S.F. Moma

I have lived in the bay area for more than a decade, yet never visited San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art: S.F. Moma. This year my employer became a corporate sponsor; as such, all employees get free admission. This was the impetus I needed.

On Thursday, July 21, 2011, I took a day off work to visit S.F. Moma. (Yes, I registered it as a vacation day--I didn't use my corporate benefit while simultaneously playing hooky.)

Di Yin and I drove up to the city before lunch. We parked by S.F. Moma, picked up our tickets, arranged for our timed entry into the special exhibit, and headed out for lunch. I brought a long list of possible destinations, some within walking destination and some across the city. It'd been years since I visited the city regularly; my list of places to try had grown seemingly without bound.

Because it was a beautiful day to walk around, we decided to restrict our choices to those reachable on foot. We began by trotting down Market to Civic Center Plaza. I took out my camera and began shooting pictures. We went to Civic Center because I wanted to check out Off The Grid's food trucks. Off The Grid organizes groups of food trucks to appear regularly at different parts of the city. Every Thursday some appear in Civic Center Plaza.

We inspected the scene and the nearby street market but decided not to eat there. Instead, we ventured into the Tenderloin to hunt for banh mi sandwiches. I had a few Vietnamese sandwich joints on my list.

The Tenderloin was scary at times. After we were turned away at the first joint we stopped by, we headed straight to one I knew would be open and good: Saigon Sandwich.

After lunch, we stopped at Westfield Mall on the way back to S.F. Moma. On the way out of the Tenderloin, we crossed one intersection that had seven police cars around it, most on different sides of the street and facing different directions, ready to speed anywhere as needed.

Although I visited the Westfield Mall few times before (see this report), I forgot how large and modern it is. It has many floors (seven?), curved escalators, and a notably diverse food court.

We returned to S.F. Moma and began exploring. S.F. Moma's collection includes art and design in many styles: bay area figuration, cubism, abstract, surreal, Latin American modernism, and pop art. Notable artists include Warhol, Jasper John, Lichtenstein, Rivera, O'Keeffe, Matisse, and Klee (a whole room of Klee!).

S.F. Moma's photography exhibits are extensive. The main display has photographs mostly from 1850 to 1980, usually of architecture but also of fashion. I didn't like the modern photographs, preferring the old styles. Incidentally, they had some Brassai. Another (?) display shows photographs of bombed out Parisian buildings due to the Paris Commune of 1871.

The special exhibit in the photograph section was a series of rooms on various contemporary photographers (last ten years). One room had Richard Misrach's striking photos of New Orleans homes post-Katrina. Most have graffiti on them from owners telling looters to go away; others have messages stating we are okay and giving a phone number.

We took a break from our viewing of photographs for our timed entry to the special exhibit on the Steins' collection. The Steins (Gertrude, et al.) collected Matisse, Picasso and Parisian avant-garde in general (including Cezanne and Renoir). It also had some art by the Steins themselves and pictures of Michael and Sarah Stein's villa, which was also architecturally news (a la the art they collected).

Although the art wasn't my thing (it was alright), I enjoyed the exhibit. It was done well, covering simultaneously the history of the art and of the family. It also explored the evolution of the relationship between collectors and artists. It told stories about debts, falling-outs with artists, and intra-family squabbles.

The wall labels had quotes from various Steins describing some of the art including this memorable statement: "[It is] the nastiest smear of paint I have ever seen" but "[is] brilliant and powerful" (describing Matisse's colorful Woman with a Hat). Another label mentioned that Picasso, in reply to being told that Gertrude Stein didn't look like her portrait, said "she will." The quotes made the labels fun to read.

We spent three hours in the museum in total. Overall it wasn't bad but wasn't as interesting or extensive as I expected.

On the way home, we stopped by Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, an oddly-named ice cream joint that's been getting a lot of buzz since it opened the previous year. We tried it; the buzz was justified.

Los Angeles: June 26: Venice

My photographs cover the day's activities fairly well.

Di Yin took pictures too. The link goes to her first picture from this day (picture #182). When you see a picture about us stopping by Greg for Burn Notice (picture #213), you're done with her pictures for the day and for the trip. I'll link the other pictures in the album at another time.

The three of us began the day by heading down to Gjelina in the neighborhood known as Venice for brunch.

After brunch, we walked around the area, in particular up and down Abbot Kinney, the main road in this part of town. It's an alternative, off-beat retail strip. I think the name of one store we spotted perfectly conveys the aura of the neighborhood: Mystic Journey Bookstore.

On the way out of Venice, we drove through nearby streets. Some were gentrifying, with new buildings next to old mom & pops.

