California Street (9 Photos)

On September 2, 2014 fate ordained that I would handle a downtown delivery route. A downtown route is a high-stakes undertaking. The work is much more challenging than a residential route, but you’re rewarded with spectacular sights and a chance to ride the lightning by being a cog in the timeless, well-oiled machinery of one of America’s oldest running business districts for a day

The route began in the wonderfully preserved area east of Telegraph Hill abutting the wharfs. This is the true heart of San Francisco, the nearest natural harbor in San Francisco after entering the the Golden Gate. Ships arrived here by the thousands during the Gold Rush and were simply abandoned by the crews, as often as not being turned into the landfill that historic waterfront San Francisco is built on.

My delivery was on the 100 block of Green St. at the corner of Icehouse Alley, just one block away from the Green St. laboratory where Philo Farnsworth perfected the electronic television.

Every street sign tells a story.
Every street sign tells a story.

***

My next delivery was in one of the Embarcadero Center towers. This delivery entails being directed by teamsters into the underground parking garage of a 30-something story skyscraper. There are no pleases and thank yous here, just a lot of move-its and c’mon- alreadys. With the specter of domestic terrorism and a bunch of people driving box trucks underneath skyscrapers, everyone’s on his best behavior here. This was no place to stop and take a photo.

***

For the last part of the day, I had nine stops along the first six blocks of California Street. On a street like California, with cable cars, taxis, lunch crowds, and tourists, it made more sense to just park the truck in one place and use the hand cart to make the deliveries.

I parked across the street from the Tadich Grill, San Francisco’s oldest continually running eatery. Tradition runs strong here. The waiters wear white jackets and black pants, and there have only been seven chefs since 1925.

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There’s often a crowd outside Tadich Grill.

 

***

My third or fourth stop on California St. was a building that had a really nice collage in the lobby of the iconic downtown street grid done in art deco tiles. Before I could even press the shutter on my Iphone camera the security guard came rushing out from behind his desk shouting “No pictures! No pictures!” I compromised and took just one.

Stylish art deco tile map.
Stylish art deco tile map.

***

A block or two up was the iconic four way crossing at the intersection of California and Montgomery, where you can cut across the intersection diagonally right in front of a cop car, as people are doing here.

4-Way Xing
4-Way Xing, California & Montgomery. The Transamerica Pyramid is just a block up Montgomery.

Below is a close-up of a the building seen in the 4-way crossing shot.

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***

 

 

The insides of the buildings are as historically eye-catching as the outsides, but after the first security guard yelled at me, I didn’t want to press my luck as a photographer. This shot of an ashtray in an elevator lobby was the best I could do.

Ashtray in lobby, Mad Men style.
Ashtray in lobby, Mad Men style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

After I made my final delivery on the 500 block of California Street, it was time to hop back in the truck and call it a day, leaving California Street to the cable cars, businesspeople and the lunch crowd.

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A cable car rolling past the Tadich Grill. It doesn’t get more San Francisco than that.

***

The trip back to the warehouse took me onto the other side of the tracks, along Mission St.

This was the view from the red light at the intersection of Mission and South Van Ness.
This was the view from the red light at the intersection of Mission and South Van Ness.

I made a burrito stop along Mission between 18th and 19th at the flagship location of the celebrated Taqueria Cancun. The equally legendary, and even more notorious, Hunt’s Donuts used to be on the same block. The section of wall mural below is all that remains.

Where I made my burrito stop at the flagship Taqueria Cancun location @ Mission between 18th & 19th.

Window Seat Photos OAK-LAX, July 25 & 28, 2014 (18 Photos)

Due to a flight cancellation and a 2.5 hour delay, I got out of OAK much later than I like to. On the plus side, the early evening sun silhouetted the mountain ranges in both NoCal and SoCal nicely, providing great definition that even an iphone could capture. It was also a chance to enjoy magic hour above L.A.

It was an uncharacteristically muggy July in the Bay Area, and as I learned it was significantly more humid in L.A. I was startled but not surprised when on early sunday afternoon there was a nasty thunderstorm that discharged its electricity in the shallow water just south of Venice Pier. Where I was, the ground shook and car alarms went off. As I later sadly learned, one swimmer was killed by the lightning and more than a dozen others received injuries.

