Ferns, fumes and an undeserved review of Gotye

Earlier this week, the arts and entertainment critic from the San Jose Mercury News gave a scathing review to a concert by Gotye, the stage name of Wouter “Wally” de Backer. The Aussie singer/songwriter recently headlined in San Francisco (which also happened to be our first show here).

While I think A&E critics have a tough job, the writer missed one major point in describing the 31-year-old musician as having “the stage presence of a fern”: the fact that there was enough herb in that auditorium to sedate a herd of woolly mammoths. I mean, seriously: It would be hard for the Energizer Bunny to get pumped on onstage in such a stifling fog of pharmaceuticals.

Someone in our group lamented not bringing any of the  good stuff, but there was really no need. When the stage lights shone into the crowd, they illuminated billowing clouds of the fragrant stuff throughout the palatial space. My leather jacket alone absorbed a week’s worth of contact highs.

So there you go, Mr. Snarky Pants Mercury News Reviewer.  This is San Francisco, where you can get looped on second-hand smoke in the aisle at Safeway, for Pete’s sake. So keep that in mind next time you go slamming a performer who didn’t have the foresight to bring an oxygen mask for his show in the City by the Bay.

You know what else? Minus the  Hansen-esque encore, we thought Gotye’s performance was a damn fine into the SF music scene.

So you can put that into your pipe and, well, you know.



Squirrel in San Francisco Bernal Heights

Don't let the pink handlebars fool you -- this bike is badass

San Francisco has 49 hills, and they generally fall into three categories: 1) Steep, 2) Steeper, and 3) Almost Guaranteed to Make You Pull a Hammy.

One of the latter in our neighborhood is on Folsom Street. No surprise that it sounds so similar to fearsome: This beasty climb stretches for nearly a half mile of increasing incline, inducing huffing and puffing at the bottom to gasping for air and the will to live at the top.

And that’s on foot.

Of course, yesterday when Chris challenged me to climb Folsom all the way to the top on my bike, it was game on. Mind you, the fact that I’d just polished off a slice of pie (not to mention movie theater popcorn, beer, French fries and cheese fondue over the course of the afternoon) would likely have crossed a sane – or, at least, not as insanely competitive – person’s mind, but oh, not mine. I had been challenged.

If I won, Chris owed me six home-cooked meals. If not, he’d get a front-row seat to me spectacularly crashing down the hill — it’s so freaking steep that just dismounting can send you tumbling — and/or vomiting on myself. We shook hands, I straddled my trusty blue bike and up, up, and away I went.

I’ll save you the play-by-play, which involved a lot of sweating, swerving and cursing, but I made it to the top of that damn hill (well, the top, according to my measurements) about the same time that pie made it to the top of my throat. Chris reluctantly agreed that I’d won, and over the next few minutes we took in the spectacular sunset as I tried not to spew into the bushes.

Bernal Heights sunset

The spew, I mean, view from the top

N.B.: I try to keep editing to a minimum with most of my photos. But since these killer filters by editing site Picnik [which, alas, is shuttering as of this Thursday] perfectly evoke the retro, 60s-esque vibe of San Francisco, I don’t feel too guilty using them.

Carnivore’s Delight

Every now and then, I’ll be walking through a San Francisco neighborhood and catch a glorious whiff of someone grilling out. I stop and stick up my nose, taking great big gulps of air, almost as if I could sink my teeth into that lovely meaty aroma and the memories it brings of cold beer and warm friendships on hot summer days in the South.

But since moving to such a crunchy city, I love this smell for an entirely new (and admittedly snarky) reason: knowing that, as I’m savoring it, there’s probably at least a vegan or two in the vicinity who’s dry heaving into their bowl of cracked bulgur tofu topped with dandelions and kelp sprinkles.

Bunnies and Big Wheels: Easter in San Francisco

“So, what did you do for Easter?” asked my grandmother in her lovely Southern lilt.

“Er, drank beer and watched costumed lunatics race down one of San Francisco’s steepest streets on Big Wheels — um, I mean, went to church?”

