Monday, July 18, 2011

Asian Art and Odd-Ball Films

[This blog is out of sequence due to constraints on time and sleep while traveling with friends]

Day 7 of The Black Sword in the City of Saint Francis

PART ONE - Asian Art Museum

I had always wanted to go the the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco but for some strange reason I'd never taken the time to go. After what I saw there today, I now know why... The place has so much art that I'm interested in I could just hang out there for days! The exhibition on Bali was to die for. I was not allowed to take pictures in the Bali Exhibition but the permanent exhibits were just fine as long as I didn't use flash. Well that was all well and good but I had never learned how to use my flash controls and thus how to turn off the flash. I fiddled with the controls as best I could but after a few tries I was still using the flash (and I'm happy that one of the docents didn't see it and rat me out or chew me out). Well, at least the iPhone didn't have a flash built in and it's camera was OK... not great, but OK. I took a slew of pictures from the iPhone but downloading them will have to wait until I get home and can sync my iPhone with my Main Media computer.

The permanent exhibits had examples of artwork from all over asia that was put in both chronological order and by place of origin. The entire exhibit divided the asian continent up with first India, then South East asia, then Tibet, China, and finally Japan as well as giving examples of the different religious philosophies and movements that had developed in asia over the centuries. I must have spent 5 hours at least in there. There was simply now way to see and digest intellectually all the parts of that museum. But, when I get the pictures downloaded at home, I'll be sure to post them and discuss them both here on my blog and on Facebook.

I had been standing all day from a very practical point of view and I needed to take a break. I hoped out of the museum and onto a #5 bus to head back to E.F.'s place. No soon had I just take a seat on the bus than E.F. called me and said he was home with his friend Katrina. I told him I was on the way and would be there in 10 minutes. When I got there, Katrina and I started talking. From my recollection, it was the first time I had ever met her but I had heard about her from E.F. plenty of times in the past. I think this was just the first opportunity for us to ever meet face to face. We started discussion hockey and our love for it, the finer points of the game, our injuries, and so on. Then it was time to get dinner before a treat (at least for me but surely for them too) which was a chance to see a set of archived films (yes films, on film and not tape!) at something called The Oddball Film Festival. It sounded fascinating.

We started out to pick up E.F.'s friend Johnny and his wife Giselle out on Haight. When we got there in just about 15 minutes of walking, it turned out that their new little puppy was acting up and Giselle was just too tired. So we set of without her and the four of us headed down into the Mission District. Along the way we grabbed some Indian food and relaxed then continued into the lower Mission until we reached this very, very nondescript building that if I had to find today to save my life I couldn't.

PART TWO - Oddball Film Festival

So we go inside, up this set of stairs, have to get buzzed in past this black metal door, scurry up even more stairs until we meet this gentleman who tells us it's $10 for a ticket. The place is a film vault and repository of all manner of films from 40's thru the 70's and 80's. It's evidently used by film makers as a place where old archived footage can be accessed and used in all manner of ways. The place where the films were being shown was fixed with a very small round stage and a huge part of the wall behind it was for the screen to see the films. A somewhat flimsy sound system was in use and sometimes one of the speakers would cut out. The intent of the evening was to showcase the work of this one film artist who had used the archives as a source for putting together old films into a theme which in this case was networks and communications.

The films were interesting. They were everything from old commercials with Bill Cosby talking about the virtues of Green Giant green beans to a film about the history of the telephone and the future of communications with satellites from the 1960's and Bell Labs. I hadn't seen some of these images since my childhood and it was fascinating to watch them. This is one of the things that I really love about coming to visit with E.F. in San Francisco. Every time I come there is something new and fascinating happening somewhere.

The return home was a long trek from the Mission back to Johnny's place then home. We stopped of at a corner store where Katrina got wine and I got Milano cookies and some milk (a secret passion of mine). We joined up in the living room and kept talking and eating until well after midnight. What a good day....

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Black Sword roams in The Mission

[Due to constraints on time and computer access, the blog posts will be out of order. Day 7 will be posted ASAP]

Day 8 - The Black Sword in the City of Saint Francis


It's one of the strange things that sometimes happens when you get very busy just doing what you do that there just isn't time to keep up with the writing that you had every intention of keeping up with. As such I'm actually writing about Day 8 before I could write about yesterday's adventures in the Asian Art Museum... Oh well, just try to stay with me friends.

After getting up and doing my usual computer and mobile device work, E.F. and I decide to do The Mission District today. We get our breakfast at The Blue Jay on Divisadero then walk a few blocks to the #22 Line which takes us into The Mission. After getting off the bus at 16th and Mission, E.F. has the idea to make a kind of M-shaped route down Mission, then back to Valencia and then back to Mission as these are the two main streets that make up the business life of the area. We put on our packs and we're off.... It's nice to have a tour guide with me this time.

The shops are the most incredible assortment of groceries, chain stores and kitch that could possibly exist almost anywhere. The area probably had it's heyday in the late 60's and early 70's but as you walk down the street and look at the marquees of all the shuttered movie theaters and the worn awnings over the shops, it's hard not to get this somewhat decrepit feeling about The Mission. The languages on the street come fast and varied with everything from Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Indian dialects that I couldn't identify if I had to. It is a most fascinating melange of a place.

We keep walking until we get to a somewhat secretive place for book stores and take a back way into Valhalla Books, a neat but smallish book sellers place. After checking the stacks for a time, E.F. gets a few titles and I almost get a first addition text , but decide better not. We're back to walking and finally get to a couple blocks past 26th Street when we decide to stop at El Rio for a drink, some sit down time, and a great shot of Jameson..... More in a bit.


E.F. has a restaurant that he wants to try with my called Radish up farther on Valencia (actually at the corner of 19th and Lexington but it's really close to Valencia) so we start off up the sort of second main drag of The Mission to see what we can see. There are more shops that we stop into than I can reasonably write about here but one worth mentioning is Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids. This place is a science teachers wet dream I swear.... Butterflies, skeletons, rocks and crystals, science glassware, and the list goes on and on and on.

Katrina finally texts us almost right after we sit down at Radish. She's in Oakland at the Oakland Museum of California seeing a retrospective by Michael C. Macmillan who used to do work for films in the day. We tell we are already eating and she says she'll see us After finishing, we continue up Valencia toward our final goal of the day, Brendan Lai Martial Arts supply store near 15th and Mission.

This is a store I have visited for years but they moved since I visited last which was a few years ago. We walk until we get to 13th street... What the hell and where is the store.p? Did we somehow miss it by being distracted? We double back while I look up the address again on my iPhone. Nope, we are in the right area...oh, the store is boarded, closed and no sign of Brendan Lai's. They must have gone outta business during the downturn. Damn.

We make our way back to E.F.'s place after catching a #22 bus on 16th Street. It's incredible that, as I watch some homeless and almost decrepit lady with her cart rolling past who catches a quick place to sit at the bus stop before moving on, the richest country in the world and we still have the problem of not solving homelessness and mental defects on the streets (I'm referring to people walking down the streets with auditory hallucinations, not politicians). We get back to E.F.'s flat and collapse. Both of us are beat. When Katrina arrives, we have a great time watching some British comedy that E.F. has at his place. The wine flows, people laugh... life is good.

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