Archive for the ‘The City’ Category

In Bangalore, Newsom inks Sister City agreements

On his trip to Bangalore, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed several “memorandums of understanding” (or “MoUs,” as the Indian paper has it) with our Indian sister city. The agreements, in the areas ranging from health care to culture and fashion, are intended to strengthen the relationship between the two cities. Here’s the news release from Newsom’s office.

Don’t forget, Bangalore is a Metblogs city.

Related: I visited Bangalore for a week in April 2007 and blogged my impressions of the city of six million.

Loma Prieta 20th anniversary: an introduction


The Bay Area is about to get a major dose of 20th anniversary coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989, which killed 63 people and injured over 3000.

If you weren’t here, the SFGate website is revving up coverage, and this 10-minute video is a good place to start. In the meantime, here’s a short glossary of terms you’ll hear thrown around for the next week:

Loma Prieta
A 3786-foot peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Google map) between Morgan Hill and Santa Cruz which gave its name to the earthquake, the epicenter of which was nearby.
1989 World Series (“Battle of the Bay”)
The baseball championship series between the American League-winning Oakland A’s and the National League-winning San Francisco Giants, Game 3 of which was about to get underway when the earthquake hit. The World Series ensured that the Goodyear blimp and other national TV infrastructure was on scene to cover the earthquake.
Cypress Structure
An elevated double-deck freeway structure, built in the late 1950s, which collapsed during the quake (picture above); part of Interstate 880 through West Oakland. Site of the most deaths from the earthquake.
Marina District
A San Francisco neighborhood built on bay fill soil which liquified during the quake, leading to building collapses, a gas leak, and the worst fire caused by the quake.

San Francisco: dirty, credulous, overcrowded?

This post by a resident has the good and bad of San Francisco, from his perspective. He’s so upset about the downside of the city that he warns readers:

If you enjoy living in San Francisco, stop reading right now.

Why? Is he going to tell me something that I haven’t learned in my thirty years here? Something that will make me boogie off to Atlanta or Denver?

No, that’s not the reason.

If you don’t stop reading, you’ll probably come across something you disagree with, then you’ll want to leave a nasty comment, then you’ll realize I don’t accept comments, then you’ll email me, and then I’ll have to ignore your email because I warned you not to read this.

Aw! He doesn’t want to deal with someone disagreeing with him! It’s almost cute.

OK, to save time, here is his worst criticism: San Francisco is dirty and overcrowded, and this implies that the citizens value their delusions about the city and themselves more than they do its residents, especially the residents who are poorer and less privileged.

Don’t be afraid, Alex Payne. I don’t disagree. I think it’s a good argument, and also a true picture of the city. (In fact, you should have stuck to that. The other criticism, that you run into too many other tech industry people and feel you always have to be on, to properly represent your latest business idea or image — oh, come on.)

Comments on Payne’s piece welcome here, even if he doesn’t want to deal with them there.

Cathedral Hill Hotel to become hospital

      Gene Hackman as Harry Caul monitoring the goings-on in the Jack Tar Hotel

I was shocked to see this Curbed SF story on the proposed conversion of San Francisco’s Cathedral Hill Hotel to a hospital by the octopus-like California Pacific Medical Center. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think about whenever I pass that hotel is that part of the great Coppolla film The Conversation (1974) was filmed there when it was known as the Jack Tar Hotel. (Part of it was also filmed at the Embarcadero Center, and somehow that office complex does not evoke the same associations.)

A personal memory I have of that hotel is the 1990 and 1991 Out/Write conferences, which brought together the whole LGBT literary world for the first time. Searching for some mention of these conferences on the web, I found a lovely piece by Edmund White, in which he gives a glowing description of the 1991 conference.

Also read: Curbed SF on the Jack Tar Hotel

I want to go to there

Courtesy the beautiful and generous Michelle Richmond, here’s a nice piece on Associated Content, “Five books that make me want to travel to San Francisco.” They include Richmond’s own novel The Year of Fog as well as the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and the classic coffee table collection of pictures of Victorian houses, Painted Ladies.

