Street Fair That Continues Improving and Blowing Our Minds
How Weird Street faire
The intersection of Howard and Second streets is pretty buttoned-down, what with all the things named for a giant tech corporation that rhymes with whale’s-horse, but one Sunday a year things get a little peculiar. Held the first weekend in May — and thus fresh in our minds — the How Weird Street Faire is a precursor to the Burn and all the various summer festivals where people dress like fools. With a whopping 10 stages, it’s getting harder and harder to just stand somewhere and watch the passing eye candy without a little DJ-related FOMO. Staged by the World Peace Through Technology foundation, it’s the best reminder that yes, San Francisco is still San Francisco.
Historic Event That Almost Died But Didn’t
Castro Street Fair
Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if something that Harvey Milk started 45 years ago had to disappear, even as we’re renaming airport terminals for the slain supervisor? At the very tail end of summer, on the same weekend as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the Castro Street Fair is a grand way to bid adieu to warm weather for the season, a street party that might not be as raunchy as Folsom but which still draws thousands of revelers. Inclement weather and economic woes in 2016 nearly led to its cancellation in 2017, but the Arts Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development infused its governing nonprofit with enough cash to see things through. And a smaller footprint means you’re that much closer to that Sister of Perpetual Indulgence’s glittery hennin and that cute tipsy person clad in next to nothing who’s been making eyes at you.
Best Use of Muscular Forearms
Puerto Rican Jesus’ Paper Towels
As much as we love dyeing eggs and eating hams, the best thing about Easter is the Hunky Jesus and Foxy Mary contests in Golden Gate — formerly Dolores — Park. This year, dozens of would-be Messiahs competed to out-resurrect one another, including an aggressively fratty Drunk Jesus and a Gun Control Jesus with a crown of thorns who urged people to “Shoot Cum, Not Guns.” But the real scene-stealer was Puerto Rican Jesus, a handsome Lamb of God in a Puerto Rican flag cape who chose to stick it to America’s leaders by lobbing rolls of paper towels into the adoring crowds as though they were fishes and loaves. Clever trolling in the face of the ongoing tragedy of Hurricane Maria? Definitely. But everyone present voted for him by acclamation, and we went to heaven.
Best Proposal for a New Park
Russian Hill Open Space / Francisco Park
Neighbors have been waging a low-intensity conflict for decades over 4.5-acre parcel bounded by Bay, Hyde, and Larkin streets for decades, making sure no high-rise development will ever mar their views. But three years after the SF Public Utilities Commission ceded the former reservoir to Rec and Park, we have a plan to create a new public greenspace a little less than one-third the size of Dolores Park. Having raisedthe necessary $25 million, the Francisco Park Conservancy will transform a sad plot of turf into a “multi-use main lawn” with a dog park, community garden, children’s playground and other amenities, all planted with native species. The timetable is pretty loose, but at some point, you and everyone you know will be taking selfies among the shrubbery in what is undoubtedly the largest property east of Van Ness available for such an eco-friendly conversion.
Best Hiking Trail With a View
The Coastal Trail at Lands End
It’s fairly simple to get to the northwesternmost point in San Francisco by bike, easy to find parking if you drive, and it’s one of the only mostly-flat hiking trails in the city. The Coastal Trail at Lands End tends to fill up on weekends with tourists, but on a sunny summer weekday evening it’s mostly locals walking their dogs — amid a subline natural landscape. The out-and-back trail is sandwiched between golf courses and the ocean, with a picture-perfect view of Golden Gate Bridge. Bring a picnic or a thermos of tea and hang out for a bit on this quiet edge of San Francisco.
Best Ex-Giant Who’s a Giant Again
Heavy hitter Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval homered his way to three World Series titles with the Giants from 2010-14, creating cult-fan fads like panda hats and “Let Panda Eat” T-shirts. But the Panda hats went extinct at AT&T Park when Sandoval left town for a $95 million offer with the Red Sox. Sandoval was an unequivocal disaster in Boston, and the Sox quickly cut him last season, yet his return as a Giants pinch hitter has an unexpected delight. He even made a shocking appearance as a pitcher last month, throwing a perfect inning against the reviled Dodgers.
Best Alternative to Twin Peaks
Moraga Street and 14th Avenue
Winded and appreciative of the ocean view they just earned, most people call it a day atop the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. But climb a few more tough flights of stairs and you reap a stunning 360-degree view of the Bay Area from a perch that tourist-avoiding locals can comfortably enjoy after a trying journey. The view includes Twin Peaks, where there are sure to be swarms of visitors, cars, and the strong potential for violent thefts. Visit the world-famous spot all you want — it means missing out on the hidden gem that is Grandview Park.
Best New Mosaic-Tiled Stairs
Athens Avalon Greenspace Tiled Steps in the Excelsior
You’ve likely seen the Inner Sunset’s 16th Avenue Tiled Steps and the hidden Coit Tower step artwork, but there’s a brand new addition to San Francisco secret art network that deserves a daylight trip. The Excelsior’s Athens Avalon Greenspace Tiled Steps are a community eyesore turned into a squee public art installation that’s been nine years in the making and which finally opened last fall. Tucked away at a once-decrepit stairway between obscure streets Avalon Avenue and Valmar Terrace, these 99 newly tiled steps by designer Iran Narges create a litany of colorful optical illusions alongside a fabulous garden park with 350 species of freshly planted succulents.
Best Postage Stamp
The Harvey Milk Stamp
That incredibly rare occasion when you still send snail mail can be properly gay-ed up with the addition of a Harvey Milk postage stamp, the U.S. Postal Service’s overdue homage to America’s first-ever openly gay elected official. This also makes Milk the first openly gay person to be depicted on a postage stamp period, and the USPS website and plenty of San Francisco post offices still sell sheets of these stamps honoring our slain supervisor. The stamps were issued four years ago, but they’re still sold as “Forever stamps,” meaning you can use them to fuck with your conservative relatives no matter how much postage costs increase.
Best New Way to Get Around Town
Electric Ford GoBikes
In the past year San Francisco’s streets have been hit with Ford GoBikes, JUMP Bikes, Lime Bikes and Bird, Spin, and Lime-S scooters. Each has come with their own controversies one neighborhood has banned bikeshare altogether but much of the antagonism comes from people who’ve never climbed aboard the new electric Ford GoBikes. The seats are comfy, the tires big enough to glide over the worst potholes, and wow do they fly. Getting up Page Street to the Lower Haight is a breeze, and much faster than any Muni bus. We like JUMP too, but to be honest, the sleek black electric GoBikes go with more of our outfits than Flaming Cheeto red.
Best Impromptu Spot to Watch Skateboarders
Third and Army Skate Spot
Third Cesar Chavez streets (Park can be found at end of Indiana St.)
With an abundance of ledges, rails, stairs, and gaps, this concrete stretch along the Islais Creek Channel in Dogpatch has served as a mecca for Bay Area skaters since the early 2000s. The name for this legendary spot for skaters is a bit misleading, since it’s actually located between Third and Cesar Chavez streets, but those familiar with skateboarding will immediately recognize the waterfront park from skate videos and competitions that have taken place over the years. All levels are welcome, but if you’re just into spectating, you’re sure to find talented skaters showing off impressive tricks at this spot.