It was early afternoon. E parted ways with Di Yin and I and we drove north, heading home. This time we didn't take a crazy detour as on our last time. We did detour once from the 5 to get around the one-lane section we observed on the way down, but that worked out fine, probably because it was a detour CalTrans told us to take.

Halfway up highway 5, we passed a cattle farm: thousands upon thousands of cows covering hills made entirely of dirt. It was bigger than the farm near L.A. Scary. I never noticed this one before.

Los Angeles: June 25: A Motley Assortment

On Saturday, Di Yin and I did a motley assortment of things. I of course took pictures. Din Yin did too. The link goes to her first picture from this day (picture #133). When you see a picture captioned "Checking out Venice with Edison" (picture #182), you're done with her pictures for the day. I'll link the following pictures in the next post.

First, we drove across town to Eagle Rock to see C and her new baby. C is a friend of Di Yin's; we attended her baby shower months before.

After visiting, we planned to stop by Galco's Soda Shop because it was in the neighborhood. We enjoyed it on our previous visit to L.A. but had by now drunk the bounty from that visit. C and J, despite living in the neighborhood, had never been to Galco's so they came with us and we showed them around.

I bought quite a haul: various ciders (most from my favorite Vermont cidery), a nice pile of Mr. Q. Cumber sodas, and an assortment of Hot Lips sodas in various flavors, among others, including some for E.

We then headed to Monterey Park to meet E for a late lunch. He'd selected Huge Tree Pastry, a joint he loves for its Chinese breakfasts (served all day). We ordered and ate too much (because it was good). Details as usual are in the pictures.

After a quick stop, we returned to E's place. I like how most of traffic in L.A. was going in the opposite direction both in the morning and after lunch. I guess we have good timing or good karma.

We relaxed for a while at home. Some people napped. In late afternoon, Di Yin and I decided to go for a walk. After a bit of research, we decided to explore Beverly Hills and Beverly Gardens Park, a two-mile-long green strip of park-land along Santa Monica Boulevard through Beverly Hills. E warned that parking might be tough in the area so we took a bus.

We walked alternating between walking in the park and walking through the residential streets of Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills is nice. We enjoyed admiring the houses, many of which have wings. The park is also nice. Basically, it's a long promenade interspersed by big green areas. In one of these, I climbed a tree! It was fun; I want to do it more often. There are also a rose garden and a cactus garden.

Once we reached the end of the park, we hunted for a bus back to E's place. It took forever to come. I think the bus that was supposed to come before the one we took had something wrong with it and didn't come. All the passengers were grumbling. By the time we were on our way home, night had fallen, and consequently we missed out stop. By about five stops. Ugh, what an unpleasant bus experience. Finally we got home.

By the way, parking in Beverly Hills looked fine. We should've driven.

You may notice in the pictures a lack of photographs of dinner. This is because we didn't eat dinner. Our lunch was so large that this ended up being a one-meal day.

Los Angeles: June 24: Driving to and Eating in L.A.

Di Yin and I visited Los Angeles (yet again) from Friday, June 24, 2011, to Sunday, June 26. My main reason for the trip was to play board games with my friend E and to see another touristy sight in Los Angeles. Although I didn't end up really doing either, it was a fun trip regardless.

After an unusually good lunch at work, Di Yin and I drove south. (Lunches at work are usually good, but this was unusually so.) On the way I took out my camera and began snapping pictures. We made good time despite highway 5 narrowing to one lane for several miles, which caused a long backup that took perhaps thirty minutes to get through.

Di Yin, by the way, also took pictures. The link goes to her first picture from this trip (picture #80 in this general album of summer activities). When you see a picture captioned "Visiting Carmel's new baby - Rio!" (picture #133), you're done with her pictures for the day. I'll link the album's other pictures in other posts.

Immediately before L.A. we stopped for a while at Pyramid Lake, a sight that we've admired from afar multiple times from the highway. For reference, Pyramid Lake straddles Los Padres National Forest and Angeles National Forest. We had time to explore it. We had a good time, partially because it was rather nice in temperature, which was surprising because the valley was 90+ degrees F.

Later, we met E at his place and headed out to dinner in K-Town. For our first stop, we dragged him to KyoChon (which we visited before) to convince him the Korean fried chicken there is better than his favorite place, O B Bear (which he had us visit before). I think he admitted that his previous impression of KyoChon was in error, but he wasn't yet ready to admit defeat.

From KyoChon, we decided to walk a ways through K-Town to get to our next eating place. However, as the place we intended to eat the rest of dinner at was closed, we continued straight to dessert at the third place on our itinerary: Hwa Sun Ji, a traditional Korean tea shop. During this walk we passed a cinema makeup school. Only a few places in the world can support such a place; L.A. is one.

Still wanting more real dinner after dessert, we headed back to KyoChon for more. With food in hand, we returned to E's place.