Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart

Drifting by


THE WEEKNIGHTER “It’s all fun and games and whippings until the end when everyone is really drunk. Then it’s just a bunch of wasted people rubbing their penises on things. That’s when I go inside and lock my door.” I was telling this to the bartender and a couple people sitting next to me. We were talking about the Folsom Street Fair.

“Yeah,” the woman on my left replied, “that’s when we got real busy actually, right when the fair started to close down.” She bartends at the Cat Club, which, along with Driftwood (1225 Folsom, SF., and my apartment, are all on Folsom Street. Just then “No Diggity” came on over the speakers and we each bobbed to the music in our own way. We were hanging out doing what bartenders do, drinking and talking about the other places we’ve worked and who we know in common. “I’m actually buying all the drinks for this guy tonight,” the lady said, pointing to the dude next to her.

He responded, “Yeah, I was mugged at gunpoint the other night, over in the Lower Haight. They got my wallet and my phone. Luckily they caught the bastards since I ran into someone right after and had them call the cops and tell them the license plate number.”

During the Folsom Street Fair a bunch of us put chairs on the sidewalk and hung out all afternoon watching the spectacle. At one point my friend Lauryn said, “It’s days like this that remind me why I love San Francisco. If this kind of fuckery can still happen, maybe the city isn’t dead after all.” For some reason, the guy telling me about his mugging reminded me of this. He was a bartender, not a startup bro, but still it made me think about how all these people who view San Francisco as a tech utopia seem to forget this is a real-ass city, where nasty things happen. Don’t get me wrong, nobody deserves to be mugged, and certainly not this nice guy I was having a drink with at the bar, but in weird way, hearing about these kinds of shitty things also reminded me that SF isn’t some bland bubble yet. If the “let the free market decide” people had complete reign over this city, eventually there wouldn’t be any muggings at all because the only people left here would be rich. But also, there may not be an entire day of people in leather beating and fellating each other in the streets.

We chatted a little more and had a shot before the two sitting by me went over to Death Guild. That just left me and the bartender. “I moved here three years ago with only $500 to my name,” he told me, “I couldn’t have picked a worse time to come to SF. It took me forever to find a place to live, so I slept on couches and worked a million hours and eventually moved into an SRO until I could afford to move into an apartment. But I did it all because I love this city and I knew I needed to be here.”

Eventually three guys came into the bar. They were all from other countries and were living in Sonoma doing some impressive vintners internship. They finally had a night off and were blowing off steam. After some drinks, the Aussie guy asked where they could meet some girls around there. I thought about it, “It’s a Monday night guys, and you’re in a neighborhood of mostly gay bars.” I told them.

“There’s the EndUp,” the barkeep said. And I laughed out loud. “No really,” he responded, “attractive straight girls actually go there now.” To which I thought, maybe the city is dead after all.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Straight shooter


THE WEEKNIGHTER I’ve never been hunting and I’ve only shot a gun on one occasion. OK, it was multiple guns on the same occasion in a shooting range in San Diego, but still I’ve only shot at things once in my life. I guess I did a good job of killing the piece of paper I was shooting at since my friend Josh told me I had good aim for a beginner. It was pretty easy considering the target just hung there and took the abuse.

Despite my lack of hunting prowess and experience, I’ve been to Bloodhound (1145 Folsom, SF. lots of times. Even though it’s a hunting lodge theme bar, I’m pretty sure it would be frowned upon if you were to walk in there brandishing a hunting rifle. And by frowned upon, I mean people would flee from there as quickly as possible screaming horrible, terrified profanities about someone having a gun. They might do the same if you walked in there dressed like you were going on a hunting expedition, except instead of frightened running and yelling about firearms, it would be about your atrocious attire. Even San Francisco has standards when it comes to what you wear.

I went on a date there once with someone whose ex-boyfriend was employed by my ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend. It was some San Francisco shit to say the least. I went on another date there where a crazy lady yelled confusing obscenities at my date while also trying to woo her. That was also some San Francisco shit. Considering that Bloodhound is on Folsom between Seventh and Eighth, it is basically surrounded by San Francisco shit. And I mean this in a literal sense this time. People poop everywhere in SoMa.

I like Bloodhound. It’s got fancy drinks and lots of wood and light bulbs that look old timey but aren’t because actual old timey light bulbs probably wouldn’t light. I know a lot of SF bars have this look now but Bloodhound opened in 2009 so it was ahead of the curve. Plus it has stencils of birds on the ceiling, chandeliers made out of antlers, and dead animal parts on the walls. I think this is supposed to make you think about shooting stuff and since everyone knows shooting stuff makes you thirsty, your mind will get tricked into buying some fancy cocktails. I really like Bloodhound’s fancy cocktails, especially the one named the Bloodhound. This is great just in case you get so drunk you forget where you are. If you remember the name of your drink, you’ll also know where it is that you’re drinking. This also works in reverse.

In case you still had any doubts that Bloodhound is your local hunting lodge in the heart of San Francisco, you must visit the website. Once you get there, you will be serenaded by the sweet and twangy sounds of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood doing their rendition of “Jackson.” (No Ted Nugent, though.) I’ve never been to a hunting lodge or to Jackson, but I imagine this website feels exactly like a hunting lodge in Jackson would feel. The website even has a game you can play that lets you shoot stuff! I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it!

Hopefully one day soon you and me can go to Bloodhound together and plan our first hunting trip. And in case we just get too wasted to follow through on our plans, let’s just settle on playing Big Buck Hunter and call it a day.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Hands off


THE WEEKNIGHTER I have no idea why we were out in the Inner Sunset that night. I’m pretty sure we all lived in the Mission, but I could be wrong, it was at least 10 years ago. I just know there were like seven of us and just as we were about to leave the bar, another group of five of our friends, including Bhi Bhiman, randomly walked in. These kinds of things don’t really happen any more once you’re in your thirties in San Francisco. The tightknit group of people who you spent all your time with in your twenties are now scattered across the world and wrapped up in things like babies, and mortgages, and careers, and have better things to do than drag themselves through the city’s dive bars in the 1am darkness.

“Out of all the gin joints in all the world,” Bhi said, and I thought he was clever because, even though I hadn’t seen Casablanca yet, I knew it was something that people said and this was the perfect situation for it. We said our hellos and all shared a shot and when Tia, my girlfriend at the time, said she had to pee, I told her we’d meet her outside.

Five or six of us stood outside bullshitting as two really trashed guys walked swerving down the sidewalk. Just as they turned to head into the bar, Tia was walking out. One of them said something, threw his arms around her, and began pushing her towards the wall. She yelped “STU!” and those of us outside turned around immediately. When I threw him off her, the creep hit the door with a bang just as the rest of our large group was walking out. The other guy got in my face just as all 11 of my friends from both inside and outside the bar, surrounded the two of them. “The smartest thing you and Rapey Hands over here can do is leave right now,” I said, and they quickly scuttled the fuck away. I was glad for that, I didn’t want a 12-on-two beat down on my conscious.

This obviously has bears no reflection on Yancy’s (724 Irving, SF. 415-665-6551), the story just popped into my head. In fact, I fucking love Yancy’s. It’s got cheap drinks and smart-mouthed bartenders.

It’s also decorated with weird memorabilia, stained glass, and hanging potted plants. It’s got a great darts set up, and it’s big enough to accommodate any sized party. Hell, I’ve even brought my 40+ person pub crawl here a number of times. Yancy’s is always a great time.

But for some reason my mind keeps coming back to that story. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of all the shit that the women I love have to deal with. Maybe it’s because I wish there always happened to be a group of 12 guys around to intimidate anyone who tries to sexually assault someone.

