Sunday, March 31, 2024

Eternal Easter --- Day 13/87

Walk: Crissy Field

Distance: 4.4 miles


So today is Easter Sunday and to Ciwt there was no better place to begin it than Crissy Field.  Easter is about renewal, rebirth, restoration on one day. Crissy Field is all about all those things day and night 365 days a year. 

It goes along San Francisco Bay until it reaches Hopper's Hands* below the Golden Gate Bridge.  

Spectacular, serene, consoling, uplifting, energizing, historical, natural. Whatever you need, it's there for you.  

Life there includes numerous bird species, some making Crissy Field permanent home and others staying temporarily on their flyways.


And runners or walkers with their dogs,

Fishermen (mostly) catching their daily meals out on the pier,

Swimmers without wet suits who come four  mornings a week and wish they could come more often,

There are surfers, driftwood 'house' builders, TV interviewers, sculpture makers, occasional Presidential helicopters, seals pop their heads above water to look, sharks keep swimming below, you never know what language you'll hear or what will be going on. Some come in small groups, some as couples and many come individually.  Their activities vary, but Ciwt suspects every single one of them is quietly awed by their fortune in being able to freely access and share one of the most unpretentious and enriching places on earth. 

Happy Easter

* See  CIWT Days 6/116, 6/120 and  6/121

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Busy Being Back --- Day 13/86

Walk: Around her place and her hood

Distance: 4 miles

Well, Ciwt is back but not quite this fast at unpacking.  Her 3 day trips are actually 5 day trips including packing the day before and then,  when returning,  re-introducing herself to her cats, unpacking, doing laundry, sorting through mail, buying food and throwing out anything that has gone bad, letting her time clock regulate and generally re-adjusting to home life.  Color her doing that today while also thinking of what might interest her wonderful CIWT readers about her trip.

Monday, March 25, 2024

DC, DC, DC --- Days 13/77 to 85

Walks: Hood and DC
Distances: Probably average 4 miles

 Ciwt's upcoming short trip to DC is too much on her mind.  More when she returns.  Ta Ta....


Hay-Adams Hotel and Layfayette Square

White House

Capitol Hill (Houses of Congress, Supreme Court, Library of Congress)

Mall (Smithsonian, National Art Gallery, Many Museums)

Kennedy Center

Phillips Collection


Chevy Chase


Thursday, March 21, 2024

A Step Too Far? --- Day 13/76

Walk: Union Square

Distance: 5 miles

So, what are The 39 Steps?

That's the central question of a popular,  highly rated 1915 spy novel by Johm Buchan. And later a British suspense film released in 1935 that helped establish Alfred Hitchcock as one of the leading directors in that genre, brought him international recognition and helped launch his Hollywood career.  It also established two of Hitchcock films' most defining characteristics: mistaken identity and combining taut suspense with humor.

Knowing this, Ciwt was excited to go to a local playhouse's version of The 39 Steps yesterday.  Turned out four actors played all 100 characters in the play, racing on and off the stage and reappearing in a new hat or moustache or dress.  And if there wasn't time to get off, they changed their look, accent, gait, whatever right on the stage.  

If, let's say, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnet had been the actors, this new farcical rendition of the play would surely have been brilliant and hilarious.  The play really requires consummate comedic, quick change actors at that level.  Otherwise, like yesterday, you have a production that is many, many steps short.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Here's Looking at You --- Day 13/75

Walk: SF Playhouse (39 Steps)

Distance: 5.5 miles

Snow owl seen in Anchorage, Alaska    Carl Auer/Getty

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

More Wisdom Coming Up --- Day 13/74

Walk: West Portal 
Distance: 1 mile 

Anne Coatsey/Getty, A young owl stands among blooming pink heather on managed moorland in Nidderdale, Yorkshire Dales, England

Monday, March 18, 2024

Wiser than Ciwt --- Day 13/73

Walk: Union Square 

Distance: 4 miles

Petter Nass, Northern Hawk-owl, seen in Norway

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Quiz: Guess Who --- Day 13/72

