16 June 2010


Thought I'd share what we did for my birthday: I think you'll be able to tell the moment where I lost contact with the raft and felt completely enclosed by water--amazing, (literally) breathtaking, beautiful, and incredibly fun--and all David's sweet idea based upon me deciding to jump into the 42-degree Virgin River when we were in Utah.  I was scared before, but not at all once we were on--and in and under--the water.

The water was running incredibly fast, high, and cold--making this stretch of the South Fork of the American River Class III+ whitewater rafting.  Even the guides were surprised by power of the river, and we almost tipped over.  David said it was more exciting than the week-long whitewater trip he did in Idaho years ago.

Obviously not my photographs: I thought it was pretty funny--and pretty smart--for them to have a camera set up at the wildest rapids.

31 March 2010

PLUGGED-IN BY REQUEST: On-Line Art Show of The Photographs From My Recent Gallery Shows

Friends beyond the Bay Area have been asking to see the photographs in my recent one-person show, "Catching the Sun," and the pieces Ken Baker chose for the recent show he juried, especially since there was some new work they hadn't seen before.  So here goes (in no particular order):

"Tram Man" 

This is a photograph I took during a 2007 trip David and I  made around Oregon, of the newish aerial tram line between Portland's South Waterfront district and the OHSU campus.  I was drawn to the confluence of angles and lines that cause you to question the perspective, and the various yellow-greens and blue-greys and the glow of reflected sunlight.  The title can refer to the singular pedestrian or the anatomical likeness of the tram supports.  I chose this image to be used for the printed material for "Catching The Sun."

"Elevated A"

I took this photograph on a stay in Chicago in 2007, while doing some consulting for the Kellogg Foundation. As a native New Yorker, I'd always looked down on the Second City, and on this first of many subsequent trips I fell in love with the muscular physicality of the place and its buildings and structures.  I was drawn to how simple AND complex, and how gritty AND elegant this elevated train station structure was, and the blushes of color in the light on the almost-monochromatic surfaces.

"Crimson Stride"

This is the earliest work in the show--from my second visit in 2002 to two of my favorite places--Lisbon and Portugal. By then the country was modernizing quickly, but still had a feeling of a place left behind in its history, almost like a Mediterranean Vienna.  I've always been attracted to taking pictures of people using public places, and the black-and-white, marble mosaic pavements in Lisbon were the perfect background, and the strong Iberian sun and shadow the perfect context.  You may notice these particular mosaics also bear an anatomical likeness...

"Metal Man"

Taken on a visit to Minneapolis in 2007 this was shot in the interior of an old flour mill.  I loved the subtle differences in and relationships between the light and shade, the materials and textures, and the shapes and scales, as well as the reflected light in the darkened industrial interior. And yes, another anatomical likeness...

 "Arcs, Lines, + Grains"

This image is from that same 2007 Twin Cities site visit, and was taken along the St. Paul waterfront.  What pulled me in was the monolithic grain silos, the juxtaposition of structural lines and arcs and those formed by shadow, and the how the beam angles amplify the foreshortening between the silos, waterfront, and bridge.

 "L.A. Rising"

This photo was taken at the new wing of the L.A. County Museum of Art in 2008 when I started a longt-erm TOD planning project in L.A. for Metro and CalTrans. The main circulation path is a series of metal pavilions connected by outdoor stairs and escalators; and the escalators and terraces and palms; and the drama of the sun, shadow, and vanishing point seemed so quintessentially L.A. 

 "Autumn Rust"

This piece and the next were taken in Seattle in 2008, when I started a year-long, light-rail planning project there.  They were both shot in the late afternoon in Olympic Park, a multi-level, sculpture space built on a remediated waterfront brownfield.  I was caught by the firey, setting sun etching the shadow of the plum tree into the Serra sculpture.

"Urban Divide"

I seem to have an affinity for shooting chairs in public places in the afternoon sun; I'm drawn to the shadows the chairs cast, but also the patterns, placements, and combinations that the chairs  were left in by their last occupants when the sun was higher and temperature warmer.