Maybe it’s just because certain things will always trigger certain memories and Yancy’s just happens to trigger this one in me. All I know is that the world is a fucked up place and that we have to look out for each other. If you see someone who looks like they might be in trouble, stop and ask if they are OK. If they aren’t, call the cops. If your friends are actually catcalling women, tell them that they are fucking creeps. When things go wrong don’t put the blame on the women involved.

And most importantly: Guys, stop being Rapey Hands.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

Feasting on flacks


THE WEEKNIGHTER Sometimes it happens. PR companies take me out, feed me, and get me boozed up. All with the hope that I will write about the place that’s feeding/boozing me. Sometimes I write about the place, sometimes I don’t. I make no promises other than I promise to consume the food and booze that’s put in front of me. I imagine I’ve had worse lifetimes, but I wouldn’t know.

This time Natalie was taking me to Chaya (132 Embarcadero, SF, (415) 777-8688) on the PR company’s dime. Sitting on the Embarcadero with staggering views of the bay, Chaya is absolutely lovely. Come at sunset to see the lights twinkle on the Emperor Norton Bridge and sit down to a romantic dinner of incredible French-Japanese fusion.

In fact, if I’m not mistaken, Chaya was one of the first places doing “fusion” back before that was a beaten and tired word in the culinary world. That’s because Chaya has been around in SF for 14 years, which is a remarkable feat in any town, but nearly magical in San Francisco. The thing is, 14 years ain’t shit compared to the fact that the family that owns the Chaya has been in the hospitality business for almost 400 years.

According to the thing Natalie just sent me (since I neglected to take notes): Chaya has an unprecedented 390-year history of restaurants owned and operated by the same Tsunoda family both in Japan and California. Chaya began under an enormous shade tree in Hayama, Japan, centuries ago, where it offered tea, sweets, and respite to weary horseback travelers.

As they say in Japan: that shit cray.

Sitting down in the back area with Natalie and Matthew, Chaya’s marketing manager, I was told about the restaurant’s all-night happy hour, which happens every day. Chaya has long been an after work staple for the well-heeled, so it only made sense to extend the length of happy hour to keep those with well-coiffed hair quaffing well-made drinks.

Then the food came out and it was glorious. I don’t remember exactly what we ate, but there was a lot of it and it was brilliant and made my mouth happy. Matthew was excited to have me eat the Temari-style sushi, which is little round balls of rice topped with fish so fresh you can almost taste their souls. If fish had souls, that is. More food followed, as did drinks with whimsical names and suddenly, somehow, I was full and drunk. Life was good.

Natalie and Matthew began telling me about something called the Kaisen platter, which is a full selection of various raw seafood meant to be shared. “That sounds amazing,” I said, “but if you actually bring that out here right now, I may cry.” I had made the mistake of saying that I would eat and drink anything they put in front of me, and the clever bastards had the balls to call my bluff. Every man has his limits and I had found mine.

It was the golden hour when I finally toppled out of Chaya. The buildings were shimmering like pyrite and by the time I made it to Market, the street had a pinkish hue.

“I think I’m gonna walk home,” I told Natalie. “If you don’t hear from me, it’s because I ruptured something and died on the way home.”

I didn’t die.

Wizard of brews


THE WEEKNIGHTER I was hanging out with Steve Jones. I’m pretty sure it was the first time just the two of us were kicking it, even though I’d known him for years and he’d been my editor at SFBG for at least six months. There was supposed to be some kind of Mixmaster Mike event at a loft in the Dogpatch, and when we arrived, there was nothing. So we did the next best thing. We got some drinks.

After chewing on some jerky and tipping back a tipple at Third Rail, one of us remembered that Magnolia Dogpatch and Smokestack (2505 Third St, SF. had recently opened nearby. And it was our job, nay, our duty to check it out.

Cruising down Third Street, me walking, Steve pushing his wild looking bike, we nearly passed Magnolia’s front door. “Is it open?” Steve asked. The windows were covered in old newspapers and the exterior looked like some rundown factory.

“I think so,” I replied. “I think I hear music.” As I pulled the door open suddenly it was that scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy steps into Technicolor, except instead of badass musical munchkins, Steve and I were greeted by the smell of barbecue and the clanking and thrumming of people drinking.

Now you are looking at Steve and me. Time has stopped outside on gritty Third Street and the golden light of the wondrous inner world of Magnolia illuminates our faces as we are frozen in wide-grinned delight. And boom! Time picks back up and we step inside. Steve looks at me, “I think we made the right choice.”

“I’m gonna eat the fuck out of everything,” I respond.

There’s a trend that’s getting tired in all of San Francisco’s new bars and restaurants. You know it: reclaimed wood, exposed Edison bulbs, typewriters that, for fuck’s sake, no one will ever use. Magnolia is not like this. Yes it feels old-timey, but in a way that actually seems like it might be real. Housed in a former can factory, Magnolia looks like an indoor beer garden where the workers might have rushed to drink once the foreman blew the whistle. It harks back to the neighborhood’s dilapidated past while enticing San Francisco’s well heeled modernity. It’s magnificent.

And it has beer. Lots of it. Magnolia — an offshoot of Magnolia Pub in the Haight — brews it in mega vats (this is not a technical term) on the premises, and it’s really lovely. The beers have musical names like Cole Porter, or contain Grateful Dead references like New Speedway Bitter and Delilah Jones Rye. Oh yes, proprietor Dave McLean — I, too, am a fan of the Dead. And the food, good lord the food! Dennis Lee from Namu Gaji really did the thing this time calling it “non-denominational” BBQ, or so it says on Eater, because I’m reading that right now since I didn’t take notes. I was eating BBQ and drinking beer, man, I couldn’t take notes… I just wanna know what’s behind the door that says “Dictating.”

Steve and I stepped out of magical Magnolia-land and back onto dreary Third Street. He peddled off on his bike and I wandered over to catch the bus. I popped around the corner to take a piss before my long bus ride, and a girl rounded the corner and almost ran into me. She stopped, looked at my face, looked at my dick, then turned around and continued smoking a cigarette, with her back to me, while texting on her phone. The scene was made weirder by the fact that I was wearing a captain’s hat and probably had BBQ sauce all over my face.

And that, my friends, is how you write a story about a bar.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

Sixth at the Syc


THE WEEKNIGHTER “This place sucks now. I mean what the fuck is going on in SF?” Chloe was visiting from either Portland or LA or wherever it was she was living that wasn’t San Francisco anymore. A few of us were sitting around, drinking in the 4pm light at the front window of The Sycamore (2140 Mission, SF. A handful of folks had come out to see Chloe since she was just around for a couple days and as usual when you don’t see someone for awhile, it became a “remember when…” conversation.

“I think San Francisco is better off since the Arrow Bar closed down,” I was telling Richie Panic. “Yeah,” he responded, “you didn’t hang out at the Arrow Bar, you did time there.” In the early and mid 2000s The Arrow Bar was the ultimate hipster den of vice and many of the people around the table had all met each other there and somehow survived. Considering the bar had been on Sixth Street near Market, someone at the table made a joke about more blow being done in the bar than crack being smoked outside it, to which we all laughed. It was probably true.

Somebody got up for another round of drinks. Since The Sycamore only has wine and beer he brought back a clutch of Miller High Lifes and we resumed the game of Cards Against Humanity that we weren’t really playing. The Sycamore is perfect for this kind of afternoon. Art lines the walls and beer handles that aren’t being used at the moment hang from the ceiling. Board games are conspicuously stacked so that anyone can play them and a jukebox is stuffed with all the right tunes. It’s good for place to while away an afternoon with friends and watch the wackjobs of Mission Street putter by at a laconic pace.

“Have you been over there lately?” I asked Chloe, bringing the conversation back to The Arrow Bar. “I mean, they’ve by no means cleaned it up, but it is actually getting slightly better.”

