Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Well, I'm back in the City and after an exciting day at the office, it was time to indulged one of my pleasures enjoying the arts. Tonight was a special evening in San Francisco, I was able to visit The Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) a new museum opening in the City. The Museum's Mission is to provide a focal point to present art and cultural elements of the African diaspora.

The museum conceptually is a wonderful idea, people of African decent are spread across the globe, the themes for exhibits and programs are endless. Personally I've been curious about the African disapora in Latin America and would like to learn more about Afro-Peruvian and Columbian culture.

The Museum is located downtown on Mission St. near Third, with the development of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, downtown SOMA (South of Market) has because a center for the City's Museums. SOMA has the advantages of great public transportation and easy access to food, shopping, etc. it's a nice contrast to the De Young Museum and Golden Gate Park.

The program at MOAD tonight was the Artists' Invite, the sponsors of the museum were quite generous, the wine and delicious hors d' oeuvres were flowing all evening. The museum has three spacious, well designed floors. The space presents a variety of different mediums, film, sound pieces, and computer interactive works on the second floor and a gallery space with paintings, scupltures, and other works on the third. With several of my friends I enjoyed the exhibits, socialized, listened to live music and fully enjoyed the evening. I'm submitting my membership tonight and I'm excited to support MOAD's growth and development.

First Floor at Museum Of African Diaspora

From: Peter and Eileen Norton Collection


Monday, November 28, 2005

This is one of the best times to visit Las Vegas, the weather is cool and sunny. Why suffer under the desert heat, you can visit Las Vegas when the weather is pleasant. Today started with a Brunch in the El Cortez Casino and Hotel, a downtown dive, the first casino owned by the gangster Bugsy Siegel. We had Chinese /American Breakfast, the service was good, the brunch included glazed donuts and Champaign very El Cortezish.

After brunch and shopping, we went to see Walk the Line the new film about Johnny Cash at the Neonopolis at the Fremont Street Experience. I've been a fan of Johnny Cash since I was a kid, my father is a Cash fan and I have many memories of hearing A Boy named Sue sung at home.

The film is well made, the music is good and I enjoyed the performances of Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. However, while watching the film I realized that I didn't know anything about Cash except his music, he wore Black and had performed at Folsom prison. His drug addiction and his pre-martial issues with June Carter were news for me. The film focuses on his addiction and desire to marry June Carter, but I felt the film portrays Cash's world as small, it was the 1960's and so much was happening with the country and music. After the watching the film I'll read Johnny Cash's autobiography.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Happy Turkey Day everyone, I'm in Las Vegas chillin with the family, went to see the movie Rent today at the SunCoast Casino. I haven't seen Rent live and knew little about the play, other than it is based in New York and its' protagonists can not pay their rent.

Seeing this film in Las Vegas was kind of a shame, it reminded me of many people I've meet through the years in San Francisco. Broke artists struggling with their dreams and demons, that is a story I've watched through the years. The film is a Rock Opera and really has a 1980's feel, how things changed in the 90's.

The Las Vegas audience was quiet and a bit subdued, I couldn't help but think the story of these artists, gays, bohemians, and misfits must have felt very distance from their lives.

My sister told me over the holiday weekend that while conversing, a man told her that he didn't get Rent and maybe she would because she is Black. I'll leave that without comment, but it captures my concerns about the lack of empathy folks have for people they don't perceive as similar to them....oops I guess that was a comment. I think some people relate only to the Friends TV version of New York which lacks large segments of the population....oops another comment.

Talking about Black folks and Rent I loved Tracie Thoms, she has a great voice. I wasn't familiar with her and no I haven't seen Wonderfalls but hopefully I'll get the chance to see her in other works soon. Rent an interesting musical, I'll see Rent next time at the Castro Theatre.


Monday, November 21, 2005

I haven't posted in a long time sorry. My camera is full of photos, I've been to several events
I need to write about but I'm lagging, well the best time to get started is now.

Saturday was spent walking through the city enjoying the usually beautiful weather for November. I had a guest from Sacramento visiting and we strolled through Union Square, Horton Plaza, The Ferry Building's farmer's market and boutique shops and the Embarcedero. We stopped at Pier 23 Cafe for lunch enjoying views of the Bay from their patio. Pier 23 Cafe is a pleasant place, their food is descent but pricey but a course you're paying to sit outside with a nice view.

