13 October 2008


It's Fleet Week at the moment and so San Francisco is even more sailor-filled than usual--in fact, it almost feels as though I've stumbled into a Thomas Pynchon novel. This also means that it's impossible, as a woman, to walk around without being leered at by said able-bodied seamen and then being accused of being anti-patriotic when declining to go to a bar with them (the clue's in the accent, guys--ditto to the dudes who were demanding that I voted Obama...). Sometimes, the innuendo goes the other way with horny gaggles of girls asking the sailors about fun with seamen [sic.]. Hee hee. Still, Pynchon primed me to expect them to burst into song or a bawdy limerick every few minutes or so and thus far, I've been pretty disappointed. 

Part of the festivities involve the Blue Angels (which, after some translations into British English), I worked out to be equivalent to the Red Arrows (compared to the Blue Angels, the Red Arrows sound like a to-do item in an online content management system...). I had decided to wander up to Cow Hollow today anyway to do some window shopping and to hang out in some cafes and once I was there, I decided I might as well walk to the Golden Gate Bridge to watch the acrobatic displays. SF's public transport system confuses me--there are too many different types of transport and the subway doesn't go most places I would want to go and the bus network is too complicated for me. As such, my legs were aching by the time I staked my position about halfway along the bridge. There were, I think, six planes, engaged in an awesome display of acrobatics for about 45 minutes and it was pretty exhilerating to be standing on the bridge and to then have four planes fly (not very far) overhead at an incredibly fast speed.

As I find it hard to just enjoy such experiences without recording them for posterity, I whipped out the (massively inadequate) camera and started trying to take some photos. Ideally, I wante
d a shot with four or six of the planes in formation over the top of one of the towers of the bridge. Taking pictures of planes is really hard, though. First, they're going so fast that you often hear the sound of them flying overhead or towards you quite a bit after it's already too late but the sound distracts you from your shot. Second, I'm sure the acoustics of the Bay only exacerbate this effect. Third, they really are going very fast and one must have lightning fast reactions in order to take the photo at just the right moment. Fourth, it was very bright and sunny and I could hardly see anything on the screen of my camera so sometimes I didn't even know if I was taking vaguely the right shot. All of this meant, it was hard enough just getting the planes in the shot, without having to worry about having bridges and the city as background

Eventually, I got bored and started walking back, although I kept my camera in my hand so that I could sneak in a few more photos if I spotted a good shot. Naturally, the second I put the camera in my bag, all six planes flew very close over my head in a pyramid formation, which would have been a great shot, including the bridge. Sigh.  With this and my Brooklyn Bridge session from a couple of weeks ago, it would seem that I am developing a bridge fetish to rival most engineers--I'm not, of course, but it does make me think that I'd like to take a photography course to get more out of my crappy Sony camera (yes, I could just read the manual but it's not very user-friendly and as the camera is almost two years old, I'm sure I've long since lost the manual.

I walked home along the marina and the Embarcadero, mainly because having walked 14 miles today (plus my run this morning), my legs couldn't face any more hills. I really must try to remember that San Francisco has bigger blocks than NYC and it's easy to walk much further than I realised. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, though, and I had some choons and a good book so it was just nice to be outdoors. 

On the way back to the multiplex to see Burn After Reading (I find the Coen brothers' films to be a bit hit and miss but this was funny wacky rather than just ooookay wacky), I stopped off at Taylor's Automatic Refresher at the Ferry Building, which is some kind of minimalist, upscale wannabe diner where rich people can take their kids for a burger while being ensured that everything--down to the aluminium tables, probably--is "organic." My cheeseburger was pretty good and it was nice watching the sun go down over the East Bay. However, I happened to glance at the wine list (it was that kind of diner) and while most of the bottles of red were in the $20-30 range, as you might expect for this calibre of pseudo-diner, there were a few bottles that were really expensive. Not $60 expensive but $225 expensive--one was even $325! If I were ordering a $325 bottle of wine, I'd at least want it served to me at my table and, probably, for it to be in a nicer setting, although who knows? Maybe all of that $325 is actually on the wine rather than the marketing and whatnot. I doubt it, though. It just strikes me as odd that you would pay $325 for a bottle of red to accompany your $7 cheeseburger. I even thought it might have been a typo but if so, it appears to be printed on the menus, on the wall of the restaurant and online... Crazy.

And so concludes a week of San Francisco Days, San Francisco Nights... The city feels different now but maybe that's just me...

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