Month: May 2007
The San Francisco Public Library’s historical photograph collection is a great resource for old photos of San Francisco, such as this one of snow in Golden Gate Park in 1932. You can search the database online, and if you want print-quality photos you can order them very cheaply. I got several of the photos for Bridge to Understanding, my book on the Asian Art Museum, from this collection.
The above image fascinates me. It’s from an exhibition of the prints of Taiso Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), currently showing at the Asian Art Museum in the city’s civic center.
Yoshitoshi witnessed a period of great transition in Japan, during which the country essentially went from feudalism to modernism. He works out of the ukiyo-e or “floating world” woodblock tradition, but instead of beautiful pictures of actors and courtesans he prefers themes from folklore and history — as well as thinly veiled comments on contemporary events, despite a prohibition against such subjects. He is often associated with the macabre and unsettling (curiously, like his European and American literary contemporaries Baudelaire and Poe), but this dismissive characterization does him a disservice. Besides his sophisticated design skills, he is a master of psychology, often capturing telling moments when stories devolve on some poignant revelation — the moment of seeing in a mirror that a beautiful women is actually a demon, for example.
This work is called “A Woman Saves the Nation.” The figure in the middle is the shogun Tsunayoshi . He has been duped by a conniving minister, Yanagisawa, and is essentially in the grip of a magic spell. On the left is his wife. With a troubled expression she holds the knife with which she will kill the minister and then commit suicide.The large figure on the right is a woman in the emperor’s dream. The pattern of cherry blossoms and cracked ic on her robe has connotations of sex between a young woman and an older man.
The entire work has an extraordinary decorative quality that is almost Klimpt-like. The blockprint colors are unusually bright and saturated. The planes of the composition are staggeringly complex and assured. I think this is an absolutely brilliant work.
Here is a remarkably detailed (7000 pixels wide) photo of the city in the wake of the ’06 earthquake and fire. According to the legend on the photo, it was taken from the Lawrence Captive Airship. The photo was marked “copyright the Geo R. Lawrence Co., Chicago,” but works from 1906 have passed into the public domain. Click the image above for a larger view. (When you are at the image you might have to click again to zoom in.)
A programmer named Lawrence Kesteloot was considering buying a house in San Francisco. In the process of researching neighborhoods he created this interesting mashup showing crime rates in San Francisco by neighborhood.
Kesteloot mentions the significant caveat that “The color represents the number of crimes, but really it should represent the number of crimes per unit area, since some plots are much larger than others. For example, just below the two bright yellow plots are two smaller plots that are suspiciously dark. Itâ€™s probably because theyâ€™re smaller that their numbers are lower in absolute terms. ” Maybe this is also part of the reason Golden Gate Park looks dangerous. Probably some people had things stolen out of cars, but I have parked there many times without a problem or a worry.
Still, it’s a suggestive visualization. Yellow represents the highest number of crimes. See the bright yellow areas in midtown between Polk and Larkin? That’s where I eat lunch most days.
The Bay Area’s culinary reputation has been taking some hits lately. “Alice Waters and sourdough bread aside,” Alan Richman wrote in GQ, “the Bay Area has contributed surprisingly little to the culinary ripening of America.” Tired lists like the one assembled by Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer probably aren’t helping, so Gridskipper made its own list. It’s a short list but a good one, including Anchor Steam Brewery, Ghirardelli Chocolate, the French Laundry, the London Wine Bar, the McEvoy Ranch, P.G. Molinari and Sons, the Slanted Door, St. George Spirits, and Tsar Nicoulai.
Girlfriend Getaways offers tips for women on nightlife, restaurants, shopping, and siteseeing in San Francisco. The suggestions aren’t bad (nor are they brilliant), but what I don’t get is the women’s angle, since few of them are gender-issued. Ah, the mysteries of marketing.
Here are some links to Bay Area restaurants that have been showing up lately:
- Marin Dining Guide
- Chowhound Late Night SF Dining Suggestions
- Edible San Francisco
- Menu Pages SF Restaurants Guide
- Yelp San Francisco Restaurants
- Savory San Francisco Restaurant Guide
- TastyR SF Restaurant Reviews
- Citysearch on SF Restaurants
- Vegetarian Ooptions from Daveola
Does anyone use any of these sites? Are there others you would recommend?
Some folks at the Asian Art Museum are installing a “manga lounge” for their summer Tezuka exhibition. The lounge will have videos, books, and even a photo machine. The lounge has a youth orientation, but no doubt the occasional old fart will avail himself of the facilities as well.
Astro Boy image from the AAM website
No, not another hangtown fry item. Instead, we’re talking about items such as dessert soup made from coconut milk and pureed mung beans; finanziera of cockscombs, duck tongue, and riso; crab salad with cantaloupe, avocado, and mint; and sizzling fresh frog. Descriptions of these and more over at gridskipper.
Image source: Taipei Cultural Center