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Stroke of Genius

Posted on July 1, 2011

Thrilled to live in a city where the art of sign painting is not lost and continues to make San Francisco the one of a kind place that it is. Take a look at this article about New Bohemia Signs and how they do the amazing work they do.

 

 

My head and hand are clogged in their connection. I’m not sure where the kink in the chain occurs, but when my noggin sends what I imagine to be a very straightforward signal to my hand, I never fail to be disappointed by what my hand produces. I might want it to draw an elegant uppercase letter S and moments later I watch my hand scrawl out a jagged imbalanced shape that, while recognizable as an S, has absolutely no conection to what I had imagined.

Perhaps it’s because of my self-consciousness about my lack

of head/hand coordination that a few years ago, when I came upon a team of painters from New Bohemia Signs hard at work at the window of The Painted Lady Tattoo, I became instantly enchanted. They stood effortlessly brushing out supremely intricate letters with a skill I couldn’t fathom possessing. My crush on New Bohemia began that morning and blossomed into a full-blown love affair by the time the sign was finished later that day.

Years later, I go down the list of signs in New Bohemia’s portfolio and realize that their

work has in many ways established a particular aesthetic of our neighborhoods. Miette’s calm and clean design sums up the feeling I get when I sit in Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley. The neat grittiness that you see in Serpentine’s aesthetic exemplifies the Dogpatch’s straightforward start-up attitude. And BellJar’s edgy elegance screams of the Mission’s feminine side. Wanting to know more about how this small team of craftsmen has come to define San Francisco through their signs, I visit New Bohemia’s shop.

Click here to read the complete story.

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Card Catalog

Posted on March 26, 2011

Recently themes of identity, boundaries, and singularity keep entering my life.

I don’t have any deep or unique statements to make on these topics but they do remind me of a project that has been in my head for a number of years and I figure it’s time to get it out on paper. I have no clue where this idea came from but one day I dreamed of getting a beautiful old wooden card catalog and filling it with cards that held all the details of my life. Drawers with facts, interests, mistakes. I imagined cards with the different addresses I’ve lived at. Others would list artists I admire; Richter, Almodovar, Motherwell, Serra. Cards that gave the latin and common names of plants that fascinate me, descriptions of prize possessions, people I’ve loved, or awesome days and charmed moments.

An important detail of this dream is that each of the cards actually functions as an index card would, with a simple subject on the front and description on the back. One might read:

Front: Kitty Key
Back: Hard to believe it took me until 2011 to purchase the amazingly adorned key that I’ve lusted after for so many years.

If I was feeling particularly advantageous I’d sketch of picture of the key on the front as well, just to show how awesome the rainbows and stars that surround the lisa frank esq kitty’s really are. Simple, insignificant and yet important to me, which makes it worth having a spot in the card catalog.

Many times, I’ve come close to making this project real, still not knowing exactly what about it appeals to me. I think having it might make me feel safe. That it could do something I can’t. I like the idea of looking up “East of Eden” and seeing what few sentences my 27 year old self choose to write about that epic book.

The funny thing is, that while it seems this would be something that details truths, I know that it would hold more bias and coincidence than anything else. Now that I say it, I think this fact is exactly what appeals to me about the little scheme. A collection of amusing details is probably the closest I’ll ever come to standing back and seeing some version of myself looking back at me.

Exodus

Posted on August 27, 2010

As the summer dwindles and we all realize that it’s days are numbered I look around and see that the season has left a distinct itch in the air. With all of the time spent floating down rivers, sailing junk ships, and feeling the tightness of sun crisped skin, the thought of exodus has invaded the city. It seems that we’ve all started to question what exactly keeps us in our urban world. I’ve heard plans of buying land in the country, seen tattoo homages to the woods, and cracked champagne over newly purchased boats. And in doing so, I felt equally compelled to run away into the sunset

 

I can’t help but be reminded of Rousseau’s noble savage. Not because I’m as douchey as that sounds, but because I’m living out exactly what he wrote about. I can see how at home we all are around campfires, each of us enjoying our own form of childlike amusement without any worry or awareness of doing so. Which, truth be told, is a sight I rarely if ever see in the city. Rousseau explains this fact with his theory that society brings about the burden of pride into man’s life. He argues that pride is a product of our participation in activities that have nothing to do with human needs.That in our style, and desk jobs, and appearances at appropriate locations we have bred a culture of unnecessary comparison to others. In his mind, this leads to unwarranted fear and the fact that we take pleasure in the pain or weakness of those around us. Now I’m not saying I necessarily agree with all of this but I do think it’s interesting that in the country, lying under the stars or in the shade of a tree is simply enough.

