Topic: San Francisco
...it's not flat...
It's crazy not flat.
Above is an art piece which illustrates the terrain in relief. I have one of these in my living room.
...it's not flat...
It's crazy not flat.
Above is an art piece which illustrates the terrain in relief. I have one of these in my living room.
Wow, am I beat.
Sure, there's the little matter of getting to bed at 4 a.m. after the film shoot, but then, exhausted as I am, I have trouble sleeping. Partly it's because it's warm and Dana has the windows open, and the conveniently located but at 5:30 a.m. inconveniently loud MUNI trains are waking me up, and then his upstairs neighbor decides to do step aerobics at 6:45 a.m. Ugh.
We're both tired, but it's the most gorgeous day outside, so we're determined to get out in it. After walking his dog we head across the Golden Gate Bridge to get lunch and see the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Well, that's the idea, but then I start to worry that we'll miss getting to the lighthouse before it closes if we go to Mill Valley for lunch as planned. We decide to put off food, stem hunger with the leftover snack bars from last night's film shoot, and go right for the lighthouse.
Dana loves lighthouses, so taking him there is something I want to do with him. We stop and take a few pictures on the way over, then we reach the end of the road and walk a half mile down to the lighthouse. We see the Farallon Islands peeking through the fog on the horizon, like islands sitting on clouds. Ships and boats big and small and heading in and out of the Golden Gate, and great rolling waves are breaking on the rocks north of the lighthouse. It's picture perfect.
But, are we picture perfect?
Afterwards, we make our to Mill Valley and, at last, find real food by way of an early dinner. I decide to take Dana to the Buckeye Roadhouse, a great old restaurant ("Duncan Heinz recommends"!) with really good food and cocktails. He has a wedge salad for an appetizer. I have a mojito. I order a very nice filet mignon, and he has the brisket—which I taste and think is amazing. I also get a side of mac and cheese and ham which is nothing like the Kraft variety. We finish everything except that mac and cheese, half of which is to go.
The evening is lazy. Ice cream. Dog walk. DVD. Soup. More DVD.
We're out cold soon thereafter. Thankfully, we get to sleep in...no dawn aerobics from upstairs!
It's another gorgeous day today (Sunday), and we take advantage of it and seek out a restaurant where we can sit outside. We end up at a street side table at La Méditerraneé and get a brunch for two that's made up of a over half dozen little plates of scrumptiousness; little quiches; cheese and fruit, eggs, pastries with cheese, baklava, etc., accompanied by champagne. Now that's the right way to spend a Sunday!
For a change the title of this entry is fairly literal.
I've been going out with a very nice guy named Mike about twice a week for a few weeks now. Today we decided to make a short trip outside the city, popped over to Mill Valley and had lunch at the Dipsea Cafe.
Well, stuffed, we discuss that the most appropriate thing would be to go have a nap, but, no, we're going to press on as planned and go for a walk. We decide to drive over to Stinson Beach, where we talke a nice, lesirely stroll across the sand. It's an absolutely beautiful day. Ahhhhh.
Was out too late last night at a party at my friend Marty's place. No drinking, just out much too late.
Hauled my headachy carcass out to have breakfast with Ben. After that we strolled into Golden Gate Park and went to the top of the DeYoung Museum, from which we could see Ben's new house over in the Sunset. I checked out the distances between the Museum, Botanical Gardens, etc., in preparation for visitors I'll have here in a few weeks. All very walkable.
Golden Gate Park is a size enigma. It seems huge when you drive past it. I mean, it goes on for over 50 (short end) blocks. You drive and drive and drive along this wall of trees.
But then, you walk through it, as I did this afternoon with my friend Steve and his two boys. We started from our Outer Richmond neighborhood and walked all the way to Stowe Lake and onto Strawberry Hill, then back again, each way being about half the Park's total length. You look at that on a map and it looks long. You walk it...it's nothing. Steve's two young sons, alternately riding and walking their bikes, had no trouble doing it.
Given that, and given how close I am to the park, it's stupid that I'm not there all the time. Maybe this little walk will make get me out there more often.
Anyone who knows me knows that the only thing that I'm religious about is my devoutness in giving up Catholocism for Lent...a tradition I've held to year round since 1979. I'm very much in agreement with the line of thinking that goes Christianity is an idea that's never been attempted.
Anyway, due to this, Easter tends to clip right under my radar, except that it affects my ability to park in the Mission due to all the Church services.
