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the ninth one

soak in the art and some Blue Bottle on the new SFMOMA rooftop (SoMa)

rooftop of SFMOMA

DISCLAIMER: this turned out to be a ridiculously long post. Fair warning. No offense taken if no one reads the entirety of this one.

When people walk into a museum and start snapping pictures of the art, I always wonder what the future holds for those pictures. For example, will that picture of Painting X be shown to mildly interested family members in a “San Francisco Vacation” slideshow? (Note to self 1* develop actual slides of a trip at some point to show to whoever will politely watch your slideshow. 2*get a slide projector. 3* plan a trip). Anyway, I digress. Will those photos be uploaded to a computer, never to be seen again? Or will that person go home and REALLY look through the pictures, evaluating the art? (My guess is “no” to the last option.)

I feel like most pictures such as the ones I am describing are taken because the viewer feels obligated to do so based on some (possibly false) sense of artistic and intellectual intimidation. Even if the viewer revisited those pictures, I believe it would be in vain- especially when dealing with Modern Art where so much of the interpretation deals with spatial interaction.

A very small (but noteworthy) part of my hostility on the subject stems from the inordinate amount of time I spend trying to “understand” modern art… to no avail. (If you have some urge to respond here that “it is not meant to be understood in full,” please hold off on your vague, esoteric argument as I have considered that).

I have never gotten a great deal of pleasure in studying or viewing modern art and as an Art History major, this always seems like a shame… so I keep revisiting the genre, trying to find some solace in it.

Sitting on the rooftop of SF Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), I tried to think it through. My disinterest begs the question, “Why do I enjoy art before 1900 SO much more?”

It hits me.

Before 1900, art was used as a form of media- shaping the culture and giving the society an outlet and a visual voice. To understand art in the past, it takes a great deal of cultural understanding and (metaphorical) presence in history.

This understanding is not only attainable but also very relavent to many other aspects of our lives. Most importantly, it often acts as a key to reading artwork of the time.

Modern art, therefore, should be EVEN more enjoyable to me. I am innately in tune with our culture (because I am living during the time), therefore it takes no research; I also have a pretty solid grasp of current events…

Bewildered by my frustration, Cloud Cult and M. Ward offer lyrical reassurance as I listen to my iPod in the museum garden. I admire my cappuccino heart design that decorates the foam of my coffee. “Is THAT art too?” I wonder sarcastically. My mind wanders as I watch everyone around me, marveling at the fashion sense that is becoming so prevalent. I wonder if maybe it is more extreme because this is San Francisco…

A couple, adorned in neon accessories, cuddles nearby where I am sitting and I wonder about how they met, what their relationship is like, what their future will hold… This brings my rambling thoughts to my own personal life and I purposefully and abruptly focus back on the art debate- a comparably more enjoyable frustration for me.

…But modern art is not based on stories obvious to someone with cultural knowledge. I decide there are three sides to the genre:

  1. Based on the artist: This influence in modern art stems from the artists’ personal experiences, emotions, and viewpoint. This slams a door on the possibility that a viewer might understand the nature or truth of a piece. In short, to understand the depth of a piece, you must understand the artist on a level that is simply unattainable.
  2. Environmental interaction: How the piece of art communicates with the physical space around it or explores and experiments with color and light. This is something that is heavily stressed in modern art and depends on a very basic level of human competence. A simple evaluation of what is physically in front of the audience…
  3. Audience interaction: Requires no understanding of the art or subject. This is unavoidable and an interaction that is constantly occurring. We participate in every single piece of art we view, whether or not we want to. Each piece provides a different experience with each new viewer. The audience/art conversation is redefined with a new individual and renders all art “timeless” based on the fact that it is forever “unfinished” (pardon the use of rather cliche terms here). I mean to say that the art is never fully complete as it is constantly changing based on who is viewing it and how they enter, interact with, and exit the space of the art… Essentially, the ever-changing/unfinished component is “you”.

So why such a hard time with modern art? I feel a constant disconnect that might always be unfulfilled because I will never fully understand it. When dealing with spatial reasoning and color contrast, I always feel like I am offensively oversimplifying the art. Which usually makes me think about the artist’s intention, leaving me frustrated and disgruntled.

(Note: If someone has a different view on modern art, I absolutely want to hear it. Let me know… we can grab coffee… maybe on the roof of a museum in the city or something…)

…The coffee was good too.

the sixth one

have some watermelon wheat beer at 21st Amendment (SoMa)

1990: I can’t remember my first baseball game. Apparently I was a baby, it was a Dodger game, and my very sentimental father kept my first ticket.