Of course logistically I doubt that many of our dreams of escape will become reality; nor do I know how many should. The truth is that I’m surrounded by folks who do and make amazing/beautiful things here in the city and I would never want those to go away. There can be no winner in my theoretical debate. However, since it is only August that is coming to a close, there is still time for the us to indulge in the fantasy. I for one plan to scratch the itch for as long as I can. That, or until it makes a weird patch on my skin- whichever comes first.

An American Summer

Posted on July 24, 2010

Having grown up in California, I’ve always thought that I new what “The American Summer” looked like. In the states the season has a distinct element of depravity that European, tropical, or island summers just don’t have. A base level lackadaisical hedonism that for me is distinctly American. I’m thinking of untraceable poolside days and nights, lying on warm car hoods (mostly in parking lots) in the wee hours of the morning, dirty dirty hip hop, chlorine discolored hair, and dried splotches of chemical stickiness everywhere you go. I’ve always loved the fact that we’re the type of culture that has made blurry and muted dog days tradition. Hell, the closest thing we have to a classic summer cocktail is pouring vodka into a slurpy.

Yes, the perception was glorious while it lasted.

 

I recently took a trip to New haven CT and I quickly realized that there is an entirely contrary version of Americana that exists on east coast.This buttoned up culture makes up for every ounce of apathy that it’s bastard west coast sibling has squandered away. Although the humidity worked against this perception; there, everything in sight felt bright and crisp. From the manicured “greens” (and they actually were green) at the center of each town, to the bright American flags that hung over homes so quaint it was hard for me to believe they weren’t sets; the east coast had a feeling of deep seated tradition in every aspect of how summer was lived. Pressed garments and summer hats were worn to eat lobster rolls, board boats, sit under stripped shore-side umbrellas all the while drinking beautiful and refreshing summer cocktails. Although I felt like a fish out of water, there was something very satisfying about taking part in activities that felt like they were what the country was built on. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a dirty California girl, but seeing the loveliness of the summer customs that our country does have makes me want to import some of the traditions into my summers here. For now, I’ll start with my favorite of the cocktails that I had on the east coast; the Pimm’s Cup.

This awesome drink is crisp, delicious, and because it’s so light you can drink it all day long. To make your own Pimm’s Cup simply mix equal parts Pimm’s, lemonade, and seltzer water. Then garnish the drink with orange slices and cucumber and you’re good to go. As you can see, we threw in a few strawberries too which I highly recommend if you have them lying around.

It’s in the Details

Posted on June 19, 2010

As some of you may know, I recently underwent the house hunting process. It’s a battlefield out there and I’m glad I made it out with as few wounds as I did. The move wasn’t exactly a planned affair so at first I had no idea what direction to head in. Was it time for me to have a place of my own again? Could I move away from my favorite streets here in San Francisco? Would I be able to find a shared place that my life fit into?

For weeks I truly felt like a refugee; knocking on endless doors only to find hoards of equally desperate/displaced individuals begging to inhabit spaces that I can hardly refer to as apartments. It’s amazing how your perception becomes warped when you join the multitude of ‘soon to be homeless’ individuals. I started justifying absurd scenarios … of course it is reasonable for me to construct a Japanese inspired floor unit that would function as a desk, dinner, coffee, and bedside table. It was clear that having the refrigerator in the living room is actually a convenience and wanting windows that open is for bourgeoisie bitches! I’ll spare you my thoughts on the slew of shared apartments I forced myself to look at because I could write a book on the frightening situations that exist behind so many SF doorways.

That being said, the second I walked into my new abode, the crazy that had been flowing through my veins instantaneously disappeared. It was as though I’d been given an antidote to a deadly disease. Looking back, I wondered what it was about this place that made it so immediately right for me. There are the obvious creature comforts that come to mind, yard, washer/dryer, hardwood floors, etc. However, I know those aren’t the things that caught my heart. I happen to be the type of lady that cares more about the crown molding and awkward built in cabinetry. I love my nonfunctional fireplace, and questionably designed light fixture infinitely more than the dishwasher. Even though I can’t claim that the windowpanes are 100% airtight, the old rippled glass make me feel warm and cozy without functionality. I have a freakin pull toilet for Christ sake, who gives a shit if the heating works? I realize that for many people this thinking is ridiculous, but it’s my brand of ridiculous and that’s exactly what makes it home.

