Food Snark

Who Really Owns Alcatraz?

December 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phineas Upham

Alcatraz is a federal landmark that attracts thousands of tourists every year. The site has been popularized in films like The Rock, and it occupies a unique aspect of American history. It’s also on disputed land, and there has been some question as to who owns it since the 1960s.

Tracing ownership of the island takes us back to 1846. A man named Julian Workman was gifted the lands by Pio Pico, the governor of Mexico at that time. He and Pico were friends, and Workman had declared his intentions to build a lighthouse there. Following the United States’ acquisition of California, the area became designated as a military site.

It became a prison complex because it was naturally isolated by waters, cold weather and a treacherous swim. It became a Federal penitentiary in 1934, where it had its most storied history. Al Capone, Whitey Bulger and Mickey Cohen all stayed there. By the time of its closure, the prison had 14 escape attempts and staff claims that not a single one was successful. 23 prisoners were caught in the act, six were shot and died, two drowned and five went missing and are presumed to have drowned.

Then, in 1969, a group of Native American college students from San Francisco occupied the island in an attempt to change federal attitudes toward native treatment. They held the prison first under the Treaty of Fort Laramie (which actually gifted Alcatraz to the Sioux nation), and then under the Right of Discovery. The occupation ended in 1971. As a result of this change, Richard Nixon began a policy of self-determination for natives. This change allowed them to regain control of their culture, and govern themselves under the protection of the Bill of Rights. Today, Native Americans hold several rituals at the site, including “Sunrise Gatherings” each Thanksgiving and Columbus Day.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.

The Alamo Square Neighborhood of San Francisco

September 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phineas Upham

Alamo Square is a neighborhood rich in art and architectural history, providing a beautiful view of the downtown skyline. One of the most prominent features, aside from the park itself, are the “Painted Ladies” that line the street alongside the park off of Steiner Street. Next time you’re in San Francisco, you’ll want to make time for this special place.

Fast Facts

The neighborhood is probably one of San Francisco’s most iconic, second to the pier. It’s in many establishing shots of films and television shows. In fact, Full House featured Alamo Square Park and the Painted Ladies during its title sequence.

There is over 10,000 square feet of homes in Alamo Square, which is the second most concentrated area in the city.

Perhaps these residents are drawn by the many architecturally significant structures in the area. Both the Russian and German Imperial Consuls stayed in this neighborhood during the early part of the 1900s. In fact, the William Westerfeld House was briefly called “The Russian Embassy” after Czarist Russians took it over and turned it into a night club and meeting room in 1928.

Today’s Alamo Square

The Square has gone through many iterations, which change the demographics each time. Chain stores are restricted in this area, partly to maintain historical relevance, and non-profit groups have consistently worked hard to oppose any major changes to the area’s architectural landscape. Alamo Square is populated by younger tech executives today, those who can afford the high cost of living that gentrification has brought to the area.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.

How Miami Got its Name

February 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phin Upham

When the first meetings to incorporate the city of Miami were held, there was much debate as to what to call the city. Julia Tuttle had worked for several years to get Henry Flagler to bring the Florida East Coast Railway to her orange groves, all that was left was a name. The two had a long history, Tuttle had invited Flagler many times to move his railway to the area. Tuttle had sacrificed much to get to this point as well, willing to offer almost half her land free of charge for the chance to build a city and bring jobs and opportunity to the land.

Though Tuttle is today remembered as the mother of Miami, her name was never considered as part of the founding. Many residents of the town had settled hoping for work that the railroad would bring. It seemed fitting to these people that the town down the name “Flagler,” but Henry Flagler reportedly insisted his name not be used. Instead, Flagler Street has immortalized his name in another way.

The group that incorporated Miami looked at the history of the area when they drew for inspiration. The Miami River had supplied them all with important resources. The natives had thrived on its banks, hunting deer and fishing to sustain their lifestyles. Settlers grew fruit there, all thanks to the water and fertile land. The council thought it fitting to name this region, which had been spared the horrors of the Great Freeze, after the river which supplied so much.

In the end, the city of Miami was incorporated with roughly 500 registered voters in July of 1896.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.

