Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is This the Way to Muir Woods?

The plan was to bike from our flat in North Beach to Muir Woods. Never mind that a younger and fitter couple titled their blog about that particular ride "To Hell and Back." We're experienced bikers. We've biked over the Golden Gate Bridge a dozen times. We even biked all the way down the coast to San Luis Obispo this summer. So we suited up and started off.

The first stop, though, was a little sooner than we expected. It was COLD outside, foggy and damp, and as we headed towards Fisherman's Wharf (about 10 blocks from our house), the siren song of the Buena Vista--the cafe that claims to have invented the Irish Coffee--called to me. "I bet you know what I'm thinking," I said to Ace as we pedaled past. He did.

These weren't all for me.

After a pit stop, we headed down to Aquatic Park to take a look at the swimmers. "One of these days," I keep telling myself, "I'm going to get into that water, too." But not today.

Swimmers on the steps of Aquatic Park beneath Ghiradelli Square

After climbing the hill that overlooks Fort Mason, we coasted down to Marina Green. We had to stop there to take a picture in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club, because that's where we embarked 28 years ago today to get married on a boat on the Bay.

Twenty-eight years later, a little the worse for wear, in front of St. Francis Yacht Club.

After that it was smooth cycling until the steep approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, where Ace suddenly broke a spoke. His back wheel wobbled so badly we had to turn around and head back. He was able to ride his crippled bike most of the way, but on one downhill slope, we thought we'd better walk.

Above the Broadway tunnel. That's the Bay Bridge in the distance.

It's a good thing we live where we do, because there's a bicycle shop right across the street--Cykel. Ace knew he could drop off his wheel for rebuilding, and carry his bike's carcass home. Before we got there, though, we stumbled across a blues band playing on Polk Street. So instead of hiking through the redwoods on our anniversary, I ended up dancing in the streets.

Worked for me! :)

Home sweet home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Around the Dinner Table

there were cranes, trucks, bicycles, cars, pedestrians, strangers laughing and eating and speaking German, and tall, tall, tall buildings with mirrored windows.
Tonight we ate at Kate O'Brian's on Howard at 2nd St. where they make great bangers and mash.

Our son met us there after work and drank a pint of Lagunitas, which is brewed in a small fishing town up the coast.

Then we got back on our bikes and pedaled home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

English Teacher's Fantasy

We Players is performing The Odyssey on a schooner. If you can afford it, GO. If not, see their free production on Angel Island in the spring.

This morning I set sail on the Alma--an 1891 schooner from the San Francisco Maritime Museum--to see We Players put on a live performance of The Odyssey on the Bay. I got very little sleep last night anticipating this event. I've taught The Odyssey to my high school freshmen every year for the past 10 years, and I'm teaching it again right now, so the timing couldn't have been better. I love this book. I was delighted I'd been chosen to volunteer at future performances (since I couldn't afford the $160 ticket), and eager to see who would portray Odysseus, how they would depict the various monsters, and if they could accomplish it all while under sail. I wasn't disappointed.

What I saw was a dress rehearsal. There will be eleven performances on the boat, scheduled on weekend afternoons in September, October, and November. If you can afford it, go. This was the best event I've been to in years--perhaps in all time. But if the cost is too high for you, don't worry. According to their website, We Players "are actively preparing a full-scale, by-donation, traveling, choose-your-own-adventure version of The Odyssey for Angel Island in Spring 2012." That one--like all We Players' past events--will be free.

This is an amazing troupe with a wonderful mission to perform classic works in public spaces. Check out their web site. Love them. I did. I took so many photos and video clips while on board that my iphone stopped midway and refused to take any more. Still, I captured enough to give you a good taste. It's delicious. Have some.

We boarded the boat at the Hyde Street Pier.

The Port of San Francisco sign looks out over the water from the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street.

The Transamerica pyramid catches the light.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Welcome Rain of Visitors

The view from behind the waterfall at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens.

Although I was skeptical about the move, after two months of living in San Francisco, I have no doubt that coming here was the right decision for me and my husband.

Living in the City is inspiring us to do new things together, and reinvigorating our marriage. This week, for example, we've been out to the movies or the theater four nights in a row, and we're off again this morning to bring a picnic lunch to Opera in the Park--a free event at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park. We'll ride our bikes there, coasting downhill to Fisherman's Wharf from our flat in North Beach, enjoying the cool fog air and glorious views along Aquatic Park and Marina Green before turning inland at the Presidio.

