Travels and Tales

Inside Berlin's Premiere Mission-Style Taqueria "Dolores California Gourmet Burritos"

Our pal Rhiannon may not be Latino, but she grew up in The Bay and has been eating Mission burritos her entire life.  She's even got a tattoo of Casa Sanchez's Jimmy the Cornman on her arm, earning her free burritos for life.  So when it comes to sizing up the world's taquerías, we generally trust her judgment.  And lucky for us, Rhiannon is in Berlin right now and happened to swing into Berlin's “Dolores California Gourmet Burritos” taquería, sending us these photos and a brief, presumably drunk, cellphone-scribed review of the joint:

The Burrito was pretty good, all things considered. The beef was wrong (adobo), but the chicken was spectacular. Salsa was good, guacamole was out of this world. But it was wrapped in paper, not foil, which made it way hard to eat.

They even had Anchor Steam, but we had German Lager, a Hells. Some Bavarian brewery.

Artwise, there were a couple odd things, like how they used an old map with the 26-Valencia Muni line on it.  And they put the map sideways, so it followed 18th St from Twin Peaks and the Haight to the bay, rather than focus on the Mission. Also, that California flag with the Berlin (get it, Bear-lin? It took me three days to figure out why there were so many bears. But I've been drinking a lot) is amazing and I need to find it.

Oh, and the white fuse box behind [the guy in the first pic] there? That's Shotwell's. My amusement knows no bounds.

Apparently there is a second one by my friend's house, so I'm going to go by there tomorrow and see if it's the same. It's like a TGI Mission's!

A few hours later, this grim note landed in our inbox:

FYI, I found the other Dolores burrito. It's about 1/3 size of the first one, about the size of an actual taquería, totally slammed.  And the map on the wall is, I swear to god, the Marina.


[Thanks Rhiannon! / Last photo by qype]

Anthropological Study of Dolores Park by Ronald Berndt

[ed. note: This is a guest post by Ronald Berndt, who conducted in-depth anthropolgical research in San Francisco]

Men and women rise and begin to dance.

The dzamalag opens when two Gunwinggu women of the opposite moiety to the singing men “give dzamalag” to the latter.

They present each man with a piece of cloth, and hit or touch him, pulling him down on the ground, calling him a dzamalag husband, and joking with him in an erotic vein. Then each woman of the opposite moiety to the pipe player gives him cloth, hits, and jokes with him.

This sets in motion the dzamalag exchange. Men from the visiting group sit quietly while women of the opposite moiety come over and give them cloth, hit them, and invite them to copulate; they take any liberty they choose with the men, amid amusement and applause, while the singing and dancing continue.

Women try to undo the men's loin coverings or touch their penises, and to drag them from the “ring place” for coitus. The men go with their dzamalag partners, with a show of reluctance, to copulate in the bushes away from the fires which light up the dancers.

They may give the women tobacco or beads. When the women return, they give part of this tobacco to their own husbands, who have encouraged them to go dzmalag. The husbands, in turn, use the tobacco to pay their own female dzamalag partners…

Meth Heads from Salinas are Your Friends

Note: I wrote this in a frenzy at 2am last night.  At the time, I thought better than to publish this.  Now I'm not so sure.  Enjoy.

I just returned to San Francisco after spending a weekend in Downieville, Californee.  See, my friend was gracious enough to drive two of us Mission kids up to the Sierra Mountains after work on Friday for some 90-degree weather, freezing water, and physical activity that promised broken bones and bruised egos.  The problem is that she can't see in the dark, never mind drive, and my other friend decided it'd be a good idea to have a tall glass of cheap booze with dinner.  So despite the fact I haven't owned a car in two years and haven't held auto insurance in far longer, I was reluctantly deemed the most qualified to chauffeur the party back to San Francisco after a long weekend in the mountains.

That designation has left me all hopped up on Red Bull and the adrenaline of driving a 4 cylinder Honda at 75 mph through Sacramento, so I'm going to squander this chemical energy on an important lesson learned in campground minutiae.

Downieville has gone through a 160-year slump following the decline of gold mining and environmental legislation clear-cutting the lumber industry, leaving it's 282 residents to rely on being a booze and ice cream-filled basecamp for traveling mountain bikers.  Undoubtedly a good thing for the local culture and gnarly city and coastal kids looking for some alpine escapism.  The only problem with mountain bikers is that they often have money, and money breeds goblin children that don't know how the shut the fuck up at sunrise.  Ordinarily this wouldn't be an issue, but the campsites outside of Downieville are particularly close together and baggy-eyed 26-year-olds that've been awaken at 6:30am all damn week by merciless PG&E goons frolicking up and down Capp Street with jackhammers aren't ones for the barks of unleashed vaginal spawn.

So imagine my glee and surprise returning to camp after a marathon bike ride and a sleepless night on the Yuba River find all but two campsites vacated.  One lone man sat in the far corner of the campground engaged in the most epic starring contest with a waning fire.  A few sites down were two serious dudes in sleeveless shirts kicking at a fire in a camp surrounded by white plastic bags stamped with Walmart logos.

