Archived entries for San Francisco

San Francisco sun

Before arriving in San Francisco a few days ago, I was warned to expect a heat wave. This of course, being the coldest city America, the “heat wave” meant mere 70-degree temps. But it sure has been spectacular — especially for lazy, long afternoons in Dolores Park with the amazing views!

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Spotted in San Francisco last weekend:

Homosexuals don’t create homosexuals.
Heterosexuals do.

Food to die for

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the farmers’ market at San Francisco’s Ferry Building is the best! Yesterday I did my usual Saturday morning routine, a lazy wander around the stalls and pushcarts of the fabulous food bazaar. Just look at these gorgeous veggies!

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SF

No one goes to San Francisco to get a tan, but I managed to get one on Sunday afternoon while laying out in Dolores Park with friends. Clear blue skies and 65 degree weather couldn’t be beat in one of the most gorgeous spots in the city. A nice day in San Francisco makes anyone want to move there…

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SF

San Francisco’s Financial District is a smorgasbord of architectural styles, best illustrated here in front of the Crocker Galleria.

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San Francisco

The other morning swooping into San Francisco I snapped this shot minutes before landing at SFO. It’s amazing how tiny the Financial District appears from the air, while it seems humongous from the ground. And despite being America’s second-most-dense city, it’s notable how many parks are here, and how clearly they stick out: Dolores Park at lower-left, Alamo Square and Alta Plaza just north of it, and my fav – Lafayette Park, in Pacific Heights, S.W. of the tiny blur that is Alcatraz.

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San Francisco

I usually try to avoid any place that travel writers rave about, but the Ferry Building in San Francisco is one exception. It’s one of my favorite spots in the city and yesterday I had the pleasure of spending a few hours poking around the stalls and pushcarts of the Saturday morning farmers’ market with friends from Maine. The variety of flowers and fruits and veggies and breads and organic everything is just astounding. I was back again this morning for my SF ritual: an early morning croissant and “twinkle” from Acme Bread Co. + a Peet’s iced coffee.

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Colors of Chinatown

This morning in San Francisco I wandered through Chinatown where the streets were even more packed than usual with the Autumn Moon Festival in full swing. Although there is a sketch factor that one must overcome while passing through any Chinatown — I’m not much for full cooked ducks hanging in restaurant or market windows — there are always delights and intrigues to be found. For cheap.

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Spotted in Nob Hill

There’s a lot of male nakedness to be found in San Francisco, and I’m not just talking about the corner of 18th and Castro. I was walking down the California Street hill today when I came upon this surprise…

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SF

Mark Twain’s famous line about the coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco seems true this weekend. It’s freezing here. I only brought shorts, thinking that the sunburn I got here a few weeks ago was a sign of a hot summer to come. I was wrong, and have spent the weekend shivering. But even in the cold, San Francisco delights.

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Spotted at SFO

I’m obsessed with airline lounges. There is nothing quite like escaping the masses in airport terminals and slipping into a sumptuous oasis filled with liquor and comfy chairs. Most airlines share lounge space with their partner airlines, as British Airways and Cathay Pacific do in San Francisco. Tonight while waiting for my flight to board I snapped this shot of a cardboard cutout of a “Cathay Girl” welcoming Asia-bound passengers into the BA lounge. Call me an airline geek, but the cutout made me seriously laugh.

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Quotable

As seen on the Embarcadero:

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San Francisco City Hall

I snapped this photo yesterday morning in the grand rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. There aren’t many staircases that have seen so much action — like the Moscone assassination and the February 2004 legalization of marriage for same-sex couples. It sure is purty in there.

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San Francisco: America’s gayest city!

gay_censusA new study out about the distribution of America’s gay population provides us with a shocking revelation: San Francisco is America’s gayest city (yawn!). And Seattle and Atlanta are in a dead heat for the title of second-gayest.

The Seattle Times reports, “A researcher used census and other government statistics to offer an estimate of a segment of the population in cities, metropolitan areas and congressional districts nationwide whose size has only been guessed in the past.

The study’s findings are drawn from newly released U.S. census data on same-sex households showing that between 2000 and 2005, the reported number of gay-couple households increased by 30 percent in the United States.”

Bay to Breakers

By 2 p.m. today (that’s 11 a.m. on the west coast) I had already received two text messages from friends in San Francisco who reported that they were drunk. Such is life in the city during Bay to Breakers, that raucous road race that started 95 years ago as a way to lift the city’s spirits after the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and that today is an all-day drunkfest.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a few great snaps. Many cool ones at Flickr, too.