“Ha! Could you imagine that?” she laughed. “How many seismic cultural twists would San Francisco have to go through to see a cleaned-up Sixth Street? The day Sixth Street isn’t the shadiest street ever is the day San Francisco is officially dead.” She had a point.

I headed to the bathroom and along the way saw one of my stickers on the water cooler. I didn’t know if I’d put it there or if someone else had. It’s often hard to remember details about the last time you were in a bar. When I got back to the table I was excited to see that the magic trick had worked again. You know the magic trick: It’s when you come back to the table and the food that you’d ordered earlier is miraculously there. We all dived into the fries, sliders, and pork belly doughnuts like the drunk people we were.

After eating and drinking some more, people began to head off in their own directions on whatever adventure their day-drinking would lead them on. I said bye to whomever was still left and gave Chloe a hug. “It’s really weird,” she said. “I basically grew up here, and it’s like every time I come back to visit, it’s so drastically different that I barely recognize it.”

I walked out Sycamore’s door, turned around, and did my best Humphrey Bogart, “At least we’ll always have Sixth Street.” And then I went home.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Call the Pope


THE WEEKNIGHTER It’s a funny thing to be filling out a job application and have to put your previous employer as Tony the Pope. But that’s the name I know him by, and truthfully, I don’t wanna know his real last name, anyways. I prefer to have at least a little bit of mystery in my life.

I had been working at The Unresolved Love Life of Evelyn Lee, which may be the longest name for a bar ever, when I got news that the bar had been sold to Tony and would now be called Mission Hill Saloon (491 Potrero, SF. 415-552-5545)… again. It had been Mission Hill before it was Evelyn Lee, and apparently Tony was changing it back. Regardless, I came to love working at the place and didn’t care what it was called as long as I had a shift or two.

Depending on the bar, the regulars can either be the best or worst thing about it. The jury is still out about which category Mission Hill’s falls into. Or at least, that’s the kind of shit I’d talk to them while behind the bar. A bartender’s best weapon is his wit, and working at Mission Hill Saloon was a good test of mine every time I was at the stick. The crowd ranges from hipsters to cooks and construction workers — and all of them are prepared to give you a hard time for absolutely no reason at all. And that’s just how I like it.

I experienced one of my most ridiculous San Francisco moments ever while working there. I’d been chatting with a girl on OkCupid, and we had made plans to grab a drink on Sunday evening. We never discussed where I worked so we were both surprised when she came in on my Thursday night shift. Coincidently, she lived above the bar. That is some serious San Francisco shit right there. We went out once and decided it would be easier to just be friends considering she lived above the bar I worked at. [Good call — Ed.]

The Mission Hill Saloon is in an old building. I’m not sure of its age, but it’s old enough. One night, Raph, one of the regulars, told me — as I was closing the bar at 2am — that the place was seriously haunted and that he wouldn’t want to be in there all by himself at night. He gave me a wink as I ushered him out the door and locked it behind him. The asshole knew I had at least an hour of closing duties, by myself, in that old bar. I didn’t want him to know that his saying that shit really spooked me, and I put at least $5 in the jukebox so I wouldn’t hear any late night creepy old building sounds. Nothing ghostly ended up happening. Or if it did, I couldn’t hear it over the jams.

Unfortunately I only worked at Mission Hill Saloon for a little while. After Tony bought the bar he decided to work as many shifts on his own as he could, just to keep costs down. I completely understood, and I knew he’d be a great reference for whatever my next bar gig would be. Which is why I found myself filling out an application and using Tony the Pope as a previous employer. Tony may not be a religious man, but he sure does pour some strong-ass holy water. Plus, now it’s nice to be on the other side of the bar — so I can join the peanut gallery and give him shit.

P.S. This Weeknighter is dedicated to Ashley Dickinson who loves Mission Hill almost as much as I do.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

Starred, Striped


THE WEEKNIGHTER Dave’s bar is America. I don’t mean that in the sense that you walk in the door and get the hairy eyeball, with a chaser of, “What the kind of hippie-communist-homo are you?” (Spoken in a drawl, of course). I mean it in the most basic sense — the mythic melting pot of equality and freedom. When you enter Dave’s (29 Third St, SF) you are entering a new world. It doesn’t matter how much you make (or don’t make), what you drive, or whether you work on construction sites or the human brain. All of that is left at the door. The only thing that matters is if you like to drink.

There are no mustachioed bartenders in suspenders playing with tinctures distilled from random Amazonian berries you’ve never heard of. Instead, you’re often greeted by an Irish lady who you can tell won’t take any shit, but who will also chat with you all day long. This is a fucking bar, man. Some days you show up and there’s free food put out. Other days you sit on a stool and somebody you’ve never met buys a round for the entire bar. It’s almost like Dave’s has some supernatural ability to give you whatever it is that you need on that particular day.

You sit at that bar long enough you’ll hear every kind of story imaginable, from every kind of person. You’ll walk in just to have a quick shot and a beer — and leave four hours later, having met, dunk, and talked shit with a car salesman from Oklahoma, a recently off-work janitor, a tech millionaire, and someone whose family has had 49ers season tickets since they played at Kezar Stadium. You will never see any of these people again in your life, unless you go back to Dave’s.

I’ve actually taken a few girls on first dates to Dave’s. I mean, we didn’t spend the entire time there, but used it more as a meeting place from which to embark on the rest of our activities. You’re probably saying, “Hey Stu, why would you take girl you’re trying to impress, and with whom you’re hoping to touch special places, to a dive bar like Dave’s?” Besides the fact that I’m broke and can actually afford the awesomely cheap drinks, Dave’s, in its own way, makes everyone feel comfortable. It was voted least pretentious bar in SF for this reason. Dave’s is the bar that everyone has had a good time at, even if they’ve never been there before.

These days I worry about places like Dave’s. Sure it’s been there for like 30 years or something, but it doesn’t have the shine and sheen that so many recently opened bars in SF have. For those of us who know better, this is exactly why it’s attractive. I just worry that the Robert Moseses of the world, the people who would plow a giant freeway through quaint Greenwich Village, have too much steam behind them right now. These are the people who don’t realize that having reclaimed wood and Edison bulbs and $13 cocktails doesn’t make a place special. In fact, it makes a place just like everywhere else. I’ll take a shot and a beer at Dave’s over all that fluff any day of the week. Hell, I’ll probably see you there.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at 


Sailing through


THE WEEKNIGHTER It opened a couple years ago at this point. Someone had said to me, “Hey man you been to Southern Pacific Brewing yet?” I hadn’t even heard of it, “What the fuck is a Southern Pacific Brewing?” I asked. A giant, 10,000-square-foot brewpub had just opened almost directly behind my regular bar, The Homestead, and, like, two blocks from my apartment — and I hadn’t even heard of it. Well maybe it’s because it’s not my apartment anymore, I thought to myself. I’d recently moved out of the neighborhood after breaking up with my long-term girlfriend and was sleeping on my cousin’s couch… for a few months.

You know, just some SF shit.

It seemed like my life, my neighborhood, and my city were all spiraling, not exactly out of control, but past mere comprehension. Besides the upheaval of my personal life, San Francisco was just beginning to swell with some kind of sickness, one that it had somehow survived a decade before. And my neighborhood, the Mission, seemed to be the place on San Francisco’s body where the sores of the Money Virus were showing the most. Restaurants were opening on Valencia faster than zippers at the (soon-to-be-closed) Lusty Lady, and little shops and bookstores that had been around for decades were getting tossed out with the trash.

But the thing that worried me the most was that I, Broke-Ass Stuart, the guy who likes to think he knows this city better than anyone, hadn’t even heard of Southern Pacific Brewing. “Have I lost a step?” I wondered. I knew I had to check it out.

