8 Howard’s Factoids

July 14, 2012

Inspired by artist and frequent patron, Jesse Balmer (who orginated the “Howard’s Facts” series; click here and here to see what I mean), I’ve come up with my very own “Howard’s Factoids”. But if you haven’t yet read my original Howard’s Cafe piece, by all means do so now then return here, to continue. Otherwise, you’ll lack a sense of context about these factoids, and your enjoyment will be less than half what it should be.

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #1:

Did you know that Howard’s makes this rib-stickingly delicious oatmeal garnished with raisins, milk and brown sugar? But as the old saying goes: “The early bird catches the worm”.

‘Cause you need to get there before 10am to enjoy this hearty breakfast treat. Their menu actually declares: “Hot Oatmeal…Monday-Friday until 10am (except holidays).”

Now, who on earth enjoys eating oatmeal all day long on a holiday. The Scots? Yet one more Howard’s Mystery!

Famous quote:

“Howard’s oatmeal sticks to my ribs like the extraterrestrial alien baby embedded deep in my chest.” – Jehovah’s Queer Witness

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #2:

There is a horseshoe counter in the central part of this eatery, right beside the kitchen, and seperated by a wall. The midsection of this wall is open, with a clear view to the kitchen, where you see the cooks busy at the sizzling, smoking grill.

This counter invites neighborly conversation to anyone beside you, or two or more chairs away, and even across the waitron runway to the opposite side. But it is the swivel seats provided, that in their snug proximity to each other, add that special physical contact to whatever patron is seated right beside the chair you select.

The seats are so tight, it is literally impossible for even a skinny person to avoid rubbing one’s knee, thigh or butt against your neighbor’s own same portions. So you hear a lot of excuse-me’s, pardons, oops and sorries coming from that area of the cafe.

Of course, as a randy old homo, I most appreciate this setup whenever I find a gorgeous dude seated beside one of these empty (and seemingly innocent) stools.

Copping a hearty bump-up then, is part of the eccentricity and fun of dining at Howard’s Cafe. Especially in a non-gay college-area neighborhood filled with handsome studs that may or may not have a hard-on for other dudes. Particularly sweet for elderly queers like myself who are (if I may brag a little) very well preserved.

So thank you, Howard, for this homey touch of subtle eroticism that adds spice to every cute dish at your sterling eatery!

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #3:

The restroom at Howard’s Cafe is always immaculately clean, brightened up by a potted plant, and lightwell window beside the sink. But the hand towels are not located within the water closet proper; they are stored in a dispenser nailed to the wall on the hallway side of the door!

So once you’ve washed your hands (thoroughly, I hope), you need to grab the latch with dripping wet fingers to undo it, then the doorknob with those same watery paws in order to open the door and dry off with a paper towel or two. The solution for me, of course, is to grab two towels before entering. Unless I forget, which is more often than not.

Ah, the eccentric mysteries of Howard’s Cafe are myriad and confounding…though in their own beautiful way: joyful. For in not changing a thing about this restaurant since Howard’s passing, his memory lives on that more brightly!

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #4:

Notice one of my earlier photos showing Howard’s Cafe’s picture window from the outside. It says “Happy Easter”. That has since been replaced by another phrase, which I presume is the usual one displayed between holidays and special events. I have yet to discern its true meaning: “Go Glants“.

Just what is a glant (or are glants), you may well ask (as I often do)? Giant land ant species? An acronym like “give love and not terror, sweetheart”? Slang for “glance at your Aunt Selma”?

Perhaps it’s a misspell: they meant “glands” instead of “glants”. FYI Beloved Reader, the polite word for edible glands is “sweetbread”. Imagine that! A purely vegan term to describe a hunk of dripping, sticky carcass gland…sometimes a brain no less. Baa-aa-aa-aah! Mad cow disease never had it so good. Then again, there’s the term “sweetmeat”: a purely carnivorous title for a totally vegan treat. So I guess the score is even, then. Go figure.

Ah, the mysterious eccentricities of Howard’s Cafe pile up!

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #5:

Notice the photo below. It is a mini-mezzanine right above the picture window and doorway. Who goes up there? Anyone? And if so, how long since the last time? What’s concealed there? Howard’s life journal? Maybe even his cremains? A crystal skull? A chest of gold doubloons from a pirate shipwreck off the Farallon Islands?

