29 January, 2010

Banana Slugs and Redwoods

The Bay Area abounds with incredible parks, wilderness areas and trails. A few of them are almost unknown, while others tend to be overrun more often than not. I don't think it has anything to do with their relative beauty or proximity to populations. For example, this place is so beautiful and so quiet and so accessible that anyone familiar with it would be a fool to advertise its whereabouts for fear of it being overrun with weekend warriors (you know the type), mountain bikers and joggers. It should have some organization like the Knights Templar to guard its precious treasures.  It SHOULD, but it doesn't.  So... I'm going to let readers of this blog in on this secret.  My favorite redwood stroll is located at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.  It's just south of Half Moon Bay and can be accessed by either the Higgins Canyon Road or the Verde Road/Purisima Creek Road, both off of Highway 1. The roads are a treat in themselves and your pleasure has just begun as you anticipate arrival at your very special and extraordinarily beautiful destination. The creek itself is roaring at this time of year and the slugs are singing of the joys of their damp and verdant paradise.

23 January, 2010

January in Bloom

I was strolling through St. Mary's Square across from old St. Mary's Cathedral, California's first cathedral, and came across this beautiful sight. It's a Magnolia Campbelii, native to the Himalayas, but evidentally quite happy here in San Francisco. It was a pretty, moody day before the great rains of the last week and I'm not sure if all these lovely blooms survived the winds. The square was remodeled very nicely a few years back and features a statue of the great Dr. Sun Yat-sen by the artist Beniamino Bufano.  It was commissioned by Chinatown merchants in the late 1930s in honor of the founder of modern China and its first president, who died in 1924. There's also a pretty good swing (see last post) in the playground.

20 January, 2010

In the Swing

I know lots of "mature" people who still enjoy the occasional turn on a playground swing.  There's nothing like the sight of some overgrown child swinging away, lost in a simple pleasure forgotten by so many others.  Admittedly, it's not always a pretty sight. Who cares?  Well, here's your opportunity to enjoy what is arguably San Francisco's best swing. It's on the first block of Rockridge Drive in Sunset Heights Park.  A view of the Pacific and a dangerously high swing arc are things best appreciated by the older swinger.

13 January, 2010

The Gateway to Upper Market

A familiar and comforting sight to locals, the giant Safeway sign on Market Street has been a San Francisco landmark since the 1950s.  The store itself has been open since 1954 and has undergone several renovations.  The most recent remodel has, unfortunately, obscured the iconic "Marina" arch design and most of the remaining traces of the original store.
It's never been a pleasant place to shop, despite Safeway's best efforts.  I'm not a Feng Shui adherent, but something is definitely amiss at this store. They're trying out a new "Whole Foods" look, but it's still a place to be gotten out of as quickly as possible.

11 January, 2010

New Paint for the Castro Theatre

The venerable Castro Theatre is getting a new paint job. The fantastic marquee was restored for the filming of "MILK" a few years back and it's still an impressive sight. The rest of the facade was looking a bit faded. The new color scheme is very subtle and a marked improvement over the sloppy job applied by the Blumenfeld Theatre chain when they were operators of the place. The Castro theatre was built in 1922 by the Nasser Bros. who still, remarkably, own it. It was designed by noted architect Timothy Pflueger, who was also responsible for the magnificent Paramount Theatre in Oakland. If you haven't seen a movie at the Castro or seen the interior of the place, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Here's the website of the theatre http://castrotheatre.com/. A great opportunity would be the upcoming Film Noir Festival.

05 January, 2010

The (Former) Crossroads of the World

This terrific old sign is located on a building on Bush Street between Taylor and Mason.  Its current incarnation is a tanning salon. I have no recollection of this place ever being a hub of activity, but the club owner once considered the place important enough to be advertised as the "crossroads of the world".  Who knows, perhaps it was one of those "swanky" nightclubs you see in all those old 1940/50s movies, the kind with a floor show, cigarette girls and little lamps on the tables.  Then again, it might have been a real dive.

04 January, 2010

New Year's Blues

Back from a glorious Christmas holiday, it's hard not to greet the New Year with a bit of trepidation.  The very sad sight of dried-out and abandoned trees on every corner of The City speaks volumes. One of my biggest peeves are the Scrooges   who insist on tossing the old tannenbaum  onto the sidewalk on the 26th of December. Then again, the reformed Scrooge would be too busy spending Boxing Day hanging out with the Cratchits to rip down his tree! I guess it follows that if you've had the darn thing up since November 1st, you're probably eager to be rid of it.
True fans of the season (or observant Christians) can always take comfort in the fact that today is officially the 11th day of Christmas (Pipers Piping seem to be in short supply) and you can still look forward to the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th.  Or, you can do what Walgreens does and put up the Valentine's Day stuff.