September 2019

Partial Justice

I wrote earlier about seeking justice at the Office of the City Attorney of San Francisco and my feeling that I’d set the wheels in motion and had only to sit back and wait for the perp to be brought to justice, convicted, and punished. That’s after a fair trial, of course. It was a good feeling.

Alas, it didn’t last all that long, because yet again a faithful reader provided me with information that I’d formerly been sorely missing. After he read “The Scales of Justice”, my friend John down on the second floor informed me that in fact, the tickets that all of us had been issued that morning were quite proper since we were all lawbreakers. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

See, he said, I was misled by that “OVER 18 IN FROM CURB” on the ticket, and if I had kept digging into the page in the State Vehicle Code for violation 22502A, I would have found a paragraph stating that you have to be pointed in the direction of the flow of traffic. And yes, I understand that there’s not room on the ticket to print the explanation: “OVER 18 IN FROM CURB OR NOT POINTED IN THE DIRECTION OF THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC.” So now I’m figuring what will happen is that the City Attorney’s office member who’s reviewing my case will just take one look at the Vehicle Code and see that I am clearly no longer capable of reading more than one paragraph down into a page.

But wait. At least, I thought, since SFMTA doesn’t yet know that I’ve tweeted (the whistle) on them, what I can do is at least try to get my $72 back by contesting the ticket.

Which I did yesterday in person in the SFMTA office at 11 South Van Ness. What a clean, well-lighted place that is; and better yet, everybody there with whom I spoke was helpful, kind, and seemed genuinely nice. It’s clear the office manager has them all on a mild dose of soma.

The nice guy at the check-in window directed me to another window; but as I got up to it and drew my camera out, the guy there, seeing that I was about to present some evidence, told me to sit back down because shortly I’d be called to go to a private room to display my evidence. And I was, almost immediately. The guy in there was pleasant, listened to my tale, and looked at the Plaintiff’s Exhibit A, a photo I’d taken a few minutes earlier in order to demonstrate how my neighbors and I routinely parked in that block. Every car in sight on the left side was parked pointing north.

He was fair. Yes, he could understand why everybody parks that way, so he will refund my $72. But then before I could get into my fulsome thanks, he went on to say that, as reasonable as it was to park that way, it was still against the law; and it would be wise of me to avoid parking that way in future as the SFMTA would not be forgiving me future tickets for this offense.

That took some of the joy out of my refund, and I went back to the Vehicle Code, hoping to somehow find some fine print somewhere that would give us residents a loophole. And you know, to my astonishment, I did…sort of. All I have to do now is find the proper channel through which to operate because I am determined to prevent that evil TCO from continuing to harass us, the law-abiding citizens of the 100 block of Coleridge Street.

Here’s the applicable section in the California Vehicle Code.

22502 (a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a vehicle stopped or parked upon a roadway with adjacent curbs or class IV bikeways, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, shall be stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels of the vehicle parallel to, and within 18 inches of, the right-hand curb or the right-hand edge of the class IV bikeway, except that a motorcycle shall be parked with at least one wheel or fender touching the right-hand curb or edge. If no curbs, barriers, or class IV bikeways bound a two-way roadway, right-hand parallel parking is required unless otherwise indicated.

(b) (1) The provisions of subdivision (a) or (e) do not apply to a commercial vehicle if a variation from the requirements of subdivision (a) or (e) is reasonably necessary to accomplish the loading or unloading of merchandise or passengers on, or from, a vehicle and while anything connected with the loading, or unloading, is being executed.

(2) This subdivision does not permit a vehicle to stop or park upon a roadway in a direction opposite to that in which traffic normally moves.

Ahhhh, “that in which traffic normally moves”. There’s my entry wedge. The next step is to find a different way into the bureaucracy than the ticket appeals and point out that the only entrance to the 100 block of Coleridge Street is from Virginia Street at the south end because the street becomes one-way northbound at the north end. Thus folks in this block who wish to leave it have a choice of turning around and heading back south the way they came in or continuing north. And since we’re located in the southern, largely residential, part of the city, I for one virtually never want to go south. So the direction of traffic flow is overwhelmingly northbound and we thus ought to be able to park with our left wheels against the left curb just as we in this block, all good citizens, have been doing for decades,.

