Pin It

First Call 

Celebrating the dawn in the bars of San Francisco

Wednesday, May 22 2002
Comments
There's nothing quite like finding yourself at the immortal Endup at the crack of 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. By this hour, all prudes and pretenders have long since departed the corner of Sixth and Harrison. The bright-eyed denizens of "Other Whirled" stand two deep at the bar, celebrating the end of California's nightly, four-hour prohibition with ice-cold beers and Bloody Marys. Layers of deep, infectious house music boom from the sound system. The crowd on the dance floor emanates waves of heat. To say this is an interesting locale to people-watch is like announcing that bed is a good place to sleep.

Behold the sculpted, tattooed muscle boys, the girl in the furry cat-ear hat, the dude in the floppy beanie who grooves with an exuberance that may carry him clear through to afternoon. Chris and Amy look downright scene-y, with their matching silver-tinted sunglasses. "We work it out, we're fierce," Chris says. The player with the Hustler T-shirt peeking out of his track suit gives his name as "Adonis." He certainly didn't get up early this morning, nor did Joe, who stands shirtless on the patio in the frigid dawn, a thick-torsoed hoochie mama at his side.

"We just came from Fresno, and there's nothing going on," Joe says. The man's a long way from home, but he fits right in with his shaved head, shaved chest, and pierced lip, ears, and nipples. "Hopefully, I'll get my penis [pierced] one of these days," Joe says. "I'm kinda scared."

Hey, we would be, too.

Meanwhile, over on Haight near Fillmore, the same morning sees the Mad Dog in the Fog packed to capacity at 7:30 despite -- believe it -- a $20 cover. The event: a live broadcast of the Football Association Cup final between London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal. The best way to avoid the cover is to stand with the dozen or so cheap bastards on the sidewalk, peering through the window at the TV in the front room. The Chelsea contingent rules the back of the pub. "There you go, send 'em back to the poor part of London!" bellows Paul. Up front, about five dozen Arsenal fans erupt as their team scores the first goal in what will be a 2-0 victory.

Noel got up early to see today's game. He sips a frothy black Guinness. "I was expecting it to be unpleasant, but it's actually quite good," he says. "The second one's probably even better."

Weekday early-morning tipplers land at Clooney's, a timeworn relic of the old Mission District at Valencia and 25th streets. At 7 a.m. on a Wednesday, most patrons among the crowd of half a dozen have come for coffee. You'll find no freaky club kids or rabid hooligans here, but if you meet two regulars -- James and "Jaime Cucaracha" -- you probably won't be bored.

Out front, Jaime inserts a cigarette into his nostril. "Got a light?" he asks, then snorts a few puffs in the sun. Not to be outdone, James says he once tried to circumnavigate the bar while walking on his hands. He made it most of the way, then stopped when he realized that the shelf under the beer taps wouldn't support his weight.

"I can do the splits on top of the bar," offers Jaime, a red-bearded roughneck with a cross and an eight-ball pendant dangling from his neck.

As rare as that sight would be, we decide to take his word for it. For the record, Jaime and James claim to be drinking cranberry juice and iced tea, respectively.

"That's what they're getting for their next drink," adds Gene the bartender.

About The Author

Greg Hugunin

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed