Throwback – Mission 1989

In an attempt to find out if there was a reason why the sidewalks of Mission Street are tiled, I ran across an article published by The New York Times in October of 1989. Finding it rather poetic, and also an interesting read, I stopped wondering about the tiles, and started reading this rather lengthy article.

EACH TIME AMERICA SEALS ME IN A laminate of deadlines and Dow Jones averages, bills due and bills payable, I journey to a place where urgencies fade, colors brighten and all claims on reality begin to look relative. Just a stroll down the hill – though, like a good Californian, I usually drive – leads me out of my silent, wind-scoured, chillingly pretty neighborhood into a raucous, mouldering, charmingly unscrubbed caldron. Suddenly, the sidewalks are bordered with azure tiles and doused with the perfume of rotting mangoes; the streets are serenaded by thumping basso laments broadcast from souped-up Chevys; the advertisements appeal to a dozen loyalties and languages. Black-shawled Guatemalan women ply the restaurants, peddling red carnations, followed by packs of Vietnamese urchins toting bags of fresh-picked garlics; each available clapboard wall bursts with murals of naked Aztec deities and painted jungles; every sight conspires to defeat grayness and to sabotage the straight-and-narrow. Where thousands have sought asylum before me, I am a refugee in reverse – fleeing the benefits of the Promised Land for the immigrant hothouse and global miscellany that is San Francisco’s Mission District.

Full article here.

68 Responses to “Throwback – Mission 1989”

  1. Plug1 says:

    tiling > pharmacies that were formerly in The Dirty 30 before the mid-80s.

  2. Lael says:

    Ahhh – thank you.

  3. Plug1 says:

    of course, there is probably more to this story than i am aware of. hopefully one of your old school resident readers can add more color!

  4. C. says:

    Color was definitely a thing back then; the Norteno-Sureno battles were in full swing, as they remained until the early 90s. Wearing red or blue could make one a target, and the atmosphere of lushness described by the NYT-writer refugee from the bland safety of upper zones was penetrated by a sense of danger. Beyond gang colors, there were no uniforms, no hipster vs. d-bag dichotomies, although there were nacent concerns about gentrification, which were oddly split over edgy, artsy urban pioneers like the lesbian dancer-choreographer couple who bought a house around the corner from me on 22nd & Treat versus fence-straddlers such as my legal-assistant roommate on Linda St. or my psychiatrist landlord on 22nd, who wanted to remain somewhat edgy, hip and uniquely San Franciscan even after resigning themselves to conventional professions. Every young experimental filmmaker, abstract painter and motorcycle punk I knew rented very cheaply, either in the Western Addition or the Mission, often in large, somewhat beat or funky but also spacious and luminous through-flats. Zeitgeist was new (well, maybe in 1987 or 88). There was no Tartine, it was Carl’s Bakery, a classic wedding-cake joint. There was no Farina, it was Anna’s Danish Cookies. There was no Delfina Pizzeria, it was Quality Junk, a non-sequitur. I can’t even remember what was where Delfina restaurant is now, and no one I knew shopped at what Bi-Rite was then. The 500 Club really did open at 6 am, and was immediately populated by old-school neighborhood alcoholic regulars. The Dovre Club was in the Dearborn corner of the Women’s Building, and it would be several years (and Paddy Nolan’s passing) before the dissonance of that arrangement was heard as offensive and acted upon. No one parked at the end of Linda St. by the Mission Pool; it was a gathering area for gangster ex-cons sporting plenty of teardrop and spiderweb tattoos. The Elbow Room was Amelia’s, a very cool lesbian bar that was very welcoming of a young hetero male friend of one of its favorite regulars (me!). La Rondalla was the one restaurant open late, and it and The Rite Spot were favorite after-performance destinations of artists, patrons and groupies of The Intersection for The Arts, Theatre Artaud and the New Performance Gallery (where ODC is renovating its dance space). Country Station Sushi had its Elvis in full swing, and Clarion and Sycamore were hardcore crack alleys (oh wait – some things never change!). There was more color too, but there are some reference points… Change happens, good or bad, or beyond the two.

