Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Global Warming and Vivienne Westwood

In Golden Gate Park, the cherry blossom trees have undergone an early blooming this year.

Thanks to global warming, the all-important Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan are arriving ten days earlier than usual, according to a number of news accounts.

Wandering through Golden Gate Park is always a joy...

...except when trying to cross the miles of four-lane highways that snake through the place like poisonous rivers.

There is currently a raging controversy over whether to close a 1.7 mile section of roadway on Saturdays in the east end of the park as is now done on Sundays, giving walkers, joggers, bicyclists, roller skaters, and wheelchair riders a break from the "car is king" culture we live in.

However, the sense of entitlement among those who use the park roads for their personal use is not to be denied, and the socialite Dede Wilsey, along with other colleagues on the Fine Arts Museums board, has decided the Saturday park closure will not happen.

The craven "San Francisco Chronicle" is even editioralizing against the Saturday road closure in this morning's paper. Though there is a huge, new underground parking lot underneath the museum complexes, they still insist on having a freeway next to their institutions, the public be damned.

This seems like a cut off your nose to spite your face kind of gesture, since attendance on Sundays when the roadway is closed nearby is actually higher than on Saturdays when the roadway is open, but let's not look for logic here.

Recently, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco mailed me a membership renewal request, and though I'd like to rejoin, there is no way that I am going to do so if they insist as an institution on being such backward, ugly citizens. In fact, if I do return, it will be with a protest sign.

My artist friend David Barnard, who is chatting up one of the museum installers in the photo above, came up with a perfect compromise since it really is the rich bitches like socialite Dede Wilsey who are keeping this very modest gesture at car curtailment from coming to fruition.

"How about if they close it to all traffic except for limos and licensed town cars? That way Dede and her friends can have their cake and eat it too."

Currently at the deYoung is an exhibit of the British designer Vivienne Westwood's "36 Years in Fashion," a touring show that has been around the world, most recently in Bangkok.

Though I have next to no interest in fashion, the exhibit of outrageous costumes ranging from her 1980s punk rock days to her couture for rich ladies in Paris period is stunning, and one of the most artfully installed shows I've seen in the museum. My only criticism is that the first half of the show is so dark that the place feels a bit like a haunted house display, and I was waiting for someone to trip and go flying through the spiked leather mannequins.

It was a relief to flee the place and hang out at the nine-hole golf course on the western edge of the park, where you can play a silly game, drink beer and eat barbequed pork sandwiches, and above all be away from the frigging cars that seem to define our civilization.


Spots said...

" to no interest in fashion"??? How, oh how are we friends?

sfmike said...

Dear Beth: Well, you can't stand that opera crap, so let's call it even. If you'd like to go to the show, I still have a membership card good for two, that is before I burn it in front of the museum while passing out Dede Wilsey Is An Evil Old Bitch flyers.

janinsanfran said...

Yes to Saturday closures, speaking as a GGP runner! But isn't the end we want to close the eastern part of Kennedy Drive, not the "west end"?

I know enough museum employees to know you'll have internal sympathizers if you do go after Dede. What fun!

sfmike said...

Dear Jan: Of course you're right about east and west. Growing up near Santa Barbara where the sun goes down over the mountains rather than the Pacific Ocean has left me hopelessly confused all my life. I'll try changing it in the text.

Samuel said...

Hooray for Saturday Park Closure! What's really fun is writing in the Chronicle that you live in the neighborhood and are for the closure (I live in the Inner Richmond), which befuddles the commenters to no end.

Because their main argument is that it will affect these families that live nearby, making their life all the more complicated in that they won't be able to drive through the park on Saturdays.

This makes me very suspicious, and I wouldn't put it past Wilsey and Company to be behind the barrage of letters that pour forth whenever such a suggestion is made, claiming, "I live next to the park and this is a terrible idea."

Well then, I live near the park and say it's tbe best idea ever, my family can't wait for this to actually happen, know it will only improve the quality of our lives so much.

As well, I've not renewed my museum membership either, tired of Wilsey dictating the needs of my neighbors, creating such an effect.

Finally, let me commend Supervisor McGoldrick for sticking to his guns on this, doing all he can to accommodate the requests of respective parties (i.e. the elderly and handicapped), to see to it this six month trial happens.

p said...

michael, fuck Dede. She stands for all that's bad in SF.
Love the 2nd pic.very nice.

sfmike said...

Dear Samuel: Thanks for the comment from a Real Live Richmond Resident. I've never understood the logic that "people who live near the park" somehow cannot get to a grocery store because one tiny section of park roadway is closed near the Inner Richmond.

And pedro: thanks for the nice words.

Eric said...

Nice piece, Mike. Thanks for covering the topic of the Saturday closures with your eloquence and great pictures.

New York City has had considerably more extensive closures of Central Park for decades now. This change for Golden Gate Park is long overdue.

John said...

I also live next to GG Park in the Inner Richmond and like the idea of having the park closed on Saturdays because I think it would be beneficial to everyone in the City. Yes it's inconvenient when someone parks in your driveway looking for a free parking spot (I don't care how many parking lots they build people will still try to mooch a free spot in the street). Yes it's inconvenient because of the additional traffic on a gorgeous sunny SF day when everyone is enjoying the park. But it's a park meant to walk & stroll in not to drive. Let's give one up for the City and just enjoy the green space.

Berenice said...

awesome! I modeled for vivienne westwood fashion show here in san francisco. she's amazing.