24 December, 2009

An Over-the-Top Christmas


If you're looking for elaborate private holiday displays, San Francisco probably won't top your list of cities to visit around Christmas time.  It's rare enough to spot a lighted tree in a window, let alone a lavishly appointed monument to seasonal excess.  Still, the occasional effort does surprise.  Here's a place out in the Richmond District that looks like Father Christmas' drunken nightmare.  Where do they keep this stuff when it's not on display?

23 December, 2009

Under the Mistletoe


In an extremely welcome touch this Christmas season, someone has placed little boughs of mistletoe above the street corners of the Mission and the Castro.  It's amusing to watch peoples' reactions to these kissing opportunities.  I think we need a bit more kissing, in general.

A Beautiful Millennium


I rarely find new condominium developments something to take any notice of.  They tend to be among the blandest and most inoffensive of urban structures as they have to appeal to a broad range of tastes (well-heeled tastes, of course).  There is one new building in San Francisco that is actually quiet stunning, in a relatively low-key way.  The Millennium Tower located South of Market has many surprises for the casual stroller.  I love the way it looks like a completely different building depending on the viewing angle.  It reflects light in some pretty amazing ways, as in this picture.  It has a wonderful profile when viewed from the Bay Bridge and appears to have a diamond-like design on the roof when the sun hits it at just the right angle.  Overall, much nicer than it had to be. For that I'm grateful.

04 December, 2009

Forgotten Corners of The City


In a city as closely packed as San Francisco (it's the second most densely populated city in America), it's always a revelation to come across some forgotten little place with no one around.  This is the end of 23rd Street near the DHL warehouse and the, now closed, P.G.& E. plant.  Heaps of atmosphere and a great place to leave a body.  The waterfront was lined with this sort of place 30 years ago, before our city planners realized that people like, really like, to be near the water.  There's a little, scruffy park across this inlet called Warm Water Cove Park. I'm not brave enough to investigate the temperature of the water but I'll check out the park soon.

30 November, 2009

Where Dinosaurs Would Roam in Golden Gate Park


As part of the Thanksgiving Day weekend, I took advantage of our beautiful weather and had a stroll through some of my favorite parts of Golden Gate Park.  I love the Fern Dell located across JFK Drive from the picturesque Conservatory of Flowers.  A path leads to the Lily Pond through magnificent tree ferns. Walking through here, I can't help thinking of Kong Island in the original King Kong.  You half expect a Triceratops to come charging through the thick. 
I came across an interesting bit of movie trivia about the dell; it was the filming location of Spock's "final" resting place at the end of Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn.  He's since moved on.
It's an exotic corner that's not far from the busiest part of the park and well worth checking out.

27 November, 2009

"Black Friday" or Buy Nothing Day


Today is, of course, "Black Friday", the consumer orgy on the day after Thanksgiving that's supposed to balance everyone's books (the books of the retailers, that is).  It's a term that was once used only to those inside the retail trade but it seems to have moved into the common parlance.  It's an unfortunate phrase with a pejorative association for me.  It makes me think of crucifixions or stock market crashes.  In general, something to avoid.  I think a lot of other people feel the same way.  
It's also National Buy Nothing Day.  A good time to reflect on our spendthrift ways and where they've taken us.  This year, with the economy in tatters, it's not so difficult to ask ourselves whether we really need all the "stuff" we're so keen on accumulating.  I'm all for things that make us slow down and assess our lives and the value we tend to place on the wrong things.  
On that note, I was at the wonderful Thrift Town on 17th and Mission the other day and couldn't help note their depressingly large selection of Christmas, I don't think any other word will do, crap.  If you find yourself wondering "who the hell would buy this stuff" when you're in the holiday aisle at Walgreen's, the answer is evident; lots of people.  The next time you can't resist that little something glittering in front of you, think about where it came from, who made it, what it's made out of, and, finally, where it will end up.

25 November, 2009

Across the Gate


Just minutes from the busy city, across the Golden Gate, is Fort Cronkhite in the Golden Gate Recreation Area (the largest urban national park in the United States).  Formerly a US Army installation, it's been part of the GGNRA since the 1970s. It was saved from a massive development scheme that would have had the hills covered with homes and shopping centers. On a recent visit, I encountered a few deer and a coyote while hiking the beautiful trails above the ocean.  The place has everything from historic buildings to black sand beaches.  You can tour an old artillery battery, visit a Cold War Nike missile site, stop by the Marine Mammal Center or walk across a suspension bridge to one of the oldest light houses on the west coast, which was completed in 1855.  You don't even need a car to get there as it's easily accessed by bike or, on the weekends, MUNI bus service (route 76) to the Marin Headlands.  