All anyone had really said about Southern Pacific Brewing (620 Treat Ave, SF. was that it was HUGE! The ceiling is probably 2.5 stories high and the old warehouse space holds not just the bar-restaurant but also the entire brewing operation as well. I noticed all this when I walked in that first night, despite the fact that I was pretty trashed. I’d downed some booze at Dear Mom, banged a few back at Bender’s, hoovered some shots at the Homestead, and then sauntered into Southern Pacific. I was drowning in heartbreak and — that friend’s couch — numbing backache.

“It is huge,” I said to whichever of my no-goodnik friends I was with that night. We took in the environs. There was a sizable crowd, lots of good-looking people who probably would’ve been terrified to go that deep into the Mission a few years before. Thrillist or something like that had just blown the place up that day so all the Chads and Madisons from other parts of the city were there to explore a “hot new neighborhood spot,” I figured.

And then I looked around some more and saw plenty of Mission locals and natives whom I’d spent my twenties running around the neighborhood dive bars with. It was a good mix of everything the Mission was at the moment, for better and for worse. I liked the place immediately.

A bit later I ran into a girl I hadn’t seen in awhile and we talked about the city and its changes and about all the things that happen to you while you’re trying to grow up. And then it was last call and my friends were gone so the girl took me home with her. I hadn’t slept in a bed in a long time, so for at least that night my heartache and my backache were put to rest.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Foaming at the mouth


THE WEEKNIGHTER There’s a series of photos of me at Mad Dog in the Fog (530 Haight St, SF. 415-626-7279) where I am an absolute monster. I’m dressed in a wretched, beer-stained Santa suit, I have Mickey Mouse ears on, and there’s also some kind of sparkly garland thing adorning my head. In most of the pictures I’m flipping off the camera and making ridiculous faces that usually include an Elvis type lip curl. I look unhinged. I look subhuman. Goddamn, I look like I’m having fun. It was SantaCon 2011.

One of the few things I remember about our pit stop at the Mad Dog was gurgling, “I didn’t know they had a backyard here!” as we stumbled out into it. Apparently they do have one. I feel like I may have found out where the bar’s name came from as well, but that was lost, just like my sense of personhood that day. There is nothing noble about being Oscar the Grouch-level trashed. The only thing you get out of it is a bunch of photos where you look like somebody Shrek wouldn’t even fuck.

Luckily for us, Mad Dog is used to having stark, raving lunatics, in colorful garb, wasted there in the middle of the day. In fact the Lower Haight pub just had a full month of it. Mad Dog in the Fog has long been a staple for any soccer fan in San Francisco. Whether it’s the World Cup or The English Premier League or even a Las Chivas game, Mad Dog lives and breathes soccer. The doors open at 7am every Saturday and Sunday, so people can come watch their favorite team shoot goals and take flops.

I was lucky that day in 2011 that Mad Dog doesn’t serve hard alcohol. I was in a state of saying “hell yes” to pretty much everything, and who knows what would’ve happened. This lack of hard alcohol is also a blessing to serious beer drinkers: It allows Mad Dog to serve more than 150 different kinds of beer from around the world, some of which are rare and hard to get.

In fact, Mad Dog is so supportive of your beer problem that it even lets you pour your own. Yes, you read that right. A few years ago the proprietors installed a TableTender, a system of two taps that stick out of the middle of a table. You and your pals then pour all the beer you’d like from said taps and a display keeps track of how much you drink. Afterwards you settle your tab with the bar staff. I’m pretty sure they were hiding the TableTender from me and my friends that day. I would’ve if I were them.

I’d like to say that after behaving like a Garbage Pail Kid at Mad Dog in the Fog I went home and slept it off, but that would be a lie. Just like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I was a tenacious bastard and led my party of holiday revelers to a number of other bars after that. I eventually lost them all, of course, and ended up at a house party… I think. Honestly nothing else I did later that night exists because nobody, to my knowledge, took any more photos.

But to this day, every time I walk by Mad Dog in the Fog, even when there’s a line of 50 people waiting to get in to watch a sports game, I mutter to myself, “I didn’t know they had a backyard here!” and smile thinking about that weird day back in 2011.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


I want to believe


THE WEEKNIGHTER I don’t know, man. Would I believe what, that cocktails exist? Yes absolutely, I have four in my belly right now. Is this an X-Files themed bar? I hope so! Why is the grammar so totally screwed up in the name of this bar? What is the goddamn question anyways?

These are all things I was thinking as Ashley and I walked into Would You Believe? Cocktails (4652 Geary Blvd., SF. 415-752-7444). We’d wandered down from Trad’r Sam on our little weeknight adventure in the Richmond and here we were. Walking in I surveyed the scene: sitting around the bar was a crowd of Asian folks of various ages. Some were drinking and talking, others flirting with each other, while still others were at the short end of the bar slamming down dice. One girl kept squealing very loudly every time the dice went down. I don’t think she quite understood the game.

“I know what the question is,” I told Ashley. “It’s ‘Would You Believe how cheap the drinks are here?!'” Well drinks were $4, a shot and a beer combo was $5, and Hennessey was also $5. I don’t drink Henny, but I spend enough time in bars to know that’s insanely cheap.

“Hey, wanna have an orgy?” Ashley smiled as she asked me. I’d been trying to get her to warm up to the idea of a threesome for a while, so I was surprised that, of all places, Would You Believe? was what finally got her in the mood. Then I looked where she was pointing and saw that I’d been had. An “Orgy” was just the name of one of the spot’s signature cocktails. Other drinks had names like “Wet Pussy” and “One Night Stand.” I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a drink called a “Long Slow Fisting Against a Wall.”

I stuck with my usual vodka soda, and we picked a place on a banquette to soak in the atmosphere. In this case the “atmosphere” was fake flowers, lots of mirrors, low lighting accented with some blues and purples, and songs by 2 Chainz. I fucking hate 2 Chainz.

My favorite part of Would You Believe was the sign outside that said “Forecast for Tonight: Alcohol. Low Standards and Bad Decisions.” I’m always a sucker for clever sidewalk signs. I was telling Ashley this when a group of five guys rolled in, none of which could’ve have been more than 22 years old. Considering they were all so clean cut and of pretty much every ethnicity but Asian, I said, “Those guys have to be hostel kids. There’s no way they are local.” I strained to hear what their accents were but dice kept banging on the bar and the damn woman kept squealing about it. Nobody likes dice that much. The whole scene was pretty weird.

The new boys flirted with the pretty bartenders and then played some pool and Ashley and I lost interest in figuring out what their accents were. The night was misty and cold and the thought of my warm bed was enough to draw us out of there and send us on our way. But we still never got the answer to the question “Would You Believe?”

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

The mayor of tiki


WEEKNIGHTER The best tiki bar I’ve ever been to is Smith’s Union Bar in Honolulu’s Chinatown. It’s a shitty little tiki dive bar with even shittier karaoke. It’s also the oldest bar on the island. The night I was there it was full of Navy dudes, punk chicks, gay guys, and a big hulking, transgendered Pacific Islander. I had the crowd arm-in-arm singing “Tiny Dancer” and “Don’t Let Me Down” while cheering me on and buying me drinks after I sang. It was pretty much what I wish happened every night of my life.

While nothing can quite compare to Smith’s Union for obvious reasons, Trad’r Sam (6150 Geary Blvd, SF. 415-221-0773) is probably my second favorite tiki bar in the world. Sitting way out on Geary and 26th Avenue, Trad’r Sam got its start as a Trader Vic knockoff back in the 1930s. And it seems not much has changed since then. Cheap, powerful, colorful drinks come in punch bowls while wicker and cushion booths line the perimeter of the room. Cash is the only form of legal tender accepted and really drunk people abound. The bar itself is shaped in an irregular half circle with a lump, like a boob job gone wrong.

