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I’ve been to San Francisco before, not often, and never for long. This summer I spent a couple days in the city with my girlfriend, Moni, and her friend Annie, all before starting the great road trip with Wonder Woman as our companion. That was this summer, but what do I recall from before?

I was once on a massive field trip to San Francisco with virtually my entire grade school when by a perverse coincidence someone in California decided to kidnap a school bus full of children and bury them alive while waiting for the ransom. The seventies were kinda wacky that way, but don’t worry, they all made it.

…and someone at my school had to tell countless concerned parents that we were all on course and fully accounted for.

The field trip, itself I don’t remember much.

I remember a speech and debate tournament held at Berkeley way back when I was in college. I remember a hoard of people drumming in a courtyard, lots of great bookstores, a lovely trip to the wharf, and plenty of great street performers. I also remember wearing red ribbons in protest of apartheid. This was a new thing at the time, not just the color and the specific cause, but as I recall the notion of wearing ribbons as a political statement. It wasn’t then quite the cliche that it is now. Two athletes realized what the ribbons were for. That was all.

I also remember attending an anthropology conference held in San Francisco. We were palling around with an ex-Jesuit priest who had done his fieldwork in China. The guy swore he knew a great dim sum place near the hotel. We were snaking up and down the side streets until he finally hooked a quick turn into some place quite unimpressive, at least until they started serving the food. I remember him asking about spicy chicken feet. He was told they didn’t serve it to the customers, because we wouldn’t know how to eat it. After speaking to her in Mandarin for awhile, she agreed to feed him, and she brought out just enough for HIM to eat it. The rest of us got to watch.

Gustatory voyeurism!

I remember a little here and there from other trips, but nothing worth mentioning.

This time I recall getting very sick on a tour boat. I do that sometimes. Pretty much whenever I’m on a boat. Sometimes on a plane. Once recently in the back of a sled. Needless to say, roller coasters are right out! Anyway, I got off the boat this time and found myself miserable and bucking up for a day of hard work just to make it through what should have been good fun. So, Moni and Annie let me sleep in the park for an hour or so after which I actually enjoyed the rest of the day. At the very end of the evening, we decided to check out some street art. Seeing me go crazy with my camera as the sun went down, her friend, Annie, graciously agreed to take me back to check out the art in the Mission District again the next day.

I think I love Annie!

My all-time favorite was the Women’s Building with its great mural, MaestraPeace. We weren’t the only ones there with cameras, which is quite fitting, because a lot of great talent went into this piece.

MaestraPeace Mural was painted in 1994 by a “Who’s Who” of Bay Area muralists: Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez.

Seriously, that painting is very cool.

We were hunting some murals in a small alley at one point when a local suggested we go check out Clarion Alley. Moni was a little annoyed that I was talking to random homeless people, but honestly the guy helped me out quite a bit. Clarion Alley was great advice! Moni was even more annoyed the next day when I was accosted by a homeless man who wanted me to leave Clarion Alley very quickly. He wasn’t as helpful as the first guy. Still, I got my pics, and he didn’t shoot me after all, not that he had a gun mind you, but shootings were mentioned.

…as were donuts.

Anyway, I clicked away at my camera for the better part of a full day, and I could hardly tear myself away as the sun fell again. I have no doubt that I missed a great deal. I’m also told that much of the artwork would be different if we go back.

I really must test this theory some day.

(Click to embiggen!)

The Women’s Building

Random Artsities