"Mayne Stairs"

This interior shot was taken on one of the upper floors of the brand-new, Thom Mayne-designed Cooper Union academic building in New York in 2009. It was great fun to move around and through, and shoot all of the planes, materials, angles, turns, and surfaces, and the interior partitions lit from within were great to work with at night.    

"City Views"

These three images were taken during walks along the newish High Line in New York in 2009.  In this one, I was taken with how people were gathered in a small amphitheatre area, mesmerized by watching traffic and pedestrians.

"Coming Soon"

This was taken inside one of the old warehouses that open onto the High Line that are being renovated into upscale lofts, hotels, condos, and shops.  It kind of captured for me this really palpable zeitgeist I was feeling of everything being  in the midst being rebuilt, and redone, and re-branded.

"Night Security"

I was drawn to the dramatic light and color and perspective in this night scene, as well as the isolation of the spotlit security guard necessary in this stage set of a park that's locked up at night.

"Mimickry of Nature"

This older photograph from 2003 wasn't in "Catching The Sun;" but along with "Arcs, Lines, + Grains" and "Urban Divide," it was chosen by The San Francisco Chronicle art critic Ken Baker to be included in the show he juried. 

P.S.  While these shows are over, you can still purchase framed photographs at Awaken's on-line store; we're also talking about another show for summer!  I'm also working on  a San Francisco gallery show, and etsy and cafepress sites--I'll keep you posted!  

30 March 2010


Okay, a quick, sidewalk-themed, two-part-er.  First, an easy one (you should know this one); it's in San Francisco (and no, it's not a prop for the big Academy of Friends party):

And the real quiz; it's on a pavement in San Francisco (and they're not some fish that fell out of a bin in Chinatown and onto the sidewalk):

Just like last time, the first person to come up with the right answer gets a prize (the first person to guess the first one'll get something).

And the winner of the last "Where?" is...my dear friend Kali!  Sorta.  She guessed that she'd seen this view from somewhere around 16th & Valencia in San Francisco (because it was "close, but no cigar, she gets a set of postcards instead of notecards :-P ):

In reality, it's on Capp just south of 18th; it was interesting to see how the three small cottages had been placed on one standard lot with a small alley entrance and a small garden in back, and the view to the church just closed the deal.  In the great way that histories and peoples and communities overlap in an older urban neighborhood, the 19th century religious structure is now the Korean United Presbyterian Church; the corner of Capp and 18th houses Balompie Cafe, a great Salvadorean eatery; and out of view to the left of the church is the classic early-60's era Whiz Burger Drive-InAnyone know if these may be "earthquake cottages?"

29 March 2010


 A zeizen pesach, y'all.

Okay, I have to admit something embarrassing and shameful: I'm addicted to "The Streets of San Francisco" re-runs on KOFY.  I record it daily and probably watch one or two episodes each week.

But how can I resist?!  The great low-tech montage opening (I wish I'd had the Fisherman's Wharf segment when I ran a workshop with their business improvement district!), the Henry Mancini score, Karl Malden and Michael Douglas, old-style single-stream plotlines, police work without glitzy CSI techniques or even cellphones, the vintage cars and clothes and slang, "special guest stars" like Desi Arnaz Jr. or Ricky Nelson or Susan Dey, and all the tv character actors I remember from my youth.  You can literally see the smoke of the whole post- Summer of Love/Patty Hearst/Zebra Killer middle-America/establishment fascination and fear of San Francisco swirling around in the long shots.  And of course there are token African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and women good and bad guys, and so far I've seen one lesbian killer and two different male characters in two different episodes pretending to be gay...

I remember watching the show with my father as a kid in New York.  Now one of the great attractions is seeing familiar or lost buildings and sections of the city--a common locale is the flophouses along the Embarcadero.  And while, as a San Franciscan, I'm still not up to my New York caliber of "that's the corner of 28th & 8th," it's a joy to be able to recognize quite a bit even in the nabes, and catch those "they just turned from Market onto 19th Ave" splices.