It was a foggy Tuesday night and Ashley and I had just come from Rockin Crawfish down the way. Neither of us make it out to the Richmond very often so it was an excuse to wander into places that she’s never been and I hadn’t been in years. As we walked in the door we were blown away by how busy it was. It seemed like the only business with any customers on that side of Park Presidio. “Damn, it’s busy,” I said to the door guy. “Is it always like this on Tuesdays?” I asked. He replied, “Pretty much.”

We were impressed. Most of the bars in that part of town, at that particular hour on a weeknight, had a client base consisting of old drunks pissing away what little money they had while staring into their beers. Somehow Trad’r Sam had every young and attractive person in the Richmond inside its walls that night. People of all ethnicities mingled together sipping flamboyant drinks while laughing, flirting, and grooving to music like MGMT.

“Can I touch your coat? Where’d you get it?” a girl asked as she approached us.

“Sure,” I said, “I got it at some thrift store.”

To which she responded by hugging me and saying, “I’m Jillian and you smell like garlic fries.” Jillian told us that Trad’r Sam was her favorite bar and since she lived nearby, she was there all the time. “Everyone here is so nice,” she told me, “Most of the time one of the bartenders walks me home. And if I black out I always make it home safely.” Blacking out is an easy thing to do at Trad’r Sam. Considering how many new SF bars have drinks that start at $12, the most expensive drink at Trad’r Sam is $16 and comes in a bowl meant for multiple people.

Walking out that night and towards the next bar on our adventure, I told Ashley about Smith’s Union and all the incredible things that happen there. “That’s all well and good,” she told me, “but I bet you never met the mayor there.”

“Huh?” I asked and she showed me her phone check in at Trad’r Sam. Apparently Jillian was the mayor on Foursquare. I never new smelling like garlic fries would lead me to meet such illustrious people. If you make it to Trad’r Sam, give the mayor a hug for me.


The warm-up


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

There’s something romantic about San Francisco’s summertime fog. Those damp and chilly nights belong only to us, and the atmosphere they create is what dreams are made of. While the rest of the country simultaneously shares the same experience of panting and sweltering, we bundle up in scarves and coats and hoodies and boots just to run to the store. Maybe that’s the real reason San Francisco feels like a bubble. Maybe it’s not just that we’re this bedrock of progressivism and technological innovation. Maybe it’s that, like living inside a shaken snow globe, our lives are defined by the fact that the rest of the world is obscured from us by the mists floating in the air.

I’ve been telling Noah for a while that I’m gonna go visit him at the Fireside Bar (603 Irving, SF. 415-731-6433). We used to work Thursday nights together at the Golden Gate Tap Room until we didn’t anymore, and I’ve been meaning to catch up with him during one of his shifts at the Fireside. Situated at the corner of Seventh and Irving, the Fireside may be the perfect neighborhood bar. It’s got a dive bar feel without being rundown and smelly, the drinks are stiff and cheap, and the regulars are friendly enough. But most importantly it’s got a motherfucking fireplace.

Imagine this: You’ve decided to get out of your regular routine and go explore somewhere else. Maybe you wandered around Golden Gate Park or decided to check out the Inner Sunset. Or you just walked to the end of Upper Haight and decided to keep on going into the unknown. It’s July in San Francisco, and the sun is starting to go down, and you’ve been wandering around all day with someone who makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. Let’s grab a drink, one of you says as your feet start to hurt and your mouth feels parched and the top of the ear where you just kissed your special person is cold to the touch. And then you see the Fireside Bar. While San Francisco summers have been around far longer than the Fireside, it’s weird to imagine one without the other. You think about this as the two of you order drinks before sitting down to make love-eyes at each other near the fireplace.

I first moved to San Francisco in the summertime, and considering I lived in the Upper Haight, the fog was like a visitor who showed up towards the end of each day. My friend Maria lived a block down from me so one night we got drunk at her place and decided to go on an adventure. I grabbed my skateboard, she put on her roller skates and we headed west to explore parts of SF neither of us was familiar with. Cutting through the fog and the shadows of UCSF we eventually found our way to the Fireside, where we stopped for drinks and so Maria could clean up the scrapes she received from falling repeatedly on her skates. We got warm by the fire and then managed to get our drunk asses back to our respective homes without either of us cracking our heads open. It was a romantic night, not in a sexual way, but in a way where we both knew we were two people falling in love with San Francisco and its foggy ways.

I think it’s time I finally get my shit together and go visit Noah. Maybe I need a little fog and the Fireside to remind me of all the reasons I fell in love with this city in the first place.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

On the hoof


THE WEEKNIGHTER Roughly a decade ago a guy named Ken came into the restaurant I was working at in North Beach. He was new to SF so I convinced him to buy my zine Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco. Thinking it was a good idea, he tried to drink at every bar in the zine in a single night. That was, in fact, a terrible idea and he ended up blacking out and getting kicked out of a few of them. But what he woke up with the next day, besides a horrific hangover, was a brilliant idea: the Broke-Ass Stuart Pub Crawl. And it was through this act of genius that Ken and I became good friends.

The idea was simple; get a big vehicle, fill it with lots of rowdy, drunk people, and cruise around SF descending on bars like a Mongol horde. Ken and his peeps worked at the corporate offices of multibillion dollar companies so they could afford one of those boozy trollies that you see around. Considering no one I knew had any money, I rented a big yellow school bus and filled it with my fellow broke folk, then the trolley and the bus caravanned around town causing mayhem.

As you can tell already, Ken is a man of vision and he said to me at one of our drunken stops, “There’s something I need to do. You know The Black Horse London Pub (1514 Union, SF. 415-928-2414)? It’s the smallest bar in San Francisco. I want to break the record for how many people have fit in there at one time. This is important shit, man.” I could tell Ken was serious, but there was no way both the bus people and the trolley people could all fit into the Black Horse. We decided it was best if the trolley people did Ken’s mission from god by themselves. Afterwards they would meet us at the next stop.

The Black Horse London Pub really is the smallest bar in San Francisco. It’s only 136 square feet, so all it has room for is seven seats, a little bit of standing room, a bar, and a bathtub full of beer. In fact, all it serves is beer. It also has “ten commandments” that include things like women having priority over the seating, kisses being the only thing allowed to be thrown in the bar, and not using your phone. It’s a good place for a party of two — and a terrible place for a party trolley.

“We did it!” Ken told me as he met us at the next bar, “We broke the record!” Honestly, I don’t know if there even was a record before that night, but there certainly was now. Ken was beaming and I was proud of him. He set out to achieve something and he accomplished it with flying colors. Fucking tenacity…or at least, fucking booznacity.

Since then we’ve done the pub crawl six times and Ken has even managed to beat his previous record. Of course nobody is ever sober enough to remember what the record is. Maybe I’ll pop into The Black Horse, ask the owner James if he knows the record, and tell him I’m thinking about planning another pub crawl soon. Hopefully he won’t make an 11th commandment forbidding them.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Who moved my cheese?


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

I think it was SF writer Brock Keeling who told me The Lion Pub (2062 Divisdero St, SF. 415-567-6565) used to be a gay bar. Well, I mean he didn’t tell me, I read it on his old site SFist, but you get the point. There was some reference to “remembering when the Lion Pub was a gay bar” and I thought, actually I don’t remember that at all. To me the Lion Pub had always been that place that had the cheese spread and that acted as the Normandy in the Marina’s D-Day-like onslaught of Divisidero. It was the first place over the hill where the waves of guys in collared shirts and gals in uncomfortable shoes had landed before slowly, intrepidly, marching south.

