Saturday, February 28, 2009

Portola Branch Library Opens Today

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Portola Branch Library in San Francisco
(c) all photos by K. Smokey Cormier

Ms. Manitoba talks like she’s an introverted shut-in ... but really I get out more often than you think. And, once shoehorned out of my house, I’m quite gregarious. Today, my kids and I celebrated my oldest daughter’s family birthday at Mifune’s in Japantown in San Francisco. Delicious, scrumptious, and nutritious Tori Udon!

Then we went to the opening of the new Portola Branch of the San Francisco Library. And, folks, there was a big crowd there! This event makes liars out of those Hollywood sitcom writers that make working class folks look uneducated and uninterested in reading or being educated. We’ve always been interested in learning -- as long as we had the leisure time. Hollywood: quit lying about us.

Of course, leisure time is hard to come by these days. Working two or more jobs to keep from going homeless ... or salaried workers working unpaid overtime to appease bosses so they don’t lay you off ...

I don’t know everyone from the activist or city hall crowd who was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. But here are three who I know were there: Jewelle Gomez, Mark Leno, and Mayor Gavin Newsom. And I actually got a chance to shake Mayor Newsom’s hand and tell him that he is a hero to me. I thanked him for helping make gay marriages legal. And also said: “I know you took some risks.” The guy looked sincerely grateful for my words. Okay, maybe it’s not as much risk as the risk those beautiful LesbigayTransGender people at Stonewall took. But still. He deserves credit.

(Although I must admit I agree with Lamar Van Dyke quoted in The New Yorker this week: “Gays in the military and gay marriage? This is what you guys have come up with?” The other side of that, of course, is that I strongly support equal rights for everyone. I’m of two minds. Libra rising ... it’s a curse.)

There was also a Dragon Dance group that were great ... but, sorry, I don't know their name.

The crowd watches the Dragon dancing. Well, at this point it was slithering on the ground, acting cute and cuddly.

There were a few short speeches, the ribbon was cut, and then we all crammed in (really, there were a lot of people there!) and ate cake.

Mayor Newsom is popular and mixed and mingled, signed autographs, and posed for photos. Hmmm ... he could be our governor one day. I heard more than one person say that.

As you can see, he's a tall guy.

Want to read more about the opening? Go here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Van Dykes in The New Yorker !!!!!

I am gobsmacked. Thoroughly. Mightily. The New Yorker has finally acknowledged that lesbian separatists existed in this here country in the '70s.


They printed an article by Ariel Levy about this roving gang of lesbian separatists in the 70's who called themselves the "Van Dykes" 'cause they all drove vans.

I must admit I was prepared to be irritated but the article was interesting and I was tickled that they printed it. Hey, you boys at The New Yorker -- you're growin' up!

Of course, now we're going to have to deal with those stereotypes again. But, what the hell, we dealt with them before.

You can't yet read the article online. But you can listen to an interview with Ariel Levy about the article. Go here. [Hmmmm ... you like to be told what to do, eh?]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thirsty plants

In this neck of the woods, our plants are thirstily drinking up the recent rain water ...

(c) all photos K. Smokey Cormier

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidio of San Francisco Pet Cemetery

A visit in February, 2009 ...

all photos (c) K. Smokey Cormier

I love cemeteries. I often visit them. They're often quiet and very green. I love to look at the tombstones and other markers. I feel the pull of history too when I'm in a cemetery. My favorite human one is the one in St. Laurent, Manitoba. It's so quiet and is surrounded by the prairies and a swamp. Filled with history too. Lots of Metis people buried there. It's a cemetery from my childhood.

But here we have one for pets -- the Pet Cemetery at the Presidio. I'd never been to one before. And, what a view for these owners when (if?) they come to visit! The base of the Golden Gate Bridge right nearby.

There's a sign at the cemetery that says: Military personnel stationed at the Presidio once buried their deceased pets in this burial plot. Grave markers were provided by the pet owners. The cemetery is operated by the post veternarian and is maintained by private funds and local scouts.

However, this cemetery is threatened by the Doyle Drive Replacement Project. Will the pets be moved? Dunno.

(Update, 12 Dec 2009: The Pet Cemetery will be protected during the Doyle Drive Replacement Project. For details, see this article in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Presidio pet cemetery protected."

Can you read the small print on this one? It says, "He was no trouble"

As we were walking by this one, my friend Rob said: "Not too frisky anymore."

for Bun-Bun

A Visit to Fort Point, San Francisco in February 2009

View from Fort Point towards San Francisco
You can see the refinished roof of the rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts

all photos (c) K. Smokey Cormier

Fort Point, from the inside

Here's what the web site says about Fort Point:
Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for nearly 150 years. It has been called “the pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.” When construction began during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point was planned as the most formidable deterrence America could offer to a naval attack on California. Although its guns never fired a shot in anger, the “Fort at Fort Point” as it was originally named has witnessed Civil War, obsolescence, earthquake, bridge construction, reuse for World War II, and preservation as a National Historic Site.
I was impressed with the masonry -- especially the spiral stairs going up to the towers.

