Author Archives: Mark Thomas
Author Archives: Mark Thomas
Castro & Market
Travel to San Francisco ‘s well-known Mecca of all that comes with gay life in the City’s Castro District. The North side of the Market District is the center of a mainly lesbian and gay community, boutiques, excellent bakeries, bars, restaurants, cafes, and of course, numerous gender-bending bars. The renown Castro Theatre, the historically important art deco movie theatre, usually screens a lot of old or independent film productions from all around the globe. On Halloween, San Francisco’s center is the Castro while tens of thousands of enthusiasts celebrate in the streets.
Bowley St. and Lincoln Blvd and Presidio, Phone: (415) 331-1540
San Francisco’s most popular and locally beloved nude beach is nestled in the western shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. Aside from being the birthplace of Burning Man, the great qualities of Baker Beach are its size, close shore breaks, tide pools, steep bluffs, and climbable rocks, and a totally nude north end that rubs friendly elbows with a decidedly family-style south side, complete with barbeque grills and picnic tables. While this stretch of the Pacific makes for rough swimming, it bodes well for panoramic sunbathing and excellent shore fishing.
San Francisco ‘s densely populated downtown is squeezed into the hilly northeastern corner of the peninsula. The often dramatic cityscape came about because the streets were laid out as if their planners had never so much as glanced at the city’s topography. They simply dropped a grid pattern onto the steeply undulating terrain, and the result is that streets often climb or drop at ridiculously steep gradients. It makes parking hazardous, breeds bicycle messengers of superhuman strength and provides a hairy setting for car chase scenes in movies.
949 Presidio Ave, Phone: (415) 923-6162
The Powell-Hyde line begins at Powell and Market streets, terminating at Victorian Park near the Maritime Museum and Aquatic Park; the Powell-Mason line also begins at Powell and Market streets to end at San Francisco’s Victorian Park near the Maritime Museum and Aquatic Park; the Powell-Mason line also begins at Powell and Market, but ends at Bay and Taylor near Fisherman’s Wharf; the California Street line runs from California and Market streets to Van Ness Avenue.
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco ‘s bay is curiously shy. It always seems to be around the corner, glimpsed in the distance, seen from afar. It is spanned by bridges, surrounded by cities and suede hills, dotted with sails and crisscrossed by fast-moving ferries, a sight without which no San Francisco vacation is complete. The bay is the largest inlet on the California coast, stretching about 60mi (100km) in length and up to 12mi (20km) in width. The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge crosses the 2mi (3km) mouth of the bay.
In 1916, San Francisco City officials asked Engineer Michael M. O’Shaughnessy to see if building a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait was feasible. For decades, there had been a call for a bridge like this by railroad professionals and other entrepreneurs.
So San Francisco City Engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy started to discuss the idea with some engineers across the nation to learn about cost and feasibility of such an endeavor. Most engineers he consulted speculated that a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait would be costing more than $100 million but that construction would not be possible. Joseph Baermann Strauss, though, thought that building such a bridge was possible and that the cost would not exceed $30 million.
Golden Gate Bridge name explained
The Golden Gate Bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance from the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Strait is some three miles long and a mile wide, and the water’s currents usually range from 4.5 to 7.5 knots (around 5 to 9 miles/hr). John C. Fremont (a U.S. Army Engineer) named the strait “Chrysopylae” (Golden Gate) in the mid-1840s as the strait was reminding him of the Istanbul, Turkey, harbor named Chrysoceras (Golden Horn).
The Golden Gate Bridge connects the City of San Francisco to the northern counties of California, including the world-famous wine regions of Sonoma and Napa. The bridge’s towers stand an impressive 746 feet tall and its “International Orange” color, the beautiful Art Deco styling, and the sweeping massive main cables give the bridge it’s magic. The bridge features a fine artistic harmony of light, color, and sound which attract over ten 10 million visitors every year, especially during the summer months, so when you plan a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, be prepared to encounter large crowds and be also aware of quickly changing weather conditions.
San Francisco is changing, and it is not weird or freaky as it once was. People in the artsy environment can feel this immediately, and rather than being able to just go out and be weird, today there’s more a sort of lamentation that fills the air in the City.
One of the obvious culprits is the phenomenon of money. There are quite a few individuals that are worth tens of millions of dollars who still think they are some sort of revolutionary or counter-cultural renegades, but they’re in too good standing.