Meanwhile, oh my goodness is there ever some great beauty outside and inside our new Transbay Terminal.

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Duck Liver Pâté

Alas, the 2019 Yucaipa thylacine hunt has been expunged from the Internet.

It all started with my friend David calling my attention to an article about the great burgeoning of Midland, TX, owing to the oil boom there and my observation that the only good thing about Midland that I could think of was that most of the drive-in burger places sold fried chicken livers, many doing an excellent job on them. And then once I was thinking of chicken livers, it was an easy step to chicken liver pâté and thence to duck liver pâté, which triggered a craving so intense that I immediately spent an hour digging through my two-inch-thick folder of loose recipes for Walter’s Duck Liver Pâté. Only after I found it did I go online and look at the recipes there so I could chart a middle course.

My recipe naturally begins, “First, catch the duck livers”.

I haven’t been to Chinatown in search of ingredients in decades, and that ought to be fun. Oh, but wait. The reason for deserting Chinatown was my discovery of good markets on Clement St. The fringe benefit there is that directly across the street from May Wah is a little hole-in-the-wall dim sum place called Good Luck or Lucky or something like that with about three sticky tables in back and a crowd of folks at the take-out counter in front clamoring for the attention of the surly counter girls. You put up with them because the quality of the dim sum there is quite high and the prices are quite low, a winning combination.

A little digression. My Chinese barber introduced me to that place and warned me about the girls, saying that she’d made a point of speaking pleasantly to them in futile hope of making them less surly. Nope. And then a memory from forty years ago of my Chinese friend Michael’s response when I mentioned the rudeness of the clerks at that legendary Dupont Street Market, famous for their smoked ducks, chickens, and char siu (叉燒 ) hanging in the window. (The name of the street had changed to “Grant” in 1906, but the owners never felt a need to waste money on changing the name of the store.) I thought the rudeness of the clerks there was because I was white; but Michael observed that, oh no, their English wasn’t good enough to be as sarcastically rude to me as they were to him in Cantonese and that the reason they were rude is that they hated casual customers like us because the small quantities we bought were lots of trouble.

Anyhow, I went to Chinatown to catch the duck livers, but turn your back for twenty or thirty years and see what happens. The Dupont Market was no longer there on the north side of Grant, and the big butcher shop I remembered on Broadway was gone. But around the corner on Stockton there was a meat market that had the four most beautiful duck livers I’ve ever seen, and they were the ones left in the tray after the others had been sold. Who knows what the really good ones had looked like.

And four was enough because these things were so large that together they weighed well over a pound. I browsed around online but ultimately decided that I’d just stick with Walter.

All Walter did was sauté a small onion in butter, throw the livers in until done, deglaze the pan with brandy, and grind all that up in the food processor with some black pepper, a few leaves of thyme, and 4 T. cold butter. But do I ever leave well enough alone?

Oh no, I was seduced by one of those online recipes into adding a bit of cream and unthinkingly poured in way too much. So much that the end result, while delicious, was so thin it would barely stay on a cracker.

And finally, in case anybody needs yet another duck liver pâté recipe, I hope to get around to providing the details I left out of the above description and sticking it onto my Recipes menu.

Meanwhile, since we’re talking about food here, I’ll add a photo of Ume Shiso, a little extra dish Yoshi at Sushi Zone sometimes treats me to. All he does is hold a peeled cucumber horizontally and with a large knife slice off a sixteenth-of-an-inch sheet of it as he rotates the cucumber around its axis. Then he wraps that around a bit of fermented Ume plum, dresses it with sprouts, cuts it into bites crosswise, and lightly drizzles it with a vinegar sauce.

I get this because I’m a very regular customer who’s also brought new faces in. And maybe, too, because I’m one of the limited number who’ve who’s spotted his little tip jar on the counter and used it.

Yoshi's treat

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