KOFY airs the episodes in order, and the time slot right after TSOSF is a viewer-chosen half-hour; right now it's "The Flying Nun."  I kid you not, peeps voted for it ("you really like her, you really like her").  You know what that's a play on, right???

26 March 2010


Here are some of our food faves in Oakland; each one is our fave for that type of food in the Bay Area:

Oasis Market: Even though I really like the humorously-named Ali Baba's Cave in The Mission for shwerma and wraps and appetizers, I think the best falafel I have ever had are at the Oasis, a newish Yemeni market at Telegrah and 31st in Oakland's Pill Hill neighborhood: they're light, crunchy, and full of flavor and texture, with no oiliness; really a joy to pop in your mouth.  I'm eager to try some of their Yemeni specialties, desserts, olives, and cheeses.

Ohgane: If you saw my recent post on about being served eighteen (!!!) amazing panchan at a recent dinner at Ohgane, at 40th and Broadway, you know I think they have the best Korean food in the Bay Area.  Great and generous panchan, but everything else we've had has also been first-rate, including appetizer pancakes, soups, and bibimbop in all its variations.  It can get quite crowded and smokey late in the evening with big Korean parties.

Pho 84: For awhile, this was our fave Friday evening take-out spot, and Pho 84, downtown (or Uptown?) at 17th and Franklin is still our fave Vietnamese place in the Bay Area.  They have great soups, appetizers, curries, and claypot dishes, and make their own lemonade.  Michelle or her husband, sister, or mother are usually there and everyone's always welcoming.  They have a sister restaurant, Ba Vo, on 13th Street, with the same menu, that's busier at lunch; and are opening another in Walnut Creek.  They can get really busy at dinner.

Any faves (Oaktown or otherwise) you wanna share, or comments or additions?

25 March 2010

A GOOD HOMEMADE BAGEL ("and from a deli-owner that's a rave...")

Over the holidays I decided to try my hand at making home-made, whole-wheat bagels. My recent New York City sojourn was the impetus: having regular access to real bagels made we want to see if I could re-create them at home in San Francisco, where pretty much all we have are typical, 21st-century, American pseudo-bagels that are fist-sized and spongey.  I wanted to see if I could create the small, dense, chewy authentic bagels I remember fondly from the Sunday brunches of my New York youth.  And I wanted to see if I could do it with whole-wheat flour.

With a little experimentation, trial-and-error (the first batch resembled pretzels more than bagels), and tweaking of recipes, I think I crafted apretty good version in terms of taste, consistency, density, and look.  And people, including other native New Yorkers seemed to agree.  The multi-step process of kneading, proofing, boiling, and baking was more fun than hard.  I'll definitely be doing them again, and a couple of people have expressed interest in learning, so I may host some sort of bagel-making get-together-cum-workshop!  Especially if there's real interest...

Of course, it being me, Project Bagel steamrolled from there to include making home-made soy cream cheeses, home-made whitefish salad, home-made braunschweiger (liverwurst), and home-brined pickled onions and kosher-style dill pickles.  And of course I had to include two old favorite go-alongs: home-cured gravlax and home-made chopped liver.  I'll post the bagel and other recipes soon.

It was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.  "And from a deli owner, that's a rave!"  Anyone know where that's from?

24 March 2010


The invitation for this year's San Francisco Symphony Black & White Ball fundraiser, featuring a performance by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang made me think of something I love running across on tv: the old Union Bank-sponsored short that KQED has recently started playing again between regular programming.  I know it's corny, but I really love this piece and the combo of hula, SF scenes, and the old standard; and when it comes on it makes me slow down, appreciate home, and I just get a warm, fuzzy feeling :-P...

The dancers are from the local hula group and school Na Lei Hulu who we've seen perform at the SF Aloha Festival in the Presidio, a fun annual event with great  performers and food.  I find the whole Bay Area-Hawaii connection really interesting: Did you know the Bay Area has the largest Hawaiian population outside Hawaii? And the reverse connection too: I have two  dear (non-Hawaiian) Bay Area friends who spent part of their childhoods in Hawaii, and that seems to be not uncommon.

