November 2, 2007

The San Francisco meetup.

I'm going to meet up with some readers tomorrow night in San Francisco. Email me for the time and place.

AND: I'd love to hear suggestions for great photo-walks in SF.


Ruth Anne Adams said...

...Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

former law student said...

Depending on the shape you're in: walk up Telegraph Hill from North Beach, then down the Filbert Steps. Stop at the top and go up Coit Tower.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Golden Gate Park where you will see the best and the worst side of San Francisco. Beautiful landscaping, Asian Tea Gardens, sculptures, interesting people enjoying the day ...and panhandlers and drug users sleeping and pooping in the park. :-)

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

I second the suggestion, fls, but don't you think it's a little, uh, ambitious for us post-50 types? I can do that, but my wife and I took that walk up Telegraph Hill 2 years ago, and I thought I was going to have to carry her at the end.

Both of us are very sad it's no longer 1969.

Anyway, San Francisco is not the greatest walking city, despite the lack of sprawl and its sort-of European character. First of all, you know about the hills. It's hard to just stroll aimlessly without an unanticipated workout.

The other problem is the street people, trash, etc. These may be interesting to photograph, but you do have to step around the semi-conscious and avoid their waste products when possible. My teenage boys refuse to go into San Francisco when we're visiting Grandma in Berkeley. (Grandmas in Berkeley?) The youngest calls it "sick," and he's comparing it to New York and Boston. I can't say if it has been dramatically improved recently, as no family member has set foot in it in 2 years, despite having lived in and around San Francisco since the 1880's.

Finally, there's the weather. I remember a friend at Cal was shivering as we walked across campus one night, and I said, "But Beth, you're from Boston, and you think this is cold?" She said, "Damn right! At least we get snow, and it's cozy. This crap is going to kill me!" Yes, if you go for a long walk in San Francisco, take a sweater or jacket, no matter what time of year. Also, expect the nice sunshine illuminating your photos to turn into grey, dank fog any minute and the temperature to drop 20°.

Other than that, it's a lovely place.

The Drill SGT said...

two options in addition to the great telegraph hill / North Beach one.

1. a cable car trip from Union Square and the Fairmont where you met, up over the hill and down to the wharf. Pictures along the way, return for dinner in Chinatown.

2. a stroll / hike /photo shoot in what used to be The Presidio.

Great shots of the Pacific, SF, and the GG bridge

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

Drill Sgt: Yes! Option No. 1 is the best! I'm not so sure about the Presidio in general, except for the secenery. Hmmm...Althouse could get some shots that would make a nice counterpoint to her pix of New York.

Very good suggestions!

Mortimer Brezny said...

I'll be there!

Robert Holmgren said...

You've got some real weenies here. Sure SF ain't perfect--where isn't that the case. Nevertheless, there are some great walks. Plus, when you have a camera any walk will do.
1. Market Street to Chinatown
2. ATT Park to Aquadic Park
3. Stanyan to Ocean Beach through Gold Gate Park
4. Golden Gate Bridge
5. Chestnut Street to Pacific Heights (feel your legs twitch).
6. Twin Peaks to Haight (100% down hill).

Ann Althouse said...

Mortimer, cool! I was sorry that I didn't get to talk to you more at the last meetup in NY. I realized afterwards that I should move around and change seats.

Rick H. said...

Great walks:

(1) I like the stroll from the Ferry Building to AT&T park (or vice versa -- my walk to/from work).

(2) Walk the street along the Transamerica building an look _up_.

(3) Start in Ghirardelli Square. Wander aimlessly.

(4) Definitely do Telegraph Hill -- try and snap a photo or two of the parrots.

(5) Avoid Fisherman's Warf.

vet66 said...

The Presidio...

The Tadich Grill...

Bissage said...

The twitching legs of Althouse . . .

Now there’s a vlog waiting to happen!!!


Lawrence said...

Crissy Field (part of the Presidio)has been nicely restored - you get to walk along the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge. Crissy Field used to be an airfield for the Presidio a long time ago.

The Legion of Honor - a museum that was in Vertigo. There, if you should be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge from the Ocean side - especially picturesque if there even if there is a little fog.

