BOOK REVIEW Not for Tourists Guidebooks has just released the fourth edition of its Not for Tourists Guide to San Francisco. Besides having a mad grip of inaccuracies, the title is problematic: this tome is definitely not not for tourists.
The first thing I found wrong with the book was its only foldout map. It's a highway map, which is weird, since most city dwellers tend to stay clear of the damn things. They're for the bridge-and-tunnel crowd and, uh, the tourists. And the map isn't even detailed enough for you to see where on- and off-ramps are or tell which is which. And with San Francisco's grand total of four highways, it's hard to imagine why the NFT folks didn't devote their largest page to a Muni map - just one of many things this book doesn't have.
In all fairness, Muni routes are included in the 120 minimaps that comprise most of the book. But the layout is incredibly daunting! To follow one bus route, you might have to flip back and forth 20 times to see where the line will take you - shit most locals just don't have friggin' time for. I became further discouraged by the decision to devote pages to Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39. (If not for tourists, for whom?) But despite this and despite noticing an ad for Segway Tours of the Marina Green (insert sound of me retching here), I still gave the rest of the guide a whirl, determined to get some practical use out of it.
I attempted to find a liquor store when I was trapped in SoMa without rolling papers - only to discover the intersection I was at, Fourth Street and Mission, was on the corner of three maps. The bar I was in (my favorite) was nowhere to be found. I was in minimap limbo. Next I tried to wax nostalgic with the maps of neighborhoods where I used to live - only to discover that some bars listed on the neighborhood directories weren't dotted on the maps.
So I tried using the guide to call my neighborhood grocery store, Eight-Twenty-Eight Irving Market, to see if it carried printer paper. Apparently, it falls somewhere between liquor store and supermarket, because it's not in the book. (BTW: it carries college rule but not printer paper.) Finally, I called the Hotel Utah - only to lose an eardrum when that killer "bee-doo-eet!" sound alerted me to the fact that the number listed in the guide was disconnected.
Maybe, maybe buy the Not for Tourists Guide for first-year college students or other new SF transplants. But if you've been here for longer than six months, just hang on to your Muni map and your BART schedule and save the $14.95 (suggested retail) for 411 charges.
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