Tom’s Garden

Growing by the Bay

Page 18 of 21

Encyclopedia of San Francisco

julia morgan entry at the encyclopedia of san francisco

The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society in putting together an encyclopedia of the city. Right now there isn’t much up, but if they follow through with this ambitious project it should end up being a helpful resource.

It’s too bad there’s no feed so that one could be alerted of new entries. Right now the only way to find new items, as far as I can see, would be to scroll through the alphabet — hardly a solution that will encourage return visits.

Fisher Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio

don fisher, gap founderGap founder Donald Fisher’s announced intention to build a new museum in the Presidio has been widely reported. Namastenancy has posted a good summary. Apparently Mr. Fisher has a fine collection of modern and contemporary art, although it is difficult to tell at this time “whether the Fisher collection has institutional quality, like the Frick, the Barnes, the Hirshhorn, the Phillips, the Mellon (the National Gallery),” as Howard Junker asks, “or whether it will be merely a beau geste like the The Hess Collection (in Napa) or a dreadful provinciality like the di Rosa Preserve (also in Napa).”

But let’s say the collection is world class. There are still some things about this story that I find a little disturbing. First, Mr. Fisher negotiated with both SFMOMA ad the Fine Arts Museums to donate his collection to one of San Francisco’s existing museums that feature modern art. Negotiations in both instances proved fruitless. Maybe the problem was just finding an adequate space for the collection. But it doesn’t sound like that was the biggest stumbling block. Instead, it sounds like Mr. Fisher wanted to dictate curatorial content: what is displayed, when, and how. Money speaks in this town, but should it curate our art in this blatant a manner?

Second, the plans call for a 100,000 square foot museum, with more gallery space than SFMOMA. That sounds great, but the Presidio is a city treasure, and I fear this is another step in its destruction. Isn’t this too large a museum for the location that is proposed, especially considering the massive parking structure that will no doubt come with it?

But there is no effective review process for what is being done to the Presidio. (When the army pulled out, the Presidio was supposed to have become a national park. Instead, it is being given over to enterprises like George Lucas’s private business campus.) The only approval required is that of the seven-member Presidio Trust Board. Guess who was a founding member of the Presidio Trust Board?

Don Fisher (pdf link).


The image of Don Fisher is taken from an interesting article by Daniela Kirshenbaum that appeared on Fog City Journal.


Testing the limits

alameda manzanita

Bravo to Contra Costa supervisors who unanimously voted down an attempt to expand the East Bay urban limit line — a line overwhelmingly approved by area voters less than a year ago.

The proposal would have created a 75-home development in El Sobrante. El Sobrante (home to an endangered species of manzanita) is already suffering from severe traffic congestion and a scandalous shortage of services. The last thing it needs is more housing, the purpose of which would simply be to line some developer’s pocket. I wonder why such a propect has traditionally appealed to City of Richmond politicians. That is just so baffling. What could the explanation possibly be?

Ominously, according to the Contra Costa Times, “Architect Paul Wang said he will continue to meet with El Sobrante residents in an attempt to fix any flaws they see with the Golden Oaks proposal.” Wait, I see a flaw! This guy enjoys a sweet view from his bucolic home office in the Berkeley Hills. Meanwhile, on the other side of that hill — just far enough away that it doesn’t pollute his tranquil existence — construction crews would be cutting down “golden oaks” and putting up houses where they’re not wanted
and don’t belong.

Hey, City of Richmond and Contra Costa County (El Sobrante spans the two jurisdictions), did you ever think of creating a downtown park or two for this community that is home to many young families? And what about that pedestrian mall along San Pablo Dam Road that we’re not hearing much about anymore?

Shown: Endangered alameda manzanita (and friends). 

Transbay Terminal designs

I got over to City Hall yesterday to see the models and visualizations of the new Transbay Terminal (on view for that one day only). The general outlines of this have been reported elsewhere, although we still seem to be waiting for a full and careful consideration of the plans. The plans were commissioned by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a regional group established with an eye on creating a new transit center to rival NYC’s Grand Central Station (San Francisco has had a bad case of Apple-envy for as long as I can remember). The three plans under consideration all feature an extremely high tower — about the height of the Empire State Building. That would make it the tallest building on the West Coast.

But there’s “no guarantee” any of the designs will be built. San Francisco has traditionally opposed very tall buildings. Still, almost everyone agrees the current Transbay Terminal is squalid and depressing, and the new mostly yuppy population of the city seems more sympathetic to the concept of big buildings as validation of civic esteem than used to be the case. In other words, well, we’ll see.

