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People & Places

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Start-Up GroopSwoop Best Drag Queen Peaches Christ Best Blog Vegansaurus! Best Writer Dave Eggers Best Talk Radio Host Michael Krasny Best Radio Morning Crew Fernando and Greg, Movin 99.7 Best Newscaster Dana King, KPIX Best Journalist Phil Matier, San Francisco Chronicle Best Neighborhood to Call Home The Mission Best Museum SFMOMA Best Politician Gavin Newsom Worst Politician Chris Daly Best Change in San Francisco New bike lanes… More >>
  • Best Political Activist/Bisexual Escort

    Starchild

    San Franciscans are understandably proud of their quirky liberal heritage, but our town's lovable eccentrics aren't confined to the political left. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine another city where a doctrinaire Libertarian who moonlights as a bisexual escort and exotic dancer could become a permanent fixture in the political firmament. This has been the accomplishment of Starchild — born Chris… More >>
  • Best Political Tweeter

    Fiona Ma

    The best kind of tweet from a politician is an unexpected one. It can't just be a "look @ the gr8 thng I did" or "vote 4 me" or "come to my boring event." That is why we like Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. Her frequent and strange updates on fecal matter, for instance, make us chuckle. Although she tweets her fair… More >>
  • Best (Free) Office Space for the Officeless

    Epicenter Cafe

    Whether you're a blogger, a desk jockey, or a bootstrapper for a start-up, you may find yourself looking for a place to sit down, do some work, and maybe even hold meetings — away from the office. Sure, you can try Starbucks. But if you don't feel like dealing with the constant foot traffic, occasional screaming baby, and noisy coffee… More >>
  • Best Tech Do-Gooders

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation

    For the last two decades, these champions of free speech have been going to court to do legal battle for your rights. Some of their greatest hits? Protecting the rights of online journalists to keep sources confidential, keeping the government from tracking your location via cellphone without probable cause, and going head to head with the makers of the electronic… More >>
  • Best Hyperlocal Publication

    El Tecolote

    In a city where there seems to be a hyperlocal news outfit for every block, the bimonthly and bilingual El Tecolote has been putting a microscope to the Mission District since 1970. Arising from a La Raza Studies class at San Francisco State University, El Tecolote (The Owl) has published stories on subjects including pedestrian safety and the lack of… More >>
  • Best Radio Morning Crew

    Fernando and Greg, Movin 99.7 FM

    Energy 92.7, which began broadcasting tweaky remixes of inane pop music in 2004, disappeared from the airwaves last September. Suddenly, the Bay Area’s only major dance music station was gone — replaced by yet another Top 40 station — and local club kids were out for blood. Fans particularly wanted to see the return of the station's morning hosts, Fernando… More >>
  • Best Black-and-White Photo Booth

    Rayko Photo Center

    It's easy to sail right past the gray, no-nonsense facade of Rayko Photo Center, but step inside and you'll be transported. The interior is wide and airy, all high ceilings, exposed wooden beams, and brick walls. Stationed in one corner is a vintage photo booth. The big, monochromatic machine can be operated only with little gold tokens ($3) purchased from… More >>
  • Best DIY Community Center

    Workshop

    We first heard of Workshop when it offered a class called Rock 'n' Roll Sewing for Dudes. In it, students could learn to peg their jeans, make a beer cozy, and put patches on their jackets or vests. It was all very practical, no matter how hard we were laughing. But this was only the beginning, and the large space… More >>
  • Best Trip Back to the Primitive Future

    The EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park

    The Jetsons didn't foretell the future; the Flintstones did. At least, that seems to be the lesson implicit in San Francisco's first 100 percent "off-grid" building, a self-contained ecology classroom at Heron's Head Park. The facility won't use city sewage or electricity services, but instead relies on wetland cells and ultraviolet sterilization lamps for wastewater treatment, and solar panels and… More >>
  • Best Museum

