Hugo Street

29 11 2007

Cross street: Arguello.


The Strangest Place in San Francisco

21 11 2007

Yesterday Hugo and I continued our quest to visit all the tourist traps of San Francisco. We’d already been to the Ferry Building, Chinatown, and attempted to go to the zoo. But yesterday’s destination was the biggest trap of all — Pier 39, a huge collection of crap souvenir shops, chowder-in-a-sourdough-bowl purveyors, and bewildered visitors wearing white sneakers and sports teams paraphernalia.*

We hopped on the J to the Embarcadero then boarded an old streetcar on the F line. These old cars, from places like Milan and Philadelphia are very nicely restored. Unfortunately, they also lurch a lot — something Hugo, who was trying to nap in the Bjorn, found annoying.  We had intended to take the F to Fisherman’s Wharf but deboarded at Pier 39 instead. Truthfully, I’m not sure if there’s a difference between the two, and we just decided to get off where most of the other tourists did. The scene we entered was truly the strangest place I’ve ever been in the City — and I lived in the Mission for many years. Think of every lame pedestrian mall, tchotchke seller, saltwater taffy hawker, unfunny t-shirt shop, funnel cake maker, and terrible overpriced corporate chain restaurant you’ve ever seen and drop it onto one of the most beautiful spots in America: the edge of San Francisco Bay with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. That, my friends, is Pier 39. Suffice it to say, Hugo was not impressed.

What posseses a visitor to this fair town to pay for an airline ticket and hotel room only to drop a load of cash at the Official Bubba Gump’s Merchandise Store? Did you really travel all the way from France, or Austria, or Des Moines just to eat at the “Salsa Grill” and shop for crap at “Treasure Ireland“?

I’m not upset at the tourists, don’t get me wrong. And I’m not one of these people that sneer at tourists (well, sometimes, when they stop in the middle of a sidewalk and block foot traffic), after all, unless you never leave home, you’re a tourist at some point. We’re tourists everywhere we go, whether it’s Vietnam, or South America, or France. I’m just bewildered that places like Pier 39 can thrive.

We didn’t stick around too long. Hugo was getting bored, even by the sight of the sea lions raising a ruckus. At the end of the video you can catch him just starting to open his eyes.

 *Yes, yes, I have way too many FC Barcelona t-shirts (as will my son), but somehow I feel that doesn’t count.


It’s Been So Long Since I’ve Been to China

15 11 2007

Earlier this year my sisters and parents came for a visit. Hungry for Chinese food we opted for Chinatown instead of the more reliable Richmond. Upon exiting the elevator at Portsmouth Square, home of pagodas and scores of Chinese senior citizens, our niece Isabel, who was then four, announced loudly, “It’s been so long since I’ve been to China!”

It was in this same spot yesterday afternoon that I attempted to feed Hugo (he once again insisted upon taking the initiative) while several shriveled women clicked their tongues in disapproval. They seemed satisfied with my parenting style when he was passed out in his Bjorn but their opinions darkened when he began to whine and weep. By then I knew it was time for our Chinatown jaunt to end.

Otherwise it had been another succesful outing. We took the Muni streetcar down and walked the streets, poking our heads into shops as I searched for a mini-Kung Fu outfit that would fit Hugo (alas, no luck) and, having no bottle of my own, I searched fruitlessly for a takeout Dim Sum joint (what’s with that? I know of several on Clement Street). As we tiptoed around tourists and 200-year Chinese women I came to a sad realization: Hugo is going to have a hard time finding novelty license plates bearing his name. Time and again we scanned racks of license plates and “[Insert Name Here] Parking Only” signs to notice that “Hugo” was omitted. Sure, there were Haleys and Hannahs and Heathers, and Heathers, Hectors, Hollys, and Haleys (Haley??), but no Hugos.

Stay at Home Dad: Day One

14 11 2007

Well, we both survived our first day sans maman. Hugo made it easy on me by taking long naps with little prompting. We were both getting antsy by the afternoon so I decided to encase him in the Baby Bjorn and take the J Church streetcar down to the SF Ferry Building. There, surrounded by wide-eyed tourists, Oracle World sheep, and the idle rich browsing the precious shops, Hugo and I took in the scene. We looked for evidence of the oil spill that seems to be dominating the local news but found nary a greased gull.

After a while, Hugo became hungry and I attempted to feed him from his bottle. I guess I was holding it wrong because he promptly took it from me and held it firmly in place with both of his little hands. Steady and sure as if he’d been doing it for years. See the evidence in the video above.

The boy will probably wake from his morning nap any minute now and I still haven’t figured out where we’re going to go today. Chinatown? That might be too overwhelming, but he’s more interested in his hands than firecrackers and roasting ducks, so it might not be a big deal.

Okay, This Really Is Funny

8 11 2007

Here you see my son and his mom having a very silly conversation about who knows what. The content is less important than the fact that Hugo is laughing himself silly.

In other news, I began six weeks of paternity leave on Monday. So far, so good, but the true test comes next Tuesday when Sacha returns to work and me and the boy are left to our own devices…

Year of the Pig

3 11 2007

We couldn’t resist.

 In honor of the lunar year and our son’s porcine snorts, we chose a pig costume for Hugo’s first Halloween.  The cuteness factor was off the charts. We weren’t worried about the main part of the costume, which is basically a Pepto Bismol-pink fleece sleeper with cloven hooves. The snouted headdress was concerning. We really didn’t think he’d go for it. I wouldn’t. But Hugo bore the indignity of his costume with grace and aplomb.

 We took him to a Halloween party at Juan’s work, where he was passed amongst the co-workers. In the evening, we joined Hugo’s friend Polly (a lobster) for a walk on a nearby street which goes all out for Halloween. There were endless haunted houses, dry ice,  and DJs.  The adults snuck candy. Hugo fell asleep in his stroller. Eventually we ended up at a nearby pub for dinner, where Hugo finally decided the snout was too much. All in all, a fabulous first Halloween. I can’t wait until next year….