Indeed, I didn’t do this hysterical event, Bring Your Own Big Wheel, any justice trying to explain it then, and I won’t here, either; the video I made below does a far, far better job of that. A few more things to note …

1) BYOBW used to take place on famously twisty Lombard Street, but the ensuing insanity apparently inconvenienced Russian Hill residents en route to the spa or their wine country weekend mansions. Its new home is in the hip Potrero Hill ‘hood, on Vermont Street, which is Lombard’s lesser-known, but equally twisted sister.

2) Miraculously, we didn’t see any serious injuries.

3) BYOBW was started by some of the same folks behind Burning Man. Which means it’s probably on its way to being bogged down with pricey tickets and too-cool-for-school ‘tudes. In other words, I’m so glad we saw it when we did.

4) Yes, Chris is already thinking about our costumes for next year.

(And if you like the video, why not give that sucker a thumbs-up?)

Update From San Francisco …

Hello dear readers! Long time, no type. As some of you may know, I’ve moved to the fine city of San Francisco. I’m still writing, but with a stronger focus on travel: I’m contributing blogger for Fodors.com; here’s a recent post on cool stuff that’s happening for the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. I also have regular gigs with Sherman’s Travel and am writing all sorts of fun travel stories for FoxNews.com. (I’m working on a new website to reflect these developments. Rah rah rah! Stay tuned for the! exciting! launch!! yippy!!! skippy!!!!)

As far as Ask a Bachelor, I’ve decided to phase it out for the time being. Although I loved writing it, and giving you guys a helping hand (and hopefully a chuckle) over matters of the heart, it was simply taking up too much of my time. But if you have questions you want answered, still continue to send them my way and I promise I’ll answer them, via e-mail if not anonymously on the blog, as usual.

But (shameless plug coming): It lives eternally in my book, On Being a Bachelor: Thoughts on Dating, Mating and Relating, which also happens to be a great Christmas present. The book and I have been featured in media outlets including NPR’s City Cafe, AOL City’s Best, Travelgirl, Zink! Magazine, Cityview Magazine, WXIA in Atlanta, Date Night Magazine, and several others.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled info …

Suspect your boyfriend is cheating on you — with your brother-in-law? Sick of being burned by bad boys, but no idea how to relate to a guy who says he’ll call and — OMG! — actually does? Caught the old ball and chain balling someone else?

Let syndicated advice columnist Blane Bachelor come to your rescue with free dating advice that’s as real as her name. Her Ask a Bachelor advice column appears weekly in various newspapers across the country.

Just send in your drama or trauma from the form to the right, or via e-mail to askabachelor@gmail.com. Whether you need help on getting over a breakup, sex tips or just a slap of reality, Blane is ready to help.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • While your anonymity is guaranteed, letters may also be used as fodder for blog discussions, articles and dinner-party conversation.
  • Letters may be edited for length or clarity.
  • Blane will keep your identity under wraps and your e-mail address will not be sold to Nigerian spammers promising appendage enlargement through magic pills.
  • If you don’t sign off with a catchy nickname, Blane will make one up for you.
  • While it takes a lot to make Blane blush, this is a dating and relating column. She’ll happily and eagerly give sex tips as she sees fit, but save the explicit stuff for the XXX chat rooms, ok?

Disclaimer: Blane nor any of the outlets in which her column appears assume responsibility for any psychoses, bar fights, estrangements, arrests, unwanted pregnancies, alcohol-fueled tirades, selective memory loss, evictions, torturous first dates, drug addictions, family rifts, theft, adultery, booty calls, incest, car accidents, unemployment, harassment, dismemberment, co-habitation, or any other physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional, mental or sexual hardships, conditions or maladies, temporary or permanent, potential or perceived, wherein, herein, whereas, in accordance with, blah blah blah, that may or may not directly or indirectly result from ignoring, following, or contemplating ignoring or following her advice. That pretty much covers it, anyway.