3 Days in San Francisco

November 12-14, 2005

(click on the image to enlarge it beyond all reason)

It all started when I "discovered" punk music somewhat late in my life. It came about as Becky and I were traveling down the road in her car and I put one of her old Ramones cassette tapes on the box. I had a religious experience right there on Highway 101. It suddenly became clear to me that I was not alone in my musical tastes and that the Ramones had pretty much single handily saved rock and roll! They were making high energy, simple, 3-chord music...the way rock is supposed to be! I came from the 60's and was pretty much of the opinion that music died somewhere in the mid-70's. I pretty much gave up on listening to any new music...a mistake. Anyway from there it was a small step to my "discovering" The Clash and then (though a hot tip of one of my son's friends)...SOCIAL DISTORTION!

I own ALL the Social D CD's. I own the DVD of their live Orange County concert. I've watched "Another State of Mind." Now I'm ready. Social Distortion is playing in San Francisco at the Fillmore...yes, THE Fillmore. The Fillmore Auditorium paired up with the Avalon Ballroom were scenes of much debauchery during my formative music years. I told Becky I would have to attend and of course she immediatly signed on for the fun. We get tickets (along with some friends of ours Carolyn and Peter) for Sunday night...hell, we'll just take Monday off from work :-)

Happy happen-stance, good friends of ours from the motorcycle community, Bobby and Cristen have just gotten married and will be holding a reception/barbecue in Lakeport (near Clear Lake and only a small detour from our route to the Bay Area) this same weekend. Double fun!

The scene is set...let the fun begin!


We get an early Saturday morning start...10 o'clock. It's a 300 mile drive to San Francisco and we have Bobby and Cristen's reception to attend. It's going to be a long day. We stop in Willit's for food. Not just "any" food, Ardella's food. I can't say enough good things about Ardella's. I won't try. It IS the cafe I'm always looking for. The food is unbelievable...and cheap. It's very small and only holds maybe 15 people tops so everyone is involved in the same conversation. It's totally fun and everybody is made to feel very welcome. It's a gem.

Lori, master of ceremonies, consummate waitress, part-owner, wonderful person

(they let dogs in...we were cautioned by Lori "don't tell anyone, they might pull our license...LOL")

We made the reception, congratulated the happy couple, met new-to-us members of our online motorcycle community and had a lovely time. We were running out of daylight so we left somewhat early and made our way over the mountain and back to Hwy 101 and to our reserved room in Novato. We rolled in about 7 p.m. and tried to set up our wireless internet. We had purchased a small router and the motel offered "free high speed internet" so we spent the evening fighting with our connections and configurations. We had packed both the laptop and a PDA with us for testing purposes...all failed the testing. Sigh.

Becky fighting with the laptop and trying to make sense of things as I continue to party.


The next day we are up at a "reasonable" hour and off to THE City, Bagdad by the Bay, San Francisco. One of our main stops for the day is the just recently reopened (Oct. 15th) after a total rebuilding, de Young Museum. Mostly I just wanted to see this building that has created such a buzz.

It sports a nifty tower and is completely clad in copper. Very distinctive.
(click on the image to enlarge it)

Work is still in progress out front (this patched-together panorama was taken from the tower)
(click on the image to enlarge it)

The gardens out front take on a lovely symmetry when viewed from above
(click on the image to enlarge it)

The new de Young building has lots of elevation changes and asymmetrical walls in it. There is no feeling of "I'm on this floor or that floor" nor is one level necessarily the same configuration as the one above/below it. Very organic.

This is the rooftop, complete with "organic" spaces for the floors below.

...there were some interesting exhibits but the building itself pretty much stole the show

We managed to pay about $25 for a ham sandwich and a hamburger at the cafeteria after waiting in line for 1/2 hour :-(

The new auditorium was impressive to look at but not very comfortable. We took in a film that was billed as "the making of..." thinking it to be something on the construction of the new building and the plans for what was to come...wrong. It turned out to be a self-masturbatory, completely over the top, artsy-fartsy in the extreme, rant by the (woman) artist-in-residence about how women have been totally oppressed by men in the museum trade...we walked out mid-rant.

