City Lights and The Fillmore:
Copyright Jim Marshall Photography LLC
Creativity and innovation are hallmarks of San Francisco, where a startup mentality continues to define us. We routinely set foot on the hallowed grounds of storied cultural landmarks—unprecedented venues at their inception that remain progressive icons today. Here, insiders reminisce on the impact of four classic SF institutions to remind us why they epitomize the city’s special spirit. In this installment, we start with City Lights and The Fillmore. Next week, we’ll continue with Castro Theatre and Stern Grove.
City Lights Bookstore, est. 1953. By Lawrence Ferlinghetti, cofounder, publisher, and poet
In 1953, San Francisco wasn’t what it is today. At that time, paperbacks were not considered real books in America. Peter Martin, an editor I met in North Beach, had the brilliant idea to open the first paperback bookstore in the U.S. My idea was to make City Lights a literary meeting place. I was used to the literary scene in Paris cafes and wanted to create a public place where people could hang out and read all day.
As soon as we got the doors open—we started off with one little room and slowly expanded—the store attracted people because there was such a void in that space. This was a brand-new scene. Back then, bookstores weren’t open on the weekends or late at night. We changed that. We were the first to introduce a periodicals section and the first to carry gay magazines. There was a lot of demand for this new culture, and we rode the wave. Comedians like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl stopped in before gigs.
I was one of those New York carpet-bagging poets. I wasn’t really one of the Beats, but I got associated with them because I published them. City Lights, under my direction, was a publisher almost from the beginning, and this was another innovation—bookstores didn’t do that sort of thing. We printed Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in 1956, at the start of the poetry revolution. The Beats articulated what later became the themes of 1960s hippie counterculture, antiwar demonstrations, and ecological consciousness. Kerouac’s On the Road was a sad book, but it turned everybody on because it expressed what his generation was feeling. Sociologists said it articulated the end of American innocence.
In the late 1990s, we restored the City Lights building because of a required retrofit, but the inside remains mostly the same. You’ll still see locals reading in the basement or up in the poetry room. We have so many events there, but the tourists don’t generally know about them—they’re just passing through. We also get a lot of professors and students from all over the country and an enormous amount of foreign visitors. Today, there’s not a literary revolution as there was when City Lights opened. Today, we have the electronic revolution, which is wiping out so many bookstores. We’re benefitting from being among the few that have survived. We could soon be the last man standing.”
—As told to Chris Trenchard and Allison McCarthy
The Fillmore, est. 1966 By Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle music critic, 1972–2009
I saw my first show at the Fillmore in 1967: Chuck Berry and the Grateful Dead. It cost $3 to get in. There were two walls covered with lights. The stage was small. About 1,100 people, absorbed in sound and lights, crammed into the room. The experience was truly authentic.
And to think that bands like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Otis Redding, Howlin’ Wolf, and the Grateful Dead all played on that tiny little stage. Bill Graham started renting the place from promoter Charles Sullivan in the ’60s. The thing was a success right from the word “go.” Bill wasn’t really a fan of rock music—he was originally a mambo dancer from New York. But he had plenty of street smarts. Over time, though, he figured out how to book that room. It became a tribal rite to play there, and that gave the Fillmore this kind of mystique. Groups like Traffic and Cream gave performances that ended up being fundamental to the acceleration of their careers. It became clear that this place was at the center of something very special. At the time, Chet Helms operated the Avalon Ballroom, which was the Fillmore’s primary competitor back then. He had this theory that the Fillmore’s Apollonian stage and proscenium were gateways to the gods. Promoters would leverage this mystique to get bands like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who would normally play at much bigger theaters. Then in the early ’90s, Tom Petty played 20 or 30 shows there over the course of a few months. Petty was definitely building on that mystique. It was quite a different place then. The old stage now lies (almost completely hidden from view) underneath the newer, bigger stage. But the Fillmore is still a space steeped in history and the ghosts of great performers. The guy who does the booking now, Michael Bailey, really knows the thrill of fandom. He’s been shrewd about capitalizing on the legacy of the Fillmore in the ’60s. Bands today are aware of the mystique—who hasn’t heard Cream’s Wheels of Fire: Live at the Fillmore? And it’s still a damn fine place to see a show.”
This article was published in 7×7’s June issue. Click here to subscribe.
“Dont you want somebody to love?”
| May 14, 1965
“Boss of the Bay,” KYA presents the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, Beau Brummels,
Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Vejtables, at Civic Auditorium.August 13, 1965
The Matrix, San Francisco’s first folk night club, opened at 3138 Fillmore
in the Marina District. New band called “The Jefferson Airplane“ performed.September 2, 1965
Beatles concert at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Pandemonium broke out
as fans rushed the stage.September 21, 1965
The Jefferson Airplane opened for Lightnin’ Hopkins at the Matrix on
Fillmore St. Norm Mayell backed Hopkins on drums.October 15, 1965
The Great Society performed at the opening of the Coffee Gallery.
Band members included Darby, Jerry and Grace Slick. San Francisco
State College Vietnam Day Committee Teach-In. Country Joe and the Fish
entertained.October 16, 1965
Family Dog collective dance and concert, a tribute to Dr. Strange, at Longshoremen’s
Hall with The Jefferson Airplane andthe Charlatans, and the Great Society. Russ
“The Moose” Syracuse of KYA was master of ceremonies.
October 24, 1965
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Lincoln’s Birthday Party with Sopwith Camel at the Firehouse, former quarters of Engine
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near Polk and Geary.
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KFRC Presents the Beach Boys Summer Spectacular at the Cow Palace.
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The Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium.
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Ike and Tina Turner Revue with the Ike-Ettes at California Hall.
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Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Fillmore Auditorium.
February 10, 1967
John H. Myers Blues Project, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker at the
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May 5, 1967 Grateful Dead, and the Paupers at Fillmore Auditorium.
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May 26, 1967 The Charlatans, The Salvation Army Banned, and Blue Cheer
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Grand opening of the Straight Theatre at Haight and Cole. It was the
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Five-day Radical Theatre Festival at San Francisco State College featured
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November 13, 1969 Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Cold Blood, Joy of Cooking,
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S.F. Bay Guardian Announcement: Brugmann Stepping Down, Headquarters Sold For $6.5 Million
Guardian HQ, via Street View
In an official announcement today, San Francisco Bay Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond cleared up some of the the rumors swirling around the will-they/won’t-they hookup situation between the Guardian and the San Francisco Examiner. The biggest take aways: longtime publishers Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble will be stepping down from their day-to-day operations as they cash in on the sale of the paper’s Potrero Hill headquarters.
