Saturday, April 22, 2017

San Francisco: Odds and Ends

Roadboy's San Francisco Weekend

Besides a visit to Muir Woods and the "Summer of Love" at the De Young there were some other aspects of my recent trip that I wanted to relay. 

The SF Muni
First off the Muni Pass. They still offer the scratch off unlimited daily use program for travelers. And it is still a bargain for those of us that would prefer not to drive (and spend hours time seeking out parking) in the City.

You can buy the pass at the MUNI ticket office at Halladie Plaza near Union Square. There are passes from 1-3 consecutive days. The pass is good on everything except BART. We bought a 1-day pass and although it might have been slightly cheaper to pay as we went, the convenience was worth it. We used it on MUNI streetcars, buses and cable cars all day long.  We went from Downtown to Golden Gate Park, to Ghiradelli Square, then from Fisherman's Wharf back to the hotel. A 1-day pass cost $21.

Beach Blanket Babylon
Second thing. Beach Blanket Babylon is still playing at Club Fugazzi and it is still wonderful. Go to the later shows. The crowds are spunkier (less of us folks with oxygen tanks). 

This time I opted for the el cheap-o rear balcony. And, it was the best seating yet. The seats are first come, so get there early. These seats are benches (instead of those tiny, too close together, bolted together, cheeks touching your neighbor, chairs everywhere else). Sight lines are great and there is a bathroom upstairs too. Best deal ever.

De Young Observation Tower
If you go to Golden Gate Park stop by the (Free) Observation Tower at the De Young.  Whether or not you pay to visit the museum itself the observation tower offers some unmatched 360° views.

Looking Northwest

 Looking Northeast

Irish Coffee's at the Buena Vista
I'm still a huge fan of the Buena Vista near Ghirardelli Square. It is where the Irish Coffee was invented and they still seem to make hundreds every day. And they are as wonderful as ever. We opted to have an early dinner there and compared to the other dining options in the area found the meal offerings to be reasonably priced and pretty darned good.      

Buena Vista Irish Coffee
Glasses Are Warmed 
Add Two Sugar Cubes
Pour in Steaming Hot Coffee
Follow with Irish Whiskey

Finish With Whipped Heavy Cream

Speaking of Ghirardelli Square.... 
While my favorite chocolate from the Bay Area is made by Guittard, it is clear that Ghirardelli is the chocolate most visitors associate with San Francisco. And when they go to Ghirardelli Square many want an ice cream sundae. So some good news, there are now 2 sundae restaurants at Ghirardelli Square. There is still the original one as you enter initially (frequently really crowded), and a newer one in the upper square itself and it has better views and (usually) shorter lines.

Street Art
Like any big city there is a lot of tagging. But as we walked through Chinatown and North Beach we came upon was some really beautiful wall murals.

2 Pac 
North Beach (Near City Lights Bookstore)

Chinatown Detail
Mel Waters

 Chinatown Context

"Drama" Relief
Lee Lawrie 1930-31
505 California Street
Replica Panels from Elevator Doors
Education Building Harrisburg PA

I'll finish with some of the photos from the Danny Lyon Exhibit at the de Young. Such powerful, evocative imagery. 

 Incarcerated Cotton Pickers
Ferguson Unit Texas 1968

The Eyes Tell Everything

Untitled Illinois 

 Police Officers
Clarksdale Mississippi 1963

Migrant Farmworkers
Citrus Groves, Maricopa County AZ 1977

Ok that is it for odd and ends.

Roadboy's Travels © 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

1967 The MH de Young Summer of Love Experience

Art, Fashion and Rock & Roll

It has never been easy for me to fully convey what it was like growing up in the Bay Area during the 1960's. When I was 5 (circa 1961) I remember seeing my first beret clad "beatniks" sitting on porches in Berkeley. My dad drove by them whispering curses under his breath. Dad just couldn't fathom the point of these chain smoking students playing bongos. Clearly something new was emerging culturally in the US.

Locally we witnessed the rise of the Black Panther Party, the murder trial of Angela Davis, the abduction of Patty Hearst, the murder of Oakland's new superintendent of schools (Dr. Marcus Foster) and a seemingly endless number of violent campus riots and protests at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State.

Then, over the next few years, America went on to experience the national heartache of repeated assassinations, wrenching civil rights battles and the escalating war in Southeast Asia. 

