An Unlikely Icon

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After what now amounts to almost seventeen years, I realize that I have lived in California a lot longer than I ever thought I would. Totaled up it’s still a lot less time than I lived in New Mexico, so I still have that going for me.

But here I am. After putting in this many years I guess I have the right to look at a building in San Francisco and say, “hey, I remember when that used to be…”

In my time in the Bay Area, I’ve seen a lot of things change. Like many people in San Francisco, I also have a deep sense of nostalgia for a lot of the quirky things the City brings to the world.

I cried when the last working street clock in North Beach was hit by a delivery truck, rendering it busted forever.

I beam with pride when I see the restored doggy head smirking atop a pole overlooking the Doggy Diner (over by the zoo).

And today. Today my heart is heavy for the loss of yet another San Francisco quirky institution.

Sadly, it was reported this morning that the Bushman from the Wharf has passed away.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of spending a touristy day down on Fisherman’s Wharf, then you don’t know about the Bushman.

He would take several leafy eucalyptus branches in hand and then he’d get real low, usually squatting on a milk crate, and he’d hold the branches out in front of him. He would usually position himself by other shrubbery so any passerby might think it was simply another bit of brush.

Then he’d pick out a person walking the sidewalk and as they walked past him he’d shake the leaves and let out a low rumbling growl.

At the noise, pretty much every victim would leap a foot off the ground. That was when the Bushman would laugh with the best, most expansive laugh you’ve ever heard. This would get the victim laughing too.

People would gather around and watch it happen, and they would laugh too, everyone brimming with anticipation for the next victim. After a good laugh, folks would throw a couple dollars his way and move on.

This whole thing was always done in good fun, the Bushman was never mean about it.

In the early years in my California tenure, I spent a lot of time in the company of blues musicians who worked a lot of Saturday afternoons at Lou’s Pier 47. Back when Lou still owned the place, she paid well and booked the top guys in all the prime spots.

A good sunny Saturday would pull in a room full of tourists who would happily unload their pockets for food and drinks and tip jars.

I would often go to the club on my own and as the afternoon went on and the patrons consumed more and more booze, things could sometimes get a bit weird. If things were too funky in the club and if it was still sunny out, I’d head out to the Wharf to wander the shops, eat some Ghirardelli or just sit by the water, stare at the Golden Gate and ponder my life.

I was my own version of a wharf rat and I loved it.

With all that time spent prowling around, I encountered the Bushman on several occasions.

He only got me once, but he got me good.

I learned to keep a sharp eye out for him so I could be in on the joke and not the punchline.

I liked to catch him, too. I’d say, “I see you!” and he’d growl at me and I’d go “uh-huh” and walk on.

I haven’t spent that much time on the Wharf in years, but when I was there a few months ago I saw him and was happy to know he was still there.

And now he’s not.

The article says that his sometime partner (who helped the ruse by distracting potential victims) will keep up the routine, but I suspect it won’t be quite the same.

San Francisco, so nostalgic, so prone to change.

The original Bushman will be missed.







Image found here. That blog owner is super duper cranky about the Bushman, but c’est la vie. To each their own. The Tumblr is named “I Hate Stuff” and provides content as advertised.




A Shiny New Toy

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My fascination with bridges is pretty well documented. I have a mini project going on in my creative background to photograph bridges (and rivers, boy do I love rivers!).

This weekend I had a nice opportunity to photograph a brand spanking new bridge.

For years, ok pretty much since I moved to the Bay Area, I have railed about the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The western span is a beautiful, elegant suspension bridge while the eastern span is a bunch of clunky tinker toys, better known as a cantilever bridge.

Here’s a photo I took from the upper deck of the tinker toy:



Image Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

This part of the bridge is very functional but not very aesthetically pleasing. At least in my personal opinion (others disagree).

You’ll recall that in 1989, this was also the section of the Bay Bridge that collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake.



Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons license.


If that photo don’t make your heiney pucker, than you have a set of brass nerves that I just don’t have.

In the wake of the 1989 earthquake, planning and work began to replace this span of the Bay Bridge with something more seismically stable. This project was not cheap and it was not simple, but by gum, now some 24 years later the brand spanking new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened up to the public last night.

Traffic reports this morning were pretty bleak as plenty of people crammed onto the new span for their first ride.