Helping out Boss Brugmann and his wife as they sunset their way to retirement, San Francisco real estate investment firm Union Property Capital has agreed to pay $6.5 million for the paper’s HQ on Mississippi Street. That price tag is just under $2 million more than Brugmann paid for the 27,000 square-foot building back in 2002 using Small Business loans to make the down payment. The deal was reportedly made off the market.
Although Examiner Publisher Todd Vogt was originally being coy about the sale, he explained to Redmond, “Bruce and Jean have created a legendary publication, and we are happy to be able to give it a new home and the chance to continue its mission.” The Ex and the SFBG will remain separate and distinct papers, but Vogt did point out that, “the potential synergies will be beneficial to readers and advertisers.”
Redmond also explained the paper’s plan for the future and his own expanded role:
This transition is connected to ongoing exclusive negotiations with a subsidiary of The SF Newspaper Company LLC to purchase all assets related to the the Guardian publishing operations. SFNalso owns and publishes the San Francisco Examiner. Both parties are optimistic that a final contract will be signed shortly, most likely in May.
There are no plans to change the editorial content or positions of the Guardian, which will remain the voice of progressive politics and alternative culture in San Francisco. Executive Editor Tim Redmond will stay on in the expanded role of executive editor and publisher.
Brugmann, meanwhile, will continue keeping up the Bruce Blog for the foreseeable future.
Previously: SF Examiner Just Bought SF Bay Guardian?
LITERARY SAN FRANCISCO
Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, came to San Francisco in the early 1860s and found work as a reporter for the Daily Morning Call. The failed Confederate soldier and miner found his calling after writing burlesque under the name Josh and comic tales in the style of Artemus Ward. In San Francisco, Twain lived at the Occidental Hotel
and fondly compared Montgomery Street to Main Street in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri for he had made many acquaintances in a short time and was widely recognized walking along the downtown street. In the offices of the Golden Era at 732 Montgomery Street, which would have been in the Jackson Square area pictured here, Twain worked with a group of young writers including Bret Harte, who Twain credited with developing his talent. “He changed me from an awkward utterer of coarse grotesqueness to a writer of paragraphs and chapters that havefound a certain favor in the eyes of some of the very decentest people,” Twain said. As a reporter he covered the police, theatre, and society. Before going on to worldwide fame as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and other works, his articles exposed police brutality, abuse of the Chinese, and political corruption. For the Golden Era, he wrote, “The Washoe Wit: Mark Twain on the Rampage.”
Jack Kerouac authored the American classic On the Road and influenced an entire generation more than fifty
years ago and just ahead of the rock and roll revolution. North Beach resident Kerouac tells the mostly autobiographical story of Sal Paradise (Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty (friend Neal Cassady), who find a kind of personal liberation and respite from mundane conformity by hitting the road from the east coast to California. What follows is a travelogue of American days and nights and people who “burn like fabulous roman candles.” With his
rebels-without-a-cause story line and spontaneous, unconventional writing style, Kerouac became a pop icon and celebrity. His work details a life of tumultuous friendships and social isolation anesthetized by caustic wit as well as drugs and alcohol. Kerouac died in 1969 in his late 40s.The original manuscript of On the Road, seen here, was written on 128 feet of tracing paper fashioned by Kerouac with tape to form a continuous scroll. The manuscript, a stream of consciousness without interruption, was created in New York during a 20-day writing binge. The manuscript was purchased for $2.43 million by Indiana Colts ower James Irsay on May 22, 2001. The sum is the most ever paid for a literary work.
Danielle Steel An air of romantic secrecy emanates from her Pacific Heights mansion
. The author, who recently published her 50th best selling title, lives a life more dramatic than that of the most harried heroine from her many romance novels including Passion’s Promise, Now and Forever, A Perfect Stranger, and No Greater Love. In childhood Steel survived polio and cancer. Among her five husbands are a convicted bank robber/rapist and a heroin addict/burglar. Later husbands include a Silicon Valley investor and John Traina, a vintner and film producer who owns one of the world’s largest Fabergé collections. Steel herself is Saks Fifth Avenue’s best customer here. In recent years she has survived the heroin death of her 19 year-old son, as well as a relationship with actor George Hamilton. An international traveler, Steel’s lavish home base is the 55-room mansion at Washington and Octavia which was built in 1912 for Adolph and Alma de Bretteville Spreckles.
Dashiell Hammett is the exemplar of 20th Century noir detective writers.
San Francisco’s foggy streets and mysterious atmosphere were a perfect match for Hammett’s dame-and-gumshoe imagination. The Thin Man, Black Mask, and Maltese Falcon author lived in this Tenderloin apartment building, 891 Post Street #401, one of his many San Francisco addresses in the 1920s. Hammett worked as a private eye for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in the Flood Building on Market Street before his success as America’s author of crime and murder fiction. Completists will find an ersatz descendant, Pinkerton Security Services, at 731 Market.
Rudyard Kipling said that San Francisco is a mad City inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty,” said . Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. Educated in England, he returned to India in 1892 and wrote for Anglo-Indian newspapers. He became famous for writing short stories of sympathetic soldiers. Works include Soldiers Three, Barrack Room Ballads, The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, Captains Courageous, Just So Stories, Actions and Reactions, and Limits and Renewals. Kipling visited the City in 1889. He thought the place was barbaric but he liked its cable car system – an innovation that was only a couple of years old at the time – and its women. During his lifetime, Kipling was a Nobel Prize winning man of letters. He died in 1936. Of San Francisco Kipling added, “‘Tis hard to leave.”
Allen Ginsberg on October 13th, 1955 gave the first public reading of his poem Howl at this location, then the Six Gallery, at 3119 Fillmore Street. When the subversive rage against materialism was published in 1956 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights, the Beat movement had arrived. Worldwide media focused on the sensational First Amendment trial defended by City Lights after copies of the slim volume were seized by members of the San Francisco Police Department and U.S. Customs. The government claimed the poem was obscene and without redeeming social value because it used dirty words and blunt descriptions of gay sex. The vindication of Howl in a courtroom on September 9, 1957 paved the way for future generations of provocative literature by establishing obscenity criteria. Howl went on to become one of the most widely read poems of the 20th Century and was translated into more than twenty languages. Ginsberg became a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College in New York near the end of a prolific career and remained active in the literary community until his death in 1997.