The Welcoming Gene

Posted on March 13, 2010

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the type of host I really am. You see, I like to think I’m super chill, with a “time together is all that matters” vibe, when the reality is, that nothing could be further from the truth. I can’t help it, I’m Joel Kleinman’s daughter and I’ll be damned if you visit me and don’t have battle wounds to show for it. For me, a good trip is filled with unexpected settings, great food, a mishap or two, and of course a lot of booze and I work to make sure that my guests are guaranteed all of these things when visiting me. So when planning the itinerary for my brothers recent visit, I was shocked to find one place that actually had the possibility to meet all of my criteria; the Tourist Club in Marin. It was perfect. Those of you who live in the bay area might know about this German Chalet in the middle of Muir woods that servers Beer and has beautiful decks to drink it on.

You might also know, that people tend to be put off by the Tourist Club because their website isn’t the most welcoming. Their weekend schedule is irregular and since they are a private club they make it very clear that they have no problem turning you away no matter where you’ve hiked from. Furthermore, they have a long list of rules: no dogs, no parties over 7, no outside booze, etc etc. I could see where others might be fazed by this attitude but I didn’t even bat an eye when reading the info. After all, these people are GERMAN. They don’t have the welcoming gene and you can’t let this stop you from enjoying their company.So off we went in search of good beer and bad service.

I should mention, that the Tourist club is generally described as a hike in location. They have a parking lot but they discuss that as only being there for truly lame and helpless individuals and encourage you to take 1 of 2 hikes to their property. Your choices are, a challenging hike clocking in at around an hour and a half, or a moderate hike lasting only 30 min. I choose the later because if a German person says a hike is hard, it’s definitely a torture trail and we were there to have fun. We go to the described trail head right off of Panoramic Highway. It is beautiful. We see the woods descend into the ocean and off in the distance San Francisco’s radio tower. The trail takes us about 20 yards below the highway and back the direction that we drove in. We hike for about 15 minutes before we start to wonder when exactly the path will separate from the highway and descend down into the woods. We continue and by minute 25 we are sure that we have taken the wrong trail. There is no way that a Teutonic nature lover would knowingly lead us along a glorified sidewalk 60 ft from the street. After hikers assure us that we are indeed headed in the right direction we forge forward. Right around minute 35 we strangely pop back onto a spot on the highway that we had driven past three quarters of an hour earlier, we look down the street and sure enough, we’ve hiked to the tourist club parking lot (enter mishap) which totally insulted my hiking sensibilities. The funny thing is, that walking from the parking lot the true treachery begins. You are forced to descend down one of the steepest walkways I’ve ever been on knowing that once you’re drunk you’ll need to get up this trail. Needless to say, once the club came into sight I knew it was all worthwhile. It truly is a traditional Bavarian Hut with hand crafted wood detail on every corner. As we sat there with our pitchers of beer and beautiful surroundings I couldn’t have been happier, knowing that even Papa would be proud of the adventure I’d drummed up for my bro. Oh and for those of you who are curious, the beer is the real deal too.

Candy

Posted on February 21, 2010

For months now I’ve been reading nothing but John Cheever and Raymond Carver, and of their work, only the shorts. Perhaps it is because shorts are the candy of the literary world. These little treats that you consume quickly and that ultimately leave you wanting more. It’s not that one isn’t enough, it’s just that that having had one perfect little bite doesn’t stop you from wanting another. Anyway, I know that what kept me bound bouncing back and forth between these two authors was the similarity of their points of view and how uniquely American their work feels. Like equal and opposite characters, both write straightforward stories about the sadness and loss of everyday people. Funny, dark, candid pieces that make you want to do nothing but drink and smoke. Like suburban chroniclers on opposite sides of the track they give you moral-less stories of people you already know. Without pretense or trickery both authors write with a blunt realism that to me lies at the heart of American literature.

 

For those of you that don’t know John Cheever is a product of the east coast/old guard world, writing about the upper/middle class, while Raymond Carver is from the next generation of west coast authors that focus more on the lower/middle class. What I realize is that by reading these men as a pair and seeing the disparity between east/west, rich/poor, old/new, that I was also able to see that they have captured what is common amongst these worlds. What Carver and Cheever make clear is that no matter where we are, and what sort of life we lead we are surrounded by incongruity. In their work the drunk and the reformer, the ignorant and the educated, the spiritual and secular, simply are. These counterparts are never put into conflict with one another, rather they exist side by side easily and without judgment. It is this acceptance of duality within everyday existence, that makes their work so tangible and addictive. I think it is also why their stories are able to make me feel at home in the chaos of the city. I could go on but instead I’ll just urge you to remember them next time your looking for a good read.