Best travel blog entry about SF evar

Old Ship Saloon Highway 101 Kearny Post Sutter HSBC House of Nanking flowering blossom tea Muni 30 Stockton 9x AT&T Park Angelina’s 22 Avenue and California fog son mist fog Stanford ELMI McCovey Marichal Mays Cepeda Portsmouth Square Ghirardelli Square Mechanics Institute Library Post Giants Winn Eugenio Velez Bay Bridge Adobe Saint Gregory’s of Nyssa Sara Miles Federal Reserve Bank Powell & Hyde Powell & Mason Van Ness Third & King Chronicle beach siren artichoke hearts salmon Golden Gate 1 Marin Vista Point yes yes yes Saint Francis!

Upset at beggars? Pick the right target

The Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius writes about a woman with a four-year-old son begging on the street in the Financial District. Nearby office workers, led by a sympathetic woman named Anna Samovol, got the woman and her child winter coats and Christmas gifts and eventually paid for them to go live with relatives in Pennsylvania.

Feel-good story? Not anymore. The woman and her kid are back. Samoval said, “I saw her at the BART station. I was pissed off.”
I’ve felt frustrated by beggars too. When I worked downtown I would encounter the same beggars on the same corners literally for years on end. When a familiar face was replaced by another mendicant, only to return a day or two later and reclaim his spot, I joked with co-workers that the unfamiliar guy must have been a temp. On another day, I passed a beggar with an amusing sign, then encountered another beggar a little farther on.

Me: You should have a sign like that guy back there.
Second beggar, unamused: The other day he had a kitten.

But generally I found them not a source of amusement but a pain in the ass. I told myself that they were lazy, that it was their fault they were there, that if it wasn’t their fault then they probably had something wrong with them that couldn’t be helped by my small donation. A story like the one about the woman and her son who were shipped to Pennsylvania only to return to the streets of San Francisco seems to reinforce that idea. If a ticket back home to relatives won’t help, then what good can I do by giving a dollar, or even a hundred dollars?

Finally I realized that all these projections on my part were futile. If I give someone a quarter, or a plane ticket, they don’t owe me anything in return. They don’t owe me improved behavior, or recovery from whatever is oppressing them, or disappearance from my sight. They don’t owe me anything. A gift is just that.

If I want to be pissed off by the fact there are beggars on the streets, there are plenty of good targets for my anger: start with Proposition 13 and the war on drugs, and go from there.

Activists prepare for Prop. 8 decision by Calif. Supreme Court


The California State Supreme Court tomorrow will issue its decision on the constitutionality of the state law banning gay marriage, which was enacted by the voters as Proposition 8 in November. Some local activists are meeting tonight to plan civil disobedience after the announcement if the decision upholds the law, and another group announced plans to march no matter what the outcome.

The court convenes at 10:00 a.m. and the decision should be known shorter thereafter.

Drivers should avoid the downtown area between Van Ness Ave. and Second St., covering Civic Center and the retail center, where large demonstrations are expected.

Zen priests 87, firefighters 80

New priests at Zen Center. Photo by Catherine McPhee.

After the San Francisco Zen Center ordained three new priests last month, Zen Center blogger Greg Fain pointed out that a University of Chicago survey found that clergy had a very high job satisfaction rate, even better than firefighters. “We beat firefighters! Whoo-hoo!!!” he exulted.

1930s era SF ‘wonderful creations’ include Alcatraz?

I missed this LA Times travel piece when it came out a month ago — a nice little writeup on how many San Francisco landmarks were built during the Great Depression of the 1930s, from the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower to the Opera House. Here is a beautiful photo gallery.

Other newspapers are still reprinting the piece: for example the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, whose website today highlights one curious 1930s San Francisco landmark: Alcatraz, which opened in 1934. Their headline says Wonderful creations emerged during the hard times of the ’30s, with a picture of Alcatraz right underneath. Somehow I doubt the copy editor who wrote that headline has been to Alcatraz.

Anyway, the piece nicely totes up the number of Diego Rivera murals in the city, including the one at the San Francisco Stock Exchange (“What were the stockbrokers thinking?”) — and the one at City College.

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