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California Dreaming

I took this shot one morning three weeks ago, just as the fog was lifting over San Francisco Bay.

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With Fears Fading…

Last weekend I was at the Cafe, a bar on in San Francisco, when I was reminded of a New York Times article (“With Fears Fading, More Gays Spurn Old Preventive Message”) from five years ago that was about the AIDS epidemic, and that quoted young men at that same bar. I did a bit of Googling and found the article, which is one of the best I’ve ever read. In fact, the piece was so stirring that it was the impetus for my controversial senior thesis.

It’s an amazing piece of journalism that is scary and heartbreaking but ultimately incredibly honest. It caused a firestorm of controversy for Seth Watkins, a San Francisco HIV prevention educator who was featured in the piece and who, despite his profession, admitted to having unprotected sex and becoming HIV-positive.

Mr. Watkins, 24, is an H.I.V. prevention educator and counselor in San Francisco. He knows how H.I.V. is transmitted and how to avoid becoming infected. But like an increasing number of gay men in San Francisco and elsewhere, Mr. Watkins sometimes still puts himself and possibly other people at risk. ”I don’t like to think about it because I don’t want to give anyone H.I.V.,” Mr. Watkins said. Yet his lapses also do not draw the concern and censure from his peers that they might have even a few years ago. READ ON

A Day Without Immigrants

Today in San Francisco I had the unique opportunity to experience the Day Without Immigrants rally protesting federal legislation that would make felons out of 11-12 millions immigrants living in the US illegally. It was one of the largest of the more than 60 rallies taking place in cities across the country today. The San Francisco Chroniclesaid it was “the nation’s largest coordinated demonstration since the war in Vietnam.”

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The scale of the protest was unbelievable — it was truly a sea of supporters snaking through downtown San Francisco — and the sheer gravity of the situation was moving. Standing there among tens of thousands of cheering protestors is an electric feeling, especially when you consider their backstory. It’s such a tough issue: there is no disputing that illegal residents got here — or at least remain here — through law-breaking. Normally I’d be all for busting on the rule-breakers. But that is illogical in this situation — can we really prosecute 11 million people? In the past ten years, as the number of illegal aliens has shot up from the 1996 estimate of 5 million, the situation has grown beyond this country’s ability to control it.

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I don’t consider myself soft on the issue of immigration but the 700-mile wall proposed for parts of the US-Mexico (that would cost billions to build) as part of this new legislation also seems like a stretch. The solution? If I knew, I’d be running this country. But as Bill O’Reilly said tonight, we might want to remember that most of the people living illegally in the US are probably good people simply trying to make a better life for their families (and as their protests signs remind us, they clean our houses, toil in the fields, and care for our children). He lays blame on the Mexican government’s inability to improve the country for residents, and the US government’s inability to touch the political hot potato that is immigration policy.

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Andrew Bundy

andrew_bundyThis week in San Francisco I had the pleasure of checking out a performance by my friend Andrew Bundy. Not only is Andy an amazing person, but he is also the only friend I have who can truly sing well. He is a jazzy mix of Stevie Wonder, Tori Amos, and Harry Connick, Jr. — if you can imagine that.

Download his MP3s from MySpace (I recommend “Where Did I Go Yesterday”) and put them on your iPod. Then look for him at a performance at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square May 3. We’re both running in Bay to Breakers on May 21–I can’t disclose what Andy’s costume will be, but let’s just say it is not to be missed.

San Jose

You may not know that San Jose is bigger than San Francisco and is the biggest city in northern California. Fifty years ago a mere 95,000 people lived here; now there are 1 million. And that living is good living: with the highest median income in the U.S., households in San Jose also have the highest disposable income of any large American city.

San Jose is, of course, the epicenter of Silicon Valley, a sprawling patchwork of suburban office parks and corporate campuses, but its downtown is lifeless. The last time I was here, in 2002, I thought it couldn’t get less exciting, but after spending a couple days here this week, I know it has gotten worse. There are only a handful of nice buildings in downtown, two of which are pictured below. Nothing is too tall since the airport is smack dab in the city, and the skyline is in the flight path (which makes it very cool to stick your head out your hotel window and practically touch landing planes.)

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Admittedly, the views outside my hotel (pictured below) to Plaza de Caesar Chavez, where California’s first state capitol once stood, weren’t that bad. Of course the historic seat of government that once stood on the downtown square has been replaced by a fountain, but who cares, right?

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