However, today I was out amongst the Easter bonnets at the invitation of a guy I met recently. But, being San Francisco, this wasn't any typical Easter Pagent. It was the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence's* 28th Anniversary Celebration: "It Came from Dolores Park!" Where else can you sit out on a lawn in the San Francisco sun, listen to a drag version of Ethel Merman, rock out to a band in clown makeup, or behold the glory of the Hunky Jesus contest, in which one of the judges is wearing a skintight green latex bondage-style bunny suit and mask, complete with ears? This year's contestants included Pogo Jesus (on a pogo stick), Jew Jesus (a kvetching woman), Jesus Christ Superstar (glittering gold with two floosie disciples), and Zombie Jesus ("braaaains!"). In a nod to tradition, it was "Old Skool Jesus" who won... but how could he lose? The guy was literally dragging a life-sized cross around the park!
Oh, and I was out in the sun for hours without sunscreen and didn't even go pink, let alone burn.
Guess Easter miracles do happen!
* The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are self-described 21st century nuns, typically men in wild habits with elaborate drag-style makeup. They are social activists, and many of the Orders are non-profits within their respective countries raising money for AIDS and other charities and community service organizations, and have been leaders in the campaign for safer sex and personal responsibility.
My friend Jim's visit from New York is coming to a close tomorrow, so we have one last major site to see: The Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, I know, we drove across it twice and looked down upon it from the Marin headlands last Wednesday, but that's not the same thing as what I have in mind.
We manage to get going early enough to get into the Ti Couz creperie before there's a line, and after a crepey breakfast Brittany style, we head for the Golden Gate. I park in a lot above Fort Point, which, albeit a bit farther away, doesn't have parking meters limiting our stay. It's a very San Francisco day, and the fog's a-rollin' in. We can't see much above the bridge roadway, and it's tough to see the far side of the bridge at all, but limited visibility's not going to stop us!
I've walked the bridge a number of times before, but never in fog quite like thus, so this is a treat. The towers appear and disappear from view and the wind shifts. It's a tad chilly, but not as bad as I expect. Before we reach the first of the two towers I notice a sea lion swimming into the bay almost directly below us. It's fun to see it surface and disappear from above. I don't get a pic, but Jim tries.
At the middle of the bridge we take silly pictures because it's the one spot you can reach out and touch on of the two main cables. It's these surprisingly skinny strands (less than three feet) that hold up the entire roadway. From this point we look noreth and sound and find we can't see either of the towers. The road and cables just vanish into the fog in either direction. It's like a road to nowhere.
As we cross we look down on various boats anf ships passing beneath. It sure doesn't look over 200 feet straight down!
Of the far side we take a break at sit outside the rest stop there. The trouble with walking the bridge is that you have to walk back! The fog starts to thin on the return, which allows us to better see the bay and the scenery. However, my attention quickly goes straight down when I notice that the old post holes in the sidewalk near the roadway go ALL THE WAY through the walk, and if you peek through, you can see straight down through the bridge. So, every 20 feet or so where these holes are, I'm bending to take a peek. I quickly figure out that I can stick the lens of my camera into the holes and take pictures. The hole itself makes a nicve little vignette effect, and I end up with a series of unusual images that I doubt most people who cross the bridge ever see.
Watch that first step! It's 24 stories straight down!
After reaching the car, we head to the Marina and the Palace of Fine Arts for the usual photo op. Afterwards, Jim wants a picture down the winding bit of Lobard, so I use my knowledge of S.F. streets to bypass the line of tourist cars and right to the target in a matter of minutes. From there, it's on to Coit Tower for some more photos, and my having to stop some old man who can't steer from banging into my car in the parking lot.
Dinner's at Nivana in the Castro. We got back home at a semi-reasonable hour, for probably the only time this trip!
While it's surprisingly easy to take for granted the place you live, it's not so in San Francisco.
Skip came over from Berkeley to see my new place and join me for bruch. I didn't want to hit any of the known spots, so I suggested Pachi's, a Peruvian restautant Terry and Carol told me about. After an excellent meal for a surprisingly reasonable price, the glory of the day refused to let us waste time indoors.
So, heeding mother nature's siren call, we headed north, across the Golden Gate Bridge and then up the hill along the Marin headlands. After a few weeks of gray and rainy weather, it was sunny and cool and absolutely gorgeous.
We stopped and amired the vista of the whole of San Fransciso, the bridges, the sialboats, and then hiked through the abandoned tunnels and remains of the old coastal defenses.
