Fall 2014 Update

Keith Haring art at FAMSF de Young

Keith Haring art at FAMSF de Young

Note: slideshow at bottom of post

My life is so busy that two things are true: 1) I can’t remember what I’ve done the previous season, except for a few highlights, without consulting my calendar, and 2) I’ve fallen way, way behind on my ideal of posting a seasonal update four times per year. My last time was Summer 2013.

  • I’m back at work as Safe Routes to School Coordinator at San Juan Unified, as of August. Funding is still flakey, but I’m still getting work done, and still enjoying it, particularly the bicyclist lessons.
  • I attended the Harvest Moon contra dance weekend in Santa Barbara, which is a weekend full of dancing and seeing friends from all over who come for the same reason I do, high level, high energy dancing and good friends, including Teralyn. This is my favorite contra dance weekend, though others come close. I also attended the 12-hour TDOGS Twirl contra dance in Hayward. Unfortunately, my energy didn’t quite hold out the entire 12 hours.
  • A lot weekends were spent in San Francisco and the bay area, five just this quarter. I go for dancing (sacred circle dancing, historical dancing, and contra dancing, mostly), museums, theatre, bicycling, hiking visiting friends, eating good food, conferences, etc.
  • I attended two Sunday Streets events in San Francisco, volunteering with both Sunday Streets and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Freedom from Training Wheels program, which is probably the most fun I have, seeing kids make that first successful balance, and then pedal, without training wheels.
  • I was lucky to find out at the last moment about the San Francisco Tweed Ride, and join them. A great group of people to hang out with, and ride, and drink beer at the end. They take costuming much more seriously than I do. I then finished the day off with SFBC’s Winterfest, a huge gathering of bicycle advocates. Some of the same people, and more beer.
  • This year I have a membership in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), which are the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and the de Young in Golden Gate Park. I saw the Houghton Hall exhibit at the Legion, art and objects from an English country manor, with a tie-in to Downton Abbey, and the exhibit of Keith Haring at the de Young, a remarkable collection of advocacy art.
  • I assisted two League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminars, in Rancho Cordova and San Francisco, and helped Elle instruct a Traffic Skills 101 in Sacramento.
  • I repeated my backpack of the American Discovery Trail section 8, from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, this time keeping an accurate GPS track.
  • Some Wednesdays I’ve been joining Claire Bromund and her compadres for wine at various Sacramento wine bars and restaurants. I’ve also been frequenting my favorite breweries, first Track 7, followed by New Helvetia and Bike Dog.
  • I attended Walk California’s Best Foot Forward Summit, helping develop a strategic vision for the organization and all its partners. Intense, but worthwhile.

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Theatre: Fall 2014

It is often hard to pick my favorite play or musical from a season, as I strongly enjoy nearly every one of them, but I have to say that Motown: The Musical stood out above the rest. It was so full of good energy and good memories for me (I’m of that age when Motown was what we listened to). The acting and singing were superb. Eleven plays for the season.

  • 2014-12-11  New Helvetia Theatre: Marry Me A Little (music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, conceived and developed by Craig Lucas & Norman Rene)
  • 2014-12-10  Sacramento Theatre Company: Kate (Rick Foster)
  • 2014-12-05 Big Idea Theatre: Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Briandaniel Ogelsby)
  • 2014-11-20  New Helvetia Theatre: I’m Getting My Act Together (music by Nancy Ford and book and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer)
  • 2014-11-06  Cap Stage: Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson)
  • 2014-11-01  San Francisco Playhouse: Ideation (Aaron Loeb)
  • 2014-10-30  Green Valley Theatre: Rocky Horror Show (music, lyrics and a book by Richard O’Brien)
  • 2014-10-03  City Theatre: The Uninvited (Tim Kelly, from the novel by Dorothy Macardle)
  • 2014-10-02  Big Idea Theatre: Exit Interview (William Missouri Downs)
  • 2014-09-27  SHN Theatres: Motown, The Musical (a book by Berry Gordy)
  • 2014-09-26  SHN Theatres: Pippin (Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson)
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ADT: Walnut Creek to San Francisco 2014-11

buckeye nuts

buckeye nuts

I repeated the American Discovery Trail section 8 from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, this time successfully creating a GPS track, though the track was just an excuse to get out on the trail again. I love this ADT section for its combination of fairly remote backcountry with an urban experience. This is my third time. After my first trip in January 2014, I re-walked it in March 2014 in an attempt to create a track, but messed it up. And forgot my journal, which is largely why I never did a post on that trip. But the photos are good!

I started after a Sunday evening circle dance in El Cerrito, then BART to Pleasant Hill, and then walked for about two hours to Lafayette Ridge, arriving about 2:00AM. I camped under a spreading oak, and sunrise came soon. Monday I continued the route through Briones Regional Park, the EBMUD Briones watershed, and Tilden Regional Park. It is hard to say whether this year is drier or wetter than last year. There are wet areas, mostly in the canyon bottoms, and a little furze of green growth coming up, but the hillsides are largely still brown and waiting for rain. Fall is well along, with some fall color still present and some leaves gone entirely. Since I was hiking on a weekday, I saw very few people on the trail, three before Tilden and only about 15 within Tilden, very much different from my prior weekend trips where I passed many people and Tilden was crowded with hikers.

