Marie, another writeup shows her on the lineup too and not Kitaro. Well, remains to be seen. I’m there for Kristofferson.

The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back

Filed under: blog,culture,shopshopshop — Towse @ 6:40 pm

Entertaining blog with news tidbits.

The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back

You can find such gems as a post about Batter Blaster:

Occasionally we see products that make us wonder how we got to this late day without them. “Batter Blaster” (which is pancake batter in a Cheese Whiz or Redi Whip bottle) is one such product.

Will we be buying this? No. Are we happy the it exists? Yeah. Actually, we are.

I think the product’s an abomination (How hard is it to add water to your Krusteaz mix?) but about half the comments are in a “hell-yeah, I’ve been waiting for something like this” vein.

Magnitude 4.0 – WYOMING

Filed under: quakes — Towse @ 3:07 am

Magnitude 4.0 – WYOMING

Just saying …

Views from the Hill: Look! Up in the sky!

Filed under: life,photographs,San Francisco — Towse @ 12:42 am

It’s a bird. It’s a plane.

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It’s the MetLife blimp!

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