In the Tenderloin - The California Sunday Magazine
The last time he was supposed to meet me, he'd stood me up inabigway. and straightening textbooks, andIspent every dimeat theGap on camelcolored chinos anda white Oxford shirt. He ordered the pork tenderloin in a sherry reduction. I know this because for me, the Tenderloin was both. . Sometimes you see a group of them walking together down the street, . Ali, trim and friendly in a collared shirt and slacks, tells me many of his customers are regulars. ACTUAL TEXT Meet Me In The Tenderloin OUR COMMENTARY Oh, the Tenderloin! Has to be one of The Womens shirts run small! Please see size charts b.
Busted plastic chandeliers above my head twinkle like real crystal; I imagine the missing pieces were snatched by a desperate queen in need of emergency jewels. The foul-smelling carpet stretches its casino pattern from the floor up the side of the bar, wood-topped and spotted with cigarette burns from smokier eras.
I finish my Coke and leave the soft pink haze for the harsh flash of cop cars double-parked along Turk Street, aka Vicki Mar Lane. Across the street, Pho Tan Hoa is a different world: Little boys in glasses sit in the back, playing iPad games.
The resident fish wears a downturned mustache. It looks ancient and unperturbable. The restaurant, which used to be called Pho Hoa, has been in the Tenderloin for about 25 years; the Tan Hoa family bought it eight years ago.
The bowl that contains his combination beef pho is close to 16 inches in diameter — big enough to bathe a rabbit in. He eats there once a week, maybe more. They stare when I speak English.
12 Hours In The Tenderloin: A Visitor's Guide
Her mother, Miao Ling, catches and cuddles Holly when she veers too wildly, and her father, Jun Jie, distracts her with a bouncy ball. Holly and her 9-year-old brother, Howard, are among the 3, or so children living in the Tenderloin, more than half of them Asian.
When the Lins emigrated from China inthey lived in a Chinatown SRO where they fought to use the communal kitchen and bathrooms. They were thrilled when a one-bedroom opened up in a Chinatown Community Development Center affordable-housing building at Turk and Jones, nearly square feet to themselves.
If they see homeless people sacked out on the sidewalk or someone urinating or defecating in public, they take another route. Miao Ling has even turned these sights into a lesson for her son: Holly stuffs twigs, paper scraps, whatever she can find into her mouth while tweens in hijabs, jeans, and Ugg boots balance on a climbing structure.
Neighbor me, neighbor good. Ali, trim and friendly in a collared shirt and slacks, tells me many of his customers are regulars. He pulls out a bottle of Crystal Geyser. The store is open from 6 a.
So if the customers curse, we say thank you. But if I have a bad day, I get in arguments.
- In the Tenderloin
A few minutes later, he returns and buys a shrimp-flavored bowl of dehydrated noodles. People bang on the glass at night, so I was worried. The police make all the markets do the same because if someone keeps us hostage, they want to be able to see in the store.
Ten other customers buy single beers or cans of malt liquor over the course of an hour and a half; one man slips his Bud into his own wrinkled brown-paper bag. The cashier pulls a piece of cardboard from under the counter with her name handwritten on the top.
Exploring the Tenderloin, San Francisco: love me tender
He writes in the cost of her purchases. I walk down Leavenworth, make a right on Geary, then a left on Larkin, and I do not deviate, ever, from that route. On hot days I can taste the smell of human piss. I move between bony people scurrying by and swollen people passed out and baking in the sun. When did that happen? The hookers, out as early as 10 a. Some are so strung out I wonder if they can even see me.
The others suppose I look like someone who might smile back, and on good days I can. Most days I feel sad about them for blocks. The night prostitutes are burly and work up on Post in tightly stretched tank tops and skirts like headbands.
I walk down the east side of Larkin to avoid an ever-present line of dealers, all men. On this side of the street is a laundromat, which generally means more women and families. One man is setting up a street sale — scuffed high heels, some DVDs, and greasy flip phones laid out neatly on a bedsheet.
By the time I can see the library, men in suits are waiting at red lights next to me. I turn around to answer a tall older man, stiffly bent forward at the waist, with a tinny radio in his pocket.
His nails are black. Sometimes this gimmick leaves me with 80 cents — one nickel in the middle of the stack — in exchange for my dollar bill. I know what my chances are, but from time to time I play along. Wooden benches and stools line the room, a stack of board games fills one shelf, and a half-dozen bikes are parked in a rack on the tile floor. TCB opened its headquarters in the Tenderloin a year and a half ago because the area was cheap and central, and the company could get a ground-floor space — key for hauling bikes.
About a year after TCB moved in, their office was broken into. From the old jukebox, Rod Stewart, then Aretha. Eight or nine customers — in flannel shirts and sweatpants, a few with canes, one with a beret, another in big shades — sit or stand around the place; most are over 60, and many have come in daily for years.
