Archive for June, 2004

Glorious wastings of my time

I’ve owned a variety of cars since turning that magical age of 16, many years not so long ago. So I’ve never really had too much need for mass public transit. That is until a few months after being involved in 2 seperate accidents in a three month period. Which by the way were not my fault! I swear! Needless to say the accidents have done enough of a head trip that’s caused me to trade in my wheels for a good pair of shoes and a Fastpass.

Since I’ve been using the transit system on a pretty regular basis I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s most definitely not user friendly.

My first day of riding the bus could have easily landed me in jail, a mental ward or at the very least the nearest local bar! I completely admit to being navigationally impaired. Trust me if I could grasp the whole north south east west thing I would! But it’s a simple fact that not everyone is born with the common knowledge of how to ride the bus or train. Having bus drivers yell at me for asking questions, or have the machine reject my recently purchased bart card that still had 3.00 left on it which resulted in me missing my train after waiting to exchange it for a new card is definitely cause for a breakdown or a really hard drink.

My other major complaint is what I’ve started referring to as the Cinderella transit time. When I first started my public transit adventure I lived in the East bay and my social life resided in the city. This required having to usually take a bus to the Bart station and taking Bart into the city. I’m not sure how late other East bay buses run but the bus I rode in Alameda had its  last run at 10:18pm. This was frustrating to say the least because if you know me you know that I’m also not so time friendly. When I had my car I didn’t usually start getting ready to go out till 10pm and now I was faced with the dilemma of having to be ready and at the bus stop by 10, or pay 4 times the amount on a cab,or just stay home and hope that something good was the pay per view. However If I did actually happen to make it to the city my other problem was …………how to get home?

Bart stops running at midnight or at the most a few minutes afterwards. The majority of my friends live in the city so having them run me across the bridge, completely out of their way was just not feasible which left me with the choice to either get to Bart by midnight (cinderella transit time) and cab home, or take the Transbay bus which in theory is a really great idea – Pay 3 bucks and be home in 20 minutes. The problem lies in the fact that at 3 in the morning the Transbay Terminal also doubles as a crash pad for those who either have no home or are too drunk/high to find theirs. Not the greatest environment for a girl to be alone in at that time of night.  I tried it once and didn’t even last 10 minutes before I walked to the Bart station to basically kill a couple of hours till the train started running again.

I’ve recently come to reside in the city and while taking a bus to work is fairly simple it can add up to be pretty expensive on a daily basis. I’ve purchased the monthly fastpass which is good for both Muni and Bart,  but only in the city. I still travel to the East bay a lot to pick up my mail and see my Aunt and other friends. The pass doesn’t work for Bart once you cross the bridge  so I’m required to purchase tickets for my east bay trips seperately. The monthly tickets for any of the transit providers come out to a few dollars less than full fare but when you add up daily commuting, and the fact that the majority of them are not interchangable it just increases the frustration of having to rely on public transit. 

I’m not completely bitter jaded on the transit system though. I completely love the 511 Transit site and could almost be their spokesperson as often as I tell everyone about it.  It gets me from point A to point B and tells me all the steps in between including total trip cost and any alerts along the way. I also love not having the gazillion parking tickets to worry about or the lack of parking and all the walking I’ve been doing lately has let me see more of the city that I love on a whole new perspective. Not to mention what the occasional whistle from a driver passing by can do for a girl on a bad hair day. 

South Bay to South Bay

I had to go to the South Bay for work today.  On the way, I made a few quick calls – one of them back home to the South Bay in which I grew up – the one in SoCal (which is what my mind stil pulls up first when I hear “South Bay” at all).  Maybe it’s nomenclature, maybe it’s the sprawl and the lack of leafy foliage – but this more northern South Bay is comfortable to me.  Sure every freeway there is perma-under construction.  Sure it’s not SF proper.  But it’s warmer and familiar.

Of note on the drive down – a man painting on the side of 19th Ave, just North of Geary – easel and everything.  Couldn’t really tell his subject.  Further proof that in San Francisco art can happen anywhere, anytime, and in any form – even shockingly traditional forms.

Lastly – since this is partly a what to see/do/watch/eat/hear/touch kinda site – I have to praise 97.3’s nightly radio program “Chill.”  Does it make me pedestrian to admit to liking corporate radio?  Should I only fess up to BBC, NPR, maybe KFOG or others?  Probably.  Maybe my cred is gone already.  But I dig it – on Sundays from 10 – 2 and Mon – Thurs nights from 10 – 12, 97.3 plays what they describe as electronica and, uh, something else.  It’s good to blog to at night in bed.  And even better – take your walkman to Reverie (at Carl and Cole – now serving booze! will be great for my study habits!) in Cole Valley on a sunny Sunday – grab the paper, and sit on the back deck and bask in the air and the sound.