23 November, 2009

Shaw's Ice Cream and Candy






Long-time residents of the SF Peninsula will recall the name of Shaw's Ice Cream with great fondness.  The ancient Millbrae store and factory was  shuttered recently and is up for sale.  I think it's been quite a while since Shaw's made their own ice cream, but they've been hanging on for years at the El Camino Real location and on West Portal Avenue in The City. They were peddling (the very good) Mitchell's Ice Cream and someone else's chocolate last I checked.  The company was founded in 1947 and had, at one time, 50 licensed franchises, now long gone. The company's heyday was in the '50s, '60s and '70s. The original West Portal store remains in operation.  

Was a time... oh well, I have some very nice memories of sitting on their wrought iron chairs and wolfing down banana splits.  And I'll really miss that sign on El Camino.


20 November, 2009

Autumn in The City


What a wonderful season!  Fall in San Francisco (the part of the year between the dry, foggy summer and the rainy bits, for those who insist we don't have seasons in the Bay Area) is truly a glorious time of year.  The temperatures are great for long walks and the sun shines in the blue California sky.  The only drawback is that the days are over far too soon as the sun sets earlier and earlier.  Winter seems to come on so abruptly in this part of the world.  You're enjoying a picnic or reading a good book on a warm bench and then it's Christmas.

17 November, 2009

Manila to San Francisco


One of the many wonderful things about San Francisco is its rich and varied history.  That history is sometimes not just of California but of far-away places and the people who've settled here.  It's always a treat to be strolling along and encounter these traces.  South of Market there are a few short blocks named after heroes of the Philippine Revolution of 1896-1898 (and the Muslim chieftain who killed the explorer Magellan in 1521).  Having just returned from the homeland of these historical figures, it's nice to be reminded of distant places and to be challenged by unfamiliar history.
p.s. you can ponder this history over an MSG-licious burger at the nearby Jollibee restaurant, a branch of the Philippine's own fast food chain.

16 November, 2009

Hard to Get Away


I've been away again, and when I'm on holiday I usually restrict my computer use to the occasional checking of email.  When I first started to scratch my travel itch, light-years ago, intercontinental communications were much more primitive than today.  Simply making a phone call could use up heaps of precious vacation time. Using the phone involved strange and elaborate local dialing customs, language difficulties with operators, unfamiliar coins, funky equipment, awful connections and the requirement, in some remote locales, to actually book a call and wait for the connection to be put through. 
The only contact friends and family got from me was the occasional postcard or, if really lucky, an aerogramme (ask an elderly relative). 

I'm on about this because people nowadays get very feisty indeed if they don't receive constant updates on your whereabouts via phone, email, text and tweet.  I suppose in this case, as in so many others, I'm inclined to be nostalgic.  I liked being far away and, relatively, out of touch.  If anything truly awful were to befall me, I'd find a way to get word out.  All of this was provoked by me recieving a phone call from a friend in San Francisco while on an island, in a boat, on a river located 15 hours by jet, 3 hours by bus and 2 hours by boat from the Bay Area.  I was happy to get the call, of course, but the strangeness of the sensation of yakking into a small phone while sitting in that small boat in the tropical heat, surrounded by jungle, was a bit overwhelming.
I think it robbed a bit of the romance and sense of adventure from the moment.  I might as well have been pushing a shopping cart around Safeway.

Here's a little photo that I took on that boat ride... before I got the phone call. It's the Loboc river on the island of Bohol in the Philippines.
I know it's not strictly in keeping with the subject of this blog, but it's a very pretty place with very nice people.

11 October, 2009

Moody Days at the Shore


September, October and early November are statistically the warmest time of year in the San Francisco Bay Area; our Indian Summer.  Every weekend is crammed with concerts, fairs, festivals, picnics, you name it.  They are scheduled at this time because of the usually reliable heat and sunshine. Reliable, that is, until this year.  There is a lot of grumbling about the daily appearance of fog and low clouds.  It's as cold as July or August!  Still, this time of year makes for wonderfully moody walks on the cliffs above the cold, vast and very beautiful Pacific.  I'm sure it'll warm up in time for Thanksgiving.


