Monday, May 24, 2010

Is Your Name Dick? Dick Shrinks?

To the right is a new slide show of a few of my pictures from California. If you click on the picture it will expand to a larger view. If you did not know that, then welcome to what we like to call "Earth". What planet are you from? Please don't eat me, Mr. or Mrs. Space Alien.

I spent Saturday in San Francisco, starting at a place called Tee Off for lunch. I saw it on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on the Food Network. If you don't watch that show, then you just would not understand. If you do, you know that I am talking about a killer place that no tourist guide is ever going to send you to. Of the three possibilities based on the shows title, this one definitely qualified as "dive". The beer selection was very good (we were in San Francisco after all), and my fish & chips were great. My friend had a huge iron skillet of macaroni & cheese packed with pancetta. After that we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed out to drink some beer. Magnolia Brewery first, and they had my favorite, Stout Of Circumstance. It was not available the last two times I have been there. It's a nice heavy dry stout, big on the licorice. Next we met a friend from Atlanta who lives in SF now at the Toronado. This is the famous beer bar that is a pretty old & beat up hole in the wall. How is the beer selection? I had a Moonlight Death & Taxes to start with. This is a beer that I look for as soon as I get into the Bay Area. It is a black ale, so it is rich and roasty but still refreshing to drink. Not heavy like a porter. Bob had a 2009 Russian River Consecration. Why yes, that is a ridiculously awesome beer to have on draft. And is was ridiculously good. I don't really need to tell you about everything we had while we were there. It is the Toronado, so everything was top-notch. I will tell you that I made sure to have a Pliny The Elder before I left though. Enough said.

Later we went to Zeitgeist and introduced Bob to Fernet Branca. What is Fernet Branca? If I told you, then I would rob you of the experience of trying it for the first time. You have to be totally unprepared in order to get the full effect. It truly is unlike anything you have ever tasted. That is all I am gong to say. It is available here in GA, but has not caught on like it has on the west coast. It is basically the liqueur of choice for service industry personnel in SF, and you know that service industry people are usually a little "out there" in general. To make a living that way, you have to be a little nuts. That's why I have always enjoyed being in the restaurant business. The definition of "normal" is pretty loose. Anyway, we may be selling Fernet Branca at The Fred soon. You should try it. Really.

After that we tried to go to Monk's Kettle, but it was too crowded, so we went across the street for some dim sum and called it a night. We had a big day coming up on Sunday.

Sunday morning we were getting some coffee and noticed all of these people walking down the street in costumes, drinking beer. It was 7:30 in the morning, mind you. Now the night before a guy at the Toronado was telling us about a crazy event called the "Bay To Breakers" run that his dad has flown into town for from New Hampshire. He said that is was a crazy road "race" that nobody actually "ran", but was just an excuse to get drunk. Apparently it is encouraged to stop along the way for drinks. All day. It is a seven mile course, and you get five hours to do it. As a point of reference, you could easily walk twelve miles in five hours, so nobody is actually running.

So we figure out that this must be what the guy was talking about, and that our hotel was two blocks from the starting line. We walked down there and there were people everywhere. All dressed up in various wild costumes, most of them drinking beer. As 8 o'clock came, everybody started the "race". Instead of milling around and raising hell, they moved slowly down the street raising hell. People were throwing stuff, squirting each other, jumping around screaming, etc. Then the floats came. People were pushing floats with other people on them. There was a giant DJ booth float, a Viking float, a sexy nurse float. All kinds of music playing and people waving at the crowd and drinking beer. One girl was pouring Coors Light from on top of a float into people's mouths on the street. Imagine that you are walking next to a moving float and some girl is pouring beer from a can towards your mouth. At 8 o'clock in the morning. How much beer do suppose gets in your mouth vs. on your face and head? Right, not much. This was the scene when Bob spotted two guys in interesting costumes. None. Fully naked, except one guy had glasses on and the other had a vest. Please check what the median temperature in San Francisco is in the early morning hours in May. I'll do it for you. It's cold. Roughly 45 degrees cold. These guys figured it would be cool to head outside butt naked for an afternoon "run". Now you are probably picturing a couple of crazy college kids. Nope, these guys were in their 50's. Looked like a lawyer and maybe a school teacher, if they were naked in the street surrounded by thousands of drunk people. Eventually these guys move past, and the "race", which basically looked like a freak parade, was underway. Then along came another naked guy, except this guy was younger and had his face painted blue. I guess that was in case he ran into his boss or something.