Only in San Francisco

That’s the new slogan, according to this Chron article on the rise in tourism that has convention and visitor’s people breathing a sigh of relief:

“Until 2001, we were on golden pond. There was little we could do wrong,” Marks said. “Then the dot-com phenomenon became the dot-com bust, followed by the tragic events of Sept. 11, followed by war, followed by anthrax, followed by SARS. It was a perfect storm.

Yikes – with that list of what’s gone wrong, why did I ever move here? Oh right – had to.  At any rate – things are looking up, so the city can look forward to relaxing on a fluffier tax base than in the past few years.

The old slogan, by the way, was “Everybody’s Favorite City,” which, frankly, is a bit pompous.  I mean, really, everybody’s?  The new slogan sounds a little cribbed from Vegas if you ask me.  It’s a bit of a slant of what-happens-in-vegas-stays-in-vegas. (and yes, the article references the vegas slogan too, but i hadn’t read that far yet – i’m soooo smart) But lord knows I utter those words close to everyday. 

My neighbors leave an old chair outside and by the morning someone has moved in? Only in San Francisco.  The guy painting on 19th Ave?  Only in San Francisco.  A GAP at the corner of Haight and Ashbury?  Only in San Francisco.

Re-MUNI-rations, Part the Second

On my way to my first West Coast interview nine months ago, I took
every form of public transportation San Francisco has to offer. Well,
not the cable cars, but I’m sure my next interview will do its level
best to incorporate those somehow.

I just hope I can restrain myself from bringing a box of Rice-a-Roni along.

MUNI is jerky, subject to rush-hour traffic, and seems to let the air
in and out of its tires at stops. I chew a lot of ginger when I take

BART is smooth, sleek, fast, soundless, but, except for visiting my
East Bay friends, it doesn’t really go anywhere that useful to me. If
San Franciscites are so concerned about the environment and cutting
back on cars and emissions and such, please explain to me why their
subterranean transportation is not better connected throughout the city.

Caltrain is almost like taking the Amtrack Empire Builder from
Minnesota to Seattle except there is only one bathroom and it never
seems to flush properly. I have to remember not to drink my coffee
until I get to wherever it is that I am going.

A significant thing happened on my way down to Palo Alto. After the
usual announcements about all the stops down to San Jose and bike
space, the conductor said, “And remember, if you want to put your feet
up, please remove your shoes first.” On the Boston-area Commuter Rail,
you were never, ever allowed to put your feet up. How Californian — I
love it!

The Stanford Marguerite shuttle is quick, convenient and free.

Once you get all the way down to Palo Alto.

A Very SF Weekend

Part of the reason I wanted to write for this shiny new site was quite selfish.  I needed something to make me spend more time with the city.  Something to force us together – me the reluctant resident and SF the difficult city.  So this weekend was another chance to bond.  And bond we did.

First up was Kezar – which you’ve heard about already.  On Saturday, art all day – on canvas, in silver, in fabric, and finally, on a plate. 

You have until July 5 to check out the Art Deco exhibit at the Legion of Honor.  If you’re a Deco person, or even a museum enthusiast, it’s a must.  It costs a few more clams than art usually should – but it’s worth it. 

More than any other genre or period, Deco moves me.  Its simple, reduced lines, streamlined elegance, and the way it unites mechanized convenience and human emotion are evidenced throughout the exhibit.  Perhaps what’s most striking is the number of everyday objects in the show – the cups, the lamps, the clocks, chairs, and even an outboard motor.  There’s nothing deco didn’t touch in its heyday, nor anything today that escapes its influence.  Deco developed as a response to the fluid, organic, nouveau period – deco strips away the swirls and flowers and leaves just the geometric remains of design.  A good example is the change from Tiffany glass (those fancy stained glass lamps) to Frank Lloyd Wright’s geometric wonders, also flowers in their own way.  It’s simple on the surface, but how do you know which lines to leave and which can be removed without destroying the form, function, and beauty of an object? 

We chose to rent the audio sets for the more guided tour experience.  It was educational, but the headphones cut me off from the gallery and the objects I looked at.  The segments always ran a bit long too, especially given the volume of traffic trying to circulate between the displays.

The show sets up your lesson nicely – moving you through an introductory section and then through the various forms of art and regions of the world that influenced deco. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt and the romantic fascination with ancient Egyptian culture gave deco some of its most pervasive themes and colors.  Ancient Greece, early Latin American cultures, and the far East all come out in deco pieces. 

Toward the end of the exhibit – the full influence of the machine in undeniable.  The sleek lines, the gears, the silver, and the sheer scale of the pieces are striking.  There are models of Rockafeller Plaza and a series of photos to remind you how much of the New York skyline is a deco dreamscape.  Even dressing tables are larger than life – with round mirrors dwarfing the polished wood base and ornamental drawers supporting them.  It was Hollywood, baby, convenience and stature – Xanadu and the Chrysler Building – all available for your bedroom set, placesettings, or alarm clock.  And it was all beautiful.

