Monday, February 17, 2020

People on Pedestals --- Day 8/313

Walk: SF Guides Tour: American History in Golden Gate Park
Distance: 2 miles, small yoga

President James Garfield with Columbia mourning at the base

So, ha ha ha, Ciwt.   After writing yesterday about the lack of esteemed people on statues in San Francisco's history, her very next tour was filled with such luminaries right here in Golden Gate Park.  

The first statue placed in the park was of President James Garfield, who was never in San Francisco, but was nevertheless mourned nationwide after being asassinated in 1881, shortly after Golden Gate Park was created. After Garfield came a host of estimable personages, most on pedestals: 
President Ulysses S. Grant  (too loved by pidgeons)
General 'Black Jack" Pershing ,

John McLaren without whom basically no Golden Gate ParkNo pedestal for him because he hated all statues in 'his' park as well as anything they stood on.  The sculptor had to hide McLaren's statue in his studio and wait until he died before it could be installed because McLaren never would have allowed it in his lifetime.

Then if Ciwt wants to go international with her personages in the park there are many illustrious choices: Beethoven, Verdi, Robert Burns, Goethe, Buddha, a universal Baseball Player and Winemaker.  The list is extensive and entirely male, most on pedestals.  

So cheer up, Ciwt.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Training Day One; Still Here --- Day 8/312

Walk: SF City Guides Training (at SF Main Library)
Distance: 5 Miles, small yoga


Charles Fracchia, grand old man of San Francisco History (and Founder of Rolling Stone Magazine), at signing for latest of his many books: When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush

So here's an indication to herself that Ciwt has undertaken a challenge: She becomes desperate to move...Where?  Anywhere but where she is presently living.

Now she has started this new San Francisco Guides Training.  Perhaps the main and most obvious challenge it entails is public speaking.  You know, the #1 fear they say.  But then there are things like the unknown, being criticized, making a fool of herself, bad hair days.  These are pretty universal aversions from what she reads, and they have already begun in spade. 

But her secret - and maybe uniqueish - reason that drives her to almost call Bekins is, well, her snobbism.  There it is.  To explain (justify), Ciwt loved history when she was growing up; she majored in it in college.  She loved all the grand personages - from the Pharoahs on to the Founding Fathers and into the present.  She admired the erudition, vast intelligence, fineness, grandeur - just elevated superhumanness of these historical personages. She loved learning about them on their pedestals and getting as close as she could to their exalted coattails.  

San Francisco history is none of this really.  No exalted personages and grand, still quoted speeches.  No patient, clever, admirable multi-year diplomatic skills here.  In fact, until 1776 San Francisco was undiscovered except by the indiginous Ohlones and maybe 50 others, and largely overlooked as barren and useless with terrible weather even after it had been.  Then came 1848 and the Gold Rush!  In a matter of months, every (mostly man) who wanted the promises instant riches offered got on a ship, or horse, or ox cart or just his own two feet and got himself to San Francisco.  Between January 1848 and December 1849 the now City's population went from @500 to @25,000.

Those who came weren't your intellectuals, religious pilgrims, lawyers, doctors.  Or, if they were, they became gold panners, shop and brothel keepers, magistrates of opium dens and gambling houses, brawlers, murderers. No time to climb onto pedestals.  But somehow this assortment of 'non-Founding Fathers and Mothers' used whatever ingenuity they possessed to fashion an utterly unique, inclusive and beautiful city that drew and has kept (snobby) Ciwt all these years. 

But maybe Ciwt isn't alone in her 'snobbiness.' Maybe most people want their (fore) fathers and mothers to be patently admirable.  Maybe this; maybe that.  Ciwt keeps trying but can't quite close the door on this topic.  So, she'll continue on into the challenge.  No calling Bekins to the rescue today.






