Most people driving through Napa County, California’s famed wine region, see only beauty. Steven Burgess sees something different. Spotting clumps of juniper along the edge of a multimillion dollar property, he calls out the combustible shrub’s local nickname: “green gasoline!”
The 49-year-old volunteer firefighter and former vintner is giving the Financial Times a history tour, pointing out the scars of mega blazes that have intensified here and around the world over the past decade, capturing global attention and concern.
The Tadich Grill, the oldest restaurant in California, has stared down a crisis or two: earthquakes; several recessions; Covid-19. Founded in 1849, its current home on California Street puts it in the heart of the city’s downtown Financial District, known as “FiDi”. And it is ground zero in the city’s struggle to get people back to work.
Jure Bracanović, one of the white-coated waiters, says the restaurant, like others nearby, has suffered as the lunch and dinner crowd switched to working from home, and convention business collapsed. The stream of delegates at tech events has almost entirely evaporated, in part due to the perception the city’s streets are “dangerous”, he says.
Fish are falling from the sky in parts of San Francisco, and a boom in coastal anchovy populations is to blame.
It’s seagulls, dropping anchovies from their stuffed mouths. It’s never been so good to be a hungry sky rat, apparently:
Local fishers and researchers are blaming seabirds that, because of an explosion in the anchovy population off the coast of the Bay Area, now have more fish than they know what to do with.
My favourite detail in this story, by far, is the reasonable assumption made by a San Francisco resident as to the origin of the falling fish:
[A] third person said they assumed “a band of roving kids were doing a Tik Tok sardine-throwing challenge on a roof somewhere” after seeing several fish fall onto an Outer Richmond sidewalk.
This picture is from an absolutely wonderful piece about Bruce Lee’s life and influence in San Francisco, written by Lee biographer Charles Russo, published by SF Gate, and brought to my attention by the SF Minute).
His candidacy as our most famous San Franciscan has gone strangely unacknowledged over the years. Despite his popularity around the world, many San Francisco residents don’t know that he was born here. In fact, he didn’t even make the cut when the Bold Italic ran an article in 2014 listing our city’s “most famous natives.” In this sense, much of Lee’s Bay Area origin story has existed in a hazy urban mythology that perennially teeters between obscurity and hyperbole.
To help, Russo has devised a walking history tour. I plan to check it out this weekend.