Monday, 4 July 2011

San Francisco part 8

After a week of demolition, concrete laying, website design and illustration we were needed in the city again for cat-sitting duties in the Tenderloin. We headed in on the Thursday (23rd June) and made the bum run from BART to the flat in about six minutes which is not unlike doing the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs. Inevitably I needed pizza so we walked up Polk Street to one of the several branches of Escape From New York pizza where I eat my face off for eight bucks. I swear every slice of pizza from Escape From New York tastes like the best slice I've ever eaten. It renders all other food useless.

We headed down Union Street which is all posh boutiques and fancy shoe shops (so of no use to me whatsoever) and jumped on a bus to Lower Haight where we met up with an old friend of Annie's at Molotov's for happy hour. It rapidly turned into three or four happy hours before we made our way back to the TL for a few pre-Chutney beers at the Nite Cap where I made friends with some dood called Leroy. See below. He was a nice guy but didn't do rounds which is always a bit annoying.

Waking up the next day with a sizable hangover and a pizza sized hole in my stomach I decided to go on a mammoth record trawl around SF starting on Valencia Street which is conveniently only a block over from another Escape From New York pizza. In a fair and just world I would be the size of a large barn but apparently my metabolism is just about busy enough to stay on top of things. At least for now. Valencia Street runs parallel with Mission Street and is a long stretch of vintage clothes shops, book shops, art galleries and hipster hang outs, not forgetting the excellent Aquarius Records which stocks mostly new and interesting vinyl from the likes of Finders Keepers etc. After having a mooch about in Dog Eared Books and a few other shops and galleries I attempted to find my way to Lower Haight via Needles and Pens which is still showing the Nigel Peake exhibition we originally saw in May.

As mentioned in previous blogs Haight Street has several great record shops so I spent the afternoon rummaging through them all where I managed to pick up a few off my wants list including The Poppy Family lp which I've been after for a few years now but I've always been slightly hesitant to pay over the odds for shipping from the US/Canada. Unfortunately in leaving it so long it's gone from a $3 record to $40 - I think somewhere along the line it must have been sampled or comped so what I saved on shipping I paid for in hype but I still managed to find a copy for $13 in Recycled Records.

A few hours later I tried to navigate my way back from Haight to the Tenderloin. Annie had told me in no uncertain terms to explicitly avoid the Western Addition - a government housing project that borders Fillmore Street and Japantown. Obviously I got thoroughly lost en-route and managed to walk directly through it but it was fine. In the course of the day I'd somehow clocked up ten miles plus of walking mostly I expect from getting a bit lost. We eat at Japantown in the evening before having some drinks at the Ha-Ra on Geary - a dive bar in the TL owned by a friendly fella called Rick.

The next day I spent the morning illustrating until Annie woke up and then we set off towards Fort Mason to see the Ed Hardy exhibition. There are some pictures below - we'd seen a lot of the pieces previously as Annie's friend had helped put together the frames and assemble the show but it was still great to see them in a more formal setting. The early city scape illustration is stunning.

Afterwards we got the bus up to Outer Richmond to have a look in Green Apple Books and then headed back to the TL before making our way through the craziness of the Dyke March in and around Union Square to BART. Zig-zagging through the crowds of revelers I heard a succession of what I thought sounded like gun-fire only to be told it was probably firecrackers. On arriving back in Orinda we discovered it was in fact gun fire - there'd been some gang-related shootings a block over from us as we made our way through the city.

The next few days involved mixing up nearly one hundred bags of concrete for the foundation of Annie's parents house, an afternoon in Berkeley to purchase an authentic ninja costume, working on a super secret illustration and a rainy drive through SF occasionally stopping at the more far-flung record and book shops. We also went to see Terence Malick's 'Tree of Life' at the cinema. I have mixed feelings about it. There are some genuinely stunning cinematic moments at the beginning of the film with the creation and evolution of the universe that demand viewing on the big screen. Elements of the [slightly] more traditionally narrative sections of the film involving Jack O'Brien's (Brad Pitt) suburban 1950's family life are endearing but like most of Malick's films it's also exceptionally ethereal; unfortunately to the point of actually traveling up it's own celestial arse. I'd liken it to a magical multi-coloured fart - fantastical to look at but ultimately just air-bound tiny molecules of poo. Actually that's a bit harsh but I would say it's the dullest dinosaur flick I've ever seen and certainly not on par with 'Badlands' or 'The Thin Red Line'.

On Wednesday (29th June) we got BART into the city arriving at the Civic Centre where we took a quick tour of the Town Hall. I tend to feel slightly guilty for not ticking enough tourist boxes when I'm in other countries but not quite enough to actually stop going to record shops, book shops, pizza joints and dive bars to do touristy stuff instead but I made an exception for the Town Hall. It's quite spectacular inside - so much so there are lots of other tourists drifting about taking exactly the same photographs which tends to make me not want to take photographs at all. So I've googled one instead.

We paid our respects to Harvey Milk and departed walking to Valencia Street to eat pizza and mooch about in record shops, book shops and thrift stores before meeting one of Annie's friend in a dive bar. Feeling suitably buzzed we made our way through the Mission to an art/zine fair in Potrero where despite a low turn-out managed to buy ace (and dirt cheap) original artwork from up-and-coming Bay Area illustrators. I was drunk enough to attempt social interaction as well which is always fun so I got to talk about various technical stuff ("what pens do you use? ") and the joys of trying to work with colour despite having a deep-seated fear of it. Good to know it's not just me then. Pick of the bunch were illustrators Taylor Wessling and Chelsea Brown. I managed to get a couple of pieces from them including this original pen and ink work by Taylor which I'm totally in awe of.

We left feeling a bit on the wobbly side but happy to have attended and participated in such an event. By participated I mean I gave some zines away. On the way back to BART we stopped off for a quick beer in the most Mexican bar I've ever been to. We were the only gringos in there but were warmly welcomed with only moderately over-priced cans of future Mexican beer. Such was the decor and atmosphere I was dying to take photos but Annie felt this would be in poor taste. If you're ever in SF make sure to stop by for a drink - it's on 16th and Capp Street...

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