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Archive for the ‘Golden Gate Park’ Category

Park Library “office”

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 6, 2014

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I’m in the Park Library at 1833 Page Street, near Golden Gate Park, where I’ve set up my office. Pictured is the outside mural. Inside, the architecture is quite open, light-filled, and airy. The inset ceiling paintings are particularly pleasant.
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My portable office setup is the usual; 13-inch 2011 MacBook Air plugged into the library power supply with a wifi connection, Kensington computer stand with Kensington lock secured to the library table, cheap cell phone also plugged in but without a connection at this location, cable for my portable Canon powershot camera, couple of Rhodia notebooks and a medium black Stabilo pen, and the carrying case for the above.
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I’m working on a few organizing tasks; making “to do” lists for the next month, working out my January Finishing School writing schedule for the novel, and if I have time, actually doing some writing. Such an enjoyable time on an overcast morning becoming afternoon in the Haight-Ashbury.

Posted in Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, life, public libraries | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

City of Light; San Francisco, Paris of the West: part 7-conclusions

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 12, 2013

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TALES OF TWO CITIES

I started the series “City of Light” to record many of our experiences during our recent two and a half week vacation in Paris. My posts were full of excitement, enthusiasm and enjoyment for the fabulous places and wonderful times we had. The second series “San Francisco, Paris of the West” attempted to parallel the first, detailing outstanding experiences to be had in San Francisco, explicitly comparing our home town with Paris in a somewhat derivative, travelog style. The first series was enlivened by my personal experiences on holiday, while the second series was often confined by my personal history with the places and events where I live. So, lets begin this final compare and contrast with:
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ARRONDISSEMENTS VS NEIGHBORHOODS

It’s apples versus oranges. Arrondissements in Paris (arrondissements municipaux, administrative districts) are not the same as neighborhoods in San Francisco. When we vacationed in the 14th Arrondissement at various times, we experienced several distinct neighborhoods within the 14th; the upper, middle and lower, all three exhibiting different architectures, residential characters, levels of commercial activity, etc. Sometimes a neighborhood, such as the Montparnasse, spans more than one Arrondissement (14th & 6th). San Francisco neighborhoods are more homogeneous, more geographically contained, easier to characterize, and San Francisco neighborhoods are a part of, or span governmental Districts. In San Francisco, for instance, Chinatown, a neighborhood, is in District 3, but spills over into 2. I take the neighborhoods of San Francisco more or less for granted, having lived here for so many years. This faulty comparison fallacy began when I used, as a basis, arrondissments in “City of Light” and neighborhoods in “San Francisco, Paris of the West.”
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PARIS: REMINISCENCE AND LONGING

With this recent vacation, I’d been to Paris three times. My wife had been there four. We’ve shopped on rue Cler, avoided the pickpockets to marvel in the gloom of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris (6 Parvis Notre-Dame), visited Le Halles, above ground and below, wandered about the startling architecture in Parc de la Villette (211 Avenue Jean Jaurès), took the barge up the Canal Saint-Martin along the Quai de Valmy, first underground and then open air, caught the remnants of Paris 1968 left in Butte-aux-Cailles, climbed to the Basilique du Sacré Cœur (35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre), then wandered the surrounding environs, and many more experiences. Yet, we can never get enough of Paris, nor have we seen everything the City of Light has to offer. Still on our wish list: the Opéra de Paris housed in the Palais Garnier for either a tour or a performance, the Musée Marmottan Monet, the neighborhood/village of Saint-Paul, the Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme, the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt, etc. There’s always something more to see and do in Paris.
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The Paris Metro is the 8th wonder of the world, as far as I’m concerned. You can get almost anywhere you want in the city by using the underground metropolitan system. Sure, its crowded, some parts of it are old and decaying, other parts of it are plagued with pickpockets and crime, and the whole of it is not at all handicap friendly. But its still one of best municipal subway systems in the world. The underground musicians are often a delight, and it can be enchanting to hear music waft through the metro tunnels as you rush to meet your train. And there’s rarely more than a 2 to 3 minute delay between trains during normal operating hours. So what if it occasionally takes 3 lines to get to your destination. My love for the Paris Metro is on a par with my affection for the NYC subway system.
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That Parisians are rude is a complete myth. Given our accumulated times respectively in Paris—over three months for my wife and over two months for myself—we have never encountered a rude Parisian. A clerk or waiter or worker occasionally can be harried or distant or unresponsive, but rude? We haven’t experienced it. As for the ordinary Parisian on the street, and aside from dodging them walking on the sidewalks, we’ve never had to deal with rudeness. Parisians in particular, and the French in general are exceedingly polite and formal. Once you address them properly (“Bonjour monsieur,” or “Bonjour madame”), and make some minimal attempt at the social niceties (“merci” for “thank you” and “excusez-moi” (“excuse me”) madame or monsieur), the average Parisian is more than willing to help you out. Throw in some self conscious attempts at speaking their language (“Je suis américain(e)” or “Je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français”) and cap it off with “au revoir” (“goodbye”) or “bonne journée” (“have a nice day”), you can get along just fine in most situations. However, if you ignore even these basic formalities and come off as a typical American, grinning from ear-to-ear, demanding information or service or attention, you’ll get what you deserve. My wife and I had exited the Cartier-Bresson Foundation on our first vacation along Impasse Lebouis and rue Lebouis, eventually walking up allies and along a strip of boutique shops to reach rue Jean Zay. A little lost, we flipped through our Paris Pratique to find Avenue du Maine and transportation to our next destination. A Parisian man came up to us, unbidden, and after the appropriate introductions, asked us where we wanted to go. He spent five minutes giving us directions, pointing out the correct, if distant bus stops to take, and bid us goodbye. We walked away hesitantly, still not clear about his directions or the route to take, given the difficulties in language and translation. Suddenly, he was by our side again, and again after the proper introductions, he said that his wife had told him he had better show us what to do. At which time, he took us over to the right bus stop, pointed out the right line to take, and then again bid us adieu. This happened more times than we could count while we vacationed in Paris.