Trying to follow a theme (or sort of backtracking through art history), we had dinner at Boulevard.  No, I can’t really afford to eat there – but sometimes, you gotta do it up right.  It’s a nouveau beauty that tasted as good as it looked.  From the cocktails to the dessert – this place knows how good it is and it isn’t afraid to show it.  For purely journalistic reasons, we ordered the foie gras to start. I’m sorry, PETA friends.  I won’t do it again.  But before they outlaw it, I had to see what the fuss was about.  It was good.  I’m so sorry.  But it was.

So that was my Saturday.  I’d recommend it to anyone.  Except the foie gras – I know real San Franciscans wouldn’t have eaten it.

[I had a stolen photo (not allowed in special exhibits – what’s that about?) from the deco show – but I’m still learning how to use this site . . . .]

Spitting Geniuses

God bless when poetry meets hip hop, and politics meets hipsters.

Tonight over at the Canvas Cafe is the Battle of the Bay.

I love putting my friends who are spoken word artists on the spot.

“Leonard, Jason, I’m blue. I need a song. Sing me some poetry. ”

And then the flow is on.

****Janked from Craigslist****

6/21: Battle of the Bay Poetry Slam — Canvas Gallery (inner sunset / UCSF)

Annual Battle of the Bay Poetry Slam
at the Canvas Café
MONDAY, June 21st, 2004
8:00-11:00pm, All Ages
Donations gladly accepted

Canvas Gallery and Cafe
1200 9th Ave at Lincoln Ave,
across from Golden Gate Park

Get spit to, not spit on as the Golden Gate Poetry
Slam, in conjunction with NorCal Spoken Word, presents
the 4th Annual Battle of the Bay Poetry Slam, a
fundraiser to help Bay Area Poets to the National
Poetry Slam in St. Louis, MO, August 3-8, 2004.

The first day of Summer will be smokin’ when 4 teams
from Northen California battle it out to see who’s got
the most original, most emotional, most unforgettable
poems to bring to the National competition. Although
only ego is at stake, these poets will come prepared
to tear the literal and metaphorical detritus up in
preparation for the big show. If you’re not planning
on going to St. Louis this summer, then you won’t want
to miss this!

My Backyard

Here’s some shots (dedicated to Jason DeFillippo) of my backyard. 
I live right next to Mt. Diablo – today we drove to the top.


Riding the 21 Hayes to work this morning, I sat next to a
make-up-applying-woman who had managed to drench herself in Poison
after drinking heavily from her bottle of eau de toilette the night

I was puzzled.

I thought all the bottles of Poison spontaneously combusted when Falcon Crest was taken off the air.

Here Kitty Kitty

It shouldn’t be hard to find somewhere to eat at 10pm on a Friday night in San Francisco – but for some reason last night it just wasn’t working out.  After exercising my veto power over one place – we let go the one cab available in Cole Valley and found ourselves at Carl and Cole with empty tummies and quickly rising frustration levels.

Enter Kezar Bar.  I’d been past it about a thousand times and never gone in.  My dining partner was less than excited, feeling that Kezar fit the “dark crummy bar” he had been trying to avoid (one too many nights at Yancy’s for his taste – though that place is a fav among some of my friends).  Kezar, however, turned out to be great.  Good drinks, right tempo, and really good food.  I had a ground lamb burger with feta, hold the lime whatever aioli (there’s a lot of aioli in the city, anyone ever notice that?), several cosmos, and some tasty chips.

Kezar also has a cat.  I hope I’m not blowing the cover and inviting a health code inspection because cats are quite clean and this cat, Lemmy (or was it Lenny? It was loud), was quite well behaved.  It made me miss my cat, George. 

At any rate, for all the time I’ve spent in Cole Valley, I’ve seen plenty of dogs.  But this was the first cat.  And I liked the experience.

Moral of the story, good food is always possible in San Francisco, regardless of hour, neighborhood, or frustration level.

Today – art and fine dining.  Stay tuned.

First Post

I am usually mocked for what I am about to say, but I trust you guys to be sweet about it.
San Francisco is very, very chilly in the summer, so much so that I have been known to call it “the coldest city in the world.”
I can sort of understand why this leads to guffaws and shakes of the head. For one thing, I grew up in Canada’s Nunavut Territory, in a town far above the treeline with snow that didn’t melt until mid-June. For another, San Francisco isn’t particularly gray, so the shining sun has definitely added a freckle or two to my grumpy face.
But for someone used to the annual “air conditioner insertion” ritual and desperate sips of cold lemonade, the June and July coldness comes as a shock. The most startling adjustment is to the wind, which can start up without notice, making skirt-wearing into a Marilyn Monroe moment.
I am trying to cope. Words of wisdom would be very much appreciated.

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