Sunday, June 21, 2015

SF City Hall Centennial Birthday Party

The San Francisco City and County government threw a centennial birthday party on Friday evening for its absurdly grand City Hall building.

The setup in Civic Center Plaza was strange, with a few food concessions for the common folk...

...surrounding a raised platform with decorative hedges where donors were wined and dined by tuxedo clad waiters.

Two stages were set up for musical acts on the plaza that were offering everything from classical to jazz to original Dead Kennedys punk rocker Jello Biafra singing Let's Lynch the Landlord.

There was a small space set up for a silent dance party, where a crowd was gyrating to music supplied through headphones...

...and of course an appearance by Frank Chu scaring the tourists.

The highlight of the evening for me was standing in line for 45 minutes to ride the Rock-O-Plane, my all-time favorite carnival ride from a California childhood.

At the last minute, I ended up kidnapping John (above right) as my partner. Happily, muscle memory kicked in and I remembered how to get the caged ferris wheel seats moving backwards and we were soon spinning upside down deliriously.

The large crowd waited patiently in the dark for a promised light show projected onto City Hall's facade at 9:30 PM. First, we were treated to Mayor Ed Lee singing from his balcony, "Don't cry for me, San Francisco/The truth is I gladly sold you." Actually, he gave a speech about the prosperity of the city and how it's shared widely amongst all, with lots of diversity. He also mentioned that San Francisco City Hall was considered The People's Building, an unintentionally ironic statement when the People were shivering outdoors while a lavishly appointed party for America's mayors was taking place indoors. There was also no hiding the blatant pay-to-play roster of corporate partners for this $4 million event, most of them with current business legislation that involves city regulation, including Lyft, Uber, Kilroy Realty, PG&E, and so on.

The light show started simply with different color combinations lighting up various parts of the building's exterior, including a rainbow version.

This was followed by a half-dozen aerial dancers on the side of the building who didn't have much more to do than make an initial impression.

Finally, the $2 million projection system kicked in with a quick, bizarrely fragmented history of San Francisco that broke down about 30 seconds in, but the crowd was patient, and the show started up again about five minutes later.

The short presentation finally devolved into psychedelia, which was fun but odd. Can't wait to see what they do with the expensive paintbox next.


janinsanfran said...

What fascinates me about this is that I can live in this city and have no idea that such an event was planned.

Explains the fireworks last night when we came out of Compline at St. Johns? At the reception, no one had any idea what who was celebrating ...

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Jan: I got the day wrong and changed it in the text. This happened on Friday rather than Saturday, so the fireworks you heard probably have nothing to do with this particular event. I also think it was deliberately underpublicized so there wouldn't be too many people, but it could have just been incompetence. You never know with San Francisco government.

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