  5. zinzin says:

    ha. nice one, C. i only go back to 91, but here’s some of what i remember…

    al hamra was Sincere Cafe, an old school chinese-american chop suey place, ca 1950s. when they were closing they sold the business (with one of those 50 year leases, i think) for 30K. cool booths. next to pancho villa was golden gate barber shop. old school. you could get a shave there. fun. double dutch or whatever the hell it is now next to andalu (which was azteca) was dr. bombays. a good place for a cocktail at 1pm, though a hipster bar nonetheless. i had a drink with the red man in there (or maybe it was the albion, on the corner of 16th & albion, which had table outside on the sidewalk where you could bot smoke and drink). pakwan was a pizza place, where you could also get a gram of cheap blow, open till very late, 3am at least….which i thought not a bad combo at that time. kilowatt was the firehouse….one of the early mission clubs that brought people in from outside the hood. the church at the corner of guerrero & camp actually was a church, african american congregation. we used to buy sweet potato pies from them on saturdays. walking to cancun took some cojones. eating there, even more.

    my first SF apt was at 16th & guerrero. beautiful 3br flat, right on the corner above the eyeglass place (which was boarded up with had punk rock squatters in it when i got there). ultimately we had a couple in each BR, and my rent was $120, plus utilities. i didnt have a job for 2 years. my musician partner supported us on 3 waitress shifts and paying gigs. this was why people came to SF. low cost. artist community. laissez faire. (and in my case, readily available, inexpensive narcotics).

    oh, and dolores park was off limits. not safe. couldn’t go there. owned by drug dealer thugs barring the first part of the AM, and weekend days, though it was pretty much deserted all the time. dolores park cafe had a weird 1960s buddhist vegetarian restaurant in it. with a piano. walking down 18th street to go there – and i am from NY, which was not the same then as it is now either – was not without concern. deserted. spooky.

    then the people that live along the park organized, and complained, and got the city to pay attention to the beautiful park that was not usable because of the thugs that had taken it over. and those people got their house fire-bombed. and they persevered, and kept demading that an unsafe, unacceptable situation be changed.

    over time – i would say due to a variety of factors – it did change, enabling the daily hipster festival, the suntan crew, the families that gather, the soccer, etc to happen. and it would have changed without those people complaining…but i’d say that was the catalyst. in those days it was big news.

    so i agree, “Change happens, good or bad, or beyond the two”.

    but also, change happens if you fight for it. change happens when people organize and decide that unsafe, unacceptable situations be handled and managed and improved…not left to status quo because it’s “always been that way” or because we live in a “bad neighborhood where poor people (meaning brown people) live” – which is what the cops used to tell me when i called about bums & dealers on my stoop at 18th & guerrero (second apartment – $540/month in 1993, 2br, 1000 sft).

    there’s been a lot of change for sure. not all good. and there’s still some change needed, imho. my personal target is 16th & mission. unsafe, unacceptable.

    and we don’t live in a “bad neighborhood”.

  6. SlideSF says:

    Delfina Restaurant used to be Krim’s Kram Shop, which moved up into the Tenderloin.

  7. zinzin says:

    jeez. old person waxing on about old things. sorry about that. i got carried away.

  8. guero says:

    For some reason, I don’t remember much but I do remember that you could get a Burrito Regular and a Coke for $2.88 at El Farolito.

  9. Jen says:

    As a complete newcomer to the mission, I’m really loving all of these stories. Thanks to those who have posted so far.

  10. Plug1 says:

    cheap cocaine is still avail in the bar/resto on 22nd and bartlett, and we can all be thankful for that.

  11. Josh says:

    You referring to the blue and red tiles btw 15 -17 and 23-25? Those were part of the BART project. Really wish they’d thought to include some replacement ones, or set up a maintenance district/fund to keep them up.

  12. zinzin says:

    thanks for the tip Plug1. i personally shy away from pharmaceuticals these days.

  13. neo displacer says:

    Ah the good old days. It’s a silly exercise to reminisce about them, they are gone. In the main, the mission is a better place now. Gone but not forgotten, the railroad tracks on Harrison and the cement plant too, and while were in the area, the clothing manufacturer on the corner of 16th and Harrison, good burritos from La Cumbre, 17 reasons, the Army St projects and Army St for that matter, Valencia Gardens, the grade school on Folsom at 19th, Donington Park and the bar there before that had go-go dancers, the church on the corner of 15 and Dolores, lofts that were really lofts. and the divider on Valencia

  14. Dan says:

    Breakfast anytime at New Dawn, then at the place that eventually became the Pork Store but before that Bitterroot and just before that the same thing but with some weird camo/military decor.