Walk: No, Sunday home stuff

Distance: n/a

Can you guess who these people are? *

And who took their photographs?**


Yo-Yo Ma, 1964

Audrey Hepburn, Paris 1951

Hell's Angel (Doug***), San Francisco, 1967   *** Extra credit if you guessed his name correctly


Irving Penn, London, 1950

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Evacuation with Puck, Oberon, Fireflies and All --- Day 13/71

Walk: Union Square, SF Ballet

Distance: 6 miles

Oberon and Puck wait to see if the Opera House will reopen and the dance continues

So,  A Midsummer's Night Dream, the ballet, was particularly memorable in San Francisco this afternoon.  Somewhere toward the end of the first act lights started flashing, sirens began blaring and an announcement repeated over the loudspeaker:  "A fire emergency has been reported in the building.  Please get up from your seats and calmly leave the building.  Do not use the elevator"

It was quite a feat walking down the steep marble stairways for many of the audience, but we all did it as instructed.  Calmly.

Out in the brisk sun, many realized they were waiting amidst the interrupted dancers.  And the fun began.  Phone cameras came out.  Characters talked to dazzled children, other waiting attendees and among themselves.  When it was announced that we could all return to our various places, one formerly anxious dancer had been so enjoying the break he announced "I'm not nervous any more!" on his way back to the stage.  

To widly cheering support from the audience the dancers resumed their performances from exactly where they had left it and danced without further interruption to all the happy marriages at Midsummer's conclusion.  More wild cheering.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Belly Up to Temple Bars --- Day 13/70

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 6 miles

Saint Patrick's Day at San Francisco's Temple Bar

Happy Saint Patrick's Day  San Francisco is a pretty Irish town - even with our own Temple Bar - so the celebrations will surely continute the next day or two arouund here.  Ciwt can only imagine the festivities at the original and famous Temple Bar Pub in Dublin where there is already a vast whiskey and beer collection and Irish Music all day every day!

Saint Patrick's Day at Temple Bar Pub, Dublin, Ireland

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Penn Who? Well..... --- Day13/69

Walk: Union Square

Distance: 5.5 miles

So, who is this Irving Penn?  Is he related to the actor, Sean Penn?*  Ciwt had those questions and more when she got her Press Preview invitation from the de Young Museum for its Irving Penn show.

Then she arrived at the event and found it crowded with press people who had no question whatsoever about who Irving Penn (1917-2009) was.  Almost all were photography lovers excited to see so many works by the famed cameraman. Probably fashionistas who follow Vogue will be there in droves when the show opens because Penn was the magazine's celebrated photographer for over sixty years. 

Vogue Photographs: 

Irving Penn, Kerchief Glove (Dior), Paris, 1950, Gelatin silver print

Irving Penn, Girl with Tobacco on Tongue (Mary Jane Russel), New York, 1951, Gelatin silver print

Concurrently Penn founded his own studio in New York and began making advertising photographs for such clients as General Foods, De Beers, Issey Miyake, Clinique and many others.

Irving Penn, Issey Miyake, Staircase Dress, New York, 1994, Platinum-palladium print

His exacting and revealing portrait photographs for private clients and magazines are legend.

Pablo Picasso at La Californie, Cannes, 1957

Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1957

Edith Piaf, New York, 1948

Turns out Penn's work ranged far beyond the boundaries of fashion, cover photography and portraits into still lifes, and photographic essays on subjects like: 

Small Trades
Balloon Seller, Paris, 1950
Rock Groups, San Francisco, 1967

Anzio Beachhead One Year After Battle (A), Italy, 1947

On and on through thought provoking Still Lifes, Nudes, Beauty, Mixed Media Paintings and Drawings, even Cigarette Butts (yes, as part of a personal anti-smoking campaign in the mid 60's).

All of his images are accessible and riveting viewing for even the most basic photographers - like Ciwt with her iPhone.  But throughout his career Penn was really a photographers' photographer experimenting with monochromatic backdrops in an era of artificial lighting, reinvigorating antiquated processes such as platium and gelatin silver, experimenting with many printing techniques including mounting negatives on aluminum sheets.  And always throughout achieving prints that are deeply contrasting, clean crisp, stunningly visually simple.  