Dessicated body parts of former customers discovered dining elsewhere?

*shiver* I never dine anywhere else, Kind Reader, since I’ve become enamored of this great eatery. Perhaps Howard is a centuries-old vampire that has me mesmerized by his unusually delicious ice water. (What do they put in their H2O that tastes so good? Howard?) Perhaps the employees are chained to the walls all night long, in a dank cellar just below. (A bond of perpetual loyalty, with a sinister undercurrent. How Dragonly Divine!)

I don’t even wanna know. I’ll just stay loyal and never look at another restaurant again with desirous eyes. Gastronomic adultery! Goddess forgive me.

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #6:

What do you think of those two ceramic chef figures below? Is it sort of racist, like those colored lawn boy statuettes of yon? Maybe I’m a bit too politically correct here. But I wish Howard’s employees would toss ’em out, as surely no one’s actually used them since, oh…the signing of the Magna Carta.

They stare at me. My favorite seat in the joint (with back against a large wall mirror, as I am unnerved by highly reflective surfaces; being part vampire that I am…vegan vampire I might add)…is also the best angle from which those faux-chefs can glare at me with utter impunity and dumbkoff grins. They are blank slates.

They are brandishing blank slates. Egads! What does that mean? I wonder in trepidation. That I have no future? That the food has no nutritional value? That I shouldn’t think when I dine here, so it would be wise to just leave my journal at home? That there is no hope for all ye who enter Howard’s Cafe?

I confess, Gentle Reader: these porcelain glazed homunculi unnerve me. Disguised as chefs, they have nonetheless never set foot near a grill, let alone flipped a pancake, hashed any browns, or even boiled a simple hen’s egg. They don’t fool me one bit. Not for a moment.

They are Howard’s spies. For what nefarious purpose I can only conjecture. But I don’t wanna go there. Eat your grilled cheese tuna with French fries, drink your coffee (and don’t forget all the ice water in your glass)…and shut up! a shrill voice declares inside my head. Is that you, Howard?

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #7

Is your dad a flesh-peddler? One would hope not. However, the painting now featured on Howard’s plate glass suggests that someone’s sure is! One would also wonder if pimping out Father’s Day is a help or a hindrance towards attracting new patrons into their superb dining establishment.

Do prostitutes frequent Howard’s? Not to my knowledge, but then again my knowledge about Howard’s doesn’t mount to a hill of pickle chips. Now I know this cafe is brimming over with character and myriad eccentricities (of which I’m apparently the latest), but isn’t this dubious celebration of paternal adulation carrying things a tad too far?

I would think such tacky storefront displays more appropriate for Tenderloin or Polk Street venues (or perhaps the Castro…I’ve lived there since ’83, I should know). But the heart of the Inner Sunset? Egads! Methinks Howard’s Cafe could learn a thing or two from those fine, upstanding merchants of Noe Valley. A neighborhood I haven’t visited BTW in more than eight years; they’re so vanilla-WASP.

Perhaps Howard’s is attempting to lure in new clientele, such as COYOTE, or the North Beach strip club crowd. It is always good to expand one’s customer base, but is this really the right approach for a family-friendly/starving-artist/wanderlust-gay-who-doesn’t-know-his-place eatery?

Be that as it may, I now find myself asking these days (upon seating myself at Howard’s horseshoe counter):

instead of “Who’s your waitron?”, this most jejune and sitcomical of all queries:

“Who’s your daddy?”

Click on image for a larger view.

Tip o’the pimp hat to waitress Bobbie for this factoid’s inspiration!

Howard’s Cafe Factoid #8

See those two nun-like ladies below, seated at the counter? They are Annie and Bobbie, the Friday through Sunday waitresses at Howard’s Cafe. It is these two fairy spirits that make Howard’s such a delight to visit. Always gracing their patron-charges with a kind word, a joke, or a smile and loving ministrations, they make this eatery a most special place among all cafes and restaurants, here in the City of Saint Francis.

If they are nuns, then Howard is Mother Superior. No wonder regular customers show up religiously, and partake their meals with almost fanatic fervor. Let us hope this is due to the wonderful employees, and not any sort of “secret sauce” added to the plates. Just this morning, while dining on Howard’s impeccable French toast, I learned that Annie and Bobbie are about to embark on a road trip. No doubt to spread the Good News about Howard’s Cafe up and down the west coast, from San Francisco to Vancouver and back again.

