Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The historic Paramount Theatre meets mid-afternoon sun

In the early-to-mid aughts I saw a lot of stand-up comedy at the Punchline, a club in downtown San Francisco. At one show, comedian Michael Meehan made a crack about a small town on the other side of the bay. The joke bombed. In response to the audience's silence, Meehan grinned and said, "C'mon folks, you have to get outside the 415 [San Francisco's] area code sometimes."

That got a laugh because it was true. In the 17 years I lived in San Francisco, I explored every neighborhood of the city but barely ever made it across the bay to Oakland, a cultural Mecca in its own right, other than to attend concerts or art exhibits. 

The vast majority of my exposure to Oakland came in the last three months I lived in the Bay Area, just before I was priced out. From January to April of 2016, I walked from a subway station in downtown Oakland to an internship at an inner-city day treatment program. Along the way, I took in a new visual landscape that included the bad (fences, security systems, snarling dogs) and the beautiful (murals aplenty). 

A stone's throw from the street-level opening of the subway station is the Paramount Theatre, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Built in 1931, this art deco structure has a visual splendor—both internally and externally—missing in modern movie theatres. 

Each weekday afternoon after I finished case notes I headed back downtown. The Paramount was the last taste of Oakland I had before I disappeared down into the subway. The February afternoon pictured above, like most, was sunny and mild; I flipped on my sunglasses as I turned from an alleyway onto Broadway Street, approaching the theatre. This view of the sun-kissed Paramount mosaic was captured from the median. As snow falls outside my window in flyover land, this is one of the many images that reminds me of the mystical urban beauty of the Bay Area.

                                                        Truth and Beauty photo essays:

eye-catching architecture, and miscellaneous city scenes 
in a stroll from the Mission to South of Market to downtown

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" is a walking photo tour of San Francisco from the Bay to the Ocean (and a golden sunset) on a pristine sunny day just before Xmas

"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

"Random San Francisco" has 46 photos which range from 
ornate architecture to vistas to murals to sidewalk messaging

"California in November" captures deep fall natural splendor

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