Friday, July 31, 2009

California Collision: Fisherman's Wharf

In 1932, an unknown 17 year-old, Joe DiMaggio, played in his first baseball game for the San Francisco Seals. He was the son of a fisherman, one of hundreds who left San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf every morning, and with good fortune, returned with a boat full of fish.

Hence the name, Fisherman's Wharf. A few fishing boats still call the Wharf home, but now it serves as one of the must-see tourist attractions in the City by the Bay.

The Wharf is part Key West, part Boston's Quincy Market, part Niagara Falls (sans the falls), part Chicago's Navy Pier. Oh, Times Square, too. If you like T-shirt shops, wax museums, Ripley's Believe It Or Not emporiums, overpriced restaurants, and street peformers, then Fishermans Wharf is for you.

Speaking of restaurants, for years the Yankee Clipper and his brother Tom owned an Italian restaurant there, Joe DiMaggio's Grotto.

The Wharf's street performers are what pulled me there, but I came away disappointed. A friend of mine--whose wife is a regular reader of this blog--played guitar for a few weeks on the Wharf, and told me about some of the performers he interacted with during his stint there. One had an impeccable pirate outfit, complete with a large parrot on his shoulder. He'd pose for pictures, and if the pose-ees didn't drop cash in his kitty, he'd point his gun (a prop) at them and insult them until they paid up. Another told my friend that his wife threw him out of the house the night before, so he headed to the Wharf and set up shop on the sidewalk as a balloon artist. Was this his thought process? "Well, the wife kicked me's balloon sculpture time for me." He was a pretty good one, my friend told me, so my guess is that he already knew the Wharf well.

I wasn't there long enough to find out who just got dumped, but also, many of the performers were the silent type, such as the woman on the upper right, a live mannequin. Hey, at least mimes (I hate 'em, by the way) move around a bit. The silver guys on the left danced to Michael Jackson songs playing on a boom box. They didn't talk either. Oh, I almost forgot, the wax museum moved its wax-o Jacko out front, next to the ticket booth, which meant I could snap the picture on the right without having to pay. Alas, the museum didn't have anyone pointing a gun at me. There were a few cards next to Jackson's statue expressing remorse. It didn't occur to me at the time to look for cash inside the cards.

I saw a few artists, including the man on the left who I assume created those neon skeleton thingees. Yes, there was one of those spray-paint artists. But very few musicians.

All in all, the street performers were pretty lame. The whole lot of them. And I was there on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, and the Wharf was packed with tourists--I wasn't there on an "off day."

I covered the sea lions in an earlier post, but for the last twenty years, a colony of several hundred of sea lions have called the Pier 39 section of Fisherman's Wharf home. They are the primary fishers there now.

Sea lions: That's something Key West doesn't have. But at least when I was there ten years ago, the town had great street performers.

Related post:

Sunday night at the Michael Jackson home in Gary

Earlier California Collision posts:

Harvey Milk's Camera Shop
San Francisco's Union Square
The Painted Ladies
San Francisco and the military
Mission San Francisco de Asís
San Francisco's sea lions
San Francisco's blues mural
San Francisco: Cable cars

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Tonight: See the Senate Doctors on Greta Van Sustern's show

What are you doing tonight? I have a prescription for you, watch "On The Record with Greta Van Sustern" at 10pm (9pm Central) on the Fox News Channel and catch the Senate Doctors live. The Senate Doctors are Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. and Sen. John Barrasso, M.D.

The Republican physicians will certainly talk about the Democrats' proposal for a government-run health care program.

Related post:

The latest episode of The Senate Doctors

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Democrats declare war on the insurance industry

The insurance industry employs hundreds of thousands of people in this country. Maybe millions. If you are one of them, then the Democratic Party has declared war on you.

From CNSN News:

"I don't think we should be crying great big tears about the insurance industry,” (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid said at a Capitol Hill press conference when asked whether insurance companies should be allowed to charge higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions.

"There is no business in America that makes more money than the insurance industry--over the last 10 years their profits have been increased by 450 percent," Reid said. "So I'm not really in very much of a mood to worry about the insurance industry."

From The Raleigh News & Observer:

"The truth is, we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry," Obama said, "but it doesn't always work well for you. So what we need, and what we will have when we pass these reforms, are health-insurance consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and insurance companies are held accountable."

From The Hill:

A day after formally delaying a vote on a healthcare bill and having to accept a further weakening of a public option to compete with private insurers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at the health insurance industry and urged her members to do the same during the August recess.

"They are the villains in this," Pelosi said of private insurers. "They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening. And the public has to know that. They can disguise their arguments any way they want, but the fact is that they don’t want the competition."

More from The Hill:

And the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), joined Pelosi's attack on the insurance industry.

Durbin specifically took aim at the insurance lobby, which he said will "pour it on" during August recess.

"There are people out there with a lot of money at stake in this debate," in America. By fighting change they’re protecting their bottom line."

From a CNN op-ed by Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Majority Leader:

In fact, the Democratic plan will expand choice by freeing doctors and patients to make the choices that maximize healthy outcomes, not insurance profits.

I know, you're going to say that the Dems are only attacking health insurance companies. But the Obama-ized Democrats want to punish business and punish success. But first it's the health insurance companies, next it will be the car insurers, then home underwriters, then oil companies (Oops, they went after them already).

None of these are old quotes, they're all from this week.

I guess they think we're morons.

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