House of Prime Rib
After cranking out my Willie Brown post, I realized I had to stop by the House of Prime Rib on Van Ness. It's like a time capsule, the San Francisco equivalent of the Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. It's easy to imagine old-school politicians in the back room plotting their next move against House speaker Jim Wright.
Naturally, I ordered a bourbon Manhattan, which is part of my literary patrimony now. Carey McWilliams drank it because H.L. Mencken did. I adopted it after Wilson Carey McWilliams told me that little fact at the Rutgers faculty club. For our first round at lunch (speaking of old school), I ordered a vodka tonic. Then he told me the story, and when the waiter returned for round two, I made mine a bourbon Manhattan. "H.L. Mencken thanks you," he said.
My critics will say that these two acts of commemoration--drinking a bourbon Manhattan while sitting at the House of Prime Rib--hopelessly confounds the Los Angeles of Carey McWilliams and the San Francisco of Phil Burton. To those critics, I offer the Walt Whitman defense: I am vast, I contain multitudes.
Labels: Carey McWilliams