Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mudbug Boil 2008

We had our annual crawfish-beer-Zydeco music-all-things-LSU gorgefest yesterday.

We managed to fill two tables of 10 people each. Above, from left to right, are Rick, Moya, Jess, Robbie, Robbie's co-worker, Fergal, David, Hieu and Cheryl.

Click on any pic to for a larger view.

Like last year, the crawfish boil was held at the practice field next to Qualcomm Stadium. The event is sponsored by the San Diego chapter of the LSU Alumni Association, and it raises money for an LSU scholarship fund.

Since I'm part of the organizing committee, I had to be at the field at 6 a.m. yesterday to set up.
About 15,000 pounds of live crawfish were trucked in from a crawfish farm near Lafayette, La., along with a giant boiler mounted on a flatbed trailer. It took the Louisiana crew about six hours to cook all of everything.This was our other table. From right to left are Shaun, Penni, Richard, Pumpkin (aka Dean), Tom, and Tom's nephew and niece (Josh and Sally).
While we had more than our fair share of homos in our group, there was no question that this was the gayest table at the boil. It was headed by Steve and Dave who have ties to the Gulf Coast and supplied our tables with a generous supply of jello shots.
There were the usual vendors hawking Mardi Gras beads. And these women decorated their own second-line umbrellas.
Kristy, a one-woman-walking party and owner of Kristy's MVP Sports Bar, stopped by our tables and dished out some of her famous spankings. Poor Shaun didn't know what he was in for when he bent over.

Tiger fans in San Diego gather at Kristy's on Midway Drive to watch football games and other big LSU sports events.
There were lots of reminders of LSU's still-fresh national championship, including Tiger football star Jacob Hester who reportedly attended the boil. Hester just moved to San Diego after being drafted by the Chargers to play pro-ball.

Monday, May 19, 2008

From the "Only in New Orleans" file

This gun-toting, 6-foot-1 drag queen was captured on a security camera entering a Burger King in New Orleans where he held workers at gun point, demanded money then sped off in a pick-up truck. Read WWL-TV's version of the story here and watch the station's video report here.

My favorite part is when the station's crime specialist gives the reasons why he believes this was a genuine drag queen and not some punk in a disguise -- the robber's necklace matched the dress, his nails appeared to be painted and the wig clearly wasn't a cheap dime-store buy.

For the record, San Diego isn't nearly this interesting.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Parting shots from S.F.

Castro and Market. Click on any pic to view it full size.

These ruins are all that's left of the Sutro Baths, an elaborate public bathhouse built in 1896. It eventually became an ice rink and burned down in 1966.
Sutro Tower stands 977 feet above the city and is used by 10 TV stations and four FM radio stations. The tower sits on Mount Sutro which, like the baths, was named for Adolph Sutro, a former mayor of the city and land developer.
Me and Chris in front of the Palace of Fine Arts.
The price of gas jumped 10 cents last weekend.
Retro gone bad.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More West Coast Cajuns

The best part of our trip to Berkeley was spending time with Greg and Rod, old friends of mine from New Orleans who moved to S.F. a year and a half ago.

I hadn't seen them since two weeks before Katrina, when we got together for dinner at their house in New Orleans.

They were great tour guides and taxied us around in their hot oh-so-California hybrid car.
It was great reconnecting with them and seeing how happy they are with their new lives in San Francisco.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Where Golden Bears prowl

No trip to a college town would be complete without a stop at the local football stadium. Accompanying us were fellow LSU alums Rod and Greg - old New Orleans friends of mine who moved to S.F. a year and a half ago.

As we approached California Memorial Stadium, we spoke unkindly of USC in a sign of solidarity with our fellow Trojan-hating brothers and sisters at Cal.
The stadium is set in the hills overlooking the Berkeley campus. It opened in 1923, and currently seats 75,662. Its neoclassical exterior reminded me of Tiger Stadium's grand coliseum facade.
But the structure's impressiveness and sentimental charm evaporated once we walked inside. Everywhere we looked we found rotting wooden bleachers, faded paint and clumps of weeds shooting up from under the seats.