09 October, 2009

Historic Stairs of San Francisco



Ah, the Ferry Building Stairs, or should I say the HISTORIC stairs?  I like this sign.  It's been there for quite some time and it never fails to make me smile.
I suppose someone felt that, by placing the adjective in front of stairs, incorrigible stair-sitters (and they are legion, I assure you) would be deterred because, well, the stairs are HISTORIC.  The ferry building DOES suffer from a dearth of seating (if you're not eating at a restaurant).  Perhaps they could install some non-historic benches.

08 October, 2009

Island Paradise



There's a lot of scary talk regarding the impact of the California budget crisis on our great State Parks. Most of the threatened parks just happen to be in Northern California, as they are many in number and relatively few in visitors compared to the Southland.  Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay is one such threatened place.  It really is an Island paradise, just minutes from the Ferry Building or Pier 41 via the Blue and Gold ferry.  Full of history, including the "Ellis Island of the West" and magnificent views, the island SHOULD be a wildly popular place for a weekend adventure.  Alas, it can't pay for itself (where we get the idea that parks should be profit generating enterprises, I'll never know) and is on the hit list.  The closing of any public park is a tragedy, but the shutting-down of a place like Angel Island would be a crime.

01 October, 2009

Facade-ism


It's a very common sight in San Francisco; the "restored" home.  As gentrification enters its final stage in many neighborhoods, those drafty yet charming old Victorians or Edwardians succumb to our mania for modern comfort and convenience.  Preserved exteriors with interiors gutted to the framework.  Sure, it looks lovely from the outside and I'm sure many would find the new interior the cat's pajamas, but I can't help thinking that there's a kind of sanctioned vandalism in this phenomenon.  A hundred plus years of history wiped out by some wealthy individual's love of stainless steel appliances, sub-zero refrigeration, central heat and recessed lighting.  I've lived in many old places and I know they can be a challenge, but their idiosyncrasies  and minor discomforts were but a few of the many reasons I loved them.  These "improvements" are turning our character-ful homes into the architectural equivalents of Stepford Wives.  Pretty and bland.  No history or texture, decorated for a DWELL magazine photo shoot.  One can't help but imagine that they are a reflection of their inhabitants.

28 September, 2009

Steep (and crooked) Streets


There's no end to the fun to be had taking wacky pictures on San Francisco's steep streets. These photos were taken on Potrero Hill.  The hill also happens to be the true home of the "crookedest" street in The City.  Forget Lombard, there are more twists and turns on Vermont Street at 22nd Street.  It's not nearly as attractive (or upscale) as Lombard Street, but its considerably quieter and it has its own charms.  It's featured in the current (otherwise annoying) Subaru ad; the one where the psycho asks his passenger whether he minds if he "takes a short cut".

24 September, 2009

Park(ing) Day 2009


Started by San Francisco art collective Rebar in 2005, Park(ing) day celebrations have spread throughout the globe.  This year, the day was observed on September 18th. The (brilliant) idea is to create temporary green space out of parking spaces and stimulate conversation regarding our urban environment and the predominant roll of the car in our cities. (I can imagine some of the "conversations" between participants and drivers looking for a parking space!)  I'm all for more green... anywhere.

23 September, 2009

Away (in downtown L.A.?)


I've been away for quite awhile, on a break in the fascinating city of Los Angeles.  If you've got a car (I know, who doesn't in the City of Angels?) it's an endlessly distracting place.  Still, one of the most interesting aspects of L.A. is best experienced on foot and can be accessed by public transport.  I'm referring to the sometimes overlooked downtown area, the original core of the city.  The original Pueblo de la Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio de Porciuncula was established in September of 1781 in the vicinity of today's Union Station.  The area still features several structures, including a church, from the city's early days.  Nearby is the very grand City Hall and the original "heart" of early 20th century Los Angeles.  Broadway is the main thoroughfare and features such highlights as the Bradbury Building (featured in "Blade Runner"), The Grand Central Market, Angel's Flight Railway, Clifton's Cafeteria and, best of all, the largest existing concentration of motion picture "palaces" on the planet.  The marvelous L.A. Conservancy conducts walking tours of these theatres and other architectural and cultural aspects of the downtown area.  It's a shame that so much of this area is overlooked by visitors (and residents).  It has to be one of the most captivating parts of one of America's most interesting, and misunderstood, cities.