FYI: Howard’s French toast is laid out in six diagonal slices, arranged vertically with three on each side, each staggered one upon another. According to Bobbie, it is best consumed in zigzag fashion, rather than in a west-east (or east-west) or south-north manner. (North-south is also an option, though not without some inconvenience, as the slices overlap each other, with the nethermost wedge on top.)

Word of advice: don’t pour the syrup from its individual-serving cuplet; it will get quite messy and spread across the enormous oval platter like an oil slick. (Guess you could call it a “maple slick”, though whether or not the syrup is genuine or imitation, remains beyond the ken of this Howard’s tenderfoot.) So be ye not the uncouth hetero brute. Rather, dip each fork-piece in the small plastic cup of viscous delight, as you would your fingers in a Catholic church’s bowl of holy water. Bon apetit, mes chers lecteurs!

Click on image for a larger view.

Are you a devoted patron of Howard’s Cafe, or employee? If so, I welcome you to add your own factoid in the comments section below.

Howard’s Calendar

May 22, 2012

You may recall, Dear Reader, that I featured Howard’s Cafe in my latest novel, “Free Me From This Bond“. But did you know they also made a calendar, featuring Jesse Balmer‘s insanely hilarious cartoon sketches…as well as birthdays and factoids of their most loyal patrons?

I didn’t, thus was delightfully flabbergasted to discover this latest Howard’s Masterly Triumph of Goodwill! Annie (one of the waitresses there; and the sweetest person you could ever hope to meet) presented me with their last remaining copy, as a gift for my online praise of this most excellent Inner Sunset eatery. Designed and assembled by the loving hands of several customers and employees, this unique calendar comprises 29 pages of Howard frivolity to keep a big smile on your face each and every day of 2012.

According to Annie, the calendar was created in the old-school style of pure hard copy: not a single digital image or character to be found. I decided then, it would be awfully nice to share this calendar with the world via my blog, as well as preserve it for posterity long after the original templates have grown yellow and crumbly over time.

My apologies for the amateurish results, but my scanner is broke (as I am likewise, quasi-starving author that I be), so I had to resort to digital camera snapshots. Of course, you will need to click on each image, to get a better view. Enjoy your journey through 2012, with Howard’s Artistic Angels at the helm!

Howard’s Cafe

April 10, 2012

[ Free Me From This Bond: Chapter 7 ]

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2012 16:57:14
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Hello, Jesse. I was admiring your spectacular cartoons at Howard’s Cafe this afternoon. Bobbie pointed out your tumblr URL, so I could contact you.

I have this blog you see (no!), parts of which will soon be published in the old school formula known as a “book”. You’re probably too young to remember what books are, but that can be dealt with later. o_0

I will need an illustrator…actually, a whole bunch of illustrators, for my true life gay bromance fairytale, “Free Me From This Bond”. Which you can check out here:


I’ve linked those entries in a menu right at the sidebar’s top. Notice I’ve completed 3 chapters thus far, and am writing at the rate of one chapter per week. Of course I don’t expect you to do any illustrations for free. I just want to alert you about my interest in having you among the numerous illustrators I will use to liven up my novel.

Right now, I just rip images off the web and pop ’em in. But of course, I can’t use them for the “book”, as they are copy protected. Plus, I’m sure at least some of the creators of these images would be quite upset to learn I’m using their precious creations to celebrate the gay spirit.

I have no money to spare at this time (and I still survive on a meager disability stipend)…though once the advance payment comes in, I’ll have plenty.

So, when/if you have some idle time, I’d much appreciate it if you read at least one of my delightful chapters…to see if you’d feel inspired enough to be one of my very talented illustrators.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful attention: your art is BRILLIANT! And, speaking from one artist to another in the greatest confidence, I leave you with this thought:

Spacetime means nothing to an old god, either.

In Spaghetti Monster we trust,

Zeke Krahlin (a.k.a. “Jehovah’s Queer Witness”)

PS: I think I’ll put this message in my blog, as the latest entry w/links to your artwork.

