Tag Archives: San Francisco

The doorstop.

Coincidence is one of my favorite spices in the seasoning of life. I yearn for the moments when things that never should have happened unfold as if they were planned.

I had one of these simple, mildly enlightening encounters the other day when searching for a heavy object to keep the door from slamming in our tiny San Francisco apartment. After successfully jamming most of our excess crap in a storage unit, I was having a hell of time finding an item that:

1) Would sit flat on the ground
2) Weighed enough to withstand a heavy breeze

And old pair of work boots had already failed me and my next move was TBD. Of course, the only reason the door has to remain open is for the dog to roam free around the apartment and he was anxiously watching my every move.

That’s when I spotted my trusty, battery-powered drill. It had all of the above-named characteristics, and to my surprise, perfectly matched our “burnt orange” big city couch. Problem solved—and color-coordination coincidence noted.

Doorstop.jpg

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If the shoe fits.

My early-morning San Francisco dog walks involve a fair number of encounters with homeless neighbors. I try to keep Woody from disturbing folks sleeping along the sidewalk and I encourage anyone looking for canine companionship to pet the anxious four-legged love monster known as Woody.

As you might expect, living among the destitute, we encounter a number of people who have resorted to digging through the trash for food scraps, cigarette butts and life’s other necessities. While I generally try to avert my gaze, Woody is usually enticed by the smell and the activity. This past Monday, his curious nature overtook my lazy wandering and he pulled me toward a friendly-looking homeless guy that often sleeps in the doorway across from our apartment.

“Good morning,” I said, struggling to get Woody back on track.

“He’s a strong little guy,” the guy responded, pulling a pair of women’s shoes from the bin. “They’re too small for me…but maybe there’s a lady in your life who could use them?” he said passing them my direction.

I assured him that we didn’t need the shoes and he tossed them back in the bin.

“It’s strange…this city…” he said, looking up toward Coit Tower, “There’s so much wealth and generosity. It’s not so bad out here when affluence breeds kindness, you know?”

I was following, but didn’t really know how to respond. I probably said something stupid about having a good day and Woody and I went on our way. I was glad to know that he’s getting by—with an ample supply of what he needs and a few things he doesn’t.

 

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Growing up is great.

Sometimes waking up and walking the filthy city streets of our North Beach neighborhood early in the morning gives me a thrill similar to the one I used to get after staying up all night and wandering home.

But at 1:45 AM I was comfortably situated on a mattress rather than a bar stool.

I’ve got a dog leash in my hand instead of a cigarette.

Best of all, I know exactly where all my stuff is.

Specifically (in no particular order):
– Car
– Wallet
– Keys
– Brain

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Making arrangements.

Yesterday was a lousy day in America. After some deeply disturbed coward in a Las Vegas hotel room left most of us feeling sad and hopeless, the office was silent. People on the street spoke of feeling vulnerable. I wound up at the grocery store wandering the aisles looking for plastic wrap and a friendly smile or two.

That’s when the Safeway floral department came into view. Colorful, living things—free from gun control debates, social media bullshit and the perpetual stress of trying to get by. Just pretty things that make human beings happy.

Suddenly, with a bouquet in my hands, the checker wanted to chat, neighbors stopped in their tracks to ask about the flowers and complete strangers nodded their heads when I passed by. I’ve never seen nine dollars go so far. Were people glad to see the flowers? Or happy to witness one human theoretically doing something nice for another? Maybe both? I suppose it doesn’t matter why people reacted—it’s just the simple fact that they showed signs of life on a day when so many were focused on the subject of death. And that’s noteworthy. Or, in this particular case, blog worthy.

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Dumb is fun.

San Francisco is the land of adults who unapologetically act like children. Skateboard commuters. Urban Putt boozy indoor golf. Naked people strutting down the street in broad daylight with no apparent agenda. It can be a shocking, delightful reminder that this city is truly a destination for everyone—even while one-bedroom apartments continue to rent at $3K a month.

