Monday, June 22, 2009

La Misión de Nuestro Seráfico Padre San Francisco de Asís a la Laguna de los Dolores.

Helluva name for a church, Juniper. The title of this post refers to the name dedicated to the Mission Dolores in the year 1776. The bay itself had already been given the name San Francisco in 1595, seeing as the Spanish government had entrusted the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) with the spiritual care of California. But enough about you, let's talk about me.

Well, me and my lady got gifted a weekend hotel stay in the city of Saint Francis. My mom (to my delight) wants to give experiential, as opposed to material, gifts. She treated us to two nights in the Villa Florence, just south of Union Square. Thanks Mom!!

So we set out to the north in search of...well, what were we in search of really? Experiences, I guess, is the umbrella answer. One thing I wanted to do is spend an absorbent amount of money on a meal at a fabulous restaurant. (Being a teacher in Santa Cruz, CA does not provide me the opportunity to do such a thing on the regular.)

Masa's, was the establishment that did, indeed, absorb my money and provide a fabulous experience. And when I say fabulous, I do mean it with regard to its etymological definition. It is almost as if the dinner didn't actually occur. The five course tasting menu (really eight, including amuse bouche, complimentary small salad and candy cart) with the master sommelier's suggested wine pairings was extraordinary. We do have some wonderful restaurants in and around Santa Cruz (Soif, Oswald, and Theo's come to mind) but nothing quite this fancy. Definitely an experience to be had. And it was.

Another experience that we enjoyed-although not necessarily a new one-was just wandering around the city and snapping photos of the urban world around us. I loved the movie American Beauty. The character Ricky Fitts, played by Wes Bentley, enchanted me with his fascination with the plastic bag:
"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

That's exactly how I feel so often in cities. We walked in to Nordstroms in the Westfield Mall, where there is, like, six floors, each filled with a myriad of, can look down from the top floor all the way the bottom floor. I stood there and watched all of the elevators moving synchronistically. Awesome. Just like the plastic bag in American Beauty, it could have been something that I would have glanced at momentarily and moved on, untouched. But I stood there, instead, moved. Technology, mechanics, population, consumerism, history, lives, stories...experiences. Awesome.
Day 2: Walked down to the Ferry Building. We learned from our legendary friend Dick, that the clock tower was modeled after the 12th century Giralda of the cathedral in Seville, which, in turn, was modeled after the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco.

While we made our way to the bay, we marveled at the many other architectural feats that have been erected on what used to be a vast wetlands inhabited by the Ohlone peoples circa 500 AD. (For those of you who are interested in the early history of the native peoples of the San Francisco Bay Area, read, if you haven't already The Ohlone Way by Malcolm Margolin).

We had a lovely time cruising around the fantastic culinary showcase that is the Ferry Building Plaza Farmer's Market and Marketplace, and had to stop for a Blue Bottle Coffee recharge.

After more city meandering we met up with my good friend Amy for a Boobatorium Party at her place in the Mission/Potrero Hill. We enjoyed a cocktail as we strolled through the garden and caught up, and then made a clay boob as per the gathering's intention. Good times.

Then, back to the hotel to refresh and head to Chinatown! I had a restaurant in mind, but it was closed by the time we arrived (9:30! Fortunately, for us, there are a thousand great places to eat in the city and we happened to stumble upon one of them. Gitane! On Claude Lane, just off of Bush or Sutter Streets near the intersection of Kearny St. Great food, magical ambiance, and a perfect end to our Saturday night.

We continued on, stumbling through the dimly lit streets of Saint Francis feeling so blessed to be alive and abuzz and in love...noticing all of the minute details that comprise the whole of the city. A sleeping bum, a passing trolley, a wailing siren. I got there, somehow, and now, I am back.

"I praise the bridge that carried me over"
-George Coleman

1 comment:

  1. Michael,

    I loved your commentary about Frisco and all the historical trivia you threw in. You are so artistic with your story telling, your culinary dissertations, and your photography. You are a joy to read!

    Your Lover's Mama :)


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