Montgomery Street Stairs, San Francisco
July 31st, 2013
"My soul can find no staircase to Heaven, unless it be through Earth's loveliness."
When you think of San Francisco, what comes to mind? Sourdough bread? Tony Bennett? The Barbary Coast? The Golden Gate Bridge? The TransAmerica Pyramid building? Fisherman's Wharf? Well yes, I can see that! Those are all the things tourists come to San Francisco to see, but there are all kinds of interesting hidden gems about the city that gets overlooked. I kinda love that because I can go and experience those things, without being trampled on. LOL. Although I think the word has been getting out in recent years about one of my personal favorite haunts... the stairs of San Francisco.
I have read here and there that there is probably some 300 or more public stairways in San Francisco. Some have been featured in movies, some are cement, some are still of their original wood, having survived the 1908 earthquake! They are historical. They are works of art, like the 16th avenue tiled steps, and all of them serve the same purpose, to get you from here to there on all these hills! If I posted one set of stairs a day, it would take me the better part of a year to show you each and every one of them. I was thinking about posting this kind of series a couple times a month... maybe. So, if I do get to post at that rate, it will be more like several years before I photograph each set!
It sounds daunting.
But I think I would like to try.
Think of the history.
Think of the beauty.
Think of the exercise.
Think of the sights you find along the way.
Personally, I am up for the challenge!
I can't wait to see what I will discover while walking on the stairs of San Francisco! I am going to do a more in depth photo session on the Montgomery street stairs. That will be coming along pretty soon, so stay tuned! I think you will be surprised by the amazing views and beauty associated with them. I know I was!
"The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane."
It's a new dawn It's a new day It's a new life for me And I'm feeling good
~Leslie Bricusse, The Bricusse Songbook
Okay, so I warned you the other day, I am going to be reminiscing about my, I mean our, fun surrounding our stalking, I mean following, of Woody Allen as he made movie magic filming Blue Jasmine last year in San Francisco. LOL. Okay, so what exactly does the current construction on a building have to do with all the misadventures last year? Well, it's a funny story, and at the same time, a tragic story, but in the end the story comes full circle... not unlike a Woody Allen movie! LOL.
It Went Like This...
If you have been reading me for any length of time, you already know about my Woody Allen adventure last year. I won't rehash the whole thing, but I will share that right in the middle of the story came a moment of abstract surrealism. You see, on August 25th of last year, Alan and I tracked Woody Allen's filming schedule, mostly by way of social media, around San Francisco. On the 28th we learned he was filming in the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood, so off we went. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, there was no Woody to be seen. He was done and done.
But fear not, social media came through again, and we found out he was merely a few neighborhoods away in the West Portal. There wasn't an exact address, so it was a bit like looking for a Woody... um... needle... in a haystack. Finally we found out where the technical trucks would be parked. When we got there, we saw plenty of trucks, some marked wardrobe, but there didn't seem to be any film service trucks, or any tell tale signs of filming going on, like sandwich boards marked "No Parking" and there was no police presence. Hmmm.
So, with nothing else to do, we decided to drive around the neighborhood, and see if anything could be found. We checked out about 7 or 8 streets, when finally we hit pay dirt! A young, well dressed man, walking down the hill with a camera in his hand. EUREKA! By Woody, I think we had it! And yes, we did! A short drive up West Portal, and onto Ulloa, and there it was, the camera crew, the catering truck, and of course, Woody Allen's town car, parked on the corner of Claremont and Ulloa.
As you might imagine, there was no place to park on our first pass around the neighborhood, so once around again. And that's when it all happened!
With my cameras responsibly stored in their proper cases, and my cell phone, with the awesome camera, equally responsibly placed at the bottom of my purse, where everything in my purse goes, lol, I had no distractions from not just looking for a place to park, but to also check out the neighborhood stores and restaurants. Excellent. I was calm, and well prepared. Good for me! So, on our second time around the block, as we turned onto Ulloa from West Portal, I noticed a cute restaurant called The Squat And Gobble. What an interesting name! My amusement of which only lasted about 3 seconds, no kidding, because coming out of that restaurant, all by himself, with no entourage was... Woody Allen!
LOL. As you can see from the pictures above, the distance between the restaurant entrance, and the curb is not very far! Woody Allen was literally 5 feet away from me, if that much, and where were my cameras? Why they were responsibly put away of course! OMG. It would have been a really terrific, candid shot of him, and I had make a really rookie mistake of not taking at least one camera out after we located the filming sight. All photographers, professional or amateur, have a memory of at least one "shot that got away," for me, Woody Allen will always be "the one that got away!" LOL.
