Friday, April 01, 2005


Yeah, well.......This was the week of Two Chicks from Walnut Creek. The first one was for a management company out of Antioch......remodeling and up-scaling a seedy old apartment complex in Pacific Grove. Krissie is very earnest, and very obviously new to the job Cal State Chico if I do not miss my guess. The company invited every realtor on the Monterey Peninsula to an open house, complete with our hors d'oeuvres, a full bar, champagne AND a limo for transport. Friday from noon to whenever. I dropped Film Boy at the Greyhound back to SF and moseyed to the site at 11:30. Of course, the model unit I was to work in was on the second floor. Turns out our Krissie got FOUR responses out of 100. Wow.....realtors are more bitter than chefs! Of course, they out-sourced the invitation phone calls to Antioch, where the other Chico grad had no clear idea of directions to the complex, etc. Clearly impressive to the real estate crowd.

I bumped the new Krissie to OUR Chrissie at Coldwell Banker. Our Chrissie was recently interviewed in the Coast Weekly by the Roving Photographer: Have you ever been really surprised? Her answer: "Yes! I went to Cancun with a girlfriend and came back early to find my husband screwing his secretary!" I wonder what Coldwell Banker thought of that one.....or Merril Lynch for that matter. OUR Chrissie is no stranger to either champagne or limos....and even she was a no-show.

In fact, the only guests to show were from a competing management company. Krissie #1 lacked even the social skills to offer them a drink. I stepped in. Hors d'oeuvres for two.......a career first. The guests quickly drew her out: she just moved down from the East Bay......doesn't know anyone or anything about the area.....yes, she has an apartment in the complex......yes, she is just getting, there doesn't seem to be a place for a TV or a computer in the model layout......Her first apartment on her own, you see. The management company also had an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie oven in the model apartment, as well as a freezer full of freezer burned cookie pellets (Cookie pellets are not efficient champagne coolers, by the way). Turns out the sales girls get demerits if they don't have fresh cookies every morning, and the air filled with baking aromas.....random fake applicants come round to check. Poor Krissie.....she was full of advice on how long to warm up the Spunky Oven, how long to cook the two flavors, and how long to let them cool before serving......She seemed to know more about Otis than real estate.

The good news is that the limo driver is a former Running Iron and Jack's bartender.....trying to escape the restaurant and bar business.......and (thank you, Jesus) failing. So, I have an actual adult bartender for weekdays till the college kids return.

The second Walnut Creek chick of the day was the wedding coordinator from Irvine, Halley. A horse of a very different color. I talked about Krissie #1 to her and mentioned that she was struggling with her first job after college. I got a withering look. Ooops. Turns out she just graduated from SFSU film school (half my crew are SFSU film students). This Walnut Creeker is the class act. Can't imagine she will be long in the wedding coordinator business. Of course, her client is willing to pay for a long weekend of flying around the state booking the wedding.....a long way from Otis Spunkmeyer.

So.....back to the hangers......hanger steaks, that is. I first met hangers in the seventies when I met Chester from Garrapata Canyon. Chet was a partner in our Wild Irish Pigs wild boar operation. He was a lumper....the guys who unload the trucks for the teamsters at the meat companies in San Francisco. The rails in the trucks don't quite match up to the rails on the dock, and the lumper gets to ''lump'' the four to five hundred pound half beef for the two to three foot gap. Forty to eighty thousand pounds per truck, twenty to thirty trucks per night. Amphetimines were involved...but the old-school, benign ones: cross-tops. The lumpers ''cut'', on the deal was that they were allowed to rip the hanger steak off the beef. They kept a little cooler on the dock, and took home pounds of these things (they are just off the diaphram of the beef). Nobody ever bought them.....because there were never any for sale. The lumpers had them all.

Sometime in the last thirty years, something changed. The old-school lumpers must have all died......out-sourced to the hermanos, no doubt. Hangers suddenly appeared in Bourdain's Bistro book....and off we go. Now they Even so, they are still cheap......two bucks a pound....but it scares me that people have discovered them at all.

The lumpers were a breed apart. Their idea of a hobby was looking for old bottles. In San Francisco, the meat companies were all by Brannan Street......where Pac Bell Park is now, and close to the Bay Bridge. All that area is fill....the old shoreline was inland towards Market. The way they started to fill it in was back in Gold Rush days. Thousands of ships came west with the pilgrims.....all classes of ships, many of them beaters. Not so many went back the other way. The abandoned hulks were filled with trash, and sunk on the shoreline and covered over with fill. Lots of the trash in the hulks was glass......the Forty-niners drank a bit. The lumpers.....still all pumped up on white crosses would go out in the morning to China Basin with long rods of rebar, poke them down through the sand and try to feel for bottles. If they got a clink, they would dig. The rule of thumb was: one foot wide for one foot deep, and one cross-top for fuel. Typical depths were 25 feet......a 25 foot crater, and 25 cross-tops. Now we are having fun! But the bottles were worth some serious dough. Supposedly the impurities in the glass colored as they aged and made beautiful hues.......They had to be intact, though.....and sometimes the hole that was dug found the bottle that clinked....with a rebar hole straight through.

The last remnant of the lumper crowd in China Basin is Red's Java Hut....crouched on the Embarcadero right under the Bay Bridge. Hills Brother's Coffee was just up the bluff.....all the meat companies were just up Brannan, and the commerical bakeries were there as well. At 5am it was heaven: fresh hot dogs right off the machine, the air filled with the aroma of roasting coffee and fresh baked bread. Red's had it all. It was packed with firemen, cops, lumpers, teamsters, longshoremen, meat-cutters, bakers, coffee name it. Basic breakfast at 5am was a double dog and a Budweiser.......three bucks. Red's is still there......they roast their own coffee now, since Hill's is idea where the bread is from or the dogs....but a double dog and a Bud is still less than five bucks.....and they have great fotos of the old days under glass on the counters.

My favorite Red's moment was one time in the eighties.......I caught the late SF TV news one night about a fire at a Pier in the City. They showed a huge blaze, with fireboats, hook and ladders, helicopters, you name it......working on this inferno in one of the giant commercial piers. I looked closer and realized it was the Red's pier.....oh shit! Then I noticed that ALL of the water was being poured on Red's....and none on the pier. Red's is still there....and the pier is a parking lot (where the runaway cab driver plunges Michael Douglas into the Bay in ''The Game'').

So.....tomorrow the junior Cypress guys are getting hangers. Grilled on mesquite. We are going to make up fresh English muffins on the teflon grill. My prep guys are all pissed off about cleaning the hangers.......they are fanatics, and there was a big pile of trim for the stock pot. But....we weighed it out: 8.7 pounds gross......6.4 pure lean pounds net. About 25-30% waste....but we started at $2 a pound! Compares well with the $9 for filet that the Cypress seniors will be getting across Pebble on the same night.


Post a Comment

<< Home