On the Town with Chuck Prophet
Chuck Prophet, a former member of famed cosmic rock duo Green on Red, has just released his eighth solo album, "Soap and Water" (Yep Roc). The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter recently made his acting debut in the independent film "Revolution Summer" and signed a deal with Chronicle Books, which next summer will release "Shoulda Stayed in School - Road Diaries From the Rock `n' Roll Trenches." We asked the longtime Duboce Triangle resident for a tour of his favorite neighborhood haunts. (Prophet plays the Make-Out Room tonight).
Golden Produce, 172 Church St. "It's a family-run produce market right across from Safeway on Market. If you like pears, they carry about eight different kinds. I love the folks that run it - three generations from Cambodia. Golden Produce has got soul."
Jack's Laundry, 196 Noe St. "I just adore the woman who runs this laundry. She always laughs when I ask, `Which one of you is Jack?' Aside from the usual dry cleaning, wash and fold stuff, she's a great seamstress - mends, hems and puts love and care into everything she does. In fact, she hand-sewed each patch on the Green on Red trucker hats. Bonus points for overnight work, too."
Rosamunde Sausages, 545 Haight St. "Tuesday is burger day. It gets slammed in there and they can get irritable behind the counter if you don't order properly. So get there early or you'll be handed a sausage. Wait in the Toronado Bar next door, get a real draft root beer and drop some quarters in the jukebox that's stocked with `deep cuts' for days."
Cliff's Variety, 479 Castro St. "I almost forgot what I came there for: I found myself staring at a unicorn pencil sharpener when a friendly clerk asked if there was anything he could help me with. I was directed to the fabric annex next door and left with a couple yards of Velcro for my pedal board and a spare key for the touring van."
Peacock Music, 2200 15th St. "Maybe you just want to replace one string on that banjo that never gets played or pick up a bow for your kid's violin. OK, so you'll never be Pete Seeger. If all else fails, go on and tune all four strings on that banjo up to one note and play it with a bow. The owner, George, told me recently his church choir could use a baritone singer. I was deeply flattered. Might take him up on that someday."
Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight St. "In Holland, where I'm touring right now, they've turned churches into venues. In San Francisco, they've turned one of the last bowling alleys into the Amoeba record store. It's only the largest new-and-used record store in the nation."
Philz Coffee, 3101 24th St. "Located in a funky storefront at the corner of 24th and Folsom, each cup of Philz Coffee is ground and made by hand. Phil himself is a real character: an expansive personality, compact, fedora-sporting, mustachioed bundle of energy. You can't get a latte or a mochachino, but you can get one of the many painstakingly blended combos that Phil has perfected in his 30-plus years in the business. Don't be surprised if he pulls out a long spoon, turns to one of the gals there, spoon feeds her some foam off the top and says, completely seriously, `Don't swallow it down, swirl it around, make love to it.' The mint leaf garnish is a nice touch."
Schauplatz Clothing & Furniture, 791 Valencia St. "I'm a lanky guy. I have what you might call an elongated torso. It's hard to find jackets that fit. Some days, the thrift store gods are smiling more than others: I found a nice sport coat in there recently, and the fellow behind the counter in his German accent said, `Oh yes, very good choice, this just came in, 42 long don't stay long.' Their stuff is always clean and wrinkle free. Note to other vintage clothiers: Go ahead and splurge for some dry cleaning. Tack it on to the price if you have to. Thrift stores can be hit and miss. Takes someone with an acute eye to run it. It's a gift. Some people have the gift. These guys always dig up good stuff."
P.O. Plus, 584 Castro St. "This is the mailing joint in my hood. It's a FedEx, DHL, UPS and USPS hub all in one. Ahmad is the man there, a good guy. I like it when I'm done with my packages or whatever, he'll ring his bell on the counter and shout, `Next customer!' even when there's no one there."
El Tonayense taco truck, 22nd and Harrison streets. "Tommy Guerrero turned me on to these guys. I hired them to cater our gig at the Make-Out Room. Yes, you heard right. Free tacos for all my friends! I'm a carne asada man myself, but they do a killer al pastor, which is sort of like a Mexican doner kebab. It's slow-cooked pork, thinly sliced off the spit with a large knife."