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2012 17:16:32
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: My E-Friends
Subject: Fwd: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Just posted this letter to one Jesse Balmer, check out his web sites:


John H.: Of course I’d simply adore having you do some illustrations, too. Prepare yourself: the book will be done in one or two months’ time. You can do as few as five illustrations, or as many as fifteen. Well, I guess the best approach is one illustrator per chapter.

Just replace the present images with a similar-theme drawing of your own (and approx’ly the same size, though up to twice as large is perfectly acceptable…I can shrink ’em down anywayz, using Irfanview). I prefer full-color works, though I’ll leave that up to the artist. I’m sure I’ll be most pleased, even if just B&W.


Zeke the Fantastic Airhead of Heavenly Abode

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2012 23:05:11
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Didn’t expect to post to you a second time, before you bother to respond to my first missive; however:

In creating my blog entry about your art, I want to provide a link to your work, which caption is: “Spacetime means nothing to a new god”.

I saw that fabulous work at Dash Cafe wifi, but now that I am home, for the life of me, I can’t track down that particular masterpiece. So, could you PLEASE give me the URL for that most special creation?

Thanx so much, Jesse. Best to you alwayz.

– Ezekiel

Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2012 11:53:34
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

Quoting Jesse :
{{ Here ya go!


Thanks! }}


Well, gotta go now and kick up some dust at the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence‘s Easter celebration at Dolores Park. Will let you know when this blog entry is up…prolly take a week or a little more.

Cheerz, Jesse!

Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2012 11:57:56
From: Zeke Krahlin
To: Jesse Balmer
Subject: Your Outrageous, Wicked-Good Illustrations

One more thing (sorry to be a bother): I originally found that marvelous illustration w/caption: “Spacetime means nothing to a new god.” That’s what I’m looking for, but somehow that now eludes me…I want the page with both illustration and caption…or readers won’t get the joke. (I’m very anal retentive when it comes to my blog presentation, even those silly little links which I often utilize for punditry; or puns.)

Thanks again, Jesse.

[ Patient Reader: apparently, Jesse decided not to use the title “Spacetime means nothing to a new god,” and that is why I got confused: he deleted the title shortly after I viewed the incredible illustration. ]

Thirteen videos followed by a whole passel of digital shots:

Howards Cafe from the Outside

Howards Cafe Interior 01

Howards Cafe Interior 02

Howards Cafe Interior 03

Howards Cafe Interior 04

Howards Cafe Interior 05

Howards Cafe Interior 06

Jesse’s Cartoons

Howards Cafe Interior 07

Howards Cafe Interior 08

Howards Cafe Interior 09

The Walk to the WC

Click on any image below, for a larger view:



Howard’s Cafe is one of my escape pods strategically scattered thruout Baghdad by the Bay; whenever I sorely need a break from the rough streets where angel-headed hipsters negotiate for a safe hovel in which to shoot up, snort or raise their legs in blissful amnesia, and from the intolerable noise pollution and general craziness that is The Castro.

I first discovered Howard’s in the First Year Of My Destiny when I arrived in San Francisco for the very first time, homeless. The year? 1973. The Place? By the decrepit rotting old piers (long since usurped by a splendid baseball stadium), and run-down bread trucks driven by the most sweet natured and handsome hobos you could ever hope to Biblically know. And it’s been a platonic love affair ever since: the folks who ply their trade at This Flat-Out-Patriotic All-American Style Eatery are the sweetest on the planet.

It’s an easy ride in the N Judah streetcar from the piers to the Inner Sunset, where Howard’s is located on 9th Avenue between Irving and Judah streets.

Ever fantasize about having your very own Alice’s Restaurant (the TV series starring Linda Lavin, not the movie) in your ‘hood? Well, seek no more, Beloved Reader! For I have found Our Very Own Mecca of True Neighborliness and Good Spirit, right here in the Heart of the Inner Sunset. Thank Goddess it’s not called “Mel’s Diner”: think about it!

