Sometimes this rain makes me crazy. I never seem to have the right winter shoes and I'm constantly cold and cranky and can't ride my antiquated bike for fear of sliding across Market Street and being hit by a tram. What's funny is that this is my tenth winter here and I still haven't figured it out. Anyhow, there are a few failproof places that will make me happy on a winter's day and Tadich is one of them. Its so old and classic and remniscent of a San Francisco I wish still existed, that its easy to slip up to the bar and pretend the fog outside is hiding gansters and pinkertons and no-good dames. Maybe that's too theatrical, but it'd at least be hiding longshoremen.
Frankie had never been there before so we went for a little bit of everything. Martinis, Coney Island clam chowder, steamers and a last minute caesar salad. Everything's so tasty, even the endless supply of bread and butter and there's something I really like about eating at the long wooden bar, watching the white jacketed waiters buzzing back and forth. Its one of those rare places I'd actually enjoy going alone with a book or the crossword without feeling the slightest pang of awkwardness.
Lots of dark wood and tile floors, like it hasn't changed in a hundred years.
Back out into the rain and onwards to another of my favorite establishments, Specs. On the way we stopped into the Church of Scientology for a self guided tour of its history. Lots of black and white photos of L. Ron Hubbard charting his life and humanitarian efforts. Oddly, there was no mention of any of this:
"Sometime during the 1930's one Wilfred Smith founded a Pasadena branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) - a German-origin brotherhood of magicians (and spies) that had come under the spell of Aleister Crowley, the notorious Edwardian sorcerer and 'most hated man in England'. For several years the Lodge quietly succored Satan and his 'Great Beast" (Crowley) with contributions, while secretly diverting Pasadenans with the amusements of sexual necromancy. Then, sometime in 1939, the Lodge fell under the patronage and leadership of John Parsons, a young L.A. aristocrat and pioneer of Cal Tech rocketry (later founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory). During the day, Parsons worked...perfecting propellant systems for liquid fuel-rockets; at night, he returned to his mansion on Pasadena's 'millionaire's row' to perform blasphemous rituals (with, for example, naked pregnant women leaping through fire circles) in his secret OTO 'temple' under the long-distance direction of Crowley. "
Yes, this is leading somewhere:
"Aside from being a world-famous rocket pioneer and secret wizard, Parsons was also a devoted science fiction fan who attended meetings of the Los Angeles Fantasy and Science Fiction Society to hear writers talk about their books. One day in August 1945, to Parsons' delight, a LAFSFS aquaintance showed up at the Orange Grove mansion with a young naval officer, Lt. L. Ron Hubbard, who had already established a reputation as a master of sci-fi pulp. Captivated by Hubbard's 'charm' and expressed desire to become a practitioner of Magick, Parsons welcomed him as a house guest and sorcerer's apprentice. Hubbard reciprocated by sleeping with Parsons' mistress. Perturbed by this development, but not wishing to show open jealousy, Parsons embarked on a vast diabolical experiment, under Crowley's reluctant supervision, to call up a true 'whore of Babylon' so that she and Parsons might procreate a literal Antichrist in Pasadena...Hubbard joined Parsons in the 'unspeakable' rites necessary to summon the 'scarlet woman', who, after many mysterious happenings (inexplicable power failures, occult lights and so on), was found walking down South Orange Grove Avenue in broad daylight. After Parsons seduced the young woman in question, Hubbard and Parsons' previous mistress ran off with the rocket scientist's money to Florida...Parsons - the renowned explosives expert - managed to blow himself and his Orange Grove mansion skyhigh in 1952." (Mike Davis, City of Quartz, 1992, pp. 59-60)
Mr. Hubbard, on the other hand, became quite wealthy after publishing his Dianetics in 1950. Interesting.
At last to Specs for cards and wine. Another wonderful haven, foul weather or no, and the best collection of oddities and old wartime posters.
Rainy day got you down? You can find Tadich Grill at 240 California St. near Battery, in downtown San Francisco. They're open from 11 a.m. til 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and they open half an hour later on Saturdays. Don't go on Sundays, they'll be closed. If a drink is all you need, head over to Specs in North Beach (aka Specs Twelve Adler Museum) found on a sort of mini- alley off of Columbus. If you're coming up from Market St it'll be on your right, next to Tosca's and before the intersection of Broadway. That route'll also take you past the Church of Scientology on the corner of Columbus and Montgomery. They're open 7 days a week (I think) and you can take the short tour until 10 p.m. just be aware they'll probably try to "talk" to you afterwards. Bring along some Mike Davis and ask them about that Crowley business, eh?