I commented to Skip, as I have before, on the irony that so many people I know say they couldn't live where I do because they want to be able to easily get out in the middle of nowhere, as here I stand, 15 minutes from my front door, on a hilltop overlooking one of the most amazing vistas, and from which I could start walking north and be just as in the middle of nowhere...and yet be within whim distance of museums and 2000+ restaurants.
After Skip and I parted company, Matt Levine called and invited me onto an evening dinner & music jaunt. He picked me up in his convertible and we drove along the coast, through the Marina to North Beach, where——after the usual seeking-a-parking-space-adventure, we made it to our destination, a Bolivian restaurant called Pei??a Pacha Mama, where we joiend Matt's wife Diana and another friend of theirs for a scrumptous organic meal of Papas y Yuca la Huancaina (Potato, yuca & Bolivian ground-nut sauce), Albondigas (Bolivian meatballs), Plantains (Fried bananas with black bean reduction), Yuca Frita (Yuca fries with zesty vegan cream sauce), Fresh King Salmon with sweet potato mash and organic spinach, and Vegetarian Papas Relleno (a lightly fried stuffed puri??e of potato, queso fresco gami).
And on top of this sumptuous feast there was music, sweet music, by the exquisite Pickpocket EnsemblePickpocket Ensemble, whom Matt had turned me onto a few months ago. Their music, which borrows from all kinds of musical traditions (hence the name), is played so tightly and precisely that three different instruments playing the same melody line can sound as one. Wonderful stuff! This was my second exposure to the group, and I will make a point to seek them out in future. Click here for a brief sample!
Top down on the Matt's convertible, we zipped through the crisp night air and home.
I love this town!
Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a while, which was to have some of my co-workers from Namco join me for a day out and about. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, but not badly attended for being so short notice.
Fellow Namcoites (Namconians?) Amy Steele, Bryan Chang, and Jeff Buccellato arrived, along with Jeff's fiance Eileen. They carpooled up to Oakland and met me at Jack London Square. The overall plan was a day in San Francisco, but the only thing I had decided for certain was our brunch destination. I planned to wing everything else.
After recent rains, and Friday's downpour, I was concerned that the weather might not be condusive to running around. However, Mother Nature smiled on us and after the morning gray it was sunny and not cold. So, we went with Plan A and took the Ferry across the bay from Oakland. I love that ride, out on the bay and under the Bay Bridge. Sometimes it can be frickin' freezing, but not today! The ride was so nice I proposed that we not get off the boat at the San Francisco Ferry Building and instead ride the ferry to its final stop at Pier 41.
There was one big rule for the day: no talking about work! This was a social exercise and I wanted all of us to hang out as friends and not get into office stuff. Fortunately, no one really crossed the line, so spankings were not required! Well, maybe I'm just a tad disappointed by that, but that's not really appropriate to discuss I suppose...
As we arrived I told the group the story about the Transamerica Pyramid and the Bank of America building as seen from Marin County across the Golden Gate, where the two are often referred to as "The finger, and the box it came in." And yes, "finger" as in "giving the..." Take a look at ye olde pyramid from due north sometime and see what I mean...
After disembarking at Pier 41 we made a beeline for the F Line streetcars. My goal: get as far away from the tourist trap that is Fisherman's Wharf (Pier 39) as quickly as possible! After a very short ride on an old SF steercar we had to change to a different car, which was from Milan Italy (the F line usues vintage streetcars from all over). We rode this car along the Embacadero (SF waterfront) and then up Market Street to the end of the line at Castro. Ah, Market Street, where the socio-economic scale fluctuates by block almost as rapidly as a Gough Street changes altitude... but perhaps that's a tad too much an S.F.-insider comparison.
Anyway, after showing they group ye venerable Castro Theater, we used an L underground train to get to West Portal, where I took the crew to brunch at one of my favorite restaurants; A Cafe for All Seasons. Rob Schoeppe joined us there (he lives on the far west end of S.F.) and we have a very pleasant meal with mucho good food. Bryan had never had polenta before (he's from Irvine, CA, so we cut him some slack), so we expanded his palette with a taste of these "fried italian grits" as I called them.
Our boss Kenji-san was out of town an unable to join, but he left a phone message saying that uncle PAC-MAN should pick up brunch, so the meal went on the company credit card. Thank you PAC-MAN!
As we were leaving, co-worker Umesh Ghodke called and told us that he was sorry that he could not attend. I hadn't actually expected he would make it, but one of these days I'm going to make that man come have fun with us! Hmmm...a plan must be formulated. Bribes musy be made...plots must be thickened...
