I came across this spoof image the other day and can't stop being amused by it, partly because it's Star Trek humor and partly because it's just so true.

san francisco

I've heard more than a few tales from people that all start with "during my first month in San Francisco, I saw some of the craziest shit..."

If you live in the Bay Area, what's the strangest thing you've seen? If you've visited, were you surprised by the, uhm, "diversity" of people here?

Posted by jzawodn at March 07, 2007 01:08 PM

Reader Comments
# Duane said:

Although I come from Boston (born and raised) I used to visit San Francisco regularly for the JavaOne conference. The first time we were there I remember walking across town at like 11pm being afraid we were going to die (remember, me from Boston?) and the SF veterans in the group just laughing. We passed by a reclining chair sitting out in front of a house with a handwritten note that said "$20, leave money in mail slot."

Yeah, that'd work in Boston.

Another time somebody hit us up for money and had a whole little patter down about how he was looking for a dollar because over at McDonalds they had a deal where you could get a Big Mac and fries, or something like that. My friend fished in his pocket, pulled out a couple of quarters and said "How about 50 cents?" Homeless guy looked at it and said, "I guess I won't be getting any cheese on mine." I thought it was funny. (He probably played out the same scenario to a hundred people every day, but hey).


on March 7, 2007 01:38 PM
# AdamD said:

When I lived in SF, my dad came to visit. We took a bus across town, chatting about something. He later told me that all he could think about were all the crazy people doing crazy things on the bus. To me, it all seemed normal, and I happily ignored it.

on March 7, 2007 01:54 PM
# John said:

I met Matt Cutts when I visited the Bay Area. Is that crazy or what? Sorry, Jeremy.

on March 7, 2007 02:15 PM
# talboito said:

My crazy-old-chinese-woman-with-a-live-chicken-on-the-38 story is always fun.

Then again, the title kind of gives away the punchline...

on March 7, 2007 02:30 PM
# Manuzhai said:

Actually, Amsterdam is pretty open to weird outfits as well.

on March 7, 2007 02:39 PM
# Jamin Gray said:

I don't live in San Fran, but when I visited once, I saw a guy in line in a McDonald's with a live parrot on his shoulder. And he was dressed like a pirate. No one in the McDonald's seemed to really notice.

on March 7, 2007 03:58 PM
# Michelle said:

About 5 years ago I went to a Bon Jovi concert at the Shark Tank with a friend. Across the aisle and a couple rows up was a guy who I'll nickname "Furry Diaper Guy". He was wearing what looked like a leather furry diaper, and on the top he had criss-crossed leather straps across his chest/back and was wearing a furry leather half-jacket (basically from the navel up). We couldn't stop laughing the entire concert.

on March 7, 2007 04:47 PM
# billg said:

I love San Francisco, but New Orleans during Mardis Gras has it beat for indifference to very strangely costumed people. Gorillas on elevators at really expensive hotels don't even draw a comment.

on March 7, 2007 04:55 PM
# Mike Macgirvin said:

That would've been 'Free Dress Day' in Bezerkeley - which I recounted recently on Laughing Squid. A huge group congregated at People's Park to listen to some former Grateful Dead folks playing on a flatbed truck. Then kind of on cue (was news to me) everybody took their clothes off, the truck rolled down the street - music wailing, and they all marched/danced to city hall to demand the right to take their clothes off and march/dance to city hall and for no other apparent reason.

The cops pulled me off to the side because I was on the fringes - 'What are you all doing? Where are you going? Why?'. Don't ask me...

on March 7, 2007 04:59 PM
# Kevin Burton said:

This one time, in San Francisco band camp...

on March 7, 2007 05:02 PM
# Charles said:

On the other hand, walking down certain streets wearing normal clothes may attract attention. I remember sometime back in 1991 or so, I was walking a block from my home in the Lower Haight, coming back from a job interview. I was wearing khaki pants and a white polo shirt, I usually wear a suit & tie to an interview, but what the hell, this was SF. As I walked past the old Horseshoe Cafe, a punk kid with a mohawk stopped me and sternly warned me, "hey you can't go walking down the street looking like THAT, you'll get KILLED."
I had to laugh, being chastised over my wardrobe by a young punk kid dressed kind of like I used to in 1977.

on March 7, 2007 05:09 PM
# Daniel said:

My strangest experience was when I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley. There were these two girls who were roller-blading around campus topless. I wish more girls did that.

on March 7, 2007 05:36 PM
# circuit breaker said:

Two words:

Haight Ashbury.

on March 7, 2007 06:21 PM
# Throckmorton said:

Two words:

Mitchell Brothers.

on March 7, 2007 10:01 PM
# Bryce said:

My first (though not the weirdest) 'weird San Francisco' moment was when I brought my girlfriend (now my wife) out for the first time.