Hunter S. Thompson is the acclaimed journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas who lived in this building at 318 Parnassus when he was researching his book Hell’s Angels. Thompson introduced the outlaw motorcycle club to mainstream America in 1967 with the book, which Thompson researched by partying with Hell’s Angels members. In typical San Francisco fashion, neighbors were undisturbed when Thompson shot out a window here with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .44 magnum, but complained when the Hell’s Angels parked their motorcycles on the sidewalk. More recently, Hunter S. Thompson wrote a column for the new San Francisco Examiner.
Jack London has a small street named for him which can be found on either side of South Park, a couple of blocks from the author’s birthplace on Third Street near Brannan. The short life of Jack London, who died of uremic poisoning at the age of 40 in 1916, was rich with adventure. The unwanted son of a spiritualist medium was raised in Oakland by his mother and a financially hapless stepfather. As a teenager, London lived on the edge on the Oakland waterfront, raiding the bay’s oyster beds and laboring in a cannery and jute mill. Later, he sailed with a sealing crew off Japan and Siberia then went on a vagabond’s tour across America. He joined the gold rush to the Klondike at 21. A veracious reader and writer whose stories were inspired by his travels, prolific London was writing two books a year and scores of articles in the late 1890s. America’s first working class writer, London was an avowed Socialist who reveled in his financial success, which he saw as a victory over the Capitalists as the U.S. entered into a tumultuous transition from laissez-faire to corporate capitalism.
Armistead Maupin created a phenomenon when he started writing Tales of the City as a column for the Chronicle in the 1970s. Reformatted and published as books in the ’80s then television films in the ’90s, Tales of the City is unmatched as a diary, however fictional, of San Franciscans. The entire range from secretaries and waiters to TV hosts, movie stars and international criminals are included as characters in Maupin’s tales as they are in San Francisco’s own true story. The adventures of Tales heroine Mary Ann Singleton predate the Chronicle serial, having first appeared in the San Francisco edition of the Pacific Sun. As in real life, most of Maupin’s characters keep one eye on their secrets while looking for love in the bay city. In addition to characters based
on popular public figures, the tales take place in well known City locations. Maupin’s alter ego, Michael Tolliver, wins a dance contest at the Endup but nearly loses the love of his life when Dr. Jon Fielding and his snooty Pacific Heights friends walk in during the finals.While Macondray Lane on Russian Hill is accepted as the Tales of the City location, 28 Barbary Lane, Maupin actually lived in several apartments on Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill from the time he moved to the City in the early ’70s. The tales debuted in the Chronicle on May 24, 1976. Later, Maupin moved to Noe Street in the Castro before settling in Cole Valley. Since everything about Tales of the City is a composite of real life, you can be sure that Maryann, Michael, Mona Ramsey, Brian Hawkins, landlady Anna Madrigal, and others all crossed the thresholds of these locations:
William Saroyan, Flamboyant writer and humanitarian, became a literary sensation at the age of 26 when his story, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, was published by Story magazine in 1932. Around that time he lived at 348 Carl Street. His play, “The Time of Your Life,” was drawn from characters and situations at a well known Pacific Avenue (then Pacific Street) pub owned by Izzy Gomez. In “The Time of Your Life,” the principal setting is “Nick’s,” #3 Pacific. If the address still existed, it would be located at the end of a pedestrian walkway between Buildings 1 and 2 of the Golden Gateway Commons. Off stage action occurs at nearby Pier 27. Saroyan, who called himself “The World’s Greatest Writer,” won the Pulitzer Prize for the play but declined it and the $1,000 purse, insisting that commerce should not drive the arts. Saroyan’s novel The Human Comedy draws from his own experiences as a messenger in his native Fresno. Unique among writers, Armenian American Saroyan advanced Armenian culture as an important source of literary inspiration. Saroyan once said, “No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.”
Amy Tan‘s ground-breaking fiction demonstrates the power of the mother-daughter relationship to overcome adversity. The Oakland-born Asian-American achieved acclaim with The Joy Luck Club in 1989. Her work includes the novels The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), and The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001), in addition to essays, children’s books, and screenplays. Her literature is characterized by themes of generational dissonance and immigrant issues. As a pop culture icon she has been a character on The Simpsons and is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock group whose members include Dave Barry, Tad Bartimus, Roy Blount, Jr., Kathi Goldmark, Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Ridley Pearson, and Joel Selvin. Tan lives in San Francisco and New York with her husband, Lou DeMattei.
Kay Boyle lived in this house at 419 Frederick Street in the 1970s when she taught at San Francisco State College. American-born Boyle left the U.S. and lived in Paris during the years between World War I and WWII. She earned a reputation as one of the greatest writers of that era. Boyle’s novels include Plagued by the Nightingale and Year Before Last. She was also celebrated for her story collections; Wedding Day, and First Lover, as well as for her poetry; A Glad Day and Selected Poems.
Dorothy Bryant a native San Franciscan and feminist writer is the author of 12 novels, two nonfiction works, and four plays. “A Day in San Francisco” is Bryant’s controversial mother-son take on gay life in the City on the eve of the 1980 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Her 1986 novel “Confessions of Madame Psyche” is so realistic in emotional truth and historic detail about early 20th Century life in San Francisco and the Bay Area that most readers forget this is a fictional work. Bryant, the daughter of northern Italian immigrants, taught English and music in high schools and community colleges for 23 years. She lives in Berkeley, where she and her husband run the independent publishing company, Ata Books.
