Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Damned if you do; Bored if you don't."

“No asides!” – David Melville as Stefano in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

I’ve done everything I wanted to do in preparation for my trip to London except see Jake, get a few pounds in cash from the bank, and buying a few last minute things from Target. I’ve figured out my banking and my phone, I’ve gotten a coat, a plug adapter & converter, a new pair of jeans, I’ve paid my $132 infraction ticket (for wearing my seatbelt under my arm), gone to a farewell lunch with my coworkers, made a cheesecake—while seeing both Emily and Josh—and spent the last two days editing all of my San Francisco pictures from July Vacation.

Honestly, I can’t believe that I’ll be in London in 3 days, but I don’t feel much of anything about it. That’s okay with me, but I’m glad there’s no one to ask me if I’m excited anymore. The more people ask, the less excited I become. I don’t let myself get excited about anything except Star Wars, Smallville and when my baking doesn’t go askew. I know that seems like a really short list, but in my limited experience (and relatively low expectations of both Star Wars and Smallville due to the fact that they are what they are, and that’s good enough for me) you just can’t be disappointed in Tom Welling, inter-galactic traveling, or chocolate. (Not that I only bake with chocolate—that cheesecake was peanut-butter—but it sounded good that way.)

So, now—for the moment you’ve been waiting for. Pictures and little explanation about—you know—San Francisco.  (PLEASE--Click on the pictures to see them at their CORRECT size.  Please.  They're meant to be viewed correctly, not all squished up.)
Thursday, Day 1 in SF started at 4pm at the Academy of Sciences. An entire rainforest habitat was recreated in a sphere—I know there’s a technical name for it, but I refuse to look it up—with birds, frogs, butterflies and fish practically right out in the open, and snakes, bugs, and reptiles in smaller show-cases.

Right across the way are the remnants of the CA Mid-winter International Exposition, which took place in 1894—which I love. The fountains were empty, due to California’s water shortage, I’m sure, and the once-beautifully carved intricacy of their wells has gone to good use for skate boarders who have nothing better to ruin than something that’s over a hundred years old. I’m not bitter, I’m not.

I suppose you could count it all as becoming a part of life and the currency of things. The half dome was gorgeous, and like everything old, had an incredible haunt to it, like old faded-out band music, or far-off laughter. The Mid-winter Exposition, of course, was an incredible attempt at creating something mildly related to the extremely successful Chicago Exposition—which of course was much faker than our beautiful half-dome that’s been there for 100 years. No, it wasn’t made out of chicken wire and plaster—we Californian’s may be gaudy but we aren’t insincere, which is why this California Exposition is so much more beautiful.

Day 2, Friday was full. We went on the Bay Cruise, which besides being an extremely tourist-y thing to do, was very enjoyable. We hadn’t done it before, and saw a lot of view of the city that you don’t get otherwise. Such as the view of San Francisco:


The Golden Gate Bridge:

And of course the backside of Alcatraz, which is my favorite post-card looking picture to-date.

I apologize for the overly post-card looking-ness of these pictures but I was trying out a lot of things with editing and Photoshop. Plus, I can’t help it, but I love vibrant colors. Alcatraz, of course, has that similar haunt as the Mid-winter Exposition, but I think more people can feel it there, which is why so many people are interested in it. Something about some of the greatest criminals of the last century, the attempted escapes, the freezing waters, the island quality that’s so close to shore it might drive a person crazy to see San Francisco across the bay.

Another picture from the Bay Cruise: I hope it is amusing for those of you who are familiar with Rachel.

Also on Friday, we went to Pier 39, walked from Pier 39, all the way through China Town to Union Square (which was a good and rather long, walk) where we did some shopping (or I did). And last was Ghirardelli—our only NECESSARY stop whenever we go to San Francisco.

Day 3. Saturday. By far the busiest day. Legion of Honor was first. Beautiful of course, but I would have much more enjoyed the DeYoung Museum which has one of the greatest collections of American Art with some of my favorite American artists from the early 19th Century. Legion of Honor was a lot of British, Dutch, and German artwork. I enjoyed it, but it’s hard not know the history behind a piece of art. You just don’t get as much out of it. The building though—was magnificent.

And we come up to my favorite part of the journey: Point Bonita and Fort Point.

First the Battery Bunker where I found an old adage that I found endearing. It was graffitied on inside of the wall inside the room of the bunker seen here. “Damned if you do; Bored if you don’t.” There’s something so intriguing and smart about the saying—and it just adds character when its graffiti. It’s like they know what they’re doing is wrong, but there’s really nothing better to do than defile an old military battery bunker. I mean, who thought? It’s part of its charm, I suppose that the metal is corroding, the windows are holes in the wall, the unlit battery holding areas are screaming to be explored and the concrete stairs lead to a view of the entire bay.

There’s a picture of Caitlin too—one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken of her. However, on the way to Point Bonita Caitlin and I also did a photo shoot of sorts in between some of the pictures I took on the trail up to Point Bonita.

There you are. And since I made such a giant deal about Point Bonita—having taken so many pictures just to get there, and beautiful ones might I say—here is Point Bonita herself—the Lighthouse. My family has a thing about going to lighthouses. I think it’s the haunted quality again.

Now, these following pictures really don’t do justice to Fort Point in the least. I love it there; the feeling is greater than anywhere else, that lonely and lively feeling of history. Built during the Civil War, when the Union wasn’t sure of what it was spending its money on, a lot of bunkers and forts and barracks were built in San Francisco. You can just imagine the camaraderie between all the men with giant beards that make them look 20 years older than they are. The empty rooms long to be remembered as they were before they were empty, the pictures wish for a story beneath them. And yet, all we see is the lonesome past of something that was, and is no more. Ah, forgotten history. The day-to-day things that we forget to write down. Not what happened, but how it happened, more importantly why it happened. And how it felt.

After Fort Point we went walking on the old concrete pier. It looks abandoned and boarded up, but people are still there fishing. It was windy, and cold, and so peaceful.

Sunday, Day 4 wasn’t really spent in San Francisco. We left that morning. But, as a small summary closing we stopped by the San Luis Obispo Mission. I suspect it’s a quiet and secret desire of my father’s (yet, not so secret) to someday make it to every California Mission. So here’s another docked off the list. And to another summer of memories.

Now, to connect and close up. Yesterday we went to Barnsdale Park Independent Shakespeare to see The Tempest. Since I depart to London—and to study Shakespeare, no less—I also am pressed to remember what a Yale Professor of the Civil War said: “History is not only the story, but the reason why.” This is my venture as a lover of history—to have an opinion on the reason why, preferably a right one. But the world has little want of historians, and rarely ever has. And so . . . I’ll have to find another way to employ myself.

I was thinking postcard maker.