    Museum of the African Diaspora

    On a recent visit to the Richard Mayhew exhibit at the Museum of the African Diaspora, we were struck by one thing: There is nowhere else like this. Its mission and reason for being are so rare, and the execution so flawless, that the 2005 addition to the downtown museum district has become a flaming jewel in the area's already-crowded… More >>
  • Best Event for the Dead

    DiÁ De Los Muertos

    A few days after Halloween each year, San Franciscans paint their faces like skulls, light candles, and head to the Mission for their interpretation of the Day of the Dead. In Mexico, families gather over gravesites to reflect on the dead with food and music. Yet San Francisco has tweaked the tradition with Burning Man DIY creativity and an aesthetic… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences

    If you're trying to show that hottie that you're a smartie, but you don't want to get too far from the nearest liquor bottle, try scheduling your first rendezvous at NightLife. Held every Thursday night from 6 to 10 at the Academy of Sciences, NightLife eliminates those pesky kids by excluding anyone under the age of 21. Better yet, admission… More >>
  • Best Gay Marriage Icon

    Phyllis Lyon

    When she and Del Martin first met in the early 1950s, Phyllis Lyon had never even heard the word "lesbian." Today, at 85, Lyon is nothing short of a trailblazer and icon in the gay rights movement. On Feb. 12, 2004, the day Mayor Gavin Newsom began allowing same-sex marriage in San Francisco, Lyon and Martin became the city's first… More >>
  • Best Comedian

    Nato Green

    Nato Green is a hard-working man in show business. (We can't really say the hardest-working man in show business, in a town so packed with hard-working men in show business.) His Iron Comic series blends improv-style audience participation with traditional stand-up, his work at the Progressive Reading Series kept the writers doubled over, and his Laughing Liberally Local 415 and… More >>
  • Best C-List Writer

    Elif Batuman

    As of this April, Elif Batuman still self-identified as "a C-list writer" on her blog. We must beg to differ. We recall, for instance, her auspicious 2006 New Yorker debut, a profile of local Thai boxing champion Bunkerd Faphimai, for which she took lessons at his Bryant Street gym. We've watched the A-list evidence mount steadily since then, with the… More >>
  • Best Secret Park

    Mountain Lake Park

    This city park, which connects to the Presidio, is like the wardrobe that leads into Narnia. You think you're just walking into a kiddie playground tucked into the dead-end 12th Avenue in the quiet, upscale Inner Richmond. But wait: This place keeps going. Walk down a staircase behind the swings, and you'll discover an entire lake (or at least an… More >>
  • Best Hidden Dock

    A hair to the south of Pier 40

    We love the renovated waterfront. But it often feels — how can we put this? — municipal. It's too concrete, too safe; very little of it feels like salty-dog San Francisco, with undulating docks you can stroll down amidst wharf thieves sleeping off morning hooch. Actually, we do have those docks, but they're all locked away in the harbors —… More >>
  • Best Tiny Urban Oasis

    Patricia's Green

    Urban greensward doesn't have to be as big as the Bois de Boulogne or Golden Gate Park to bring a hint of the bucolic to its citizenry. At half a block wide and a block long, Patricia's Green isn't large, but it's an absolutely charming place for the residents of Hayes Valley (and elsewhere) to get away from all of… More >>
  • Best Birdwatching Spot

    Lake Merced Fishing Pier

    Birds and humans appear to have agreed to disagree about the merit of a $1.5 million Lake Merced revamp, which involved clearing tule stands and building a fishing pier and picnic area at the south end of the lake. That corner of the lake is perennially packed with a variety of migratory and native freshwater birds, including gulls, coots, mallard… More >>
  • Best Wilderness in the City

    Rotary Meadow

    This is a garden of native plants in a clearing within a eucalyptus grove atop the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve on the UCSF campus. It's so completely circled by trees that it's possible to imagine you're in a vast wilderness. Several miles of newly groomed forest trails surround the meadow, where there's a granite slab bench that's great for… More >>
  • Best Urban Picnic Spot

