Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Quasi- Literary Photo Tour of San Francisco

Here's something a little different.  A few weeks ago I visited San Francisco for the first time.  Lovely city.  One of my goals for that weekend was to take a literary tour of the city with a good friend (who also happens to be "First Editor" for Max Underground) as a belated birthday present.

According to the website this was allegedly the only guided literary tour in town, and was given once every weekend.  The site gave a number to call.  I called.  The voice greeting said: "It is imperative that you leave a message and a phone number to call back in case I need to cancel the tour, for instance when I'm going out of town."  I left a message, said I would plan on showing up unless I heard from him, gave my number. I went to the meeting point the next day with my editor friend as well as the friend I was staying with.

No call. No show.

I won't name the tour/tour-guide that left us hanging, out of writerly respect, but I was peeeeee-issed.

So we went on our own literary tour, sort of, and thanks to iPhone -- Love you! (*kisses* phone) -- I've got some photos and mini-movies documenting the experience.

I share them here -- both the photos with a literary bent and... well, everything else.

Let's start with the resident sea lions on Pier 39.   This actually is a literary photograph of sorts, when you consider the verse that the lions inspired (which deserves its own post, forthcoming).

Not far from the sea lions we found Musee Mecanique, the most pleasant surprise of my trip.  I didn't even know it existed, and happened upon it almost by accident.  The place boasted well over a hundred antique, coin-operated arcade amusements.  Stained oak, tarnished brass, clinkety, clunkety, what a time warp! A variety of penny peep shows (now a quarter; god, inflation) which were thoroughly un-arousing, and enough old fortune telling machines to transform every San Franciscan into a goofy, mean-foot-piano-playin' Tom Hanks.

It's at the Musee where I shot all my mini-movies.  We start with the scariest attraction, Laffing Sal.  I think she may be married to Pennywise the Clown from It.

Moving on to the only slightly less scary English Execution.

The coin-operated carnival.

I discover foosball 1.0

And here's an old-fashioned player piano. You'll notice among iPhone's myriad talents is that it actually dances to music.

Back to photos...

Even with the ominous clouds gathering over Alcatraz, it didn't look that hard to escape from.

The first bridge I've ever seen that I would call "beautiful."

These next eight are terrible, but amusing. When the button is on the opposite face of the camera and intangible (just an image on a touchscreen), taking the self shot is really challenging. A flexible wrist helps, but only so much. Just wasn't meant to be.

You can see my frustration mount as I try to capture myself and the Golden Gate in some kind of aesthetically adept fashion.


In this one you can almost tell there's a bridge behind me.

Golden Gate Park the next day.

This fish was determined to sneak up on the black duck, about half its size, but soon after this shot the duck flipped out and monster-pecked him back down into the depths.

A closer look at the duck's eyes explains the violent behavior -- this bird is clearly infected with the rage virus

The Botanical Gardens.  This is what happens when trees play too close to electrical outlets.

Japanese Tea Garden.  Serenity now!!!

Caffe Trieste, where many a Beat poet and writer hung out; also where Francis Ford Coppola is said to have written much of the Godfather screenplay. None of that holds a candle to my finally mastering the iPhone self-shot.  Just look at that balance.

 Here we are standing in front of the City Lights Bookstore waiting for a tour that never happened.  This is the store that originally published Allen Ginsberg's Howl, for which the owner later went on trial.

We went across the street to the Beat Museum.  Fuck the tour.

Early editions of Beat classics.

Yeah, Fuck Tour!  Or Hate.  Whatever.

Ginsberg's organ, on display.

Ginsberg's organ, on display.

(I didn't take this one -- Elsa Dorfman did -- but I've been waiting weeks to make that joke.  This dude loved getting naked)

The Howl Trial

Manuscript with edits.

 Atop the cliffs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (the peninsula on the other side of the Bridge, opposite San Fran)

The lovely Ashley.

And the lovely Andrew.

The moral of this story?  Fuck the San Francisco literary tour.

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