We piled into Rob's vehicle, but there wasn't really room for six, so poor Bryan rode in the back. He got pretty comfortable...he looked like he was napping!
Next stop was Ocean Beach. The sun was shining, the waves were impressive without being big, and the temperature was perfect for an early March day. I was the only one who dared to shed shoes and dip toes in the ocean. Amazing how people can be so fearless about all kinds of things, but hesitate about putting their feet on sand for fear that someone somewhere broke some glass there. Wimps! Needless to say, my tootsies survived without incident. A few jokes were had about all the great white sharks that inhabit the waters offf the S.F. coast near the Faralon Islands, and we did make a few obsevrations that kids and dogs playing the water's edge would be "tater tots" for said fishies. But no fins were seen, and no puppies were gobbled up like so many deep-fried potatoes. Ah, never any excitement on this beach!
Amy's boyfriend Bill met us at the beach, and we moved the group slightly up the coast to the site of the old Sutro Baths. Most of the group climbed the rocks north of the old tunnel, but Eileen didn't feel up to it, so I stayed with her and Jeff and we climbed around the old foundations and eventually met with the others.
Naturally, being a mere 26 blocks from Tommy's we couldn't leave the city without stopping for a drink or six. We were there for quite a while (where DOES the time go?) and put away a lot of drinks but none of us crossed the line in drunken slobland. Rob and Bryan were the odd men out, though, because Rob was drinkign Jack and coke, and Bryan drank maybe half a margarita total to my 3+ or whatever the heck I drank. Heck, even Amy drank more than Bryan and she's the lightweight!
We parted company at this point, Amy and Bill heading back to San Jose in Bill's car, and Rob drove the rest of us downtown so we could catch BART. Jeff and Eileen live near the Froment BART so Bryan and I bid them adieu at the Lake Merritt station. We then strolled back to Jack London Square to fetch out cars from the garage, and parted company there. Lucky me, my drive home was like 5 minutes. Bryan's was probably 40+!
Everyone seemed to have a good time, and it was nice to hang out socially without work stuff interrupting. I actually genuinely like my co-workers, and I really enjoyed this day out with them. Another excursion seems mandatory. But where? Angel Island? Bodega Bay? Las Vegas? The sake tasting place in Berkeley? Tune in next time to find out!
After a couple of cooler gray days the sun was back out again all weekend (night excluded, natch). Saturday started at Café Flore in the Castro in S.F., where I read, had breakfast, and played Scrabble on my Palm pilot. I also did some writing, wrapping up the Act One break for the Starship Exeter script I'm writing. I feel like I'm finally getting some momentum on it and I think the act climax could be pretty exciting if directed properly.
After a short post-breakfast stroll I drove out to Golden Gate Park and left my car near the Dutch Windmill. The tulips in Queen Wilhelmina's garden at the windmill were all in bloom. Most of them were closed when I was there some weeks back.
CLICK HERE for a picture of the tulips!
From there I walked around above and on Ocean Beach, watching the surf and the really amazing kites that people fly there. I particularly enjoyed watching a man make his rainbow tailed kite swirl above the heads of his kids like some airborne Chinese dragon!
CLICK HERE for a picture of a kite at Ocean Beach
I crossed back into the park, looked at the base of the dismantled (south) Murphey Windmill and the adjacent Millwright's Cottage. A bulldozer was running back and forth so I didn't linger. I strolled through the trees back to my car and then drove over to Seacliff where I was to meet Terry and Carol. As I was early I wandered around a few blocks of the neighborhood.
CLICK HERE for a picture of the Murphey Windmill
CLICK HERE for a picture of the Millwright's Cottage
Terry and Carol and we piled into Carol's car for a road trip to Mountain View and Amber, an Indian restaurant so good we're willing to drive almost an hour for it! We stuffed ourselves on appetizers, lentils, butter chicken, a dish of garbanzo beans with mango powder, and fried cheese with peppers. Fabulous stuff, and spicy in the way that makes my scalp sweat but doesn't burn my mouth. Yum yum! We returned to their place, where Terry showed us all 650 pictures he took on his recent trip to Egypt, where he visited Cairo, Luxor and Nubia, rode the Nile, visited Karnac and Giza, etc. Oh, and he spent a few days in Paris on the way back. 650 pictures we saw, but it was never boring. Terry takes nice pictures and tells fun stories. Damn, I'm envious. I wish I'd gone!
I finally made it home at 12:30a.m. Lonnnng day.
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