29 August, 2009

Afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts


Bernard Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts gets more than its share of attention, so I can't really bring much insight into the place by giving it a post.  Still, it's a really lovely place for a stroll.  Built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, it was designed by architect Maybeck to look like a half-forgotten ruin and that's pretty much what it was by the mid '60s when it was completely reconstructed out of concrete (the original structure consisted of a  wood frame, covered with chicken-wire and plaster). The dome and lagoon were recently renovated and work on the rest of the structure begins this fall.  Its an almost impossibly photogenic place which accounts for the steady stream of brides and grooms (and grooms and grooms and brides and brides) tromping to the shores of the lagoon.  The Palace appears in many films and TV shows, most notably VERTIGO and TIME AFTER TIME.  The latter features the dome as the setting for the climactic stand-off between Malcolm McDowell's H.G. Wells and David Warner's Jack the Ripper with Mary Steenburgen's life in the balance.

27 August, 2009

Everyday Film Set






The modern traveler, when visiting great cities, is often struck by how "familiar" a place can seem on a first visit. With exposure to television and movies, we can be walking or driving down streets whose names we've heard hundreds of times, see landmarks that seem slightly unreal because, now, they exist in the third dimension. We can feel at home in places our ancestors would have thought of as being as strange as Mars simply because we already know what the streets look like, the people sound like, the food smells like. Our exposure to images can even distort perceptions of our own city when we come across something that seems a bit too much like a film set. Is it real? Where are the cameras? How did this happen to be here? This can happen surprisingly often in San Francisco, a place that can be a bit too "cute" for its own sake. From sidewalk cafes to flower stands and cable cars, we're always in danger of becoming a larger version of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Thank God for some of the "edgier" parts of town. All of this was brought to mind by a couple of places on a recent stroll. The first is the old Mission Police Station on 17th Street. It looks like it could be in Havana. The funny thing is, the place gets more authentic the closer you get. It has an incredible amount of character. No film set, this. The second "scene" is an alleyway called Harlow Street off of 16th Street near Church. From the gray shingles on the building, to the shop with its seven digit phone number and the ancient Chrysler products parked on the street, this place really makes you look around for the cameras. Someone in this alley likes to collect cars and has worked out some method of keeping them parked in the same place all the time. Both places are like doorways into another place and time and for that I'm very grateful.

20 August, 2009

The Single Screen


I had the opportunity to see a movie at the wonderful Vogue Theatre the other day (no mystery as to the title, see above). It's been a few years since I've ventured up to ol' Sacramento Street just to see a picture. The theatre was built in 1912 as the Rex, was re-opened as the Vogue in 1939 and was recently purchased and renovated by the San Francisco Neighborhood Theatre Foundation. It had been threatened with closure. The experience got me thinking about movie theatres in San Francisco (it's not too difficult to get me to stray onto that subject) and the death of the single screen. I'm sure there are young'uns who have no idea that movie houses, at one time, only had one screen. We're lucky enough to have a few of the old places left; the Vogue, of course, the Castro, Bridge, Clay, Roxie (the Little Roxie is a recent addition, but it's in a building next door to the original)and the Red Vic. With the exception of the Castro, they're all relatively small houses. Still, it's remarkable that they've survived TV, VCRs, DVDs, Netflix, OnDemand, video games and the multiplex. A small miracle occurred this past weekend when a NEW single screen cinema opened as part of the NEW PEOPLE J-Pop center in Japan Town. It's called the Viz Cinema and promises to book a steady schedule of Japanese language films.
Back to the Vogue; in 1984 it had a run of the South African film, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" that lasted 70 weeks! Management and staff were driven insane (I knew several of them and you'd be insane too, having to put up with that film for 5 shows a day, everyday, for well over a year) and the neighborhood rejoiced the day the film closed.

18 August, 2009

Signs of the Week



It's been awhile since I've posted signs in this forum. I encounter quite a few, but I don't want to appear to be having too much fun at the expense of others. As long as they don't become TOO widespread, I'm pretty grateful for them as they lend a bit of a spark to the day... I think. I came across two fine examples in one day this week.
The names have been obscured to protect the illiterate (or merely clumsy). One of these signs was posted on a very prominent building containing, no doubt, some extraordinarily bright people. It's a shame one of them couldn't have been recruited to do the printing. It also seems evident that people WILL shoot at your building if they notice grammatical errors in your signs.