    The Sky Terrace above Westfield San Francisco Centre

    There's a 3,600-square-foot rooftop plaza downtown sprinkled with cafe-style tables that has a wonderful view of the hills between the Financial District and Golden Gate Park. But, like more than a dozen privately owned public open spaces downtown, it's luxurious, yet hardly used. A decades-old city policy requires publicly accessible open spaces in new commercial buildings. But getting to the… More >>
  • Best Fashion Plate

    Chloe Harris

    Native Dallasite and current San Franciscan Chloe Harris doesn't look like either of her cities. Of course, we're relying on our Texas stereotypes here, but her sleek designer looks don't run to large ruffles, the color fuchsia, or rhinestones (unless they work, of course). And with her au courant pieces, she doesn't seem to have picked up any of our… More >>
  • Best KJ

    Glenny Kravitz Loggins-Messina

    Karaoke jockey Glenny Kravitz Loggins-Messina loves you. Or maybe he's making fun of you. Either way, chances are good he's standing beside you, playing his signature fake guitar, not-real keyboards, or obviously plastic saxophone while you either humiliate or distinguish yourself in song. From where we sit, his job looks like our version of hell. Journey song after Journey song… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet a Friendly Ghost

    Hotel Majestic

    Ever since a creepy bartender encouraged a crazed Jack Nicholson to axe his family to death in an empty ski resort, people have got it into their heads that hotel ghosts are to be avoided at all costs. But the specter who lives at the stately Hotel Majestic means its patrons no harm. The Majestic was built as a residence… More >>
  • Best Free Famous Murals

    Diego Rivera's San Francisco Pieces

    There's no beating the Mission for outdoor murals. Yet no art lovers should miss three of the city's indoor walls emblazoned with the work of the Mexican godfather of the art form himself: Diego Rivera. Start at the City Club of San Francisco (check in with the ground floor lobby guard from 8 to 10 a.m. on weekdays for permission… More >>
  • Essay: Why I Hate This Town (But Love It More)

    By Mat Honan Photograph by Julie Michelle I hate this place. It stinks and it's dirty and there is piss and needles and garbage everywhere, and last year when I went for a run in the park I had to traverse a trail that had been completely covered in used toilet paper. I've been robbed at gunpoint, just down the street from… More >>
  • Profile: David Baker, Architect

    By Matt Smith Photograph by Travis Jensen David Baker is a local don of a planning and architecture movement that strives to create modest, space-efficient, pedestrian-friendly cityscapes. His perky, Cubist take on the midrise apartments at Eighth and Howard streets was named one of the best buildings of the past decade by the Chronicle's John King. His 224-apartment mini-neighborhood at Showplace Square… More >>
  • Profile: Kate Kelly, TV News Reporter

    By Joe Eskenazi Kate Kelly has been a fixture on Bay Area television screens since 1984. Nowadays, the Cow Hollow resident is a fixture somewhere else, too: the city's myriad ball fields, where she cheers for her teenage children. In fact, Kelly jokingly protested to SF Weekly that she could opine on little else than her preferred youth sporting venues. That… More >>
  • Profile: Jaxon Van Derbeken, Crime Reporter

    By Ashley Harrell Photograph by Frank Gaglione Anybody who regularly reads crime reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken's stories in the San Francisco Chronicle knows that his true home is the city's Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant. From his post on the building's third floor, Van Derbeken has been breaking balls and stories for the Chron for 13 years. It's not that he loves… More >>
  • Profile: John Burton, Chairman of the State Democratic Party

    By Peter Jamison Every city has its own political godfather with a checkered personal history, sailor's vocabulary, and unsettling mustache. In San Francisco, that man is John Burton. The 77-year-old chairman of the California Democratic Party grew up in the Sunset and West Portal neighborhoods, and spent three decades in public office, most recently in the state Senate. He was termed out… More >>
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