Category Archives: Public Transit

City Vehicle Yard, South Van Ness & 13th Street, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015.


Good Evening:

One of my big influences as a photographer is Photo-Realism, a painting movement prominent about 40-50 years ago. Ironic. One of the subjects the Photorealists loved to portray consisted of automobiles, either singly or in gatherings. So here is a photograph in the Photorealistic painting style of a Photorealistic painting subject.

City Vehicle Yard, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015, 1:26 p.m.

City Vehicle Yard, San Francisco, CA 19 December 2015, 1:26 p.m.

It’s OK, I don’t understand me, either.

Vonn Scott Bair

World Music and the World of Music in San Francisco: YOUR New Puzzle of the Week!


Good Evening:

One of these days, maybe just maybe your correspondent will finally break down and subscribe to Songlines Magazine, a very fine periodical devoted to the world of music, the world in music, and world music in particular. Each issue includes one or two sampler CDs (remember those?) containing sample songs featuring that issue’s featured artists–and one of these days I will learn how to write coherent English sentences.

Ukulele Player Busking Before the Last SF Giants Game of the Season.

Ukulele Player Busking Before the Last SF Giants Game of the Season.

The current issue (#111) puts Seckou Keita on the cover–and if you are also a hard-core lover of kora music you will immediately start looking for this issue. The issue includes two CDs. The first is the usual Songlines sampler.

The second–well, that is your official Puzzle of the Week!

Schooled in Massachusetts, Performed in Austin TX, Loves Dogs.

Schooled in Massachusetts, Performed in Austin TX, Loves Dogs.

The second CD includes the following: a song by a band called Jaffa Road (Jaffa is a place in Israel); another song by a band called Delhi 2 Dublin (referencing India and Ireland); and a song by Ayrad entitled “Moroccan Gospel.”

And here is YOUR Puzzle of the Week! What is the title of the CD?

Musician Performing East Asian Music in Front of a Starbucks Ad, Powell Street Station, San Francisco, CA, 7 October 2015, 9:10 p.m.

Musician Performing East Asian Music on a Japanese Koto  in Front of a Starbucks Ad, Powell Street Station, San Francisco, CA, 7 October 2015, 9:10 p.m. Note how the ad complements the dress and vice versa.

You probably did not guess correctly. Not unless you own the issue.

The title of this CD is–believe it or not–Canada Now (Canada Maintenant).

It consists entirely of Canadian music. Or at the very least, music by Canadian musicians.

No one can deny that almost all recent developments in the music industry have caused a lot of pain for the artists, as fewer and fewer superstars grab more and more of the attention and money, except that they suffer as much from illegal downloading as anyone else (in terms of actual dollars lost, perhaps more, but I don’t have the numbers). Musicians share the very reasonable hope that they can support themselves with work they love, but their fans have developed the expectation that music should be free, possibly as an offshoot of the original idea that information wants to be free (sometimes attributed to Stewart Brand, late 1960s).

The one positive development? Music itself.

How on earth does a balding, late middle aged, pot-bellied, government bureaucrat white boy like yours truly even know that the kora exists?! Have you seen one of those things?! The kora is The Elephant Man of the guitar family, the horribly misshapen, deformed and monstrous mutant offspring of the unholy dalliance between an oud and a diddley-bow that the family keeps locked up in the basement out of shame–and yet the kora produces gloriously ethereal and beautiful music equal to anything else in the world.

How did I first hear of this West African instrument?!

The truth is that I don’t remember. Somewhere in the past decade, I blundered into In The Heart of The Moon, a collaboration between the late Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate and became madly enraptured with the performance of Toumani on one of his own koras–but even that doesn’t count as my first encounter with that strange-looking instrument. Nonetheless, we all know where I first encountered the kora. On the Internet.

We have entered an extraordinary era, one in which it has become more difficult than ever for musicians to make a living, and yet more easy than ever to discover each other, learn from each other, and experiment with each other, drawing inspiration from music and musical instruments that we might never have encountered even a decade ago.

Making Napster, the iPod, YouTube et alia very bad news for the musician–and very good news for the musician’s music.

I feel so glad I don’t work in music. Feels much better that I just enjoy the sound.

Especially since I never steal music.

Vonn Scott Bair

Dancing Real Good For Free.


Good Evening:

At first, I thought she had fallen in the middle of a group of UC Berkeley students at the Downtown Berkeley BART station as she thrashed on one bench. Then I thought she was tripping on bad drugs when she sprang to her feet and ran all the down to the east end of the platform. Then I thought she was just plain bat-bleep crazy when she sat on another concrete bench and tied herself into one odd contortion after another.

Then she stood, lifted one foot over her head in a stretch, and practiced some soft shoe steps.

So I was wrong three times. This young woman was an aspiring dancer, practicing and performing, and to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, “dancing real good for free.”

No editing at all–BART stations have weird light that makes pictures hard without expensive equipment or time to prepare or experience in bad lighting conditions.

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And when she finished her performance-slash-practice, she ran all the way to the other end of the platform to catch the Fremont train home.

Vonn Scott Bair

Orange, Yellow & White. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic)


Good Evening:

Saw this new item in the Market & Van Ness station:


…and had another idea for this week’s Challenge–using transit as an inspiration.

So here is a closeup of the door.

Version 2

This is a doohickey on the side of the vintage Los Angeles street car that runs up and down Market.

Version 2

Vintage street cars have lots of strange doohickeys on their sides. Here’s a yellow one.


Finishing with something in white, a car door handle.


I think I’m having too much fun.

Vonn Scott Bair

I Hope He Tinders Because He Fails Reality.