We recently saw Tony Bennett perform on PBS when Obama presented Stevie Wonder with the Gershwin Prize at the White House.  Did you know Bennett was actively involved in the civil rights movement in the 60s?

22 March 2010

I KNOW I SHOULD BE HAPPIER THE HEALTHCARE BILL PASSED: But I also know the work of real health, medicine, cost, and insurance change has to be ahead. And just in case you didn't hear how low our 'national conversation' sank this past weekend:

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s. 

Protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, spat on at least one black lawmaker and confronted an openly gay congressman with taunts. 

Capitol Police escorted the members of Congress into the Capitol after the confrontation. At least one demonstrator was reported arrested. 

"They were shouting, sort of harassing," Lewis said. "But, it's okay, I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s. It was a lot of downright hate and anger and people being downright mean."

Lewis said he was leaving the Cannon office building to walk to the Capitol to vote when protesters shouted "Kill the bill, kill the bill," Lewis said.

"I said 'I'm for the bill, I support the bill, I'm voting for the bill'," Lewis said.

A colleague who was accompanying Lewis said people in the crowd responded by saying "Kill the bill, then the n-word."

"It surprised me that people are so mean and we can't engage in a civil dialogue and debate," Lewis said.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he was a few yards behind Lewis and distinctly heard "nigger."

"It was a chorus," Cleaver said. "In a way, I feel sorry for those people who are doing this nasty stuff - they're being whipped up. I decided I wouldn't be angry with any of them."
Cleaver's office said later in a statement that he'd also been spat upon and that Capitol Police had arrested his assailant. The statement praised the police, who Cleaver said escorted the members of Congress into the Capitol past the demonstrators.

"The man who spat on the congressman was arrested, but the congressman has chosen not to press charges," the statement said. 

"This is not the first time the Congressman has been called the 'n' word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans," the statement said. "That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting." 

Protesters also used a slur as they confronted Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an openly gay member of Congress. 

Frank told the Boston Globe that the incident happened as he was walking from the Longworth office building to the Rayburn office building, both a short distance from the Capitol. Frank said the crowd consisted of a couple of hundred of people and that they referred to him as 'homo.' A writer for The Huffington Post said the protesters called Frank a "faggot."

"I'm disappointed with the unwillingness to be civil," Frank told the Globe. "I was, I guess, surprised by the rancor. What it means is obviously the health care bill is proxy for a lot of other sentiments, some of which are perfectly reasonable, but some of which are not."

"People out there today, on the whole, were really hateful," Frank said. "The leaders of this movement have a responsibility to speak out more."

Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday as the House Democratic leadership worked to gather enough votes to enact a health care overhaul proposal that has become the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda. Most were affiliated with so-called tea party organizations that originally sprang up during last summer's protests of the health care proposals.

Heated debate has surrounded what role race plays in the motivations of the tea party demonstrators. During protests last summer, demonstrators displayed a poster depicting Obama as an African witch doctor complete with headdress, above the words "OBAMACARE coming to a clinic near you." Former President Jimmy Carter asserted in September that racism was a major factor behind the hostility that Obama's proposals had faced.

The claim brought angry rebuttals from Republicans. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is black, accused Carter of playing the "race card."

On Saturday, Frank, however, said he was sorry Republican leaders didn't do more to disown the protesters.

Some Republicans "think they are benefiting from this rancor," he said.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said Saturday's ugliness underscored for him that the health care overhaul isn't the only motivation for many protesters.

"I heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960, when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus," Clyburn said. "This is incredible, shocking to me."

He added, "A lot of us have said for a long time that none of this is about health care at all. It's about extending a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

19 March 2010


The FiancĂ© had a workshop the other weekend, so The Omnivore got to make a Bachelor Breakfast: real, smoked pork bacon--two whole slices!--and two slices of red onion; two eggs added to the cast iron skillet when the bacon and onions are turned and almost done; and a handful of fresh spinach added and tossed with the onions just before turning off the flame.  And then served--to myself--by bringing the skillet to table.  I do love it.  And you know the sin of omission in the description above is that everything's cooked in the bacon renderings and nothing's drained, right?