Anyway, like a good little diabetic, I had packed my lunch for the day before I left the house, so we decided to check out the Squat and Gobble during our upcoming vacation which was scheduled for October. In fact, we reasoned, why not come and have dinner on our wedding anniversary, which would be on October 13th. It would be a fun way to spend the day, laughing about our Woody Allen misadventures, and we could take some time to just check out the neighborhood properly! It was a plan!
Unfortunately, not unlike a plot twist in a Woody Allen movie, the Squat and Gobble burned to the ground on October 12th, that's right, one day before our anniversary! It burned down so completely, that it managed to take a couple other businesses with it! It was a total loss! I felt really bad for the restaurant, and the businesses, but I have to admit, I felt really bad that the memory I hoped to make was gone as well.
But hey, good news came along earlier this year, when it was announced that the Squat and Gobble will rise like the phoenix later this year! And no matter when, Alan and I will be there to support them in their grand reopening. We will be making a new memory. Sure, it won't be the exact restaurant Woody ate in, but it will be close enough, and besides, it's the total ambiance of the area. The street. The people. The time you spend with someone you love, in this case, Alan, and the surreal turn of events that I can't help but feel a tiny bit responsible for on some odd level. LOL. Which of course is completely neurotic of me, but hey, it was a Woody Allen movie that brought me here... right?
Congratulations Squat And Gobble On Your Rise From The Ashes!We Will See You Later This Year!
"Maybe you think life is not worth living, but is death worth dying for?"
I was very sad when I learned the news yesterday that Gia Allemand had passed away. I had been praying for her since hearing about her illness online the night before. There weren't many details, and truthfully, the details of why she had been hospitalized weren't the point, the point was that she was gravely ill, on life support, and as her friend said on Twitter, the next 48 hours were crucial. But less than 24 hours later the horrible news came... Gia Allamend has passed away at age 29. It's obscene, no one should die so young, and so vibrant! It wasn't until a few hours later last evening that the news came that Gia hadn't been struck down by some random bit of bad luck, or illness out of the blue, Gia had committed suicide.
I didn't know her personally, but I remember seeing her for the first time while she competed on ABC's The Bachelor: On The Wings Of Love. Which, by the way, was the worst of the Bachelor seasons I had personally watched. But not because of the show itself, and certainly not because of Gia, but rather because of the bachelor himself... Jake Pavelka. But this post isn't about him, it's about Gia, and the loss of her talent and potential. Again suicide had talked someone into making a bad, irreversible decision. Suicide is such a liar.
It tells you that if you pull that trigger, or take that leap from the window, or put the noose up just a little higher, all your pain will end, but it doesn't remind you that so will all your joys. Days filled with amazing smiles that you can't imagine, are just waiting to happen for you. One simple act, means you will never see your wedding day, feel your children birth from your body, grow old with the one person in the world who loves you, faults and all, and still sees you as a girl of 20, when you are an old woman of 70. Sunsets are so beautiful that there are no words to describe them. I could go on. But we all have those things that we love. The things that keep us getting up every day. The life affirming moments that each day has, as long as we keep them in our heart.
I don't know what Gia's personal demons were. She seemed quite loved and respected. Maybe she didn't exactly know what those demons were either. I make no judgement about her choices, including her decision to end her life. Suicide is a very personal decision. But I do hope, and wish that the next person contemplating this act, decides to pick up the phone and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and talk it through. Perhaps be open to a different point of view. If it's Monday, and suicide is all you can think about, rather than taking that step, take a pause, ask some questions, talk to a friend, pray, cry, yell, whatever because, after all, Tuesday is only a few hours away, and who knows how many problems can be solved in just a few short hours, that don't have to last the lifetime's of those you leave behind.
Rest In Peace, Gia Allemand. Maybe God Hold You Close Always.
"Keep Passing The Open Windows"
~John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire
Sally Hawkins (In The Long Black Coat) And Bobby Cannaval (With The Paper Under His Arm)
"Do stuff. Be clinched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. I makes you eager. Stay eager."
I can't believe it's been a year since the adventure on 20th and Lexington, but it has been! I am reminiscing a bit about the fun Alan and I had last year, tracking down Woody Allen and the places he was filming Blue Jasmine, using only our wits, Google Maps, and social media. Trust me, those are three skills one should never leave home without, when tracking one's comedic idol, whoever it might be!
Last summer, while filming was in full swing, the movie was known around town as W.A.S.P. ... "Woody Allen's Summer Project." There weren't a lot of details about the movie, and everyone was sworn to secrecy. The technical people couldn't have been nicer to speak to, always friendly, no matter how hot it got, or how many questions the onlookers, gawkers if you will, through at them. I didn't of course, but others around me asked the questions, and I took notes. LOL.
