1903 was a big year. The Wright Brothers invented the first powered airplane. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid. The first wireless radio signals were transmitted across the Atlantic.
These were all advances that allowed humans to defeat distance. But as if these weren't sufficient, 1903 was also the year that a man in San Francisco took a bet, and invented the Great American Road Trip.
The "horseless carriage" had yet to convince anyone that it was anything more than a passing fad. And the $50 wager that Horatio Jackson couldn't drive one from SF to New York was sound, since there were no gas stations, no 7-Elevens, and no paved roads.
But he made it. Ken Burns did a documentary about it in 2003.
I discovered HJ's awesome ride while researching a new project that I plan to begin this summer. Stay tuned for more details.
Bill Holloway and Mauro Hernandez, of Masterworks Woodworking, salvage condemned city trees, then build beautiful bicycles out of them. The story of these bikes goes from the felling of a family's guardian tree, through the woodworking process, and finally, the completion of art you can ride.
They're self-taught, and the custom bikes are an offshoot of their larger woodworking and detailing business. Bill is a native San Franciscan, and his family has deep roots here. The dynamic between him and Mauro is a compelling, friendly rivalry.
I fist encountered Bill while shooting him at Bay Area Maker Faire. This time around, it was great getting to know him and his work better, and setting him and Mauro loose to ride their creations in some stunning San Francisco locations. (Watch for the daredevil downhill stuff - these bikes are decidedly NOT made for that kind of terrain!)
The woman who runs a live-in sexual meditation commune, One Taste Urban Retreat Center, here in San Francisco, gave a talk at TEDxSF. The best part of the video
are the reaction shots of the women in the audience is where she tells the origin story of her program. She meets a dude at a party, he invites her to take her pants off, she does, then he shines a light between her legs and describes her vagina's various textures and colors. This causes her to cry and changes her forever. In itself, not shocking by SF standards. You get the impression that the weird parts of the story are left tucked between the lines.
The New York Times did a long profile a while back, part of which tells of her father, who shortly before her "awakening," had died of cancer while serving a prison sentence for molesting a couple of young girls.
Yelp reviews for One Taste are mostly glowing, but the bad ones really stick out:
Having spoken in depth about their business plan with their CEO (which gives me an insight few others have), I can tell you for certain the aim is to encourage lonely horny men to part with considerable sums of money, whilst cloaking it all in a New Age aura of raising self-awareness through intimate (read: sexual) contact.
The final sentence in her TEDx talk is meant to paraphrase the Dalai Lama: "It will be turned-on women and those who dare to stroke us who will change the world."
Image from City by the Blog
Is it the best ever, as claimed by Oscar Lewis in the Forward? Debatable. This essay repeatedly commits the sin of calling it "Frisco." At least it does so self-consciously:
Before the crash and flame, Frisco was beginning to protest at being called anything but San Francisco. Yet Frisco clung, it held some winking, sly hint of frisky. Even the great black headlines over the evil news used the diminutive abbreviation like a touch of light in the cloud, a sort of fresh, smiling rose on the pall, speaking of resurrection.
Additionally, it was apparently penned by someone who'd never been to SF. It's still an amazing piece of writing. So there. Read it all after the jump...
California Historical Society is hosting a panel discussion of pure history porn. (Just look at that not-so-subliminal cover image.) The topic: "how the San Francisco port shaped the city and how the city shaped the port."
Michael Corbett, Tim Kelley, Chris VerPlanck and Jim Delgado (author of “Gold Rush Port” and Chief Marine Archaeologist for NOAA) ... will discuss the port’s role in shaping urban form as well as influencing its social and labor history. Through landfill, wharfs, seawalls and pier buildings, the port changed San Francisco’s physical form while serving as a conduit for the movement of goods and people into and out of the city since the 1850’s. Businesses located their offices near the port to house management while workers labored at the wharf loading and unloading goods from ships, driving the city’s economy and underpinning its civic life.
I'll be there. Come out and say hi, and bring all the Freudian references you can gather.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Port City Book Launch, Panel Discussion and Reception
California Historical Society
Space is limited. Please RSVP to 415.357.1848, ext. 233 or email@example.com
San Franciscans love little more than dressing up and acting out. And Daniel Jarvis is there to capture it all on his magic Canon.
I finally took the Anchor Brewery tour. Pretty sweet.