It’s hard to be nostalgic for a something you never experienced, but you can sure as hell romanticize it… not that I’m really doing either. As a straight guy I don’t imagine myself trekking all the way over to Lower Pac Heights to frequent a gay bar, especially when I live close to so many on Folsom Street. But Pete Kane’s recent article in SF Weekly about the death of gay culture in SF got me thinking about the peculiarities of The Lion Pub’s transformation. When the bar switched teams in the early 2000s it must’ve been jarring for the regular patrons. What had been a gay bar since 1971 (according to the Gay Bar History Log on The Cinch’s website) was suddenly being filled with the kind of people who still called their friends “fags” when they were busting their balls.

This was the early 2000s after all, way before Ellen or Michael Sam, and not long after Matthew Shepard. Now I’m not saying for sure that shitty things happened, because I want to believe this is/was the San Francisco we all think it is/was. But what I am saying is that the switch from a gay bar to a Marina bar must’ve been mind-boggling.

But I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there. [Ed Note: It was weird, but OK. —Ye Olde Marke B.] The first time I visited The Lion Bar was probably in 2006 and I was incredibly impressed. It felt somewhere between a fern bar (its hidden gay legacy peeking through) and a Victorian parlor, it had a disco ball, and most importantly it had free food. I was researching the “free food” section for my book Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco, and someone had tipped me off to the Lion Pub. Rumor was they put out a big cheese spread and even did free sushi on some nights.

So of course I had to go investigate. Walking in that first night I could smell the fresh fruit juice and could spy attractive people milling around. It was bigger than I expected and it wasn’t till I walked around a bit that I found what I was looking for: cheese and crackers! When I asked the barkeep how often they did this, he just kinda shrugged his shoulders and said, “Pretty much whenever they feel like it,” and let it at that.

I haven’t been back to the Lion’s Pub in years but rumor has it that the luminous cheese spread is no more, which bums me out. But maybe next time I’m in the area I’ll pop in anyways for one of its notorious greyhounds — and I’ll try to imagine what it was like back before everything got so straight. I’ll bring my own cheese spread just for old times’ sake.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Fogged in


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

We decided to walk around the Tenderloin. I had my computer, Gene had his bike, and Sabrina had a bag of things I’m sure she didn’t want taken from her as well. We were coming from my weekly Wednesday gig at Monarch where I do a coloring book happy hour.

“It’s very San Francisco out,” I said as we came up Taylor and saw the fog sliding its fingers down the sides of Nob Hill’s buildings. “I love summer in San Francisco,” I mused. “Me too,” Sabrina said, “I hate when people bitch about it. It’s part of San Francisco and loving it is part of being a San Franciscan.”

As we got to the entrance of Jones (620 Jones, SF., the three of us landed on something we felt was important at the moment, that before this current gold rush, it was San Francisco’s summers that weeded out who would stay and who would go. You couldn’t take the mist and the fog? Then you got the fuck out of town. That fog is our inheritance and our merit badge and such a part of The City that you have to love it to live here.

Walking out onto the patio at Jones we were surprised there were no heat lamps. The entirely of the joint’s drinkers were crammed into the little sidebar adjacent to the patio, and as we sat down at the short end of the bar, the three of us gave each other a knowing glance. It said: How many of these people are experiencing their first San Francisco summer? How many would be considering packing up and heading back to wherever they’re from if they weren’t here for the gold rush? How many are living in apartments recently vacated by people whose love for the fog, and all it represents, just wasn’t enough to be able to keep them here?

Gene tipped the barman with a two-dollar bill. “Oh wow,” the bartender said, “you’re still doing that after all this time?” Gene told us he’d met him years before, during the first dot com boom, when the guy tended bar at 111 Minna. “Back then Minna was just a small one room space, not like it is now, Gene explained. “And I remember being there and learning for the first time how badly cocaine got on top of some people when these two girls, up from LA, were offering to blow people for blow.” As I looked around the room at all the pretty and well-dressed people, I wondered what they’d all be willing to do to get something they really wanted. I wondered the same thing about myself. What was I willing to do to stay in San Francisco if push came to shove and shove came to eviction.

Across the bar I noticed a friend who was obviously on a date and even more obviously drunk. “Hey look who it is,” I said to Sabrina who was also friends with the girl, and our conversation changed to the fact that, another integral part of living here is being ok with your past. “You can’t burn bridges,” Gene said, “since you’re bound to run into that person on a barstool sometime soon.” To which I replied, “If you burnt San Francisco’s bridges, all we’d be left with was the Peninsula…” The joke hit all three of us harder than expected. We looked around, looked at each other, and then left the bar. We felt more at home amid the fog anyways. 

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at  

Secret passages


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

It was weird that Anthony wanted to go to Bourbon & Branch (501 Jones St, SF. 415-346-1735) for his birthday. “But you don’t drink,” I said, hoping to find out why someone who’d never had a drop of booze in his life, due to being born with a bum liver, would want to go to a fancy bar. “I know that, dummy,” he told me. “But I heard they have a secret room that opens up when you pull a book!”

He had me there. Bourbon & Branch has a few secret rooms that open up when you do various Hardy Boys-esque actions. It’s one of the bar’s many charms. When it opened in 2006, there were no mustache bars in San Francisco. You know what I mean by mustache bars — the ones where a bow tie and suspender wearing, mustachioed man squeezes tiny tinctures into your drink from a utensil clearly invented by alchemists. They are omnipresent in current-day San Francisco but when Bourbon & Branch opened, it was the first one in the city.

At this point, anyone who spends a lot of time in bars is pretty tired of cocktails that are too precious and take too much time, and most of us are waiting for the backlash when places go back to specializing in a shot and a beer. But the thing that makes Bourbon & Branch great is that, while it can take a lot of credit for kicking off the pre-Prohibition cocktail craze in San Francisco, it still does it better than any of them. Why? Because of it’s attention to detail.

They say you’ll always remember your first one. But often times your second one is far better. The first speakeasy style bar I went to was Little Branch back when I lived in NYC, and it was cool. But it wasn’t until I moved back to San Francisco that I saw the trope played out to its full potential. Walking into Bourbon & Branch that first time in 2008 made the history nerd in me squeal. It felt like a real speakeasy. It was full of dark wood and was low lit by candles and a chandelier. Bartenders in ties and fedoras shook things vigorously while making cocktails that hadn’t been popular in half a century. People were only served if they were seated and they were encouraged to speak quietly.

And then I got to the backroom where suddenly the bookshelf opened and an entire other bar was laid out before me, filled with people drinking similarly well-made drinks while laughing and talking loudly. “Where the fuck am I,” I asked myself before realizing I couldn’t afford the place and leaving out the backdoor.

So a few years ago when Anthony said he wanted to go here for his birthday my first reaction was, “Motherfucker, why are we gonna go somewhere with $12 cocktails when you don’t even drink?” His answer was relatable to any of us who have ever dreamed of traveling through time or going on the kind of adventures you only see in movies or read about in books. He wanted to go through the secret passageway and spend time in a San Francisco that no longer exists.

So do I.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


The 8 things that made BottleRock, well, BottleRock


I am surrounded by people with purple teeth, stained from too much red wine. These people are twisted beyond belief, screaming obscenities about forgotten 90s bands, while wine sloshes around in glasses suspended by those stupid-looking lanyard wine glass holders. I want to say to them, “Literally, handle your shit. Like, physically hold your glass of wine. You’re a grown up.” It’s like a bad summer picnic for rich winos…

Or at least that’s how I imagined BottleRock to be as we drove up from San Francisco blaring the Gin Blossoms. It was my first time at this particular festival and like everything, I imagined the weirdest possible outcome. While I was dead wrong about the particulars, it was right about something: this festival was strange as shit. Here are a few things that made Bottle Rock, well, Bottle Rock. 