Growing up in Los Angeles, I have never really felt any sort of affinity with the city and never took much interest in the sports teams, even the Dodgers. Sitting in traffic to pay for parking, watch a little baseball, and leave in the 7th inning to avoid the inevitable exiting traffic is classic LA. The way I saw it, 2-3 hours of traffic was a whole lot for one Dodger dog.

2004: My first baseball game that I can remember was in August of 2004: Red Sox vs. Devil Rays. The Red Sox were still losing all of their games, but the team had me right away. The passion the fans had for their losing team emanated in the top of the 8th as everyone sang “Sweet Caroline” together.

From 2004 on, my family made annual trips to Boston as my dad ran the marathon each April. The Red Sox became a sentimental tie to a very carefree time in life- when missing a week of school to eat tootsie rolls and walk around the Boston Commons was possible; when taking a picture with George Washington was the end all, be all of a trip (a family joke that apparently I was there for and 8 years later, I still don’t get); when the highlight of each trip was standing in line for last minute Red Sox tickets and singing “Sweet Caroline” with 35,000 other fans.

Its been a few years since I’ve been to Boston. Life got in the way of life and the carefree trips took a backseat to college essays and eventually, my real job.

2012: When I went to my first Giants game (opening night this season), I was immediately in love. I was already enamored by the city so in all fairness, it didn’t take much to get me on board. It seemed that my commitment to the Giants was the last piece of the puzzle that fit in rather effortlessly.

When opening night came, I rode the cable car with other fans dressed to the nines in orange and black and sang “Lights” by Journey. I appreciated the view of the Bay Bridge from the View Reserve outlook.

View from AT&T Park

I was sold.

My bus to work. (Not kidding)

I have been to many games this season and whenever time allows, I grab a watermelon wheat beer from 21st Amendment. On June 9, before our Giants game, I took my dad and sister here per tradition. The watermelon beer is crisp, sweet, and comes with a slice of watermelon.

Cheers!

It is a fantastic summer beer that accompanies my new tradition and my first baseball team that I have decided is my own.

have pumpkin ravioli at L’Osteria (Northbeach)

Merry Christmas!

yes, Merry Christmas AGAIN.

Apparently, in our family, we are all very fond of extending Christmas presents throughout the year (see: http://the-city.me/2012/03/12/the-seventy-seventh-one/).

As I explained in the post linked above, my sister’s Christmas gift to me was one that lasted through June of this year… Well, for my dad’s Christmas present, my sister and I planned the weekend of June 10 for him to visit us in the bay.

The details of the gift:

  • A gift certificate for dinner at Tony’s pizza (Northbeach)
  • Tickets to the Giants game on June 9
  • A promise that we would both try to enter the Dipsea Race in Mill Valley (June 10)

My dad has run the Dipsea race before and wanted to run it this year with my sister and me. So, as part of the planned weekend, we entered our names in the race.

My dad flew into town on Friday afternoon and the three of us decided on Northbeach’s very Italian: L’Osteria for dinner.

The restaurant is… quaint… or… cozy…or… <insert a euphemism for EXTREMELY small here>.

There are about ten tables so there is always a wait but unfortunately, there is no place to wait. Hungry customers pour out of the tiny restaurant-front, waiting in the bustle of Columbus and Green. If you are as awkward as I am, it is impossible to not be in everyone’s way as they walk down the sidewalk.

As we wait, my dad idly peruses the glass blowing store next door and my sister and I mischievously whisper about the new literary gossip: 50 Shades of Grey.

When we finally get to our table, we order a pizza and the pumpkin ravioli to share. The pumpkin ravioli were not, by any means “life changing”, but I can see why the experience as a whole made it onto the list.

It is an authentically Italian part of Northbeach and I would recommend the restaurant… but no need to go out of your way for the ravioli.

see how many times you can jog the Lyon Street Steps (Pac Heights).

“I am 22 going on 84 years old,” I try to explain to my friends.

It’s true. My idea of a good night is drinking tea, watching a movie, knitting, and going to bed early.

Okay, maybe not knitting…. but give it a few years and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Everyone seems to think I’m exaggerating… until they try to reach me after 10pm on any given night and I’m sleeping.

