Day 2: Friday - October 8th

I awoke at 4:00 am on this, my first morning in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. Although wide awake with my stomach rumbling for food I lay there enjoying the warmth of the covers until my cell phone alarm gently rang at 6:00. Then it was the usual: coffee, fig bars, ruminating and email.

On Fridays Ed works from home. So when he was up and at 'em we walked to the Beanery Coffee Company at 1307 9th Ave - for coffee and a paper. I treated myself to a cheese danish as well.

When we got back Ed started in on his days work and for me it was webwork until noon - my how time flies! At about that time Ed said: "Get out here! It's a beautiful day!" That was just the kick I needed and shortly I was out the door in search of a lunch spot.

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Area Map for Day 2

Area map for Day 2.

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I wandered up and down Judah and some of the Aves, got down to Irving and saw La Fonda. Burritos are usually quick and easy so I walked in and ordered the first thing on the menu - a Regular Burrito with chicken, rice, black beans & salsa.
The two tables outside were taken but the store front was open to the outside so I grabbed a table in a sunny spot and it was just like being outside.

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I shot this from the loft seating area. They were doing a pretty brisk lunch business, much of it carry-out.

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This is the salsa bar which I was glad was right behind where I sat. I loaded up with spicy guacamole and cilantro several times. Clilantro is an acquired taste. Betsy used to be put off by it but loves it now, as do I. "Cilantro" is Spanish for coriander. I grew some once by getting a bag of coriander seed from a the International Grocery store in Morgantown. The bag had many 100s of seeds and was around two dollars. But, it you go to the seed rack at a garden center and buy "Cilantro seed" you will pay more and get just a few dozen seeds.

Although I could get the coriander/cilantro seed to germinate and grow with no problem, it always bolted before it got to a useable size. After several attempts, I gave up.

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Ready for lunch!

It was quite tasty. The chicken had a distinct grilled flavor that was rich and savory and there was a good ratio of beans to rice. I loaded up each bite with quac and cilantro and kept going back for refills until the last bite was gone. It was quite filling and I sat for a bit to let things settle. Then, it was out the door and down 9th Ave to Golden Gate Park.

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This car was sitting in a parking lot on 9th near Golden Gate Park. City CarShare is a membership based car use plan which allows you to reserve a car and us it with gas and insurance included in the fee.

When you join, you'll get an electronic key that opens any car you reserve. Take a wagon to Trader Joe's for an hour. Head to Marin in a MINI for the day. Or pick up a truck and help a friend move across the Bay. Once you're done, just return the car to its original location. That's it. Is it any surprise we've been named Best of the Bay by SF Weekly four times?

Source: City Carshare

I continued down 9th Avenue to Lincoln Way and crossed over to the park where MLK drive intersects. It was now 1:00 and things were pretty busy in the park. I passed by the California Academy of Sciences building on the right.

The academy's dazzling new building, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, opened in 2008 at a price tag of $488 million. The structure was built with sustainability in mind, and so it includes a 2 1/2 acre living roof with 1.7 million native plants growing on it.

The academy contains the Kimball Natural History Museum, the Morrison Planetarium, the Steinhart Aquarium and a four-story rain forest dome, and is home to 38,000 living animals from 900 species. It is renowned for its educational programs and focuses on 11 scientific fields, so there's something interesting for a visitor of any age.

Source: © 2010 Hearst Communications Inc.

Along with the locals and tourists there was also a bunch of school kids eating lunch, rolling in the grass and generally having a good time.

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The black tower in the back was my main reason for being in the Park today. Brother William had told me about the 9 story Harmon Observation Tower at the de Young Museum and said the views were incredible and it was a must see. I was looking forward to it.

The statue in the foreground was placed in honor of Francis Scott Key by James Lick, founder of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

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This is the area between the de Young Museum and Academy of Sciences. The benches, trees, fountains and distant bandstand make for an inviting place to mosey or relax with a book.

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This is the Doré Vase "Poem of the Vine". It is placed near the front entrance of the de Young Museum

Doré created this case for French wine makers who exhibited it a the 1878 Paris World's Fair. It represents and allegory of the annual wine vintage, taking the shape of a colossal wine vessel decorated with figures associated with the rites of Bacchus (the Roman god of Wine). The revelers include cupids, satyrs and bacchantes who protect the grape vines from pests.
The foundry shipped the bronze version of the vase to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and then on to San Francisco for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.
M.H. de Young purchased the vase at the fair's end and later donated it to the de Young Museum.