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SAN FRANCISCO: FAMILIARITY AND DISAPPOINTMENT

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for twenty-three years, and in San Francisco proper for nearly fourteen years. My familiarity with San Francisco and its surrounding communities, while not breeding contempt, has no doubt made me jaded with respect to the available attractions and activities. In a previous part of this series, I noted the differences in area and population between Paris and San Francisco. Compared with the urban concentration that is Paris, San Francisco is positively rural, an impression compounded by the infusion of nature throughout the city. From the beaches to the west of the Golden Gate Bridge to Crissy Field to the east, from the manicured expanse and many attractions of Golden Gate Park to the City’s rambling neighborhood parks, some of which I reviewed in this series, San Francisco has an airy, wide open feel to it. Throw in the numerous tourist attractions—Coit Tower (1 Telegraph Hill Blvd), the iconic cable cars, the Victorian “painted ladies” on Alamo Square, the cultural institution that is City Lights bookstore (261 Columbus Avenue)—and San Francisco’s quotient for charming, quaint and enchanting is extremely high. Having lived all these years in this city, I still haven’t seen and done all that I’ve wanted—actually walked the Golden Gate Bridge, shopped in China Town, climbed the Moraga Street tile mosaic stairs between 16th and 17th Avenue, explored the new, improved Presidio, etc. So much more to see and do before I die.
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What’s so great about San Francisco is the temperate climate. No sweltering summers that force half the population to leave and old people to die, and no winters with sleet and snow to brave. Its pretty much good weather all year long here, thanks to being surrounded by water. My wife and I live east of Twin Peaks and we are treated to the City’s natural air conditioning, fog pouring over Twin Peaks to moderate the weather. The neighborhood microclimates are well known, yet the overall mildness of the weather is a feature that promotes casual walking by residents as well as year-round tourism. Being homeless, not a pleasant prospect anywhere, is mitigated by being able to hang out outdoors and live rough in this city. September/October is the best time to visit Paris (or for that matter, New York City). In San Francisco, its positively gorgeous.
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One thing that I’m disappointed about with respect to San Francisco is the overall attitude of the people who live here. There’s an aloofness, a sense that people here just can’t be bothered. I wrote above discounting the myth that Parisians are rude. Now, having visited New York City off and on for the past thirty odd years, I know what rudeness is. There’s no mistaking the “go fuck yourself” temperament that’s part and parcel of your average New Yorker. San Franciscans are so self-contained, no, self-absorbed, so as to be detached from their fellow human beings. The proliferation of hipsters (who squat every available coffee shop seat) and the influx of techies into the City (who drive to and from work in their private, air conditioned Google or Genentech buses) has only made things worse. Say what you will about your average Parisian (or New Yorker), they aren’t detached from their surroundings or other people. Take your “individual looking at a map” test, not as some “thought experiment” but as a real life exercise. I described what occurred when my wife and I stood around a Paris intersection looking at our map. This happened to me many times when I was a tourist in New York, looked lost, and consulted my map. Invariably, some New Yorker would come up and ask “where do want to go?” perhaps not out of pure friendliness so much as an attitude that said “hey, I know this city like the back of my hand.” When I visited San Francisco as a tourist, but before I’d actually lived in the Bay Area, I would walk around different parts of the City, often checking out my map for where to go and how to get there. This happened on numerous occasions, but no one approached me to ask “where do you want to go?” Then, one time, when I was befuddled and staring at my map somewhere in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district a man came up to me and said, in a perfect Brooklyn accent, “so, where do you want to go?” Enough said.

LOVE: OLD AND NEW

This concludes my two series—”City of Light” and “San Francisco, Paris of the West”—on the only theme that remains appropriate to the subject. Love. Love for Paris and love for San Francisco. Thanks for following this blog.
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Posted in arrondissements in Paris, City of Light, Golden Gate Park, life, neighborhoods, Paris, Paris of the West, San Francisco, San Francisco neighborhoods, series | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Coyote ugly

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 26, 2007

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Personal issues got the better of my time, but now I’m back with a followup to the shooting of two coyotes in Golden Gate Park. All the stories come from the San Francisco Chronicle.

