When the Center for Land Use Interpretation announces a bus trip I jump, and this time I took my dad (the engineer of whom I am the daughter) along with me too. CLUI's current exhibit is called Down to Earth: Experimental Aircraft Crash Sites of the Mojave, and the trip took us out to select sites around Edwards Air Force Base with two expert aerospace archaeologists, Peter W. Merlin and Tony Moore, as our guides. Along the way they and CLUI director Matthew Coolidge commented on numerous points of interest and told the stories of the pilots, almost none of whom were able to eject from their doomed aircraft in time. At the first site we visited when I looked down and saw the shrapnel still scattered across the dirt decades after the crash it was sobering to say the least. As always with CLUI the whole journey left my head brimming with new information, in this instance about a little-known part of history. I have great respect for those pilots and for the work Merlin and Moore continue to do too. Plus it was just wonderful to spend a day in my favorite desert with my dad, right back where my family had seen Space Shuttle Columbia land at Edwards in 1983.
Headlands magic was in full effect on Sunday as Jeannene Przyblyski of the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets led a small group of us up and over the hills toward Black Sands Beach. She carried in one hand a glass jar full of fog, i.e. dry ice to which she would occasionally add hot water from a thermos. The theme of our hike (one of nine highly varied walks being offered by Headlands Center for the Arts that afternoon) was fog, and Przyblyski had come prepared with her own "clouds on the ground" in case nature didn't provide us any of its own accord. As you can see from the above picture, she needn't have worried. At various points along the trail Przyblyski shared chapters from the story of fog and folded in tasty bits from history, geography, and pop culture as she went, even pausing for a musical interlude courtesy of Chopin (and her iPod). Finally, from a cliff high above the Pacific she opened her jar, and we watched as the fog returned to the sea. In a moment that existed somewhere outside of time we stood there in a hollowed-out cave of mist, and the water below our feet seemed to glow from its very depths with pale light.
Books Inc. (2275 Market) - Though they have locations all over the city, the Castro outpost is a fantastic one-stop shop for art-book remainders, magazines, and smut. And hurry over to the Opera Plaza storefront at noon tomorrow for an appearance by Dave Eggers as he reads from his new book Zeitoun, a real-life story from Hurricane Katrina.
The Booksmith (1644 Haight) - Last but definitely not least, the Booksmith has hosted more amazing readings over the years than I can even capture here. I've heard Chris Ware, David Sedaris, Francesca Lia Block, Harvey Pekar, William T. Vollmann, John Wesley Harding, Dan Savage, Greil Marcus...the list goes on and on.
The SF Bike Coalition is doing one of their fabulous city tours tomorrow afternoon, meeting at Humphry Slocombe at noon. You can probably guess the theme from there: it's an Ice Cream Sunday Ride! I had a ton of fun on their Tour de Fromage not long ago, but unfortunately I don't think I'm going to be able to get out of the station in time to join the group. I had a nice Berkeley bike ride this morning though, and I'm plotting my own visit to Humphry Slocombe before the Upset the Rhythm show at the Lab tomorrow night too.
Meanwhile, after feeling a little under the weather this afternoon I stayed in tonight and curled up with a DVD, the excellent 2002 film Nine Queens by Argentinian director Fabián Bielinsky. Gastón Pauls and Ricardo Darín play the two small-time con men Juan and Marcos who stumble onto a sheet of rare stamps that they then try to quickly unload on a volatile collector, and Leticia Brédice is Marcos's tightly-wound sister who unwillingly becomes part of the deal. The plot features enough double- and triple-crosses to satisfy any fan of cerebral crime stories in the style of The Spanish Prisoner and is heaps of fun besides. I can say no more without spoiling the ride.
Earlier today the always-awesome San Francisco Bicycle Coalition took me and about two dozen other cheese-loving cyclists around the city on a 15-mile Tour de Fromage. Though I've been toodling around Berkeley and further afield in the East Bay on my beloved Trek for years now I'd never ever biked in the city, and this was the perfect introduction to some excellent routes fully equipped with bike lanes and everything. We met at the Panhandle Statue, hauled ourselves up over Twin Peaks, and then bombed down O'Shaughnessy to Glen Park and the wonderful Cheese Boutique where they had an entire counter of samples waiting for us. I picked up some aged goat Gouda there before we hopped back on our bikes to go cruising through the Mission and over to Hayes Valley to get some bread to supplement our cheese at La Boulange. Then it was over to Polk Gulch to Cheese Plus for more delicious tastings and the purchase of a hunk of cranberry Wensleydale for me before we pedaled up to the top of Alta Plaza Park for an epic picnic with some amazing views besides. And I had so much fun now I want to go biking in the city every damn weekend.