Friday, February 14, 2020

Movin and Shakin --- Days 8/309, 310, 311

Walks: City Guides Tours: 
Distances: 4-5 Chilly Miles each

First Glass Fronted Building Ever Built in the 1800's
Downtown SF

Map of the Many New Parklets and Public Open Spaces in Downtown SF

Salesforce Park, SOMA

(Forlorn) Harvey Milk Plaza, The Castro

Roof Garden, Fairmont Hotel, Nob Hill
So Ciwt has been on the move and shaking up her decades old San Francisco patterns in anticipation of her San Francisco City Guides Training which begins tomorrow.  A bit nervewracking; wish her luck - and stay tuned.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Ahoy --- Day 8/308

Walk:  SPCA, Trader Joe's 
Distance: 3 Miles

Generations of Ships and Gulls at Fisherman's Wharf






Monday, February 10, 2020

Ciwt and Friend Stumblin Into Greatness --- Days 8/305.306, 307

Walks: 1. Open Houses 2. Chinatown Tongs & Thomas Reynolds Gallery  3. Day of  Oscar Recovery
Distance: 1.  2 Miles  2. 3. Miles  3. 0 & Yoga

Bong Joon Ho
So, faced with the prospect of going down to 14th street in rainy New York weather to see a gloomy play in (probably incomprehensible) Irish brogue, Ciwt and her friend scouted for an alternative for their last day in the Big Apple.  Looking at Rotten Tomatoes we saw that a movie which had just opened had a 99% rating and was very near our hotel.  Why not go?  Sure.  So off we went in New York showers to be among the first to see Parasite, whatever that was.

Approximately 3 hours later we stumbled out of the theater, stunned.  Absolutely stunned by the most original, unpredictable, staggeringly intelligent, dark movie either of us had ever encountered.  This was going to take a Lot of debriefing, so we took our chances on a restaurant right near the theater.  It turned out to be excellent and also to have a couple at the next table to ours in the exact same condition we were in.  They, too, had just staggered out of Parasite and sort of didn't know what had hit them.  So the four of us new friends spent the better part of our Italian meals discussing the South Korean one-of-a-kind, impossible to describe masterpiece we had happened into.

Maybe one of the best movies ever made; certainly one they will be teaching in Film Schools for years, but, for exactly those reasons, very unlikely to be an Oscar contender.  Maybe Best Foreign Film if it was even nominated at all.  But, in spite of its miniscule chances, Ciwt chose Parasite and Bong Joon Ho for Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture in her entry: Top Time  ---   Day 8/259.  She doesn't have a great record choosing Oscar winners, but she had so much respect for the man and his film that she went ahead anyway. 

Well, you know the rest of the story.  Last evening Parasite won 4 of the most important Oscar categories: Best International Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and BEST PICTURE.  The usually parochial and pretty predictable Oscars went with Excellence even when it was an international movie by a South Korean director.  Ciwt's heartfelt (but seemingly unrealistic) selections were right on!  Decades of loyalty to that marathon, usually bloated, often disappointing ceremony paid off!  So, Yay!!  And here's a Slate write up that captures the feeling in the Oscars room.

Extra touch: Nearly everyone involved in Parasite flew over for the Oscars Ceremony.  And they all spoke so highly of what a delight Bong Soon Ho, who has quietly become one of the most imporrtant filmmakers in the world,  is to work with.




Friday, February 7, 2020

Adjunct City --- Day 8/305

Walk: SOMA (South of Market)
Distance: 3 Miles


Remember quaint San Francisco? Where little cable cars climbed half way to the stars?  Well, it is still here.




And so is this!  If you go just a couple blocks south of the quaint pictures above, you come to an entirely new San Francisco.  Completely modern, completely young, completely happening and growing by the day.  It is New York(ish) attached to San Francisco, and it has all arrived in a matter of a few years.

Ciwt had been reading about it - like much of the country. And today she went to look and learn.  These towers are the homes or city homes of the giant tech names we all know: Salesforce, Twitter, Airbnb, Instagram, Yelp, Google, Lyft, Uber and others.  But there are also 50+ smaller tech companies here - with more on the way.* The average age in this new metropolis can't be older than 30, most with whopping salaries if not downright riches.  

This is just a report from the field. Ciwt has seen now, but it too much for her - or most people who live in 'old' San Francisco - to comprehend.  And the huge wealth, new population, and displacement that has accompanied this 'adjunct city' has been much more than 'old' San Francisco has been able to accommodate.  

