A few weeks ago I posted a positive review of Ritual Coffee, which has it’s flagship coffehouse on Valencia Street in San Francisco.  I was there again today to try their $5.00 cup of coffee (Yes, it’s worth it, but obviously I wouldn’t spend that every day).  My wife tried the capuchinno, but still does not like coffee.  Ah well.

Lilith is pictured here over her well-poured cup of chocolate. 

Lilith's ChocolateI also bought two bags of their beans.  Their Bolivian Illimani blend is in the red bag – they boast flavors which include red grape, brown sugar, and wildberry.  In the black bag is their standard-bearing Columbian brand – for which they boast flavors which include banana, Meyers Lemon, and orange push-up popsickle. 

Needless to say, they enjoy their craft.


We walked the rest of the neighborhood.  Maybe it’s because it was President’s Holiday Weekend or something, but Valencia Street isn’t what I left in the 90s, when my law school classmate and friend would study in the coffeehouses (almost all of which have been replaced) moving through the neighborhood in the course of a day for changes of scenery.  There were a few trendy restaurants in the area, but today we walked by line after line waiting for meals – seriously, they looked like yuppie soup lines.  I don’t get the appeal, no matter how good the food is.  I have to wonder if part of the desired experience is being seen in the lines.  And I really don’t get the appeal of eating on one of the tables the restaurants put out onto the sidewalk, with the people in line hovering over the seated guests as they eat.

Yes, much of the food smelled very good as we passed, but sorry, no meal is worth that.  I’d rather just stay home and cook something good myself.

But then, I don’t live in the city anymore.


And other than the playground and “inclusion center,” (what’s an “inclusion center?”) located at about 20th Street, you won’t see many non-white faces anymore – not on Valencia Street.  Years ago, activists complained that New College would gentrify the neighborhood.  They were right.  And New College isn’t even there anymore.  Nor are the more seedy bohemian institutions – The Club Coffeehouse, the Leather Tongue Video Shop, and Modern Times Bookstore – all gone (I was mistaken in my previous post, it’s a different bookstore now – though Modern Times survives elsewhere in the Mission). 

One exception.  The Community Thrift Store, and it’s just as funky as ever.  The trend set won’t be seen in there.  It was bohemians and working class folk, and in fact once we were inside, it felt like the neighborhood of old.  Jimmy Clif’s Sitting Here in Limbo over the loudspeaker.  And I located my shelf of used Zyzzyva’s, no longer 50 cents a copy, but now a dollar. 

And my daughter went into the kitchenware section and located a Woodrose Cafe mug, one of the old ones.  It’s there for 50 cents.  I almost bought it, but then, I thought about the mug’s journey.  Somehow, a story it will never be able to tell, it made its way 200 miles to the thrift store.  I thought back to the classroom movie of my childhood, Paddle to the Sea.  Did I have the right to drag the poor mug all the way back to Humboldt County? 

I decided not.


We made it back to the car.  We had been lucky to find a spot right in front of Ritual.  I had poured all my quarters into it – it’s $4.00 per hour.  You can even use your credit card!  I had put in enough for an hour and a half, and later decided I would need more time.  But when I used my credit card it erased my previously paid for time.  I didn’t realize it until I completed the transaction, so I had only an hour and a half instead of the over two hours I rightfully paid for.  I didn’t want to do it again, lest my hour and a half be lost.  We didn’t get back quite in time, and the meter was blinking bright red as we were there.  No ticket on my windshield, but maybe even that’s outdated.  Maybe I’ll get one in the mail.  Maybe they don’t even need meter maids anymore.  Maybe the meter communicated with some big computer and I get ticketed automatically.