Ambrose Bierce came long before Caen, Hoppe, Delaplane, Morse, or Hinckle; ages before both Matier and Ross.Bierce created the first recognized newspaper column in the U.S. His “Prattles” ran in the Examiner for thirty years beginning in the late 1800s. Bierce continued a style of news commentary and reportage he used earlier in his “Telegraphic Jottings,” and in the News Letter’s “Town Crier.” His rapier criticism and bold satirical invective was aimed at just about everything and everybody corrupt in the eyes of Bierce. He took on other writers and even the Examiner. With that his aim was to “purify journalism in this town by instructing such writers as it is worthwhile to instruct, and assassinating those that it is not.” Blurring the line between social philosopher and humorist, Bierce was a self appointed hypocrisy detector. He wrote, “Truth is better than anything or all things; the next best thing to truth is the absence of error.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once occupied the Lafayette Heights residence at 2151 Sacramento Street the plaque on the wall. Actually, Conan Doyle only visited for a few hours when this was the home of an associate, Dr. Abrams. Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, visited San Francisco once in his lifetime, in late May and early June of 1923. The author and his wife stayed at the Clift Hotel during Conan Doyle’s second and final lecture tour in the U.S. Though Conan Doyle’s stay was brief, his character Dr. Watson was married and practiced medicine in the City, according to a Conan Doyle play. One wonders what influence, if any, the exaggerated Sacramento Street plaque, which was placed by an owner of the house in the 1970s, has on the property’s value.
Herb Caen is one of a kind in the world but he is first and foremost a San Franciscan. The Sacramento native was hired by Chronicle editor Paul Smith in the late 1930s at the age of 20. Smith was a wonderkind who at 26 didn’t want to be the youngest person on the paper’s staff. After initially writing sports, Caen became known in all corners of the City for his man about town column, It’s News to Me, which debuted on July 5, 1938. He continued to chronicle the City for 58 years, guided by his instincts, his daily deadline, and his love for San Francisco. With a front seat at the epicenter of the City’s politics and society, the town belonged to him and him to it. There wasn’t a coming or going by a man, woman, or natural phenomenon here that wasn’t observed by Caen and distilled at the Loyal Royal, his well-worn manual typewriter. With his own brand of nostalgia and reportage he gave the City a voice nearly as natural as if the hills had spoken for themselves. In addition to lighter observations and gossip about visiting celebrities, Caen eloquently and poetically captured insights about this land and its people like no other writer before or since. Sometimes controversial, admired by countless readers throughout the 20th Century, Caen succumbed to cancer in 1997 less than a year after winning the Pulitzer Prize.
Ruth Witt-Diamant, who founded the San Francisco Poetry Center in 1954, hosted many famous poets in her guestroom when she owned the house at this address, 1520 Willard Street. Among the writers who slept here were Anais Nin, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Stephen Spender, and Theodore Roethke.
Barnaby Conrad, author, artist, and raconteur is the founding director of the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference and the author of more than 27 books including Tahiti, La Fiesta Brava, Gates of Fear, San Francisco, Dangerfield, How to Fight a Bull, Famous Last Words, Hemingway’s Spain, Learning to Write Fiction from the Masters and The World of Herb Caen. The native San Franciscan is also a former vice consul to Spain, amateur bullfighter, art teacher, and onetime secretary to novelist Sinclair Lewis. He studied art at the Academie Julien in Paris and named his former North Beach night spot after his successful 1952 novel, Matador. His 1994 memoir Name Dropping: Tales from My Barbary Coast Saloon is, as the title suggests, a collection of gossip and stories from El Matador, which was located at 492 Broadway and known by regulars as “the Mat.” From the book: “The night Ava Gardner first came into El Matador she was sober and gorgeous. But two hours later she had snatched a bullfighter’s hat off the wall and was doing a torrid, if lurching, flamenco solo on the bar, her skirt hiked up around her waist, while her anonymous escort looked pained and the customers applauded.” Gardner’s inelegant turn notwithstanding, The Mat set a standard for elegant socializing in North Beach the likes of which has not been seen since the 1950s. Conrad, who founded the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference in 1972, is also the artist of a portrait of Bing Crosby that graces the receiving room of the Crosby mansion in Hillsborough.
Journalist and author Frances Bret Harte was the editor of San Francisco’s successful Overland Monthly when he published his story, “The Luck of the Roaring Camp” which brought him instant and wide fame in the late 1860s. Luck was the child of a camp prostitute raised with the help of altruistic miners in Victorian society. Much of Harte’s work features some kind of reprobate who’s redeemed by sacrifice and self denial. In 1870 his stories and his respected work at the helm of the Overland Monthly earned him a then lucrative $10,000 a year contract writing one poem or story per month for the Atlantic Monthly. Harte left California but not before his work greatly
influenced local color fiction here and elsewhere. His work elevated and romanticized Gold Rush denizens for a culture that was ready to listen. The same year, 1870, Harte wrote the poem, “Plain Language from Truthful Jim,” aka “The Heathen Chinee” which was easily exploited by racists for its unflattering portrayal of a Chinese card shark and the pronouncement by its narrator that “We are ruined by cheap Chinese labor.” During and after his run with the Atlantic Monthly, Harte’s career took him to New York, Boston, Glasgow, and Crefeld, Germany. Harte later lived in England where he wrote marginal stories using familiar material.
San Franciscan Jewelle Gomez is the esteemed activist and author of the award-winning novel, The Gilda Stories. Recent works include Forty Three Septembers (a book of personal and political essays), Don’t Explain (a collection of short fiction), and a Gilda stage adaptation entitled, “Bones & Ash: a Gilda Story.” Gomez is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and two California Arts Council fellowships. She has served on literary panels including the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the San Francisco Arts Commission. In addition to numerous anthologies, Gomez’s fiction, essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Village Voice; The Advocate, Ms Magazine, Essence Magazine, and Black Scholar. Gomez recently served three years as executive director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University. She frequently lectures at universities throughout the U.S. and is currently working on a comic novel about 1960s black activists facing middle age.
Robert Louis Stevenson came to San Francisco in August, 1879. A few months later he rented a room in the narrow three-story wooden building which then stood at 608 Bush Street. This plaque on the building at the Bush Street location commemorates Stevenson’s presence in San Francisco, as does a memorial at Portsmouth Square. While living at #608, Stevenson wrote From Jest to Earnest as well as essays about Benjamin Franklin and William Penn and a dime novel that he later abandoned.
Tom Wolfe‘ s 1968 best seller The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a record of the hippie movement that the New York Times Book Review likened to Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Armies of the Night, a historical novel of the Vietnam protest movement. Wolfe rode around with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in a bus driven by Kerouac cohort Neal Cassady. Wolfe’s brilliant book details the road trip and acid parties, the “acid tests,” given by the band of hippies and attended by Hunter S. Thomspon, Allen Ginsberg, the Grateful Dead,Wavy Gravy, and many, many other leaders and followers of the psychedelic movement. Two acid tests were given in San Francisco among others in Palo Alto, La Honda, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Portland, Oregon. The acid tests were the epoch of the psychedelic lifestyle. Wolfe is also the author of The Right Stuff, for which he was given the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.