Good Afternoon:

If you don’t time it right, waiting for the 24-Divisadero at Geary can take quite a bit of time. I had not, and had to wait. After luckily securing a bench seat and checking the college football scores (Northwestern defeated Stanford in a mild upset), I put the iPhone away to study the scene.

Two seats to my left sat a Caucasian male in his early 20s with tasteless camouflage cargo shorts and a short-sleeved Henley shirt of a sickly beige color. I did not recognize that hair style but then again, I am old. He buried his face into his Samsung cell phone, no doubt unaware that he was giving himself a future case of “phone neck,” and yes, this is true–that is a brand-new physical ailment (sometimes called text neck).

He had no idea that she even existed.

She was an Asian woman with long hair who stood about five feet tall (much too short for me), and seemed less than 25 years old (much too young for me). However, if you prefer very short women with long black hair, you would have felt very much interested in her.

And she was interested in him.

When she arrived at the bus stop, she just happened to stop four feet in front of the young man with bad taste in clothes and hair. After a moment, she just happened to look over her shoulder and spotted him, did a double-take, then turned around and faced him directly.

He kept giving himself a future case of phone neck.

She looked to see if the bus was coming (nope, not even close), then took another step toward the young man. She now stood three feet from him, facing him directly.

He kept giving himself a future case of phone neck.

She looked to see if the bus was coming (nope, not even close), then took another step toward the young man. She now stood two feet from him, facing him directly.

He kept giving himself a future case of phone neck.

One more chance. She looked to see if the bus was coming (nope, not even close), then took another step toward the young man. She now stood one foot from him, perhaps only ten inches away from him. She and faced him directly, toe to toe, focusing on his eyelids because she could not see his eyes..

He kept–oh heck, you know what he kept doing.

She stepped back to her original spot, four feet in front of the young man of dubious clothing and hair, turned her back to him, and fixed her eyes upon Divisadero, looking for and awaiting the 24 bus.

He looked up from his cell phone. He looked at her oblivious back.

She fixed her eyes upon Divisadero, looking for and awaiting the 24 bus.

He leaned way over to his left, perhaps trying to see her face, perhaps trying to catch her eye.

She fixed her eyes upon Divisadero, looking for and awaiting the 24 bus.

He returned to his phone, giving himself a future–oh heck, you know what he was giving himself.

I thought, I hope he Tinders, because he fails IRL. I might be old, but even I know that IRL stands for In Real Life.

Vonn Scott Bair

A Serendip of San Franciscans, 3 April 2015: Commuters.


Good Evening:

For those of you new to The San Francisco Scene–Seen!, I recently made the arbitrary decision to use “Serendip” as the collective noun for a group of San Franciscans, and begun a series of photo essays of my fellow citizens engaged in a common activity. Today’s theme: Commuters.


The above is only the fifth photograph taken with my new point-and-shoot, a Nikon CoolPix S9900, and the previous four were random test shots. So far, the results have please me, but perhaps not as much as this unusual mode of transit pleased its very young passenger:

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San Francisco’s public transit system does one thing very well: catering to severely disabled individuals. Recently I took a 19-Polk bus that at one stop disembarked two passengers in wheelchairs and then added a third, all in less than two minutes.These two awaited a bus at 8th & Market.


Skateboarders can commute anywhere.


Bicycling keeps growing in popularity: as bike lanes expand, so too do the number of riders.

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But some people and critters still prefer an old school mode of transportation.


Vonn Scott Bair

P***ing at the Bus Stop.


Good Evening:

Having lived in San Francisco 33 years–at least 4 times as long as I’ve lived anywhere else–you may safely conclude that I love this place, and normally, The San Francisco Scene–Seen! tries to stay positive and focus on the interesting, the amusing, the beautiful. Ideally, all three.

But no one can deny that sometimes, San Francisco fails. And I feel that I would lie to you if I didn’t say so.

The bus stop for the 21-Hayes and 19-Polk buses in front of the Orpheum Theater at 8th and Market has become a popular social gathering spot, for lack of a better term, for the homeless who spend their days at the Civic Center. Most of the time, they don’t do anything worse than public inebriation and denying seats to the elderly.

This guy went a little too far.


I took this first shot because of the conjunction and contrast of the very young schoolgirl standing with a backpack and the passed-out drunk lying on the sidewalk. A contrast of red and pink vs. blue, young vs. old, a girl with a future vs. a man whose best days had passed. Then some sort of commotion began and I thought that maybe I would need to escort the girl from trouble.


The man had awakened and stuck his left hand down his pants. Obviously the two sitting people looked uncomfortable and I feared that he intended to do something perverse–indecent exposure, perhaps–to the girl. But before I could intervene on her behalf…


…false alarm. All he wanted to do was urinate. The dark line on the bricks extending from his crotch is a stream of urine.

The African-American person had decamped quickly. I had not seen the gentleman with the hat before (the girl blocks him from view in the previous two pictures).

“What are you doing, man?! Not here, not in front of my little girl! Find a bathroom, man, find an alley, find a tree, whatever, just don’t p*** like that in front of my daughter, man! Come on, sweetie, we’re going to walk down the street a bit. Man, you are disgusting!”

So no need for me to intervene. The father escorted his daughter to a safer location about ten yards away.

I once got in trouble back in Sunday School for asking the nun teaching class something like, “If you say God made us in His image, don’t you hurt His feelings?” So completely forgot about that until now that I didn’t even remember I had forgotten it. Guess I remembered because I can’t even hope to count how many ways this scene represents how many failures on the part of the species known as Homo Sapiens. I apologize if this blog post has upset you, but I respect my readers enough that I have to write the entire story of San Francisco, not just the fun parts.

Vonn Scott Bair