San Francisco and its crackerjacks

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September 6th 2007
Published: September 17th 2007
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Crackerjacks can be defined as many things. My definition includes the following: The unstable; slightly unsound of mind; detached from reality; general wackies; just trying to make a living off of the street; crazy street evangelists speculating incoherently on the state of the world or its present demise.

These crackerjacks of San Francisco wander freely, fearing none. If San Francisco doesn't embrace them, the city has certainly accepted them to a degree... perhaps holding up to its slogan of once being the focal point in the 'Summer of Love'. One of the place to observe these crackerjacks in their natural environment is Market Street.

My welcome to San Francisco and quite close encounter with one of these crackerjacks occurred hours after stumbling off of the plane from Osaka with jetlag as I attempted to find the right bus to Haight-Ashbury. The scene roughly went like this:

Crackerjack: mumble, mumble, mumble... you've got pretty feet... mumble, mumble, mumble

me : Oh... gee thanks.

Crackerjack takes my response as approval and then proceeds to lay face down on the sidewalk and kiss my feet.

Crackerjack : mumble, mumble, mumble... Are you married? I sure would kiss your feet if I was married to you.

I then proceed to ignore him

Crackerjack : mumble, mumble, mumble... after all of that... ungrateful... I would have married you and kissed your feet plenty... mumble, mumble, mumble.

Non-Crackerjack bystander : *shakes head*. Ima gonna take the next bus to make sure you get on alright. You just got here? Welcome to San Francisco.

The foot-kissing crackerjack, inconveniently, got onto the same bus as I did but thankfully removed himself far before my destination of Haight-Ashbury. My first impressions were of a neighbourhood that had great shopping... be it vintage, skate gear or nostalgia. Hey, what can I say, I do love to shop.
The neighbourhood, once a centre of the hippie movement back in the 60s is a shadow of its former self, but the spirit still lingers on even in the nice hippie fellow serving me ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. The hippies have made a stand against corporate culture. Apparently the GAP store that opened here closed its doors in early 2007.

My second day in SF included a tour to Napa and Sonoma: wine country. Most of the people on the tour were in utter rapture. Perhaps from the education they were receiving on how to taste wine properly or perhaps from the free wine sampling they were receiving. Indeed, some downed those free samples as though it was water. Me, I made good use of the spit bucket. Call me a snob but with subtle aromas of cat pee or petrol... how could you not love wine? (ok... I didn't actually smell any with subtle petrol notes in Napa. This occurred at the Inniskillin Vineyards at Niagara-on-the-Lake).
On a random tangent, I quite enjoy how some vineyards, including those in the Napa Valley region, have steered clear of the pretentiousness in their labelling and marketing strategy. A Macho Nacho Syrah or Big House Red anyone?

The most amusing aspect of the tour was perhaps watching the tour director of each vineyard attempt to tout a new opener gadget appealing to the inept bottle uncorkers. Do the vineyards maintain large profit margins on the wine bottle openers that it is essential to expound the virtues of these gadgets for 5 minutes?

Additional photos below
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