  15. C. says:

    zinzin, excellent heart-warming reminiscence – and excellent memory with intact brain cells, rather remarkable given that you have actually been to all those places you mention! ;)
    you have jogged my own memory pleasantly (perhaps through rose-colored brain cells) about firehouse, albion, dr. bombay’s, etc. you have also explained why the raver girl i was occasionally financing always went to that pizza place!
    your own apt. sounds awesome – i had friends who lived very cheaply and beautifully just behind you, in the courtyard off guerrero.
    the pseudo-buddhist (spiritual cult?) place where the dolores park cafe is now was weird indeed; i always felt like i was about to be kidnapped by aliens the times i went in there.
    and so right about the crime and the police. the park was so off-limits, esp. the heights at night! friends who lived on 20th btw dolores and guerrero were frequently burglarized.
    the cops used to drive by crack deals, even at usual crack-dealing corners, and just smile or wave or honk. they also didn’t do anything about the 3-car driveby across the street from my 22nd st. place, saying something similar to what they told you about 18th and guerrero. definitely not a “gourmet ghetto”, but the real thing, in those days, when i also lived on linda st.
    thanks again, zinzin.
    also thanks to neo displacer: how true – so gone! and that cement plant on harrison was awesome. also the “17 reasons why” sign. a friend of mine made a film with that title.

  16. guero says:

    zinzin – you seem like the expert so what is the story about the redman? I had seen him briefly around at that time and saw him close up once at the Pan American circa 1994. Where did come from? What did he do and what ever happened to him?

    Also for you graffiti lovers, my favorite pieces were thrown up by Reminisce aka artist Ruby Rose Neri. I used to love those her white horses. Not to shamelessly promote my own blog but I once wrote a brief post about those horses that were all over the mission in the early 90s.

    http://nunomeatmarket.blogspot.com/2008/02/random-memories-wild-horses.html

    The tagging at the time was even more out of control than it is now. Anyone remember the prolific U2, who now makes those SCO t-shirts?

  17. zinzin says:

    well, i know the redman all because i spent my daytimes from 1991 – 1993 in bars on 16th street. barfly style for the most part. i’m not proud of it, but there ya go.

    the red man was a neighborhood fixture. he lived in the SRO on 16th by the Roxy. he actually had 2 rooms in there (i guess there was less need back then, or whatever).

    he was a dude who walked around the hood all day, smoking More cigs, drinking at the bars when he had the $$ (a lot of people bought him drinks, too)…and when he wasn’t 86-ed because of …explosive outbursts…

    oh, and he painted himself red. hands & face (far as i know). with makeup. i don’t know if it was a tranny thing gone awry, or what, but there he was. he was usually “well dressed” meaning a jacket, slacks, ascot, etc….and also wore a jaunty captain’s hat a la the skipper from gilligan’s island.

    for the most part he was harmless, although he could also go kind of nuts on occasion. that got him booted from bars.

    i was personally a lot more….friendly…back then, and i talked to pretty much everyone. (these days i’m much more of a shut in). being a fellow drunk, i tried to talk to him. he was pretty much impenetrable from the conversation perspective. he’s nod or whatever…but i never felt like he was really participating. usually he’s just walk out without any sort of acknowledgment. pretty sure he was schizophrenic, but i’m no doctor.

    one time he was having a particularly lucid day, and i had been chatting him up / buying him drinks & smokes for a really long time (like years), and he invited me to his room for a drink. we went up there, and when he opened the door, the whole room was filled with stuff. like floor to ceiling. the only space was right near the door, where there was a mattress, a chair with a TV on it and a giant box of red cosmetics of all types. he poured us 2 paper cups of vodka, which we drank in the hall. then he walked away and left me standing there.

    that’s everything i know. i dont know really who the guy was, or what happened to him. honestly, i kind of moved on from that little chapter (ie got clean), and i used to see him around in the 1993 – 1996 period, but he never recognized me. then he kind of disappeared. i imagine he died. he was pretty old, and got to looking quite bedraggled there at the end.

    tales of the city….

  18. Tgrl says:

    I remember that bar where the woman’s building was….the Irish place. Dylans? All I remember was that the neighborhood complained when it was pushed out and yet, the last time I drank there, they had a different whiskey in their Jim Beam bottle. And the 500 club wouldn’t serve you unless you were over 50 or a junky. The bartender’s were so tough, they just wouldn’t acknowledge you or take your order, so you eventually left. I think once, that they got shut down for a few days, either for serving after 2 or for the heroine. You could watch the neighborhood change as they tolerated you in the bar, and the junkies moved out of the hood.