I hope to find some time to comment on these a bit more later on. For now, some photos:

1. Skidmore Owings Merrill (whose mark is already all over the city) proposes a tower with a twist (don’t we already have one of those in the park?). The rooftop would be accessible to the public and enclosed in glass.

skidmore transbay design

2. Pelli Clarke Pelli (they’re Houston-based, which is a strike against them right there) propose a tower that sort of, well, peters out as it rises. It’s said to have “a sleek skin.”

pelli transbay design

3. Rogers Stirk Harbour ‘s design has been called “muscular.” It rises straight up and is capped with a giant wind turbine framed by metal structural extensions. Jim Leftwich has noted that it would be more complete with a giant eye.

rogers transbay terminal design

More to come …

Free San Francisco WiFi Spots

Someone has made a mashup that overlays free WiFi locations on a Google map of the city. I don’t know if it’s the most complete or accurate list, but the map function is convenient.

free san francisco wireless internet locations

Sixth Street

I wrote about 6th Street, sort of, when I mentioned Tu Lan. But I didn’t realize that the street was undergoing some kind of transformation. At least, that’s the claim of this metroblog, which asserts that along the street “fresh faced suburban bred 20-somethings careen intoxicatedly in and out of clubs looking to partake in some sort of overpriced quasi-glam nightlife activities whilst dozens of ever present ne’er do’ells, derelicts and addicts of various sorts bob about, some actually laying sprawled on the concrete.”

The junkies and lost souls had not escaped my notice, but I was unaware of the existence of hip clubs and nightspots on the street. Even though they have been popping up for a decade, apparently. More from the blog:

Long the city’s most dreaded skid row, for the past half decade or so a new breed of 6th St entrepreneurs has been trying to cash in on an area even the cops are afraid to hang out in. The city’s official half assed attempts at “beautification” are beyond laughable, seemingly the main noticeable aspect being banners proclaiming 6th Street is being beautified via “Urban Solutions”, a taxpayer funded non profit boondoggling arm of the ubiquitous and almost always asinine autocracy known as the SF Redevelopment Agency. Local activist Randy Shaw’s BeyondChron website noted in 2005 that one “need only look at how the Agency failed to eliminate blight on Sixth Street despite spending over $100 million.” According to the SF Chronicle $6 to $7 million was spent recently just on extending sidewalks an extra foot and a half , which i guess was meant to give crackheads & clubgoers, and wheelchair wielding whiners more room to congregate and sell stolen property?

Meanwhile the 6th street clubs & loft developers feed on a frenzied fatuousness & and ignore the detritus and decay around them …

“The Cancer of the San Francisco Chronicle”

Edward Champion blasts Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius as “a hack who defames journalism” and “a heartless and complacent yuppie writing very much in the thoughtless and vacant manner I used to find in that reactionary cad of a columnist, Ken Garcia.”

The city is getting worked up over one of its periodic and so far futile efforts to clean up Golden Gate Park, and Champion complains that Nevius is “entirely uninterested in coming to terms with the homeless in Golden Gate Park for his piece.”

There’s no question San Francisco’s homeless problem needs more serious attention than it has been getting. Will Champion’s heated rhetoric help? Wasn’t this supposed to be mayor Newsom’s signature issue?

UPDATE: Randy Shaw, in Beyond Chron, weighs in, 9/4/07:

While the traditional media’s role in promoting the Iraq War has become conventional wisdom, military invasions are not the only place where the press sells the public a false story. Consider homelessness. For two decades, the media has offered the public a “framing” of homelessness that focuses on problem individual behavior, rather than on the massive federal funding cuts that saw widespread visible homelessness remerge in 1982 after being nonexistent for over forty years. The San Francisco Chronicle still identifies the homeless problem as primarily caused by problem individuals such as campers in Golden Gate Park, and blames advocates, rather than the media and politicians, for the persistence of homelessness. C.W. Nevius’s August 28 Chronicle column perfectly captured how the media still “enables” the federal government’s abandonment of the unhoused, and shows why the Bush Administration – like its Reagan, Bush and Clinton predecessors – feels no pressure to act.

A scholar’s rock by Zhan Wang

Yesterday’s mystery image was a detail from a stainless steel “scholar’s rock” by the contemporary Chinese artist Zhan Wang. The example shown is displayed on the patio near the cafe at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park; the green colors were reflections of the trees and plants outside the museum.

zhan wang

zhan wang

zhan wang

“The worst-programmed major museum in America”

That’s what Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes is saying about the De Young Museum under the relatively new directorship of John Buchanan:

Remember this ending to SF Chron art critic Kenneth Baker’s Hiroshi Sugimoto-at-the-de Young review?

