Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay: The Reboot Of The City

By Catherine Bigelow

Miss Bigelow's Babble-On-By-The-Bay
Miss Bigelow’s Babble-On-By-The-Bay

Joyful exultation buoyed last month’s indoor reopening of our beloved neighborhood bars, no longer required to serve funky foodstuffs — excluding onionflavored Taytos — with cocktails. But following a year (plus change) of lockdown, it turns out #COVIDCave is a real affliction.

Well, at least in my CV19-warped mind. And this from the gal who used to cover jam-packed parties, often three in one night, for a living.

Last month, I joined friends at the Plough and Stars, the celebrated Irish music pub on Clement Street, where owner Sean Heaney welcomed back a legion of fans at his capacitycapped bar and parklet. Spotting cherished (and vaccinated) pals, I felt like a dog at the park — wagging my tail. Beaming, as face masks dangled from one ear, we inched closer, arms tentatively poised for a healing hug. But first, the question: “Are you cool with that?”

I’m loath to admit it, but my social reemergence only lasted for about an hour. Then I scurried back to my cave, slipping blissfully into PJs. Crawling in bed I briefly contemplated stalking, erm, make that tracking down, newly minted mental health “expert” Prince Harry, chief impact officer (aka Chimpo) at BetterUp, a pre-IPO startup on Folsom Street. Mercifully I fell asleep, dreaming of England — and every next COVID-free tomorrow, each another blessed new day.

Nash is back: Fans of Nash Bridges — the entertaining 1990s television show starring Don Johnson, who produced and filmed the CBS series for six seasons in San Francisco — were thrilled to stumble across the charming actor and his Nash sidekick, Cheech Marin, last month as they filmed a reboot around town, reprising their respective roles as SFPD investigators.

Even more sentimental? Johnson was joined on set by his wife, EssEff native Kelley Phleger, who he met and wooed here during his inaugural Nash run. Twenty years ago, they wed at a ceremony hosted by Ann and Gordon Getty at their Gold Coast manse. This trip, Phleger visited her treasured posse of longtime pals, including a May birthday celebration for Vanessa Getty.

Nash 2.0 is a movie version of the original and will air on USA Network — with hope for a renewed TV series. But local businesses still on edge from COVID shutdowns were grateful for the one shot. According to city officials, a few production days of Nash pumped $1.5 million into our economy.

Bimbo’s 365 Club owners Gino Cerchiai and his brother, Michael Cerchiai, were thrilled to reopen their swank yet long-dark venue for the Nash crew. But due to COVID restrictions, the set was limited. “I met Don years ago as a Bimbo’s guest. He is a great guy, and remains so,” says Gino Cerchiai. “Even filming one night, I got three employees working again.”

Bimbo’s P.S.: A happy (but belated) birthday to the brothers’ dashing dad, Graziano Cerchiai — the patriarch and heart and soul of Bimbo’s — who celebrated his 91st birthday last month.

“I believe the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ are all wrong.
It’s about ‘we’ and ‘us.’” — Art Gensler

Haute home: That must’ve been one heckuva marketing budget for Realtor Joey Oliva, who last month sold the storied Bing Crosby manse — a Tudor-style estate on 3 acres in Hillsborough. To celebrate, Oliva filmed an MGM-worthy clip as the Aqualillies performed a synchronized swim routine in the home’s palatial pool — a nod to the Roaring Twenties, when crooner Crosby zoomed to fame. Crosby snapped up the Robin Road property in 1963 following a round of golf at the excloo Burlingame Country Club with the home’s original owner, paying only $175K — about $1.5 mil in today’s dollars. Earlier this year, Oliva listed the home at $13.75 million. According to Zillow, the home sold for just a smidge under at $13.5 mil. Apparently, the poolside bathing beauties weren’t included in the deal.

Fare thee well: In 2018, I penned a Gazette profile of architect and philanthropist Art Gensler, who died last month. He eschewed the “starchitect” label — but he definitely was one. He grew his threeperson shop, which included his wife, the late Drue Gensler, into the world’s largest architectural firm, generating more than $1 billion in revenue. Yet each Friday, Gensler, a child of the Great Depression, still carefully counted the money earned by the firm that week.

Skilled in 31 architectural practices, the company gave rise to a string of greatest Gensler hits: Shanghai Tower (the world’s second-tallest building), the first Apple stores, as well as interior spaces, replete with yoga rooms, for tech headquarters. But Gensler always shared the credit on every project emanating from his team: “I believe the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ are all wrong. It’s about ‘we’ and ‘us.’” Throughout his career, Gensler remained down-home, often chuckling over his global success: “Starting out, my goal was to have six employees and do garage remodels. What did I know?”

Back in black-tie: Well, that may be a stretch just yet. But primo event designer Stanlee Gatti confirms a renewed social scene is on the horizon: “Oh, it’s back. Lots of events are planned, plus a backlog of 2020 COVID-canceled weddings.” Gatti is already plotting FOG Design+Art, the vaunted contemporary art fair he dreamed up in 2014, which resumes in January 2022. “Thank God,” he laughs. “I’m so over virtual events and Zoom meetings!”

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