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Matt Cain

Matt Cain pitched his last game on September 30, 2017, one day before his 33rd birthday, retiring after thirteen seasons with The San Francisco Giants. It’s very rare to see a player wear only one uniform for over ten years and he deserves to be recognized. He accomplished many great things in his career. He has three World Series rings, three All-Star recognitions, and the only perfect game in Giants history. He never got the fame or glory that Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner got, but he was the backbone of the team for many seasons. He was called the Horse for a reason. He was reliable. You knew he was going to go seven innings and that he was going to keep you in the game.

I grew up a Giants fan. I remember the magical 2010 season in which we finally won the World Series as the San Francisco Giants. I went to a lot of games that season but the most memorable one was my first ever postseason game. I saw Matt Cain take on the Phillies in the pivotal Game 3 of the NLCS. He was masterful with only two hits in seven innings, giving us a 3-0 victory. I celebrated in the stands and snapped a photo that became my iPhone background for the next couple of years. I remember watching his perfect game two seasons later. I started watching it at Red Jack Saloon, my favorite dive bar. I made the trek home and got back just in time to see Gregor Blanco’s amazing catch. I knew that I was witnessing history in the making. They got that last out and Matt Cain cemented his legacy. Lots of people win multiple championships. Throwing a perfect game is damn near impossible.

Matt Cain will always be one of my favorite Giants. His poster is on my wall. He will stay on my wall. It’s not the greatest honor but it’s the least I can do.

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When the Season Ends

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon as soon as they started winning World Series titles. I was born a Giants fan and I have embarrassing childhood photos to prove it: 

Go Giants!


I like sports but the Giants are my team. They take priority over everyone else. I’d rather watch a Giants game on TV than sit in the first row of a Warrior’s game. Being a fan of a baseball team is a huge commitment, especially if they are contenders for a championship. It means a month of spring training, six months of games, and (hopefully) a month of postseason play. It’s six or seven nights a week of watching or following games. There are highs and lows, a diverse cast of characters, and lots of magical moments that make it better than any reality show. 

So it leaves me with a hollow feeling when the season ends. Especially when the season ends as cruelly and abruptly as the Giants’s historic ninth inning meltdown of Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs. I was in AT&T Park. I got to see the life sucked out of the stadium and the Cubs celebrate on our mound. They got to advance. We had to go home. The season ended. It was over. It’s disappointing yet kind of a relief. I can relax now. Off-season for the Giants is also off-season for me. 

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Tim Lincecum 

 I was born and raised as a San Francisco Giants fan in the suburbs of the city by the bay. I was a kid during the Barry Bonds era. I saw him hit home runs and steal bases and intimidate pitchers and lead us all the way to the World Series, only to suffer a devastating loss to the Angels and that damn Rally Monkey. I remember the hurt and pain of having a championship slip through our fingers. I knew that I would never take it for granted if we finally won one.

 Flash forward a few years to 2007, and I was moving into San Francisco after a brief stint in Los Angeles. I was back home where I belonged and the Giants were waiting for me. Things were a little bit different this time around. The Barry Bonds era was ending and an exciting new player was emerging. It wasn’t a slugger this time around. It was a pitcher… A scrawny white kid with a crazy delivery and lights out stuff. Tim Lincecum had arrived. 

 I watched as this kid (only a few months older than me) dominate. His fastball, his delivery, his casual attitude. He was a strikeout machine, he won games, he made hitters look foolish, and he smoked weed. He was cool as fuck. He won the Cy Young Award in his first full season. He won it again the very next year. He was The Freak, he was The Franchise, he was the future, and he proved it in 2010, when he lead us to the World Series. This time we won it. We did the impossible. And he was the biggest part of it. And I didn’t take it for granted. I celebrated. I cheered. I yelled. I even skipped work and went to the victory parade.

 Over the next few seasons, his velocity dropped, his command waned, and he was no longer immortal. He made mistakes and his ERA skyrocketed. But he still got the job done, any way that he could. He came out of the bullpen to help secure more World Series victories is 2012 and 2014. He didn’t always have his stuff, but he still managed to pitch a couple of no-hitters in 2013 and 2014. He never stopped fighting, he never stopped smiling, and we loved him for it.

 Injuries shortened his 2015 season and the Giants didn’t resign him. It turns out that baseball is a business after all. He started 2016 without a team to pitch for. He had a showcase in May that was enough to generate interest from a couple of MLB teams, and he ended up signing with the Angels and that damn Rally Monkey. He has yet to make his debut with them, and it’s going to be weird seeing him in a different uniform. He won’t be wearing the orange and black anymore, but he will always be a Giant. And unlike panda hats, his jersey will always be a welcome sight at AT&T. 