* If you are interested in reading about and seeing pictures of these smaller companies, please read           this: https://www.builtinsf.com/2019/11/19/tech-companies-in-san-francisco


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Beyond Books --- Day 8/304

Walk: Marin Driving Day, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2 miles

Rose Main Reading Room at Main New York Library

So a friend asked Ciwt how the San Francisco Main Library compared with New York City's Main Branch.  The latter is stunningly beautiful in classic fashion, the second most visited tourist attraction in New York and Legendary.  In other words it is in a league of its own or with the most beautiful libraries anywhere.

Bridges and Light are the themes of the 1996 San Francisco Main Library. With bridges of stairs linking stacks of one type of knowledge to stacks of other types and the eye of its occulus (en)lightens the whole building.
But the San Francisco Public Library is becoming legendary in its own ways. The Library Journal awarded it Library of the Year in 2018 with the following statement: 

A MODEL AND INSPIRATION for public libraries worldwide, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL)—with its committed staff, transformational leadership, amazing array of programs, partnerships, popularity, and community connections—is the 2018 Gale/LJ Library of the Year. ­SFPL’s aggressive yet compassionate approach and the resulting services, outreach, alliances, and innovation offer new directions public libraries everywhere can apply to their services.*

Four years ago the San Francisco Public Library set out to be the premiere urban library in the country, committed to being responsive to the full range of needs of the community.  To that end they have innovated or amped up an array of vital programs.  Just to name a few these include: Bridge at Main, an adult literacy and learning center; the Deaf Services Center; the Library for the Blind; Library on Wheels for the homebound; one-on-one tutoring for children in need of special help; Pop-Up Car Village (SFPL acts as host).  There are several art galleries, and special exhibitions and events, the list of innovations goes on an on.  They have taken many risks with some of their unique - and working! - programs in order to expand what libraries do.  The impact has been broad and deep.

To Ciwt though, all libraries - beautiful or ordinary, urban or rural - are always necessary and important beacons of growth, help, hope, inspiration, enlightenment and more in the lives of their community. And she's sure the New York and San Francisco Main Librarians would be the first to agree.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Fair or Foul? --- Days 8/302 & 303

Walk: 1. Main Library Tour  2. Fairmont Hotel Tour
Distance: 1. 5.5 miles, small stretch   2. 4 miles, yoga

Chandelier at Fairmont Hotel* San Francisco
A Little Closer

As Ciwt walks and listens to the San Francisco City Guides she encounters some questionable decisions made along the City's historical way.  For instance, here is the chandelier on the ceiling of one of the Fairmont Hotel's meeting rooms.  The glass is all Lalique**crystal so it must have cost a pretty penny even back then.  Today, $million$ maybe.  But, oh dear........

Luckily Julia Morgan, the famous and first California woman architect, was around when decisions were made about the look of the Grand Lobby.  It is tastefully and elegantly gorgeous



*There really was a Mr. Fair.  James Fair, a bartender who struck it rich in Gold Rush days, and built himself a home on Nob Hill that became a world famous when it was rebuilt as an elegant European hotel after the 1906 fire.


** Straight from Wiki: Lalique is a French glassmaker, founded by renowned glassmaker and jeweller René Lalique in 1888.[1] Lalique is best known for producing glass art, including perfume bottlesvases, and hood ornaments during the early twentieth century. Following the death of René, Lalique transitioned to producing lead glass (crystal) works during the 1950s while under the direction of René's son, Marc Lalique








Monday, February 3, 2020

Crab Etiquette --- Day 8/301

Walk: City Guides Tour: 1850's San Francisco: Paris of the Pacific
Distance: 3 miles, small stretch


Owner of the only woman-run crab business on Fisherman's Wharf informing us about crabs.  

So, certain professions - maybe especially if you are Italian - are exclusively male.  Or were, until Tom Lazio's daughters and granddaughters became the third generation to operate 70+ year old Alioto-Lazio Fish Company*.  Now Alioto-Lazio is exclusive in another way; it's the only woman-owned and operated fresh fish company on Fisherman's Wharf.  (Maybe anywhere)?

