Sweet Juniper's Neighborhood

Posted by jdg | Thursday, August 03, 2006 |

Goddamn I love our neighborhood! From "Ace" the homeless guy in the top hat who fights with his girlfriend up and down our street every night at 4:00 a.m. to the troupe of maniacal 170-year old latex-gloved Chinese ladies who wear ski goggles and pick through our garbage for empty cans, I love my neighbors. Did I mention the hunchbacks? Because there are so many hunchbacks in our neighborhood it must have been a hunchback colony at one time. Our next door neighbor is this cute little hunchback octogenarian who rides his bike around in circles at the slowest pace possible to maintain forward motion without toppling over. I'm really going to miss that guy. Despite learning that a convicted child molester recently moved into the house directly across the street from us, I really wish we didn't have to leave.

Several months ago, I promised to do photo adventures of our favorite San Francisco neighborhoods like I did for Clement Street. The only neighborhood I got done before Juniper dropped and smashed my Nikon D50 (five minutes before we left our hotel room to attend the Blogher festivities) was our own. So, I present to you a walking tour of Sweet Juniper's neighborhood, which though lacking in trolleys, creepy mailmen and aged transsexual puppets, is almost as weird as Mr. Rogers':

I have walked past this bodega two or three times a day for four years. I have also found myself on many a foggy evening hunkered down with a distilled beverage cursing those damn Chinese and their brilliantly subtle advertising strategies.

This used to be a store called "Ed Yee's Bunk Bed City #2." When it was open, Ed Yee used to paint mattress prices and right-wing political rants (usually related to the Iraq war or prejudice against Chinese people in the city government) all over his windows and on the broad side of the building. Ed used to sell mattresses for a couple hundred bucks and give you his personal guarantee that they were the best mattresses on earth. One day he put a piece of paper up in the window that said, "due to unfair government regulations concerning flammable imported mattresses, we can no longer offer you our famous low prices." He liquidated his inventory and disappeared.

Important fact Number One: there are only two operating bowling alleys in the city of San Francisco, and both are tiny. Important fact Number Two: there appears to be no real competitive league play at either alley, and certainly no tournaments.

I wonder if this bowling trophy engraving shop gets much walk-up business. I do have this theory, though, that if I carry around a gigantic first place trophy from a tae kwon do tournament everywhere I go, no one will ever fuck with me. Who would fuck with a guy carrying around a gigantic first-place trophy from a tae kwon do tournament? Before we move to Detroit, I am going to stop by this shop and ask them if they could make me a gigantic first-place trophy from a fake tae kwon do tournament. Who needs pepper spray or a stun gun when you can carry around a gigantic first-place trophy from a tae kwon do tournament?

That said, if you do need pepper spray or a stun gun, you should stop by our neighborhood video store.

As you can see, the name of our neighborhood video store is "MOVIE CRAZZZ." Why the three Zs? Because it's Crazzzy. And not just because they sell stun guns and pepper spray. First of all, everything on the floor is VHS, and the films are organized in an inscrutable system of categories such as "Irish period dramas with authentic accents" (notably missing: the Cruise/Kidman vehicle Far and Away) or organized by actor. There is even a Kevin Kline section.

Second of all, there is the owner, "Grandpa Joe." I used to get wasted and go there just to talk to him. You just have to accept that you're going to spend an hour and a half talking to Grandpa Joe. He's the kind of guy who makes it hard to break up a conversation. One time he was telling me this story about how his daughter is a scientist and a spy in Korea and then he starts telling me about all her amazing adventures and about halfway through his story I realized he was just reciting to me plotpoints from a half dozen movies I recognized (and probably quite a few that I didn't). Once I had the epiphany that this guy believes that the movies he is constantly watching in the back of the store are (1) real; and (2) happening to him and the members of his family, that made going to Movie Crazzz a lot more fun. One time a woman checked out a video while I was standing there talking to him and he watched her ass walk out of the store and then he interrupted himself to say, "She's a lesbian. She's been in here with her girlfriend. I wouldn't mind being stuck with the two of them inside an elevator." One time he recommended we rent the unrated version of the Cameron Diaz film The Sweetest Thing from his "movies about San Francisco" section, which featured an awesome extended version of that scene where Selma Blair gets her mouth stuck on her date's penis ring while giving him a blow job. I'm really going to miss Grandpa Joe.

There is no one I'd trust more to sell my $3 million San Francisco Victorian than the guy who hasn't updated the sign of his real estate office since 1982, the last time using that font was acceptable in any way.

*I almost forgot to add that one time Wood and I saw a real live leprechaun, or a midget dressed up as a leprechaun, standing in that doorway on the left.

I've posted this picture before, but it needs an update. See, at first I thought I saw a sawed-off head of a gigantic black dildo in one of our neighborhood gutters. An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that this was no mere broken dildo, but a used butt plug instead.

Even better.

In addition to the Chinese, there are a lot of Russians in our neighborhood, and they seem to congregate around this place, the Cinderella Bakery. On an average evening there will be a large group of fat Russian guys in black suits standing around or sitting in these chairs on the sidewalk next to their black Mercedes while the bread cools outside. They make Tony Soprano and his crew outside Satriale's look like a bunch of schoolgirls. One time I thought it would be fun to bring some friends here for breakfast. Our waiter was a 5'2" gay bodybuilder wearing a skimpy tanktop who spoke minimal English with a gay Russian accent.

He was incredibly rude and his disdain for us was palpable. I wasn't sure, but assumed it was because we either weren't Russian, gay, or bodybuilders ourselves. Now I think it might have just been because he lost a little something in the gutter.

Thank god someone out there with a labelmaker took the time to put labels up on every bus stop letting us know that the mac of the year award go to Travon.

Our neighborhood Safeway grocery store is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city of San Francisco.

And they are tearing it down to build a new one. Motherfucking progress.

These faded beef council posters have been in the window of Ping's Meat Market since well before Ping took over the butcher shop that had been there for years. Like the rest of the neighborhood, they have not been updated since 1982.

There is nothing like the sparkle in the luminescent eyes of a bucktoothed moppet to get me to fit some cheap beef into my budget. Beef, delicious beef, wrapped in a tortilla with blue olives and cucumbers. Or tacos. Mmmm, blue tacos.