First, there’s this about the fact that city dwellers often must share their urban space with a lot of wildlife, not just coyotes but raccoons, skunks, squirrels, bats, opossums, foxes, etc. Frequently, there are clashes between this vestigial wildlife that’s just trying to survive, and the humans who presume to have dominion over everything. Needless to say, the wildlife loses out most of the time.

Then, there’s this story that coyotes get underfoot in many urban settings, from southern California to Chicago, and not just San Francisco. An interesting side story is that the supposedly wild geese around Oakland’s Lake Merritt have become such a nuisance, or to be exact, their shit has become such a health hazard, that city officials are looking for ways to control the birds, to include importing coyotes as predators.

SF Animal Control officials speculate that the Golden Gate Park coyotes that supposedly attacked two leashed dogs were being regularly fed raw meat by humans, in violation of park regulations. The regular feedings made them more aggressive, it is claimed. Finally, a female coyote pup was found dead, apparently run over by a car, near where the two other coyotes were shot and killed. This seems to support the claim by pro-coyote folks that the two coyotes that were shot were simply protecting their young.

Posted in Bay Area, coyotes, coyotes in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, life, Nature in the City, Oakland, racoons, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle, urban wildlife, wildlife | 1 Comment »

Coyote killings defended

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 18, 2007

The followup story in the Chronicle about the killing of two coyotes in Golden Gate Park. The comments are also worth reading, including one from Peter Coyote.

Posted in coyotes, coyotes in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Nature in the City, Peter Coyote, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle, urban wildlife, wildlife | Leave a Comment »

Urban coyote saga continues

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 16, 2007

A pair of coyotes in Golden Gate Park attacked two leashed dogs on Saturday. Today, US Department of Agriculture officials shot and killed the two coyotes. “City officials and wildlife researchers estimate that about five to eight coyotes live in San Francisco. These include at least two in Golden Gate Park and one on Bernal Hill. There have also been sightings in McLaren Park, Lake Merced and the Presidio.”

Scratch two from Golden Gate Park, which means three to six city wide.

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Posted in Bernal Hill, coyotes, coyotes in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, McLaren Park, Nature in the City, Presidio, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, urban wildlife, wildlife | 1 Comment »

Giuliani time by the bay

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 4, 2007

After some thought, I don’t believe suburbanization is the right word for what Mayor Gavin Newsom has in mind for San Francisco. Newsom fancies himself a “new democrat,” someone who is moderate, centrist, and capable of creative solutions to social problems that are business-friendly at the same time. He has repeatedly cast his eyes toward New York City, and in particular, Giuliani’s time as its mayor. He has emulated NYC’s efforts to clean up Central Park with respect to problems in Golden Gate Park. Newsom has asked New York officials for advice on how to handle the homeless. And his latest idea has been to propose setting up special courts for “quality of life” crimes. Gavin Newsom wants to Giulianize San Francisco.

Newsom’s special courts idea has hit a snag with the SF Board of Supervisors. Board President Aaron Peskin reduced the proposed court’s budget from $750,000 to $500,000, then agreed with other supervisors on the Budget Committee to put the money on reserve. This has increased tensions between the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors, as well as split the Mayor’s own people as to how to handle the Board.

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That “quality of life” crimes are committed by folks with little quality of life should be apparent to all. There needs to be more of an effort to debunk the myths of Giulianism. Jennifer Roesch’s excellent piece “The Mussolini of Manhattan” is a start, as is Robert Lederman‘s vendor and artist news from New York City. That Giuliani might be our next president scares the bejesus out of me.

Posted in Aaron Peskin, Central Park, Gavin Newsom, Giulianism, Giulianize, Golden Gate Park, homeless, new democrat, New York City, news, nuisance crimes, quality of life, quality of life crimes, Rudolph Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Board of Supervisors | Leave a Comment »

Urban wildlife (no, not wild life)

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 6, 2007

We have a family of racoons living in the extremely narrow, covered over space between our house and the neighbor’s garage. Or so our neighbor tells us. We haven’t actually seen the critters yet, though we do hear occasional scratching and scrabbling noises from that wall.

I’ve seen squirrels sauntering about our backyard as if they owned the place, and another neighbor said he found a very irritated ‘possum on his doorstep one night. Now, the SF Chronicle reports coyote sightings in the city, specifically in Golden Gate Park and Bernal Heights. (here) I lived in San Diego for way too long, and spent a few years in the suburbs, which are built on the outlying mesas. There were always stories about pet dogs and cats disappearing, the victims of marauding coyotes. Besides hunting in packs, coyotes can jump a fence and climb a tree as good as any cat.

There’s an organization in San Francisco, Nature in the City, devoted to “ecological conservation, restoration and stewardship of the Franciscan bioregion.” I guess our racoon neighbors are members, by default.

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Posted in Bernal Heights, coyotes, coyotes in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, life, Nature in the City, racoons, San Diego, San Francisco, urban wildlife, wildlife | Leave a Comment »