Posts Tagged ‘soma’

Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA

October 12th, 2018

SFMOMA & Magritte
 

The Rene Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, “The Fifth Season,” wraps up at the end of October. If you haven’t seen it yet now is the time. This isn’t the largest exhibit with only around 70 works, but what’s there is impressive.

I finally went to see it last weekend and strongly recommend it, with some minor caveats.

Not familiar with Magritte? You’ve seen his work before but may not know his name. He’s the artist behind “Son of Man,” aka the guy with the bowler hat and the apple floating in front of his face (see above) as well as other paintings including “The Treachery of Images,” aka “C’est ne pas une pipe.”

Instead of focusing on his life as an artist overall the exhibit focuses on a few key later points in Magritte’s life. This approach has its strengths and weaknesses, in particular it focuses on Magritte’s most well known periods while leaving out how he got his start.

 
SFMOMA & Magritte SFMOMA & Magritte
 

Magritte’s works tend to look simple at first glance, but on closer examination contain surprising visual contradictions. His paintings have themes between them, but the themes aren’t always clear unless they’re pointed out. Thankfully the exhibit’s arrangements and audio guide do an excellent job of explaining this.

The audio guides for the Magritte exhibit are worth checking out, available as a mobile app (bring earbuds and your phone.) There’s about half an hour of audio content including interviews with an artist who lived in Magritte’s attic.

Ultimately I would have stayed much longer listening to more tales of Magritte’s life and works if they’d been available. For an artist who has so many well known paintings, he also went through periods of different styles, particularly during World War II, that are difficult to contextualize against his most familiar style.

The trivia I found most interesting was how Magritte titled his paintings, or more accurately how he didn’t. He tended to bring out his latest works to friends over dinner and wine and let them come up with appropriate titles.

The entrance to the exhibit features floor to ceiling curtains, echoing many of Magritte’s works. Some reviewers felt this to be a little too on the nose but I thought it was amusing. The exit was more startling. By standing in certain places one could insert themselves into digital versions of Magritte’s works. To me these felt like they belonged at the Exploratorium, or worse at some Instagram-friendly “museum.”

And of course you have to exit the exhibit through a gift shop, with special Magritte-focused merchandise.
 

You have until October 28th to check out the Magritte Exhibit at SFMOMA. Tickets cost as much as $35 and include access to the entire museum. I highly recommend the SFMOMA app both for this exhibit and SFMOMA in general.

This cat is fine

September 26th, 2018

This cat is fine
Spotted at 2nd and Howard
 

A flyer for an open source account breach alert service from Mozilla parodies a typical “lost pet” flyer you’d expect to see taped to a utility pole like this.

You can sign up for Firefox Monitor here, and they’ll let you know if your email address appears in any new breaches reported in the Have I Been Pwned database. There’s no guarantee that every breach will show up in their database of course.

So while I can’t vouch for the Firefox Monitor service being perfect I can say that the flyer was capturing people’s attention. In the 30 seconds or so I waited for the stoplight to turn green, at least two other people went up and snapped a photo of it.

Salesforce Transit Center, opening day

August 12th, 2018

Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

After years of construction it seemed like the new Transbay Salesforce Transit Terminal Center would never open; and yet today, it finally did… sort of. It’s clearly unfinished, and construction workers were still there today (a Saturday) working on the gondola. The underground train platforms weren’t open, and no physical work has been done to even build the tunnel to the station.

So perhaps it’s best to think of this as opening day, with a few major caveats. For now only a few local transit agencies serve Salesforce Transit Center via bus, with bus operations to and from the East Bay to start tomorrow. Permanent restaurant and retail space is also still also on the to do list.

But enough about the future for the moment; let’s start with what’s there now.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

The building itself is hard to miss; it’s a wavy undulating mesh hovering over several streets, with trees popping out from above. Heading in just past Salesforce Tower is an enormous lobby, with monolithic signs everywhere pointing to different transit agencies. Filled with natural light, the lobby is bright, clean, and frankly looks like a transit station. Not all the displays showing departure times were hooked up yet.

I kind of expected just to walk in and check the place out, but little did I know many others had the same idea. Turns out I’m not the only one who likes to see new things. Despite getting there early I had to wait in a long line for the escalator. SFPD acted as crowd control, only letting groups up at a time.

It seems the crowds weren’t expected; the lines leading up to the escalators and elevators were ad-hoc, taking up so much space that a group of dancers gave up on dancing and began posing for photos instead.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

When I finally got on the escalator I looked straight up and saw a skylight… with shadows of people standing on it. Normally standing on a skylight is a bad idea, but this one is intended to act as a floor.