 Thank you, Tim. Thanks for representing the Giants in four All-Star games, for winning three World Series Championships, for the two Cy Young Awards, and your two no-hitters. You helped turn our team into a dynasty. It’s players like you that make me proud to be a Giants fan. Good luck with your new team, but I hope that you go into the Hall with SF on your cap.

 Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Bands I’ve Seen at Outside Lands

I’m too lazy think of something to write about right now so I figured I would just make a list of all the bands I’ve seen at Outside Lands. In case you don’t know, Outside Lands is a three-day music and arts festival held annually in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I live two blocks away from Golden Gate Park. I’m pretty much required to go and so I do. It’s a three-day festival in my backyard. How can I not go?

The first Outside Lands was in 2008. That was a long time ago so I can’t remember all the bands that I saw, but I remember seeing Beck, Dredg, Matt Nathanson, Steve Winwood, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Wilco, and all three main headliners: Radiohead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Jack Johnson.

In 2009 I saw Incubus, Tom Jones, Silversun Pickups, the National, Black Eyed Peas, The Mars Volta, M.I.A., Modest Mouse, Matt & Kim, Atmosphere, Ween, and the three main headliners again: Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Tenacious D. The Beastie Boys were supposed to be Sunday’s headliner but MCA got cancer and they were replaced by Tenacious D. Jack Black and K.G. put on a hell of a show, but that was my only chance to ever see the Beastie Boys.

Ok, so I might have lied earlier when I said that I’ve been to every Outside Lands because I didn’t buy tickets the third year because of various reasons. I was supposed to work that entire weekend but somehow got Sunday off. I celebrated by going to Golden Gate Park with some friends that night and listened to Kings of Leon’s set. We were on the wrong side of the fence, but I kinda sorta consider that as going to Outside Lands. Anyway, I learned from my mistake and vowed to never do that again.

In 2011 I saw Phantogram, Foster the People, MGMT, Phish, OK Go, Arctic Monkeys, the Black Keys, and Muse. I didn’t like Sunday’s lineup so I sold the ticket to a friend. I kind of regret it.

I kept my 2012 guide so I know exactly who I saw and when I saw them. 8/10/2012 was a Friday and I started the day by watching Tanlines, then Fitz and the Tantrums, Beck (again), Foo Fighters, and ended the night with Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Saturday began with Geographer, followed by Alabama Shakes, Big Boi, Passion Pit, and finished with Metallica. Sunday’s first set was Allen Stone, then fun., Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, Santigold, Bloc Party, and it concluded with Stevie Wonder.

2013’s OSL rolled around and I saw Band of Horses, the National, Zedd, and Paul McCartney on Friday. I saw Social Studies, Atlas Genius, Young the Giant, Jurassic 5, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a little bit of Nine Inch Nails, and then Phoenix on Saturday. On Sunday I saw Foals, Daryl Hall & John Oates (and yes, they did play “Maneater”), A-Trak, Matt & Kim (again), and closed the weekend with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I misplaced my 2014 guide, but I know that I saw Aer, Bleachers, Holy Ghost! Chromeo, Disclosure, The Kooks, Local Natives, Haim, Death Cab for Cutie, Imelda May, Flume, Spoon, and Kanye West, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (again), and The Killers.

Don’t worry though, I have my 2015 guide so I can tell you that on Friday, 8/7/2015 I saw the Family Crest, Lake Street Dive, Lindsey Sterling, Glass Animals, RL Grime, Chet Faker, Porter Robinson, and Mumford & Sons. On Saturday I saw Misterwives, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cold War Kids, Toro y Moi, Tame Impala, Classixx, and Kendrick Lamar. On Sunday I saw Shakey Graves, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, DJ Mustard, Odesza, Sam Smith, Caribou, and Elton John.

Outside Lands is a big part of my life. I look forward to it every year. I will blindly buy a ticket before they announce the lineup. It doesn’t matter who is playing. I love discovering bands that I haven’t heard before. I love finding out how popular bands sound live. I love seeing living legends like Paul McCartney and Elton John take the stage. I love forming temporary friendships with the random festival-goers around me, passing joints and sharing booze while killing time before the next set starts. I’m all about living life and Outside Lands is one of those places where I feel truly alive.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pablo Sandoval

So Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval is leaving San Francisco for Boston and I feel a little betrayed. Panda was our guy. We drafted him. We brought him up through our farm system. He brought him to the majors. We watched him mature, we watched him battle, we watched him triumph. He became a local hero. He was fun to watch. He helped us win three rings in five years. He summoned the Bambino and crushed three home runs in a World Series game. He became a legend. In San Francisco at least. He brought immense joy to a fun franchise. And then he left us for another team. One with fans that don’t care about him, that don’t respect him. I want to wish him well. But I can’t. I feel like he abandoned us. We would have had his back through any slump or disintegration in performance if he was still wearing San Francisco on the front of his jersey. Now he’s a rival. Good riddance. But thanks for the memories. I wish we could have had more of them.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Chickens in Golden Gate Park

I went to Golden Gate Park with a friend earlier today. Golden Gate Park is huge, you can walk around exploring all day and never be bored. And that’s what we did. We ventured off the sidewalk down unpaved paths and hidden trails. We stumbled upon small ponds and larger lakes. We saw lots of squirrels and ducks, but the most surprising thing we encountered was a couple of chickens. I managed to get a blurry photo of one. You can see the feathers of the other one in the background if you look hard enough. Don’t strain yourself though. I don’t know how two chickens ended up in Golden Gate Park. It must have something to do with eggs, but it’s kind of amazing that they manage to live in park in a major US city. Golden Gate Park is very diverse in its wildlife. They have coyotes, foxes, raccoons, cranes, quails, hawks, owls, and now they have chickens. Pretty random and pretty awesome.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Day The Series Stopped (documentary)

October 17th was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake and the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series again, so it only seems fitting to talk about ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary The Day The Series Stopped. Director Ryan Fleck takes you back to the unforgettable 1989 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area just prior to the World Series Game 3 between the A’s and the Giants. It’s not the best documentary about the Loma Prieta earthquake, but it’s definitely the most sports-focused one.

The documentary begins by exploring the rivalry between the two teams and cities and setting up the atmosphere of the Bay Area at the time. You meet the important players and coaches and characters from each team. You meet a few fans and what their teams mean to them. Fleck does a great job of setting you up for the moment that changed everything. At 5:04 p.m. the ground started to shake as 6.9 magnitude quake roared to life. You experience the quake through the eyes of the players, coaches, broadcasters, and fans in the stadium that day.

At first they are shaken, then relieved, then they want the game to start. But soon they start to hear reports of all the widespread damage and chaos and the scope of the tragedy starts to set in. Baseball takes a backseat to Mother Nature any day of the week. The documentary explores the eyewitness accounts of fans, players, and coaches and even delves into the science of earthquakes. It shows the healing power of sports through escapism. It’s emotional, educational, and entertaining. It’s not the best 30 for 30 documentary but it’s one of my favorites. Although, I’m a little bit biased because I experienced the quake myself and my parents were at that game. It’s worth watching.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Pier 39 Sea Lions

I work at a restaurant in the San Francisco tourist trap known as Pier 39. There are a few restaurants and attractions worth checking out, but the sea lions are the only major reason to check out Pier 39. The sea lions starting hanging out at Pier 39 during September of 1989. At first there were only a dozen or so, but word spread amongst the sea lion community that Pier 39 was a haven from sharks, killer whales, and had an ample food supply. By 2009 there were as many as 1,700 sea lions calling Pier 39 home. That’s a lot of pinnipeds. There aren’t always that many sea lions. Most of them leaving during the winter months, but they typically return by springtime. During spring and summer there are usually a couple hundred lounging out on the docks. Now it’s time for some pinniped facts! Pinniped is Latin for fin feet. Pinnipeds include sea lions, seals, and walruses. You can tell a walrus by its tusks, but it’s harder to tell seals and sea lions apart. The main difference lies in the ears. Seals don’t have ears, only stupid little ear holes where the ears should be. Sea lions have nifty little ear flaps. Seals are silent loners that flop around awkwardly on land. Sea lions are loud social creatures that gather in large groups and can walk on all fours on land. They are called sea lions because they are the lions of the sea – aggressive, agile, carnivores that believe in the circle of life.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

The well-known Pier 39 in San Francisco

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A Nice Day in San Francisco

I’m trying to find something to write about, but it’s extremely difficult because it’s perfect outside. People shit on San Francisco’s weather. They say that it’s cold and foggy all the time. And that’s mostly true, but we do get nice days every once in a while. A nice day in San Francisco is a blessing and everyone takes advantage of it. They turn off the TV and go outside to feel the warmth of the sun. Everyone goes to the beach or to the park. They ride bikes and go for hikes. The girls wear skimpy clothes. I lived in Los Angeles, where good weather is year round and they take it for granted. They don’t care that the sun is shining. They drive to the tanning salon while blasting the air conditioner. The girls wear skimpy clothes, but that’s because they are slutty not weather conscious. They don’t appreciate good weather because they have it all the time. A nice day in San Francisco is something that you can’t afford to squander. That makes it more worthwhile.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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R.I.P. Bushman

