Monday, August 17, 2009

Butch

I saw this dog painted onto a graffiti'ed wall in North Beach near Washington Square Park. He looks pretty mean in the edgy surroundings but has a peace sign around his neck...an interesting contrast.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Post-It Art: Outdone!

I've seen some great post-it art in a window along Pacific Ave. in Nob Hill. I've reported on their imaginative creations in a previous post. I was awed when I walked past the window today and saw this beautifully crafted swan. It's amazing what you can do with a little imagination and patience. Spectacular!

We seem to be on a post-it art spree these days...

Daily Post-It

I saw this post-it attached to Jamie Dorman's goods in Eva Mendes' Body by Calvin Klein poster along Sacramento St. in the Financial District.

I was curious and went to check out The Daily Post-It. They have some fun doodles on the site but it looks like it hasn't been updated in more than a year. Maybe someone is trying to jumpstart a post-it craze.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hit and Run Hula

We heard a commotion as we were walking to the bus stop in front of the California Academy of Sciences after the Jug Band Festival. We looked up to see a crowd gathered and a large group gracefully undulating in the middle. It was Hit and Run Hula! Hit and Run Hula consisted of short performances at locations around the city throughout the day. I heard from a member of the audience that the dancers had taken over the intersection at O'Farrell and Stockton near Union Square for exactly 32 seconds while the traffic light was red earlier in the morning.



We were impressed by the quick performance and followed the entourage from the front of the Academy of Sciences to the fountain on the Music Concourse. The sound technicians had to set-up and dismantle the equipment in just moments time and again throughout the day.

The group bubbled into the fountain for two memorable numbers.



I also managed to capture some great still shots which I've included in this album.



What a great surprise to round out our afternoon Sidewalk Safari.

A Little Heavy Breathing

We took the bus from Bernal Heights to Golden Gate Park for another unprecedented experience -- the California Jug Band Festival. Who knew that good old fashioned jug band music was alive and well in the City by the Bay?

The Bandshell on the Music Concourse between the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum was particularly impressive.

The venue was shaded by a dense grove of gnarly trees.

We had a toe tappin' good time watching Devine's Jug Band. Pete Devine was a man of many talents. He could tap out a beat on his cheeks...

...not to mention his skills on the jug...

His band mates were equally phenomenal -- particularly guitarist and vocalist Meredith Axelrod.

Check out a quick clip to get a sense of the fun.



My jaw dropped when Bob Armstrong came onto the stage wielding a saw. He took a bow to it like you might to a fiddle. The sound that came out was high pitched and eerie. I haven't heard anything like it before -- really unique!

Next up was Eden and John's East River String Band. We enjoyed their performance too. Eden has a powerful gravelly voice that reminded me of Stevie Nicks. It was a little less jug intensive than Devine's and thus they remained our favorite of the day.

We decided to head for the bus stop when we were struck by a hit and run...

One Person's Junk...

As the saying goes, one person's junk is another person's treasure. There were a ton of interesting finds today at the Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale. We've never been on Safari in Bernal Heights before so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity.

We started with a stop for caffeine at Progressive Grounds. We walked to the back patio and discovered an uncharted oasis. It was really crowded up front. I didn't understand why more people weren't hanging out in the back with all these colorful pillows.

Rested and energized, we moved on to Red Hill Books. In the spirit of the Garage Sale, they offered boxes of books outside that you could rummage through for some great finds. You couldn't beat the price -- $1.00 a pound! Not only that, they actually weighed the books on a cool antique scale. We found some fun antique map gift wrap hidden at the bottom of a box (lightweight and thus cheap...). We also bought a book about Einstein and theories of time, and one about twins separated at birth. I even found a small pamphlet in German that was printed in 1933. Even though "Ich spreche nur ein bisschen deutsch", I thought this was too interesting to pass up given the pivotal point in history that this represented. Fascinating!

Moving on, we found some lighter fare like this giant stuffed Tootsie Pop...

...this house of buttons...

...and my absolute personal favorite, this floral cow teapot. I was very tempted to buy this bovine find, but at $8.00, the price seemed a little too steep. While I was there, someone else actually picked it up so Bessie did find a good home.

Someone lost one of their hard earned garage sale finds in the street!

Homeowners put up signs like this one to entice people up the rather menacing hills surrounding Cortland Ave. "Big Sale. Top of GATES. Antiques and Vintage Furniture. Paintings and Collectibles. Nice Stuff. Very Cheap."

We did make our way up the hill to check it out. The best thing we saw was this black cat weather vane. The prices on the art and antiques were disappointing not cheap. We saw a really fun oil painting for $75. Definitely not bargain basement prices.

Now here's a freebie. Too bad we walked and didn't drive so we couldn't haul away some rather nice furniture. Not that we have room for more furniture anyway...

This decked out car was driving around the neighborhood. I'm not sure what kind of statement he was trying to make with a toaster over and circuit boards plastered to the side.

I hope this teddy found a good home. He looks so lonely.

