Monthly Archives: October 2015

Someone Notices the Contrast of White on White, 31 October 2015.

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Good Evening:

Recent photographic meditations upon a recurring subject.

DSCN2174 DSCN2641 DSCN2637 IMG_8104 DSCN2266

Vonn Scott Bair

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What the GOP Primaries *Really* Need: My First, Only and Probably Last Political Blog Post.

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Good Evening:

I’ve shied away from overt politics in The San Francisco Scene–Seen!, because let’s face it, the vitriol and hostility in the online world has gotten a bit excessive. Only a little, but enough to dissuade me from participating. However, I recently sent a message to a group of friends, which a few encouraged me to repost elsewhere. So here goes. My first, only and probably last political blog post.

What the GOP Primaries *Really* Need.

Even with the recent departures of Democratic and Republican candidates, the number of people running in the primaries remains too great. Even worse, among the Republicans it can be almost impossible to distinguish amongst them, as they only seem to compete to have the exact same far right opinions as the other candidates, only more so. Most of them even compete to wear the exact same suit, only more so, compete to have the exact same American flag pin, only more so, and have the exact same hair, only more so.

And it’s so hard to get rid of them! Just look at one man who did drop out. Rick Perry kept his campaign going weeks after he could no longer pay his people (http://news.yahoo.com/perrys-cash-strapped-2016-campaign-stops-paying-staffers-154529015–election.html), in fact, his campaign was not yet doomed because he had a pair of Super-PACs to pay the bills for him. Who are these Super-PACs? I don’t know. One article only stated, “…A pair of pro-Perry outside groups, each with ‘Opportunity and Freedom’ in its name…”

So we have a bunch of vague looking white men competing for the GOP nomination, with a few exceptions. Interesting that Mr. Trump, Mr. Carson, Ms. Fiorina and Mr. Rubio, who look so much different from What’s-His-Name, What’s-His-Name, What’s-His-Name, et cetera, either have done well or are doing well in the polls.

Well consider this: I watch a lot of soccer. Don’t care where it’s played, don’t care who are the teams, I will happily watch a game. Now combine my (limited) knowledge of soccer with my (limited) knowledge of Rick Perry’s Super-PACs.

And that’s when it hit me–I know what America needs more than anything else during the Republican primaries.

Soccer jerseys.

Yes, soccer jerseys. Think of the last time you saw a soccer match. If it wasn’t a nation v. nation match, you saw something like Seattle v. Portland, a Juventus v. Real Madrid “friendly” (what a misnomer that is!), an Arsenal v. Chelsea UN-friendly, or similar. If you saw these teams, you saw their players. If you saw their players, you saw their jerseys. If you saw their jerseys, you saw the fronts of their jerseys. And if you saw the fronts of their jerseys, what did you see?

That’s right. You saw advertising. Advertising from corporations that forked over vast sums of money to sponsor the clubs so that you can see their names/logos on your 50″ flat screens.

And that is why the GOP candidates need to wear soccer jerseys. So Americans can know who sponsors them. Let’s face it: thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, so much money from so few donors will flood the election that nobody runs for Commander in Chief anymore. They run for Minion in Chief. And the time has long since passed when America needed to see the GOP candidates in denim overalls and goggles.

America deserves to know who will become the masters of the next Minion in Chief. After all, the Minion in Chief will work for them, not for us. To paraphrase Chevy Chase’s Weekend Update character from 40 (!) years ago, “Hello, I’m a billionaire, and you’re not!”

Therefore, soccer jerseys with advertising. At least we’ll know who’s running the Minion who’s running to run the country on behalf of the person who’s running the Minion.

There is no other way you can tell the GOP candidates apart.

We can wait for the general election before making either Ms. Clinton or Mr. Sanders wear their jerseys. Seriously, if you can’t tell those two apart… (hint: Mr. Sanders has only one pair of underpants)

You don’t have to thank me, but it’s all right if you do.

I sure hope this doesn’t get me into too much trouble.

Vonn Scott Bair

Trying to Understand, 27 October 2015.

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Good Evening:

I know what I saw today, but I have no idea what I saw today.