George Sterling called San Francisco “The Cool, Grey City of Love.” The poet was born into an old Puritan family on Long Island in 1869. Young Sterling left Catholic study after he picked up poetry and moved to Oakland. He was later befriended by writers Jack London and Ambrose Bierce. Sterling referred to his mentor Bierce, with whom he had a tumultuous association, as “the Master.” Sterling made a name for himself with the publication of “A Wine of Wizardry” in 1907. He is closely associated with the Bohemian Club and is sometimes called “the King of Bohemian San Francisco” or “the last classic Bohemian.” Sterling wrote and directed a number of plays for the club’s world famous summertime High Jinks, and commited suicide in his room at the club on Sutter Street in 1926. Two years later, a park on Russian Hill was christened in Sterling’s honor. In 1982, the George Sterling Glade was restored by a committee lead by Don Herron, Bill Kostura, and John Law.
William Bronson is the author of “The Earth Shook, the Sky Burned,” published in 1959. The collection of stories and more than 400 photos of the devastation from the April 18, 1906 Earthquake and of the City that rose from the ashes remains the definitive book on the disaster. Bronson, a third generation Californian, began his literary career at the age of nine when he sold newspapers on a City street corner.
Fritz Leiber is one of the world’s foremost authors of science fiction fantasies. Among his many acclaimed works is Our Lady of Darkness. The supernatural horror novel was written at 811 Geary Street, where Leiber and his alter ego, lead character Franz Weston, lived. In the novel, San Francisco literary icons Dashiell Hammett, George Sterling, and Jack London appear as characters in flashback sequences. Leiber’s most famous novel is 1943’s Conjure Wife, which portrays all women as witches who control the world’s men. Leiber, who died in 1992 at the age of 82, is a multiple Hugo Award winner.
California’s first Poet Laureate and the first woman member of the Bohemian Club, Ina Donna Coolbrith is not only a pioneer in literature, she’s also a Pioneer. Coolbrith came to California on the back of a horse at the age of ten after her widowed mother denounced the Mormons and headed West with a new husband. Led by mountain guide James P. Beckwith, the family arrived in California from Illinois in September, 1852. Raised in Los Angeles, a young Coolbrith became a published poet. After a bad marriage, she reinvented herself and moved to San Francisco at the age 20. Her life here is marked by her distinguished career as a librarian and, with Charles Warren Stoddard and Bret Harte, as a member of “the Golden Gate Trinity,” the editors of the Overland Monthly. Coolbrith was a friend and mentor to three generations of writers including Mark Twain, Isadora Duncan, and Jack London. Though she achieved world acclaim, Coolbrith is perhaps equally famous for something she didn’t write. When the fire of 1906 burned her flat at 1406 Taylor Street, all of her notes were destroyed. Coolbrith’s lost history of literary California is akin to a record of the Italian Renaissance were it not to include the The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. Among her accomplishments, Coolbrith was the first librarian of the Oakland Public Library. Born Josephine Donna Smith, her name is a composite of her birth name, a nom de plume, and her mother’s maiden name. A park dedicate in honor of Coolbrith is located near the Taylor Street address. With beautiful views and layers of walks and gardens, it is the pride of Russian HIll.
Frank Norris is best remembered for his 1899 novel, McTeague, the sordid story of a Polk Gulch dentist. Norris died in 1902 at the age of 32, but made his mark with naturalistic novels influenced by the work of Emile Zola. In his short but storied life, Norris studied art in Paris, attended Harvard University for a year, worked in South Africa as a travel writer, and covered the Spanish-American War in Cuba for McClure’s. Norris’ observations as a journalist covering the local scene for The Wave between 1891-1898 provided the writer with material for McTeague and his other San Francisco novels, Blix, and Vandover and the Brute. The alley named in honor of Norris is located off Larkin Street between Bush and Pine. McTeague became the basis for Erich Von Stroheim’s silent epic,Greed
As a teenager, Dr. Maya Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship
to study dance and drama in San Francisco’s during World War II, she attended George Washington High School while studying dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde, who also became a poet. Maya Angelou born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet. She has published six autobiographies, five books of essays, numerous books of poetry, and is credited with a long list of plays, movies, and television shows. She is one of the most decorated writers of her generation, with dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
City Lights Bookstore on Columbus Avenue is an enduring icon of North Beach and a valuable resource for new voices in literature. Founded byLawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, City Lights became the center of gravity for the Beat movement. Still owned by San Francisco’s former Poet Laureate, Mr. Ferlinghetti, City Lights continues to support freethinking writers and poets who fall under the mainstream radar.
Unmistakable with its cave like entrance at 916 Grant, Li Po’s is a Chinatown literary bar named for the erudite Chinese poet Li Po (701-762). Li Po’s work celebrates natural beauty, love, friendship, solitude, and drink. He is one of the great poets of the Tang Dynasty, China’s Golden Age of poetry. (The Lipo bar has lost some its charm since its owners installed a TV for sports watching.)
This historic tour of the former Folsom District honors and celebrates a neighborhood and lifestyle that was almost eclipsed during the AIDS crisis and a subsequent land grab during the 1980s. We will walk down streets that housed pioneering establishments that once proudly showcased the whims of the San Francisco leather community. bars, bathouses, sex clubs, dance clubs, hotels, barracks and dungeons, if it could be imagined, it was created.
This was also a neighborhood of everyday people, many retirees, immigrants and artists. There were mom and pop grocery stores, diners, small businesses, apartments and residence halls. Not the most glamorous neighborhood in the city but it was home to thousands of people. Both populations fought against redevelopment tooth and nail but as Hermann Justin said, “this land is too expensive to have poor people parked on it.” Mayor George Moscone fought to preserve San Francisco’s neighborhoods but when he was murdered with Harvey Milk by Dan White, Dianne Feinstein, wife of mega-developer Howard Blumm, became Mayor. The race was on to steal the land underneath people’s feet, many of those people were in the midst of battling the AIDS crisis with almost no support from the government. The land grab was on.