    I remember how some cab drivers would be very cranky to bring you home after 2 am. And to catch a cab, you had to pick up the phone. Cabs didn’t come here. One old cabby told me about a project firefight at Valencia Gardens in the early 80′s. He told me the reason cab drivers avoided the neighborhood was because the fire department and the police got into it (he said they were attacked, but who knows) with the people that lived there and there was some huge fight with guns and barricades. That was definitely before my time. Anyone know that story?

    I remember the tiny Italian woman shopping at the latino corner stores who had lived here since it was an Italian and Irish neighborhood. Anyone ever looked at the pictures of Mission High Classes from the 50′s to now? A lesson in change. From Scalia and O’Malley to Diaz and others….wild to think of this as an Irish neighborhood.

    I remember going to breakfast at the big place on the corner of 16th and Guerrero before the owner burnt it down (some Italian name?) and buying some stools from a friend of one of the early victims of aids right on Guerrero. And how, by 1987/88, we had all started to know people who had died.

    I also remember being woken by the crazy junkies every weekend at 3 am, Friday and Saturday without fail. that definitely sucked. And some friends that wouldnt visit me in the mission. Their loss.

    It changes. That is what cities do, they change.

    I also remember Dolores Park and the people that stood up and risked themselves in say, no more. It really was a milestone, that at the time I noticed, but was in no way involved in. But it started the tide moving. It is good to speak up, sometimes you will be heard.

    Here’s to change……and still, somehow, still the mission.

  19. Zoe says:

    ZinZin — what was the name of the restaurant across the street from your 16th St. apartment? On the NE corner of 16th/Guerrero? Big tall wooden booths, bar up front, old fashioned upright piano… At the time, I lived a block down, near the 500 Club, and I remember adoring the Chicken Picatta at that restaurant. It caught on fire, and the owner was charged with arson, if I remember correctly. But man… I still dream about that Chicken Picatta. :)

  20. neo displacer says:

    Redman FTW. I completely forgot about him. I used to see him walk by while I was eating a steak burrito at La Cumbre. There were other characters, buskers, junkies, busker-junkies, but Redman was it!

  21. zinzin says:

    yes yes that’s the story but i can’t remember the name of the joint. i think it burned in 89 or 90? Tgrl here remembers it too.

    when azteca was there, the name i believe was still spelled out in the black & white tiles in the entrance. girardi’s? gallardo’s?

    it’s a blur.

  22. zinzin says:

    there was also a “white lady” for a while. really out there, dressed in white – usually a wedding gown – long black hair if i remember.

    i never talked to her. too spooky for me.

  23. zinzin says:

    speaking of buskers. there was (still is, in fact) a short dude with long blond hair that used to “play” the guitar on Valencia. he didnt in fact play the guitar, more abused it, and sometimes it had no strings. but he would fucking belt out these tunes.

    he used to be mostly around 16th & valencia. i remember him in front of the old dirty tongue porn vid place.

    anyways, i understand from a neighbor he lived for a while in the empty lot on my block (before i got there), and we just saw him the other day – this is almost 20 years later – still carrying a broken old guitar…looking the same but much much older.

    how the fuck is it that, in a city of supposedly “progressive” social activists, this fucking guy is on the street on the same fucking 4 block radius for 20 years?

    you tell me the current machine works. i say bullshit. it’s a fucking sham.

  24. learniing says:

    red man, alas, passed away years ago… maybe 1998ish? he also used to hang out in the front room of latin american club — had a whole gallery of his drawings/writings on the wall for a while.

    I wonder what happened to the old-timers that used to play harmonica/fiddle at mcCarthy’s on mission street.

  25. J says:

    man there are some old-timers commenting on this blog

    C, i hope your arthritis didn’t flare up from all your keyboardin’

  26. [...] Tons of memories about what the Mission used to be like before the adultescents with ironic hair and sunglasses the size of pie plates showed up. [...]

  27. guero says:

    zinzin is really breaking out with the oldies…I remember the white lady too…she was freaky indeed…and that crazy cat who abuses the guitar( though I haven’t see him in many years) but that is funny that he is still wandering about.

    I place I really miss is the San Francisco Comic Book Co. owned by local crazy, Gary Arlington….his little shop on 23rd St/East of Mission Street was really historic. Gary Arlington was the unsung hero of the underground COMIX movement…He knew and helped all those guys like R. Crumb, Spain and others. I think going to that place as kid really brought out the subversive side in me. Gary used to scare the shit out me with his weirdness and stanky body odor. He was always accusing me and my friends, from St. Peter’s School,of stealing. Later as a young teen and young adult, I used to love to talking to him. He was still weird and he still smelled.

