Monthly Archives: June 2011

Views at the deYoung Museum

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deyoung 1

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The Hanlon House, San Francisco

If you find yourself walking around the Russian Hill/Nob Hill neighborhood on Jackson Street, take a couple of moments to walk by the Hanlon House at 1659 Jackson Street.  It was built in 1881 and moved to its current location after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.   
It is fascinating to reflect on all the life and conversations that have occurred in this residence.  The 130 year old home began its life during the Victorian Age, when women and men dressed elaborately and kept their parlors over decorated.  It was an age of showy excess, and this house looks like it belonged to that era.  Families continued to live in the house during the times of World War 1 & 2, McCarthyism,  poodle skirts, first moon walk, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Summer of Love, and the AIDS pandemic.  Most recently, this house witnessed the advent of accessible technology flood it’s rooms.  It was built around the time that the phone was invented, and now cell phones, computers, laptops, and televisions are used on the premises.
From the looks of this residence, it is not going anywhere anytime soon.  Maybe in the future it will be cars, and not just planes, that the grand old lady will see flying above it’s rooftop and chimneys. 

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"Language of the Birds"

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The next time you are in North Beach, check out the art piece displayed at Columbus and Broadway. It is entitled “Language of the Birds,” and is made up of 23 illuminated polycarbonate books hanging from electrical lines. On the sidewalk below the books rest many English, Italian, and Chinese words and phrases etched into the sidewalk. Standing underneath it, you get the feeling that the books have taken flight, and in the process lost some of their words and phrases which floated to the ground. At night the books are illuminated by power generated from solar panels housed on the roof of nearby City Lights Bookstore.

It was created by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn. Brian Goggins is also the artist who designed “Defenestration” at 6th and Howard.

“Language of the Birds” is the direct result of a city ordinance which puts aside 2 percent of capital improvement costs to fund Public Art Programs. Most of the money for this art piece came from private donations, but the city did kick in a generous amount to start the creative process. You have to love a city that recognizes the importance of art.



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"San Francisco" –Judy Garland

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Leland Stanford (One of the "Big Four")

Leland Stanford, one of San Francisco’s infamous “Big Four,” did not come from remarkable origins. He had seven other siblings, and was the son of an innkeeper. After a short time in the law profession, Leland came to California in order to work with his brothers to start up a grocery in Sacramento. His brothers moved on to other pursuits, but Leland stayed faithful to the small grocery store.

Opportunity Knocks!

One of his customers was struggling to keep his gold mine open and pay the grocery bill, so he paid Leland in shares of his mine. For whatever reason, Leland decided to accept these shares as payment for the bill. One must wonder if he was motivated by charity or greed. It turns out that this was quite possibly one of the two best business decisions Leland ever made in his life. The gold mine was successful, and it eventually made him half a million dollars. This was not a bad return for a few groceries.

Opportunity Knocks!

After amassing a tidy sum of money that cemented his place as a wealthy businessman in the Bay Area, he attended a presentation by a railroad engineer named Theodore Judah.   He was a convincing orator, and Judah left that presentation with many commitments to buy shares in his idea to build a railroad through the Sierra Foot Hills to the mines. It was a successful business venture, and this was the beginning of the creation of Leland’s fortune. He became known as one of the Big Four in San Francisco, and created an empire based on the railroad. He had come a long way from being the son of an innkeeper, a mediocre lawyer, and a modest grocery store owner.

As his influence grew, Leland became more interested in politics. He became the governor of California for two years during the Civil War era, and later served as a U.S. Senator

Things were going well for the Stanford family until their only son died of typhoid at age 15. The heir to the throne had passed away, and everything he had worked for seemed meaningless. In order to grieve the loss of their son, Leland and Jane founded the Leland Stanford Jr. University in 1891.

Stanford died in 1893, and the university almost went under. As it turns out, Leland had bankrupt his own legacy by spending enormous sums of money on everything from showplace mansions, a Palo Alto farm, an orchard, etc. In fact, he and his wife built Stanford University with five million borrowed dollars.

With the university on the brink of closure, Leland’s wife came to the rescue and somehow figured out a way to keep herself and the university afloat after her husband’s death.

What a remarkable life. After reading his story, one must wonder if Leland contributed his success to the direction of a divine higher power, hard work and business savvy, or just plain dumb luck.



Source: Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide, by Rand Richards

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San Francisco’s 2011 Carnival





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San Francisco Critical Mass on Van Ness Avenue


“Bicycle Race”
by Queen

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

You say black I say white
You say bark I say bite
You say shark I say hey man
Jaws was never my scene
And I don’t like Star Wars
You say Rolls I say Royce
You say God give me a choice
You say Lord I say Christ
I don’t believe in Peter Pan
Frankenstein or Superman
All I wanna do is


Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my


Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah
On your marks get set go
Bicycle race bicycle race bicycle race

Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle
Bicycle bicycle bicycle
Bicycle race


You say coke I say caine
You say John I say Wayne
Hot dog I say cool it man
I don’t wanna be the President of America
You say smile I say cheese
Cartier I say please
Income tax I say Jesus
I don’t wanna be a candidate for
Vietnam or Watergate
Cause all I wanna do is


Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

Check out San Francisco Critical Mass at

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Street Poetry

An aspiring poet wrote these short verses on pieces of tape and placed them on the sidewalk near Valencia Street.  This is definitely someone who wants to be heard.

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