Source: Interpretive Sign


Walking through its austere portals and into the central exhibit hall, the visitor is confronted with a wild fantasy in bronze: the Doré vase, a gigantic, eleven foot tall bronze bottle covered with a profusion of satyrs and cherubs, oversized insects and nubile women.

Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was a talented and celebrated illustrator who aspired to be recognized as a serious artist. His illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, Cervantes’ Don Quixote and many other masterpieces of literature were highly acclaimed for their combination of imaginative power and meticulous craftsmanship. But like the famous clown who always yearned to play Hamlet, Doré was never content to be known only as an illustrator. In his native France, though, Doré’s “serious” work experienced indifference or rejection. Only a few close friends and admirers maintained that Doré was a major talent. Vincent van Gogh was one of these admirers, and once remarked of Doré’s critics: “Doré can model a torso and put joints together infinitely better than many who revile him with pedantic self-conceit. When those, who cannot do with their ten fingers a tenth of what Doré can do with one, revile his work, then it’s nothing but humbug.”

Doré turned to sculpture late in life. The “Poem of the Vine” is one of his earliest efforts in bronze work; and we should marvel at the artist’s confidence in undertaking such a work, at once so large and so intricate, in this difficult and unfamiliar medium. According to Blanche Roosevelt, his friend and biographer: Gustave Doré put his highest aspirations and fondest hopes into this work. He labored night and day, day and night, sure of his inspiration and happy in his fancy, alternatively excited and soothed by those fast-coming, ever-flowing illusions which characterized his every new ambition. He planned, sketched, modeled, even moulded his work, and his time for some months was absolutely given up to “The Vine,” as well as the material results of his other mental and manual labor, which were lavishly devoted to the composition and execution of this masterpiece.

Source: Originally published in World's Fair Volume III, Number 2, 1983

Doré Portrait

Paul Gustave Doré

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Detail from the vase. A baby hugging a giant insect? These wild fantasies of Doré's held a lot of attraction for me and my other sibs when we "discovered" him back in the mid-60s.

Satan from Paradise Lost

Satan, the antagonist of John Milton's Paradise Lost

Doré's depictions of torture, suffering, and despair captivated me when I was in my mid/late teens. At the time Dover Publications had started reprinting some of Doré's works. When I saw the first ones I had to have more. So, using the meager funds of a paper boy I started ordering what I could find. Later, when in my early 20s and working part time at Stilwell Book Shop in Morgantown I began to acquire large, leather bound editions of Doré's work. Fabulous.

Andromeda Chained to a Rock

As a teenager, Doré's paintings of Luscious Ladies in distress certainly caught my eye. Both then, and now.

Andromeda was a princess from Greek mythology who, as divine punishment for her mother's bragging, (the Boast of Cassiopeia) was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. She was saved from death by Perseus, her future husband.

Source: WikiPedia

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Doré's vase is flanked by the Sphinxes which adorned the entrance of the original de Young museum.

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Behind the Vase was a wetland pool which the troop of youngsters were exploring. Note the budding young photographer.

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The east side of the museum is softened and adorned with this mass planting of Nephrolepis exaltata.

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This dependable, easy-to-grow fern produces great masses of long, narrow, pale green leaves, creating beautiful hanging baskets or gently arching out of raised containers (Fig. 1). But sword fern also makes a wonderful ground cover, creating a dense, tropical effect, its two- to three-foot high, graceful fronds quickly spreading over the ground by means of thin, green runners. While somewhat invasive in ideal locations, sword fern can be controlled by thinning, the removed plants transplanting extremely well. It may be best to confine a grouping of plants with an edging such as plastic or metal to prevent spreading into unwanted areas.

Source: University of Florida

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Here we are in the Harmon Tower. This vantage point allowed me to gain a new perspective on this part of The City.

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Here can be seen the music concourse , living roof of the Academy of Sciences and in the background, University of California Medical Center , Mount Sutro and the famous/infamous Sutro Tower.

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For me, this view was the most revealing view of the actual lay of the land. This is looking up Avenues 9-12 and the summit on the right is Grandview Park. A very interesting perspective indeed.

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There was a steady stream of people enjoying the views the tower has to offer. The cynic in me cannot help but wonder how long it will be until there is an admission charge to access the tower.

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At the base of the tower, adjacent to the elevator access there was this interesting art display.

Ruth Asawa (born January 24, 1926) is a Japanese American sculptor. In San Francisco, she has been called the "fountain lady" for her works that include the mermaid fountain at Ghirardelli Square. In 2010, the San Francisco School of the Arts was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in honor of Asawa.