One our way back down the hill, we saw this great wood carved gate. Alas...not for sale.

We also saw this colorful painted garage door.

Corn cob pipes for $1.00! Sounds like a steal to me. Too bad it doesn't snow around here or we would be all set to create our own version of Frosty. Where can I find a button nose? I'm sure somewhere on this hill!

After lots of bargain browsing but very little purchasing, we stopped for ice cream at Maggie Mudd on Cortland.

The Brown Cow and Tarmack Soy ice cream were sublime after a hot afternoon trekking around the neighborhood.

One final thing impressed me about this garage sale. This white board is "SOLD -- to be picked up. Please don't take unless you bought it". It's comforting to know that the honor system still works.

Triple Play Saturday

I recently added an events calendar to San Francisco Sidewalk Safari to help me better keep track of all the awesome things going on in the City. There were nine things on the calendar today and we managed to do a triple play: the Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale, the California Jug Band Festival in Golden Gate Park, and Hit and Run Hula (a serendipitous find)! Stay tuned for more details on our Saturday fun.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Funk at the Fillmore Center

Who knew? The Fillmore Center in the Western Addition hosts a summer concert series. This gem somehow slipped under my radar. I found out about the last free concert of the season from 7x7 magazine. Sila and the Afrofunk Experience were getting down at Fillmore near O'Farrell.

The music was inspired by reggae, jazz, and...my personal favorite...funk! One song, Funkiest Man in Africa had the crowd on its feet. The audience included a number of families, a bicyclist dancing with a paper Pepsi cup in his hand, and a guy in dark socks and sandals practicing his pop and lock maneuvers. It was really fun. Everyone was enjoying the music in their own way without caring what other people thought.

One thing in particular that impressed me was the trumpet player. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first. Then one song ended and he put his instrument down. He was playing the tiniest trumpet I have ever seen. I didn't know they made miniature trumpets. I guess it makes it easy to pack when they go on tour.

Thanks for a great concert, Afrofunk Experience and the Funkiest Man in Africa, Victor Sila!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fat Cat

For some reason, I get a kick out of the term "Fat Cats". If I'm someplace swanky, I often think about what all the "Fat Cats" in the room are doing. As in, "look at all those 'Fat Cats' driving their mercedes and drinking Cristal and strutting their stuff". Fat Cat cellars looks like it brings the "Fat Cat" lifestyle to the masses. I saw their truck parked along Polk St. one morning on my way to work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love Lorn

This pensive statue sits on a steep incline along California St. as you descend from Nob Hill into Chinatown. Someone put a flower in his hand which adds to the mood. Could he be pining away for a lost love?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Alcatraz at 75


Mother J. unknowingly picked a perfect weekend to visit. She really wanted to see Alcatraz and we bought tickets a couple weeks ago to visit the island. Little did we know that the very day we chose to visit was the 75th anniversary commemorating the opening of the prison.

The island rose up out of the fog on the 10 minute boat ride from Pier 33.

We were greeted with a stern warning: "Persons procuring or concealing escape of prisoners are subject to prosecution and imprisonment". It's a good thing Alcatraz is no longer an active prison so there is little chance of running afoul of this ordinance.

In its history, Alcatraz has served as a military prison, federal prison, reclaimed Native American lands, and a US National Park.

The buildings on the windswept island were difficult and expensive to maintain which is one reason the maximum security prison was closed in 1963.

We walked uphill for about a quarter mile from the dock to the cell house. On the way, we saw this lovely diversion: "Bird Viewing: Please Join Us for Guided Viewing Ahead". We didn't even have to go down that path. One of the gulls decided to pose right next to the sign. How convenient!

In addition to the usual audio tour, we were treated to a short talk and extensive Q&A with a former bank robber and inmate of The Rock -- Darwin Coon. Coon was sent to Alcatraz after he had escaped from 4 different correctional facilities including three county jails and the Nevada State Penitentiary. Coon credits the harsh and strict conditions at Alcatraz with turning him around. He claims that the US should have "one hundred facilities like Alcatraz" if the government truly wants to reform criminals.


After Coon's session, we toured the facility using the provided audio tour which was narrated by a number of former guards and inmates. It was a fascinating tale and included information about various escape attempts over the years, everyday violence and intimidation, and fear-inspiring conditions.

Coon told us how he spent 29 days in D Block. Here's a picture of Cell 13, one of about 5 solitary confinement cells also known as "The Hole".
After a rather intense and dark time touring the prison, we decided we needed something a little more uplifting to round out the weekend. We walked along Fisherman's Wharf again and stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. They actually sell a frozen, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick! No wonder Americans are so fat...

Hooray! for furry pastel hobby horses and pink balloons on Union Street. This was a welcome contrast to the sites around the prison.

We had dinner at Luisa's on Union Street and reflected on our weekend amid a ceiling full of decorated Chianti bottles.
We covered a lot of ground this weekend and managed to satisfy our inner tourist.