This is the first time I’ve been to San Francisco in twenty years or more. A lot of things have changed, but mostly it was the people–the locals not the tourists, who are the same all over. Twenty years ago I had the feeling everyone was on a holiday, even the locals. It seemed so idyllic. I had the impression you could go there and work and still be on a holiday, perpetually. Never mind that I didn’t think I could stand it.
Today, the locals look like they do in New York: everyone walks very quickly and no one makes eye contact. No more big time holiday. I don’t know whether it’s because everything is so expensive everyone works all the time, or whether it’s the panhandlers, nasty and aggressive, who reminded me of New York before Rudy Giuliani. All in all we had a good time, but sometimes it was a little scary.
I went to the Japanese Tea Garden and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, the Asian Art Museum, the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and spent a lot of time in the new Yerba Buena Gardens near the Moscone Convention Center South of Market Street. The de Young has a fabulous collection of art from Papua New Guinea, which blew me away. I spent a lot of time looking at it, but still felt I couldn’t really comprehend it. However, it makes me think the pieces I brought back from PNG are worth a lot of money. Maybe someday I’ll try to sell them.
The Asian Art Museum was a disappointment. They moved it to the old library building, kept the old shell and a couple of the old halls and built a new modern structure to show a bit of the collection. Unfortunately, like most new museums they give you more to read and fewer actual objects on view. I know they have a fabulous collection, but most of what I wanted to see wasn’t there.
I went to the Legion of Honor on the third morning, primarily because it entailed a long bus ride and I was tired and somewhat museum’d out. I found two interesting exhibits: the Reva and David Logan collection of artist illustrated books with a show of books illustrated by Picasso, and a show of photographs comparing sites from the 1906 earthquake with their contemporary equivalents.
I have the feeling this seemingly useless square decoration on top of one of the downtown hotels was put there to defy the gods of the earthquake. I wouldn’t want to be standing under it when the earthquake comes.