Saturday, December 28, 2013

Civic Center 2013 in Review, Part One

1. SFJAZZ Center Opens

The $63 million SFJAZZ Center opened at the corner of Franklin and Fell Streets in January, and the institution went on to a vibrant, successful first year. The sound system is one of the best in the world, but the acoustics without amplification are unusually dry, as a few classical ensembles have discovered when they rented the hall for concerts.

2. Cars vs. Bikes vs. Pedestrians

The cars vs. bicycles wars raged on in 2013, with pedestrians caught in the middle. It does not help that in San Francisco many drivers are terrible, the bicyclists arrogant, and pedestrians careless. Half the population also seems to be concentrating on a mobile device rather than their surroundings which adds to the chaos.

3. Noir City a Local Cultural Treasure

The annual Noir City Film Festival at the Castro Theater in late January keeps getting bigger and better, with Peggy Cummins from Gun Crazy making a guest appearance.

4. The Terracotta Warriors at The Asian Art Museum

The underground warriors of the Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuang arrived for a visit to the Asian in February. Hordes of visitors to the usually quiet museum followed.

5. Last Call at Marlena's

The friendly dive drag bar in the quickly gentrifying Hayes Valley closed in March. Young gay people stopped moving to San Francisco in large numbers decades ago, and the current immigration trend is overwhelmingly young and heterosexual. Much of the aging gay population seems to have decamped to Palm Springs.

6. The San Francisco Symphony Strike

Also in March, the San Francisco Symphony embarked on a surprisingly acrimonious strike that seemed to be less about money and more about being treated like house servants by Symphony management rather than well-paid, highly trained musicians. Thankfully, both sides came to their senses, and the strike was over in April, unlike the union-busting mess at the Minneapolis Symphony where the Board of Directors, including Jon Campbell from Wells Fargo Bank, have effectively killed their own highly regarded municipal orchestra.

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