Heart of the City Archives

"I'm looking out over that Golden Gate Bridge, out on another gorgeous sunny Saturday, not seein' that bumper to bumper traffic." - Starship

We built this city on the best of the rest
by Hank Donat

When I heard that Starship's "We built this City" was named Worst Song Ever by Blender music magazine, I remembered a line I once heard Ruth Gordon say on television. "I accept all superlatives," said Gordon, the actress who made Harold and Maude and Maxie in San Francisco.

San Francisco may be home to the worst song, but Rob Murray of Collingwood Street notes that when "We Built this City" came into the number one Billboard spot in November of 1985, it knocked out the Miami Vice theme by Jan Hammer. The Starship song should be spared one place on the list just for that. Surely it's better than "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus.

In naming it Worst Song Ever, Blender said "We Built this City" amounts to "the truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar."

Following are some other superlatives. Most have been named by Heart of the City readers. Your choices don't always appear in so-called Best of the Bay articles, but they are the truly lovely sound of people who enjoy the City enjoying the City.

Buffy, who emails via SBCglobal, says the Mandarin Villa on Oak Street has the yummiest Chinese food in Hayes Valley. "Incredible crab rangoons and super fast service," says Buffy.

Rob Myers recommends Bok Choy Garden on Clement Street between 19th and 20th avenues for the best vegetarian and kosher Chinese food in the Richmond.

Ted Fry says Tad's Steakhouse on Powell has the "best hearty, basic grub" in town. Ted and Tad are both from Philadelphia. Tad is here but no longer there, vice versa for Ted. Got that?

Audrey Cole's neighborhood best goes to Rustico, the great Italian restaurant at 300 De Haro Street. I'll second that - best panini on Potrero Hill.

Hot 'n' Hunky on 18th Street proclaimed it had "possibly the best hamburger in the world." If it really did have, the place might still be open. Besides, native San Franciscan Mike Getman knows the best burgers are at Bill's Place on Clement between 24th and 25th. Joe's Cable Car Restaurant on Mission is Jeff Halpern's favorite.

Sadly, having a superior product is no guarantee for longevity. Don't even mention the former Spinelli coffee shop on Fillmore Street to Angela Alioto unless you want to hear a lamentation!

Marina Submarine at Union and Steiner streets boasts "the best subs in San Francisco." Marina of the Marina works across the street at the 1887 Dance Shop. She says it's true; Marina Submarine has the best Italian sausage sub in town. Don't tell my friends at Martinelli's in North Beach.

Moving away from gastronomy, cable car grip operator Byron Cobb nominates California and Jones as the windiest corner in town. Byron should know - he works on the California line.

An adult shop off Broadway doesn't mince words. Its marquee bluntly promises, "Nastiest Videos in Town."

Grace Cathedral has the best spirituality web site. That's why gracecathedral.com has been nominated for a Webby for the second time in two years. The Webby is the best surviving icon of 1997!

Lisa Geduldig remains the best lesbian comedy promoter in the city after more than a decade. Her 6th annual Funny Girlz show goes up at the Herbst Theatre on May 15. Visit koshercomedy.com.

Former police inspector Dave Toschi says the late 1960s haunting of Pat Montandon's house at the foot of the crooked section of Lombard Street was his most bizarre case - and that's from a man who investigated the Zodiac killer!

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau touts San Francisco as "The World's Favorite City." I'll buy that. It's my favorite city, anyway, and yours too, I'll bet.

Unfortunately, San Francisco deserves a superlative for being the most defensive city, too. I said "Good morning," to a guy the other day and he actually said, "No problem."

We are also the worst fashion city in America. I am convinced of this after attending the presentation of the Key to the City to King Abullah II of Jordan at Davies Symphony Hall last week. It's may be news to some members of the World Affairs Council, but even here it's not appropriate to wear jeans, sweatshirts, and sandals to an appearance by a foreign sovereign. (And now I am the City's youngest curmudgeon.)

As for Ruth Gordon, Mike Sullivan says Harold and Maude is the best movie made in San Francisco. Many agree. Maxie is certainly among the worst.

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Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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