The main escalator skips the second floor, heading straight to the bus stops on the third floor. Here you’ll be able to take a bus to the East Bay and beyond. For opening day it was a sort of museum exhibit with presentations from local transit agencies.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

AC Transit showed off their new double decker bus. Various transit agencies had well-preserved antique buses on display. Someone had brought in an old car from Hupmobile, a semi-obscure defunct car manufacturer. I confess I thought it was a Ford Model T at first glance.

I was a little thirsty after waiting so long to get up to there. The vending machines were largely not operational yet. Fortunately SFMTA had a table with free Hetch Hetchy water and cups to match.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

The real star of the show on the third level is the suspension bridge. This is a bus-only bridge over Howard Street that can be easily spotted from Second and Howard. They were letting people walk onto the base of the bridge to get a peek at it, but no further.

It’s too bad they didn’t incorporate a sidewalk with space for people to take photos, I could imagine this funny little bridge being a popular selfie spot for travelers.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

The entire third level was open to let people walk around. Normally you won’t be able to get up close to the metal lattice “skin” of the building on the bus level, but for opening day there was no risk of getting run over by a Greyhound.

I’ve watched the lattice go up in sections for what felt like ages, so it was neat to finally get a peek outside from within.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

Obviously people hadn’t flocked here to see a bunch of buses. The real draw was to see Salesforce Park, the city’s first elevated park.

Despite crowd controls this was wall-to-wall people, gawking at the scenery. It’s a bit of a head trip — you look one way and there’s a green park with trees and grass, you look the other way and it’s office towers and skyscrapers. Unless you look over the ledge there’s not much visual indication that you’re above ground at all. This dissonance may grow with the trees and shrubs themselves.

Plaques throughout the park explain what you’re looking at — a fountain (it was off), seismic joints in the building, plants in the garden, etc. There’s a playground for kids, a couple of plazas, and a few grassy areas for lunches and picnics.

The park connects directly to both Salesforce Tower and 181 Fremont. The sky lobby for Salesforce Tower hasn’t been completed yet; I could see construction workers and unpainted drywall behind glass windows.

I’ve heard this park was inspired by New York City’s High Line Park, but I’ve yet to visit NYC so I’m not able to make any comparisons.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

For opening day there were a few vendors in one plaza, selling food, coffee, beer, and oddly enough cookie dough. Stands with free to borrow books and board games were available as well. There were a few tables to sit at, though not nearly enough to meet demand. When the novelty wears off I could see this park as a place for nearby workers to take a lunch break.

Bands and DJs played at two stages in the park. Due to all the buildings around it, some parts of the park were shady whereas others were sunny on an unusually warm San Francisco afternoon.

One big question that kept lingering in my mind was how this new station would outlast the one it replaced. Although the old Transbay Terminal was once touted as the “Grand Central Station of the West,” by the time I was around to see it the place was kind of a mess. The “terminal” aspect of it largely referred to the trains that once arrived at the station coming over the Bay Bridge. The building’s restaurant and bar had closed ages ago, and the waiting area was essentially used as a homeless shelter.

Until train tunnels are built — this time from the Peninsula side, and eventually perhaps a second Transbay Tube — it’s hard to see how the Salesforce Transit Center will be much more than a fancy elevated park. The bus level is nice and all, but you don’t need much space for a bus stop. It’s also worth pointing out that the new low-cost bus operators like Megabus and Flixbus haven’t announced plans to stop at the Transit Center.

Perhaps the most odd omission is the lack of connection between the Transit Center and Montgomery Station. It’s a very short walk, hopefully some signs will appear soon directing travelers between the two. Should be easy enough to fix.

If the new Transit Center has one thing going for it, it’s the neighborhood. Between when the original Transbay Terminal was built and today, the surrounding area has grown tremendously. Factories and shipping businesses were replaced by offices filled with knowledge workers. Moscone Center opened, expanded — and is being expanded again, right now. New hotels sprung up, new subways, a new baseball stadium… the list goes on. This version of the Transit Center seems more likely to succeed; at least if its underground train platforms ever see service, that is.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

Of course, all of this will have been for nothing if the Millennium Tower — currently sinking and leaning towards Salesforce Tower — comes crashing down.

Perhaps that should be addressed before the next earthquake, let alone before any new tunnels are built in the area.

 
Salesforce Transit Center, Opening Day
 

By the time I made my way back to the escalators to leave, the crowds had grown immensely — I was glad I’d arrived early. It also seemed unintuitive to me that so many folks wanted to check out the new Transit Center when the city was also hosting Outside Lands, the Filipino Parade, and a Giants game all on the same day.