At about 11:15 a.m., on a stretch of Market Street from 10th Street to Van Ness Avenue, in the space of three minutes, I watched four homeless men (all Caucasian males who looked 40-50 years old) separately and independently walk into heavy traffic, indeed, they walked into heavy traffic towards the heavy traffic.

Homeless Man Searching the Gutter for Food, 19 October 2015.

Homeless Man Searching the Gutter for Food, 19 October 2015.

I have no idea what I saw.

I might have seen four almost simultaneous attempted suicides. In fact, the 14th time I saved a human life involved a man who was attempting to kill himself by walking into traffic. Incidentally, none of them got hit, not even close, not even the one at Market and 10th who wandered into oncoming traffic in four different lanes.

It just boggles the mind that so many homeless have hit upon this method of attempted suicide.

Unless it wasn’t.

Begging Outside Trader Joe's, Bryant & 9th Street, San Francisco, CA

Begging Outside Trader Joe’s, Bryant & 9th Street, San Francisco, CA

When four homeless men wander into traffic in such a small area, the possibility exists that a tainted batch of the current cheap street drug has warped their minds. Or it could have been just a coincidence that four perhaps mentally ill homeless men happened to wander into traffic at the same time. Unless this was a perverse version of Russian Roulette–maybe they get killed, but if they get injured they can try to sue drivers.

It just doesn’t seem possible that one person witnessed four strange events almost exactly alike in such a small time frame. Five, if you count my 14th. Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on. Seems like some kind of bad craziness taking hold in San Francisco.

Unless it was all just a coincidence.

I don’t know what I saw.

Vonn Scott Bair

Sunday Night, Fun Day Done Right Day.

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Good Evening:

Sunday night in downtown San Francisco could not have gone much better for culture vultures. The Playwrights Center of San Francisco sponsored a fund raiser in which 8 groups of playwrights, directors and actors wrote, directed and acted in 8 short plays. I happened to play a role in this project: aside from providing breakfast for everyone on Sunday morning, I contributed 2 of the 3 required elements for each play.

The required theme for each play was “Surprisingly Unexpected.” Didn’t come up with that one (my offering: “This Is the End of the World As We Know It”), but I did contribute the required noun and the required line of dialogue. The noun: “Escape Vehicle.” The line of dialogue: “But what about the strawberries?” Thought the poor playwrights would suffer. Thought very wrong. The show was great.

Think for a moment of what kind of play you might write with the theme “Surprisingly Unexpected,” the noun “Escape Vehicle,” and the dialogue, “But what about the strawberries?” Offhand, I can recall these:

  • An extraterrestrial crash-lands her UFO in a male Earthling’s strawberry patch.
  • Two zombie cheerleaders try to cash a check.
  • A mother accidentally reveals that she has lied to her daughter for 21 years–she does know her father’s name.
  • An Elizabethan woman asks William Shakespeare to pretend that he wrote her plays.
  • A nice elderly Jewish couple, both wizards, discover that their new human customer used to be their pet hamster. Not a misprint.

Surprisingly unexpected, aren’t they? And yes, they all included escape vehicles and strawberries.

San Francisco playwrights have excellent imaginations.

After an excellent show, maybe the best 24-hour playfest the PCSF has done, I wandered down to the cable car turnaround on Powell Street, where a gentleman with what appeared to be a 4.5 inch reflector telescope hosted a “Saturn Party,” wherein he offered free viewings of the planet. A little different, even by San Francisco standards.

Just around the corner, in front of the Gap store, stood Clare Means. Who? Clare is a tall woman with Pre-Raphaelite hair, an acoustic guitar, and quite a gift for songwriting in the genre some might call Americana. She currently has a curious sort of nationwide tour in progress: she travels from city to city, busking on the streets with her guitar and portable amp, performing songs from her two current CD collections, collecting dollars to pay for gas and food–basically trying to make a name for herself without a record deal and with an advertising budget of zero. Dropped a dollar in her guitar case and listened to “Look Who’s Lucky Now,” a great intro to her music, which you can find on iTunes. Have heard a lot of musicians and bands that deserved only the greatest success never came anywhere close. Clare Means is just the latest of the bunch, but it would feel pretty darn good some day to see her name on a Top 20. I mean, come on, Pre-Rephaelite hair. Dang.