Sure, we may bash the software generation as much as we want as they’re the cause of a lot of bad going on, but the fact of the matter is that internet nerds form a crucial element to the phenomenon of ‘weirdness.‘
The extreme differences in the level of education is another weird thing, from a super high number of people without any High School or GED diploma to the smartest people who attend the USF. I recently joined a workshop for volunteers who want to bridge this educational gap.
There are some pretty good online GED Prep Resources, so we just need to reach out to as many people as possible.
Anyway, it seems that today, people that move to San Francisco aren’t coming here to find other queers or weirdos, they generally move this way to build up their careers and make money. Sure, there’s basically nothing wrong with doing that, but often these people aren’t participating in the city’s social life and won’t break out of their employment circles.
Every Saturday, I’m in charge of checking out what food we need to buy. As I check the frig, I make a list of what we can get from the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. I really enjoy going there. We get to see our neighbors, and we know that the food is organic, fresh and local.
We buy organic food because my parents taught us that it’s more nutritious. They also knew that organic farming is really good for the environment, and it’s a great way to support our local farmers.
Organic farmers don’t use any synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, irritation or biotechnology, so we’re taking in fewer toxins. It wasn’t until the 20th century that synthetic chemicals were introduced into our food. Yeah, it used to be that farming was always organic.
It’s funny how East and West Coast cities seem to change a little differently. John Smyre, a good friend of mine from New York, visited the City recently and I couldn’t meet with him unfortunately because of my work that took me to a London Arts Fair. He noticed some aspects that I wasn’t aware of so as I’m confronted with the San Francisco looks and habits on a daily basis. Here is what he wrote to me.
I was last in San Francisco in August 2004. At that time, as a New Yorker visiting the city by the Bay, I was struck by the inability to drive anywhere without being confronted by billboards trumpeting the virtues of countless dot-coms. No less striking was the start-up fever still gripping the city despite the spring market correction five months earlier. At that time, New York had already started its about-face, turning away from its passionate, albeit temporary, participation in the dot-com party and returning to its more cynical, skeptical roots.
Silicon Valley recently caught up. The “Drawing the Inner Terrain: Self-Taught Artists” exhibit at the Palo Alto Art Center was dedicated to Derrel DePasse, former president of Blauvelt Group of Palo Alto. She was a self-taught expert in outsider art who died unexpectedly last summer before the publication of her acclaimed new book, Traveling the Rainbow: The Life and Art of Joseph Yoakum (University Press of Mississippi).
Yoakum is known for his wild visionary landscapes. “We all assumed he’d made up these imaginary landscapes,” says John Ollman, a Philadelphia art dealer, “but she followed his roaming and found that he’d actually been to most of the places.
” That a tech executive transformed herself into an outsider art expert doesn’t surprise Signe Mayfield, curator of the Silicon Valley show. Like many, Mayfield sees a link between twin cultural explosions: technology and outsider art. “Art that has the human touch takes on greater significance when we’re so surrounded by sleek modernity and technology,” she says.
South Airport Boulevard may not be steeped in the same mythic sense of possibility as Sand Hill Road, but today dreams are being reborn at a liquidation auction at the Ramada Inn of South San Francisco, a purgatory where the spirits of dead dot-coms are relieved of their earthly belongings to better float into the entrepreneurial ionosphere.
Like everyone else here, I have come to bury dubious business models, not to praise them – and more importantly, get some computer equipment cheap.
The nearly 1,000 lots on sale this day are from a collection of failed Internet companies whose identities have already faded into the mists, replaced by the 26-page list of items on sale.
When I arrive at the Terrace Room, the bidding is already underway as the auctioneer warms up the crowd with the first hundred lots, mostly miscellaneous office furnishings, lava lamps, a few monitors and hard drives, and a cheap Stratocaster guitar. A friendly young woman sets me up with an auction guide and a bidding paddle (for a $300 credit card deposit) and I take one of the few empty seats.
Living in The City means you always have the opportunity to experience something special, or go to some stimulating place….or just wander around and see where your legs are carrying you. This a city full of people who always try to get the best out of their situation and they seem to be enjoying themselves at doing that. But there’s always this strange tension between the city’s classes of residents, and this becomes more visible and apparent by the year.