Skyscape at the de Young

21 12 2008


img_2114img_2107img_2110  A few months ago my friend Donna took me to this wonderful part of the de Young museum I’d never been to before, even though I’ve sipped drinks and eaten lunch right next to it several times. In the back corner, behind the cafe, look for a mound covered with shaggy grass. Then walk behind it (wearing your entrance sticker and passing the guard) and you’ll discover an entrance into it!  Walk around the edges inside, then emerge into a round chamber with a big round opening in the ceiling. Not huge. Not technologically “advanced.” But profound.

 I thought you would enjoy these photos today, on this most powerful of solstices, going deep inside and looking forward to the return of the light.

P.S. Please comment below if you know what this is called.


Those floors! Skipping at the Embarcadero Center

16 11 2008

Embarcadero Center floor


I’ve always loved the tiled floors at the Embarcadero Center downtown… they are very cool, don’t you think!

I just did a little research about this place that I’ve pretty much taken for granted (except for the floors) for 13 years.  Did you know it has over four million (**gasp!!!**) square feet of office and retail space built on 8.5 acres, right in the heart of the old Barbary Coast. My favorite spot there, of course, is the cinema, which shows art, foreign and alternative films. (My advice: get there WAY early on weekend nights if you actually want a seat and aren’t just there to admire the floors.)  Pretty decent Indian food at Gaylord’s, too. I’ve even been salsa dancing on those floors – in my book, not recommended for ladies with heels!

What’s YOUR favorite spot at the Embarcadero Center? Comment below…

The CultureBus

26 09 2008

Well, here’s a good idea! 

Last weekend, Muni started a new eco-friendly bus line, the 74X CultureBus. For $7 you can ride all day and see a lot of San Francisco’s major arts and culture institutions around the City ($5 for seniors, youth and disabled people; free for children under 4). 


Check out all the places it stops:

Yerba Buena Cultural Institutions

California Historical Society (
Cartoon Art Museum (
Contemporary Jewish Museum (
GLBT Historical Society (
Museum of the African Diaspora (
Museum of Craft and Folk Art (
SF Camerwork (
The Society of California Pioneers (
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (
Zeum (


111 Minna Gallery (
Aurobora Press (
Baer Ridgway Exhibitions (
Braunstein/Quay Gallery (
Catharine Clark Gallery (
Chandler Fine Art (
Crown Point Press (
Modernism (
RayKo Photo Center (
Sculpturesite Gallery (
The Artists Alley (
Varnish Fine Art (
Visual Aid (
Other Yerba Buena Arts and Events (

Civic Center

Asian Art Museum (
City Hall (

Golden Gate Park Museum Concourse

de Young Museum (
California Academy of Sciences (
Japanese Tea Garden (
Conservatory of Flowers (

Poetry at Jerry Garcia Amphitheater – today!

24 08 2008

Dan Brady. Photo by Clara H., 2007

Remember a couple months back I shared about the aborted duck rescue in at Lake McNab in McLaren Park?  Just up the hill, through some trees, also in my stomping grounds, is the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, so re-named recently because Jerry Garcia grew up just on the other side of the park.

This afternoon there will be what promises to be a great event there: the Third Annual Poets with Trees Poetry Reading.  You can go to read your stuff, or just to listen and love the day. There will be poet laureates from around the Bay there, including Albert De Silver of Marin, Martha Meltzer of Pleasanton, Penelope La Montagne of Healdsburg, and Connie Post of Livermore.  Here’s their call to you:

Let your words be heard in the Greek-style theater.
On this day we affirm the dignity of human beings, the beauty of individuality and celebrate each culture and tradition by its language.
Bring poems of your own or by your favorite poets.  Read poems in your native tongue.
Sign up to read. We will do many rounds.
Bring your own lunch, and a goodie to share.

TODAY: Sunday, August 24, 2008  –  12:00 – 4:00 PM, FREE
What’s YOUR favorite public performance or participatory event?

Victory Gardens: Farmers in the City, Take 2

6 08 2008

It feels to me like the theme of growing vegetables is all around me these days. Besides re-visiting the farmers market, and meeting a cool woman whose blog, The Inadvertant Gardener, is all about catching the gardening bug, I’ve been hearing about some great programs aimed at feeding people, and educating people about feeding themselves. My own backyard is about 80% covered with concrete; I lamented this when I first moved in, but now am eternally grateful for not having to pull any more weeds than I already do. Nonetheless, even I am about to jump on the bandwagon and start a few of my own crops (besides the massive, overgrown rosemary bush, that is!).

I’m grateful to live in a city where a lot of people understand and support some of the important bigger picture things that go into making life really good. Right outside of City Hall right now, there is a beautiful, full, lush veggie garden that was planted about a month ago in a joint venture by Victory Gardens 2008+ and Slow Food Nation, a gathering to celebrate sustainability and “good, clean, fair food” that will take place here in SF over Labor Day Weekend. I visited with my friend Christy on Saturday, such a beautiful day! Here are some pictures.

What would YOU like to grow in your real or imagined garden? What DO you grow?

Duck Rescue at McLaren Park

13 07 2008

McLaren Park definitely ranks with me as one of the City’s hidden gems. It’s the second largest city-owned park in San Francisco (after Golden Gate Park), but most people who live here have never even heard of it. I know because I live right by it!

The thing I love about this park is that it has some wildness to it, while being firmly set in the city. Some other time I’ll write about all the features of the park and some of my favorite spots there. For now, I’ll share about something that happened in the corner of the park I know best, Lake McNab, aka “The Duck Pond.” 

A couple weeks ago I was walking the dog there when I met a woman, Elizabeth, who was intently watching two new ducks who’d come to the lake.  These weren’t baby ducks (of which there are plenty this year. And they are cute!) They were a large black duck and a white duck – Muscovies, she told me, who’d been dumped there by someone who no longer wanted them as pets.

Elizabeth, from Mickaboo Bird Rescue, was there to determine how they were doing, and see if they would be able to thrive in a less domesicated environment than they were used to.  (I checked again today, and so far, they seem to be doing well!) You can check out her account of the afternoon – and see some other really great birds – on her blog, The Rescue Report.

What’s your favorite “wild spot” in the City?



The Castro Theater

19 06 2008

the castro theater


A film at The Castro Theater is rarely just a film.  A few weeks ago I saw Indiana Jones.  Mind you, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see it anywhere else, but since it was at The Castro it had a stamp of approval.  I knew that even if the movie sucked (it did), I’d have a great time (I did) and wouldn’t mind so much (I didn’t). 

Seeing a film at The Castro is one of those precious San Francisco-only experiences!  Where else can you see a film – whether blockbuster, old classic, obscure art film, foreign flick or animation – where what you get before the show, instead of advertising and previews, is LIVE WURLITZER ORGAN MUSIC??! The atmosphere feels just about right for an organ. Built in 1922, it’s cavernous compared to today’s theaters, and has beautiful touches like a curtain that opens dramatically at the beginning of a show, grand painting and plaster murals, a balcony and a chandelier. A few months ago, Hollywood restored the exterior to its 1970s glory for the filming of the movie “Milk,” starring Sean Penn and set to open in time for Thanksgiving this year.

One of my all-time favorite Castro Theater events (some might call them films, but many really are events) was the Sound Of Music Sing-A-Long, complete with a costume contest. I had so many favorites – marionette goats, people draped in curtains, Castro-style nuns… 

The Castro Theater also hosts tons of film festivals, which San Francisco is famous for. Tonight kicks off Frameline, the 32nd annual SF International LGBT Film Festival.  See you there?


What’s your favorite Castro movie experience?