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People & Places

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Activist Matt Gonzalez Best Mechanic Robert Kim Action Auto Care Best Bartender Adrian Ruiz (deceased) at Blue Light Best Chef Ben Paula at Sauce Most Fashionable Tie: Roisin Isner & Peaches Christ Best Radio Morning Crew Sarah and No Name Best Talk-Show Host Michael Krasny Best Newscaster Dennis Richmond Best Local Politician Gavin Newsom Worst Local Politician Ed Jew Best Girl for Gavin Me! Best Local Scandal Newsom's affair Best Neighborhood to Call Home The Mission Best Weekend Getaway Napa Best Reason to Ditch Your Car City CarShare Best… More >>
  • Best BART Musician

    Jesse Morris

    San Francisco musician Morris read Johnny Cash's autobiography as a teenager, and the result is a BART artist who earns the crumpled dollars tossed into his guitar case from something other than a nagging sense of pity. If you're lucky on weekday mornings as you pass through the 24th Street or Montgomery BART stations, you'll swear you hear the Man… More >>
  • Best Fisherman's Wharf Street Performer

    Kenny the Clown

    So maybe we've gotten a little wary of the Bush Man scaring the bejesus out of us like some tree-branch-costumed nightmare as we escort our out-of-town guests along Fisherman's Wharf. But then there's Kenneth Kahn, aka Kenny the Clown, the 6-foot-3 clown with the purple wig who humors kids with magic tricks as well as adults, because those tricks are… More >>
  • Best Morning Radio Crew

    The Woody Show, Live 105

    The Woody Show began airing on Live 105 in January 2006 with the unenviable task of replacing Howard Stern in the station's morning slot (5:30-10 a.m.).Woody and Co. were wise to avoid Stern's shtick in favor of a relatively frill-free morning show. And that's what we love most: The show really feels like a bunch of real locals shooting the… More >>
  • Best Blogger

    Brock Keeling, SFist

    As the editor of (and most frequent contributor to) the obsessively updated tribute to San Franciscan dysfunction known as SFist, Brock Keeling veers from breathless entries on local crime ("Manhunt for Sunset Pizza Shooter!") to random mash notes directed at the male half of the local demimonde ("Craigslist's Jim Buckmaster is, like, um, way hot. Who knew?"). He embodies no… More >>
  • Best Iconic Bay Area Newscaster

    Dennis Richmond, KTVU

    Dennis Richmond began his career at KTVU 40 years ago as a part-time typist, and has just retired as lead newscaster on Channel 2's Ten O'Clock News, a post he held for 32 years. The timeslot, one hour earlier than most late-night newscasts, opened up the demographic and gave the station a younger than usual audience. But the broadcast has… More >>
  • Best Local Nerds

    San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

    The San Francisco Amateur Astronomers is one of those societies that truly make learning enjoyable. Its name might summon images of Trekkies at a sci-fi convention, but club members are supernice and hail from all kinds of professional backgrounds. You've likely seen them cavorting around the city when something cosmological is about to occur — you can simply identify them… More >>
  • Best Tattoo-Sporting, Banjo-Playing Philanthropist

    Warren Hellman

    Sporting a green frog tattoo, Hellman is an unconventional businessman and philanthropist. As the chairman and co-founder of the private-equity investment firm Hellman & Friedman, Hellman not only sits on the board of various Bay Area academic and art institutions, he also funds the San Francisco Free Clinic and the San Francisco Foundation. But perhaps his greatest contribution is the… More >>
  • Best Activist

    Rudy Corpuz Jr.

