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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


And now for several oversized photos of various places and things in San Francisco

Someday I'll get back to blogging about things that are related to Portland. Tonight is not that day. I spent part of my vacation in the city where hippies supposedly come from. Oddly enough, I only spotted a single hippie. He had no teeth, was sitting at the corner of Haight and Ashbury near where the Gap once stood and was holding a sign that read "need a dollar for weed." If the homeless always lie about what they're going to spend their hard-earned panhandling dollars on, I don't want to think about where the dollar a German tourist passed along while having his picture taken with him is going to wind up.

Here are a few of the other things and/or stuff I saw:

SFMOMA is currently hosting a contemporary Chinese art exhibit. Among the highlights: a large statue of a sleeping Mao surrounded by hundreds of plastic dinosaurs, an anatomically-correct mannequin having her hair yanked off by an angry frog and these gleefully smiling guys that will forever haunt my field of vision every time I close my eyes for the next several months. Probably more creepy: a video-art display in a dark room featuring featureless figures killing themselves over and over again. The room was filled with families and people of all ages. I really, really wish I could have taken a photo of their expressions.

Here's a photo taken at the Palace of Fine Arts/Exploratorium. I rented a bike from a shop to get from Fisherman's Wharf to the Presidio and across the bay. I never did find the Yoda fountain at Industrial Light and Magic but I did have the honor of getting yelled at by several bike-speed junkies for going too slow across the Golden Gate Bridge. The New Pornographers and Gnarls Barkley played an outdoor show near there that Saturday but I was off being a tourist elsewhere.

The last time I was in San Francisco's Chinatown I was shocked to find seahorses for sale, presumably because people actually eat them. This time it was adorable live pheasants in small wooden crates. Two for seven bucks. I was traveling with my parents and my mother and I had a PETA moment where we briefly considered buying them and setting them free. Then I realized what I'd eaten for lunch an hour earlier because I thought it sounded neat: pheasant flambe at a nearby restaurant. The "omnivore's dilemma," it makes hypocrites of us all. Or at least me.

Ah, here's something related to this blog's m.o. I never did figure out why this bar in North Beach has "Portland, Oregon" written over the doorway. Given the parent situation and the leg injury, I wasn't able to explore the bar scene beyond the crazy/weird/cool Tonga Room. With its lagoon, a floating island bandstand and a dance floor made out of an old schooner, I'm convinced it's the world's most elaborate tiki bar.

Likely the most interesting drinking establishment I didn't drink in: Slide, a spot with a secret slide entrance from its days as a Prohibition-era speak easy. I also missed out on the Black Horse Pub, which comes highly recommended by the most knowledgeable-of-all-things-related-to-bars English expat math professor I know, coincidentally the only....

One of the many murals in the Mission District. I purchased running socks from a nearby market. They were made in Pakistan and did not fit me but they cost three bucks. Only three bucks!

Here's a photo from one of the many hipster enclaves quickly gentrifying the Mission District: the pirate store at 826 Valenica, the first of Dave Eggers' growing empire of after-school creative writing centers for kids and/or cheeky gift shops. At the very least, the place is a lot more interesting and honorable than what's going down in several neighborhoods in east Portland right now (what am I saying? I thought this place was awesome). The pirate meme was tired years ago but I give the creators of the shop credit for all the displays, products and quirks that are too numerous to all be mentioned here. My favorites: the various planks for sale and a sign extolling the many uses of lard.

One afternoon I climbed out of a BART station and found a group of anti-Scientology protesters, all wearing those V for Vendetta masks. I'm sure the "Anonymous" protests have become commonplace in just about every major city in the country but I think it was still somehow disconcerting enough to warrant a photo. Plus, those masks? Creepy!


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