The sixties emerged as a brutal, prosperous, yet confusing era. The nation was experiencing a full generation of post war prosperity. Its population was heavily comprised of a young, powerful baby boomer middle class. A middle class increasingly able to take family vacations, buy suburban houses, new appliances, a new car every few years and color televisions.

And, as boomer parents became defined by their stuff, many of their kids increasingly began to resent their parents materialism.

Add a war to that resentment and the hippie generation began to emerge as a natural evolution from the "beat" or "beatnik" generation.

 The Age of Flower Power Begins

The first real hippies I remember seeing seemed to be mainly the disillusioned kids rebelling against the Vietnam war and parental authority. The next waves included a healthy dose of lost souls and wannabes.

All determined to come to San Francisco to experience the music, drugs, free love and wear flowers in their hair.

Young Man Against Plywood
(Gelatin Silver Print by Elaine Mayes)

By 1967 Golden Gate Park and the nearby Haight Ashbury neighborhood had become the epicenter of the hippie "movement" and San Francisco entered its "Summer of Love".

On April 8th, the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the MH de Young Museum launched an exhibition of art, fashion and music of 1967.

While some say if you remember the sixties you weren't there, I think, for a lot of us, the imagery of this exhibit will shake loose some of those memories.

The Summer Begins

You'll see Hippie fashions embracing colors, natural fibers, tie dye, headscarves, hats, ponchos, Levi's jeans®, and granny glasses; everything aimed at making a statement. 

Yet, much like the tattoo fad today, once the initial shock of the "look at me" non-conformist fashion wore off (and seemingly every teenager in California became proficient in throwing dye in the washer), the non-conformity became conformity and Bay Area residents became inured to it all.

Hippie Fashion - Colorful Symbols of Youthful Rebellion

 The Shoes

 The Chic

 The Painted Levi's

Besides fashion, in music the drift from folk to rock & roll became a defining force of the era. Bands went into open competition to come up with extreme names: The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company. And all of the 60's bands performed with elaborate light shows, courtesy of rock promoter Bill Graham, at his Fillmore Auditorium, Avalon and Winterland Ballrooms.

The de Young exhibition showcases the dazzling posters and postcards Graham used to promote his shows.

 Bill Graham's Concert Handbills

Psychedelic Poster Art
(Lights By Holly See and Music By Janis)

The Grateful Dead

The music, art and fashion always included relentless anti-war themes reminding America that the draft was chewing up America's youth for a war few seemed to really understood. This led artists and actresses like Joan Baez and Jane Fonda to emerge as spokespersons in the anti-war movement.

Joan Baez Instructs: 
"Girls Say Yes to Boys That Say No"

Sadly, the exhibit presents only a superficial visual extravaganza of the trappings of the era, without any attempt to unpack the underlining meaning of the hippie movement and what came next; America's era of drug use that so devastated much of the generation that had come to San Francisco feeling "immortal".

Glamorization Begins For a New American Drug Culture

There is no discussion of the narcissism of the protestors whose "peace" protests abruptly stopped the day after Rumsfeld cynically got Nixon to stop the draft (and then both went right on waging war for many years to follow).

It simply proved that many of the protesters weren't against the horrors of the war, they were against having to put their own lives on the line. Once they were no longer at risk, most quit caring and far too many openly abused the returning soldiers who had gone to fight.

The Summer of Love Exhibit is scheduled to run through August 20, 2017 at the MH de Young museum in Golden Gate Park.

Its fun, its pretty, just don't come with expectations to find a deeper understanding of what it all meant.

And, if you visit the de Young before April 30, be sure to go see Danny Lyon's photographic exhibit. His photos are simply mesmerizing.

Roadboy's Travels © 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Roadboy Visits Muir Woods

Thanks Grandma!

When I was a kid my grandmother told me how much she loved making weekend trips to Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods. We made a day trip to see it and I loved our walk through the majestic grove of redwoods.

 Entry Into Muir Woods

Now a half century later a friend suggested we visit Muir Woods once again. I did a little research and realized that due to its popularity visits today require some logistics. Crowds throng to the grove where they soon discover the Monument offers completely inadequate parking facilities.

To avoid all that we opted for a private tour.  We were picked up from our hotel promptly at 7:15 am on a rainy Saturday morning. We had a spectacular drive over the Golden Gate arriving before the crowds. We spent about 2 hours walking through the towering redwoods. 