We were told that due to our small group, we were being given special access. True? I've no idea. But they did allow us to get right up to the big tanks where they make the yeast. Here's some video of the inside...
And here is some random suds coming out of random steampunk valves on the wall...
As for the Michael Jackson thing, the cagey little tour guide assured us it was not THAT Michael Jackson.
But then, she also said it was against Anchor policy to admit that hops are related to weed. I didn't ask because I wanted to smoke some, or even graft hops and cannabis together; I was just curious after hearing it mentioned on Food Network.
In any case, it looks like the recent sale of the brewery isn't affecting its size or business model, and so it remains an impressive feat that they crank out all of their product from that single location.
Nestled amongst the schlock and obesity of Fisherman's Wharf is Musée Mécanique, a working collection of vintage carnival psychedelia. A true San Francisco treasure.
Here is your video:
In this video, local musician and sound artist David Molina captured native audio from the museum and created surreal soundscapes. They were used in an art installation, Homage to Musée Mécanique.
This just might eclipse Brian Wilson's 8MM/Machine meme.
The article is a bit more thorough and creative than most of its type, but I'd take it further and, for the truly adventurous, try using CouchSurfing.org to avoid paying high city hotel room rates - you'll also meet real locals in the process.
Can't make it to China, Japan, France, Italy or Mexico this year? Explore San Francisco's ethnic neighborhoods and attractions, and circle the globe without leaving town... Dim Sum in Chinatown? Panini in Italian North Beach? Both are tempting, but we settled on the Mission District for an afternoon of street art, tacos and ice cream.
I do love that they recommend free City Guides walking tours, something every SF local should take advantage of (be sure to donate!). Last year they served nearly 40,000 walkers, and have dozens of tours, most of which can be dropped in on without a reservation. (Full disclosure: I recently graduated from the excellent guide training program at City Guides; stay tuned for more details.)
Ours is the only fire department in the country that makes and uses wooden ladders. Before the fir used to make the ladders can be utilized it has to sit and age for 15 years. Amazingly, they repair ladders that are close to 100 years old for future use.
This is a fascinating piece. I could do without the cheesy anchorman voice-over, but other than that, I was riveted for the whole 3:55 duration.
The video's been around for about a month now and I don't know how I missed it.
George Washington the Second beside a bust of his namesake. (I think he looks more like Ben Franklin.) Image courtesy San Francisco Public Library.
His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Norton I, in addition to being the prototype of Frank Chu, is credited with visions of a suspension bridge across the Golden Gate (some suspect this to have been made up by others later) and a tunnel toward Oakland before those ideas were considered sane.
There were other eccentrics who paraded San Francisco's streets in the 1850s and 60s, but for some reason the only one we still celebrate is Norton. It is a monopoly that he, above all, would have cherished; but just like his attempt to corner the rice market in 1852 which eventually sent him over the rainbow, this monopoly may not last.
Submitted for your approval: Frederick Coombs, a.k.a., "George Washington the Second." Learn all about him after the jump...
I didn't see any fireworks over the weekend. Boo hoo.
But after watching this latest video by Daniel Jarvis, I feel like I can miss fireworks for the next three years.
Filmed at Dolores Park, 24th and Harrison, The Uptown, The Phone booth, Bernal Heights, and all over the roads of San Francisco.
Song is "Being a Teenager is Free Palestine" by The Downer Party.
I'm sure weirder things have happened at Dolores Park. But the weirdness combined with being four stories up on a bright, sunny day, really pushes this encounter into the red.
I was at home being all Sundayzee and thought about ignoring Daniel Jarvis' call at first, but then answered...
Jarvis: Dude, crazy dancing chicks on a rooftop! Bring your camera!
Me: I was gonna take a nap.
Jarvis: I said crazy dancing chicks on a rooftop! You're two blocks away! Let's go up there! With the camera!
Me: How do you know they even want us up there?
Jarvis (calling up to rooftop): Hey! Hey, down here! Can we come up and film you? We have a camera! Can we? (to me) They said we can go up there!
Me: Okay, Okay...
I think it was worth it.
Oh man. This is really not helpful.
I already feel enough pressure to be as awesome as the average San Franciscan, and take enough hits to my self-esteem as a result. So, here are a few clever San Francisco thoughts (or the closest I can come to clever before finishing my coffee):
- San Francisco residents already knew this.
- This chart is going to be endlessly referenced as soon as The Big One hits.
- So SF is both smart and dense? Clearly they need more San Franciscans working for the Census.
