A multimedia-enhanced photoblog about San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood

Archive for March, 2011

Saint Patrick’s Day at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in North Beach

Sara Dobra and Mike Chen kiss at the annual O'Reilly's Irish Pub St. Patrick's Day block party in North Beach.

O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in North beach takes Saint Patrick’s Day seriously. Well, not THAT seriously. Judging by the band lineup, the size of the crowd, the general level of intoxication, and all the smiles I saw, it sure seemed like people were having fun at the 16th Annual OReilly’s Irish Pub St. Patrick’s Day Block Party. Genuinely Irish and Irish-for-a-day attendees intermingled along a fenced-off portion of Green Street in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, where O’Reilly’s Irish Pub has been an alcohol-slinging staple since it opened 16 years ago.

The party began at 2pm on St. Patrick’s Day, and early comers are rewarded with free entrance—but drag your feet and arrive after 3pm and you’ll have to pony up $10 to get in on the Irish action. This year’s musical performers included The Hooks, who make “Super catchy Irish-influenced rock,” according to Funcheap SF, Irish fiddler Colm O’Riain, SCream (a Clapton/Cream cover band, get it?), and Lunar Groove.

Deirdre Black, who’s actually Irish (as in, from-Ireland-with-the-full-on-accent-Irish, not just by-ancestry-Irish) has worked at O’Reilly’s (and the block party) since the pub opened. Asked to describe the strangest thing she’d seen, she noted that “there’s nothing that shocking on St. Patrick’s Day.” Mostly all she sees are “people putting on beards and painting them orange, and shamrock tattoos, and flag of Ireland tattoos, and some people painting their bodies green.” Black says it’s just about having fun and dancing.

Black estimated that “a few thousand” people attended the block party this year.

Out of consideration for the neighborhood and the neighbors, (especially since St. Paddy’s Day didn’t fall on a weekend this year), the music stopped at midnight. But until then, it was all the drinking, dancing, and merriment the revelers could handle. “According to the police, O’Reilly’s was the example other bars should take [in terms of] the security, the safety, everything,” said Black.

As noted above, the block party is an annual event, so if you’re Irish and/or love public intoxication/Irish music/the color green/bagpipes/leprechauns, be sure to show up early next year (and put that $10 towards your alcohol tab).

Until next time, leave the flying to me!


Bob Anderson – Documentary filmmaker and inveterate wanderer

Bob Anderson, 81, poses for a portrait in his home in San Francisco's North Beach

Bob Anderson, 81, is kind of cat-like. Not in the sense that he has feline features, (he doesn’t, at all), nor in the sense that he sleeps a lot. Nor has he died nine times. But he has had nine lives. Or at least enough adventures to fill the lives of nine, normal, work-forty-hours-a-week-and-vacation-three-weeks-a-year people.

In a non-fiction book he self-published in 2010 called ‘The Errant Nomads’, Anderson wrote about “Greenwich Village in the ’50’s, Alaska as a territory, Europe before tourists, Puerto Vallarta as a village, San Francisco in the ’60’s, China just after Mao, Wreck diving in Micronesia, and life in an expatriate colony” – and that’s just one book.

Anderson’s two sons, Bob Jr., a fishing boat captain, and Tony, a writer and artist, both live and raise their families in a small town up in Humboldt County. Bob Sr. has lived in Mexico, New York, Washington State, Oregon, and Marin before buying his home in North Beach 28 years ago. He hasn’t moved since.

Which is not to say that he’s been stationary. Along with his late wife Jeanne, Anderson criss-crossed the globe numerous times in search of adventure- and most of the time he found it. He has also directed documentaries that touch on subjects only slightly less varied than his own real-live adventures.

The view from his home is gorgeous. Two windows, at right-angles from each other, look out on the Bay Bridge and the Transamerica Building, respectively. Anderson acknowledges the view in passing, admitting that it was the reason he and Jeanne decided to buy the building all those years ago, even though $240,000 seemed, at the time, far out of his budget.

Many of Anderson’s neighbors have moved in the last ten or more years, thanks to the dramatic rise in their homes’ value. The money allowed his neighbors, many of them Italians who had lived in the area since birth, to move to Marin, and other less urban areas. The view may be fantastic, but there’s another reason Anderson hasn’t moved in the intervening years like so many others.

North Beach is “extremely neighborly, it’s very live-and-let-live, [and] it allows a lot of pretty loose living,” said Anderson. For someone who has always lived life on his own terms, this may be the highest compliment Anderson could give.

Photo Gallery: Out and About, Take II

Danny Bobbi plays his trumpet for tips at the corner of Columbus and Green in San Francisco's North Beach.