Category Archives: San Francisco

How to improve BART signage

Via 43 Folders, here’s a proposal for improving the signage in Bay Area public transit stations (i.e. BART and Muni). It mentions two issues I had noticed before: Why aren’t the BART lines referred to by color, despite being color-coded on the map? (My first experience with a subway system was DC’s Metro, which has color designations.) And, why aren’t there any signs to the 16th St Mission station? (Obviously it’s at the intersection of 16th and Mission, but one at least needs to know which direction Mission St is…)
That website has a number of other interesting-looking articles on SF urban design.

But is it an arcane menu?

I was walking down 4th Ave in San Francisco today, just south of Golden Gate Park, when I saw these ads:

(Low quality because taken with my phone camera.) I should eat there sometime. Hey, does anyone know if those Chinese characters say “gazebo” or some approximation thereof?

Pillow Fight Club

I heard about this beforehand from three separate sources, and really wanted to go, but unfortunately had a group meeting.

Hundreds attend mass pillow fight
Roughly 1,000 people drawn by internet postings and word-of-mouth converged near San Francisco’s Ferry Building on Tuesday night for a half-hour pillow fight.
The underground event erupted at 6 p.m. in the center of Justin Herman Plaza with a mass rush of shrieking, laughing combatants – many of whom arrived with pillows concealed in shopping bags, backpacks and the like.
Within minutes, pillows were arcing, feathers were flying, and by the time the Ferry Building’s clock tower clanged the half-hour, the plaza and hundreds of people were covered in white down that gave the scene a wintry lustre.

This is the sort of thing that makes me love San Francisco.

And I thought it was a long way to drive

My friend Eliza is training for the AIDS/Lifecycle bike ride, which runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles over seven days. In the process she is raising money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. She has a webpage on the AIDS/Lifecycle site where I am told a training blog will be appearing.
Needless to say we at Arcane Gazebo are all about severe tests of human endurance, especially if they also involve beautiful California… vistas. So please join me in cheering her on, and if you have a few bucks to spare to help her toward her fundraising target, it will not only go to a good cause but you will be rewarded with the ability to carry more arrows. No, wait, that’s just in Zelda. But it will still go to a good cause. (It’s possible to donate online through the link above.)

New Pornographers concert report

The show last night was terrific, of course. However, the fact that indie-rock audiences don’t dance is sort of lame. When I have an oscillation amplitude that’s above the median, and I’m not moving my feet, something’s wrong. (I was really just sort of nodding my head rhythmically.)
The New Pornographers played a pretty long set and managed to hit all the songs I wanted to hear. There was also an unusual level of onstage banter (mainly between Carl Newman and Neko Case) that was pretty entertaining. At the beginning of the first encore they spent about ten minutes just joking around and playing the opening riffs to various highly recognizable songs. (Back in Black and Smells Like Teen Spirit were a couple that I remember.)
The opening bands were Immaculate Machine and Destroyer, the former of which was quite good primarily due to Kathryn Calder on keyboards and vocals. She plays in the New Pornographers as well, apparently since Twin Cinema. Destroyer was less interesting (and didn’t destroy anything).
Oh yeah: Nobody cheered at “Going to 16th and Valencia” in Twin Cinema. Possibly because it’s a bit difficult to tell that those are the lyrics.

Use It Tonight

In preparation for tonight’s show, I’m currently listening to the entire catalog of The New Pornographers, except for the iTMS bonus track to Twin Cinema since I bought the album on CD. Grr. Anyway, if you’re familiar with the band you know that the lyrics, while intelligible, are pretty opaque and it’s never clear exactly what the songs are about. This isn’t really a problem, but it was nice to discover that the official Matador site actually explains the songs. Sort of.

Sing Me Spanish Techno”: In which Newman tries to write a song with a ton of parts and an asymmetrical structure but still a pop song through and through. And succeeds. Title inspired by his girlfriend Amy, and, as he was reading Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With A Thousand Faces” while writing it, “there are some veiled references about the hero’s journey and different myths, bullshit like that.”

Ok, it isn’t exactly a scholarly exegesis. But I do have a couple of new to-do items: play “Star Bodies” backwards, and watch for this tonight:

Twin Cinema“: Newman updated this Electric Version-era tune with new lyrics referencing his part-time home San Francisco, hoping that “San Franciscans will hoot and holler at the ’16th and Valencia’ line when we play it live.”

Summer is here

Finally, typical summer weather has arrived in Berkeley: 57°F and overcast. When I was in Italy I tried to explain this to the Europeans, and they didn’t believe me—I did the conversion to Celsius in my head and they assured me I must have made a mistake.
I attempted to bolster my claim by bringing out the famous Mark Twain quote, “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” Later I found out that there’s no source for this quote; he did write something along these lines, but about Paris:

…anywhere is better than Paris. Paris the cold, Paris the drizzly, Paris the rainy, Paris the damnable. More than a hundred years ago somebody asked Quin, “Did you ever see such a winter in all your life before?” “Yes,” said he, “Last summer.” I judge he spent his summer in Paris. Let us change the proverb; Let us say all bad Americans go to Paris when they die. No, let us not say it for this adds a new horror to Immortality.

I see however that it is 68°F and sunny in Paris right now. Well, the sun came out while I was writing this so maybe we’ll get up to Paris levels by afternoon, and I can quit lamenting the fact that I didn’t bring a jacket today.