So when the pop-up art exhibit, Color Factory, came to town, it sold out quickly. With 15 interactive “color” experiences, I was intrigued, but never considered going after hearing tickets were selling second-hand on Craigslist for $175 a piece. But things took a turn, a ticket came my way and I was excited to weigh the world’s hype against my own skepticism.

It all starts with a boisterous attendant encouraging all visitors to enter their name and email address into an iPad display to get a personalized plastic card that will be used throughout the exhibit. I didn’t think twice about giving them my personal information—the request was shrouded in fun. The diversion was just beginning.

After a quick stop at the scratch and sniff wall, and a treat from a rotating conveyor belt courtesy of Craftsman and Wolves, we headed to the orange room. It was packed with, you guessed it, lots of orange stuff. And it was cool. There were no heady artist statements, just a world of Cheeto-colored objects organized neatly. My brain waves began to subside even further as I snapped a bunch of pictures.

The blue balloon room followed—brought to me by…Alaska Airlines? Even in my mentally relaxed state, I started to connect a few dots. Somewhere between the social media-fueled Instagram frenzy, big brands’ financing and the “limited” availability of tickets, I started to understand why Color Factory had grown into a must-attend event. And the fact that it was easy to like made it even more buzzworthy.

As we made our way, I completely let myself go (as much as any Midwesterner can, at least). I wrote my name on a wall with a three-foot marker, I threw confetti into the air in the Method room, I jumped headfirst into a pit filled with yellow balls and even browsed the gift shop filled with over-priced, yellow merchandise. The subtle mix of art and commerce was working. I’d been sucked in and I really didn’t know why.

Conclusion? In terms of putting smiles on peoples’ faces, Color Factory was a hit. While it wasn’t a deep experience, it was tactile, interactive and, most important, entertaining. And as someone who works day in and day out trying to make impressions, I’d have to say the whole thing was extremely well done. Bravo to the artists and their sponsors.

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Foggy.

As a man of many cities, I’ve found myself accidentally, inadvertently documenting my take on their defining characteristics.

In Madison, Wisconsin it was the incredible amount of snow. I took a million pictures on 35mm film.

In Chicago it was the Gotham-esque buildings (and the snow). These were the days of color shots that appeared to be black and white.

Kansas City was filled with old cars that begged for impromptu portraits. So I did my best to please the beautiful machines.

In Springfield, MO the old cars continued, while the expansive Midwestern sunsets also emerged as a trend.

Then San Francisco came along—with its year-round foliage and strange weather patterns. Cold. Warm. Cold. An absolute paradise for a Kansas kid, the mild temperatures inspire sincere feelings of passion. The word “beautiful” has never been used so accurately. And I’ve reacted accordingly, aiming my camera at the sky predominantly. The fog never ceases to amaze me and for good reason. It’s mysterious. It floats. It’s seemingly always around, yet disappears within seconds. I captured some of what I’m referring to a few days back on an early-morning bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.

On Top.jpg

Skyline.jpg

Spans.jpg

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Prepper.

As a city dweller, my dog-walking ritual has become a streamlined process.

The necessary supplies include:
1) treats
2) at least two poo bags
3) at least two drinks before your departure (optional)

Turns out, my regimented routine can come in handy with other dog walkers as well.

First I saw the struggle. Two dogs, one owner. The small dog wouldn’t budge—sprawled flat on the sidewalk—while the big dog pulled at the owner’s hand.

“I can’t believe I forgot the treats…” I heard the frustrated man mumble as I passed by. Having just dropped Woody the Black Lab off at home, I checked to see if I still had any goodies on board. Bingo.

“You need treats?” I inquired, handing him a random assortment of Woody’s favorites.

As the owner explained to me that the little dog requires some kind of food as an incentive to make it around the block, the big dog pooped on the sidewalk. He looked helplessly at the brownish pile and sighed.

“Let me give you a poo bag, too” I said reassuringly before continuing on my way.

 

 

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