There are several canons for you to look at

You can literally stand underneath a part of the Golden Gate Bridge.

And, even though it is often very cold there, you almost always see a surfer or two.

Views from the Warming Hut, San Francisco

The Warming Hut, a part of Chrissy Field, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island

all photos (c) K. Smokey Cormier

My daughters and I met their uncle out at the Warming Hut on this past Saturday, February 14. The weather was changeable but it wasn't raining even though the sky was full of dark clouds. So we had lunch and then walked around. I took some photos. I had been yearning for a short adventure since my knee-replacement surgery. This fit the bill.

View looking straight out from the Warming Hut
Lots of people fish from this pier.

View to the left
See how close the Warming Hut is to the Golden Gate Bridge?
You're practically at its base.

The Warming Hut has a cafe with delicious food. But, if you want, you can get a hot dog at the stand right next to it.

The Warming Hut is one of my favorite places to go in San Francisco. And, I know a lot of places -- I've lived in this area for close to 36 years now (holey moley!). It's a great place to walk around -- you've got all of Chrissy Field to explore. And the views are spectacular. When you get a bit chilled, you can go into the Warming Hut and get a hot drink, some soup, other delicious things. Plus, their store has lots of good things to buy as presents.

Books to read in 2009

Dear Readers,

I have compiled my booklist of books to read in 2009. But, I’ve gone about it a different way this year. I’ve re-vamped my list. I’m not going to read for research. That story about the Irish-American lesbian in New York City I was starting to write will have to wait.

Why create a booklist anyway if I’m not trying to guide research for a story? Why not read whatever I want when I want? Well, dear readers, I am a Virgo and I love lists. That’s one thing. The other is that I am easily distracted by the next new book. I want a path. I can go off it and have little adventures with books not on the list. But, I want to concentrate this year on video and video editing. So, I asked meself: What books do you really want to read this year? And I looked around the house and compiled a list.

Then, I looked at how many I’ve read in the past couple of years and took that number and added a few more. And limited the books on my list to that number. I also limited the amount of nonfiction. Who was I kidding putting all those nonfiction books on my lists in years past?

I feel pretty darn good about the list. It’s not overwhelming. Feels just about right. And I like the focus on video.

Books to read in 2009


Double Identity - Margaret Peterson Maddox (Young Adult)

Vive la Paris - Esme Raji Codell (Young Adult)

Resurrection Row - Anne Perry

Field of Blood - Denise Mina

The Dead Hour - Denise Mina

Shame - Salman Rushdie

The Enchantress of Florence - Salman Rushdie

Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

The Deptford Trilogy - Robertson Davies (re-read)
comprising these novels:
Fifth Business
The Manticore
World of Wonders

A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

The Complete Stories of Truman Capote

A Thread of Grace - Mary Doria Russell

Noli Me Tangere - José Rizal

Our Town -Thornton Wilder

Jazz - Toni Morrison

A Mercy - Toni Morrison

Underworld - Don Delillo

Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels

The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies - Alexander McCall Smith

The Tears of the Giraffe - Alexander McCall Smith

Song for Anninho - Gayl Jones


Undiscovered - Debra Winger

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing - Walter Murch

Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video - Gael Chandler

Lighting for Digital Video and Television - John Jackman

Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching

Paris to the Moon - Adam Gopnik

Dark Age Ahead - Jane Jacobs

Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 - Salman Rushdie

Two Gardners: A Friendship in Letters - Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence

Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession - Studs Terkel

Toolbox for Sustainable City Living - Scott Kellogg and

All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913 - 1930 - Andrea Barnet

Ellis Island Interviews: Immigrants and Their Stories In Their Own Words - Peter Morton Goan

Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City - Jennifer Toth

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them - Francine Prose

Letters from Black America - edited by Pamela Newkirk

Stella Adler - The Art of Acting: preface by Marlon Brando compiled and edited by Howard Kissel (Applause Acting Series) (Hardcover)
by Howard Kissel, Stella Adler

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie: a quote

So Iff the water genie told Haroun about the Ocean of the Stream of Stories, and even though he was full of a sense of hopelessness and failure the magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead, but alive.

"And if you are very, very careful, or very, very highly skilled, you can dip a cup into the Ocean," Iff told Haroun, "like so," and here he produced a little golden cup from another of his waistcoat pockets, "and you can fill it with water from a single, pure Stream of Story, like so," as he did precisely that.

-- Salman Rushdie