 The Hillside Trail

Lush Undergrowth #1

Redwood Creek Rushes in Spring

Another View of Redwood Crrek

 Rain Becomes Sun
The Forest

More Lush Undergrowth

Muir Woods has quite a history:

The Bohemian Club builds a summer encampment, complete with a huge Buddha (based on the Great Buddha at Kamakura), in the Grove that would later come to be called the Bohemian Grove.  

William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Thatcher Kent buy 613 acres including what would become Muir Woods.

Congress passes the Antiquities Act giving the President the power to establish National Monuments by Proclamation.

The City of Sausalito attempts to take Muir Woods by eminent domain with the goal of damming Redwood Creek. The Kents donate 295 acres to the United States.

President Theodor Roosevelt declares Muir Woods the America's seventh National Monument. It is the first national monument comprised of donated land. 

Congressman William Kent introduces a bill in congress to establish the National Park Service. 

A road is built to Muir Woods.

The Golden Gate bridge is completed and the number of park visitors triples. 

The founding delegates meet in San Francisco to sign the charter establishing the United Nations. As part of the ceremonies a redwood tree was dedicated in the Cathedral Grove to Franklin D Roosevelt.

During our visit the rain showers turned to sun so we then made a short trip to nearby Muir Beach (which was spectacular). 

 Muir Beach

Muir Beach
 Blooms at the Beach

After leaving Muir Beach ended out tour in Sausalito (passing the bazillions of cars that were now all making their way to the woods). 

 Sausalito's Iconic Fountain

From Sausalito we caught a ferry back to San Francisco's Ferry Building where it was time for lunch. 

 Alcatraz, The Golden Gate Bridge Viewed From The Ferry Ride  Back to SF
I always forget how restorative it is to walk in nature. 

What you need to know:
1. Take a tour. For a tour I'd highly recommend click here.
2. If you must drive your own car arrive before 9:00 am.
2. There is a bus in summer from Sausalito, but it seems to register negative reviews.
3. Go to Muir Beach

Roadboy's Travels © 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

Roadboy Visits The Tech

Silicon Valley's Hands-On Techno Museum

A couple of decades ago I lived in Silicon Valley. 

While there my firm was part of the local design team that collaborated with master architect Ricardo Legorreta in the development of San Jose's (now beloved) bubble gum colored Children's Discovery Museum.

As I look back now I realize this was the pivotal period where quiet "Old" San Jose was quickly morphing into chaotic "New" San Jose. Fine hotels and a convention center were being built and streets everywhere were torn up for light rail.
 Detail from "Old" San Jose's Montgomery Theater

The excitement of a rapidly emerging urban center, coupled with the success of our Children's Discovery Museum, seemed to jump start long discussed efforts to create a permanent museum in celebration of technology. The commission to design the new museum, to be entitled The Tech, was also awarded to Legorreta. That is the point when I relocated to Phoenix to open a firm of my own. 

Although I've returned to San Jose many times over the years, I've never had an opportunity to visit the finished Tech.

This trip I took the time to experience the mango and azure colored museum residing right next to San Jose's historic Montgomery Theater.

 The Tech's Oculus Atrium

Although The Tech actually comprises 130,000 square feet, it somehow feels very compact. As you enter the ground floor there is a cafe, the ticket kiosk, a gift shop and an IMAX theater.  Exhibits are located on the floor above and below the ground level. The upper floor has a bio-design studio, a couple of robots and a very interesting display showcasing innovations in health care. 

There were a variety of new displays under development as well. 

 The Anatomage Table

In the healthcare area I was amazed at the table where the human body is viewed in three dimensions. The body may be rotated and when touched body parts and organs are described.  

 Robots Draw Portraits

You can have a robot photograph you and then draw your portrait. You can even climb up in a special "birdy" device that allows you to fly like a bird over Manhattan via virtual reality.

 Getting Ready to Virtually Soar

Downstairs there are are various robotic displays, interactive body metric devices, an exploration gallery and an earthquake display that allows you to experience various major global earthquakes.

 The Quake Experience
India 2001

There are life size high definition monitors that record and display your every move as a skeleton or with complete with muscles or with organs and your circulatory system.


I spent about 2 hours in The Tech. It was pretty interesting. And, with all of the hands-on exhibits, kids all love it. 

Be sure to keep track of your entry ticket as it is the digital key that enables you to access all of the  displays. 

The Tech is pricey coming in at $24 per adult and $19 per child (IMAX is extra). 

There is no parking garage so plan to park a couple of blocks to the east in the city garage that offers $5 flat rate parking.

Roadboy's Travels © 2017

And always remember............