After observing my glum surroundings, I decided to build a waning fire for myself.  Laid down some flammable trash, collected some deadwood I had previously urinated on, and marinated the pyre in white gas while my more responsible friends had their backs turned.  But it was no sooner than I had the fire lit before my entire face was covered in welts from blood-thirsty mosquitoes.

This is the problem with San Franciscans.  We're so wrapped up in our “going green” lifestyle, we forget that any bug spray with less than 30% cancer-causing poison is salad dressing to hardy mountain mosquitoes, and the lemongrass spray that is sold in compostable packing from Rainbow Grocery is literally salad dressing.

It was at this point that I opted to make friends with the neighbors.  The Marlboro Man with an Accord seemed to be getting a leg up in his optical battle royal with the fire, so I figured it was best to leave him be and make small talk with the two other guys.

After shaking their hands, it was made apparent to me that they were from Salinas, were most likely involved in the frequently over-consumption of methamphetamines, and particularly disliked Latinos.  I'd generally walk away at that point, but they had The Good Stuff.  I could see the big red “keep away from children” bottle sitting right there at the table to my left and all the overpriced eco-safe perfume in the world wasn't going to will away the hurricane of bugs circling above my head.

Making small talk, I offered up that I was from San Francisco.  In turn, one of them told a wild tale about crashing his truck up on stoop in the Upper Haight early on Saturday morning while twisted on whiskey, but it was The Haight and they may have or may not have had some primo bud, so that situation worked itself out just fine.

I then explained that I was up in the mountains to huck my aging bike off small rocks.  They eagerly suggested that they'd only consider, so save your breath, riding quads in the hills.

My brain pretty much shut itself down around then, but I recall commenting on their pile of empty beer cans and learning they had consumed roughly 15 Coors Light, each, at that point.  An impressive feat  for any person, especially considering it was hardly past 5pm.

I made a quick grab for their bottle of poison purchased at Everyday Low Prices, thanked them for their neighborly hospitality, and joined my friends for dinner back at camp.

But before I could even get a fork into my pasta, a days worth of booze and various drugs torqued my new friends' minds into the familiar soupy mush of incoherence, opportunism, and bad decision making that comes with the territory of drinking too much Silver Bullet.  They quickly recalled that they were in possession of a pick-up truck with a “totally fucking sick” soundsystem, and they had music, so it was Game On as the sun fried us from overhead.

The problem was their melted minds couldn't figure out what the hell they wanted to listen to.  First it was Damien Marley, but that was quickly deemed unacceptable, so they put on some terrible reggae track within 30 seconds.  That didn't do the trick, so they switched it up to Keak Da Sneak.  45 seconds later it was some nondescript pop rap. After a few more sad hyphy tracks, one of them settled on E-40, which is generally a crowd pleaser, but the tweaker Gregg Gillis couldn't figure out what E-40 track he wanted to listen to.

About 7 cuts into Revenue Retrievin', a picturesque family cruised into the campground at the recommended speed of 5 miles per hour.

“QUIT KICKIN' UP DUST!,” howled the drunken iPod DJ as they crept past.

The van pulled up the spot next door to us and out poured two do-gooders no older than 35 in pressed North Face gear.  After seeing what I thought to be a young child in the back seat, I fixed to take my chances sleeping in the hastily-erected tent of the maddened savages from Salinas.  But before I had to snuggle with paranoia, the wife took one hard look at the evils of camp #2, said three Hail Mary's, two Our Father's, crossed her chest, climbed back into her $20,000 cathedral on wheels and sped off to whichever nearby bed and breakfast equipped every nightstand with the King James.

Sooner or later, darkness fell over Downieville, The Rockies ran dry, and the campground drifted to sleep.

I slept like a rock that night.  Woke up around 8:45.  No kids screaming.  No PG&E workers terrorizing the neighborhood.  Just two meth-heads quietly barbecuing expired chicken breasts over a 3-foot tall fire, Monster Energy Drink in one hand, lit cigarette in the other.

What Happens When the Burning Man Crowd Goes to a Lake For the Weekend?

I know we all love to hate Burning Man, but between the sun, water, DIY waterslides, shark boats, romantic dinners on the lake, swing sets, and epic sunsets, it looks like Camp Tipsy is the place to be next summer.

[Check out all the photos by Chicken John]

Macaframa Goes to SoCal

Macaframa just wrapped up an edit from a trip to SoCal, featuring everyone's favorite SoCal activities, like barfing, getting tickets for running stop signs, watching dogs shit, bending over and showing police officers your asscrack, and annoying motorists while trying to ride your bike.

Check it.

I Have Returned From The Rapture to Bring You 'Sweet Pics' of Venezuelan Graffiti

Despite having one of the highest literacy rates in the region, this muralist apparently don't know how to spell “Iraq.” Spotted in Caracas' Capitolio district, pic lifted from here, as mine didn't come out.

