Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

A whale of a good time

In the Bars

Friendly Castro bar Moby Dick celebrates 30 years

Rafael Mandelman, Patrick Allen, Lam Tran, and Erick Lopez having a good time at Moby Dick bar. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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For over 30 years, Moby Dick has been a fixture in San Francisco's Castro District. A friendly, down-to-earth neighborhood bar with a reputation for a fun and diverse crowd, personable staff, enticing drink specials, and, well, fish. Beautiful tropical fish swimming over the bar. You look out through the big windows at 18th and Hartford, a block from the teeming Castro.

A moderate middle-aged crowd is partaking of Happy Hour libations. A sign shows that this Castro institution is celebrating its 30th anniversary. (Just think, a lot of us weren't sure where we were in the 60s. Can we say the same thing about the 70s?)

Besides the art of the observed patron, Moby Dick collaborates with local artists. Up through January 14, 2009, Moby Dick presents Digital Tapestries, an ancient cloth tradition transmigrated to digital canvas by Gary Bacon. Bacon has perfected a means of taking richly colored images that he has photographed in exotic locations around the world, and transforming them electronically into abstract, tapestry-like images. Some of these images, although printed on flat print media and canvases, appear to have the depth of woven objects.

Through January 28, 2009, Moby Dick also co-sponsors World Traveler at Home in Cultural Crossroads, mixed-media paintings by Asha Menghrajani. The venue is Nova Bar and Restaurant, 555 Second St., SF. Menghrajani grew up in the Philippines and traveled extensively before choosing the United States as her home in 1992. She has extensive training in charcoal drawing, oil, Chinese watercolor painting and fabric design. She fuses all her knowledge together into a rich mixed-media process.

In her paintings, Menghrajani presents chaos as the perfection that it is, allowing for complete surrender. Her painting transports you from reality to a vibrant, my

Dain DeMarco playing pool at Moby Dick bar. Photo: Rick Gerharter
stical and abstract world, where you are the storyteller, creating and interpreting your own stories.

"My process in painting is one which is more meditative and intuitive. I experience calmness, peacefulness and solitude. I believe that making art feels good and brings pleasure to others. Looseness and uncertainty, above all, are important to my interpretation of the mysterious energy of the spirit."

More exhibitions are in the works, and management at Moby Dick will be happy to tell you about all of them.

Moby Dick's Doug Murphy shows up to meet us at the bar; his business partner Joe Cappelletti couldn't make it. While waiting, we watch the club's margarita machine. No complicated mixing of ingredients: push a button, and a frosty, inviting-looking Margarita comes out.

The bar itself is on two levels, with a rather steep set of stairs to the back level, with pool and games.

Murphy tells us they have 12 beers on draft, including Pyramid, Blue Moon and Bud Light. Many more are in bottles. There's no live entertainment or dancing - just good music from locally-known disc jockeys several days per week. And, oh yes, the pleasure of knowing you're at one of the Stro's friendliest bars, now in Year #30.

Moby Dick, 4049 18th St., SF. Open weekdays, 2 p.m.- 2 a.m.; weekends, Noon-2 a.m. Info: (415) 861-1199,

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