"The Genius of Green Street" and the Birthplace of (electronic) Television


It's one of those topics historians will battle over for centuries to come (it seems appropriate that historians should do battle), but I think if I stick enough qualifiers in front of the word "TV", it'll be OK. Here we see the birthplace of operational, all-electronic television. In this unassuming building (didn't you know that all great inventions are developed in "unassuming" structures?) at 202 Green Street, Philo Taylor Farnsworth transmitted the first electronic television image on September 7 th, 1927.
Scottish inventor John Logie Baird had demonstrated a working MECHANICAL version of television the year before, but San Francisco is indeed the birthplace of, what would become, modern television. I don't know if the world should be TOO grateful for this fact.

14 August, 2009

Fountain of Controversy

The City's residents are still divided in their opinions about the Vaillancourt Fountain in the Embarcadero's Justin Herman Plaza. It's been almost 40 years since this provocative piece was unveiled in the, at the time, deserted plaza at the foot of Market Street. Described by architectural critic Allan Temko as something, "deposited by a concrete dog with square intestines." the fountain is the work of Quebecois sculptor Armand Vaillancourt. The official title of the work is "Quebec libre !". In November of 1987, the fountain was notoriously defaced by U2 singer Bono at a free concert in the plaza. To the horror of then Mayor Dianne Feinstein (and a good number of San Franciscans), he spray-painted the words "Rock & Roll stops the traffic" on the structure.
The fountain has had some ups and downs over the years. There have been several attempts to have it removed and it has gone through periods of neglect when it sat without water due to funding, water-shortage and plumbing issues.
Presently, it's in fine form and seems to have found, if not love, at least acceptance as part of the beautiful and very busy Embarcadero scene.
I've always liked it. It worked very well with the old Embarcadero Freeway behind it, but it still has heaps of character.
Deep trivia note: In the 1968 film "Bullitt", a model of the fountain can be seen, briefly, in the background at Jacqueline Bisset's character's office.
video

09 August, 2009

Watermelons ?


They LOOK like watermelons, but as we are in San Francisco, the setting for Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", it's probably best to approach this situation with caution (they do look more like the "pods" in the 1956 version, I know). Anyway, I found these, unattended, in a rather deserted, not-very-scenic part of The City. I doubt they were grown on the spot.
I'm somewhat wary of buying produce from itinerant peddlers in industrial districts by freeways, so I walked on. You're next!

28 July, 2009

The Phenomenon of Dolores Park



I'm probably pretty late to this party, but I'm always astounded at just how insanely popular this poor place has become. I suppose it has to do with its location in The Hippest Neighborhood in America®, but Dolores Park is more than a scene. Its current habitues are probably unaware that Mission Dolores Park is the approximate site of the ancient Ohlone Indian village of Chutchui. It was later the location of a Jewish Cemetery and once served as a home to many displaced persons after the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 (top photo). Per acre (there are 14), it has to be the among most densely utilized parks in the country. There can be THOUSANDS of people here on weekends with no apparent special event or other "draw". It's a very attractive place and it seems almost anything goes. Dogs dash about, Pabst Blue Ribbon is guzzled and the scent of cannabis wafts through the air. A bit like the panhandle of Golden Gate Park during the Summer of Love but with expensive coffee. It's hard to believe, but not so long ago, you could pretty much have this place to yourself on a weekday. I wonder where the next "gathering place" will be?

25 July, 2009

Leaves of Three, Let it Be


I'm trying to imagine the scenario that has prompted the placement of these signs.
San Francisco, and most of California, is full of Poison-oak. It can be quite pretty in its most dangerous phase. Still, I have trouble imagining someone going out of their way (which is where this example is located) to tread around in its tangled vines. Have people been wandering into local hospitals or police stations irate, complaining that they hadn't been sufficiently warned of its dangers? Is this an example of a future with signs everywhere warning of everything?
Warning: Nature may vary slightly from the way it appears on TV.

22 July, 2009

Lovers' Lane


I'll let the sign at the beginning of this path in the Presidio do the talking:
"This trail has witnessed the passing of Spanish solders, Franciscan missionaries and American soldiers of two centuries. It is perhaps the oldest travel corridor in San Francisco. In 1776 this path connected the Spanish Presidio with the mission, three miles to the southeast. During the 1860s it became the main route used by off-duty soldiers to walk into San Francisco. Many of those men made the trip into town to meet their sweethearts, and the trail became know as Lovers' Lane."
The Presidio is a magnificent place packed with history and incredible sights.
It's also a great place to gorge yourself on wild blackberries.

