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The People's Guide: Eater SF Editor Carolyn Alburger

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The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This week, we welcome Carolyn Alburger; Editor of Eater SF

[B-Side Images via Shannon Claire]

Neighborhood: Upper Haight a.k.a Haight Ashbury to tourists, ageing hippies and search engines

Tell us something we don’t know about the Upper Haight: A handful of the bars here were around before the “Summer of Love” hit, like Club Deluxe, Aub Zam Zam and The Gold Cane. In the late 60s, the blocks of the Upper Haight, the surrounding Panhandle and areas of Golden Gate Park were bombarded by thousands of tripping unbridled free love prostheletizers. Most of us know the music during this time was epic and the level of drugs creativity flowing may never be paralleled, but the not-widely-broadcasted consensus among the business owners who lived through it is that the neighborhood never recovered.

Local customs of note: 1. “Gutter punks” with wittily scrawled cardboard signs and dread locks of every description chatting up outsiders for money 2. The not-so-covert sale and smoking of the illegal kind of Mary Jane 3. American and European tourists crowding one of the city’s two remaining Ben & Jerry’s or angling for photos at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury

Sidenote: The locals walk down parallel Page Street, to avoid all of the above.

Hidden gems in the Upper Haight: The daily happy hour at Hobson’s Choice offers $3 rum punches. I get a rum daquiri and ask for less sugar. It’s an amazing deal. The bartenders at Hobson’s are also a bit of a hidden gem in themselves because they’re extremely knowledgeable and eager to pontificate on the bar’s way-above-average rum collection. Also I hate to say this, but when Giovanni is cranking out the pizzas at Club Deluxe, his pies rival Pizzeria Delfina’s and come with gratis live jazz every night after 9 p.m.

Are your neighbors “rotten neighbor” worthy? If so, dish. If not?well, why not? Seriously I could go on and on about how wonderful my neighbors are. What people don’t realize is, underneath all the touristy clatter and sidewalk begging runs a very strong community here. My next-door neighbors, for example, are mechanics who did a few thousand dollars of work on my old-as-nuts Acura in exchange for a 6-pack of Bud and a few bottles of Chardonnay. I also just helped them name their new little black chihuahua mutt. Would any of this have happened when I lived in Russian Hill? I think not.

Inflate the bubble or burst it: What’s not-so-swell about your “perfect” neighborhood? No one likes to walk on the pavement because the sidewalks are full to-the-brim with runaways. The enforcement of the sit-lie law has quelled the falderal a bit, but in all honesty, if you live here, you’ve got to learn to love the street action. When a gal artfully encumbered by multiple eyebrow piercings, blue face tattoos, a schnauzer on a rope and a spirit hood asks you for change so she can go “get f%@ked up,” sometimes you just have to laugh. Or give her dog a bone.

The final word on the Upper Haight: Puff puff, give.
· The People's Guide [Curbed SF]