The Writing on The Wall

Every once in a while, SF city officials get all motivated to crack down on graffiti. They hold meetings and press conferences and use phrases like “respect for the city” and “frivolous gang activity”. Typically, some big project is announced to deter graffiti artists, walls are all painted white, and everyone gets their hopes up for a clean, beautified city. Then two weeks go by and all the fresh white is once again covered in spray paint. And the city officials give up.

People have argued about graffiti for ages. Is it vandalism? Is it art? And the argument isn’t limited to San Francisco. Cities all over the world have to deal with this problem and each one has it’s own approach. My husband spent a summer in Barcelona, and he says that the graffiti over there is considered art; a kind of cultural expression. Much of the street art is political or social commentary and it’s kind of a ritual that mixes in with the character of the city. But in Rome, he says every wall in Rome has graffiti on it and it makes the city look trashy.

Three years ago, when SF was really geared up to wash out the graffiti, The Mural Project was created to be the hero for our beautiful city. The Mural Project hired local artists to paint murals on large, easily accessible, walls, in hopes that vandals would leave the wall alone. There are now 23 murals in the city of San Francisco, the most murals of any city in the United States. There’s one on Laguna St near hwy-101, and there’s another behind this shady gas station at Market and Duboce.

Another time, the city hired a bunch of workers to be part of a painting team. You can see these guys walking down the street with their cart of brushes and rollers, stopping every couple of yards to paint over something written in spray paint. This is a great idea, because it creates jobs, but at the same time, it’s kinda of an effort in futility. Just as soon as something is painted over, it’s almost immediately re-tagged with graffiti.

I drove around today taking pictures of the murals and the graffiti, trying to decide how I feel about it. I guess I think some of the street art is beautiful, and some of it is meaningless and should be painted over. But you can’t create a law that says “pretty vandalism is allowed but the ugly stuff is prohibited”. You have to accept all of it or none of it. So, if I have to choose between all the graffiti or none, I choose to let it stay. It’s a form of art and expression, under appreciated as it may be. And it adds to the character of this city.

Several websites are devoted to honoring the work of street artists. You can find more info and lots of pictures here:
http://www.fatcap.com/city/san-francisco-1.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cassidy/sets/58512

Tahoe: Same Place, Different Weather

Last weekend I got the chance to go skiing at Lake Tahoe. I have been to Tahoe before, but that was over July 4th weekend. So the activities this go round were completely different.

First off, this is a beautiful area all. year. The lake and the mountains and the scenery are unlike any I’ve seen before. And in February, there is snow everywhere. Being from Georgia, I haven’t had much exposure to snow, so I am ever in awe of how serene and perfect the world looks when covered in snow.

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This weekend I stayed with a group of people in a cabin in South Lake Tahoe. I have observed that there are many lodging opportunities: cheap hotels, nice hotels, cabins, houses, etc. It’s set up so you can come for any length of time, and with any number of people.

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On Saturday, I got up bright and early to hit the slopes with my group. Apparently, the snow is better for skiing in the morning. I was at the Sierra Mountain Resort (www.sierraattahoe.com), which is a few miles west of downtown South Lake Tahoe. I was able to rent pants, jacket, boots, and skis all from the resort.  I was glad I could enjoy myself and  didn’t have to buy any of those big ticket items. I took a ski lesson and learned all the ins and outs, like how to stop, how to stop, and how to stop.

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I worked up quite an appetite during the lesson, so at that point I took a break and got lunch with my group at the ski lodge. After lunch, I spent the afternoon falling down the hill, losing my skis, and using muscles I didn’t know existed. But the view was so gorgeous that it was worth it!

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A week ago, I was very scared of skiing. But now I can say that it’s actually a lot of fun! And South Lake Tahoe is beautiful this time of year! There are all these snow people walking around in their wool caps and drinking hot cocoa. It’s this wonderful mountain escape!

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The Sunset is the Sunniest

The Sunset District is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in San Francisco. It’s located on the Pacific coast in the southwest corner of the city. It’s known to be a surf-y community with a small-town feel. I’ve heard it called SF’s “urban suburb”. I went down there last week and took pictures right at sunset.

I think the houses in this area are so fun! They’re all painted bright colors like pink and yellow; it reminds me of South Beach in Miami. And all the houses touch and that makes these adorable streets with picturesque houses along each side. The neighborhood is divided into four subsections: the Inner Sunset, the Outer Sunset, Parkside, and West Portal. Each of these has is own charm and personality, and is worth a blog article of their own.

Some other cool things include the streets are in alphabetical order: Hugo, Irving, Judah, Kirkham, Lawton, Moraga, Noriega, Ortega, Pacheco, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, Taraval, Ulloa, Vicente,Wawona, Xavier and Yorba. Also, the HQ of CraigsList is in this neighborhood.

West Portal Lutheran Church

In case you’re wondering, yes the zoo is in the Sunset. In full disclosure, I’ll admit I took all these pictures the same day I visited Banana Sam. I thought it was a really fun way to spent the day: start by visiting the animals at the zoo, then finish your day with a sunset picnic on the beach. Trust me, you’ll love it!

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