With all of those activities going on, who knew the opening of a new Transit Center and park would attract such a large crowd? Not me, that’s for certain.

3D advertisement

June 1st, 2016

3D advertising

3D advertising

Spotted at 12th and Folsom
 

Oculus Rift? Microsoft HoloLens? Samsung Gear?

Nah, who needs those? Old school red/blue 3D is where it’s at, as this somewhat illegally placed ad goes to show.

Before you ask, yes — I put on the 3D glasses and tested it out. While the 3D effect does work on this ad, unfortunately it barely makes use of the medium. What a shame. I’d love to see a similar “stunt” 3D advertisement that fully took advantage of the format. Maybe a secret phrase that jumps out at you that gets you something in return, like 10% off drinks or discounted entry to a club? Hey I’m just making suggestions here. Get on it, guerilla advertisers.

Promises of brunch at 11th and Folsom

May 17th, 2016

Promises of brunch

Thought the place is still under construction, promises of brunch are already being made at the former Paradise Lounge space at 11th and Folsom.

As far as I was aware they hadn’t decided on a name; none was listed on their liquor license. But the signage indicates that it will be called “Calle-11.” They don’t seem to have a web presence yet.

And no that’s not your mind playing tricks with you, the building is painted two different shades of blue at the moment.

Jamie Zawinski, owner of the nearby DNA Lounge posted a full history of the place a few years ago. The last part about the club’s previous owner’s destruction of the place is especially notable:

So they took a completely functional nightclub, that needed at best a coat of paint and some re-upholstery, and they destroyed it. It’s been empty ever since, and at this point, if someone gave you that business for free, I’ll bet you’d be half a million dollars away from selling your first beer.

That sounds about right, except his estimate of “half a million dollars” looks like it was optimistic. According to permits on file with SF Planning, the construction costs exceeded $2 million.

During construction the building was stripped down to its shell and the interior was rebuilt from scratch. This time around, the place features a roof deck which — If nothing else — should be a great place to sip a beer and watch public spankings at Folsom Street Fair below.

Is this the only Super Mario Bros. street art in San Francisco?

April 11th, 2016

Mario street art

On the side of The Willows, a bar at the corner of Folsom and 12th Street, there’s a mural featuring Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Which is nice and all, but it raises an obvious question: is this the only Super Mario Bros. street art in all of San Francisco?

This development seems especially surprising given that Europe’s version of San Francisco has an obsession with Super Mario Bros. that’s reflected in both their street art and names of businesses.

If we want our street art scene to be competitive with Lisbon’s, we have a lot of catching up to do. If we work together and we work hard, we can address this important citywide issue.

UPDATE: We have an answer!

Terrifying feat accomplished with suction cups

December 5th, 2014

Suction cups
 
While walking by the construction for LinkedIn’s new offices at 222 Second Street, I happened to notice some windows were being lifted up on a crane. How do you get a pane of glass from the street to 12 floors up?

Look closely: the only thing holding that windows is eight suction cups. That’s right, the technology behind your favorite childhood bath toys is now being used to hoist enormous panes of glass over a busy street. Let’s hope the workers remembered to lick them first for a better grip.

Fuck SFPD squirrel

December 3rd, 2014

Fuck SFPD squirrel
(Spotted at 3rd and Folsom)
 
While SFPD has gotten flack recently for an almost Oakland-like response to protests, I previously wasn’t aware that SFPD had a squirrel or the public hatred of said squirrel.

Presumably, this crime fighting squirrel operates in a similar manner to Disney’s 1989 series Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, wearing a little outfit and solving crimes within 24 minutes. Come to think of it, this sounds adorable and I’m not sure why anyone would object.

The person behind the red crayon has some explaining to do: why do you hate SFPD’s squirrel? Is there a specific beef you have with this squirrel? We deserve answers.

It’s taco time!

June 27th, 2014

Taco time

Spotted near 2nd and Harrison
 

Tick tock, tick tock!

Yup, it’s that time again — time to get a small tortilla, fill it with your choice of beans, meat, salsa, etc. Perhaps you want to make it “super” (a Spanish word for “guacamole and sour cream”) for an additional dollar. Whatever floats your taco boat.

Dumpster parklet explained

October 18th, 2011

Dumpster parklet

Dumpster parklet

You know that dumpster with trees growing out of it by the Chronicle building on 5th St? Turns out it’s actually supposed to be a mobile parklet. Seems like a dumpster filled with a garden is kind of a lazy man’s parklet. But then look at the sponsors: our local garbage hauling provider, Recology, is behind this. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?