The waterfront redevelopment of the Embarcadero in the 1950s had previously pushed the gay population into this area in the 1960s, the incipient gay community, and the leather community in particular. From 1962 until 1982, the gay community grew and thrived throughout South of Market, most visibly along Folsom Street. This community had been active in resisting the City’s ambitious redevelopment program for the area throughout the 1970s. But as the AIDS epidemic unfolded in the 1980s, the ability of this community to stand up to downtown and City Hall was dramatically weakened. The crisis became an opportunity for the City (in the name of public health) to close bathhouses and regulate bars—businesses that had been the cornerstone of the community’s efforts to maintain a gay space in the South of Market neighborhood. We will honor these communities on this tour.
But as mentioned, this neighborhood and it’s values were almost wiped from the map but not quite. Many businesses survived and as a result of this struggle the Folsom Street Fair was born. In the the spirit of being free to express our innate sexuality we will visit the survivors of the SOMA turf wars and take you on a journey to the delights of the alternative and kink communities. We will tour the neighborhood, see the landmarks and visit not one but two adult stores. We will eat at historic Wicked Grounds and our grand finale will be at the fortress on the hill, if you a will, a tour of the kink.com studios at The Armory. This foreboding and unconquerable castle houses one of the largest adult entertainment studios in the world, specializing in entertainment for the kink community, both straight and gay. You will be a special guest of the Armory and her hospitable staff on a guided tour of the facilities, where you will be priveledged to a tour of the studios and production facilities, after hours, of course.
This is a completely unique tour and is for adults only. This is a wildy popular tour and spaces are limited so book early.
WIth each ticket sold you will receive admission to the GLBT Museum in the Castro. The volunteers there and the staff at the GLBT Archive were and are supportive of this tour and helped us in our research for this important project.
-Walking tour covering a distance of about a mile, no hills.
-Tour the historic Folsom District neighborhood.
-Two shopping opportunities
-Snacks and beverages at Wicked Grounds, included
-Tour of The Armory
-Admission to the GLBT Museum at 18th and Castro
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)
Reservations Online: http://exploresanfrancisco.tix.com
More Information: 415.793.1104
The Folsom District to The Armory|Mission Dolores to The Armory
About Old S.F. (One our favorite sites here at ExploreSF)
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the San Francisco Public Library in any way.
This site provides an alternative way of browsing the SFPL‘s incredible San Francisco Historical
Photograph Collection. Its goal is to help you discover the history
behind the places you see every day.
And, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even discover something about San Francisco’s rich past that you never knew before!
Where did these images come from?
The images all come from the San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco Historical
Photograph Collection. They were culled from many sources, including the
Francisco News-Call Bulletin.
The creators of this site did not collect or digitize any of these images
— credit for that massive undertaking belongs entirely to the
Who built this site?
What did this site do?
The creators of this site associated latitudes and longitudes to the images in
the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection at the San Francisco Public Library, located in the Main Branch on the 6th floor. This process is known as geocoding. Doing this
allows the images to be placed at points on a map, which enables new ways of
exploring this collection.
How were they geocoded?
The geocodes are based on two sources:
- Photo Subjects. All photographs in the “City Hall (old)”
series presumably belong in the same place. We manually geocoded several
- Addresses and Cross-Streets. The photo descriptions often contain
either an address, block number or set of cross-streets. These were
converted to coordinates using the Google
What’s the story of this project?
Several years ago, I searched for my cross-streets
on the Library’s San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection and found the
photo on the right. The image was mislabeled — the intersection in the
foreground is actually Waller and Fillmore, not Waller and Webster. Which
meant that this photo from 1945 was taken from my roof!
I put together a now-and-then
shot, but it always bothered me that the mislabeling of the image was so
crucial to my finding it. This led to the idea of putting the images on a
And now, years later, we have that map!
What fraction of the images have been geocoded?
The library’s collection contains about 40,000 images. Many of these
photographs have little geographic context (e.g. they’re portraits) and
cannot be located. In all, about 20,000 of the images could be placed on a
map. We’ve geocoded about 65% of the possible images: 13,000.
How can you help?
If you’re technically minded, here’s a JSON file containing all the image
descriptions, as well as geocodes for the records on the map (including the
reason I thought they were at that location): records.js.zip (2MB download).
If you improve on my geocoding or do something else interesting with the data,
please share your results!
via About Old S.F..
To see this collection in person or to order reprints please come to The San Francisco Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Telephone (415) 557-4567, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, located in the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor, contains photographs and works on paper of San Francisco and California views from 1850 to the present. The Collection is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 and Saturdays 10-12 & 1-5
Explore the Library’s Geocoded Images On Old S.F.!
- View Digital Images
- Browse Digital Images
- Order Images
- Featured Galleries
- Photo Collection Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s New Online
- September 18, 1935
- Photo ID#
About the Photo Collection
The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection contains photographs and works on papers of San Francisco and California scenes ranging from 1850 to the present. This collection includes views of San Francisco street scenes, buildings, and neighborhoods, as well as photographs of famous San Francisco personalities. The collection consists mostly of the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper, ranging from 1920s to 1965. The collection also contains albums, slides, postcards, cabinet cards, stereoviews, and lantern slides of San Francisco and California subjects.
Copies of images may be ordered with the Reproduction of Images Form (PDF 31K). Many of the photographs are available for commercial use when a Permission to Publish Form (PDF 40K) has been submitted.
The collection may be viewed in two ways: through the online database on the San Francisco Public Library website, which contains 40,000 digitized images from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, or in person during photo desk open hours.
When viewing the collection in person, only a limited number of photographs may be examined at one time. Library users will be provided with gloves to wear while examining the photographs. The photographs are to be handled by the edges only and held securely on two sides. The following items are not to be used in contact with the photographs: pressure sensitive tapes, all types of glues, paper clips, elastic bands, staples, pins, pens or pencils. Photocopying of photographs is harmful to the image and is not allowed. Photographs may be reproduced through a photo lab of the Library’s choice, through the Library scanning service or through a scheduled photo shoot. See Order Images for details.
For further information about the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection please call 415-557-4567 during open hours.
- Pedestrian hit, seriously injured by car in S.F. (sfgate.com)
NEW YORK AP — Jack Kerouac, who gained notoriety and celebrity as a beatnik in 1950’s San Francisco’s hipster community centered in North Beach, would be celebrating his 90th birthday year. In honor of his life and work, his only full-length play will be staged for the first time this fall.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the University of Massachusetts Lowell said Monday — on what would have been Kerouacs 90th birthday — that they will produce the three-act play called “Beat Generation” in the novelists hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts.
