Monday, October 27, 2008

Where Little Cable Cars Climb Halfway To The Stars

Some of you may be wondering where I've been. I spent five fun-filled days in San Francisco; it took me five days to recover from a surfeit of sensibility; and here I am.

I lived in the City by the Bay for three glorious years in the '90s, when it was full of foment (sorry, my alliteratometer is set to stun today). People were creating and figuring out how to use what were then brand-new interactive technologies, and I was right in the middle of all of it. I made lots of new friends; I fell in love; and, for the first time in my adult life, I learned what it was like to live somewhere else.

The friendships I cared about most are still thriving. The love transmuted into a deep friendship. And San Francisco is, and will always be, my American "somewhere else," the place I go when my soul and my senses need refreshment. It offers beauty and wonder at just about every turn, and I am always glad to be there.

This trip involved a lot of eating (the Zuni Cafe, as always, was a highlight), and walking, and shopping, including a visit to one of my favorite stores anywhere, M.A.C. (for Modern Appealing Clothing), where the proprietors are discerning and the clothes are distinctive. I snagged a pettably soft Maison Margiela t-shirt there, and a chrome-yellow Dema coat. I have not owned anything yellow since my tragic bat mitzvah dress, which also involved a smocked waist and puffed sleeves (and, weirdly, matched our kitchen countertops at the time), but this is perfect and very flattering, and is lined in a purple butterfly print (butterflies, I'm told by those in the design know, are the new deer).

I also visited the DeYoung in its beautiful newish building, where I'd recommend the small "Space Explorations" photo exhibit (about perspective) and the upcoming Yves St. Laurent exhibit (about retrospective), as well as the spectacular Academy of Sciences building, with its living roof.

Other highlights included stops at City Lights, for poetry, and Mollusk, a surf shop near Ocean Beach, for trippy art books, quirky music and adorable boys in wetsuits wielding Sex Wax; fantastic breakfasts at Mama's and La Boulange (get the insanely eggy French toast); a hike in the Marin Headlands; and, of course, the best hosts anywhere at one of the most amazing houses anywhere, where I woke up looking at at a 1904 ceiling fresco of diaphanously clad Gibson girls in an airborne chariot pulled by dog-faced gryphons, both undoubtedly tributes to the pets of the lumber baron who built the place.

That house is on Golden Gate Park. A week later, I'm on Central Park. Life is not so bad.

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