Sunday, March 10, 2013

San Francisco Sunday

I had originally nothing planned for the Sunday of my visit. I had been hoping that Victoria would be able to get down from Seattle to meet me, but that didn't happen. Mike - from Velvet da Vinci - and his partner, Tom, took me out for breakfast at "Brenda's", the most happening place in San Francisco for breakfast, it seems (we had to wait about 40 minutes for a table, but it was well worth it). Eggs benedict with a creole hollandaise. I have never managed to cook such good poached eggs myself! Mike and Tom are such great hosts, easy to get on with and talk to,  and it was good to talk about jewellery, early music, 1980s activism and other diverse topics over a fine breakfast before going off on a tour of the city, starting with a drive round the Presidio and the hills - witnessing the issues of the non-native eucalypts usurping the native pines - and ending up, as you absolutely have to - at the Golden Gate Bridge.

We started off in Fort Point, under the bridge, noted for appearing in Hitchcock's "Vertigo". (I remember it also from another, earlier film, in which a woman and her gangster boyfriend hide out in the tower, but can't place the film.)

Golden Gate Bridge and Fort - 2

After we dropped Tom off to go to a rehearsal, Mike and I headed back downtown and he dropped me on Valencia to check out the bike shops, each one more exquisite than the last, hubs laid out like jewels in Van Cleef and Arpels, one single bike on display on the wall, look but don't touch. Bizarre! I could never ride something I didn't want to get beaten up a bit!

Oddly, I noticed a poster for my favourite club night in the UK, doing a spot in San Francisco. I haven't been for a long time over here and it would have been so funny to turn up there, but it was on after I had flown home.


San Francisco is a very strange place. But one street away from the excruciatingly hip Valencia is the excruciatingly poor Mission. Largely Hispanic, the Mission is less than two minutes' walk from Valencia. It always strikes me as odd the way that wholly disparate areas can exist so closely and hermetically.

Iglesia de Jesucristo

Prior to breakfast, I had been unable to sleep, so getting up at about 5am, I went out for a walk downtown and into Chinatown.

Li Po

Chinatown is great. While I had been telling everyone how amazed I was at the lack of tobacco smoke in the place, I hadn't been discussing Chinatown. Everyone smokes there. And spits. It is pleasingly ramshackle, it is buzzing, even at 7am on a Sunday morning. It really does feel like being somewhere else, somewhere not in America, unlike the "Chinatowns" I've been to in other places.

There are some spectacular buildings in San Francisco but at the back of my mind, I was always wondering how they survive an earthquake...

Zoetrope - 1

I rather wish that the ugly, visually bullying monster in the background of this shot wouldn't survive an earthquake - that from a fan of brutalism! The copper-clad building at the front is more the sort of thing I was thinking about. Quite lovely, the Zoetrope building from the turn of the last century.

I also spotted a rather good hat shop, which would invite me back later, when it was open:


One of the things I liked very much about the city is the food. On the way back to the hotel to meet Mike, I passed a farmers' market, set up in a little square near the hotel. I bought some blood oranges, $7 for 3 kilos, absurdly cheap and delicious:

Blood Oranges

Final SF post tomorrow!