I'm a little surprised that so far the move is turning out well for us. But what's even more surprising is that it's also turning out well for our friends. We've had more visitors in the past two months than we had in the previous two years in the suburbs.

This week, my old friend Mike Barr came to the city of his youth for the first time in years. We took in the Stein Collection (Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde) at the Museum of Modern Art, walked kitty corner to the Jewish Contemporary Museum to see the Gertrude Stein exhibit, then crossed the street to Yerba Buena Gardens where we ambled behind the waterfall at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and had a cup of chai upstairs at Samovar Tea Lounge.

I know it's corny and embarrassingly uncool, but I feel grateful to San Francisco for bringing me such a wealth of new experiences and old friends.

The front of the MLK Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens.

The view down the colonnade from Samovar Tea Lounge which is above and behind the MLK Memorial.

The round roof of the Museum of Modern Art as seen from Yerba Buena Gardens.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Shouldn't Have Brought $100 to the SF Zinefest!

Fun and frivolity at the bike culture table. The sign in the upper right says "Safe Space for Wingnuts."

There were WAY too many cute and interesting things to purchase there. I wanted to get some book binding ideas for my son, the poet, and I did. I bought a tiny origami book for $1, and a large hand-made book with a cloth cover that was bound with gold ribbon in the ancient Japanese "stabbed binding" technique for $28. (Ouch!) I even saw a book that was sewn together with a sewing machine. (Demo only. Lucky for me.)

As to the zines themselves, who can resist putting money in the quiet, unassuming hands of penniless writers? I came home with half a dozen of them. (Zines. Not writers.) My favorite has to be Shards of Glass in Your Eye by a woman named Kari Tervo who lives in LA. Here's one of her "homeopathic cures" listed on the inside cover: "For Naivete: Place a magical amulet under your pillow. It will strengthen your critical thinking skills."

The two men at the door as we walked in were selling "30-Second Typewriter Stories." That's the second typewriter I've seen at a public event in the last week. Now I'm glad I didn't throw out my mom's old Royal with the chickenscratch font. Who knows? I might need to make a living with it some day.

I stoically resisted paying this young man $1 for a "30-Second Typewriter Story." Then I gave him $3 for his comic book.

The cute gal in the top picture was (wo)manning a "bike culture" table. (Who knew bike culture was related to independent publishing?) The sign over her head said "Safe Space for Wingnuts." She submitted that saying to SF Zinefest for the event tee-shirt, but it wasn't selected. Still, she had lots of cool stuff. I thought I was done spending when I walked by her table. I couldn't resist making one last purchase. I bought the sticker below for my husband.

The fest will be back next year. To contact the organizers, try

I'm not sure my husband likes the sticker I bought him. Maybe it's more of a girl's sticker...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Music in the Streets

Every time I walk out my front door in North Beach feels a little like going to Disneyland. There is so much to see, and hear.

Walking home from the grocery store Saturday afternoon, I stumbled upon a fantastic jazz band playing in the Savoy Tivoli on Grant Street. The music spilled onto the sidewalk through a giant open window where a pretty girl in a retro dress and her boyfriend were perched on the sill. I had serious trouble pulling myself away to bring the dinner ingredients (tomato sauce, anchovies, yellow onion) home to Ace.

Saturday afternoon jazz at the Savoy Tivoli.

Then after dinner we were walking to the movies when we encountered three comical girls (or two comics and a babe) singing a little off key right on our corner. I saw the babe and her stand-up bass again the next day on Haight, where a passerby was reaching into his wallet to make a donation before she even played a note.

Street performers on our corner.

On Sunday we took a bike ride to Golden Gate Park (down Columbus to Aquatic Park, up and over the hill that overlooks Fort Mason, along Marina Green, along Crissy Field, up and over the Presidio, and down Arguello into the luscious green park) and eventually made our way to the bandshell where the Golden Gate Park Band was playing Hollywood movie themes. My erudite friend Joe Stegall informs me the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey was actually composed by Richard Strauss. No wonder it sounded so good!

GG Park Band: playing music for the public for 129 years.

And our route home took us down Haight Street, where a kick-ass bluegrass band was crazily cramped and encamped behind a metal grate on someone's porch.

Bluegrass band behind bars on Haight Street. Play it, boys!