  28. zinzin says:

    guero…do you remember the name of the restaurant at 16th & Guerrero that became azteca and then andalu?

    i swear it had an italian name.

    unfortunately, i cant JFGI (that is the stupidest acronym i ever heard) because there was no web in 1989, and SFGATE only goes back to 95.

  29. Zoe says:

    Zinzin — you were my hope! I was so looking forward to THE answer… the name of that restaurant!!! :) I’m thinking one word… seven or so letters… I think maybe it was a woman’s name? (Could have been Italian…) Maybe it featured the letter “a” prominently? (This is what my now old-coot memory serves me up…)

  30. Zoe says:

    Actually — I probably think “a” because of Andalu/Azteca. I’m gonna loose sleep over this tonight… wishing I could remember the name of the place. :)

  31. zinzin says:

    sorry zoe. there’s a lot of holes in my memories from those days.

    i swear it was an italian last name. like garibaldi’s or something. then again…i really have no idea. i remember there was a black & white mosaic on the floor at the door….with the name – or some name – in it.

    it’s totally escaping me. it was burned down & turned into azteca before or right as i got there in 91.

    • Nicole says:

      my dad was in that building when it burned (yes, he got out ok). i am researching the place right now for a school assignment and just found out the restaurant was called seppi’s or sepi’s. i can’t find anything else about it online though…

  32. chalkman says:

    Delfina was the Brazilian place that moved to Market and Franklin before it was Delfina. They took over the existing space, then expanded into the Krim’s Krams (and Tartine into Quality junk) right around 2000.

    The neighborhood saw a huge rat migration when the vegan cafe turned into Dolores Park Cafe, evidently it was infested.

    Eppler’s Bakery turned into a nasty sugared Crisco cake bakery called Lady Baltimore before Tartine took the space.

    I miss Anna’s Cookies the most

    When is someone going to open a hot dog stand like Top Dog in Berkeley in the neighborhood?

  33. Katie Ann says:

    Chalkman, i was just craving Top Dog today, and thought about how it would be awesome if they had one in SF!! weird.

    I just came back from Mazatlan, and all the sidewalks downtown are tiled.

  34. johnny0 says:

    So what’s the deal with Grogers Western Store on Valencia?

    http://burritojustice.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/sunday-afternoon-on-valencia/

    When did it close? A few horse tack results pop up in google so it must have been alive after the Internet was born. Zinzin? Guero? Not to imply you are horse tackers, but do you remember this? Wonder when it opened? It’s radically different architecture from anything else in the area.

    (I was secretly hoping it was that “Mission District” cowboy/redneck bar that Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte went to in 48 Hours.)

  35. zinzin says:

    been there as long as i can remember. dunno anything about it.

  36. MomPop says:

    Our musings of living in the Mission, mid-1970′s:

    Home: first apartment, Dearborn St., $120/month right across from the community garden where we once shared a bottle of Dickel with a bunch of our neighbors
    second apartment, Camp St., $200/month, the greatest 1-bedroom railroad flat

    Favorite breakfast: fried eggs, chorizo, potatoes, Aunt Mary’s, 16th between Valencia and Guerrero

    Favorite burrito: the freshly assembled brick from the mom/pop grocery store, southside 16th St. between Albion and Guerrero

    Favorite dinners: Salvadoran chicken stew, Aunt Mary’s
    Oyster po’ boy, Cajun restaurant (exact name forgotten), Valencia St. between 16th and 17th

    Favorite pizza: Pesto pizza, the first all-chartreuse green pizza we’d seen, the original Pauline’s, upper Mission St. near 30th

    Favorite bakery: the original Just Desserts, Church and Market, for then-new taste sensation black-bottom cupcakes

    We’d hang out with friends at each other’s Mission apartments (smoking pot was more comfortable that way), and as geography students at SFSU we cooked each other world food. We didn’t frequent the bars (too sleazy) except for the Dovre Club–then on 18th and Dearborn–on St. Patrick’s Day. Dolores Park wasn’t inviting (though the only part of the park that felt unsafe was the streetcar stop in the middle of the park) but we remember the big turnout for a free Pete and Sheila Escovedo concert. The park and neighborhood sidewalks were riddled with dog poop. Valencia/Mission wasn’t the happening night life it is now — we ventured to North Beach for our out-on-the-town: U.S. Restaurant for Friday night’s fried calamari and pasta al pesto specials, Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store for ricotta cake and cappucinos (when Mario and his wife were actually there and old Italian guys were playing cards), and Dance Your Ass Off when we really wanted to party. Hamburger Mary’s at Folsom near Van Ness was good fun for burgers, beers, and dancing.