I even found two dimes on the sidewalk.

Sunday night was that kind of night.

Vonn Scott Bair

And the Women, They Are A’Changing.

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Good Afternoon:

I enjoyed a very good Sunday brunch at La Urbana on Divisidero, one of the seemingly millions of new restaurants to open in the wake of San Francisco’s latest tech boom. Pricey, yes (you learn to expect that at brunch places on Divizz), but the portions are quite substantial and very well done (the “house made” sausage was at least twice as big as I expected). But just as tasty–the conversation at the table next to me.

You don't seriously think San Franciscans call them garage sales, do you?

You don’t seriously think San Franciscans call them garage sales, do you?

“The thing is, she is so aggressive, all the time. She is always pushing her employees and herself. Driven. You should hear her do sales presentations. She is so passionate, she always pushes for the best deals.” And so on and so on.

You’ve probably heard women executives described in this fashion all the time.

Except you haven’t.

Jack O'Lanterns, 25 October 2015. Note the one on the far left with the "cell phone."

Jack O’Lanterns, 25 October 2015. Note the one on the far left with the “cell phone.”

If you have any misconceptions, put them aside. Every single word of this monologue was spoken as praise. This probably does nothing but tell you that I am very, very, very old, but I hear women executives described with this vocabulary all of the time, but never as praise always as criticism. This has struck me as unfair for a long time–many Apple employees loved Steve Jobs for how rough he could get, he sometimes making them cry–but in the past, when I’ve heard women described as aggressive and/or pushy, it always sounded like a complaint and not a compliment.

The demographics at this table might interest the sociologists amongst you. Two heterosexual couples, the men looked 30-35, the women looked 25-30. The speaker was one of the women. Another detail that interested me, but probably does nothing but tell you that I am very, veryvery old. The men did not interrupt. They just listened, and nodded, not speaking until she had finished.

People can and have said and written much about how the tech boom has negatively changed San Francisco. Have you heard of the documentary Million Dollar Shack (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjXUBMkkE8). Amazing well produced effort and well worth a look. But the tech culture has yielded some positive changes as well, and praising women for aggressiveness counts among them.

Vonn Scott Bair

Love in San Francisco. (Weekly Photo Challenge: [Extra]ordinary)

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Good Evening:

Shouldn’t love be considered, for lack of a better term–ordinary?

IMG_8072Seriously, shouldn’t love seem like, for lack of a better phrase–no big deal?

DSCN2626Should anyone care that the above couple spent well over an hour at the Cafe International (at Haight & Fillmore) doing nothing but that?

Unfortunately, it seems the answer is yes.

Do you consider yourself a reasonably well-informed person? So do I. Now consider this–what do you and I read in the news, see in the videos, hear on the radio? War, murder, mass shootings, executions, terror, sometimes discussed by people as full of anger, hatred and bile as the events of which they bloviate. If your knowledge of the world came solely from the news, you might not even know that love exists.

Good thing we can turn off our computers and televisions, huh?

Good thing we can take off for a walk in our neighborhoods, huh?

Good thing we can see people in love as if love was only ordinary, huh?

DSCN2628Hmm. She wears the pants, he wears the kilt.

Given that San Francisco is not Scotland, perhaps that counts as (extra)ordinary.

Vonn Scott Bair

Does Your City… (Weekly Photo Challenge: [Extra]ordinary)

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Good Evening:

Does your city…have a bench like this?

DSCN2669Actually, probably yes; lots of cities like to convert mundane civic objects into objets d’arte. I happen to like this bench because it pivots 360 degrees. The bench represents part of a combination sidewalk park/recreation area called Outpost, and you will find it on Market Street near Sixth Street. These two gentlemen got a kick out of playing with the bench.

Version 2Outpost includes an unusual type of swing…

DSCN2673…and a highly decorated ping-pong table…

DSCN2671…and a place to ask questions and solicit opinions.

DSCN2672Here is the main structure, complete with schedule of events.

DSCN2674All in all, another example of how San Francisco does things just like everyone else, only differently.

Vonn Scott Bair