The premiere of the play — a staged reading for eight performances only — will be the centerpiece of the 2012 Jack Kerouac Literary Festival, which will be held Oct. 10 through Oct. 14.
Kerouac wrote “Beat Generation” — which draws on his life and those of other Beat writers, including Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg — in 1957, the same year his classic “On the Road” was released.
He tried to build interest for “Beat Generation” in the theater world, contacting such people as Lillian Hellman and Marlon Brando, but he failed and set the manuscript aside. Kerouac died in 1969.
The manuscript was found in a warehouse in 2005.”This is a moment of literary and theatrical history,” said Charles Towers, artistic director of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, which also produced a stage adaptation of Kerouacs Lowell-set romance, “Maggie Cassidy.“Kerouacs other books include “Doctor Sax,” The Subterraneans,” The Dharma Bums” and his final great work, “Big Sur.” His first published novel was “The Town and the City.”The authors first actual novel, the 158-page “The Sea is My Brother,” was published Monday, in honor of the writers birthday. The work, written when Kerouac was 21, is the tale of two young men serving on a voyage from Boston to Greenland.___Online: http://www.uml.edu/kerouacplay
- Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac: 3 Ways to Celebrate (ibtimes.com)
- Jazz and Jack – Celebrating Jack Kerouac’s 90th Birthday (communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com)
- Jack Kerouac, meet Kristen Stewart: ‘On the Road’ movie debuts trailer (insidemovies.ew.com)
- First Trailer for Jack Kerouac Adaptation ON THE ROAD Starring Kristen Stewart, Garret Hedlund, Sam Riley and More (collider.com)
- ‘On the Road’ trailer: Kristen Stewart as Marylou in Jack Kerouac film (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Reaction to OTR Trailer/Jerry Cimino from The Beat Museum (justgarrett.com)
‘Black Sabbath’: ‘The secret musical history of black-Jewish relations’ at the CJM
by dan pine, staff writer
David Katznelson found “Dunkin’ Bagel” while Dumpster diving.
No, he wasn’t crawling around in a metal trash bin behind Saul’s Deli. That’s just the term he uses to describe his method of finding rare LPs, 78s and 45s.
Hounding used record shops and garage sales, Katznelso
n has come across some vinyl gems, but few excited him like this one, recorded in 1945 by the Slim Gaillard Quartet.
A former Detroit bootlegger, Gaillard was an African American hipster famous for his hit “Flat Foot Floogie” as well as other cool and crazy jazz tunes.
One of them was performed in Yiddish, or at least his version of it. “Dunkin’ Bagel” is a jive-addled stomper sung in a kind of pidgin Yinglish, with “gefilte fish” and “matzah balls” thrown in the lyrics for good measure.
Katznelson had long known of Jewish musicians – from Al Jolson to Matisyahu – adopting black musical styles. This case was the inverse. Here he’d found a black artist exploring Jewish musical idioms. A music industry veteran and director of outreach for the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, the San Francisco native wondered if Gaillard was the only one.
Turned out he wasn’t. Katznelson and his colleagues at the New York–based Idelsohn Society of Music Preservation have tracked down a trove of recordings spanning several decades, all featuring black musicians performing Jewish or Jewish-influenced music.
(The society is named for Abraham Idelsohn, the early 20th century musicologist thought to be the man who wrote the lyrics to “Hava Negillah.”)
The Idelsohn Society culled the best of the best, produced a CD (to be released in October) and created the exhibition “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations.” It opened this week for a seven-month run at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum.
Like the Idelsohn Society’s “Jews on Vinyl” project that premiered at the CJM last year, “Black Sabbath” is a multimedia affair. Visitors to the museum’s Yud space find it decked out like a 1940s nightclub. Listening stations sport iPads playing the “Black Sabbath” selections, while images of the musicians are projected onscreen.
There are plenty of surprises in the “Black Sabbath” exhibition and CD: Billie Holiday singing “My Yiddishe Momme” in a rare home recording. The Temptations performing a medley from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Johnny Mathis, sounding better than some cantors, belting out “Kol Nidre” in the original Aramaic (see accompanying story).
And legendary blues songstress Alberta Hunter singing –– are you ready for this? –– the popular ballad “Ich Hob Dich Tzufil Lieba.” In the original Yiddish. With a darn good accent.
“It seems out of the blue when you approach it from the outside,” Katznelson says of the “Black Sabbath” tracks. “When you look at it on a grander level you see musicians going out into the world. With assimilation there came a blending of cultures.”
Museum executive director Connie Wolf is happy to welcome the Idelsohn Society back to her institution. She thinks this exhibition is just as thought-provoking as “Jews on Vinyl.”
“To imagine [African American artists] singing these Jewish songs is startling,” she says, “and it makes you experience afresh these communities coming together. That is what makes culture survive: learning to adapt and absorb and create something new.”
Josh Kun, a University of Southern California professor and an Idelsohn Society co-founder, says he cannot imagine American pop music without the blending of black and Jewish cultures.
“No Tin Pan Alley, no jazz, no rock ’n’ roll,” he sums up. “There have been many books and albums that emphasize the Jewish relationship to black music, but the stories less frequently told were how black artists responded to the Jews. Was Jewish music rubbing off on black music? We found a bounty of evidence that indeed that happened.”
The 15 tracks on “Black Sabbath” do cover a lot of ground. Cab Calloway’s 1939 “Utt Da Zay” (This Is How) has a juicy “Minnie the Moocher” vibe going for it, but it isn’t his only Yiddishized song.
Calloway’s discography includes tunes such as “Tzotskele” (My Darling) and “A Bee Gezindt” (sample lyric: “I’m hinky-dink, a solid sender/ A very close friend to Mrs. Bender/ Bender, schmender, a bee gezindt…”) The aforementioned “Minnie the Moocher” –– the first No. 1 record for a black artist –– boasts Cab’s trademark “hi-de-his” and “oy-oy-oys,” incanted in a Hebraic melodic minor (probably picked up from his manager, a Russian Jewish immigrant).
Eartha Kitt, best known as Catwoman in the “Batman” TV series from the 1960s, was a singer of sultry standards. Who knew in 1959 she recorded the traditional “Sholem Alecheim,” sounding like a badchan at a Jewish wedding?
