It's Fleet Week again.
And once again, every pacifist, peacenik, anti-war extremist, crank, and me will be obliged to sit through a week of wooshing planes shaking our homes/places of work, frightening our pets, and, in general, being a big fucking loud nuisance.
I did try to relax and enjoy Fleet Week last year. I even went to the Golden Gate Bridge to watch the ships roll in. That was the day I walked across the bridge and back, and then all the way home.
I walked by the Marina Green where everyone was gathered to watch the airshow, and by the Marina Safeway where there were vending booths set up, ranging from cell phone companies to the local hate-talk radio station to lots of flashy and marketing-savy military recruiters. Indeed, for a few days, that part of San Francisco was a Red State.
I tried to blend in as much as possible, but from the looks of some of the people gathered, I think I reaked commie, hippie fag – or maybe I just forgot to put on deodorant that day. I seem to remember I skipped my morning shower.
And I think I read something about Michel Foucault before I left. So, who knows?
Regardless, I did try to be open-minded. I realize the military has a hard time recruiting nowadays, but can't they do it some other way? Like, some way that doesn't make noise?
What happened to the good ol' days where military recruiters would pull (rescue) you out of the middle of Latin class and wow you with promises of super trips around the world? What happened to the days they would call you, and call you, and call you, and call you, during dinner time only to have your old man pick up the phone and tell them to leave you alone and not call back?
Memories...fresh as the morning air.
Anyway, I'm sure I'll tolerate it again for the week it's around. Plus, the influx of teenage sailors does give the strippers, the sex clubs, the dive bars, and the male and female persons presenting themselves as commodity allotments within a business doctrine some business – ain't nothin' wrong with that!
Always looking out for the small business person, I say.
That's why today I'm stepping away from any place remotely inhabited by People of Uniform and headed out to the southern edge of the city, where I am exploring the intricacies of the finer diner known to you and me as:
Beep's is one of those places you pass by a million times, like on the way to Sloat Boulevard, fascinated by the looks of it, yet never feel an overwhelming urge to stop. Because I don't live or work or go to school in the neighborhood, I've never stuck around long enough to take the dive into Beep's.
Despite this fact, I'm glad that I finally took a special trip to Beep's to determine whether it was dive worthy or not, because judging from the food, it definitely was.
The restaurant has been in the same location since at least the 1960s (if not before) and doesn't look as if it's changed much, despite the changing ownership. Down the street is a high school and the main campus of City College, as well as the Balboa Park BART/MUNI station. Across the street is a K-line stop that's usually packed with students on their way home, as well as a major turn-around for other city buses.
Despite being so close to public transportation, the majority of Beep's customers drove up in cars, leading me to believe that this must be where the name "Beep's" comes from – as in "beep your horn". I imagine at some other time, way back when, Beep's was more like an old-fashioned drive-in where one would pull up, beep the horn, and a car-hop would come out and take your order and bring you your food.
Nowadays, it's the reverse. You drive your car up, get out and place your order at the window, wait in your car, and when your food is ready, the guy inside tries to get your attention by shouting through the window that your food's ready.
In a way, it's sad that real car-hop service no longer exists at Beep's.
Changing ownership and times can do that to a place. It also can affect the menu, as non-traditional drive-in dishes, like chicken teriyaki, appear on the menu, I suspect to appeal to the majority of Asians who live in the neighborhood, and partially because the owners are also Asian (though, ironically, not of teriyaki-eating origin).
However, contrary to the notion that this classic American drive-in is becoming less American and more Asian, it is actually the opposite: Asian is becoming more American - much in the same way that Italian food in America is more of America than of Italy.
But I'm sticking with the burger, because like the sign says, burgers are what this place is about – and some things don't change.
I could've settled with the quarter-pounder burger, but what good American of any ethnicity simply settles for the smaller size? Is this not the land of Super Target, Hummers, and XXL clothing? So I get the half-pound cheeseburger which, including fries and a glass of water, comes out to be $4.80 plus tax.
A few minutes later, I'm called to the window and handed a carefully wrapped package.
Being sans auto, there's no where to eat other than a lone table on the other end of the building, which happened to be occupied by someone else. Lucky then that Beeps has a stainless-steel counter top that lines the outside rim of the restaurant. And even though I have no choice, I kinda like standing for a change.
Besides, standing while eating, I'm free to move around, do a little dance, check out the action across the street (uh, there is none really) and check out one of the public courtesy signs that Beep's has kindly posted in the interest of promoting good health.
I appreciate that, Beep's!
I open the package and, honestly, I'm a little blown away. Considering I've had pretty shitty burgers recently (in the service of this blog), this Beep's burger is a welcome surprise.
The first thing I notice is the sauce peeking out from underneath the bun. Admittedly, it is a weird color. Mustard mixed with ketchup? Radioactive, cancer causing condiment? Whatever, it was good.
And then I noticed the charred-grilled color of the meat. Maybe I was on crack, but this burger didn't look like it was fried on a hot plate, although I couldn't see back into the kitchen.
The crispy, perfectly-cooked, golden fries that snuggled around the burger had to be moved a bit so that I could see the rest of it, since a full 1/3 of the burger was obscured by fries. Once I picked it up out of the package, I could see it better and was able to appreciate it more.
After 1 second of appreciation, I macked.
And I didn't stop macking until I managed to pull myself away for one last "fond farewell" bite, which I relished and cherished and said fleeting sweet nothings to.
I also have to give serious accolades to the fries. They were perfectly crispy and tasty and whatever they're fried in, please don't stop – State of California be damned.
All in all, Beep's Burger was a fine way to spend a $1.50 MUNI fare and part of an afternoon. It's one of those dives that really come through for you - in this case, with an awesome cheeseburger made like a cheeseburger is suppose to. And although it would seem impossible to go wrong with a cheeseburger anywhere, many places just fuck it up. Don't ask me how, but they do.
To the contrary, Beep's keeps it real, keeps the prices reasonable, and obviously keeps them coming back for more.
Need an excuse to go? Enroll in a class at City College.
Or make something up.
But don't wait around for it to bite you in the ass. It won't. Take my word for it and jump on a K, M, J or Daly City/Colma train, or yes, drive on over today.
Just don't beep your horn.