Yesterday The Good Man and I sought to escape the breeze-less heat at our happy home and drove out to the marina near Emeryville, which offers unobstructed views of the City, the bridges and downtown Oakland. I took my camera along as I am part of a photography club and this month’s theme is landscapes.

Here is my semi-artistic view of the new eastern span (to the far left in the photo) and how it blends is perfectly with the existing buildings and landscape of the San Francisco city line (that’s the top of the iconic Transamerica building just to the right of the new bridge).

At first I was no fan of the white paint on the new span, but now I’ve come to love it. This new suspension bridge really stands out against the backdrop and claims its own place in Bay Area history.



Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth


Hard to tell from this photo, but there are no cars on the deck of the bridge. Who knows how many years will pass before we see that again!

And while I’m excited to the point of hyperactivity about this gorgeous new suspension bridge and looking forward to seeing it every day as I drive to work, I find something curious is happening.

The news reports say that the moment the new bridge is up and running, the old eastern span will be dismantled. The pieces will come out in the reverse order they went in and much of the metal will be sold for scrap. This makes me a bit sad. It seems that ugly ol’ bridge found a way into my heart. Those 1934 era tinker toys now mean something to me, and I’m more than sad to see them go.

In the wake of this shiny new toy, that unseismically sound bridge now seems awfully lovely. In the many months I commuted to the east bay across the Bay Bridge (before I made the big move), I learned to love the forgotten little sister to the Golden Gate bridge.

Sure am going to miss one half of my old chum, even as I welcome this safer new span.

I’m glad the Bay Bridge is having a much deserved moment in the sun.





Image of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth. Image of new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth. Both images subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Old span taken with an iPhone and the Camera+ app, new span taken with a Canon Rebel and fixed up a bit in Photoshop.




How I Learned To Re-Love My Home by Being a Tourist

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When you live and work in an area that is a poplar tourist destination, once can get a bit…weary…of the whole out-of-towner schtick. Come summertime when the weather starts to warm up and school lets out, the San Francisco Bay Area is certainly a popular place for folks to visit.

When I first started dating The Good Man (lo these many years ago), he lived just off the Embarcadero and I learned to not just deal with tourists, but to be fully submerged into their every photo clicking, map pointing good times.

I grew a little tired of it, honestly. Kind of made me want to stay inside and avoid those types.

Enter this past weekend and the arrival of my almost fourteen year old goddaughter. She lives somewhere in that no man’s land between Las Cruces and Radium Springs, New Mexico and her view of the world is a little different from mine. She had briefly been in San Francisco five years ago around the time of my wedding, but hadn’t really spent time in the City.

So Uncle Good Man and I did it up right. We loaded her in the car and headed off for destinations such as Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, Lombard Street, the Wharf and more.

As I huffed and puffed walking many of the seven hills and jostled my way through tourists and took in my beloved sights once more, I too became a tourist. A tourist with a memory.

Oh yes, I recalled the stone risers near Ghiradelli Square where I sat on that beautiful California day and contemplated if I could really live here. I watched the gentle waves in the Bay and summoned my courage. And OH! There is that little dude who wears a full old-time golfer uniform and waxed mustache who does a rollickingly fun shell and balls game on the streets. Man, that guy is still there? And oh muh lord, the Golden Gate on a clear day. What a gorgeous little orange gem.

I saw the familiar sights with new eyes and I remembered fully, totally, and completely why San Francisco is one of the most wonderful places in the world.

I think I needed that. I needed to remember why I live here, why it matters, why I left not just my heart but my liver, and pancreas and eyes and all the other major body parts in San Francisco. I felt the energy and excitement of all the tourists visiting my fair City and I echoed it back to them.

Good ol’ San Franciscio, she made me fall in love all over again, and that leaves me with a happy smile.

And a huge stack of Ghiradelli chocolate bars in my kitchen cabinet. Buy four get one free! Whatta steal!





In Memorium for One Of The Greats

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Over the weekend came the very sad news about the passing of Hollywood legend, Ray Harryhausen.

The Good Man was a lifetime Harryhausen fan and introduced me to the magic that Ray made only recently. How badly I had been missing out.

At 92, Ray lived a good long life and he leaves behind a legacy of work. His stop motion animation paved the way for so much of what you see now in this CGI-heavy film world.

Mr. Harryhausen will be missed, along with his best friend, Ray Bradbury. Tough to lose both Rays within the course of a single year.