When I heard that a walking gravestone out of Oakland had predicted The Rapture for May 21st, I figured it would be wise to get the hell outta San Francisco (which surely would burn) and make my way to the divine nation of Venezuela. Sure, there was a 99.99% chance The Rapture was going to be bullshit (I know nothing about statistics), but there was a very small chance that a whole mess of people I don't care much for would ascend to the Heavens and I would be forced to spend my final days doing formerly-controlled substances, taking the Lord's name in vain, financing abortions and all that good stuff heathens enjoy until we all burned one October morning, never knowing if the Giants could pull off a second championship.  I figured that time might as well be spent in South America.

Anyway, there's a lot I could say about Venezuela and its socialist oil dictatorship. Never once did I see someone beg for money, I only spotted a handful of homeless people throughout my travels, it costs $00.0625 USD to ride the subway (which runs more frequently and more reliably than San Francisco's offerings), there was very little visibility from Coca-Cola (but Pepsi was all over the place), their Four Loko ripoffs continue to be legal (and disgusting), and the relative lack of McDonald's and other American fast-food chains would make our City Hall enraged with jealously.  That said, there's no good vegan food down there (outrage!), Caracas is among the dirtiest places I've ever been, the corruption is apparent as soon as you walk off the plane, and once you're in the country, everyone who can get their hands on you will fleece you for cash when you try to leave.

Venezuelans think highly of your Google desk job.

Beautiful sunsets and having to hand over money to seven motherfuckers just to exit the country aside, perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of Venezuela's government and culture was its propaganda (which, regrettably, I did not photograph very much of). Advertisements toting the benefits of socialism line major transportation hubs, billboards announcing the repair of a bridge or repaving of a highway are dominated by Hugo's face and proclimations that these repairs are a byproduct of socialism, and government-sponsored murals celebrating socialism and deriding the United States decorate capital buildings and subway stations. The friendly, cultural murals of San Francisco these are not: Caracas murals depict the beheading of Hillary Clinton, glorify revolutionary figures, and give props to the government and symbols of Venezuelan nationalism.

Bellas Artes Metro station, Caracas.

On the flip, the city is also littered with pro- and anti-government tags. Seemingly every phone booth in the capital has some disparaging comment about Chavez in it. One block will be covered in tags celebrating Castro, Che, the Cuban Revolution, Venezuelan socialism, and the hammer and sickle, while the next block will have a building-long rant against Chavez.  Others take their messages to walls lined with security cameras and topped with electric fences that protect foreign embassies and the rich from the world around them:

Hugo holding up a can of revolutionary spray paint, with the words “Chavez is a pussy” (translated) above it.

And, if case you were wondering, not every mural is politics and a depiction of Obama at a nuclear SantaCon:

Help a brother out

TylerTyler, a broke-ass SFSU student, is currently in Spain and running out of funds.  His next stop is Poland, and he's going to be stuck there without some financial assistance.

In short, Tyler needs cash to continue his trek through Europe.  And he's asking you, dear reader, for help.

But he's willing to do a lot in return for your help: he'll get the tattoo of your choice, cut his hair however you like, or even write a song or story just for you.  How cool is that?

This video explains the details.

I conducted an e-mail interview with Tyler to get answers to some nagging questions.

Why are you going to Poland, and through Europe?

RyanAir (slightly questionable Euro budget airline) has cheap flights throughout the continent. I wanted to get to Berlin to see a friend, or Switzerland, and…they were out of my budget. Poland was the cheapest, so I figured I could fly there instead and hitchhike my way back, or something.

Why did you start out without enough cash to get back?

After a year of hard studying here, I wanted my last month to be spent putzing around the continent and having a good time. The no cash thing was sort of a personal limitation I set for myself—I've CouchSurfed and dumpster dived enough to know that travel's not really expensive, but I really am scraping my pennies on this one. Still, that's not stopping me!

Is this all some viral marketing thing?

Meh, not really. I am a writer, folk singer, rapper, etc, but the goal is really to get across the continent, not to promote any of my art (though if anyone sees my other videos and downloads my free CD, guess I'm not complaining!).

How much success have you had raising funds thus far?  What have you sold?

The donations are goin' alright! Just sold a romantic Skype date to this girl Rachel Zevita who almost won American Idol! Besides that, I'll be snapping a handful of pictures, writing limericks, doing one freestyle rap on public transit, writing a song. Oh yeah, and going naked for an hour! Ass tattoos still available…

Your hair seems awfully short. If I paid you to get a rainbow mohawk, how long would that take?

What's a rainbow mohawk? If that's about dyeing my hair, I'd do it if the cost of dye got covered! (Though I do have a song on my CD about how I found Poland to be homophobic, so…maybe the rainbow wouldn't fly there, haha!) I am willing to do stupid things like chopping off the middle so I look like an old man with a bald spot…


If you'd like to help out, there's more details on his website.