Posted by: facetothewind | March 31, 2014

The Sparkling Sidewalks of San Francisco

Shirtless homeless boy

“Anything Helps. Free Hug’s” (sic) it says. And who wouldn’t want a hug from this boy standing on the street in downtown Oakland? I gave him $5 but forgot to get my hug. I did chat him up a bit. His story is that he and his girlfriend (yes, AND he knows how to work gay men in the Bay Area) moved to San Francisco from New York and lost their apartment (and his shirt, clearly) and can’t find work. Who knows what the real story is. But there he was this pearlescent fawn of a thing on the street asking for money and being so open-hearted. He was complimenting people on their clothes and cars, “Why that’s a beautiful BMW, there, sir,” “Nice hat,” he told me. I guess you do what you need to do to get the bucks.


And while on the subject of the down and out…San Francisco is chock FULL of homeless people. This is nothing new. But as San Francisco becomes more and more wealthy with Google buses and Apple buses plying the streets like white ghosts, the contrasts are even more striking.


In spite of it seeming like a city on the verge of nervous breakdown, its charms are still glowing: the topography, the views and the cherry and plum trees in full bloom….


The Bay Bridge is finally finished. Was deemed unsafe after the earthquake of 1989. Only took 22 years of planning and 3 years of construction. The old span has a new light show on it. Kinda fun and tasteful (watch the video to see it)…


Spent an evening with Larry Hermsen who was in town for a show of his kimonos in Modesto.


We had a great evening just walking around Chinatown with arms linked – the last time we saw each other was in Asia so it seemed only fitting to go to the most Asian part of the city. He seemed happy and glowing and our friendship well seasoned and weathered by numerous adventures together in the Far East.


I bought some rose black tea (my favorite for mornings) and we stumbled into the BEST Chinese restaurant I’ve ever eaten in…


Some of our meals. I had to go back the next night for more.


It’s called Z&Y Garden. Amazingly good food and bustling atmosphere full of Chinese. We were both thrilled to have found it.


Afterward we passed this dive bar. I was tempted to go in and join some drunk Chinese men for a drink but it wasn’t really at all nice inside. There are good dive bars and bad dive bars. Bad is when you can smell the aging indoor outdoor carpet.


Met up with all the Larries. Here’s Lawrence Grodeska, an old buddy with his baby faced forty year old mug just glowing in the cold. We went for a brisk bike ride in search of fish-n-chips along the Embarcadero in SF. Didn’t quite find it.


But was great nonetheless to see him. Here’s a little video that has some of our ride, the sparkling sidewalks and the howling organ at Grace Cathedral…


Was on the MUNI and spied this amazingly well-dressed young man…


Wow. Shades of Malcolm and Martin. I hope upon hope that the saggy pants thing is coming to an end and THIS is what’s next. I was so thrilled by his getup that I wondered if he was for real or going to a costume party or a dress up event at work. And then there’s this…


Met up with Simon who is looking like a hot silver daddy…


We took a trip up through the wine country to Harbin Hot Springs.


Click on panoramas to enlarge…


Stopped with my friend Grant at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. Grant’s an architect (thought not the one who designed this magnificent modern creation) and so he gave me an insider’s tour. It’s impressive and beautiful and stark. This image of Christ is actually made of perforated steel with natural light coming through. It gives an eerie glow of a very unhappy image of Christ presiding sourfaced over the congregation. Still, it’s a wonderfully modern interpretation of ancient Catholic imagery…


On a lighter note — we usually don’t see this sort of inane mandate outside of Thailand. And here it was in a Thai restaurant. Some bossy Thai woman no doubt. Love it. I wonder if she has a spy cam installed to see if you actually DO use both sides and if you don’t she comes chasing after you with a stalk of lemongrass.


And finally, on the plane home I sat next to an angel as we soared through the clouds together. No one I know. Never talked to him. I was too taken by his long eyelashes to speak.




  1. Lovely reminiscent tour of S.F., most beautiful city in the US, I think. Thanks, David! Where are you now? Love, Dianna

    • Oh, I’m in Tucson now. Here until June. Glad you enjoyed the posting.

  2. Thanks for a glimpse into your adventures, David. I loved the bridge lights dancing and getting the name of that yum Chinese restaurant and all.

    How¹s the recording coming alone?

    Xoxoxoxo Love, Jean xoxoxox

    on 3/31/14 4:42 PM, Field notes from a noticer

  3. Beautiful travelogue, as always. Love San Francisco — who doesn’t? Hope it’s not in line for the next big quake . . . .

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