Don't forget the new de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park near the Japanese tea gardens. Great collections and the observation tower (the part that looks like the bridge of an aircraft carrier) has some spectacular views too). You will also see the new California Academy of Science building under construction across the way - a Renzo Piano project that will have a living roof.

If you make it to Marin, and specifically Sausalito, go to Fish ( for a much better seafood experience than Fisherman's Wharf. The buy from sustainable sources and locally where possible.

Randy said...

And I'll be there, too.

Just about any street in Chinatown has something interesting, particularly the markets.

ron st.amant said...

When we lived in SF, we lived in Bernal Heights...Bernal Hill offers an excellent view of downtown, plus its is quite a bit of an exercise.

Have fun!

Do let us know if the Althouse Tour ever comes to Toronto!!

RHodnett said...

I'll second the cable car idea, assuming the weather's nice.

My brother's girl friend insisted on riding the streetcar when she and my brother visited me twenty-some years ago. After some eye-rolling on our part, my brother and I agreed, mainly so that we could tease her afterwards about how lame it was. But it turned out to be one of the highlights of the day, largely because we got to ride on the outside of the car. If the line hadn't been so long we'd have gone for another ride immediately.

Rick Lee said...

Looking over my shots from a few months ago it looks like my best photography day was walking up Grant Ave in Chinatown.

Trooper York said...

"Chicago is the great American city, New York is one of the capitals of the world, and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic; San Francisco is a lady" said Norman Mailer, author and frequent visitor. "And you know what you do with a lady; you stab the bitch before she divorces you. Let me introduce you to my protégé tc the best young poet since Jack Henry Abbott."

Ann Althouse said...

Rick, very nice.... should I bring my big camera?

Beth said...

We were in San Francisco for a conference maybe 10 years ago, so I guess we were in our mid-thirties. While laboring our way up a steep street, we kept hearing a tap, tap, tap from behind, getting louder and louder. Soon, I was edged over to the side by an elderly woman using a walker. Those folks are hardy.

Larry Sheldon said...

If you decide to do the Golden Gate Bridge "thing" try to get enough time into the deal to walk down and through the fort on Fort Point (under the southern end of the bridge).

See also the Marine Headlands to the north and west of the bridge.

Maxine Weiss said...

If you didn't have this silly email requirement, you could get some famous people to show up.

Herb Caen, etc...

The Rich and Famous don't email.

---And especially when these comments are adequate for any RSVP, or other communication.

Anonymous said...

Good suggestions above. If you can arrange it, great views from Marin back toward the GG Bridge, the city and the bay. Another perspective from Yerba Buena/Treasure Island, again out of the city. Maybe next time?

Maxine Weiss said...

All the particulars, info, location, directions, etc.... should be given out right here in this comments section.

paul a'barge said...

Althouse, do you like Chinese food?
Hunan Restaurant
Sansomme St
just west of Broadway

try the Marty's special, the pot stickers, and the onion cake.

Think of me.

Maxine Weiss said...

Not for all the money in the world, would I send an email to Ann Althouse....

....when this Comments Section is perfectly suitable for making arrangements, setting up schedules, etc..

Fred Drinkwater said...

Second the recommendation for Palace of the Legion of Honour. Walk NNW along the Lincoln Park Golf Course paths to overlook the gate from the west side.
Crissy Field is nice but only if you have time for kite-flying.
If you like to ogle expensive toys there's the St. Francis Yacht Club, or maybe the Ferrari dealership on Van Ness.
If you're a steam-tech fetishist, there's the Bay Model in Sausalito, basically a gigantic analog computer, and probably unique in the world.
Forget Golden Gate Park. If you've seen Central Park, there's no point.
Coit Tower is cute and the view is spectacular.
Ferry to Alcatraz, or to Angel Island / Ayala cove (from Tiburon), for a picnic. (Bring your own food.)
SF Chinatown is actually much more fun than NYC Chinatown if you're on foot and with a local.
Stay the hell away from Fisherman's Wharf, unless you need to get on a ferry. Total tourist trap.

Fred "Silicon Valley native"

Rick Lee said...

Personally, I like to take a big camera when I'm traveling to an interesting place such as SF (or NY or Vancouver). I have this great lens that's 18mm to 200mm so I can just just sling this one camera and lens over my shoulder with an 8gig memory card in it and I don't need to carry a bag. I could do a lot with a pocket camera, but there's a lot I see in a city that really needs that long lens.