Several “Black Sabbath” tracks feature black artists performing standards written by Jewish composers, such as Aretha Franklin singing George Gershwin’s “Swanee” or Johnny Hartman crooning Harold Arlen’s “That Old Black Magic.”
Those sorts of covers were common, considering so many Jews worked on Tin Pan Alley. Even the Temptations bopping to “If I Were a Rich Man” made its own kind of sense in 1969.
More striking are the straight-up Jewish songs adapted by black artists: Nina Simone with “Eretz Zavat Chalav” (Land of Milk and Honey) or Marlena Shaw’s take on “Where Can I Go,” written by Holocaust survivor Sigmunt Berland about the Jewish people finding a homeland.
Kun says that track points up “the role of the birth of Israel on black political consciousness. It becomes for a moment, for many African Americans, a model of social justice being realized, of migratory homeless people getting a home.”
Beyond social theories, there are some sound musical explanations for the fascination Jewish and black artists had for each other’s music.
Kun notes that much has been made of the similarities between gospel and cantorial singing, and that certain strains of East European klezmer can sound a lot like African American blues.
That connection is obvious when comparing early New Orleans Dixieland to up-tempo klezmer.
While it’s tempting to view this musical alliance as a “Kumbaya” moment between two victimized peoples, Kun says the history of blacks and Jews, musically and otherwise, is “super messy.”
The two dueling narratives come down on clichéd lines: Jews marching arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King Jr., or the wicked Jewish slumlord preying on poor ghetto dwellers.
“It’s been often joyous and politically utopian, and just as often exploitative and full of contention,” he says. “There are tons of tales of less-than-pleasant business dealings, and also tales of deep and tireless advocacy.”
While materials included in the exhibition do not shy away from the seamier side of the history, “Black Sabbath” accentuates the positive.
“We share so much,” says Wolf. “We share our connection to literature and music, the oral tradition. So much that overlaps. I see this as an opportunity to talk about the positive side of these interactions.”
Kun sees music as a window that looks onto the bigger stories. In this case, he says, “Black Sabbath” can shed light on the history of two inextricably linked peoples.
The exhibition is about “the idea of music as a way of living through sadness and turning sadness into joy. Both traditions tap into that.”
“Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations”runs through March 22, 2011 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. (415) 655-7800 or thecjm.org.
- Milken Archive of Jewish Music Introduces: Sephardi and Near Eastern Inspiration in the Music of American Jewry (Volume 2: A Garden Eastward) (prweb.com)
- Jewish Music Leader Adrianne Cooper Passes Away (israelnationalnews.com)
- March 11: UCLA Center for Jewish Studies brings Jewish music to campus (haamnews.wordpress.com)
DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE STREET, WORLDS APART. NIGHTLY TOURS,YEAR ROUND!
This tour is very social, we have fun and friendships are made. Maybe its because it’s the wine or exotic teas, the good food, the company or the vibrant area, but if you are looking for a relaxed and interesting evening with delicious food, you cannot go wrong with this fun event. The air scented with incense and spice invites us as we begin the evening with gourmet tea in Chinatown. We may sample Dim Sum, or other Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, but primarily it will be Americanized Hong Kong style cuisine on our leisurely stroll. We’ll see the oldest Chinese temple in America, the oldest Catholic Cathedral on the West Coast, the oldest Chinese bakery in the US, we will see workers make fortune cookies in their factory , delight in the flower stalls, street musicians playing ancient Chinese instruments, shop the produce vendors, explore an herbalist shop, pass former opium dens, gambling halls and houses of ill repute. After going through the back alleys of Chinatown, where the local residents lead their daily lives, we cross over into North Beach entering through Kerouac alley, birthplace of the beatniks…
Welcome to San Francisco’s Little Italy, the city’s most charming neighborhood with a checkered past. We’ll see the bar where the beatniks drank and the bookstore where they read their works. Both of these establishments are still going strong! You’ll see Columbus Tower: “The Godfather” Building. We’ll cross Broadway,” The Strip Club Strip”, we’ll see the club where Carol Doda danced for decades. Shortly afterwards, the St. Francis of Assisi Church which is a national Roman Catholic shrine and the Fifth Seat of the Pope. We’ll walk along the border of the legenday American Barbary Coast. We’ll work our way up Columbus past bustling sidewalk cafes, where the air smells like freshly baked bread, garlic and espresso. Passing pottery shops, bakeries, trattorias, pizzarias, delicatessens and bars,
we’ll see famed Washingon Square and Sts. Peter and Paul Church( where Joe DiMaggion and
Marylin Monroe were not married) . We’ll eat again and finish the evening with good
conversation, laughter, wine or coffee and smiles all around.
When: Nightly. If space is not available online please call the info-line.
Cost: $69. Food included.
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)
Reservations Online: http://exploresanfrancisco.tix.com
More Information: 415.793.1104
Additionally, we also offer separate tours of:
♥ PEACE! LOVE! FOOD! FUN!∞
SPEND AN AFTERNOON IN THE SUMMER OF LOVE!♥
HAIGHT STREET! (Haight-Ashbury)
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of the 1960s is still very much alive
and well today. “The Haight“, as it is now known was officially established
in 1883 and today is a vibrant urban village. It is one of San Francisco’s
most fascinating areas. Beautiful Victorians, tree lined streets, unique little
shops, thrift stores, head shops, cafes, street performers, and a wide variety
of restaurants serving food from around the world will
make this an afternoon you will never forget.
Our menu will be eclectic as Haight Street has a very high restaurant per block ratio.
And the choices always changing but in the past we have had: assorted Thai food,
tacos, burritos, tortas, Japanese, crepes, Indian, healthy and not so healthy, chai,
burgers, NY syle pizza, freshy made gourmet chocolate, freshly ground coffee, gourmet
tea or a local micro-brew. . And our walk will be leisurely, with no major hills to climb.
Because with all of that eating who wants to walk far?
You’ll learn about the colorful history of this historic area as westroll this lively and lovely neighborhood. As we go, we’ll be pointing out places that aren’t in the guide books and that you’d probably miss on your own. You’ll be seeing the neighborhood as a local….
When: Fridays 2:00pm
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)
Reservations Online: http://exploresanfrancisco.tix.com
More Information: 415.793.1104