Probably the de Young has never seen an exhibition of gravity and elegance to compare with “Hiroshi Sugimoto” and a look around the institution suggests that the next one like it will be a long time coming.

Now we know what Baker was expecting: FAMSF released its 2007-2009 exhibition schedule yesterday. It reveals that FAMSF is well on its way to becoming the worst-programmed major museum in America. Heck, considering its programming and ethics problems, by the end of 2009 FAMSF might not be a major museum.

For more, and the DYM’s schedule of forthcoming shows, see the original Modern Art Notes post.

What is it?

mystery san francisco artwork

It’s a detail from an artwork prominently displayed in an often-visited place in San Francisco. Who can guess what the artwork is? Take a wild stab! Points for artist, style, well, anything really …

Answer tomorrow.

Coyote pup killed in park

The coyote pup was apparently hit by a car. A week or so ago, when adult coyotes attacked a large dog and were later shot, I speculated that “to go after such a formidable opponent suggests the coyotes were protecting a den.”

“Officials are trying to determine if the youngster is related to the pair of animals that was shot last week”

UPDATE: The Chronicle is suggesting that the coyotes became more aggressive as a result of people feeding them.

Virgin Airlines

VA’s new domestic airline is based in San Francisco. Right now they’re only flying to LA and NYC, but more destinations will be added. Introductory one-way fares are $44 to LA and $139 to NYC; Jet Blue has said it will match Virgin’s fares.

I flew Virgin nonstop to London from San Francisco once, and it was a very civilized experience, as these things go nowadays. I’m happy to have them in SF.

RELATED: How to Book a Cheap Flight (Mahalo)

Tu Lan

tu lan

How could Gridskipper post a feature on San Francisco’s best hole-in-the-wall restaurants and not mention Tu Lan? I mean, this place defines the term hole-in-the-wall.To begin with, it’s located in the unlikeliest place, Sixth Street between Market and Mission. But if you can step over the drunks you find yourself in a place that is … well, a little grimy.

Okay, maybe it’s the “best” part they stumbled on. But the food is generally good — hearty, unpretentious Vietnamese fare. I don’t eat there a lot, but I’ve been in a few times over the years, and you’ve got to hand it to this place, it’s consistent. I never got addicted though, like I did the the great Henry’s Hunan.

Incongruously, the menu features a rave from Julia Childs. Sure it’s from decades ago, but I swear this place never changes.

Omid T, over at Yelp, put it like this:

Grimy, grubby, filthy, sullied, icky, grotty, dodgy, sketchy, minging, manky, stanky muck.

Tasty, yummy, scrummy, nummy, gettin’ chummy in my tummy, get in line and order, dummy, like an Asian taco truck.

Goi cuon, Cha gio, Bi cuon, Banh xeo, Hoanh thanh, Pho bo, Mi xao, Bo xao, Xao rau, Bo xa, Tom kho, eat them up yo – none of ’em suck.

The health department, CDC, your church, your priest, and ministry, your HMO or PPO, the doctors and the dentistry wish you best of luck.

Wildlife uprising, part 3

According to the Chronicle, a great white shark took offense at a red kayak in the waters near San Mateo. A guy identified as “Dan” was fishing for rockfish from the kayak at the time of the attack.

When the shark hit the kayak Dan was thrown into the water, from which vantage he observed the shark using the bow of his boat as a toothpick. Nonetheless, he decided his best strategy was to get back into the vessel, “even though it was still on the nose.”

At that point the shark shrugged off the boat in disgust and swam off, no doubt muttering bitterly to itself about ocean polution. Dan headed in the opposite direction at high speed, despite again falling out of the kayak, which had become unstable, a couple of times along the way. After a while he was hailed by a friend who asked, “How did you do?”

“I got a couple fish,” said Dan, “and a shark.”

Secret List of Buildings You Can’t Photograph

bay bridge, san francisco

I took this photo of the Bay Bridge from the Ferry Building. But a while ago when my daughter was at the Ferry Building she was accosted by a security guy as she was shooting pictures. I suppose much of my photography is travel photography, whereas Ellen is more of an art photographer. So she might shoot unusual subjects, sometimes from odd perspectives. In this case she appears to have pointed her camera the wrong way, because a security guy grabbed her and tried to intimidate her with a a lot of questions. Then he took her to his supervisor, and together they continued the interrogation, which ended with them taking down a lot of her personal information.