  37. evelyn says:

    I used to live on Mission St. near the Old Bay View Bank. We lived in the Victorian apts. that took up almost the entire block. Our apt. was right above Toto’s pizza. Next to that was a camera shop and beside that was a small burger/hot dog place. My cousins and I used to ride our tricycles up and down Mission St. back inthose days. The entire neighborhood was predominantly European. There used to be a coffee shop that sold whole beans from around the world, a smoke shop and Lucky Pork! The best butchery there was. It was quieter and a bit safer back then and I remember the sidewalks being really clean. Just think that was just back in the 70′s.

  38. Mr. Cranky says:

    I bought my weddin’ hat at Groger’s in 1995, so it (and a very nice old lady) was around then. I think it closed by 1997.

  39. Ariel. says:

    This is cool, thanks, bringing a lot back. One quick thing: The place where Dolores Park used to be was Good Karma Cafe. I lived on the other corner.

  40. guero says:

    ha.ha. It’s sad but I actually remember the Mission and the City in the 70s. I went to Buena Vista school for kindergarten (73-74). The teachers were all young hippies and our class was a social experiment gone horribly awry. They mixed K-3 graders together in one big room. They just let the kids be “free” do whatever they wanted and of course at the end of the year, I didn’t learn jack shit. I didn’t understand letters or numbers; my mother had to teach me and I had to attend a summer program to catch up. My family enrolled me in St. Peters on Florida St and never looked back. When I went to City College years later, I had an English instructor tell me that he could tell by my writing that I went to a Catholic school. He told me that the kids that came out of SFUSD struggled even to write complete sentences. Oh those well meaning flower children!!!

    The Mission, as I remember always pretty diverse and had a lot of Latino People, mostly Mexican, and many of them were from families that came from the Mexican state of Jalisco(like mine). La Victoria, Sanchez, Dominguez, the original owners of La Palma, I believe were all from Jalisco. The 24th street location where Precita Eyes is was a great restaurant called Guadalajara Del La Noche, which was owned by a classmate of mine. A lot of these Mexican families were well established and spoke mostly in English. The were of course still many families with Italian last names and I remember many Filipino kids in my class at B.V. There were also some older Irish folks as well.

    I remember thinking it was a big deal to eat one of those BIG El Faro burritos with my dad on a Saturday afternoon and I recall eating the smaller ones at La Taqueria as well. Mission St. was very clean. The blue and red tiles on the concrete would shine and stores would have plastic bags with red and blue blocks that said “Mission….Shop the Miracle Mile” or something like that. The stores were clean and it’s where everyone shopped. It don’t recall every seeing one homeless person pushing any shopping carts. Value Giant was more like a mini Target. Sears was on Army St. I remember watching the McDonald’s on 24th and Mission being built and how exciting it all was waiting for it to open. There was a Safeway on 24th and Potrero, where the low income apartments now stand. I nearly shit my pants watching Jaws at the York Theater(Now the Brava) and LOVED the home made ice cream at the St. Francis. Punjab’s, the Chinese joint, which is now on the corner of 24th and Bryant was where the Video store now stands. I could go on.

    The Mission always was a little tougher than other neighborhoods but I think things took a drastic turn in the late 70s after Proposition 13 ,with the cholo scene making its way up from LA and cocaine. Moving on to the earlier 80s, there were HUGE amounts of poor Latin American families moving in , mostly from Central America. The times had changed and the desire to learn English had diminished, if not vanished. Drug addicts and people that should have been in mental homes roamed the streets. An older woman was mugged across the street from us and my parents brought her into our house; blood pouring out of her head. I remember that vividly.

    Many old families moved out to San Bruno, South City and the East Bay, while immigrants with a different approach to trash disposal moved in. The cholos started in the with the graffiti, gangs and selling drugs. Reaganomics came into full swing and put it’s own special zap on the Mission. The rents were cheap however and so there were many young and not so young artists,intellectuals and protester types (that never got over the 60s)that you would see hanging about. I don’t remember when Cafe La Boheme opened, but it was at least by 1985, 86 and the place was crawling with them. I’ll stop there…

  41. Neo Displacer says:

    Thank you for all of the posts describing pre-late-’80′s. Its good to hear about the times before zin zin or me were around to remember. It does seem that the combination of prop13 and rent control have done great damage (for all you supporters of rent control take an econ 101 class). Guero marks a pretty sharp change with prop 13′s passage and someone else mentioned reagan. MS13, the third and newest leg in our gang culture, traces its roots to the Salvadoran civil war Reagan was so involved with. Why is this man deified, Clinton cried at his funeral for god’s sake.

    one more thing, there was a club on valencia, between 19 and 20 I think, that was a filthy place with a basement hangout area. The had good bands in the early ’90′s. What was it’s name? Also there was a band from Antioch that played there a lot. I liked them, anybody remember the band’s name? I’ve completely blanked.