We finish the evening back at Union Square, eventhough it's a pricey tourist spot, the cafe at Union Square is one of my favorites in the City. The service pastries and meal selection , and coffee are all good. Your coffee portion is generous and seconds are free. Also, there is outdoor seating, a bit competitive to get a table, but worth it. Union Square is a good spot to people watch you'll see a little bit of everybody.

Afterward, my visitor headed back to Sacto and I hopped on Muni making my way to the Haight. At the Red Vic they were showing Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue, eventhough I'm a self proclaimed Anti supporter of Miles because of his treatment of women, I have to acknowledge his intelligence and talent as an artist. The movie, documentary worked for me, it shows the debate that Miles electric musical transition caused, the influences for the change and the artists that surrounded him during this period. Seeing a young Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Carlos Santana and other great musicians was just fun. Also, within the film a healthy portion is dedicated to showing Miles performance at the Isle of Wright. It's not just talking heads concert footage is included.

After the movie I went to Amoeba Records and brought a CD by his wife for one year Betty Davis, While their marriage was short lived she was influential in his life, inspiring Miles to drop the Italian Suits and explore his musical range.

Betty Davis album Nasty-girl is one of the best funk albums I've ever heard -period. She is the unknown Queen of Funk, I can't believe she wasn't played on the radio and during the 1970's when funk was so hot, we weren't even given the chance to hear her. Maybe she was before her time, I just wish the decision was ours.

Miles, I'll still take my time buying his music but Betty Davis I'm going to grab whatever I can find!


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

For work I was assigned to visit the California's Central Coast, we have a telecommuter who lives in Santa Maria, a city 300 miles south of San Francisco. I drove South down Hwy 101, a route I haven't driven to Southern California within the last 10 years.

Hwy 5 is the standard route to LA, it's faster but not very scenic, in contrast I found Hwy 101 scenic and offering tempting side trips.

While driving down Hwy 101 you see the mission bells and realize you're on the Mission trail. Hwy 101 follows the old Spanish Royal Road, El Camino Real which connects 21 missions across the State. Since I was not on vacation but actually on a work trip I noted the different Missions while traveling south but I wanted to minimized my stops. Minimizing my stops included driving by Pismo Beach, and ignoring sidetrips to Hearst Castle and Morro Bay.

However, after I found my Hotel in Santa Maria I decided to drive down to Santa Barbara. After leaving Santa Maria, Hwy 1 and 101 merge providing many scenic places to stop and enjoy the ocean views. I did take a pitt stop at two coastal State Beaches north of Santa Barbara, El Refugio and El Capitain. You can stop at California State Parks for 20 minutes without playing the entrance fee. This is great for a bathroom room breaks and for peeking at parks to checkout their facilities. El Refugio is small pleasant park, the campsites weren't very private but access to the beach was just a few yards away.

At El Captain State Beach, I didn't see the campsites but the day use sites were very nice, perfect for a picnic with beautiful coastal views and picnic tables on well kepts lawns. While standing on the shore a pod of dolphins swam by it was wonderful. Hopefully, I'll be able to camp at one of the parks before the summer crowds come.

After enjoying the dolphins and a wooded nature trail, I was ready to finish the drive to Santa Barbara. When I saw the Santa Barbara exits I took Mission and followed signs to the Santa Barbara Mission. There was plenty of parking and no entrance fee, I followed a self-guided tour which took me through the church, cemetery/gardens and facilities.

Missions are historically interesting places, Mission Santa Barbara was originally built in the 1700's, but there is also a sadness. I think of the indigenous people who lives where changed so dramatically with the arrival of the Spanish. 4000 Chumashan Indians are buried at Mission Santa Barbara.

After touring the Mission, I cruised Santa Barbara's main drag State Street, the restaurants had a nice crowd even for a Sunday night. The area has a trendy college community feel with 20 something skaters zipping between cars and cafes decorated with alluring twinkling lights enticing diners. The day was a nice re-introduction to the area my next trip will be leisurely and lengthy.

El Refugio State Beach -Inlet

El Capitain State Beach - chillin Seagull style

El Capitian Coastal Nature Walk

Mission Santa Barbara


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