What constitutes a Bachelor Meal?  It's a one-pot dish that's quick, easy, and cooked and ideally served--or eaten--from the pot.  And if it has the slight whiff of treyf, all the better.  My dear friend Dena's food blog has a bunch of great posts illuminating the genre.  An old favorite of mine used to be packaged mac 'n' cheese with hotdogs cooked in the same water; with frozen peas added just before draining, slicing the 'dogs, and finishing it off, and--maybe--dishing it all out into a bowl.  Even with Annie's mac-in-cheese, turkey dogs, and soy milk; the treyf's still the processed, packaged food and white pasta.  But the real deterent is that it's unbelievably hard not to treat the whole shebang as a single serving.

But I swear, my weekday breakfast is much healthier:

And some of the more usual weekend breakfasts of turkey hash, breakfast quesadillas, and homemade turkey sausage chez nous:

I'll have to post about my recent re-obsession with omelet-making...


Did you know there's a regular pod of dolphins hanging out at Baker Beach?  Pretty damn amazing.  I saw these three in November when I was doing site visits as a committeemember advising the Presidio Trust about changes to the Coastal Trail.  

(My main recommendation was to start with a matrix of users and place typologies because, like so many other natural and coastal areas in San Francisco, there's such a broad range of visitors, i.e. tourists, birders, seniors, hikers, nudists.  And then the best re-design would address which places are best for what mix of users, rather than broadly making this narrow, steep ribbon of coast just a little better for everyone.)  

I'd read about the dolphins, and arrived early before the trail got busy and was just scanning the water while I waited.  And then they were there: jumping and moving about 150 feet offshore.  It was pretty amazing and really makes me appreciate how close nature is here in our city.

What reminded me about the Baker Beach dolphins were two separate radio interviews on KALW today; the local "Your Call" and "Earthbeat," a great Dutch environmental program, both featured the makers of "The Cove," the Academy Award-winning documentary about dolphin hunting in Japan, that we haven't seen yet, but want to very much (and are simultaneously a little afraid of--can anyone vouch for it???).  

What they described about the hunt was pretty frightening, and what they described about dolphins was pretty amazing.  Which reminded me of a great David Attenborough documentary on dolphins (with clips here in three different parts).  And an on-line conversation I'd had with my dear friend Dena about a scientist who considers dolphins "non-human persons" because of their intelligence. What do you think, or have you seen them?

*I'll do a post soon about a great hike we enjoy on a recently-reconstructed trail leading down to a small, beautiful, clothes-optional beach in the Presidio.

17 March 2010

THE STORY'S IN THE RETAILING: Some Weird & Wonderful Store Signage & Packaging

WTF?! Do these retailers have no clue? :-P

This first one makes me remember the time on Upper Broadway, when my dear friend Martha said, "Nice box!" to this big, handsome man in an expensive suit passing us in the crosswalk, sporting a sizeable...suit box from Barneys.
Or my idea for a Hooter's counterpoint called, "The Big Basket," staffed by muscle-y men in tight clothes, where all the food is served...in baskets.

But I digress--to get back to unintentionally funny retail signage--the Target sign was actually an Easter promotion for a company oddly named 'A Brilliant Basket.'

This one (sorry for the bad pic taken at Sur La Table back in the day with the bad camera on my old bad Blackberry) is hilarious--almost like those sadly misguided--and clueless--"teabaggers."  The manufacturer's website has better images of their flavored mixes intended for 'rimming' glasses for mixed drinks.

And finally, this one from 99 Ranch, the California Asian supermarket chain, over a refrigerated case with pre-marinated meats. I know this starts to cross over into ethnic-restaurant-menu territory and that's really a whole other story... 

Any you'd like to share?
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