Fred Drinkwater said...

18mm - 200mm? Please tell the make/model. I survive with a 28-85.

reader_iam said...

Something tells me we're in for some great pix over the next week.


(And I envy your getting to meet Internet Ronin, in particular. Not that all the rest wouldn't be fun, too.)

Simon said...

Maxine Weiss said...
"Not for all the money in the world, would I send an email to Ann Althouse...."

I suspect that's part of the reason why attendees are required to email.

former law student said...

One caveat about SF Chinatown: the waiters tend to assume all white people just got off the bus from Ashtabula. If you want sea cucumber or on choy you're going to have to be firm about it.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Ruth Anne, or perhaps we may encounter A.A.:
"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay
Watchin' the tide roll in..."

(Unfortunately, the actual Dock of the Bay is largely derelict these days. And, in any case, there's hardly any tide on that side of the Bay. (I'm soo romantic...))

Trooper York said...

Victoria Ware: know there really aren't two sides of the tracks to San Francisco. There's only the lucky and the unlucky, those that happened to grab the right moment and those that didn't, and don't you let this Nob Hill crowd deceive you either. After all, we all started out with the same wooden washtubs.
(Gentleman Jim 1942)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

How about an 11 million hits party? Looks like the old sitemeter is gonna' roll another MM in a day or few.

robert.o said...

email or not, there's probably not much left to herb caen after 10 years in a coffin

AllenS said...

Please don't take any pictures of poop on the sidewalk, even if it bears a resemblance to Elvis.

former law student said...

poop on the sidewalk

I've never seen poop on the sidewalk, but I did once see a guy peeing on a brick wall across from a Mel's Diner. In fact, down by Fisherman's Wharf (which has a dock where actual party boats go out, to fish in the morning or watch whales in the afternoon: I recommend the Wacky Jacky, which has a woman skipper) the reek of urine is prevalent.

You can tell
By the smell
San Francisco

Larry Sheldon said...

If you must do Fisherman's Wharf, plan lunch at A. Sabella's

SGT Ted said...

I wish I didn't have to work this weekend. I'd bring the wife and my son to meet you. He attends SFSU.

PatCA said...

This is also a cool place with lots of history. I believe it's on the cable car ride the drill sgt. mentioned.


The Drill SGT said...

one block off the Powell street Cable car

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

I've never seen poop on the sidewalk, but I did once see a guy peeing on a brick wall across from a Mel's Diner.

Well, I saw a guy peeing on the side of FAO Schwarz during Christmas, 2003.  My wife wanted the boys, before they got too old, to have an experience of the magic of San Francisco at Christmas that she remembered as a child.

Other than the changed names, actual dialog, now etched in my brain:

Youngest: "What's that guy doing, daddy?"
Oldest (before I could answer):  "What do you think he's doing, idiot?"
Me:  "Now, Peter, that's no way to talk.  Don't say that to your brother!"
Youngest:  "He's peeing!  He's peeing on the toy store!  Ha ha ha!"
(He then proceeds to make up a little song, far more clever than I could, so I can't remember it.)
Oldest (now sullen at being upstaged):  "Yeah, right, whatever, Alex.   Daaad, let's get out of here.  Are we actually going in?"
Me:  "Yes.  Let's move it!"
Mom:  "We've seen enough of the window.  It'll be nicer inside."

Yes, it was nicer inside, but the street people camped out in Union Square didn't help our Christmas cheer.  That was the last time the kids went to San Francisco, and it has been etched in their brains.  The youngest calls it "Sick Francisco."  And this from a kid who spends time in New York and takes the "T" (our subway and light rail system) to his school in Boston every day.

Of course, FAO Schwarz was going bankrupt at the time, and closed the store a few months later, so they didn't care.  From all appearances, nobody cared.

Call me a weenie, but between the trouble of walking around with a wife with a bad foot, the annoying street people and their mess, and, to me at least, the horrible climate, I think I'll take a pass on the wonders of "the City."

Like the Drill Sgt., originally a Californian and a UC grad, I was never very fond of the Bay Area.  And since I've spent most of my adult life on the East Coast, I will tell you there IS a city, and it's called New York.