Bridge to Somewhere (20080322)

Back in March, when I last posted regularly to this blog - for shame! - my Financial Adviser and I took a friend of a friend of hers around San Francisco. We dragged her to burritos, we insisted she take a scenic walking tour, and we were so worried that she'd miss the Golden Gate Bridge that we walked across with her. Granted, this was about two weeks before the unofficial beginning of summer. That's okay as long as you remember that global warming doesn't exist. Summer months for San Francisco, traditionally, tend to be a bit in April and May, with a bit more in September before a big final hurrah in Ocotober. Lisa, as she insisted we address her, was from England. Our fog rated high on the "wimpy" scale. To be honest, she loved our namesake bridge. As did the FMA, and even myself. Y'see, there aren't many natives, or even transplants, who've walked across the entire span, up from the Presidio in SF and down the hill to Sausalito. THe day we went was windless and warm, with clear blue skies reflected above the bridge towers and in the water below. That, of course,is part of the grandeur of the Golden Gate. It not only inspires, but it kills. The waters beneath are notoriously lethal for both suicidals and those who make tragic mistakes. The bridge, though, she perseveres. We love her for her beauty and symbolism, and rarely curse her for the lost souls that throw their bodies over her barriers. Like the moon, she is a harsh mistress. Yet nobody leaves her presence without realizing that despite all the metal, despite the era that she was the pinnacle of and not the entrance to, she has maintained through the years to assert her prowess as a symbol that we all respond to. To write about San Francisco and ignore the Golden Gate is to write about New York and assume that the World Trade Center never existed, or that the canals of Tokyo were nothing but a fiery dream.

Sunday Streets (20080914)

Today San Francisco held its second "Sunday Streets" event of the year, where Our Fair Mayor attempted to greenwash his horrible record on alternative energy and quality-of-life improvements by closing the Embarcadero from 8 a.m. til 1 p.m. There were a couple of problems that I had with the event, all having to do with it being too short, and no future events scheduled. Otherwise, it was a fine idea that should return ASAP, regardless of what office Gavin the Slut is trying out for next. The FMA has been making great strides in her urban biking prowess, but wasn't quite up to the task of pushing herself clear across town on two wheels just yet. Taking migraine medication that prevents her from sweating - no, really - doesn't help, so we took our bikes on the bus and headed downtown. Once there, we headed south. Around noon, the crowd wasn't that dense. Cyclists, scooter-pushers, skateboarders, and rollerbladers (whom I always want to call bladerunners) of all ages were moseying up and down the closed northbound lanes of the Embarcadero. Southbound still had internal combustion traffic. We both commented on how many children were out on bikes. There were kids as short as three or four years old pushing mini-BMXs with training wheels around. Clearly, people were having a grand time. At South Beach Park we encountered the hula hoop contest, along with the first of a half-dozen Obama for President stations and at least 10 other organizations vying for the hard-earned eyeballs of passersby. We stopped for a pricey hot dog that went for 80 percent over cost because it benefited a neighborhood group... we hoped. At Mays Field, the proscribed route banged left to continue its southern bearing. We passed by a group of dancers, and encountered the Old West ragtime pianist who just couldn't bike without his piano. By the time we reached the beleaguered Pier 70 and the local sporting goods chain Sports Basement, the cops were pulling down directional signs and the DPW crews were out recovering portable barriers. Last in line, we managed to get free bike chain lubes and minor tune-ups. It was less dirty than you'd think it would be.