With apologies to the late, great Herb Caen, newspaper columnist and Bay Area icon, Thomas Bonk reports on the scene in San Francisco with the World Series in town.
SAN FRANCISCO -- When the World Series is being played in the city, there is one location that is the loneliest place on earth. We're speaking, of course, about the Disney Store at Union Square. Because Disney owns the Angels, shopping there this week must be considered a serious offense. Consorting with the enemy. Perhaps that is why there were so few people trolling the aisles, avoiding the strollers, between the stuffed animals, all the while being assailed with sound and video ads for "Beauty and the Beast."
Giant fans will tell you that is precisely the matchup in this World Series. Oddly, and thankfully, there are no stuffed rally monkeys offered for sale at the Disney store. Predictably and comfortably, there are plenty of lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my!
In a display in the storefront window, a small, cardboard cutout of a cable car is driven by a small, cardboard cutout of a creature. We're not entirely sure, but it was either David Eckstein or Mickey.
Just because Disney owns the team, does that necessarily mean that Angel fans are more animated than others? ... To the very harmonic sum of $25 million, the newly renovated Union Square shines like a polished gem. At the center of Union Square is the Dewey Monument, a 90-foot Corinthian granite column that is completely covered by scaffolding, probably so no crazed Disney/Angel fan captures it and tries to make a ride out of it.... The street singer on the corner of Powell and Geary wears a Giant cap as he confidently offers his rendition of "Lean on Me." Songwriting credit, many believe, belongs to Barry Bonds.
L'ban, doorman at the Sir Francis Drake, is attired in the hotel's traditional red Beefeater uniform. For World Series week, he says he would have preferred something orange and black. But L'ban has come up with a solution. "I wear my Giant colors to the games," he says.... Savvy shoppers, you art lovers. On Geary, one art store advertises large numbers of prints by Marc Chagall. Is anyone else amazed how Chagall continues to churn out prints, unhindered by the fact that he died 17 years ago? ... Optometrist Kathleen Hum, who has an office on Post Street, says she can just see the Giants winning the Series. And as for the strength of Bonds' vision, Hum cannot be mum on the subject. "I know his eyes have got to be pretty good to follow the ball, as far as he hits it," she says.
The area of North Beach where Washington Square is located can be confusing to visitors, possibly even more so to Angel fans, who are more accustomed to the full color and precision of Disneyland maps. Consider this your guide. It already has been pointed out that North Beach really isn't a beach and Washington Square really isn't a square and the statue in the middle isn't George Washington, but Benjamin Franklin. Yes, it is terribly inconsistent.
The big church on the north side of the square is St. Peter and Paul, where Joe DiMaggio married his first wife and where his funeral was held. DiMaggio grew up in North Beach in a walk-up flat on Taylor and first played baseball at North Beach Playground on Greenwich and Powell, about a block from St. Peter and Paul. DiMaggio played for the San Francisco Seals before making it with the New York Yankees. He never played for the Giants.... Fior d'Italia, across the square, bills itself as the nation's oldest Italian restaurant, opening May 1, 1886. It was a favorite hangout of former Dodger manager Tom Lasorda, who reportedly was not in attendance on opening night. However, some say that's how long they have been waiting for him to pick up a check ... or the Angels to get into the World Series.
Ed Moose is the owner of Moose's, which is a fortunate choice for a name of a restaurant. He would not have had such an easy time if his name were something else. Radioactive comes to mind. Moving on now ... during the World Series, attempting to find a spot at the bar at Moose's is as good a workout as you get on a treadmill. Moose says the buzz about the Giants really picked up a week ago. "And now, I'm excited too," he says. This is understandable. It's always exciting for a proprietor of an establishment to watch his patrons squirm for room amid a forest of Pilsener glasses, arms in the air and waving credit cards as if they're trying to hail a taxi.
The Giants do not know how lucky they are to have someone the stature of Bud E. Luv as one of their biggest fans. Known as the Fabulous Bud E. Luv, he not-so-shyly advertises himself as the World's Greatest Entertainer, which is no small feat when you consider he faces stiff competition from such heavyweights as Carrot Top, Gallagher and Joe Cocker. Luv is a lounge singer and something of a local legend who has written for the Giant team magazine and served as a panelist judging the best hot dogs at Candlestick Park. His new CD, "Diary of a Lounge Man," is his interpretation of the 15 greatest hits of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. Luv, who is quick to point out that this number pales in comparison to the 613 greatest hits of Bonds, dedicates his favorite song to each home run ball Bonds socks. "Fly Me to the Moon," Luv says.