Why you should try the seafood when you visit Alaska

July 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Alaska is considered as the frontier state. It lies west of Alaska, and it is bordered by the Bering Sea. Amidst that mass expanse of land are beautiful sceneries, pristine waters, forests, and a whole lot of wildlife in between as well. But before you picture Alaska as some sort of wilderness, you will have to realize that it’s also quite developed at the same time. With military bases, centers of commerce, trade and industry, we’re talking about billions of dollars changing hands here. So if you ever plan on visiting the 49th state of the United States, you should take on some Alaska sightseeing or visit Petersburg Alaskaas well if you want to take in the whole Alaskan experience. When you do find yourself in Alaska, you should definitely try out their seafood. The people here are so fortunate in the sense that they get their seafood fresh, and you can definitely taste the difference as well. Think about it, you could have all the Alaskan King Crab, halibut, salmon, scallops, black cod, as well as shrimp and prawn that is fresh, delicious, and succulent to say the least. Apart from taking in the sights and sounds of this great state, it’s food is definitely something to try. It’s a great change of pace from what you might be used to back home. Needless to say, you should skip fast food restaurants and should definitely go straight for the good stuff when you find yourself in Alaska.

Finding the best location for your business is key

April 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Rem Services

Location, location, location. That has always been the mantra of nearly all businesses that has been successful in their respective fields. If you’re looking to open your own store or restaurant, you need to find the best spot where you can easily penetrate your target market. Great locations start with great listings, like what you can find in Grand Cayman Condo Rentals. If you’re engaged in food and beverage, you can open up at the ground floor of residential buildings or commercial buildings. Your store location is a very big factor if you want your business to be successful. Even if you have the best tasting products to offer, you won’t be able to sell so much if your based in the wrong location.

Depending on your location, there are places such as the Cayman Islands Property Rentals where you can find the best listings of properties where you want to open up shop. You will be able to choose various neighborhoods, and even the best landlords who can give you the terms and rates that you like. Being closer to your market translates to higher revenues, sales, and greater exposure as well. These are but a few reasons why location is very crucial to you and your business. It’s the first step for you to become successful. And when it comes to signing rental contracts, don’t be too quick to signing. You should go over the terms and conditions and see whether you are amenable to it as well.

It’s the best place to go if you’re looking for properties in the Cayman Islands. Their superior listings like the Grand Cayman Property Listing and impeccable service have always made them among the top options in property management services.

Hidden Restaurants on Grand Cayman

March 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A vacation in Grand Cayman isn’t complete without eating out. After all, you can’t enjoy a Caribbean vacation without eating authentic Caribbean cuisine. Fortunately, the locals at RE/MAX Cayman Islands know the best eateries on the island. Our experienced real estate agents have been suggesting restaurants and hot spots for vacationers who want good food without all the crowds. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or have been traveling there for years, ask our agents for information on great restaurants while visiting Grand Cayman.

Rum Point Club

It doesn’t get more hidden than Rum Point Club. Located in a secluded area of the island, Rum Point Club is a wonderful place to relax and wind down. This restaurant and bar offers what the restaurant calls “a fusion of Modern European style and Caribbean taste.” We love the food and can’t get enough of the incredible ocean view.

The great thing about this place besides the food and scenery is the fact that you can eat your lunch or dinner while relaxing in one of their many hammocks. To beat the crowds, simply visit during the weekday. Rum Point is famous for their mudslides, so don’t forget to try one while there.

Sunshine Grill

Another off the beaten path type of place is Sunshine Grill, located inside Sunshine Suite hotel. Enjoy a poolside lunch, dinner, or drink at this hidden gem, which offers classics like Angus burgers, fish tacos, and unique island drinks. The food is incredible but still affordable, making the perfect spot for a low-cost meal that will keep you coming back for more.

Whether you’re out exploring Cayman luxury property or one of the island’s many beaches, both Rum Point Club and Sunshine Grill should be on your itinerary while visiting Grand Cayman.

 RE/MAX Cayman Islands is a real estate agency in the Cayman Islands offering services for buying and selling Cayman luxury real estate and Cayman Brac real estate.

Getting Romantic at the New Orleans Tree of Life

February 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham.

In Audubon Park, there is a special tree that seems to have a romantic air about it. Nicknamed “The Tree of Life,” the tree has great branches that easily cover a wedding party. As a result, the park is a local favorite for short wedding ceremonies and picnics. You won’t find any signs or markings noting the tree is of any significance, but you can’t possibly miss its grand stature.

Considered one of the oldest trees in the park, The Tree of Life has a huge thicket of roots at the base, with massive branches that extend overhead. It’s part of an installation in the city known as “The Labyrinth,” which is a garden path built inside the park. The tree is very close to the giraffe pens in the zoo, so visitors can sometimes spot the long-necked giraffes rising above the canopy.