Sadly,  I haven’t had much time to drink my tea or go to bed early recently. After having a ridiculously busy month filled with friends visiting, birthdays, and Giants games (yes, I have adopted the San Francisco Giants as my favorite baseball team), I decided this weekend was going to be dedicated to R, R, & R. Rest, Relaxation, and Running.

On June 10 at 9:14 am, I will be bib number 1919 in the Dipsea Race up in Marin County. This is only a 7.5 mile race but it is basically straight uphill on Mt. Tam. I’ve never done it before because registration is a grueling competition but from what I’ve heard, there will be hills, rivers, and trees to hop over. Thank God I did hurdles in high school. (Yes… I fell in every single hurdle race I ran. Yes… I have since closed the hurdling chapter in my life.)

Full Disclosure: I haven’t been training as much as I should. 

On Friday night, I turned on Funny Face with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn and got to bed by 10pm. By 9am Saturday morning, I had my running shoes laced up and was en route to the Lyon Street Steps.

Lyon Street Steps.

When I arrived, I joined the other Marina and Pac Heights runners as we silently competed with each other, jogging up and down the stairs.

I did the stairs four times before I had to head home for a coffee/phone date with my mom.

Hopefully the Lyon street stairs were a step in the right direction for Dipsea (although I fully expect to pretty much die on the run next weekend either way).

check out the Southern view of the city from the top of Alta Plaza Park (Pac Heights).

I do not, by any means, consider myself an “adult”.

I still say things like “when I grow up, I want to…” (although by now I have resigned myself to the fact that the chances of being the president, an actress, or a dolphin are very slim)

I eat string cheese and lunchables.

I love sugary cereal like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Life.

I’ll take a Pixar movie over almost any Academy Award winner.

However…

I work a 9-5 job in advertising/sales.

I wear high heels to work every day.

I like to go to sleep before 10pm during the week.

Green tea and red wine are staples in my kitchen.

The day I completed this task on my list, I took one step closer to “adulthood”: I do my own taxes.

Exhausted from the very long weekend, taking two busses to lower Divisadero did not sound appealing but I gathered my W-2s and got on the 49 bus.

After my appointment was over, I walked up Divis. to re-visit one of my favorite San Francisco parks: Alta Plaza Park. The photo below is actually pretty significant in my San Francisco life and was taken in September 2011.

southern view from Alta Plaza Park

You see, ten months ago, as a San Francisco newbie, I was on my way to a Yoga class in Pac Heights after work and accidentally stumbled upon this park.

Sitting in the afternoon sun in September 2011, I gazed out at the breathtaking view and symbolically pledged my loyalty to this city: I decided to sell my car. As a native Los Angelian, I am used to anxiety when separated from my car- like I am missing a limb or vital organ. This epiphany that I had to sell my car reinforced a major new mindset: I was going to be in San Francisco for a long time.

As the city stared back at me as I sat in the park, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. Bart and busses would carry me to all of my destinations and I knew with absolute confidence that I didn’t need the escape option that my car offered.

I returned to this exact place two months ago, after I did my taxes and I looked at the same view with nostalgia and appreciation.

I sat one bench over and eight months later while the view reinforced my unwavering confidence in the fact that San Francisco is for me. I belong here.

 the thirty-ninth one: have a beer on the back patio of the Tipsy Pig (Marina)

the thirty-fifth one: get hit on at the MatrixFillmore (Marina)

If you are a parent of mine, a boss, or simply someone whom I have successfully convinced that I spend my weekends getting to bed at 9pm after a day of wholesome activities… Fair Warning: I occasionally act like I am 22 years old and may or may not consume alcoholic beverages at times.

That said, if you would like to continue believing my meticulously crafted facade that I am the most wholesome 22 year old in San Francisco, please do not read this post.

To everyone else: Who’s free to grab happy hour this week?!

It was the last weekend in March and one of my best friends, Megan Johnston, was in town visiting. Although we largely spend our time drinking unbelievable amounts of wine, playing cards, and debating ridiculous theories about the most simple things in life, this particular weekend we made some time to get out in the city.

meet megan.

After a life-changing breakfast burrito from The Grove (Pac Heights), we went over to the Kabuki theaters to catch a showing of Hunger Games.

Fun Facts:

  • I have read all three books.
  • I absolutely cried in the move when Katniss volunteers for Prim.
  • This was the second time seeing it for me because I went to the premier with my friend from work.

Go ahead and judge me. Hunger Games is awesome.

