Saturday, January 13, 2018

On The Waterfront

Saturday dawned gorgeously in San Francisco after two weeks of winter weather, so we joined thousands of people walking the Embarcadero.

The downtown waterfront is a rotting, glorious wonder, open to all and free for the moment from grotesque high-rise development, but not if ex-mayor Gavin Newsom and his California State Lands Commission has anything to do with it. (Click here for the latest wrinkle where Lands Commission lawyers argued in Superior Court last week that city voters were too stupid to make land use decisions.)

The Ferry Building was restored and retrofitted about 15 years ago and turned into an upscale foodie emporium that I thought would never take off.

Gosh, was I wrong.

The place has organically evolved into a great farmers market with extraordinary vendors and thousands of people shopping and dining on street food. (Roli Roti with their rotisserie chicken and pork sandwiches seemed to have the biggest line above.)

Even the buskers are lovely.

Further along the waterfront, we were serenaded by an erhu player...

...followed by a strikingly handsome acrobat with what sounded like an Australian accent...

...entertaining hundreds of visitors.

Even the crudely touristic Fisherman's Wharf looked beautiful today...

...and my newly skinny Italian-American spouse Tony looked right at home.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Trimming the Heart of the City

The sycamores in Civic Center plaza were being trimmed to their winter nubs by a hardworking quartet from Rec & Park this morning.

I asked one of the arborists what the whimsical fabrics were about on some of the trees.

He replied, "a community arts group was granted a permit to put on tree sweaters."

When I raised my eyebrows at the absurd name, he added, "I'm ambivalent about them myself. I'm not a big fan of putting staples into trees."

Continuing on towards the Heart of the City Sunday Farmers Market while navigating between local schizophrenics...

...I stumbled across the final day of an occasional art installation put together over the last six months by the Main Library and the Asian Art Museum on Fulton Street. "Does the city still even have a heart?" I asked one of the young organizers. "I may have been here too long to believe that it does."

"Yeah, I've lived here all my life, and know what you mean," the young woman replied while continuing to hang up signs insisting on messages to a conceptual heart.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Falun Gong Show Returns

One of the markers of the New Year around the neighborhood is the annual return of the Shen Yun spectacular at the San Francisco Opera House.

Direct from engagements in Fresno and San Jose, the touring show is literally parked at the San Francisco Opera from January 1st to 7th.

Elderly volunteers act as security guards for the Shen Yun vehicles along Franklin Street, and when I took these photos this afternoon, they rushed to give me an advertising flyer.

Ten years ago Sid Chen and I reviewed this show when it was new and being billed as a Chinese New Years Spectacular. We had no idea going in that it was a mixture of spangled kitsch and Falun Gong anti-Peoples Republic of China propaganda. I assume most people currently attending the show similarly have no idea what of what they are going to see, which is a strange bit of bait and switch marketing.

For the delirious review from a decade ago (Sid can be very funny), click here.