"Hey, Jim. Did I see you walking stark naked down the middle of the street yesterday morning while I was getting the newspaper?"

"Nope. wasn't me."

"Is that blue make-up on your ear, Jim?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

The first two naked guys still perplex me. I am pretty sure that if I said, to any of my friends, "Hey, for the Bay To Breakers this Sunday, let's just go naked!" none of them would say, "Hell yes! Who cares if it is 45 degrees and there will be thousands of other people around!" So actually the naked guy by himself started to make sense. Who wants to hang around him? I mean really. "Dude, that is so cool how you are completely naked and your face is painted blue. I wish I had thought of that. Let's hang out." That conversation didn't happen. Ever. Anywhere.

So apparently during this event multiple laws are not enforced:

  1. Open Intoxicants--This is a big part of this event and appears to be encouraged.

  2. Public Drunkenness--Also seems to be a prerequisite for participation.

  3. Public Nudity--There were police and fire fighters there, and it wasn't like the naked guys were being discreet. Unless your definition of discreet is walking downtown with your junk bouncing around and your face painted blue.

I did not take too many pictures of this event for one major reason: I did not want to look too much like a tourist. This is clearly a big deal for the locals, and I didn't want to look like some square that has never seen anything like this before. Of course I had never seen anything like this before, but that is beside the point. Bob & I immediately started discussing future participation in the Bay To Breakers "run" next year. Clothed.

So that is how Sunday started. Then we picked up our friend from Atlanta and her boyfriend (also from Atlanta) and headed north. We got to the pub at Russian River Brewing Co. at noon and had some great subs and pizza. I had a Perdition (a "Biere de Sonoma"--great biere de garde style) and Blind Pig IPA. After that we drove south to Petaluma, dropped our gear at the hotel and got a cab to Lagunitas.

The circus was really cool and laid back. There were lots of other breweries there pouring beer, trapeze artists, burlesque show, live bands, and all kinds of crazy stuff. The party got fired up a little later once everybody had a chance to get warmed up. Unlike the crazies in San Fran, this was a Sunday afternoon in Sonoma County. Very chilled out. But once this band called Gooferman started playing, the party really got going. These guys were very funky, with some rock and punk elements. Think old Red Hot Chili Peppers with a saxophone. Except that they were in full clown make-up, and most of the songs were R-Rated in a sexual way. They also had these super-sexy dancers in wild torn-up clothes and crazy make-up and wigs. The band actually finished the show walking through the crowd and out the gates of where the party was held. It was awesome. I would go see these guys again in a heartbeat, and how they came up with the concept for their band is beyond me. This was not a special get-up for the circus party. They perform like that every time they play.

Anyway, so that was over around 7 o'clock and then it was time to get some dinner and wind down. I have been to plenty of Lagunitas parties, and let me tell you something: When they are over, you don't need a whole lot of after-party partying. Plus I had a rental car to return and a flight back home in the morning. We were also facing Monday morning rush-hour traffic coming over the Golden Gate Bridge, all the way through the city to the airport. Turns out that wasn't so bad, but we didn't know that the night before. I was thinking that it would be like 400 south from Cumming to Hartsfield-Jackson on a Monday morning. Forget about that. We got from Petaluma to the airport in an hour and a half, and we dropped our friends off in the city along the way.

That's all for now folks. Enjoy the pictures and have a great week. Don't forget that if you want to get into the Beer Connoisseur Festival on June 12th for free, you can. All you need to do is volunteer to work a few hours pouring beer, and your admission will be exactly $0.00. Go to to volunteer. Bye.