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Why I go to San Francisco for musicals

I just came back from a weekend in San Francisco where I saw two musicals, Pippin at SHN Golden Gate Theatre, and Motown, The Musical at SHN Orpheum Theatre. Pippin was great, Motown was spectacular. The only modern-music musical that I’ve seen that surpassed it was Beautiful, the Carole King biography, also at SHN.

Many though not all of these national traveling shows come to Sacramento, most often hosted California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Sacramento at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, which has the tagline of “superb acoustics, unobstructed views,” though some are also hosted at California Musical Theatre’s Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion. Most of these come through for only a week or two, rather than the five to eight weeks they play in the bay area, and many never come.

So why do I go to San Francisco? Well, let me say up front that I go in part because I love San Francisco, I’m happy when I’m there, I do a lot of things including going to the ocean, to museums, to listen to Irish music, to visit friends, to ride my bike, to eat good bread (Arizmendi and Acme), and I could go on for pages.

But the main reason I go is that I can hear the musicals, and the plays. I don’t think I missed a single word or line in either Pippin or Motown. The sound is crisp and clear. It is loud enough without being too loud. In contrast, Sacramento Community Center Theater sucks. The sound is muddy. I often miss key dialog. In order to overcome the acoustic weakness of the hall, the sound gets cranked up way over the capabilities of the sound system. I have attended several plays and musicals that were so painfully loud I thought of just walking out. In fact, two of the professional community theatres in Sacramento, Capital Stage and B Street Theatre mainstage have considerably better sound quality than the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Maybe the comparison in unfair, as these are small theatres, but when I can pay $32 for a ticket and hear great sound in a small intimate venue with sufficient bathroom capacity, why would I want to pay $43 to $95 (and higher for the popular shows such as Wicked) for muddy sound, in a huge impersonal venue with insufficient bathroom capacity?

In the San Francisco theatres, sight lines are good too. From my seat in the balcony, about two feet of the top of the SHN Golden Gate stage was cut off. I remember seeing Wicked in Sacramento, and more than a third of the stage was cut off from my seat. I missed a lot of action that happened at the edges and top of the stage. And I was in one of the more expensive seats, the Grand Tier rather than the Second Tier. I wonder if people in the Second Tier could even see the stage.

SNH Golden Gate Theatre was built in 1922 and refurbished in 1979, and seats up to 2200. SHN Opheum Theatre was built in 1929 and restored in 1998, and seats 700. Sacramento Community Center Theatre was built in 1974 and seats 2,398, which is larger than any of the theatres in San Francisco. You would think that would allow them to sell lower priced tickets, but the ticket prices are the same or higher.

The concrete bunker that is the Sacramento Community Center Theater will never have good sound, no matter how much is spent on renovation. The only solution is to tear it down and start over. I’m sure the convention center would like to expand into that area. There are a number of empty or developable lots around downtown. In fact the city owns a number of potential locations. Or at least did, until they gave away the properties to the Kings.

So please,

tear down the Sacramento Community Center Theater

and give us a new great place to see musicals, plays, and other cultural performances.

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Theatre: Summer 2014

Another season of plays, fourteen this time. My favorite was Songs from An Unmade Bed, New Helvetia Theatre’s one-man performance by Conner Mickiewicz. I was leery – could he really pull it off? – but he did, in fine form and voice. I saw Into the Woods (Sondheim & Lapine) at San Francisco Playhouse. This is my favorite play of all time, and one I have seen far more than any other. This performance was on par with others, but not the best. The best was actually the very first one, in Chico, put on by a community theatre whose name I don’t even remember. Chico Theatre Company is in the space now, but they say they started in 2004, and I saw the play about 1991. I think I have seen the play seven times now.

  • 2014-09-18  CapStage: Tribes
  • 2014-09-17  STC: Taming of the Shrew (Young Professionals Conservatory)
  • 2014-09-05  Green Valley: The Light in the Piazza
  • 2014-08-29  Teatro Espejo: Enslaved
  • 2014-08-28  B Street: The Conference of the Birds
  • 2014-08-13  Cap Stage: Orchid Child (Playwright’s Revolution)
  • 2014-08-12  Cap Stage: Black Fly Spring (Playwright’s Revolution)
  • 2014-08-02  SF Playhouse: Into the Woods
  • 2014-08-01  Big Idea Theatre: The Language Archive
  • 2014-07-27  Ovation Stage: The Flu Season
  • 2014-07-12  SHN: Once
  • 2014-07-11  New Helvetia Theatre: Songs from an Unmade Bed
  • 2014-07-10  Shakespeare Davis: Much Ado About Nothing
  • 2014-07-08  B Street: Provenance
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lower Mokelumne River Canyon

mokelumne river

Mokelumne River

Two years ago I hiked the upper Mokelumne River canyon, from Highway 4 to Camp Irene, one of the more rugged and certainly the most brushy hike I’ve done (photos, but no blog post). This summer I walked the remainder of the canyon from Camp Irene to Salt Springs Reservoir.

I spent two days with my friend Steffani who lives near Pollock Pines, and after a day hike to Granite Lake near Silver Lake off Highway 88, she dropped me there and I walked back into Granite Lake. From there I walked into the wilderness at Horsethief Springs and on to Munson Meadow, where I camped up on a ridge overlooking the canyon, in part to avoid the thick mosquitos in the meadow area.

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cross-posts from Granite Chief

Two recent posts on my Granite Chief blog about my first two backpack trips of the year into this wilderness:

With these, I think I’ve caught up on everything I wanted to on my personal blog. I missed a seasonal update for the solstice, but it will just have to wait for fall.

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