Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebrating Easter, Marijuana and Cherry Blossoms

Sunday in San Francisco featured a whole range of outdoor festivities, from an Easter Parade on Union Street to a 4/20 marijuana celebration in the Upper Haight and Golden Gate Park's Hippie Hill. Further west in the park, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence hosted their annual Easter shindig featuring a Hunky Jesus contest, which is where the two men above spent their afternoon. The Easter bonnet on the right cleverly managed a nod towards the celestial configuration of Easter and 4/20, with prop monster joints and real dope in a fully loaded pipe.

Meanwhile, the two-week Cherry Blossom Festival ended on Sunday with its annual parade that makes its way from Civic Center up Polk and Geary to Japantown.

There were all kinds of interesting looking people assembling for the march at 1PM...

...including drumming troupes...

...a lion dancer...

...and a contingent of people dressed as anime/manga characters.

My favorites, as usual, were the ladies in the fabulous hats.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Demolishing Jack Tar

The slow demolition of the Jack Tar Hotel on Van Ness and Geary has been an entertaining spectacle over the last few months...

...at times looking like monumental abstract sculpture...

...with colorful accents from big machinery.

The 1960 Mid-Century Modern hotel felt a bit out of place from its very inception, and many people despised the structure, even after it had been painted beige in the 1980s and renamed the Cathedral City Hotel.

Longtime San Franciscan Bay Area residents all seem to have interesting stories of experiences there, from Werner Erhard's EST weekends in the 1970s to salsa dancing in the ballroom over the decades.

The block will soon house the new California Pacific Medical Center, which will have interesting stories of its own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rescue Me

For all its geographic beauty, San Francisco is a tough little city, as exemplified by Ocean Beach with its rundown infrastructure, dangerous rip tides, and lack of lifeguards, restrooms or bathing facilities. Unwary tourists and ocean-newbie locals have been swept out to sea and drowned in a murderous succession for years, but the best the city can do is post the signs below in a parking area which does not seem to do much good.

Last week, 14-year-old Marco Conejo was the latest casualty along with his father who tried to save him but who became trapped in the rip tide himself. A 17-year-old surfer, Tony Barbero (below), managed to paddle in a younger cousin of Marco to the beach and dived back into the ocean to save the father, who was still in a coma a week later. Marco's body hasn't been found.

Last Tuesday at the weekly Board of Supervisors meeting, there was a Special Commendation ceremony scheduled for 3:30 where Tony Berbero was honored for his rescue effort. Reading the young man's body language on the SF Government TV broadcast, it seemed obvious that he was still in a state of emotional shock over watching people die in front of him. This commendable sensitivity mixed with personal bravery was rudely hijacked by the San Francisco Fire Department Chief, Joanne Hayes-White (above right), who is a classic example of arrogance-fueled incompetence.

Tony Berbero's father is a Captain in the Fire Department and after Joanne acknowledged how everyone was all part of the Fire Department family, she offered Tony an SFFD T-shirt, telling him he was already a made man. "You'll be a professional firefighter in our department."

From 1988 to 1997, the San Francisco Fire Department was placed under federal monitoring in an attempt to "eliminate patterns of racial and sexual discrimination in the department," so it was odd hearing such publicly stated nepotism by its current fire chief. She may be female but it's still essentially the same old family mafia that has always staffed the department, federal injunction or not.

An hour after Chief Hayes-Whites' grandstanding moment, a fire broke out on the top floor of a six-story apartment building at 14th and Dolores above, across the street from the new Whole Foods housing complex on Market. Except for the poor tenants on the top floor who have lost their housing, the firefight was a success, with no loss of building, people or their kitties.

The next morning, Wednesday, a mother and child were not so lucky, and died in a fire at their top floor, two-story Sunnydale housing project apartment in Visitacion Valley.

Rest in peace, your poor people, and let me send out a prayer for a new, competent Fire Chief before San Francisco becomes even more dense and dangerous.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tibetan Mandalas and Japanese Baskets

A room on the second floor of the Asian Art Museum has been reconfigured for the summer as a Living Mandala in its design.

Possibly because the room is so dark, I did not experience lightning enlightenment this afternoon while wandering through.

The fault was probably mine, though transcendence did arrive while meandering through the Japanese bamboo basket room and looking at the late 19th century flower basket by Wada Waichisai I above...

...and the contemporary hanging flower basket called Pure by Nagakura Kenichi.

According to the wall label, the backpack above was discovered after a post-purchase analysis to be made of fine leather strips in an imitation of bamboo. It looks ancient and modern at the same time.