    Corpuz is the founder of United Playaz, the 14-year-old gang prevention and antiviolence organization with a sister chapter in the Bronx and a motto of "It takes the hood to save the hood." Corpuz has a track record for reaching both at-risk youth and adult ex-cons, because he once lived the violent life of the streets and suffered the incarcerated… More >>
  • Best (and Worst) Politician

    Chicken John

    Last year, artist and erstwhile anarchist punk clown John Rinaldi (aka Chicken John) thought it improper that Gavin Newsom would run unopposed on the Democratic ticket for the office of mayor. Even though the odds of the incumbent retaining his office were astronomically in Newsom's favor, Rinaldi decided to run against him. Chicken John's bid for the office, dubbed "Nuisance… More >>
  • Best Local Scandal

    The Tomato-Throwing Beau

    We've all been there. Drunk. Mad at a significant other. Wanting to do something cuh-razy. But when Lance Farber crushed tomatoes into the carpet and set fire to the mattress inside San Francisco's historic fire chief's house — which Mayor Newsom had so graciously offered to Farber's boyfriend John Rahaim, the city's new planning director, as a temporary residence —… More >>
  • Best Gay Historic Spot

    Given - CLOSED

    Harvey Milk — the gay city supervisor assassinated at City Hall in 1978 (and the subject of an upcoming film by Gus Van Sant) — owned a camera shop near 19th and Castro streets. His storefront served as a major hub for gay political organization in 1970s San Francisco. These days, the site of Castro Camera isn't the historical monument… More >>
  • Best Mansion

    Spreckels Mansion

    This place isn't sometimes referred to as the Parthenon of the West for nothing. The imposing Beaux Arts manse, which faces (or, shall we say, dominates) the north side of hilly Lafayette Park, was built in 1913 for the flamboyant Alma de Bretteville Spreckels and her sugar baron husband, Adolph. (It shouldn't be confused with that other Spreckels Mansion, the… More >>
  • Best Mystery Spot

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle house

    For many years native San Franciscans, transplants, and tourists have been pleased and surprised to spot a polished brass plaque on a beautiful little graystone building on Sacramento across from Lafayette Park that reads: "This house, built in 1881, was once occupied by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." It looks like an appropriate residence for the doctor who invented Sherlock Holmes.… More >>
  • Best New Mission Mural

    El Arroyo Laundromat

    The owners of the Laundromat came from Mexico, carrying with them stories about a small river, or arroyo, in their former town. Artist Ernesto Paul used those tales about the cultural myths and community activities that sprang from the river, which all come alive on the western wall of the Laundromat, facing Harrison. The scope of the panoramic view of… More >>
  • Best Mural Honoring a Fallen Celebrity

    O.J. Simpson Mural

    Although heavily faded, this street mural on the side of a furniture warehouse was executed in the late 1980s to celebrate the rich history of Potrero Hill, where Simpson grew up. He played football at Galileo High School and City College before becoming a star at USC and in the NFL. The one-time favorite son is depicted, helmet in hand,… More >>
  • Best Place to Walk the Dog

    Bernal Heights Park

    This hilltop at the center of the Bernal Heights neighborhood offers an array of crisscrossing trails perfect for exercising both you and your pooch. Even during the weekend and postwork hours, the sprawling park never feels too crowded. Depending on how in shape you and your four-legged friend are, or how in shape you want to be, you can drive… More >>
  • Best Gurgling Spring

    El Polin

    Considered a sacred site by the native Ohlone, who had inhabited a settlement near the spring for thousands of years until the Spanish founded the Presidio in 1776, El Polin is the epitome of tranquility these days. One reason: Few people bother to visit the out-of-the-way landmark, near a picnic area at the foot of Inspiration Point. Legend among early… More >>
  • Best Staircase Walk

    Vallejo, between Jonesand Mason

    In a city replete with charming yet utilitarian streets turned staircases (the only way to scale our more clifflike hills this side of a funicular railway), the stretch of Vallejo between Jones and Mason is especially rewarding. Start at the cable car tracks on Mason and ascend vertiginous Russian Hill past an eclectic landscape of grassland, succulents, and leafy foliage.… More >>
  • Best Place to Fall Asleep and Still Wake Up with Your Wallet