  42. Rhiannon says:

    well, Neo Displacer, could it have just been an earlier incarnation of Amnesia? it’s on Valencia between 19 and 20, and has a basement room with its own bar. Low ceilings, hidden door, etc. apparently around since speakeasy days.

  43. Psychic Palm Riot says:

    OK, ‘long as we’re gettin’ nostalgic here: what about the old Picaro, on 16th between Val and Guerrero: you could actually get a decent dinner there, say fish, with sides and a drinkable glass of wine (wine was not the deal that it is now) without breaking your budget. Food at the Picaro, a flick at the Roxie, and drinks at the 16th Note. And the 16th Note had open screening nights for people to show their own hand made (usually super 8) films. And yes, down on Mission there was the actual old pre-retro Bruno’s, with red leather(sic) booths and all. Always felt like a place where the judges and crooks met over bourbon to decide who got lucky and who was going to be the fall guy. Well, it felt that way.

    OK–enough nostalgia for me–beam me back to the present. And I can’t remember the name of the place on the corner of 16th and Guerrero either.

  44. Alphonse says:

    Pre Amnesia was the Chameleon. The Black Crows were probably went the furthest of the local bands that would play there regularly, pre-fame. Were they from Antioch?

    Pre Chameleon it was the Chatterbox. Across the street was the Crystal Pistol.

  45. Alphonse says:

    Counting Crows, I mean of course.

    The hippy restaurant at 18th and Dolores Park was REAL Good Karma.
    We called it Real Bad Food.

    And I too cannot remember the 16th/Guerrero restaurant name.

  46. zinzin says:

    Maybe Cake in the early 90s at Chameleon? but i think they’re from Sac.

  47. Allan Hough says:

    Did somebody say Cake? And zinzin, you’re gonna love the last big especially.

  48. zinzin says:

    i think McCrae is well spoken. that said, he’s a white dude that grew up in the burbs. and he’s a (relatively) successful popular musician.

    i respect the accomplishments, but i dont think it gives him the cred to make any sweeping sociological statements, particularly on art.

    he’s a hipster pop star with money saying that it’s better to have cheap rent and degenerates.

    whatever. what’s he going to say? that he favors yuppie condos and boulangeries? probably that would not jibe with his ironic beard.

  49. Roß says:

    Man those dykes at the New Dawn really knew how to sling hash. When that place turned into a disco sushi bar the sky fell down for me. I used to order it all, mix the eggs up with the hash, pour jelly and Tabasco over it and eat all up! The old Mission Rock was a great place to swill down a few beers too.

  50. Clux says:

    Man New Dawn is where me and my friends grew up, Everyday after high school we would go kick it there and drink coffee for hours..They would give us any orders they fucked up on.
    My friend got and still has in house in portland the old chalkboard…
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrislux/page3/?savedsettings=3050995090#photo3050995090
    Anyone have any photos of New Dawn..
    Also in Middle school It seems like whenever I would cut class I would Run into the Red Man.
    It was crazy reading on here about him, He used to scare the Shit out of me as a little kid.
    I remember him so well one day as wearing a green dress and a green like witch hat and and holding a green broom, with his body all painted Red like that.
    When I was 11 I used to try to walk down 24th with my long blond hair and I would always get the shit kicked out me, with out fail.

  51. Ariel. says:

    Oh, by the way, definitely was called “Good Karma Cafe”.

  52. fsharp says:

    I worked at La Boheme in 87-89. Artemis Cafe was where Radio Valencia was where Beretta is now. Artemis Cafe was a nice little lesbian place. Radio Valencia was the social center of that end of the Mission. Cheap food and great music. They were famous for having a fire engine drive into it one day. They were closed for months afterward.
    Also The Crystal Pistol was a weird and frenetic dance club where Range is now.
    I lived on Linda by the pool and the gang-bangers there were annoying but always cool to us. I had a 59 black Impala called “The Impaler” so I think they thought we were cool. They completely freaked out when the 89 earthquake hit.

