THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart (www.brokeassstuart.com) will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?
Sometimes I wish I could become unstuck in time — you know, in a Vonnegutian sense — and pop back into my own body at different times of my life. I’d love to once again see and feel who I was when I first visited the Gold Cane (1569 Haight, SF. 415-626-1112), back when I was 21, back when I was new to San Francisco, back when San Francisco was, well, different than it is now. They say Virginia is for lovers. Back then San Francisco was for freaks and weirdos. And I felt like I was both.
If I could pop into my own body that night when I was first visiting the Gold Cane, it would be 2002 and I’d be 21. My bed at the time was an air mattress and I slept in a living room that I shared with my friend Mani in a two-bedroom flat at Haight and Central. My hair was three different colors, my pants hung to my ass, and I wore an absurdly long hemp belt that dangled past my knees.
Walking in that night, I saw a barroom split in half: the right side was where the bar was and the left was full of tables. Beer signs and Giants paraphernalia littered the walls, as did old photos and art. Some mean fucker was running the pool table in the back and drunk people were doing drunk people things. It was perfect, and is pretty much exactly the same way today.
That night I met a pretty blond girl whose name I’ll never remember. We flirted for awhile, and I got her number, and when I left I imaged myself and the pretty blonde girl having a sweet summer fling and her letting me sometimes use her Internet to check my email. The place I was staying didn’t have Internet, and in 2002 W-Fi didn’t exist. I never ended up seeing the pretty blonde girl again because the next week I met my first love on the 71 bus.
If I could become unstuck in time I’d pop back into myself on the twentysomething-ish time I visited the Gold Cane. It was my first SantaCon and I’d turned 29 the night before. I’d somehow managed to lose everyone in my group and met some new friends at The Page. We got some food at The Little Chihuahua and then meandered up to the Gold Cane because it felt like the right thing to do. Walking in that night I saw an Irishman with white hair behind the bar, a jukebox playing impeccable tunes, and drunk people doing drunk people things. It was perfect and is pretty much exactly the same way today.
That night I met a pretty brown-haired girl. We drank and talked and laughed and spilled shit all over our Santa costumes. San Francisco was still full of freak and weirdos and we were of that ilk. The pretty brown-haired girl and I hit it off, but I had a girlfriend so I smartly dipped before I did something stupid. I’m not gonna say that being drunk in the Gold Cane makes you do stupid things, but it certainly doesn’t stop you from doing them either.
I dream about time travel a lot, both throughout the centuries and throughout my own life. If I’m time traveling within the Gold Cane I can do both, considering the bar has been around since 1926. I know the Gold Cane has some really cool history but I’m always too drunk to find out what it is, so I just tell my own stories instead.
Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at www.brokeassstuart.com