    Douglass Park

    Douglass Park is one of those places that gets you feeling all nostalgic about the salad days of your childhood — you can even go ahead and get all weepy about it, since there's enough thick foliage and secret entrances to keep you safely concealed from prying eyes. The park comprises an upper and lower field, which house a dog… More >>
  • Best Park Named for a Poet Laureate

    Ina Coolbrith Park

    Coolbrith Park, located at the end of a cul-de-sac in tony Russian Hill, is an unexpected clearing that peeks out over urban Chinatown's neon signs. During the day, it's a lovely little oasis for a picnic. And when the sun goes down, the area is sheltered from the wind, making it a perfect spot to do a little citified stargazing.… More >>
  • Best View from the Sunset

    Grand View Park

    Twin Peaks has a fabulous view, but it can easily be tainted by tour buses and vans that are a-rockin', so you shouldn't come a-knockin'. In other words, people can just ruin it all sometimes — especially the ones who are trying to hawk Golden Gate Bridge T-shirts and snow globes. Grand View Park is the opposite of a convenient… More >>
  • Best View Over a Pile of Hash Browns

    Louis' Diner

    Since 1937, there has been no damn goat cheese at Louis' Diner. This is a regular bottomless-coffee, hash-browns-and-omelette kind of place. The menu features a diet plate with a hamburger patty, cottage cheese, and sliced tomato. So settle down, get a tuna melt, and forget about flavored foam and housemade salumi for today. Funny thing about Louis', though: If the… More >>
  • Best First Date

    Fridays at the de Young

    Treat your newest flame(s) to Friday nights at the de Young. You'll get free music, a cash bar, and plenty of opportunities to show what a serious and thoughtful person you are before trying to get into his/her/their pants. Observe! Let's say you begin in the Haight and stroll over to the museum while sharing your delicately positioned likes and… More >>
  • Best Educational Experience

    Laurel Hill Nursery School

    San Francisco's oldest, largest co-operative preschool is best known for its policy obliging students' occasional urge to take off their clothes and run around outdoors. This self-consciously libertine reputation emanates from a rigorous educational philosophy designed to make sure children enjoy learning throughout life. To keep daily, unrestrained play from turning into a preschool Lord of the Flies, the school… More >>
  • Best Monument to the Wedding-Industrial Complex

    Treasure Island Chapel

    A relic of the long-closed Treasure Island Naval Air Station, the picturesque chapel, built in 1943, is one of the few buildings on the forlorn and waiting-to-be-redeveloped former military outpost that is still used for one of its intended purposes. Absent any regular services since the Navy pulled up anchor, it's in essence a glorified (and quite splendid) wedding chapel,… More >>
  • Best Parking Garage

    North Beach Garage

    Parking garages get no respect. You pay a premium to drive up tight corkscrew ramps, searching for an open spot as rare as an endangered bird, only to squeeze your rustbucket right between two SUVs. But the North Beach Garage makes parking fun by painting clever sayings on the floor of each parking stall. Since this 204-space garage is technically… More >>
  • Best Public Bathrooms

    San Francisco City Hall

    We've all had that little moment outside a strange public bathroom where we say a little prayer before venturing into the unknown. And once inside we've also attempted to hold our breath, balance on one foot while flushing with the other, or tried to think of our happy place with so much intensity that our eyes watered. But that isn't… More >>
  • Best Shop Window Display

    Ixia

    This window display in San Francisco, it seems, can bring even the non-stoned to a standstill, forcing them to experience a moment of sublime, uncomprehending fascination. "What is this place, and what does it sell?" they wonder, staring and sputtering at the implausible noncommercialism of the abstract vegetal structures floating behind the glass. What easily could have been just another… More >>
  • Best Enduring Science Experiment

    Wave Organ

    Constructed with a mishmash of PVC pipes and granite and marble reclaimed from an abandoned cemetery, the Wave Organ may be the most unusual musical instrument this side of Mars. Built by the folks responsible for the Exploratorium, it consists of a number of underwater pipes that echo and hum with the changing tide. Or at least it once did.… More >>
  • Best Neglected Statue