1. Cargo shorts – There were A LOT of cargo shorts. Especially the first day. My friend Lauryn was right, the time machine had worked. But instead of a My So-Called Life fashion parade, it was more like all the style trends of the past 40 years muddled together with large dollop of not really trying. Cargo shorts are the vanguard of not really trying. While I appreciate their utilitarianism, how many things do you really need to hold? I know I sound like a San Francisco snob, but really…cargo shorts.  


2. Middling bands – There were some really stellar, world-class acts at BottleRock. Outkast, The Cure, Weezer, TV on the Radio; these are the groups whose music helps not only define the moments of your lifetime but also whose existence has influenced the way music is created. That said, a lot of the bands who played over the weekend were probably as surprised as you were that they were booked. I wonder how many of them first said to their booking agent, “Are you fucking with me?” While groups like Smash Mouth, Third Eye Blind, The Spin Doctors, and Cracker all have one or two solid hits, festival-goers spent most of their sets fidgeting anxiously while muttering, “Dude, play the one song already.” We didn’t even get to stay long enough to find out if the Gin Blossoms played “Hey Jealousy” because well, The Cure was about to start. BottleRock was held where the Napa Town and Country Fair is held, which makes sense considering how many of the bands now play the fair circuit.


3. The crowd was really well-behaved – Honestly, what a nice group of 40,000 people. I remember saying at one point, “Nobody gets arrested at this festival.” Anyone who’s spent time in large groups of drunk people knows that feeling of menace being in the air. Like when you walk out of a sports game at the opponents home field after your team just won. It’s that feeling of, “things could get ugly real fast”. Well there was none of that at BottleRock. You could’ve headbutted somebody’s child and they would probably have apologized to you. Well done, Napa. You sure bring out nice folks. Case in point: At one point my lady friend Ashley lost her phone and some well-meaning person found it and brought it to a security guard. Ashley had it back in less than an hour.      

The Cure. Photo by Lauryn McCarthy.

4. The crowd was also kinda weak – At two different times during their incredible set, Andre 3000 and Big Boi, the principle members of Outkast, asked the crowed “Are you still with us?” [Ed note: this is embarrassing.] Outkast didn’t even come out for an encore. Maybe it’s because after two days of watching bands like Third Eye Blind, where the festival goers only knew one out of every six songs, they just weren’t emotionally equipped to handle a set this good. At this point they so yearned for something familiar that anytime Outkast strayed from their megahits, the crowd lost interest. I’m sorry, Andre and Big Boi. I was there with you the whole time. 

5. Matt and Kim make the world a better place – Seriously who knew that two people, a drum kit, and a synth could be so enthralling? Matt and Kim are the most fun band ever! I was never that into their recorded music, but after seeing them live, I want to start saving up now so I can afford to hire them to play my as-yet unborn child’s bar or bat mitzvah.

matt and kim
Matt and Kim

6. $20 glasses of wine – Yes, really. Glasses of wine were $20. Maybe that’s why everyone was so nice to each other, nobody could afford to get drunk.  

7. No place to stay and terrible traffic – One of the things that makes Napa so nice to visit, besides the whole being buzzed on wine samples thing, is that it’s a quaint and lovely little town. The problem with that is that when you have 40,000 people come in for the weekend it makes it really had for people to find a place to stay. This makes people stay in the Bay Area and commute each night, which in turn potentially puts a lot more intoxicated people on the road. There isn’t even shuttle service offered from San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley etc. Even though we stayed with friends for the weekend, everything was so impacted that it took an hour an a half to get an Uber. These are all things that the organizers should take into account for next year.   

8. The strict 10pm curfew – Napa’s lovely quaintness also means that BottleRock has neighbors who hate everything about the festival. Somebody told me they saw a sign on a nearby house that basically said, “Hey Bottle Rock: Get the fuck out of here”. Thus there was a strict 10pm curfew that lead to both The Cure and Heart getting the plug pulled on them. I’m not saying anything instructive here about it, I’m just saying “bummer.”

If my snarkiness makes it seem like I hated the festival, I apologize. Overall BottleRock was a good time and has a lot of potential to get even better as the years progress. Until then, let’s all make an effort to rid the world of cargo shorts.  

No web jukes


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

 The Internet jukebox may be the second worst thing that has happened to drinking since mankind invented alcohol. The first worst thing was the hangover, of course, but that has existed since the morning after alcohol was discovered. It took millennia for villains to come up with something nearly as vile as a hangover, and when they did, it was the Internet jukebox.

Think about it. The jukebox is one of the best ways for a bar to create its vibe. If you go to Zeitgeist, you know you’re going to hear Slayer. You may not like Slayer, but you at least know what you’re getting into and you accept it as part of the experience. The Internet jukebox pisses on all of that by taking away the establishment’s ability to curate its soundscape. Now any asshole can ruin everybody’s night by throwing a $50 bill in the machine and playing two hours of 2 Chainz. These people need to be taken out back and beaten with any number of chainz.

This was all part of the rant I was giving Alex as we sat on the barstools at Last Call (3988 18th St, SF. 415-861-1310). It was happy hour on a Tuesday and I was already a couple drinks in. One of the many things that makes Last Call great is that it doesn’t have an Internet jukebox. Instead, it has one that the owners filled with music they knew their customers would enjoy. Considering Last Call is a neighborhood bar in the Castro with a mild Irish pub feel to it, the box is filled with music like Madonna, The Smiths, U2, Kylie Minogue, and Cher. And of course, lots of disco. And you know what? It’s perfect.

There’s a lot more that makes Last Call great though. Fresh flowers always adorn the back bar, there’s a small library one can peruse, the drinks are stiff as hell, and there’s a cool ’70s-looking fireplace to keep you warm on one of San Francisco’s many chilly nights. But more than anything, it’s the friendliness of the bar that makes it great.

Last Call is a quintessential neighborhood bar. The regulars all know one another — but are more than welcoming when someone new comes in. While waiting for Alex to show up I sat there bullshitting with a handful of guys who were joking that, while they hated gym class in high school, they’d probably love it now because of all the hot boys.

Then there was Karl, the super duper nice happy hour bartender. Each time, just before my little bowl of popcorn went empty, he would appear and fill it again. Karl must’ve had that bartender sixth sense that told him I desperately needed food if I was going to continue downing vodka sodas. All this was happening while people down at the other end of the bar were yelling and high-fiving each other over something one of the Giants did. There wasn’t a shitty-seeming person in the whole joint; everyone seemed to love Last Call as much as it loved them.

“So in conclusion, I say ‘fuck the Internet jukebox’ and all the spineless bastards who invented it,” I finished haranguing Alex. “Jesus dude,” he responded, “All I did was ask how you were doing.” And to that I got up, fed a dollar in the jukebox and put on some Donna Summers…or at least I wanted to. The thing wasn’t on, since the Giants game was.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Missing Indie Mart


THE WEEKNIGHTER  Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

I’ve fallen in love many times at Thee Parkside. Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration. I’ve fallen into moderate, short-term infatuation many times at Thee Parkside.

For years it was home to Indie Mart, the DIY, rock-n-roll, block party Kelly Malone and Co. used to throw. Scores of local artist and designers would set up booths along Wisconsin Street, selling all the strange and beautiful things they created, while grimy-looking bands played ear-splitting music inside.

The parade of manic pixie dream girls was unnerving. They had no real place in society and only belonged as unblemished ideals in my mind. Some would float into town for the weekend and set up shop, only to disappear as soon as Indie Mart shut down. Others would flit from booth to booth, trying on each other’s wares and complimenting each other’s outfits. All of them pretty much sold the exact same shit, not that it mattered to me, they were all so lovely to look at and really only brought things to sell to each other anyway.