The women's education in the fish business wasn't easily achieved.  As girls they would dress up in their school attire until thir grandfather left for his daily rounds.  Then they would quickly change into aprons and apprentice in the intricacies of preparing fresh fish for restaurants and shipping.  When he returned to drive them home, they were back in their school uniforms and he was none the wiser.  

They thought!  Shortly before he died, he expressed his appreciation to his girls for carrying on his business with its excellent reputation for quality seafood and customer service, high standards and strong work ethic.

Here's one of Tom's Lazio's granddaughters above telling those of us on the City Guides Fisherman's Wharf Tour something about crabs - including how to avoid their mighty pincers.  The crab she's holding is a male.  In fact, every crab sold out of Alioto-Lazio - and every legitimate seafood company - is male.  What?  Not discrimination: female crabs need to be protected so they can reproduce.  And they are by Huge fines, jail sentences, business shut downs and more if a female is found in any commercial fish operation.  So the crab food you're enjoying?  That's an all male thing.



Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sitting Pretty, Please --- Day 8/300

Walk: Cinema Club (Portrait of a Lady on Fire)
Distance: 3 Miles, Yoga

Adele Haenel and Noemie Merlant in Portrait of a Lady on Fire

So, Ciwt was educated at all girl schools from second grade through college.  Every once in a while at these schools there would be an over the top (to Ciwt) Feminine event.  For instance, at her boarding school on May Day every one of her classmates were made to go outside, take hold of a long streaming ribbon and weave in and out from each other as we circled a Maypole.  She doesn't remember whether they had to wear special flowy gowns to do this but she does remember a wreath of flowers in everyone's hair.

It was awful.  Ciwt got and still gets upset encountering this level of, she guesses, Feminity or Womanhood, or something.  She remembers several of her classmates and teachers actually loving the Maypole dance, and this was even more upsetting and confusing to Ciwt.  How in the world could they - or anybody! - resonate to this stylized, contrived, 'girly' embarassment?  They did, and people do, and it all makes Ciwt feel strange about herself that she is completely, utterly removed from any feeling - except maybe aversion - from this type of behavior.   If this is Femininity, Ciwt will take Vanilla and always has.

So, when it came time to fill out her evaluation form for Portrait of a Lady on Fire at her Cinema Club preview today Ciwt had to write that the movie was so far from her sensibilities she couldn't evaluate it.  She did check the 'Excellent' box though because actually the movie is- if you are on its 2+ hours wavelength.  Like most Pre-Raphaelite paintings, it is very artfully executed but utterly foreign to whatever makes Ciwt tick.
John William Waterhouse, Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus, 1900, o/c

  

Saturday, February 1, 2020

History*#^ Stories --- Days 8/298 & 299

Walk: 1. SF Guides Fisherman's Wharf  2. SF Guides The Castro
Distance: 1. 3.5 Miles, small yoga   2. 5 Miles, small yoga

So, did Ciwt ever tell you she got her B.A. in History?  Actually it was love at first meeting between her and history, and she was considered odd by her middle and high school friends for that.  To them history was just a bunch of boring events and dates.  And Ciwt sympathized, but she was able to just automatically fill in the people, places, stories between those dates.   She tried to get her friends to do the same but to no avail. Finally writers started presenting history the way history buffs like Ciwt took it in it.  Ie, they told the stories of history, and history became Popular.

Many of these writers are scholarly and very accurate as they bring history alive. Erik Larsen, David McCullough and many others come to mind.  And then there are the Historical Fiction writers - Auel, Chevalier, Follett, Kingsolver, Mantel, the list is long and enjoyable - who tell marvelous historically based stories but sometimes go a bit over the top - putting actual thoughts and words into the long dead minds and mouths of their subjects.

Anyway, Ciwt is enjoying her re-involvement in learning some history.  Specifically the history of San Francisco in connection with becoming a San Francisco Walking Tour Guide.  Her training starts in two weeks  and lasts 6 months, so if you are one of those who still dreads history, maybe you'll want to take a CIWT break and check back in the Fall.  Or maybe Ciwt won't actually write much about history or will write it in a way that actually holds your interest or maybe you'll miss other topics she writes about.  So, she thinks...stay tuned.