Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Vegan-Bacon Divide

Today I met up with Bryce Digdug for our weekly brunch at Carnivore, the posh restaurant at the Duck Creeke Inn on 22nd Street. Dinner at Carnivore is much too rich for my blood, but it's rare I miss brunch, usually ordering their signature dish -- ostrich eggs benedict with foie gras aspic. Bryce had the same but with a side of pan seared arugula.

Our usual discussion of art, Godard and cuckoo clock repair shifted to this week's election. Though overshadowed by national and state races, we both are curious about the impact of the passage of Proposition BK. Even the landmark Duck Creeke and Carnivore are direct in the line of fire of this controversial initiative that builds on the momentum of the recent banning of Happy Meals from San Francisco.

Proposition BK allowed each precinct in the city to set local regulations on the sale and distribution of animal products. The western Mission -- where Bryce lives and the Duck Creeke is located --will be completely vegan. Even Shoe Biz will be forced to sell nothing but synthetic footwear once the bill goes into effect in January. The Duck Creeke may be spared since it has historic landmark status.

Over in the eastern Mission where I live, Proposition BK failed 9-1. Almost every living room on our side of the arroindissement has deer antlers above the mantle, and all of the ubiquitous pick up trucks have gun racks. In neighboring Bernal Heights, most residents hunt and catch the plentiful wildlife and put it in their smoke houses for the long, wet San Francisco winters.
Life will go on as normal in our part of the Mission where you will find the beloved bacon maple lattes at Pirate Cat Radio or Dynamo Doughnut''s maple bacon doughnut and the famed cannibalistic pig cariceria, Belmar-La Gallinita, on 24th Street.

As a fan of tradition, I really worry about the future of the Duck Creeke. Opened in 1851, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi until the Call Building was constructed in 1897. It was often called the Chelsea Hotel of the west, having served as the hide away of Fatty Arbuckle after that notorious night at the Saint Francis and was a refuge from LA for Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht, Peter Lorre and other German expatriates who found San Francisco's gloomy, foggy summers much more comforting than all that depressing sun and optimism in Hollywood.

Joplin, the Airplane and the Dead all took refuge there after the Summer of Love when boring kids from Orange County and Omaha destroyed all that had once made the Haight so wonderful. Ginsberg did not write Howl there, but he held his first press conference there.

What's not well known is the source of the Duck Creeke's name. It is literally on top of Duck Creeke, the underground estuary that begins at the eastern tip of Stowe Lake to China Beach where ducks are able to make safe passage through the busy neighborhoods of San Francisco without worry of being turned into soup in my part of the Mission or being run over by one of the countless psychotic MUNI drivers.

The creek was built secretly in the 1880s and funded by Meredith Cliff Linquist (whose father was developer Ernest Avrum Cliff, namesake of Sea Cliff), an early animal rights advocate and reputed lover of John Muir. She was concerned by the carnage of ducks hit by street and cable cars and funded this secret, safe passage for her feathered friends.

One can't help but wonder what will become of the Duck Creeke. It would see a bit odd to have the Carnivore shut down at a time when medicinal heroin is available over the counter at San Francisco's Walgreens right next to Airborne, and most hookah bars have opium vending machines.

Only time will tell the future of Carnivore and the Duck Creeke, but it seems we will live in a city divided, and there is even talk of building wall down the middle of South Van Ness, the dividing line between the bacon and vegan sides of the Mission.

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At 10:00 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

How bizarre and contradictory.

What do ostrich eggs taste like? The dish you descibed sounds very posh indeed.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jill - As so often is said, "sort of like chicken".

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

Landron, I didn't recognize the Duck Creeke Hotel because the photo shows it free-standing. Quite impressive, like early pictures of the Dakota.

EVERYONE: You must hear Brass Menazeri ( Balkan band. The clarinetist is the COOLEST, man. I was insanely happy with the sound of the Sousphone and the other horns and drums. They are playing in San Francisco on Dec. 17 at Bottom of the Hill and on Dec. 31 (which is Balkan New Year's) at Ashkenaz.


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