Thee Parkside is way more than just for day-long block parties full of whimsically dressed Amelies though. It’s a semi-legendary dive bar famed for it’s out-of-the-way location and its kick-ass live shows. Any night of the week you can see a variety of punk, metal, or country bands playing their hearts out on that tiny stage in that perfectly dingy barroom.

It’s also known for an awesome kitchen that manages to turn well-executed dishes like bahn mi and Cuban sandwiches into perfect bar food. If you haven’t been before, the Original Famous Twang Sundays are a great introduction to Thee Parkside life. Where else in The City can you hear country and bluegrass at an all-ages venue with a back patio for free? I think that’s what Sundays were invented for.

Despite these great things that happen at Thee Parkside, it’s still all those Indie Mart afternoons that most poignantly stick out in my mind. Maybe that’s just because, for many San Francisco’s doers and makers, Indie Mart was a place where we found a community of like-minded bad-asses. Dozens of people who were tinkering with wonderful things all throughout the Bay Area suddenly had a place to coalesce, sharing and selling what they made.

Sculptors, screen printers, and jewelry designers, set up shop next to each other while vintage clothes were hawked down the way and carpenters displayed their crafts. People who may never have encountered each other otherwise, were now meeting and forging relationships that would lead to marriages, babies, collaborations, and successful businesses. A diaspora of creative people now had a base and a community and a way to show the world what they were up to. It was honestly and truly, with all earnestness, magical. And Thee Parkside allowed that to happen.

Like all great scenes, Indie Mart came and left just like a goddamn fireball. One day it jumped from being a small thing in Kelly Malone’s backyard to a block party at Thee Parkside. It burned hot and heavy for a few years, and then suddenly it was done. But what it left in its wake was a slew of creators who now had the confidence and contacts to make a business out of what was previously just a hobby. And of course Thee Parkside is still around too.

Every time I pass by, I think, maybe I should get some people together and throw one more big block party for old times sake. And then I say nah, and stop in for a Cuban sandwich and a cheap drink instead.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

The Philosophy of Drunk


THE WEEKNIGHTER  Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

“I feel like I’m on vacation in my own town! I’ve literally never walked around here in the 12 years I’ve lived in San Francisco!”

I was excitedly telling this to Alex as we walked out of the West Portal Muni tunnel towards the Philosopher’s Club (824 Ulloa St, SF.415-753-0599). Sometimes you get stuck in a rut and feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see in San Francisco, and then one day, you decide to do something different.

I’d heard great things about the Philosopher’s Club for a long time, that it was a solid dive bar with friendly regulars and a cool staff. Also, when I’d written an article about SF’s writer bars years before, someone had gotten butt-hurt at me in the comments about not including the Philosopher’s Club, so I figured it had a literary bent as well. Because of all this I’d somehow built it into my mind as a dark, cave-like, candlelit bar, where old men screamed at each other about Dostoevsky and James Joyce. Of course, like nearly everything, I was completely wrong.

Walking in on Tuesday evening I found a well-enough lighted bar that had no cave-like tendencies at all. The Grateful Dead wafted from the speakers and instead of old curmudgeons arguing about Oliver Wendell Holmes, I found people a variety of ages watching a couple teams on TV doing hockey stuff. Helmets of 10 or so football teams sat above the back bar near a ton of SF Giants bobbleheads surveying the scene and mildly nodding their accession.

“It’s a fucking sports bar?” I asked Alex, who’d been there before. “I was thinking these particular philosophers would be closer to the Dalai Lama than to Yogi Berra” to which Alex simply pointed to the ceiling and said, “Actually the Dalai Lama is right there”.

Looking up I saw a big chunk cut out of the ceiling and in the space left over was a mural. The center of it was painted blue and ringing it were about 30 or so philosophers peering down on the patrons disapprovingly while we drank. John Lennon was looking directly at us, arms crossed. Mark Twain looked askance, refusing to make eye contact. And MLK whispered to Gandhi that he had a dream that one day Broke-Ass Stuart would be able to walk out of a bar not completely shit-faced.

Okay, maybe I was projecting a bit, but it is a little weird to literally get looked down upon by the greatest minds in history while getting tanked. When Mother Theresa is keeping tabs on your bar tab, it makes getting a good buzz on a little awkward.

Or it doesn’t. The great thing about the Philosopher’s Club is that they actually don’t give a fuck. I almost wonder if the name is some kind of joke the owner started with his buddies like, “You know who are great philosophers? Drunk people, that’s who!” and thusly named the bar. Truthfully, I don’t even know. I forgot to ask the bartender because I was too caught up in checking out the old photos and death notices on the wall, singing along to “Sugaree”, and admiring that the men’s room had a trough.

That night Alex and I joined the philosopher’s club by getting drunk at the Philosopher’s Club and all was right with the world. I think it’s time I start exploring more San Francisco neighborhoods I never go to. Maybe your neighborhood is next.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Out of focus


THE WEEKNIGHTER  Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( 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?

I was standing at the bar ordering a round of drinks for my friends when I noticed something slowly creeping in and out of my peripheral vision. It was just on the edge of my consciousness, like the very beginnings of a psychedelic trip, and for a split second I thought, “Jesus Christ! One of these strange bastards dosed my drink. This night is about to get really fucking weird.”

And then I saw the movement again and I focused on it. Reflected in the mirror of the back bar was an animatronic rat sliding up and down the wall. It was around Halloween and Mission Bar (2695 Mission St, SF. 415-647-2300) was completely decked out like the Spirit Halloween store had sneezed all over the walls.

Needless to say, I was relieved that no one had slipped LSD into one of my vodka sodas. The last thing I wanted to deal with was 12 hours of getting confused by the way a Muni bus’s hydraulics sound like Chewbacca. Plus the vibes over in that part of the Mission can be a bit sinister sometimes, and Mission Bar reflects this perfectly, which is exactly why I like it.

This may be too on the nose, but Mission Bar is the quintessential Mission dive bar. It’s dark, there’s a pool table, and dogs are always scurrying around. Plus the booze is exceptionally cheap; if I’m not mistaken, well drinks are $3.50, possibly $4. DO YOU HEAR ME EVERY NEW BAR IN SAN FRANCISCO?!?! I always forget how cheap it is until I go in and order a drink, then when I hear what the total is, I smile with all my teeth, tell the bartender how much I love him or her, and then wonder why I bother going to any other bars.

That night I collected the round of drinks and sloshed them over to the table where a bunch of my favorite people in the world were sitting. “Guess what guys,” I said as I handed them their beverages, “nobody dosed my drink!” They all looked like I was nuts and like maybe someone had actually dosed me. They obviously had no idea what I was talking about. I decided to drop the subject.

I wish I could tell you exactly which of my favorite people in the world were having a mellow night of drinks with me at Mission Bar that night. But the truth is, many of the stories I write for The Weeknighter are amalgamations of multiple evenings spent in a single bar, spread out through my dozen or so years in San Francisco.

Was it the first night we drank at Mission Bar after Marina got back from the Peace Corps? Maybe. Was it one of the last nights before Jeremy and Erin started keeping grown-up hours because they had a baby on the way? That could be it too. Truthfully it doesn’t matter; the great thing about spending a third of your life in a city is that the places you go become the stories themselves, and all the things that happen in them are just the decorations, kinda like the animatronic rat scooting along the wall.

These things creep into the peripheral of your memory and you need to focus on them to remember which parts were real. The unfortunate part about Mission Bar (read: fortunate part) is, considering how strong and cheap the drinks are, it’s pretty hard to focus on anything once you’ve been there for an hour. So the stories blend together and you just leave happy that no one dosed your drink with LSD.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find is online shenanigans at