All this artistry and creativity at a time when photography was primarily understood as a means of communication. No more as we all know.  Nearly singlehandedly Iriving Penn brought photography into the dominant artistic medium it is today.

*No, but Irving Penn's brother, filmmaker and theater director Arthur, was Sean's father.  And Ciwt is a bit off the hook not knowing much about Irving Penn because he was an intensely private man who avoided the limelight.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Photo or Object? --- Days 13/67 & 68

 Walks: Hood, de Young Museum

Distances: 3 miles, 3.5 miles

Maybe because she just snaps with her iPhone and is done, Ciwt's eyes glaze over a bit when taking tours of photography.  Whoever the guide is often talks at length about the exact camera used, the steps of developing the photo, the paper and whatall.  Then Ciwt stands waiting as the many amateur photographers in the crowd ask with great interest about matters techical. Probably because of Instagram and phone cameras that number is growing significantly and photography shows are drawing more and more museum crowds.

But today at the Press Preview of the Irving Penn show opening soon at the de Young the quality of the photos she saw had her riveted. And she was actually fascinated by the techinical information the visiting curator from the Metropolitian Museum passed on.   Penn meticulously created his own settings, made his own paper, hand printed his photgraphs again and again with silver and other rich emulsions.  No lab assistants for any of this.  The resulting surface of his final products are often so thick and rich, they register much like paintings.  They are more lasting object rather than photograph.  And oh the depth and clarity; every photo in the show, no matter when taken, appears new, fresh immediate.

Here's Penn's beautiful wife, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, arguably the first super model, looking as breathtakingly alive as she did when Penn took this portrait in 1950.  This not just because of her stunning presence but also due to Penn's well considered lighting, rough curtain behind, positioning of the subject and rich printing. 

Irving Penn, Woman with Roses, (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in LaFeurie Dress), Paris, 1950, Platinum-palladium print

Monday, March 11, 2024

A Few Favorites --- Day 13/66

Walk: Hood

Distance: 2 miles

Ciwt's favorite Oscar looks:

Ryan Gosling singing I'm Just Ken

Cillian Murphy with his well deserved Oscar (whew..)

Lupito Nyong'o in an icy blue Armani Prive gown

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Oscar Time --- Day 13/65


Walk: Hood

Distance: TBD

It's 11:22 a.m. out here in San Francisco; just 38 minutes until we can start watching Oscars-related tv programs on channel 7.1 (ABC).  Crazy!  Even crazier, if you forgot about Daylight Savings clock change and rush to your Oscars Countdown at noon, it will actually be 1:00 and you will miss the first hour.

She'll hold off until one of the Red Carpet shows when she can change her bed, set her clocks, do other household chores and be present for her 50+ year of Oscars viewing.  

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Oscar Ballot Amendment --- Day 13/64

Walk: Vogue Theater

Distance: 3 miles loping

War is Over!  Inspired by the music of John and Yoko

So, Ciwt finally actually got to this year's animated short films.  Contrary to many critics, she found them all excellent and one particularly outstanding.  So she is changing her ballot to War is Over.

Friday, March 8, 2024

2024 Oscars Ballot* --- Day 13/63

Walk: Crissy Field

Distance: 3.5 miles lope, .5 miles walk

So Ciwt has filled in and printed out most of her Oscars Ballot which you can see above.  Her choices are some combination of personal favorites, who she thinks the Academy will choose and blank categories for which she has no opinion because she didn't see any of the films.  Rest assured, if past is prologue, she will be quite wrong.*

* See Amendment ahead

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Free Days!!! --- Days 13/61 & 62

Walks: Marin Driving Day, Presidio and Hood

Distance: 3/4 mile, 6 miles

No more art tours on the books, all done fixing up place, finished with huge closet caper.  Absolutely Nothing on Ciwt's calendar for the next few days.  Happy Ciwt and her cats!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Hurry Up and Look --- Days 13/59 & 60

Walks: Hood, SFMOMA

Distance: 4 miles, 6 miles

Running through the Louvre scene from Jean-Luc Godard's 1964 film Band of Outsiders

So Ciwt's mission today was to present 7 floors of SFMOMA art in a 1 hour tour to a group of high powered executives.  The good news is the tour is over and she can once again get a good night's sleep.