    Gandhi Monument

    Just why such a beautifully executed statue to the late, great Mohandas Gandhi should be hidden in such an obscure (and, let's face it, ignominious) location has long been a mystery to us. London's Gandhi statue stands proudly outside University College, where he studied law; another in South Africa marks the spot where he was first ejected from a first-class… More >>
  • Best Unsung Hero

    David Alyea

    Every year, San Francisco media outlets report the rate at which motorists kill local pedestrians and bicyclists. During the first half of 2007, deaths averaged three to four a month. Those who speak on behalf of pedestrians argue that San Francisco's streets are designed and maintained to maximize automobile movement at the expense of everyone else's safety. The intersection of… More >>
  • Best Couturier of the Underworld

    Mr. David

    Mr. David designs, sews, and constructs custom garments for many of the city's most ubiquitous denizens of the performance underworld, fueled by an endless supply of Nat Sherman cigarettes, coffee, and Jim Beam and gingers. His creations can be seen hanging flawlessly on the frames of local drag creatures (especially his drag daughter, Juanita More, although you'll find "a Mr.… More >>
  • Best Pretentious Book Club

    Finnegans Wake Popcorn

    It started with Brett Lockspeiser's earnest desire to conquer the 600-plus pages of Finnegans Wake, James Joyce's final, impenetrable novel. He knew he couldn't do it alone. The words, often spliced and diced and otherwise manipulated, hail from more than fifty languages. Characters fade in and out of the story — if it can truly be called a story —… More >>
  • Best Pasta Chef

    Sergio Giusti

    Genuine Tuscan cuisine is hard to find despite all the restaurants in town that promote the authenticity of their menus. But award-winning chef Sergio Giusti, the owner of Firenze by Night, produces the real thing. He is best known for his gnocchi, which have been called "the delectable dumplings of death." Another favorite is his pappardelle Toscana, which he prepares… More >>
  • Best Non-Beat Poet

    George Tsongas

    George Tsongas has been writing poems, plays, and novels since he arrived in San Francisco in 1945. The 81-year-old poet is a regular at Caffe Trieste. In fact, the bard doesn't own a phone, so leaving a message with the baristas is the best way to reach him. At the cafe, he gives away poems printed on single sheets of… More >>
  • Best Forgotten San Francisco Inventor

    Charles August Fey

    Maybe you've noticed the stone marker that proclaims "Original Slot Machine" near where Market, Battery, and Bush streets intersect. Welcome to the city's lone nod to the man who has been called the Thomas Edison of slot machines. It marks the spot near where, in 1894, German immigrant Fey began developing various coin-operated gaming devices at his Market Street workshop,… More >>
  • Best Nudist

    George Davis

    George Davis was born naked, and constantly fights for his god-given right to remain that way. We last saw the former mayoral candidate in April for the Olympic torch protests, strolling the streets starkers and carrying a handmade human-rights torch of his own, leaving giggles and screams of “There are children here!” in his wake. May 1 marked his… More >>
  • Best People Who Get Us Drunk

    It costs a lot to catch a buzz in this town. Some places charge $7 for a pint of beer. Given the high cost of getting lit, it's important to have bartenders who know what they're doing. These are a few of our favorite drink-slingers around town. Joel Baker, Bourbon & Branch 501 Jones (at O'Farrell), 346-1735 www.bourbonandbranch.com Pensively and meticulously — that's how… More >>
  • Best Office Building Lobbies

    Tucked among the Sturm und Drang of the Financial District are oases of splendor and beauty where questing culture vultures can take in some of the city's most breathtaking public works of art. These vintage lobbies were designed to dazzle visitor and company drone alike, and still succeed at doing just that. And, unlike many a museum or private gallery,… More >>
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