Callie pours a beer over half-melted ice. Her mother danced at the old Playboy Club. Decades ago, she claims, their family owned 80 Tenderloin bars.
Owned this one, too — her aunt did, as she explains it. One day the aunt walked in on her husband in bed with another woman. I marveled at the classiness of that gesture and then decided to play myself a game of pool. While I was on the table, I vaguely heard somebody strike up a conversation with Mike, who was still at the bar.
I soon forgot about it until They ought to be outlawed," I overheard Mike's new friend say. It seemed Mike had a few things to talk about, so I went back to improving my game. Soon, though, pool-fare lacking, I snuck over to see what this conversation was all about.
The person admonishing Mike on the evils of automobiles was a bitter, middle-aged guy who trembled slightly when he spoke. Mike, being the publisher of Gearhead and all, tried unsuccessfully to defend car culture until he was out of breath.Jacquees - T Shirt & Panties ft. Kirko Bangz (LYRICS)
Mike's new buddy suddenly stared very seriously at him. You see, you take the But, uh, hey, great talkin' to you. Maybe someday I'll introduce you to some of my friends.
The name couldn't have been more appropriate.
As we took a seat at the bar, Jesse, our bartender, leaned towards me and in a whispered voice confirmed that we were, in fact, "straight. I barely touched my beer before Dingy Don introduced himself to me as the longest reigning cowboy in San Francisco. Not wanting to pursue that conversation any further, I stared indifferently at the framed stained glass centerpiece behind the bar.
One of the two bitter old queens hunched over the end of the bar provided me with a much needed distraction. After sulking for about fifteen minutes, Lance reinstated his demands, "Jesse!
12 Hours In The Tenderloin: A Visitor's Guide | Hoodline
This went on and on for what seemed like hours until we left. Yes, I suppose theirs was a private hell, and I consider myself lucky to have caught even the briefest glimpse inside. Oh yeah, I almost forgot my second big mistake.
As my new friend, Dingy Don, barely stood up to stagger outside, I smiled politely and shook his hand mistake. Cowboy Don planted his fat hairy kisser on mine and left it there for the longest ten seconds of my life. Afterwards, I took a deep breath and stoically finished my beer.
I looked up to see Mike and Darv's mouths agape in disbelief. With tables lined up in the middle of the joint like lunch time at the Stuttering County Fair, this barely lit bar appealed strangely to my barely Irish sensibilities.
There wasn't much to distract me from my drink, so drink I did. But mid-beer I was interrupted. It wasn't even midnight! On our way out he invited us in for lunch. The next place I've passed on my way home quite a few times, but never thought twice about actually entering.
The bash was being thrown for a woman who, incidentally, once propositioned me on the street. This lasted less than a minute until one balding gimp in a nehru jacket broke away and danced spastically by the jukebox, eventually collapsing into the arms ofthe other revelers.
Fuck, I didn't know whether to feel smug or jealous. I could have been mistaken but all eyes in the bar seemed to be staring at us, and these were more than friendly stares. The party was over, and again we had work to do. A woman behind the bar wearing a Sturgis t-shirt enthusiastically beckoned us inside, so we sidled up to the bar and ordered our first round.
The actual bar was set up like a sort of U-shaped feeding trough, which made for an interesting visual effect.
John, one of the people hungrily 'feeding' there introduced himself. I, on the other hand, moved over to the corner which was less crowded, so drinks could be more easily ordered.
Already seated there was a British woman in her mids wearing a lavish bright red outfit which, she later revealed, was of her own design. She spoke with an almost aristocratic--if somewhat slurred English accent, and in a low scratchy scotch-soaked voice.
My new friend Kathleen began to tell me stones from her life in Britain during the Second World War, pausing occasionally to pinch my cheeks and compliment my boyish looks. When I told her that my grandfather was a decorated General back then, some asshole sitting next to her suddenly said, "A General, huh! What the hell happened to you! I had a war on either side of me. Then suddenly, a pug-nosed drunk with a upturned baseball cap put me in a bear hug and kissed me on the cheek.
Tenderloin Bar Crawl - FoundSF
We sat for awhile with our new friends, and as the time new by so did the whisky and beer, and I eventually found myselfat a table with Mike, drunkenly reasserting dominance over my wife. Right in the middle of my soliloquy, Kathleen called me aside. I was being hit on. I politely refused, explaining that I had work to do.
She kissed me goodnight, stumbled and spilled Mike's beer right into his lap. Then, regaining her composure, she strode elegantly to the door. Back at the bar, I tried to engage the Vietnam guy in some small talk, but he just scowled disgustedly at me. First, some cretinous cowboy kisses me with his eyes closed, then I'm branded a whore by a West Point dropout!