You remember the picture I took of Woody Allen descending the red stairs? Well, after he did, he almost immediately left for the afternoon lunch break. No sooner had his car turned the corner, then some of the stars also came out of the building, in particular, the amazing Sally Hawkins! I adore her, and I was thrilled to be able to also capture that moment. She paused for a brief moment, as she turned the corner onto Lexington, and was gone in a flash. I didn't see her again throughout the adventure, so I was super happy to have gotten that photo as well!
Some photographer I am! Right in the same frame was another star of the movie... Bobby Cannavale, and in my Woody Allen Afterglow, and myHey There's Sally Hawkins How Cool Is That Moment, I missed Bobby Cannavale! Bobby, if you ever read this post, I bow in a gesture of amends, and in an effort to make it right... see above! LOL.
I have an excellent excuse, you see, I hadn't heard you were in the movie yet!
Now, being real here, Bobby Cannavale couldn't care less if he was included in a blog post of a little known blogger from the San Francisco East Bay. I am barely a blip on anyone's radar. I mostly post to my blog for me, but still, I wouldn't have felt right if I hadn't posted the picture of him as well. After all, rumor has it that this might just be Woody's best film to date, and I am just one peep who got the thrill of a lifetime to be able to say, I saw magic happen on 20th and Lexington. So how can I not do the right thing, and show the whole picture of what makes magic... well... magic!
Alan and I have a date, August 23rd, to go to the movies and see Blue Jasmine. It is a very special day in the universe for us, you see, August 23rd is the anniversary of our first date, 25 years ago, and it also just happens to be the 10th anniversary of my blog Ellipsis. So, stay tuned, there is a lot more to come over the next week or so!
"When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I am leaving."
In the ten years I have been blogging, I have showed off the beautiful sights around the Bay Area, and San Francisco in particular, and as lovely as the usual tourist spots are, I think it's time to venture out a bit both in my thinking, and my photography, so, how about we check out something a bit unusual... shall we?
Parking In San Francisco...
Here's the thing. If anything ever happens to Alan, GOD FORBID, I would probably never see San Francisco again! LOL. I HATE driving there, hate it with a passion. One moment you could be on a perfectly flat, easy to maneuver, nicely wide street, but make one wrong turn... and you are in HILLSIDE HELL! Honestly, the steep hillsides seem to come out of nowhere! It's downright eerie! But if the truth be told, it's also kinda cool, in a terrifying way! I jest, but really, if you aren't used to it, the whole process can be a bit nerve wracking! But it can also be inspiring. One day, in my terror, while riding up a particularly steep hill, I decided to snap a few photos of the scary driveways that go along with living on a hill in San Francisco. Personally, I think the driveways are a marvelous, and I can't help but admire the bravery of those who deal with the parking every single day, but I am not sure I would want to live there!
Take this first driveway for instance. It's kinda cool... in an odd kind of way.
This isn't the worst I have seen, believe me, so stay tuned, there is a lot more driveways to come!
"Maybe there's a whole other universe where a square moon rises in the sky, and the stars laugh in cold voices, and some of the triangles have four sides, and some have five, and some have raised to the fifth power of sides. In this universe there might grow roses which sing. Everything leads to everything."
My rose garden is doing quite nicely this year, I have only had a little bit of trouble with those nasty aphids, it's just been a low key year for me. I am only adding one new rose this season, as my heart wasn't quite into gardening as in previous seasons. It's good to add slowly though, and give keener attention to the existing roses. I am planning on doing one last pass at the rose suppliers, possibly here in the East Bay, or perhaps in Half Moon Bay. We'll see.
As for the coming week, I will be putting the newest rose in the ground, and perhaps doing some new starters from some of the more delicate roses already planted. As for the Japanese Maple... well... Paul (that's his name) is already transitioning from deep red to the lovely autumn copper. It remains my shining star! Photos to come this week!
He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
~St. Francis Of Assisi
I was back at Crissy Field a couple weeks ago, cameras by my side, and in my hands obviously, to capture the amazing 8 piece Abstract expressionistsculpture series by artist Mark di Suvero, that was placed along the green through a partnership of SFMOMA, the National Park Service and the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy. The sculptures will be featured at Crissy Field until late spring of 2014 as part of the SFMOMA's Art On The Go program, while the museum undergoes a 3 year expansion project. I am looking forward to seeing more art around town as time progresses.
Personally speaking, I love, love, love seeing the sculptures along Crissy Field. I am a huge fan of Public Art, and this has been among my favorites of this year to photograph! With the gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge as their background, it has brought a different feel to the sculptures that one couldn't experience if they were locked inside a room, or in a simple garden setting. But the community surrounding Crissy Field isn't so happy about their presence. But we won't focus on that right now. No, let's just enjoy the sculptures, and the way they make us feel!
My photos really don't do them justice. You must visit and see them for yourself!
Photographing and appreciating Public Art is just about the best way I know of to spend a summer day!