To remember Mr. Harryhausen, I am reposting something I wrote back in 2010 when I first learned to appreciate Harryhausen movies. You can tell from all the exclamation points how totally into his movies and the animation I was (and am).

For you, Ray.


———————

 This old dog learned a new trick
Originally published February 5, 2010

At Christmas, my husband received a great gift from his step-mom. He unwrapped it and exclaimed, “A Ray Harryhausen collection! Honey, look, we got a Ray Harryhausen collection! Wow, thank you!”

And I was like, “who?” My sweetest is an educated film guy, so I figured it was some obscure director of strange and dark independent films. So I said, “hey, great!” with a shrug.

Who knew I was TOTALLY missing out?

In my ongoing film education (The Good Man is keeping a list. I’m working through it….) he popped “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” in the ol’ DVD player while I was eating lunch one weekend afternoon.

I was immediately hooked in. Yeah baby! I figured out just who Ray Harryhausen really is. A master of creating amazing creatures in stop motion animation.

The stumbling roaring Cyclops from the late 1950’s is every bit as creepy today. In fact, in a lot of ways, I actually like that better that today’s overly CGI’d movies.

At the end of the “Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” DVD, there were some special features. One was clips from when Harryhausen got an Oscar (presented by his best friend, Ray Bradbury. What a pair they must make!) and at the conclusion of Harryhausen’s acceptance speech, Tom Hanks comes onto the stage to bring on the next award.

He makes the segue by saying, “I know for some people it is Gone with the Wind or Casablanca, but for me, it’s all about Jason and the Argonauts

I looked at The Good Man and said, “Well we have to watch that next, then.”

And so we did. We watched as Jason and his merry band of Argonauts fight a huge bronze statue of Talos that had come to life and, oh man this part was cool, a whole army of sword wielding skeletons! Skeletons! I *love* skeletons! They clacked and grimaced and fought. Aw damn, how very cool!

Then we watched “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” and I remembered that I saw this movie when I was a kid, most likely on TV. I watched it with my big brother back in the day. I remembered the blue Shiva with swords in all the arms. (and let’s talk about the very naturally endowed Caroline Munro. Rowr! It’s so rare these days to see an un-surgically enhanced actress.)

And finally, we had to get to THE must see film in the collection because, well, it’s set in San Francisco. The next in the series of my SF film education.

The movie was “It Came from Beneath The Sea.” Yeah baby!

What the movie lacked in dialogue and story (and it lacked A LOT), it more than made up for in great animation.

Oh, that angry squid snapping the top off the Ferry Building and wrapping tentacles around the Golden Gate! Whoa! And that far-reaching tentacle slapping down Market Street, squishing unsuspecting citizens!

Good stuff!

So I’m now up to speed on Harryhausen. I have also watched the Dirty Harry movies. Then we did the Hitchcocks set in SF (hello Vertigo!).

I’m excited to see what’s next in my ongoing film edjumacation! I have so much to learn.






Image is a still from “It Came From Beneath The Sea”.




Oh. That’s New.

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*blink* Ow!

*shrug* oooouch!

*wiggle little toe* aiiyyeeeeeee!

Ah yes, folks, the unmistakable sounds of a post-move body.

Everything hurts. My arms and legs are bruised all to heck and my knee is making a crunching sound it didn’t used to make.

In my younger days, I would bounce back from this sort of event within a day or two and go on about my day. Today I have to remind myself to get up from my desk at least once an hour or I will surely become locked up like the Tinman.

When the alarm clock went off this morning I muttered “should have taken today off” but alas, I didn’t.

For a work day, I have to say this morning was pretty nice. Instead of my usual 45 minutes to an hour commute across busy roads and over a bridge, today my commute was just 13 minutes (I timed it) on surface streets.

That right there makes a few days (weeks?) of sore muscles all worth it.

So far we are loving our new pad. A lot. On Sunday we took a short walk in the neighborhood and managed to meet the neighborhood kook. She’s a friendly kook, but a kook nonetheless.

I happen to think knowing the local kook is an important part of settling in to any neighborhood.

So for now we are still living out of boxes, but we’ve even put a pretty good dent in that work. All in, I’d have to say the whole move went really well.

It was, dare I say…a smooth move? (*snicker, snort, guffaw*)

Onward to this sunny Spring Monday. May you all have a song in your heart and a bounce in your step.







Image found here.