Local legend holds that the tree was planted as a gift from a plantation owner to his wife. Couples choose the tree for this reason, hoping that the gift of love will rub off on their relationship. The tree is located on East Drive, near the labyrinth installation. The labyrinth was meant as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, where visitors can walk and speak their intentions for the future. The place is like a gift to visitors, a place where one can meditate in nature.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

February 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham,

The Great Barrier Reef stretches along 2,300 km of beaches and crystal clear waters. It’s world famous for its collection of coral and sea life, making it one of the most interesting and beautiful snorkeling spots in the world. First-timers will find plenty of shallow waters to explore, while veterans can do some deep sea dives that explore a much more diverse range of wildlife.

Wherever you are in the Great Barrier Reef, you’re less than an hour away from a snorkeling or diving spot. Tours depart daily, based on weather, but many leave early in the morning for a full-day excursion.

Cod Hole and the Ribbon Reef

The waters are extremely clear in this dive off the Northern Reefs. There are only about five different dive companies that service the region, so it’s relatively protected and out of the way too. This ensures you have a more intimate experience with the wildlife down below, and that you have more freedom to explore. Trips to the region usually last for a few days, so be sure to check with your guide to see what you should bring with you.

The biggest draw, and where the place gets its name, are the potato cod fish who reside there. These creatures have become trusting of divers and will often come close to swimmers. You can also dive with whales during the months of June and July, when Dwarf Minke whales visit the area. If you’re planning to visit the area during the summer, ask your guides about packages that feature diving with whales for this one-of-a-kind experience.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website

The Animals of Galapagos Islands

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Phineas Upham

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most diverse wildlife groupings in the world. It’s no wonder the species of the Galapagos Islands helped give birth to Darwin’s evolutionary theories.


The name “Galapago” actually means tortoise in Spanish. The giant tortoises of Galapagos were part of what inspired Darwin’s ideas behind evolution. These tortoises have no natural predators roaming the islands, making them mostly docile and easy to approach. Today, intense conservation efforts are underway to protect this rapidly dwindling species.

Marine Iguana

The marine iguanas of Galapagos are some of the only marine lizards in existence. They take to the sea in search of seaweed for nutrition, and they have special glands in their nostrils that filter out the excess salt from the sea and expel it from the nose.


The cormorant birds in Galapagos are the only members of the species who have lost the ability to fly. The bird has grown rather large as a result. It has also become the target of predators introduced to the island relatively recently, including dogs and cats.


Darwin’s finches helped present some of the clearest evidence that evolution exists. Using these finches, Darwin discovered that most of the islands of Galapagos held different species, evolved to handle different conditions. These finches are currently endangered thanks to a new species of fruit fly that feeds on the finch’s nestlings.


The penguins in Galapagos are some of the smallest in the world. They are also the only penguins capable of living south of the equator. They take after their imperial relatives, forming monogamous bonds that continue throughout their lives.

About the Author: Phineas Upham, is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Phineas Upham website

Amazing Facts about Bora Bora

January 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham,

The islands of Bora Bora have a rich history. From its usage as a military base, to the island natives love of American speech, Tahiti’s oasis is one of the best kept secrets on Earth. Read on for some amazing facts about the people, and the island itself.


The people of the island range in ages, but the average is 20 years or younger. Natives are typically quite friendly, and often shy. Visitors will often hear the phrase “ia ora na,” which is how natives of Bora Bora say hello. Tahitian hospitality is also another landmark of the island, with the populous being well known for their good natured attitudes. If you encounter a native, say hello to them and try to break the ice.


The Islands of French Polynesia, where Bora Bora resides, are famous for their beautiful black pearls. The islanders are so proud of this tradition that they maintain the world’s only museum devoted entirely to pearls. For Tahitians, pearls have a place in history and in culture, where they may represent elements of the mythology or religion of the islanders.


Members of the indigenous tribes practice an unorthodox method of fishing. Known as “stone fishing,” the practice consists of dozens of canoes that form a semicircle. Men use stones tied to ropes to beat the surface of the water, which causes the fish to scatter. When the frightened fish move toward the beach, the men leap from their canoes and yell while they beat the water to cause the fish to run aground. That certainly is one method of catching dinner…

Also see some pics from Bora Bora by Phin Upham on Daily Motion:

Phin Upham Presents Bora Bora by dm_52022698b459b

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Facebook page.

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