  53. born and raised says:

    I remember reading somewhere that the tiles near the BART stations where laid when the stations opened. BART thought very highly of itself, thus it imported the tiles from an Italian manufacturer, with that specific shade of blue. The tiles are no longer made, thus they cannot be replaced. I think that is why the new tiles never match the old tiles.

  54. dickinburlingame says:

    Anna’s Danish Cookies is about 8 or 9 blocks east of me next to 101 here in Burlingame……. had my pre-wedding drinks with my future sister in law @ Dr Bombays…

    • JDavid says:

      The Albion had a back room where small bands would play and, I vaguely recall, an open-mic night. In 1989 I saw Poi Dog Pondering play at the Albion, but they didn’t play in the back room, they played standing up on the bar.

  55. DBen says:

    Watch yourself on those tiles when it’s raining. Pretty dangerous shit.

  56. Anonymouse says:

    ah, nostalgia. Grew up in the Mission and still live in the neighborhood. The changes have been fascinating, and as mentioned above, both good and bad. The Napper Tandy (on the corner 24th & South Van Ness) used to be a bar called Las Guitarras.

    The Red Man died in late 2002, as reported by El Tecolote. http://news.eltecolote.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=073dfaa079a629ac61ea902913165e18

    I also remember the White Lady (she wore all white and used white powder on her face if I recall). I used to run into her on 22nd Street, between Capp and Mission. Urban legend had it that her husband left her for a white woman, she lost it, wore all white and powdered her face white. Not sure if that was true, but those were the rumors that were around at the time.

    Does anyone remember the delicious popsicles from Latin Freeze?

  57. k kiely says:

    The vegetarian cafe, at the corner of 16th and Delores, started out as the Karma Cafe. Each new owner expanded on the name….first the Good Karma, then the Real Good Karma, owned by Bruce (?). Many good memories…..

    • terciopelado says:

      Moved to Guerrero at Alvarado in 1989. The day I moved in there was a stripped auto on the corner. “Ben” lived in a squalid basement apartment that was a shooting gallery – he would come up, mouth foaming, and trade us old 45s from his collection for cash. Worked at Le Trou (slumming French Restaurant where Que Tal is now), then at Val 21 when it opened. Flying Saucer (now Tao Cafe) was run by the biggest prick that ever owned a restaurant (sadly, probably not true), even if he did get a good review in the NYT. After hours we could get drinks at a bar that is now the Marsh, but any women present were harassed relentlessly. Men were hassled by prostitutes in the bar that became the Lone Palm (a reference to masturbation, as well as palm brokering). Crystal Pistol (now Range) had drag performances in the back on weeknights, some beautiful and talented women that performed there subsequently died of AIDS. The Phone Booth was a neighborhood gay bar – supposedly given to the owner by his mother who is the flamenco dancer in the poster behind the bar (true? also probably not…). The owner loved Tom Selleck, explaining the other poster behind the bar. An ornery old guy played the piano, girlfriend at his side, sustain pedal down the whole time, he expected your rapt attention. Then he died and the juke box took over permanently.

      Played basketball in the evenings with the teenagers at the Jamestown Community Center. Cafe Artemis, a woman-only cafe in the 70s, begrudgingly served me a very plain chicken sandwich on white bread before becoming Radio Valencia, where I also worked. Closing night at Amelia’s (before it became Elbo Room), the women stretched in a line all the way down the block.

      Got caught in the cross fire of a gang altercation late night at La Parilla Suiza. Later the same night, a bullet entered the window of La Rondalla about 10 feet from me and then a gangbanger who looked at most fourteen slumped to the ground on the corner, shot in the stomach (I am pretty sure he survived).

      Had lunch in Real Good Karma and noticed two worms (grubs?) in my rice. Told the waiter; he took the plate, placed in on the table next to ours, fished out the worms with his fingers, and then placed the plate back in front of me. (I finished it).

      I lived in the Mission through the 90s and 00s – it’s getting better and better and better and better and…

      • k kiely says:

        The Karma cafe went downhill after Bruce sold it, in the early eighties. He went to Burma and became a monk…after having sold it to a Chinese family from Burma. the deal was that they donated part of the profits to a local monastery. Unfortunately, their background was in managing “Happy Donuts”. Out went the piano, live jazz, good food and community crossroads. A warm neighborhood cafe morphed into a really bad chinese restaurant. I wish that they had completely changed the name, so that what it once was could be time bound, with a different reputation.

  58. Judy says:

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