A flotilla of container ships, with beautiful San Bruno and Santa Cruz Mountains in background.
After takeoff from OAK, a flotilla of container ships with beautiful San Bruno and Santa Cruz Mountains in background.
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San Francisco International.
McLaren Park, southeast San Francisco.
McLaren Park, southeast San Francisco.
A virtual relief map of southeast San Francisco.
A virtual relief map of southeast San Francisco.
Golden hour north of Los Angeles.
Golden hour north of Los Angeles.
Banking left over Malibu.
Banking left over Malibu.
National forest land north of L.A.  Tiny Lake Piru is visible directly beneath the point of the nearer flap track fairing (the pointy pod-shaped thing). Castaic Lake is the V-shaped body of water beneath the further flap track. Piru is in Ventura County, Castaic is Los Angeles County.
National forest land north of L.A. Tiny Lake Piru is visible directly beneath the point of the nearer flap track fairing (the pointy pod-shaped thing). Castaic Lake is the V-shaped body of water beneath the further flap track. Piru is in Ventura County, Castaic is Los Angeles County.
A sweeping view from West L.A. north. From nearest to farthest: Rancho Park Golf Course, Century City, L.A. Country Club, Streetwise, that's PIco separating Rancho Park from Century City; Santa Monica Blvd running in a straight line north of Century City; and Wilshire Blvd curving off north of Santa Monica Blvd. That gleaming body of water atop the  Santa Monica Mountains is the Stone Canyon Reservoir. Beyond that is the entire expanse of the San Fernando Valley covered in a light haze. At the rear end of the flat expanse of the San Fernando Valley on the left side are what I think are the Santa Susana Mountains; on the right is the San Gabriel range. That dip in between the two ranges is Newhall Pass, where the I-5 leaves Los Angeles County heading north toward the Grapevine and where the Antelope Valley Freeway begins. Note that the silhouetted ridges of three more Transverse  mountain ranges are visible in the upper right of the photo beyond the San Gabriel range.
A sweeping view from West L.A. north. From nearest to farthest: Rancho Park Golf Course, Century City, L.A. Country Club, Streetwise, that’s PIco separating Rancho Park from Century City; Santa Monica Blvd running in a straight line north of Century City; and Wilshire Blvd curving off north of Santa Monica Blvd.
That gleaming body of water atop the Santa Monica Mountains is the Stone Canyon Reservoir. Beyond that is the entire expanse of the San Fernando Valley covered in a light haze. At the rear end of the flat expanse of the San Fernando Valley on the left side are what I think are the Santa Susana Mountains; on the right is the San Gabriel range. That dip in between the two ranges is Newhall Pass, where the I-5 leaves Los Angeles County heading north toward the Grapevine and where the Antelope Valley Freeway begins.
Note that the silhouetted ridges of three more Transverse mountain ranges are visible in the upper right of the photo beyond the San Gabriel range.
Another nice  perspective: West L.A and the I-405 in the foreground The Valley behind it. And for all I know, those could be the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the horizon.
Another nice perspective: West L.A and the I-405 in the foreground The Valley behind it. And for all I know, those could be the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the horizon.
A softer horizon, harder to tell where the mountains end and the clouds begin.
A softer horizon, harder to tell where the mountains end and the clouds begin.
Magic hour above Gardena.
Magic hour above Gardena.
Hollywood Park racetrack. Closed at the end of 2013 and soon to be demolished.
Hollywood Park racetrack. Closed down for good at the end of 2013 and soon to be demolished. Some call it progress.
The 405 at magic hour. No traffic!
The 405 at magic hour. No traffic!

 

Less than 24 hours before this photo was taken, lightning from a freak thunderstorm struck the water just south of this pier, killing one swimmer and injuring over a dozen others.
Less than 24 hours before this photo was taken, lightning from a freak thunderstorm struck the water just south of this pier, killing one swimmer and injuring over a dozen others.
Castaic Lake.
Castaic Lake.
The curve of Santa Monica Bay. It looks like barely anybody lives there.
The curve of Santa Monica Bay. In this light, it barely looks populated.
Above Malibu.
Looking down on Malibu.
Home.
Home.

The Richmond. June 13, 2014 (11 photos)

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Geary Blvd idyll.
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In the Avenues, every hour is magic hour, as long as there’s no fog.
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The new S.F. You have to come to the Outer Richmond to find a hipster-free taqueria. Diagonal parking spaces a bonus.
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How cars and houses look in the alternate universe of the Richmond, where the people wear jackets in the summer.
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The beach is almost an afterthought in the Richmond.
A crowded beach by Richmond District standards.
A crowded beach by Richmond District standards.
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The last red light in the Western Hemisphere?
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The windmills in Golden Gate Park aren’t just there for looks. They originally took advantage of the area’s high wind activity to pump groundwater to water the park’s flora.
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How a beach town should look.

