Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Beautiful People at Flipper's

Flipper's is an unpretentious burger and breakfast joint on Hayes Street between Gough and Octavia Streets with outdoor tables. For some reason, on weekend mornings it attracts some of the most beautiful people of all ages and races in San Francisco, such as the Latin family group above being photographed by the waitress on one of their iPhones.

They were replaced by a beautiful couple and their eleven-month old daughter who was literally a handful, making faces for strangers...

...and engaging with the world by shooting out energy in all directions.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

FotoTales Episode 4: Palm Springs Homo Holiday

If all goes well, Episode 4 of FotoTales should be broadcast tonight on Comcast Cable channel 29 at 7:30 PM, March 28th. It's about a trip to a gay motel in Palm Springs in 2001.

My domestic partner Tony and I (above) met fifteen years ago today, and amazingly enough we're still together and enjoying each other. Ten years ago, we went to Palm Springs together for the first time, and it turned out to be something of a fateful decision.

There are three different ways to watch Episode 4 of FotoTales. You can tune in to Channel 29 at 7:30 PM Thursday evening if you live in San Francisco and have Comcast cable. Alternately, you can watch a live streaming of the episode on your computer from the BAVC website at 7:30 PM. Best of all, you can click here and see the episode any time you feel like it. For those interested in Episode 3 with its documentation of old Cherry Blossom Festivals and International Film Festivals, click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

River of Shadows

If you ever find yourself having to ride CalTrain on the Peninsula for work, I can't think of a better book to read than "River of Shadows," Rebecca Solnit's 2003 meditation on the pioneering English/Californian photographer Eadweard Muybridge. The book also contains a concise history of Muybridge's partner in "motion studies," the railroad robber baron Leland Stanford. Riding on the 19th century relic that is CalTrain you can still almost feel the hook of that old monster.

I finished the book today, and its summing up of present-day Silicon Valley rang true:
"Muybridge pursued the transformation of bodies and places into representations, representations that in some ways fed that unslaked desire for landscape, geography, beauty, embodiment, and the life of the senses, but Stanford, who hammered the Golden Spike, pursued the annihilation of time and space without mercy, without misgivings, without deference to what might be lost, and this might be the difference between Hollywood and Silicon Valley."

"Hollywood would become the center of the world of movies, while Silicon Valley is the center of the world of information technology, and in the way these two institutions dominate the world one can say California is the center of the contemporary world, but of a world in which time and space have been annihilated, a world that is in some obscure way so disembodied, dislocated and dematerialized that the very idea of a center is perplexing."

The Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg has also been a constant artistic reference in my month-long sojourn among the Peninsula digerati, "Scanners" in particular, with its scary office parks filled with Faustian characters.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Earth Day Festival 1: Civic Center

According to a Wikipedia account, "The first Earth Day proclamation was issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970. Celebrations were held in various cities, such as San Francisco and in Davis, California with a multi-day street party."

31 years later, a celebration was held a day after Official Earth Day in the Civic Center Plaza named after Joseph Alioto.

At the main stage, there was a dapper MC introducing bands and speakers such as the legendary 81-year-old co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, Dolores Huerta (below).

Her history in San Francisco includes being brutalized by the San Francisco Police Department: "In September 1988 in front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, Huerta was severely beaten by San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful and lawful protest of the policies/platform of then-candidate for president George H.W. Bush. The baton-beating caused significant internal injuries to her torso, resulting in several broken ribs and necessitating the removal of her spleen in emergency surgery. The beating was caught on videotape and broadcast widely on local television news, including the clear ramming of the butt end of a baton into Huerta's torso by one of the helmeted officers. Later, Huerta won a large judgment against the SFPD and the City of San Francisco, the proceeds of which were used in benefit of farm workers."

There were plenty of food vendors selling juices... sweets...

...and vegetarian food truck specials.

Recycling bins were set up everywhere...

...which struck a few citizens as fish in a barrel.

Earth Day Festival 2: Gaia

Across the plaza at Grove and Larkin, another stage had been set up for a Woman's Space with the Gaia stage hosting various female performers.

Growing up around early California environmentalists and feminists as a teenager, the event threw me into an instant time warp, except everyone was much older.