San Francisco has lost an icon and a legend. Gregory Jacobs, A.K.A. Bushman passed away recently and Fisherman’s Wharf will never be the same again. Jacobs made his living by pretending to be a bush and scaring the crap out of oblivious tourists when they walked by him. He would typically post up near a garbage can and hide behind a few branches. Whenever somebody would get too close, he would pop out and give them a little scare. Some people got mad, but most people would laugh, plop down some money, and then hang around for a minute and watch him scare somebody else. He did that for over thirty years. He’s scared millions of people and has become a celebrity in the process. And now he’s gone and the city feels a more little empty. It’s like New York City losing the Naked Cowboy. Things are never going to be the same again.

Gregory Jacobs was one of two Bushmen. There is also another bushguy named David Johnson, and Johnson prefers to be called the World Famous Bushman. There is some dispute as to which one is the original, but they were bushpartners at one point and gradually became bushenemies. Who knew the world of street performers and busking could be so interesting? It’s kind of cool that a guy who pretended to be a bush could gain the attention and affection of millions of people from around the world. Rest in Peace Bushman. You will be missed.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Payback Porter

Payback Porter is an American Porter from San Francisco’s Speakeasy Ales & Lagers brewery. It’s a fairly typical porter: it’s very dark brown in appearance, almost black with a mild amount of carbonation. It has a rich malty aroma, with chocolate and coffee undertones. The taste is of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, smoke, and piney hops. It’s very well rounded and has a pretty decent 7.5% alcohol content. If you’re a fan of porters and stouts than you’ll probably like this brew. If you like Budweiser, I wouldn’t recommend it. This is a beer for beer buffs, not for amateurs. You should try it, especially if you’re lucky enough to find it on tap somewhere.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Batkid

The world is a depressing place. Every time you turn on the TV you are bombarded by bad news. You see images of war, death, disease, and destruction on every major news channel. But every now and then, an inspirational story captures the public’s attention. November 15, 2013 was one of those days. That’s when we got to meet five-year-old Miles Scott, a.k.a. Batkid, a hero in every sense of the word. He has fought cancer and now he fights crime thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the city of San Francisco.

You would be hard-pressed to find a story as heartwarming as this. A terminally-ill child wished to be a superhero, and thousands of strangers and a major city rose to the occasion, the ultimate game of make believe. San Francisco was transformed into Gotham City for a day as Batkid saved damsels in distress, baseball mascots, and apprehended major villains like the Penguin and the Riddler. Thousands of strangers gathered in the streets to cheer him on, and millions more followed the live Twitter feed. The whole world was soon voicing their support for Batkid and San Francisco. Even Barrack Obama had to comment on the phenomenon.

Miles Scott may never know the significance of what he’s done. He briefly united the world and made it a better place. And that’s the sign of a true superhero. I’m so proud of my city and everyone who supported Batkid and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It’s no small feat to restore faith in humanity.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Earthquakes

Earthquakes are quite possibly the most destructive force of nature. It happens when two tectonic plates slide past each other along a fault line. The resulting energy causes the Earth to shake violently. Earthquakes happen every single day, but most of them are too small to notice or care about. But every couple of months there will be a powerful and devastating earthquake somewhere that will topple buildings, destroy cities, and ruin lives. You can’t successfully predict when an earthquake will strike, but you can always be prepared for one. Make sure you have some bottled water and canned goods tucked away just in case the big one happens. And make sure you have beer, because beer makes everything a little more bearable.

I live in San Francisco, which sits right on the San Andreas Fault. And that means that a major earthquake will strike eventually. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will occur. We don’t live in fear of the big one. We know that it’s coming. There will be a huge earthquake and people will die. It happened in 1906. It happened again in 1989. And it’s just a matter of time before another one strikes. All we can do is hope that we aren’t trapped in the subway or stuck on the top floor of a high rise. It’s pretty nerve-wracking when your whole world starts to shake and fall and break apart. But the shaking will eventually stop and then you’ll be forced to worry about other things, things that earthquakes cause. Things like tsunamis and fires. And those things just add insult to injury and cause even more devastation than a little ground movement does. Earthquakes are no joke, but they aren’t something to live in fear of.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Speakeasy Butchertown Black Ale