Here's an awful picture of me in the new auditorium.

After the film we went outside to view the new sculpture gardens. I quite liked this part.

the sculpture gardens (outdoor seating for the cafeteria is on the right of the building)
(click on the image to enlarge it)

Sure it's interesting but is it art?
(click on the image to enlarge it)

Down a path and around a round, concrete domed structure we found an opening to the inside. Once there we found a bench around the perimeter of the round room and a hole in the ceiling, I was confused. I didn't get it but Becky did. She sat, I wandered. She organized everyone inside into doing some sort of humming thing. I wandered. She enjoyed herself, I wandered. She "got it," I didn't. A "chick thingie?" Perhaps.

the "inner sanctum."

...the sky, through the hole in the roof. But is it art?

Andy Goldworthy's crack was my favorite thing at the museum. For those of you unfamiliar with Andy Goldsworthy I suggest you check out the documentary made about him and his art called "Rivers and Tides" (you WILL be AMAZED). The crack is SO San Francisco. It reminded me I was standing on a fault line. Yes, this truly IS art!

(click on the image to enlarge it)

The crack has a very subtle beginning outside the museum at the sidewalk and continues through the paving stones in the fore-court, through some mined, quarry stones and into an inner courtyard.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

...do click on the enlargement to see the actual beginning of "THE CRACK!"

So after spending about a gazillion dollars at the de Young (I'm not at all sure we can afford to visit urban areas any more) we chased after another of my long term dreams...to view the WPA murals at Coit Tower.

To get to the top of Telegraph Hill (where the tower sets) one must wait in line, much as you seem to have to wait inline to do ANYTHING in the city, but this time it's in your car. As one parking space becomes available at the top of the hill, one car moves up. It took us an hour to finally get a parking space. Believe me, it was worth it.

From the top of Telegraph Hill. Alcatraz, Statue of Columbus and the American Flag...3 symbols of oppression?
(click on the image to enlarge it)

The 1930's era murals covering both the inner and outer walls of the entire ground floor of the tower have been recently restored and are something I've been longing to see for quite some time now. I've seen it referred to as "Pinko Art" but in reality it's just Union/Labor/Working class/New Deal depictions of the "American Scene" done in Diego Rivera's social realism style.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

(click on the image to enlarge it)

(click on the image to enlarge it)

(click on the image to enlarge it)

After taking a slow ride in an amazingly rickety elevator we get the view from the top of the tower. Wonderful. Curiously a LOT of people were pushing coins out of the plexiglass covered windows and filling the ledges with money. I don't have any idea what that's about.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

(click on the image to enlarge it)

So back down the hill we went and over to Van Ness Street to our hotel room to prepare ourselves for the wonders of the Fillmore Auditorium (but what an amazingly "un-wonderous" outside the building has).

...and an evening of SOCIAL DISTORTION!!! I won't go on and on about how great the concert was but it was. It was both Becky and my first experience listening to live punker music (complete with mosh pit)... and needless to say, it rocked! The Rolling Stones were playing this same evening across the bay in Oakland and if someone had offered me tickets to either that concert or Social D's I would have still chosen the one I went to...and I like the Stones.


We stayed up WAY past our usual 9:30 bedtimes and slept like babies that night. We were still got up, did the continental breakfast (making your own waffles, Becky loves that) and got on the road before 10 o'clock. The weather continued to be gorgeous and our first stop after crossing back over the Golden Gate Bridge was the Marin headlands to view the old fort and gun batteries there.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

The protection offered by the military forts on the Marin Headlands was the counterpart to the Presido on the south side of San Francisco Bay's entrance. There was a military presence there from the Spanish American War clear into the 1960's where there were Nike missiles located there. It's a ghost town now. Lot's of old gun emplacement that you can climb all over and the views of the ocean, coastline and Golden Gate Bridge are spectacular.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

(click on the image to enlarge it)

The remainder of the trip home was uneventful. Just a lovely drive in the sunshine, through the redwoods. It was a GREAT weekend but as always it was nice to get back home.

That's all folks...to return to the Gil-Beck's Home simply click HERE