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What Becomes a Legend Most 

A modest proposal for commercializing S.F. neighborhoods.

Wednesday, Nov 13 2002
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Got milk? At least in Biggs, Calif., the answer is no. At the end of October, the mayor of Biggs, north of Sacramento, received a letter from the California Milk Processor Board, offering to make a "meaningful contribution" in exchange for renaming the town after the company's popular commercial slogan. The residents of Biggs briefly considered the name change -- and even discussed building a "Got Milk?" museum -- until coming to their senses last week.

Biggs may have narrowly avoided becoming a running joke, but the town's dilemma still begs the question: Is this a one-time fluke or a chilling omen of things to come? Just because advertisers failed to buy one California town doesn't mean they'll give up. It may be only a matter of time before they move south, inundating Bay Area cities with offers to buy their identities. And who knows? Our city officials may take them seriously. With San Francisco still smarting from losing the Olympics and the World Series, we might not be so quick to turn down an opportunity for some national exposure.

If there's no way to avoid the commercialization of S.F., we might as well help the adsters get it right. After careful deliberation, we'd like to make a few recommendations (see chart at top) to potential sponsors. -- Eric Spitznagel

Cool for a Day

We went by ourself to the school dance last week, too shy to invite anyone and figuring everybody would just laugh at us if we did. Anyone who was anyone was going to be there: sixth-graders, seventh-graders, even eighth-graders. We were nervous because we don't dance too well and feared that the ladies would make fun of us.

Luckily, there wasn't much mingling between girls and boys, or much dancing for that matter. The only dance most of the guys did was the "shirt dance," where you tug on the front of your shirt to the beat. We looked pretty cool doing that. So cool, in fact, that nobody danced next to us because they were worried that we would outshine them.

The dance was in the gym and only cost $2.50 if you had your student ID, so that was nice, but you had to pay for punch and snacks, which sucked. The crappiest part was that the dance was held right after school, so it wasn't dark at all. The lights were even on! The principal must think that junior high kids are babies.

The music was OK, we suppose. They played the new Slim Shady song, and the new Kylie Minogue song, but they also played all this weird stuff from other decades, like "Let Me Clear My Throat" and "California Knows How to Party."

The best part was the break dancing competition, where the b-boys and -girls showed off their stuff. This one guy totally got air. It really took us back to 1984.

Well, by now we should probably admit the truth, if you haven't guessed it already. We're not actually in junior high; we graduated long ago. The dance was at a Richmond District junior high school where we teach in the after-school program, and we were a chaperone. But we still like to think that a lot of the kids thought we were cool, that we were "down."

If nothing else, we were the coolest chaperone there, much cooler than Mr. Yang, somebody's dad who just stood in the corner the whole time and didn't even shirt-dance. Or Mr. Parker, who wore a blue wig to try to be hip but just looked silly.

The last song of the night, er, afternoon, was "Dilemma" by Nelly and Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child, and we have to say we were a little sad to have no one to slow dance with. We thought another chaperone was going to ask us once, but she just wanted to know where this other guy named David was. We said we had no idea, even though we knew he was downstairs getting some punch.

It wasn't so bad, though. After all, only three couples out of 300 people danced, and "Dilemma" really has too much of a backbeat for proper slow dancing.

If it had been one of the cool slow songs from back in our day, like "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison, or "Time for Change" by Mötley Crüe, then it would have been something to be sad about. The Nellies and Destiny's Children come and go, but Bret Michaels will live on forever.

In our heart, anyway. -- Ben Westhoff

About The Author

Ben Westhoff

About The Author

Eric Spitznagel

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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.

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