Speaking of “good spirit,” my brief affair with the bar next door, “The Mucky Duck,” did not end well. I was excommunicated precisely because I am gay and not in the closet at all. I befriended several women there, who I thought would welcome a break from their men always talkin’ sport and shop. I have many delightful true tales about my street activism, and quite a broad sense of humor. Well whaddya know? Turns out their vestigial sex organs…err, I mean to say “their boyfriends”…were jealous of their fiancees’ attention suddenly directed solely towards yours truly. I really should get back to the topic of this comment missal, so I’ll leave you to read my Mucky-Duck blog entry later on at your leisure. Just click right below:


I’ve never yet had the immense pleasure of meeting The Great Howard Himself, but I’ve managed to glean that he has since bicked the kucket–quite a number of years ago by now–while the employees keep his memory alive by actually celebrating his sterling spirit, each and every friggin’ day…except perhaps for those major holidays like New Year’s, ML King Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, and Christmas (and perhaps Earth Day), where they take a little break to enjoy their own family, other friends.

Now how sweet is that? Their food is home-style hash browns at their very best (w/sliced scallion luminous from the sizzling grill’s kiss of canola oil: crunchy green/white veggie buttons scattershot across a lumpy bed of toasty-golden-crusty Russet). Whatever else they serve there is guaranteed to be a Patriotically Gustatory Delight with a splash of southern hospitality w/a Northern California twist. Their java rocks like the 0-Six Earthquake. You will not be disappointed (to say the very least) if you should order a slice of homemade apple pie or lovingly decorated carrot cake, along with a piping hot cup of Howard’s Golden Brown Elixir.

Remember Petula Clark’s song: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go – downtown”? Well, Kind Readers, this eatery is such a friendly place to dine and hang out, you may as well replace Petula’s “downtown” with “Howard’s”. Many low-income and starving artist types gather here…along with all other sorts of eccentric, unique and genuinely sweet natured folks. From the elderly to the young, the smartly dressed to the shabby. Asian, Caucasian, African American, and all others representing the international haven that is San Francisco’s pulse. Very few places remain in The City, where a stranger can walk in, sit down, and strike up a hearty conversation with another patron, and even make new friends. Without intent to exaggerate in any manner, I must conclude that Howard’s is the veritable heart of the Inner Sunset.

After years and years of visiting Howard’s Cafe, I have come to realize: the owner surely must be a very compassionate and joyful spirit, to have left such a gloriously amicable legacy. Now, my heart aches to know YOUR story, oh employees and regulars of such a divinely excellent restaurant. I invite you, Bobbie, Leo, Ann, Shelly, Cassie et al, to post your memories of Howard (or Howard’s), and any other true tales that have occurred around that person (or place), which you’d absolutely love to share with the world.


PS: For more Howard’s fun, check out: “8 Howard’s Factoids“, “Howard’s Calendar” and “Cruising Howard’s Cafe“.

Let The Games Begin

August 30, 2010

Click here to play video

Quoting “seanofmiami”:

{{ He sounds terribly dry. Most attorneys will announce who and what they are. }}

Know what? You’re right.

{{ A private investigator would be more covert. }}


{{ This guy could be on a fishing expedition. Maybe not an attorney, but a scam artist investment peddler. }}

Always a possibility…but it is quite rare I get such calls. I got one for life insurance over two years ago, and that’s it.

{{ We’re probably reading too much into this. His tone of voice is not that sophisticated. He could simply be someone browsing your site or reading the bar. The question is, how did he get your number? }}

I’m thinking it’s a friend of Akbar’s brother.

Or: someone from a Linux group, which I have recently condemned for their elitism, specifically that from “Rich Monkey” (but not exclusively). Will soon make my third, and final, salvo very soon. It will also be the strongest.

Well, nothing else has occurred, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m enjoying Berkeley once more, after having been away for over a month. Au Coquelot, dining on a blueberry scone and a glass o’ English Breakfast tea. F*ck the geeks…I’m better off w/o ’em, they’ve sold out too, they’re mostly snotty Libertarians.

But I nonetheless still love Berkeley, and they can’t take that away from me! The Spirit strives on! Just got a bunch of used computer games from Half Price Books…now I need to find and download the cheat sheets. The games are:

Legacy Dark Shadows, Reverse the Curse! Ankh, The New Adventures of the Time Machine, Walking with Dinosaurs, and Penumbra Overture (whatever that is, says “..an enticingly eerie horror game”; I’m scared already).

BTW, there’s now a Peet’s Coffee underground at the Shattuck Station. Don’t know if I can keep up with all these changes! :P

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