Ruth Asawa was born in 1926 in Norwalk, California, one of seven children. Her father operated a truck farm until the Japanese American internment during World War II. The family lived in the assembly center at the Santa Anita racetrack for much of 1942, then at Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas.

Following graduation from the internment center's high school, she attended Milwaukee State Teachers College, intending to become an art teacher. Unable to get hired for the requisite practice teaching to complete her degree, she left Wisconsin without a degree. (The degree was finally awarded to her in 1998.)
From 1946 to 1949, she studied at Black Mountain College with Josef Albers.

Source: WikiPedia

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Although made from metel, the sculptures appeared ephemeral and gossamer like.

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The shapes, material and lighting made them a bit difficult to get a photo of.

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This was my favorite. And yes, that is a color photograph.

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Back outside in front of the de Young is this bike rack that looks like a huge coil spring.

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Or maybe a giant Slinky?

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A look back at the Francis Scott Key monument.

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What a wonderful public space!

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In memory of Babs.

Allan "Babs" Gibbs was one of the seven Gibbs brothers who live next door to us at 2381 Bush Street. They were from Pennsylvania. This was back in 1969-72.

As one might expect every bother was different. One thing several of them had in common was having their Merchant Seaman papers. So, when money got low, they would sign onto a ship and disappear for months at a time.

The Gibbs Boys:
Stevie - The youngest. Easy going and friendly.
Bones - Wanna be rocker. Crude, rude druggie.
Babs - Always smiley. Loved opera and classical music.
AJ - Speed freak with a flair for interior design.
Richie - Lover Boy. The ladies could not resist this guy.
Chuck - Mechanical type, worked on cars. A thinker and philosopher.
Wheezer - the oldest. He was married to a Cuban woman and lived in Miami. Seldom seen.

And of course there was Ma and Pa Gibbs - the parents.

One might wonder how they ended up in San Francisco. Well, as I recall the story, Mr. Gibbs, who was a farm manager had the dream of opening his own tavern. This was in Scranton. So, with saved and borrowed money from a bank he opened one. It was a total flop and he lost everything. Having no way to pay back the loan he packed up the whole family and headed out to San Francisco where he took a job as a Security Guard at Cost Plus Imports.

Since we all shared not only a back yard, but our dope, we saw a lot of the Gibbs boys. But, seldom would any of them come over to visit. Except Babs. He and my mom developed a very close friendship. The went to concerts and opera together and sometimes on walks. Babs was a really sweet, kind guy. He tried to get me interested in Opera. So one time I listened to The Ring of the Nibelung on my mom's big cabinet stereo. I told Babs I listened to it. He said "Oh, that blood and guts opera is fun!" and grinned real big.

Mom and Babs kept in touch after we left San Francisco and occasionally she would fly back to visit. Then the bad news came. Babs was HIV positive and eventually he ended up in a hospice where he passed on. My mom lost a dear, close friend and I know it saddened her deeply.

I can still see that big grin of Bab's and I still miss him.

Now, on to more pleasant things.

During my visit to San Fran in 2009 I joined a Meetup Group - Mission Dive Bars. I went to one of the Meetups at the Thieves Tavern. It was fun and something different for me. I decided to go to another one this time around. It was the Dovre Club. When I mentioned this to Ed he told me about a bit of controversy with the club. I found more.

Wandering into the Dovre, you find an amiable mix of Irish citizens, punk-ish Web designers and neighborhood folk who began frequenting the place in 1998, when Brian McElhatton opened the bar at Valencia and 26th streets in what had been the Schooner Tavern. He moved there after the Dovre had finally been bounced from the Women's Building, which wanted the space and had an oral agreement with Nolan that the bar could stay as long as he was around. The eviction came after a pitched 1 1/2-year battle that included several court cases and defiant action by Dovre partisans like Hinckle and political consultant Jack Davis, who had bars welded over the window and barricaded doors to keep the sheriff at bay.

Source: © 2010 Hearst Communications Inc.

On a wall of the bar still hangs a banner stating: "Stop the Eviciction of the Dovre Club"

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Here we are at the Dovre. As soon I walked in Tom, the Meetup organizer recognized me. I had warned him I was back in town and might show up. Tom told me about his recent travels to Argentina, which I would have like to have heard more about.

It wasn't long before the Dovre was packed. There was a good turn out for the Meetup and there was a gang of folks there watching the Giants game.

Dovre Club - Mission Dive Bars Meetup

Tom always takes photos of the Meetups. Here I am, caught in the act of having fun! Thanks, Tom.

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Last shot of the day. Waiting for the N Judah at Church and Dubose.


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