Though it's easy to make fun of the entire 1960s California hippie/environmentalist/female/Gaia ethos, in truth it's been one of the most remarkably influential moments and movements in world history.

We just don't know how it's going to play out as the human race continues with its male exploratory energy at the expense of sustainability.

There's always room for hope...

...and plenty of room for honest despair.

Earth Day Festival 3: Materialism

Ironies abounded at the event, including the municipal flower beds in the Plaza being imprisoned so that the hordes (who never really showed up) wouldn't trample them.

There were compensations, such as the Living Roof flower bed on display...

...natural garden designers hawking their wares...

...and northern county natural material furniture makers...

...putting up with crazy people sitting on their earthen sofas.

There were also young people hawking their wares, such as hipster jewelry...

...Amazonian rainforest protection groups...

...and Tesla electric cars...

...which seemed to freak out the woman above.

Religious End of the World cultists also made an appearance to remind everyone that materialistic concerns are unimportant, an odd bit of crossover between conservative right-wing Christian millenialists and radical, progressive Cassandras.

For a great musical footnote to the event, check out the video of neighbor and fellow blogger Diane Harrigan here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Silicon Valley Earth Day

The landfill areas of the Redwood Shores technology park in Redwood City are unearthly beautiful right now.

The odd detail is that so few people who spend lots of time there actually experience the beauty.

We sit in front of computer screens for tens of hours at a time in mirrored window buildings, and just about everyone drives cars to work, often from ridiculously long distances.

Happy Earth Day, everyone, and may this unsustainable world change soon before it's too late. And a shoutout to Kit Stolz whose "A Change in the Wind" blog is probably the sanest and most poetic take on the natural world around us, particularly in California.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Episode 3 of FotoTales

Episode 3 of FotoTales will be broadcast in about 15 minutes at 7:30 PM on San Francisco's Comcast cable TV channel 29. What's cooler is that it's going to be livestreamed over the internet from the Bay Area Video Coalition website. Click here to get there.

This episode involves a bad performance of Haydn's "The Creation" at the San Francisco Symphony, the Cherry Blossom Festival parade, a Giants game at the brand-new Pac Bell Park, and a showing of the Maria Montez camp classic "Cobra Woman" as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. This was all ten years ago, by the way, but time has a way of recycling.

When the episode is archived, I'll post an updated link.

Update: They're playing the wrong episode, #5 instead of #3. It's not that complicated, but getting the series broadcast correctly seems to be beyond BAVC's abilities at this particular moment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Obama Motorcade

President Obama was in the Bay Area today, acting in his version of "The Social Network." This involved giving a speech about the budget and health care at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto and then motoring to San Francisco for a Pacific Heights dinner fundraiser followed by another fundraiser at the Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill.

In a lucky moment, I managed to miss traffic tie-ups in both Silicon Valley and San Francisco, arriving home at 6PM just in time for a pair of San Francisco motorcycle policemen to commandeer the intersection of McAllister and Franklin for thirty minutes.

The President's convoy was taking a right turn from McAllister Street onto Franklin Street, and a whole army of policemen in SUVs and motorcycles were integral to this maneuver.

The weirdest vehicle was the one pictured above with uses that can only be imagined. Luggage? Bomb detonators? Ponies? Weapons? Booze?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cherry Blossom Parade Assembly

On the way to the Heart of the City Farmers Market on Sunday in Civic Center, we ran into the assembling grounds for the 44th annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

It's a small function compared to the Gay Pride or Chinese New Years parades, but has a charm that is completely its own.

If you're a Japanese American Cub Scout or Boy Scout in San Francisco, this parade seems to be a rite of passage...

...and if you're a Taiko drummer from any race or culture, you're welcome too.

The contingent that seems to be growing larger every year are the Japanese anime fans...

...who dress up as favorite characters.

My friend Anthony Herrera once expressed his frustration with Japanese fashionistas with, "They look so cute in ANYTHING that it's just not fair."

There are plenty of cross-cultural participants but my favorites every year are the elderly Japanese women dancing gracefully up Polk and then Post Street.

For more coverage, check out Alex's photos at their destination in Japantown.