Monthly Archives: July 2011

San Francisco: Living on the Edge?

San Franciscans do not worry about tornadoes, hurricanes, massive flooding, damaging thunderstorms with destructive lightening, or ice and snow storms.  For the most part, the weather is very mild, and rarely dips below freezing.  Mother Nature leaves the tip of the peninsula alone and allows its residents to live in relative peace and calm.  Unfortunately, San Francisco is not totally exempt from disaster; there is always the threat of earthquake and the remote possibility of tsunamis.

One of the more powerful reminders of this underground threat occurred on October 17th, 1989 at 5:04 p.m. with the Loma Preita Earthquake.  The epicenter was near Aptos and did wide spread destruction to Santa Cruz and Watsonville, killing 67 people and damaging property in excess of six billion dollars throughout the Bay Area.  In the city, the earthquake caused a section of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge to fall onto the lower deck, demolished part of the 101 expressway, and lead to extensive damage in the Marina District.

At first people sighed relief thinking that they had just survived the dreaded “big one” that had been predicted for years, the one that is supposed to rival the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.  As scientists began to study this quake, they realized that this is not the catastrophic one that was predicted.  In fact, this one was fairly minimal when compared to the ones in the past and the predicted “big one” in the future.  For example, the 1906 Earthquake produced 30 times more energy and ten times more ground movement.  

In San Francisco, people don’t talk about if there is going to be a big earthquake, it is a matter of when the “big one” hits.  Everyone knows it is coming.  It will be bad.  It will be catastrophic.  It will change the way this city looks, feels, and operates, but it won’t be the end of the world.  Contrary to what some people think, San Francisco is not living so close to the edge that it is apt to fall into the ocean at the first sign of a substantial earthquake.  There will be no such dramatic event for the city in this lifetime.  An overwhelming majority will survive, clean up the mess, and rebuild.

This city has an unquenchable energy and vibe that continually powers its creativity and resiliency.  No matter what happens, people will continue to come here in order to freely love, create, and dream.  It has been, and always will be, the place for new beginnings and experiential living.  

“Somehow the great cities of America
Have taken their places in a mythology
that shapes their destiny:
Money lives in New York.
Power sits in Washington.
Freedom sips Cappuccino in a 
sidewalk cafe in San Francisco.”
– Joe Flower

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Filed under Bay Area Earthquake, San Francisco Living, San Francisco Poetry

Hidden Concert

Impromptu Concert under a bridge in Golden Gate Park

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Filed under Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Pictures

Book Signing – Gail Carriger

Are you a fan of Lord Akeldama, Lady Maccon, Professor Lyall, or Miss Ivy Hisselpenny?  If so, then you will be delighted to hear that Gail Carriger just released her fourth book in her Parasol Protectorate Series.  Heartless has all the high society vampires, powerful werewolfs, and fabulous steampunk inventions that we have come to expect from this urban fantasy, romantic mystery writer.  If you haven’t been turned on to this author yet, there is no time like the present.  March 1st, 2011, Timeless comes out, and this book will be the end of the saga.

  

The picture below shows Miss Carriger at her latest book signing at Books, Inc. in Opera Plaza.

Gail Carriger redone

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Filed under San Francisco Author

San Francisco: An Ever-Changing City

If you attend Armistead Maupin’s musical, “Tales of the City,” you will see a very different San Francisco then what you see today.  The time period is the 1970’s.   As you watch the show, visions of disco, plaid pants, hand sewn bean bags, tight jeans, moustaches, and flower children will dance through your head.

The 1970’s was a time of sexual revolution, especially for the gay community.  For the first time in San Francisco’s history, GLBT men and women found a place they could call home and express themselves with their body.  It wasn’t just about sex, but that was part of it.  It was also about a growing community that decided they didn’t want to be sad anymore.  Now was the time of gay rights protests and petitions for more gay friendly laws.  It was the time of Harvey Milk, the first gay supervisor in San Francisco.  It was a time of optimism for the gay community; an optimism they would need to tap into in the next decade.   

