What's the weather like?

Well, the summer is finally over. I wore shorts last weekend and the sun must have been frightened away by my forever-pasty English legs. Rain and cold is now on the cards but, as is normal in the city by the Bay, all that this means is that it's snowing in Tahoe and the ski season is about to start. Heads you win, tails you don't lose.

What are locals complaining about?

ATMs (Automated Teller Machines). Two weeks ago, the citizens of the People's Republic of San Francisco voted that banks should not be allowed to charge fees to customers of other banks that use their ATMs. And so there it is, enshrined in law. Next, they are planning on voting that cinemas should not only be free but a glass of Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon should be served with the movie.

Who's the talk of the town?

The imminent mayor of the city. The incumbent mayor Willie Brown, for years the bete noire of the city's business community, finds himself in the unlikely position of being the darling of the Silicon Valley digiterati and the Republican elite. The reason? Tom Ammiato, an openly gay, anti- business city official who is Free Willie's main contender. In a city that has always prided itself on being the PC capital of the world, the gloves are already off.

What's the cool drink to order?

Anything that the eager, pre-pubescent wannabe entrepreneur can buy a VC (venture capitalist) in an effort to garner dollars galore to fund a new and hot internet start-up. Drinks most likely to appeal to a VC include a Singapore Sling or a Manhattan.

What are people eating?

Eating is evil. These days, it's all about providing your body with healthy juice-based nourishment and then taking yourself off for a stiff workout, followed by a trip down to Fisherman's Wharf to gloat at the lardies visiting from Kansas and South Dakota. These are best viewed around lunch when they are accompanied by the equivalent of a quadruple Big Mac and a two-litre bottle of Coke. Alternatively, a healthy dose of neurosis helps hunger pangs fade away.

What's the latest outrageous stuff on television?

The star of Ally McBeal (confused woman lawyer) making out with a female client on TV. What a shocker. Remember, it is not possible to see a breast on American TV and the sight of two women snogging on prime-time was enough to send the Bible Belt into apoplexy. Wonderful stuff.

Where won't the locals dream of going?

Fisherman's Wharf. What a delight. It is as if the City of San Francisco sent a task-force, comprising the Three Wise Monkeys, to Blackpool and Marbella for inspiration to create tourist hell. Needless to say, if the locals ever did dream of going, it would only be in a nightmare.

Where are locals going that tourists don't know about?

In a city that doesn't smoke, the Red Room is the last-gasp saloon for die-hard nicotine junkies. An unusual place on Nob Hill, it is, unsurprisingly, red - ie, everything is red: carpet, walls, lights, bottles and so on. Take a deep breath before going in and enjoy.

Where are the chic doing their shopping?

California doesn't do chic. It is all about comfort, man, and comfort just isn't chic. The latest gear is all snowboard-based, and with the snow starting to fall, the hip and cool are busy relearning their lingua franca ready to shred the season away. Totally gnarly, dude.

What's the trendy place to escape for the weekend?

Tahoe is where it's at, but trendy it's not. The snow is starting to fall and the pitter-patter of tiny snowflakes is enticing hard-core boarders and skiers alike to catch the first run of the season. A mere three hours away, Tahoe is all about the three Ss - Snow, Sun and Something Else - though given the 10-to-one ratio of men to women, the something else really is something else. Maybe watching Ally McBeal.

Robin Murray lives and works in San Francisco.

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