I love Fisherman's Wharf. But most people living in San Francisco never go there. *Never*. They complain that it's too touristy. Now, if the wharf was magically transported to any other major metropolitan city in American - say Minneapolis - it would be a marvel and the centerpiece of night life. Everyone would go there once a week. But in San Francisco, there are too many things for a gay guy to do: Castro, SOMA, a hundred other neighborhoods and restaurants and attractions. The wharf is ignored, even though it is a fantastic place.
For example, on Fisherman's Wharf, I love the Musée Méchanique. It's a penny arcade filled with wonderful arcade machines. It used to be underneath the Cliff House restaurant. I had a magical night when I was waiting for an hour for a table at the restaurant. I left my ex and my mom who were talking, and decided to walk around the grounds. I turned a corner and all of a sudden I was in an unexpected hall filled with arcade games. Not to mention the nearby "camera obscura" and the ruins of the Sutro Baths. I was suddenly in heaven, and it was all by chance. It's one of my favorite memories: not just a memory of San Francisco, but one of my favorite memories in my entire life.
The Musée moved a few years ago to the current place, a big warehouse next to Alito's and Fisherman's Grotto restaurants on the wharf. All your favorites machines are here (Skee-ball, movie reels, dancing puppets) as well as some new things (a Death Race videogame, vibrating chairs, love meters and biorhythms). The place is full of magic: I feel like Tom Hank's character in Big, or maybe the boy in Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes". The Musée Méchanique centerpiece is "Laughing Sal" a huge life-size female doll that rocks back and forth with scary laughter. Yes, there are a million nightmares here, just waiting for your quarter. Please let me share some photos with you.
I put 50 cents in her and she gave me my fortune on a card:
"You have character and determination. Your powers of concentration are good. You will prosper in life. Keep your mind on the high things."