The city beckoned me through a crack in the window.
The blinds came up to reveal
another sunny morning in the Mission District
and a room with a view.
Welcome to San Francisco.
After ablutions, breakfast, and the morning cup o' Joe
I went out back for my bike and once again saw the resident spider,
a resilient arachnid who'd spun multiple webs in the backyard
in between bouts of wind and rain which destroyed his home
and forced him to begin anew.
My day trip began in Ames Alley,
between 22nd and 23rd (and Guerrero and Fair Oaks),
where I found "Only in San Francisco" by Ursula X. Young.
Here's a glance from the sidewalk,
and the long view, looking north.
At the other end of Ames Alley is a little display of San Francisco values.
Highlights include a comment on creeping corporatism,
one of my favorite quotes, and
sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.
Pulling back we have the whole display, in color.
Just around the block I saw Saint James Church,
a corner building which got a new coat of paint
and detail work on its east face
(and its east face only)
a few years back,
Along 22nd, there was
some California winter color while
a couple football fields downhill was
this cheerful mural from Jet Martinez
along the side of the Revolution Cafe.
At 21st and Valencia I saw a march protesting
the displacement of long-term Mission District residents,
victims of the latest flood of tech money into the city.
Between 17th and 18th (and Valencia and Mission) is Clarion Alley,
a long block of street art. Here are "Demoncracy" by Crystal Hermann,
a populist prescription from Megan Wilson,
and a public service cartoon from the DOPE Project,
which does heroin overdose prevention.
Moving east down the alley,
I loved the contrast between the simple black and white style
of the face and the swirls of color which surround it.
Here is a view from up close,
a few steps back,
further back and to the right,
and the big picture, back and to the left.
Clarion Alley also has tributes
to tattoo artist Dean Dennis and
San Francisco painter Pico Sanchez.
Kitty-corner from the Eastern end of Clarion Alley is the Mission Market;
a few dozen strides away was
a sidewalk vendor with pirated DVD's,
a common sight on Mission Street.
As I walked northeast toward downtown,
I noticed that Marshall elementary was teaching their children well.
Light blue and red followed me on a diagonal line to this nearby establishment on Natoma,
a quiet little side street between the main thoroughfares of Mission and Van Ness.
Most of the color was gone from my environs when I reached the South of Market neighborhood. The sun had slipped behind the clouds; the gray sky and the drab industrial architecture were one with this building at 1234 Folsom, headquarters of Crave,
producer of deluxe sex toys.
What color I did encounter popped out on my visual plane, including
this building (and matching front panel) at 1596 Howard,
this Ironlak mural of Gene Simmons, psychobilly Elvis,
and the Pillsbury Dough Boy
done by Sofles and Treas,
in Grace Alley,
birds both across the street at Dore Alley
(by Chor Boogie) and
further down on Folsom (Johanna Poethig),
this fish painting (Deborah Yoon)
on Langton (off Bryant),
a dreamy mural from El Mac which
graces the front wall of Camputee Press,
a custom Mercedes,
and the suspended furniture installation at 6th and Howard
by Brian Goggin.
I continued east, through downtown. On Market Street
I passed the regal entryway to the Hearst Building,
once home to the San Francisco Examiner,
built after the 1906 earthquake.
A half-block down is a skyward view of the San Francisco Bar Center
which is across the road from the imposing 38-story McKesson building,
built in 1970 as part of the controversial "Manhattanization" of San Francisco,
here seen from front and
But what really caught my attention was the Hobart Building,
a landmark from the early 20th Century which is
a refreshing sight amid all the faceless glass and steel, and
a reminder of the aesthetics and sense of wonder which make San Francisco unique,
even as greed and homogenization threaten its core identity.
Other "Truth and Beauty" photo essays:
"Gone but not Forgotten" is a tribute to a friend who left this world all too soon
"A Sunny* Monday in San Francisco" is a day tour of the city,
from Mission Street to the Pacific Ocean
"On a clear day you can see forever" explores Noe Valley, Ashbury Heights,
the Inner Sunset district, microclimates, and street art on a pristine September day
"Random San Francisco" has 46 photos which range from
ornate architecture to street scenes to vistas to murals
"California in November" captures deep fall natural splendor
"Vintage Cars" is an evening tour of old automobiles in the Mission District