As you leave “Tales of the City” and are thinking about the greatness of the 1970’s, one can’t help but let their minds then drift to the horror of the 1980’s, when the other shoe fell.  The 1980’s brought the AIDS pandemic and an unsupportive president, Ronald Reagan.  How could we fight this disease when our president wouldn’t even say the word AIDS in public until 1987?  San Francisco was hit hard by the disease.  With the absence of government and family support, the community came together and took care of its own.  The GLBT community realized it was strong, and growing stronger.  Now was not the time for the closet, but the streets.  “ACT UP! FIGHT AIDS.”

The 90’s and turn of the century brought with it the age of Google, Twitter, Mozilla, Yahoo, Zynga, and Facebook who are now shaping the landscape of San Francisco.  These companies have brought young software developers to the Bay Area with good salaries.  When the Recession hit, San Francisco maintained a little better than other cities simply because of it’s proximity to the Silicon Valley.  For example, the real estate market dropped, but it did not plummet like in other areas.  In some ways, the tech industry saved San Francisco from a meteoric fall.  Even in the depths of the Recession, one can see new businesses and restaurants spring up that appeal to those in the tech industry.  This population has influence and will shape the look and feel of San Francisco.  For example, the CEO of Oracle is bringing the World Cup to the Bay Area.  Current tenants of the water front are already being evicted to make room for all the new development that will take place in order to host this worldwide event.  It will never be the same again.  Hopefully, it will be improved.

This is a city that has always changed based on times.   It grew overnight because of the Gold Rush, experienced vigilante justice, reveled in the Victorian age, and partied through the Roaring 20’s.  Basically, San Francisco is always open to change and will throw itself into the present time.  Currently, it is the tech scene, but that will change.  No one scene dominates this city for too long.  It won’t tolerate not being the center of the next movement.

The influence of all the different eras is still here in the city, some more noticeable than others.  For example, the Gay Pride Celebration is alive and well, although it has changed to include so much more than anyone could have ever expected.  In some ways, it is now a celebration for everyone to just appreciate and celebrate all of our differences. 

No matter what, this city will continue to evolve.  It may be through human intervention or even the occasional touch of Mother Nature in the form of earthquakes.  Enjoy the city the way it is now, but don’t be surprised if in 10 years it is different.  Don’t mourn and grieve the past, just cherish the memories.  Instead, embrace every form this city decides to take as you move through its streets in your lifetime.  San Francisco is NOT settled, and it will never be settled.  It is always in the process of becoming something. 

Cheers!

Mike

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Filed under Armistead Maupin, Essay, San Francisco Gay, San Francisco Technology

Scenes from San Francisco’s Gay Pride, 2011

Gay Pride in San Francisco is a time where everyone comes out and celebrates diversity.  GLBT and heterosexual people from all nationalities and all races join in the festivities.  Young, old, families, singles, rich, poor, all are welcome. 

S.F. Gay Pride 2011 36

S.F. Gay Pride 2011 29
S.F. Gay Pride 2011 33

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Filed under San Francisco Festivals, San Francisco Gay, San Francisco Pictures, San Francisco Tourist

Golden Gate?

Golden Gate I  6.14.11

If you have been around San Francisco for any amount of time, you will definitely see a reference to the Golden Gate, the most obvious being the Golden Gate Bridge.  You will also hear the term used in almost any song talking about San Francisco.  We now have restaurants, apartment houses, businesses, hobby clubs, etc. using the name to show themselves as local and loyal to the Bay Area.

The term Golden Gate refers to the entrance of the bay between Marin and San Francisco which is now connected by the bridge.  Before the bridge, the name was still used for that specific area.

Why Golden Gate?  Many think it is a term relating to the California Gold Rush.  It makes sense, but it is incorrect.  It was actually named by John C. Fremont after he first viewed the entrance to the bay.  It reminded him of the sea entrance to to Byzantium, now called Istanbul.  The entrance to that historic harbor is named Chryoceras (Greek for Golden Horn).  The geographical characteristics, as well as the possible commercial uses of this area, are what led Fremont to name this area of the bay Chrysopylae, or Golden Gate.

Cheers!

Mike

Reference:  San Francisco Memoirs 1835-1851: Eyewitness accounts of the birth of a city, by Malcolm E. Barker

bay 6.14.11

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Filed under Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco History, San Francisco Pictures