21 July, 2009

Wired City


When you're away from home, you can find yourself missing some pretty odd things. Things that others might not even notice or, if they do notice, would probably find unattractive or just strange. I miss trolley wires when I'm away from San Francisco. They make a very distinct sound when a MUNI streetcar or trolley bus goes by. An echoing, whip-tail sort of sound. It's something you might hear in a science fiction film. I hear it all day and night and when it's not around I really do miss it. Sure, the wires block out the blue skies, but they're, somehow, quite comforting. They power the things that take you places and they make it possible for you to not have to listen to the roar of a diesel engine, smell its black smoke or watch that black smoke curl up into that blue sky.

16 July, 2009

San Francisco's Most Exciting Street


As this is my 50th entry, I want to finally devote some time to my favorite street in San Francisco. My choice is wildly subjective and I don't expect many will share my opinion. It's not Market Street or Broadway or Powell or Grant Avenue or any of a dozen other arguably thrilling thoroughfares. The City's crown jewel has to be... Clement Street (accent on the second syllable). I know, it doesn't figure too prominently in guidebooks (in fact, it probably doesn't appear at all). It's not setting hearts racing in Peoria. No Cable Car bells or fishing boats will thrill the visitor. What Clement Street does have is heaps of character. It is, in many ways, the typical SF neighborhood "main street". Plumbers, cobblers, butchers, bakers, video shops, coffee shops, pubs, anything the city dweller might require is all within a short stroll. It's home to a fantastic book store, one of the largest in The City; Green Apple. On the west end of the street is the charming, family-run 4 Star Theatre, home to both Hollywood films and direct-from-Hong Kong pictures. For the most part, it's free of the scourge of chain stores.
I once took a out-of-town visitor to Clement who spent an entire afternoon thinking he was in Chinatown. Although it is predominantly Chinese, the street has a sampling of Russian, Irish, Japanese, Burmese and Vietnamese businesses. Many happy hours can be spent exploring this incredible boulevard. Oh, lest I forget, it's also one of the great restaurant streets in town. If you can't find it on Clement, you don't need it.

07 July, 2009

The Heights of Bernal


Spectacular views and birds galore await the Bernal Heights explorer. Named after Don Jose Cornelio Bernal, the area was part of his rancho, Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo in the 19th Century. Now well into gentrification, the area's main drag, Cortland Avenue, has a wonderful small town feel and is easily accessible by public transport. It has everything you'd want or need, save a movie house, in a neighborhood.

04 July, 2009

Roadside Shrine


San Francisco has more than its share of monuments and historical markers. What we don't have are a lot of are roadside shrines. Familiar to motorists the world over, these shrines, more often than not, honor the departed. This is no exception. The charmingly homely (but, no doubt, heartfelt) monument sits on the street below the Veteran's Hospital and honors the service and lives of America's Veterans. I know it's the 4th of July and not Veteran's Day, but it seems appropriate to think of them today as well. Also, a special thanks to whomever takes care of this shrine.

30 June, 2009

Fort Miley for Beginners




Ft. Miley at Land's End is one of those places that even locals might miss. It's located very near one of the "must see" spots in The City; the Cliff House and Sutro Bath Ruins. You can take a short stroll up from the parking lot at Point Lobos to the top of the hill. You'll find incredible views, old military batteries and an old signal house. There's a bench here, pretty secluded, that features an incredible view. You're very likely to have the whole place to yourself.

29 June, 2009

Mission Jacaranda



The Mission District is San Francisco's "Banana Belt". With the warmest climate in The City, it's home to many beautiful tropical plants and trees. Here's a Jacaranda tree, one of many in the neighborhood. It's native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. It blooms somewhat late in San Francisco, but it's a spectacular sight and a welcome bit of color.

27 June, 2009

Sign of the Week


This little gem was on the window of one of the MANY dollar (or in this case 99c) stores on Mission Street. It's rather brilliant in its own way and I especially like the drawing of the key (it must be one of the copy's (sic)).

18 June, 2009

Phone Booth(s)



I came across this marvellously maintained phone booth the other day (top). Admittedly, it was far out of town (in the Sierra, actually). It's pretty rare to find a booth so well-tended WITH a door AND a phone book! This brought to mind a question I had for the City of San Francisco; what happened to the old phone booths in Chinatown (bottom)?
I've got to get on this with someone (poor person). There were at least three booths near Grant Avenue that featured a pseudo-Chinese motif (as most of Chinatown does). It would be a shame to lose another little piece of the fabric that makes this such a wonderful place. Before we know it, phone booths will have gone the way of spats (or some such thing).