After we got our fill of the pre-teen post-apocalyptic movie, we met our other two friends for dinner and drinks. We meandered down Chestnut Street and ended up at the Tipsy Pig to complete the thirty-ninth one on the list.

The Tipsy Pig is arguably one of the most “Marina” bars in the neighborhood… Without stepping on any toes here, I will delicately and factually describe it as a place where you will commonly see successful young adults with pink polo shirts (collar popped, of course) or unnecessarily high heels and ridiculously ornate jewelry at any time of day or night. With that in mind, the back patio is pretty great and BONUS- it is adorned with christmas lights.

We ordered our beer and enjoyed the evening with a great deal of appreciation for the clear tarp over the patio as it poured rain outside.

one of my friends did not order a beer. Her drink was the outcast in the picture.

Megan and I later met up with my other friends, Race and Garrett for a night out. After a few drinks, we decided it would be fun to complete the thirty-fifth thing on the list: get hit on at MatrixFillmore. MatrixFillmore is another notorious bar in the Marina- known for its sleazy vibe. You could get hit on at the MatrixFillmore if you simply come within a 10 foot radius of the front door.

meet my lovely friends: Race, Garrett, and Megan

We walked in and my friends immediately deserted me to watch from afar as I was left defenseless in shark-infested Matrix waters.

I went to the bar and ordered a Corona. Only a few seconds passed when someone in his late 20s came up and asked if he could buy me a drink.

…The lime was still sitting at the top of my newly served beer.

Amused, I looked at my full drink then looked blankly back at him. He leaned over the bar and ordered me a Cosmopolitan and then proceeded to explain to me why I should be drinking a Cosmopolitan as well as my Corona.

Now I stood at the bar, with two full drinks as he used terrible pick up lines.

After this had gone on long enough, my very entertained friends decided to interject and we promptly left the bar.

We indulged in late night pizza and made it safely back to my apartment. That, I can guarantee, is the only time I plan on going to MatrixFillmore but it was definitely worth the amusement for the night.

order an old-fashioned at the Alembic. (Haight)

WHERE does Dede live now?! Mary Ann Singleton does WHAT?! 

You know that really annoying person that walks down the street with their nose in their book, not paying any attention to where they are going and usually ends up running into someone or, on a more hilarious day, a trash can, a pole, or a parking meter?  Yeah… that person.

Well, I am the epitome of that description. Its quite a curse actually- I get so involved in my book that I throw social responsibility to the wind and take my chances, usually endangering small dogs, small children, or anything else below my line of book-binding sight.

But you see… with that said… I have quite an affinity for Armistead Maupin’s Tales of The City. It was the first book I read after my move up here. Upon starting my job, my boss leant me more books than I could get through in the next year and while this might seem promising (a suggestion that I won’t be fired in the next year…), it was daunting. They were in a Starbucks bag and the group consisted of many classics but one book jumped out at me: Tales of The City. Before I knew it, I was tripping over small children and their small pets while running into mailboxes as I walked with my novel inches away from my face.

This, of course, was months ago. I have long since ended my affairs with Brian Hawkins, Beauchamp Day, and Mary Ann Singleton… or so I thought…

When I walked into my office this morning, a novel sat next to my keyboard: Further Tales of The City. It was like Christmas. Watch out, short dogs, I have a book that requires my full attention again.

Anyway, I wanted to do my task today by myself for a few reasons so,  after work today, I got a seat on the N bus and rode down to the Haight.

I missed my bus stop because Mary Ann and Brian Hawkins were……… I won’t give it away but it’s GOOD.

I walked into the Albemic and grabbed a seat at the bar. The bartender started to hand me a menu and I waved a “no thanks” to him and said “the old-fashioned, please”. I then watched intensely as he whisked ingredients together so quickly and with such ease, peeling lemons and melting ice, that it made the process look like an art.

the old-fashioned

It smelled amazing. It tasted like lemonade on fire.

I nursed my drink as the world’s most annoying customers obnoxiously discussed their lives next to me. Seriously. It takes a LOT to annoy me, especially at a bar because you have to expect slight annoyances like that… but this was a little too much for even me.

As I got through my old-fashioned, it worked to gradually subdue my irritated state of mind. I shifted my focus to the bartender who mixed drinks together calmly and meticulously. I was thoroughly impressed. On my way out, I asked what was in my drink: sugar, bourbon, lemon, and bitters.

I was glad to leave and steal a seat on the bus home where I could escape 2012 San Francisco and go spend some time with 1980’s San Francisco in Further Tales of the City.