Well, it turns out the Department of Homeland Security has a secret list of buildings that must not be photographed — but they won’t release the list. Marc Fisher quotes a police chief in the Washington Post:

I am certainly not implying that a person taking photographs is inherently “suspicious,” but when the appearance is that the subject of a photograph is a government installation, officers have a duty to ensure the safety of the occupants of this structure.

To which Fisher replies:

Hmmm. Any government installation? This overly broad approach to security is why we end up with ridiculous horror stories about innocent tourists getting hassled for taking photos of the Lincoln Memorial or the Department of the Interior … utterly ignoring the fact that the Soviet empire collapsed under the weight of its own paranoid security apparatus….

LINKS
Boing Boing
Washington Post

Golden Gate Bridge, Sunset

I guess if you’re doing a San Francisco-related blog sooner or later you have to post a sunset shot of the bridge. San Francisco is not really known for spectacular sunsets — something to do with the fog, the latitude, the climate, I don’t know. But occasionally we get a stunner. This picture was taken from the Oakland hills earlier this year.

golden gate bridge at sunset

Wildlife uprising continues in the city

coyoteFirst it was uppity sea lions. Now it’s coyotes. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, coyotes are attacking dogs in Golden Gate Park.

Coyotes disappeared from the city after the 1906 earthquake. They appear to have returned sometime in the past decade via the south peninsula. Recently a coyote was tracked with an electronic device, revealing that it traveled to Daly City and back in a single day (a trip that is agonizingly slow for commuters).

Over the weekend coyotes attacked a Rhodesian ridgeback, a large dog bred to hunt lions, in the park. To go after such a formidable opponent suggests the coyotes were protecting a den.

I have heard that city officials have killed the coyotes that attacked the dog, though I have yet to see an official report to that effect.

UPDATE: Yep, the shootings have been confirmed.

LINK: San Francisco Chronicle: “Coyotes attack dogs in Golden Gate Park,” by Jim Herron Zamora.

Video: Newsreel of 1906 San Francisco earthquake

Edison newsreels of earthquake.

San Francisco Magic

knight bus

Wizards and witches converged on the SFPL’s main branch today to express their support for Mr. Harry Potter, who is currently engaged in a struggle against the forces of evil. 225 fans, aged 12 and under, were selected by lottery to board the Knight Bus and make a short video declaring their love of the Harry Potter books;

inside the knight bus

the videos will, I suppose, be used by Scholastic in promoting the series — though it scarcely needs promoting — as a backlist property, now that what is supposed to be the final book is being released.

library table performer

The city’s librarians were out promoting the library, and a variety of divertisements were provided.

By coincidence, in a front page article in the NYT today, headlined “Potter Magic Has Limited Effect on Youngsters’ Reading Habits,” Motoko Rich writes that “As the series draws to its much-lamented close, federal statistics show that the percentage of youngsters who read for fun continues to drop significantly as children get older, at almost exactly the same rate as before Harry Potter came along.”

daniel radcliffe

photoshop practice: sketch of daniel radcliffe by tc

Hey, Harry’s a clever lad, but Evil has some tricks of its own. Demagoguery loves ignorance.

evil

The Josh Kornbluth Show

Josh Kornbluth’s show on KQED television is up for a possible renewal for a third year. A show of community support could tip the balance in the show’s favor. If you would like to see it continue, consider writing to one of these addresses:

  • Office of the President: pres [AT] kqed [dot] org
  • Viewer Services: tv [AT] kqed [dot] org
  • The Josh Kornbluth Show: jkshow [AT] kqed [dot] org

You can also comment on Josh’s KQED blog.

Disclosure: I published Josh’s Red Diaper Baby. You can read about the process of designing it here.

Taxi fare finder

Want to know how much your ride will set you back? At taxiwiz you can get an estimate by entering your starting and destination addresses, or even just by clicking the map.

Cleaning the Bay

bleaning the bay

This photo is from a set posted to Flickr entitled “San Francisco Bay Debris – KQED QUEST.” The photos document voluntary Bay cleanup by a group of San Francisco sailors, who were moved to action when a seaplane crashed into a telephone poll that was floating in the bay — sixty-five years ago. According to a the site, “Ever since, a group of Sausalito sailors has toiled as San Francisco Bay’s unheralded trash collectors — removing everything from floating concrete to dead bodies.”

Pilgrimage Sites in the Haight

 

Pilgrimage sites in the Haight

Pilgrimage sites in the Haight.

Here‘s a chap who lived through the sixties in the Haight and claims to remember it.

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