Butchertown Black Ale is a limited release brew from San Francisco’s Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, one of the better microbreweries in the city by the bay. It’s full flavored American Black Ale, full of malty and hoppy goodness. I can really taste the malt and piney hops, and it has a bit of a burnt smokey flavor as well. The Speakeasy brewmaster says that flavors of grapefruit, pine, currants and red wine come through before overturning to a malt depth intricacy of dark, toasted bread, pumpernickel, subtle notes of dark fruits and hints of dark chocolate, tobacco and leather. Try as I might, I can’t taste the leather and that’s probably a good thing. I think a lot of people would be put off by the bold taste, especially if you usually drink Bud or Coors. But if you like microbrews, this is a great choice. It’s 8.2% alcohol, a fairly typical amount for a good microbrewed ale. It has a cool name too. It was inspired by San Francisco’s Butchertown district where they used to slaughter livestock back in the day. Now it’s where the Speakeasy brewery stands. It’s worth buying. Look for the beer with a picture of a happy cow on the bottle. I don’t know why the cow is so happy. It’s almost as if it doesn’t know that it’s the mascot for a beer named after a slaughterhouse district.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Gay Marriage

So DOMA was struck down, the Prop 8 appeal was denied, and now equality is one step closer to reality. This is a great time for the US, and especially for San Francisco… Gay marriage + Pride weekend = One hell of a party. I’m not gay, but I live in San Francisco and there’s no room for bigotry here. I work with gay people, I hang out with gay people, I drink with gay people, and I see no problems celebrating their victory. But this isn’t just their victory; it’s a victory for everybody. Everybody has the right to be happy and marry the person that they love. And if more people can get married, then there will be more weddings. And weddings usually have an open bar. Everybody wins. Gay marriage shouldn’t even be an issue. Shit, homosexuality shouldn’t be an issue. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. We already knew all that, but now the courts recognize it too. It’s about fucking time. Congratulations to us all. But you should still be a little weary because in the next few years all the bigots/haters/igorami will start talking about the dangers of gay divorce.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Anchor California Lager

California Lager is another delicious offering from the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco. They are best known for Anchor Steam, but I think California Lager has the potential to usurp its position as the brewery’s flagship beer. People like lagers and people like California, so it’s only fitting that they would be enticed by a lager from California that’s called California Lager. It has a 4.9% alcohol content, which is in the average range for lagers.  It’s crisp and refreshing, and hoppier than most lagers. It tastes kind of like Stella Artois, but with more of an attitude. It’s a great day beer, ideal for hot summer days and backyard barbeques. I like it. And you’ll like it too if you’re a fan of good beer.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Emperor Norton

You can be anything you want to be in San Francisco and people will go along with it. One guy took it to the extreme and proclaimed himself to be the Emperor of the United States (and Protector of Mexico). Joshua Abraham Norton moved to the city by the bay in 1849, and by 1859 he had lost all his money and went a little crazy. Rather than do the reasonable thing and killing himself, he wrote a letter declaring himself to be the Emperor of the United States and it was published by several city newspapers. Instead of simply ignoring him, the city embraced him and mutually decided that if the crazy guy wants to be the Emperor, he can be the Emperor. He strolled the streets in a donated blue uniform, and when it became too worn and raggedy the city bought him a replacement. He ate for free at the best restaurants, was always reserved a seat for the newest play or concert, and was known all around the city and the world. He made his own money and businesses actually accepted it. He prohibited the use of “Frisco” and anyone caught saying it had to pay a $25 fine. He proposed a League of Nations and a bridge spanning the gap between SF and Oakland, decades before the United Nations and the Bay Bridge became a reality. He believed in diplomacy and equality, and stopped a potential race war between the white citizens and the Chinese immigrants. He even tried to abolish the Democratic and Republican parties. He might have been crazy, but he was still a visionary.

            A cop once arrested him for being legally insane. The city didn’t take kindly to that and he was soon released. The police chief issued an apology stating, “He had shed no blood; robbed no one; and despoiled no country; which is more than can be said of his fellows in the line.” From that day on, all of the SF policemen would salute him whenever they saw him. On January 8, 1880, Emperor Norton collapsed in the street and passed away before help arrived. He died in complete poverty, with only a few bucks to his name and some random Emperor-related nick-nacks. But over 30,000 people went to his funeral, so you can’t say that he died with nothing. He became a legend, an icon, and a celebrated symbol of San Francisco. Emperor Norton had a fascinating life, but I’m worried that his legacy is fading. Not enough people know about him these days. He has one hell of a story, and it would make a great movie or miniseries. Hollywood needs to get on that. Norton: The Compelling True Story of a Guy Who Wanted to be Emperor and the City That Let Him. And it should star Edward Norton (for obvious reasons).

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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