Sunday, March 29, 2009

Random Saturday Shots

My neighborhood has a Croatian American Cultural Center. Awesome. . .

This is the view opposite the really stellar cafe, Mama Art Cafe, where Fair Trade coffees and delicious pastries abound in a very cozy, sunny spot. Plus there's art and shows and nice regulars who actually talk to each other and don't just stare into their laptops. (Except for me, I do that...)

Walking down Alemany, there are lots of abandoned cars and trucks, shaded by the foliage that serves as a barrier from the sidewalk to the funeral parlor. More on that in a future blog.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some Pictures Of The Same Two Blocks

What's in the shopping cart?

Answer: stuffed animals. (Parked unattended in front of chicken restaurant.)

Night shot of the Palacade.

This is one of the many churches in our neighborhood. This is the one where the band isn't that great I'm afraid. The one just two storefronts down has many more talented musicians.

This is one of the Giant Crows of Ellington. Although this photo doesn't do him much justice. It's better when he's pecking out the eyes of a scarecrow or giving the finger to a meter maid or robbing a bank. But after seeing him here, I watched him try to eat an electrical wire. But the photo didn't come out so hot. But at least it gave me some idea as to the powers of Giant Crow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Houses kissing on Ellington, my street

Notes On Houses And Sidewalks

There are an abundance of neat little backyards in the Excelsior. Tis easy to peak over the little green fences.

Entire blocks of houses here are completely joined together, having the overwhelming effect of one giant, composite house. Sometimes I wonder if the houses have passageways between them, which of course sets my mind to wondering about the story-telling possibilities of such an intriguing arrangement. The above photo is the street of protrudingly flamboyant chimneys.

I wonder about the style of the houses here, and how old they are. Sometimes the colors, the balconies and windows remind me of houses in Vietnam.

This colorful row of houses should be as famous as those three painted ladies in Alamo Square that are featured at the beginning of Family Matters. This is the view when you walk up Geneva towards Balboa Park Station. The Excelsior has no shortage of great vantage points.

This maroon spackle hieroglyph greets me on the sidewalk each time I make a sharp turn on Mt. Vernon to go to the liquor store. It looks to me like part animal skull morphed with a cross-section of a human womb. Soon after, there is an over-grown vacant lot backyard, and some kind of utility box that is always heaped with people's garbage which often includes plastic bottles filled with suggestive-looking fluids. This sidewalk is also where I've seen the Excelsior's otherworldly and no doubt genetically-enhanced scavenger crows prowling around like pterodactyls who have taken fresh tar-pit baths. I have yet to capture them on camera. But soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

At Mission and Mt. Vernon Right Where I Almost Live

This billiard-hall is always hopping even on weeknights.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for "Asian Restaurant" next door. Usually it looks like there are full tables heaped with food but no one there to eat any of it. Needless to say, I'm writing a story about its ghostly clientele. Someday soon I will eat there, when I'm feeling brave and more of an iron disposition. I have no intention though of finding out if it has a name other than that marvel of simplicity itself, "Asian Restaurant."

Another view of the "Billiard Palacade." I have to think that "Family Recreation" is a bold-faced lie considering the hordes of happy young men inside drinking beer and playing pool.

There lots of vans like this one in my neighborhood. I like the colors in the morning; they help wake me up. I wonder what these vans deliver and how their drivers feel when they drive them. I would feel particularly good driving them I think. People like my van, I'd say. People want to write on it. They want to improve it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Katy had introduced me to this interesting alley of colorful houses, each built with a corresponding set of stairs. At the end there is a view of City College and more colorful houses. She said the houses, the view and the general environment reminded her of Istanbul.

There are more pink houses in the Excelsior than anywhere else I've been. There are also more gratings, gates and iron grille-work than most houses I've seen.

Excelsior has many surrounding hills that are strung with houses like Christmas tree lights, sometimes wrapped on top of each other, other times intersecting at odd angles but making the hills seem heavily laden all the same.

The cul-de-sac, Ellington, was shiny and breezy this afternoon, a sick day I spent snapping some shots. Note the colors of the squat little houses, the lack of trees save two or three and the balconies that are seldom used.

Here on Ellington these five, six months, a few things have become consistent:

1. There is a parrot (or two?) across the street from our house that perpetually, on certain days, whines, mocks, bleats, coos and generally engages in shameless baby talk. Sometimes the parrot upsets me to no end. Other times I can deal with it. Last time I walked past it, however, it deliberately tried to provoke me by saying hello in a voice like a castrated clown's.

2. Certain weekend nights, a mysterious, all-consuming odor of grilled pork mixed with fish-oil seeps up into our bedroom and prevents the nose from remembering a field of wildflowers. In fact, this meaty-dripping-old-fish-scale bouquet tyrannizes the nose to such a degree that the only thing the nose remembers is that it wishes it wasn't a nose at all and would have preferred being born an eye, notwithstanding the sadness of the Cyclops.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Awkward Ingress And/Or Questionable Romance

A strange and strangely aromatic alcove at Balboa Park Bart Station.

A narrow space on the right (unseen) provides a foot of distance between your tender shoulder and a slowly oncoming K train or M train or whatever they are. Forced by circumstance to the left, you enter Odd Lover's Alcove, its nooks and hollows cemented with freshly-liquefied garbage. Soon you will come upon the hot dog stand with the two flat tires. The hot dog stand that cannot go anywhere.

Those three letters inscribed in indelible pastel pose neither a question nor an answer but merely a suggestion (hence, the arrow) that has been taken up time and time again. Between certain amputation at the red hands of a slow train or braving with a grimace the scented, cement-sticky darkness of Odd Lover's Alcove proves to be the Scylla and Charybdis of every Balboa Park Bart commuter, including myself.

The dirty beginnings of a photo log.

This is the building on the top of the Geneva hill, adjacent to the Bart Station. I'm not sure what its function is exactly but in the lot behind it is where all the Muni trains come out. The building itself looks unoccupied.
Mixed martial arts are extremely popular in the Excelsior and the studios have the murals to prove it.
If you live in the Excelsior you might have a sweet ride like this one. Reminds me of my Pinewood Derby days making smaller versions of this in my Grandfather's magical basement work room in Washington D.C.

THIS BLOG OR PHLOG (photoblog?) IS GONNA BE PHOTOS and quick notes regarding the strange and compelling and under-explored Excelsior District of San Francisco, the place I have called home for five or six months now. It's pretty diverse, colorful, loud, noisy and dirty, among other things, and I will casually explore its many marvels and banalities while I still remain its humble if ambivalent citizen.

This is, above all, an experiment. Enjoy.