 

 

 

Coming Into Los Angeles (12 photos)

 

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LAX, Marina Del Rey, Venice
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles
Harbor Freeway, one of the arteries that feed the city.
Harbor Freeway northbound, one of the arteries that feed the city.
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Harbor Freeway heading south. Note the L.A. Coliseum in the right foreground and the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the horizon.
Los Angeles Coliseum, Exposition Park.
Los Angeles Coliseum, Exposition Park.
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“This is the city: Los Angeles, California.”
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Crenshaw Christian Center parking lot and the Faith Dome.
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That faint diagonal slash running from LAX to bottom left corner is the appropriately named La Tijera Blvd. Note the sandy La Cienega oil fields, bottom right quadrant.
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Closeup of the oil fields.
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Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Culver City. Interred here are Ray Bolger and Jack Haley (The Scarecrow and the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz), Daws Butler (the voice of Huckleberry Hound and countless other cartoon characters), John Candy, Jackie Coogan, Darby Crash, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, John Ford, Mary Frann (I didn’t realize she had died!), Rita Hayworth, Chick Hearn, Conrad Hilton Jr., Spike Jones, Bela Lugosi, Fred MacMurray, Audrey Meadows, Ricardo Montalban, the great sportswriter Jim Murray, Evelyn Nesbit (for anyone who read the novel or saw the film “Ragtime” she was not a fictional character), Walter O’Malley, Chris Penn and his father Leo Penn, Hayden Rorke aka Dr. Bellows, Mack Sennett (the man who built the first L.A. movie studio), Sharon Tate as well as her sister and mother, and Lawrence Welk

 

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Nearby is the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, a Jewish graveyard housing the earthly remains of Army Archerd, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, musician Mike Bloomfield, Sorrell Booke aka Boss Hogg, superagent Bernie Brillstein, Nell Carter, Percy Faith, Friz Freling, Eydie Gorme, baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, Lorne Greene, Barbie Doll inventor Ruth Handler, Alpha Stooge Moe Howard, Al Jolson whose mausoleum is visible from the 405 Freeway, Michael Landon, Vic Morrow, Jan Murray, Suzanne Pleshette, Tom Poston, Jerry Rubin, Sherwood Schwartz, Aaron Spelling, and Shelley Winters.

 

Crossing Sepulveda
Crossing Sepulveda


Oakland to LAX. April 2014 (5 photos)

Usually when I fly south, I sit on the left side of the aircraft. This time I chose the right. Instead of the sweeping views of San Francisco and the Peninsula, I got a nice glimpse of Alameda and some offshore clouds as we banked south.

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The two sections of the city of Alameda. In the foreground, Bay Farm Island, which isn’t really an island, and across the channel Alameda Island, which is an island but didn’t used to be.
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The mid-section of Alameda. Note Coast Guard Island in the middle of the photo.
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An offshore spring weather system.
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And before you know it, the Channel Islands come into view and you’re entering SoCal.
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Crossing the Santa Monica Mountains. Note Lake Sherwood in the bottom of the screen, an exclusive community whose residents include Tom Petty and Britney Spears.

Sexing the Bicycle

When I emerged from the CVS store on Shattuck last Saturday evening I was momentarily stopped in my tracks by the silhouette of my bicycle in the golden sun. It has been my primary form of transportation for probably five years now, and it still doesn’t have a name. How bad does that make me look?

Before naming it, I first had to figure out whether it was a masculine bike or a feminine bike. I quickly came to realize it has elements of both genders in evidence, and that its name would have to reflect that.

“Pat” was my first thought, but Pat is too, well, pat; a little too on the nose and frankly not very flattering.

Johnifer was my next choice, but that felt contrived.

The name that eventually stuck was Cornelia. It’s a feminine name, reflecting the bike’s elegantly light frame and the pink undertones of its paint scheme. But Cornelia is also a strong workhorse of a name, suitable for a mountainbike with a milk crate lashed to its rear rack that is used in lieu of a flatbed pickup truck.

The name is no doubt inspired by East German swimming sensation Kornelia Ender, who took Montreal by storm in the 1976 Olympics.

LIke Kornelia Ender, if my bike ever had to pee in a cup, the results might not be conclusive, and that’s the way I like it.

San Jose Mountains Before and After

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Above are the mountains east of San Jose in February. The brown color is typical for summer and fall, but not for winter, which is usually when everything is nice and green. The parched color is indicative of the record low rainfall for the winter months.
Below are the same mountains in April, after our recent spring showers. Still not fully green, but a definite improvement.