Memorial Stadium was my second PAC 10 football venue to visit, and once again I was surprised by the dumpy conditions that I found.
I'm starting to wonder if they're all similarly neglected.

UC Berkeley

We spent part of our afternoon in the East Bay roaming around Cal.
The 307-foot-tall Campanile, officially named Sather Tower, serves as the centerpiece of the campus, which combines multiple architectural styles.

Beaux-Arts and neoclassical styles dominate the campus, with many of the buildings looking more like federal courthouses than classroom halls.

Wide areas of trees and meadows separate the structures in a layout inspired by the early 19th century picturesque movement that favored a more natural, rugged landscape design.

Like most other campuses, Berkeley has its share communist block-inspired structures from the 60s and 70s, but most of them practically disappear into the campus' dense flora.

South Hall, built in 1873, is the only remaining example of Berkeley's original cluster of buildings that were constructed in the Second Empire style.

Berkeley, Ca.

The city that's home to UC Berkeley (or Cal if you're talking sports) is pretty much a typical college town, with a slightly heavier dose of head shops, Asian restaurants, street vendors and gutter punks. The guy standing on the bench above was concerned with everyone knowing that the Dali Lama is no saint.
This is the commercial center of Berkeley, just a few blocks from the edge of campus. Another street, Telegraph Avenue, is home to most of the businesses that cater to the student population.
One of the avenue's newest tenants is Moo...licious, a cafe that sells bowls of breakfast cereal. I'M NOT KIDDING!

A bowl of one of the 46 cereals offered at Moo...licious, with one of 36 toppings, will set you back about $3.50, according to this article that appeared in The Daily Californian. For that price, you can practically buy an entire box of cereal.

The restaurant also serves cereal sandwiches. The place was empty when I poked my head in, but that might have had something to do with the late afternoon hour - way too late for eating breakfast.

I'm wondering if the owners tested the concept before opening the shop. Do they really believe a cereal restaurant can survive beyond its initial novelty phase?

For something like this to work, it has to be way over the top in terms of design and curb appeal. A blow-up Tony Tiger and counters sporting cow spots just don't do it. This doesn't seem to like a well thought out idea.
This shop across the street was offering trans-fat-free donuts.

Bay Bridge

We stopped at Yerba Buena Island on our way to Berkeley and got some great views of the San Francisco skyline.
The island serves as a resting point on the way to Oakland.
Workers are busy building a new span linking the island to Oakland that will replace the old span, which could collapse during a major earthquake.

The project will take years to complete and cost billions of dollars. The signature suspension bridge segment of the span - shown in this artist rendering - will cost $1.5 billion to build on its own.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lower Haight - Filmore

The quintessential view of San Francisco. Alamo Square, also known as Postcard Row, is home to this famous line of houses nicknamed the Painted Ladies - along with a perfectly proportioned vista of the city's skyline behind them. (Click on any pic to view it full size.)
It's reportedly one of the most photographed scenes in the city. So I did my part to keep up the record.
Things were pretty peaceful until a bus pulled up and a swarm of tourists went racing across the green with cameras clicking. It was like some bizarre TV reality show challenge. Take the best picture you can from Alamo Square but you only have 10 seconds to complete your task.This was my route Friday from our temporary lodgings just below Twin Peaks through the Lower Haight and Filmore neighborhoods and ending in the Castro. Thankfully, the 4.5-mile path was mostly downhill or flat.An unusual shoe garden surrounds the garden shed in Alamo Park. The strangely haunting space is the creation of head gardener David Clifton. Read more about Clifton and the garden in this San Francisco Chronicle article.

In contrast to the upscale houses and Victorian mansions surrounding Alamo Square, the nearby Lower Haight has a decidedly shabby-eccentric feel.
The neighborhood's main commercial strip is lined with off-beat shops, dive bars and cheap eateries like the Rosamunde Sausage Grill. A constant flow of customers carried bags of food out of the grill late in the afternoon and walked straight into Toronado, a next door bar known for its huge beer list.

Dusk back at the ranch.