- Suck it, New York.
First off: an apology.
The category that is closest to the stated mission of this blog has only nine items in it after six months. That seems a little bit thin. My bad.
A big reason for doing this blog is to compel me to explore, physically, the parts of the city that I don't know, or don't know well enough, after living here nearly 14 years. (I know, I mouth off like I'm a native.) I had a great time investigating these few areas, so I'm going to try to increase the rate of items like these:
- Muwekma Ohlone Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: Water has become a pretty steady obsession of mine after learning the tragic details of this spot; but there is, according to an update made just today, some hope for its future.
- Lobos Creek & Mountain Lake: Funny how even the smallest of free-flowing waterways can seem so meaningful in an urban environment.
- Precita Creek: A great case of a well-known iconic landmark, Twin Peaks, and what little I knew of it.
- The Spitfire Rose: OK, one more resolution: to explore/discover more bars. Long Live the SU Corps of Urban Drunkards!
- Mount Sutro: I was pretty jazzed about finally getting to the top of this hill and seeing the open space there. On the way down I wondered if this was in any way "unknown" to anyone but me, but then I ran into a friend and long-time resident who was jogging through the Panhandle, and mentioned where I'd been. He'd never been up there, either.
- Hillapalooza: This redeems me a little bit, since it hit 14 spots at once. A great day in the city.
- Dorothy Erskine Park: I especially enjoy finding a spot after being somewhere, pointing off to the distance, and saying, "what's that over there?" And then going there. This was one of those.
- O'Shaughnessy Hollow: Don't even pretend you know what this is. You may have seen the spot, or even been there, but if you try to claim you knew the name, YOU LIE! (Also, why are you people so unresponsive to coyote posts?)
- Edgehill Mountain: I first spotted this on a topo map, unlabeled of course. Turned out to be quite a specimen of the sort of city fight that can only happen in San Francisco.
There were lots of other popular posts, such as the Lost Landscapes stuff (got to give away some tickets), and video links. My "Palin-esque" defense of the city against SF Weekly drew lots of comments.
But in the end, it's about the Spots, and me trudging my way, by foot, into, onto, under them. Basically, this map needs to look a lot busier:
View Spots Unknown Map on Google Maps site
One Mr. Robert Reid has posted a brief article and video on the Lonely Planet website comparing "USA’s great two cities."
I've never lived in NYC, so I can't weigh in on this definitively (I'll leave it to broke-ass stuart), although I've done my share of visiting and have always had a great time there. (Also, I'm afraid to say anything bad because NYC will probably overhear me, jump out of an alleyway, and punch me in the face.)
But that won't stop me from making snarky comments about Reid's San Francisco analysis. He makes it a little too easy with this summary of his video:
I identified four key ways that the scale of goodness tips to the West Bay, including better coffee, airport transfers and subway maps — plus a far healthier connection to preserving the past.
In the video, he mentions BART's "cute map." Man, really? I hope he's being sarcastic here, but I fear he's serious. BART can afford to have a cute map because it's such a sorry excuse for a subway that it hardly even requires one. This empty praise serves only to make BART feel better about itself than it should, prolonging any kind of meaningful improvement. So, thanks LP.
He says "Mission burritos" are "much better" because they have "more foil." I'm not sure what he's comparing these to, because, do people eat burritos in NYC? I'm sure they do, but I've never heard a New Yorker try to claim theirs are better.
In the end, Reid does what a writer for a travel site predictably must do when comparing two major destination cities: hedges. While spending all his time talking about "positive" SF stuff, his final words are, "but is San Francisco BETTER than New York City? No."
Maybe I'm not the only one intimidated by NYC's tough-guy status.
I'm not sure why the Kevin Smith post marks the start of a flood of female images, but there you have it...
BTW, here's tons more girls on bikes in San Francisco.
In case you missed Rick Prelinger's excellent screening of mostly amateur-shot archival footage back in December, Fora.tv has put it online in its entirety. Watch it:
To navigate a list of chapters, go to the Fora.tv site.
We finally made it to the top of one of those year-end lists, y'all!
It's Trip Advisor's 2010 Dirtiest Hotels list, and our very own Heritage Marina kicked serious ass to get to #1. (I know it's a U.S. list, but everyone knows we're the only country that counts, so by the transitive property of, like, math, I'm declaring it the #1 spot on the planet.)
Images of filth and glory after the jump...