I was still in corporate housing in San Jose, so we stayed at a little bed-and-breakfast in Ashbury Heights, and got around on the bus for the weekend. The very first night, the bus driver got into a shouting match with a homeless guy who then plopped onto the seat directly across from us (remember, the whole point of this weekend is - I'm trying to convince her to -move- to San Francisco.)

He grumbles and grouses at the driver, moves to make some rude gesture and an orange falls out of the folds of his overcoat. Homeless guy goes to pick up the orange, and a SYRINGE falls out of his coat, landing at my wife's feet. Guy reaches for the syringe, and a KNIFE falls out of his coat, falling to the floor with a clatter.

Right about then, the bus stopped. She got up and calmly headed for the exit, with me following behind. We were still about 4 stops away from our destination, but she'd seen enough. (I was kinda curious to see what was gonna fall out of that guy's coat next. Explosives?)

on March 7, 2007 10:21 PM
# Justin said:

Did you see the rest of the spoofs?? - http://echosphere.net/star_trek_insp/star_trek_insp.html

on March 7, 2007 11:53 PM
# Peter said:

i remember going to see a weekday rock show down at that one biker/rocker pub (annies'?) down in soma, and saw the headlining band fronted by this lead singer transvestite dude who wore assless leather pants, and s/he'd just turn his back towards the audience and shake his ass at the crowd for way too long. it was great.

can't say i thought it was 'weird', though - just felt a bit like Yakov Smirnoof - "what a [city]". i don't usually think, 'weird', i usually think, 'awesome'. Human Iditarod. Bay to Breakers. all good stuff. 'weird' if you prefer. :)

on March 8, 2007 12:25 AM
# ari said:

Loved the photo--I guess that's what they call a "beme!" Love it.

on March 8, 2007 08:17 AM
# DC Linux Guy said:

Don't forget the Austin Texas motto : " Keep Austin Weird "

Austin has to have the most entertaining downtown in the country. They have assless pant guys, gorgeous women, and live bands all the time. Definitely worth a visit if you ever have to be in Texas. -M

on March 8, 2007 09:04 AM
# SF said:

I was born and raised in San Francisco. I still live in the city. (I'm heterosexual, clean cut, conservative looking.)

How many strange stories do you want? :-) Here's 16, in order of increasing degrees of strangeness. I probably have more, but this is a good start.

1. People who regularly swim in the 60-degree water in the bay, from the city, out to the Golden Gate Bridge and to Alcatraz. (That's kinda cool actually.) http://www.dolphinclub.org/swimming.html

2. Tourists giddy over the Cable Cars like they're at Disneyland's It's A Small World.

3. The San Francisco twins: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Twins

4. Overheard in Union Square by a middle aged female tourist, respond so politely and courteously to a request for spare change from a panhandler who was sitting on the sidewalk against the building, as she digs into her purse: "Lemme see what I have left. I think I just gave everything I had to the other guy up the street."

5. Streamer guy. Tall, curly white hair, dark rimmed glasses, wears streamers in his hair, and walks in the street (to the right of traffic), not on the sidewalk. Even stranger: during Halloween, seeing people dressed up as him, walking the same streets he does.

6. Pinkman http://www.flickr.com/photos/koshi/7052023/ , http://www.sfist.com/archives/2005/07/01/interview_michael_maxfield.php

7. Traffic during rush hour backed up behind a caravan of people pushing shopping carts (filled with recyclables, their own belongings, etc.) in the right lane. Some carts are tied together so one guy could pull multiple carts at a time.

8. Panhandler at traffic light on the Embarcadero walks hunched over with a severe limp, along the line of cars while they're stopped. When the light turns green and the cars go, he turns around to walk back to the intersection to get ready for the next set of cars, and walks straight up without a limp.

9. In line at Wendy's during lunchtime. I'm 5th out of 10 people in line. Panhandler is 2nd in line, but still asks everyone in line for a quarter so she can get something to eat. She gets up to the counter, orders, and to pay, she opens her coat and about a gallon's worth of coins falls onto the counter.

10. White sedan, late 80s, early 90s American-made, in good condition, parks in a parking space on the street. Driver (about 6' tall, late 30s, early 40s) gets out, approaches a guy on the sidewalk who hands him a cardboard sign. Driver reaches up to his own mouth, removes his upper front four teeth, and walks to the intersection. (His panhandling shift at the intersection was about to start.)

11. AsiaSF. The waitresses/female dancers/"world famous gender illusionists" are men. http://www.asiasf.com/gallery.php

12. I'm sitting at a bench in Union Square reading. As a man walks past me, he says "Hi there handsome man". I don't acknowledge him. He adds "Oh, you're arrogant too!" and continues walking.

13. The Rock Balancing Art of Bill Dan http://www.rock-on-rock-on.com/index.html

14. Men wearing leather pants with bare asses showing. In public, walking on the sidewalk.

15. Naked, erect men dancing in the street in broad daylight at the Folsom Street Fair, with clothed men and women watching. Fortunately, I wasn't there, and these were only photos I saw.

