Monday, September 11, 2006

Field Trip Week: San Francisco Treat, Part 2

[Read Part 1 here.]

After the spending spree at City Lights, Fosco and his personal assistant Geoffrey window-shopped their way through the Market St shopping area (why does the H&M at 150 Post St only have women's apparel? Women's clothes don't fit Fosco.)

Looking up, we were discomfited to see the spooky wraiths crowning the mansard roof of 580 California St. (see pic at right). Later research reveals that:

  • the building was designed by Philip Johnson.
  • the statues are "corporate goddesses" and were designed by Muriel Castanis.
  • they are twelve feet high and HAVE NO FACES (note the hint of rising panic in Fosco's voice).
With due respect to Ms. Castanis, Fosco prefers to disregard the artistic intention (corporate goddesses? whatever.) in favor of a much more sinister reading of these figures. Clearly these figures mean harm (and are eerily reminiscent of Peter Jackson's Ringwraiths in his LotR trilogy).

Fosco has but one request for the 580 California wraiths: "Please don't kill me."

Fosco and Geoffrey decided that the best place to hide from the wraiths was inside the SFMOMA. Fosco will have a separate entry on this visit (including a full review of the Matthew Barney film and installation in an upcoming post).

After the museum, we decided to play tourist for a bit, with a visit to the sea lions at Pier 39. Despite the frigid grey weather, the sea lions were out in force and they were spunky.

I must admit that I'm quite fascinated by sea lions. I like that they sleep in big piles of bodies. I also think it is cute when they scratch themselves with their hindflippers--like they had fingers or something. And did you know that they are evolutionarily related to bears? And who doesn't like bears?

And then something weird happened at Pier 39: I walked right past my freshman-year roommate Chuck Kapelke, who was pushing a stroller. I hadn't seen Chuck in almost ten years, but I recognized him easily (as he did me). We hadn't been in touch, but it turns out that he lives in the Bay Area and has an adorable daughter named Dahlia. He's a freelance writer, and it seems he has co-written a book, which is exciting. Even more exciting, according to the text stats, is that his book is written at a much more advanced level than is Rick Moody's Garden State (for example). Awesome work, Chuck!

Watching all those sea lions made me hungry, so it was time to head to Chinatown for dinner at the famous dive, House of Nanking. Yes, there are no frills and no atmosphere (and you can be in-and-out in under 30 minutes), but it is still worth a visit. Surprisingly, the executive chef, Peter Fang, (dressed casually in a rugby shirt) was actually taking the orders himself when we were there. Maybe he needed a break from the kitchen. He was not exactly "friendly"--in fact, he arched an eyebrow at one of the dinner selections we made, for reasons which we don't understand (nor probably ever will).

The food was exceptional:
  • Steamed potstickers in a red peanut sauce.
  • Nanking scallops were crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside, each one served on a bed of lemon and eggplant.
  • Stuffed mushrooms (listed in the vegetable section of the menu, but don't be fooled): filled with ground beef and pan-fried, then covered with a brown sauce. These were addictive--I will order them every time I return.
As we were finishing, I looked toward the cash register and spotted football star Warren Sapp waiting impatiently for a takeout order. In spite of my better judgment, I like Sapp a lot--I think he gives an extremely entertaining interview. He's actually not as big as I would have thought (I didn't realize he is only 6'2" and 300). He was dressed in blue/white Nike Jordan shorts and sweatshirt, large white leather soccer sandals, and some nice bling (big gold watch, chain, bracelet). He was chewing on a toothpick and seemed a bit peeved that he had to stand in front of the whole restaurant for 10 minutes while he waited for his food. He kept checking his cell and his pager. I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person eating there that recognized him (this wasn't exactly a sports-loving crowd).

And no, I didn't say anything to him--I just smiled, nodded and went back to my mushrooms. I would love for him to be gay, though. Sigh.

All-in-all, a full day in San Francisco, no? On the drive back, it became apparent that the South Bay had enjoyed a beautifully sunny day. As we drove, it was quite cool to watch the fog return to slide down the Eastern slopes of the mountains:

The fog here is certainly like no weather I've encountered before. It's actually a bit like that "nothing" from The Neverending Story. Great, now I'm hearing Limahl in my head. See you in hell, Limahl!

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