16. Exiting my optometrist's office building one morning, after my eye exam, there's a guy and a girl in their early 20s sitting on the sidewalk against the building. The guy says to me, "Sir, wanna make love to me here on the sidewalk?"

on March 8, 2007 11:52 AM
# Patrick said:

It was my sophomore year at Cal. My roommate and I passed a homeless person begging for change just outside the entrance Blondie's. A few weeks in Berkeley is enough to make anyone immune to giving money to the homeless people on Telegraph but every once in a while, you can't help but be a bit more generous. On this day, Eric bought an extra slice of pepperoni and stepped out to offer it to the homeless guy who then holds up his palm to his face.

"What am I supposed to do with this? I'm vegetarian."

on March 8, 2007 12:17 PM
# Dan Kearns said:

I took the picture of this guy at the 5th and Mission Garage. I couldnt decide if it was weirder that nobody seemed to think it odd, or that this was all he was wearing when it was 45 degrees out:


on March 8, 2007 01:26 PM
# TeesMyBody.com T-Shirts said:

This is hilarious cause when i visited there were so many people in the street in trekkie gear.

Bob Hasko

on March 8, 2007 06:30 PM
# Richard Rafaj said:
on March 8, 2007 09:41 PM
# John said:

Actually, being an Asian-American who grew up on the East Coast, seeing Asian-Americans in "regular" jobs - like police officer or cashier was really shocking to me, as well as seeing Asian-Americans my parents' age (50's at the time) with *no* accent (since everyone my parents' age were all immigrants)

on March 8, 2007 10:33 PM
# SF said:

Here's another one:

My girlfriend and I are eating dinner at an upscale pub (about $100 total for two). This is on Union Street, one of the primo shopping streets in SF; celebrities like Paris Hilton have been seen shopping there.

I look out the window across the street (about 100ft away) and I see a guy and a girl in their early to mid 20s. They're next to some masonry steps which extend out to the sidewalk. They're both holding drink cups, like for beer or alcohol. They're not homeless; they look like they could live in the area.

The guy is standing kinda like he's waiting, looking around patiently, not sure what to do with himself. The girl is squatting for quite a while, which I thought was a little strange, so I look more closely. Then, I see the liquid under her, rolling down the sidewalk, and her pants are pulled down to her thighs.

You'd think she could make it across the street to the restaurant; they're not adverse to people just walking in and using the restroom.

on March 9, 2007 12:39 AM
# Dan Kearns said:

I also think this guy adds local color:


on March 9, 2007 01:22 PM
# Darius Peczek said:

The stranage and great thing about San Francisco and Bay Area is that everyone feels welcome there.
I do not advocate this view, but the link to this picture is another example:

on March 10, 2007 06:44 PM
# Vicky said:

My daughter and I saw the furry diaper guy at the Jethro Tull concert in Oakland. Although I thought it was more like furry short shorts.

I was in LA last weekend. I observed a guy wearing a dunce cap with his hand on a tree walking round & round.

The Bay to Breakers coming up in May is a great place to see thousands of people in inventive dress or undress.

on March 10, 2007 10:10 PM
# dave mcclure said:

i'll just state 3 lovely SF moments:

1) first year after i moved to the city (1989), some friends from baltimore flew into town, and i picked them up from SFO. it was a beautiful day, and i invited them to join me for a trip to the beach where my roommate was having a birthday party. little did i know, it was a *nude* beach, and my roommate & friends were in the buff... playing frisbee, of course. fortunately, my out-of-town friends joined the party, and so less than an hour after getting off the plane they were tossing a disc around nude on the beach ;)

2) i remember being at a coffee shop in the haight one time, and not one, not two, but THREE totally weird-ass dudes (separate, not together) were hanging out in the shop. one guy was just your regular bombed-out-beyond-repair dude, but the other two were real SF specials -- one guy was dressed up in a mickey mouse suit & hat, and another was completely RED. as in, deep red makeup over most of his body. verrrry strange. yet most people in the shop didn't seem to think any of the 3 were all that out of sorts.

3) on 9th ave, middle of summer, no particular occasion... cable car full of about 40 Elvises & Marilyn Monroes pulls up to the corner, and they all get out and start gesturing in typical Elvis / Marilyn poses. no Run to the Far Side, no Halloween, just a normal day in the middle of summer. and all of us on the corner just smiled & took it in stride.

i live in Redwood City now, but 10+ years in SF was a great ride. still love the bay area, just like a long-lost stepchild on crack ;)

on March 13, 2007 01:25 AM
# Vendela said:

Okay, this is weird but that Flikr account belongs to a former coworker of mine (when I worked for Critical Mass, an interactive agency) named Scott Shiller! He's an all-around cool dude from Calgary, Alberta Canada and now works for Yahoo doing web design. When we went to Calgary for a company retreat, Scott gave me a tour of the city complete with funny anecdotes about the "natives". Scott rocks!!

on April 13, 2007 07:51 PM
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