Archive for the ‘golden gate park’ Tag

Parterrians Partake in Gaiety @ The Pagoda!

Brace yourself for this historic and tragic first-ever NorCal gathering of fans and followers! La Cieca has sanctioned it with an amusing post. We hope you can join us…I know I’m just itchin’ to get on with it. Opera fanciers, queens and lovers are encouraged and welcome too.


A SF/Bay Area Soiréedare I say: Demented Mini-Conference? Perhaps our fair Queen Mum herself, La Cieca will descend upon our happy occasion and lead us in some gaiety. Although, Nilsson, Tebaldi and Rysanek’s attendance is more likely.


Chinese Pagoda (pictured below), on Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Location details: eastern tip of Stow Lake island, just south of Stow Lake waterfall, just southwest of the red star on this map.

We can mosey over to the Verdi Statue, towards the end for “Va Pensiero” and a knelt adoration. And, I’ll be sure to pass by the Beethoven Statue too on the walk home to make sure he doesn’t feel left out.


12 noon – 3pm, Saturday, July 31st
(If too foggy, wet or cold, our back-up date is: Saturday, August 28th.)

What to bring?

Please bring something to share, by last name, as below. (If you object or have a terribly pinched wallet, you are still welcome to come, but please let me know.) Opera-or-Chinoiserie-related themes encouraged, but random, store-bought lameness fine too:

A – F: savory dish, finger food, or substantial snack
G – M: salad
N – S: beverages…chinese tea anyone?
T – Z: dessert


All (good/festive/opera-related ideas) welcome! I plan to shoot a Wenarto-inspired video shoot, involving those who are interested. If you have any operatic accessories (particularly Chinese), please bring/wear them to spice up our video.


My iPod will be chock full of apropos selections, but feel free to bring yours as well, if you’re compelled. Again, orientalism encouraged (given our setting).

If we find a bevy of pigeons or a rival encampment has already inhabited the pagoda, we’ll be forced to shift our location, so it’s best if you RSVP beforehand, so I can give you my cell phone number, in case we should need to move.

Until then!

Ode to “Home”

The Comfort and Knowing of Time

Yesterday I was sitting in the family room with CJ, enjoying the autumnal vibe in the air, and the perfectly imperfect pumpkin and eccentric decorative squash we brought back from one of our favorite annual traditions, a roadtrip to Muelrath’s Ranch in Santa Rosa (hayride, pumpkin slingshot, haunted maze, and all!). I looked up at the ceiling and the walls of that room for the thousandth time, and I just had this deep sense of the longevity of my time in this neighborhood, this building, this flat, this “home”. We’ve shared over 4 years together in this home, and I’ve lived FIFTEEN years of my life here. That’s getting on a damn long run. My history here is nearly a teenager!


It’s amazing to think that my first (and only) roommate in this flat moved out a good 9 or so years ago, and to the best of my knowledge has lived in at least 3 different cities, and likely as many houses (not apartments/flats) since, and here I/we remain.

There have been times when I’ve had an itch to move out, ideally into a house, and in a more suburban hood (although still somewhat urban in spirit). We even spent some time looking at houses in Berkeley before my lay-off and CJ’s career reevaluation. And, there are many times when we bemoan our lack of space, especially storage. All of my non-Bay Area friends and family have long since been in houses, some very large.

Home As a Glimpse Into the Soul

I have periodically felt some sort of peer pressure to do the same…as if there are steps we must take at certain stages of our lives. But, there are no rules, and no requirements. We can create whatever life we long to create, barring some limitations, of course. And, thankfully, being gay actually gives us even more of a sense of this kind of freedom, because noone else is urging us forward, or expecting anything specific from the trappings of our life…which is in many ways is its own blessing.

I’ve often thought the circumstances of my life had kept me in this flat, but then realize it only seems so at first glance. Somehow, this cozy flat matches my/our sensibility so perfectly. I love to travel, indulge in local cuisine, saturate in theatre and entertainment. All that has continually proven to be more important to me than having a house. And, in this town, unless you’re loaded, you likely can’t have both!

I have a deep seeded feeling that you should only bite off as much of this world and its resources as you need. Yes, I take gratuitously long showers, and blow through way too many paper products (I ain’t no saint!), but other than that, I hope I only take my fair portion of what I need in life. I also like the communal feel of having neighbors just on the other side of a wall, not separated by a large yard or fence (perhaps a somewhat socialist view). I may not interact with them any more than someone in a ‘burb, but I think in that proximity there is a sort of intimacy…and, certainly in the sharing of a roof. I liken it a bit to public transportation. There is a leveling or equalizing effect of it…that all passengers are created equal. And, it’s enlightening to be around people from many different walks of life, even ones that smell bad, to remind you that we are all one. I haven’t been using public transport as often as when I worked on Market St., but I still do periodically.

Shadowbox made from Grandpa letterpress printing metal type drawers

Shadowbox made from Grandpa’s letterpress printing metal type drawers

In Touch With the Pulse of Life

That’s a big piece of what keeps me embedded in city life. You can look out your window at any moment and see people walking down the sidewalk, cars driving by, someone in the window across the street. That activity, and connection to the bustling heartbeat of life feeds me. I sometimes fear that a quiet neighborhood, a yard, and a fence would cut me off from that pulse.

CJ shares some of this view of the world, and the desire to connect to local community…in his quest for organic foods, weekly shopping at local farmer’s markets, much more regular use of public transport, and real commitment to composting.

We have also fallen in love with Golden Gate Park as our true backyard. Our traditional walk past The Conservatory of Flowers, the DeYoung, out around Stow Lake and back again is such a part of me, I would miss it terribly if I moved. And, although I really want a porch and garden, for now it continues to fulfill me, and is a lot less work!

And, everytime I sit down to blog, prepare a song for an audition, or take a long afternoon nap I realize that if I owned a house, some of these favorite past-times could be replaced by more housework, repairs, and/or projects.

“…but a house is not a home”

My life here with CJ has made this so much more of a home. I muse on all of our wonderful gatherings of friends and family, as well as the depth of our time here together, just the two of us, and now with the third member of our tribe, our cat Sammie. The framed “Bless This House” engrossed print from my Grandfather near our front door has so much more meaning as the years pass. Our time here has indeed been so blessed.

Although I often feel the call of life outside our home, and thankfully embrace and tackle that life with great fervor too, I also love and cherish the “nest” that is our home…the warmth (often heated like an “old folks’ home”, as CJ chides…YES, I like it on the toasty side!), the personal expression that it is (ie: art, interior design, tchotchkies, cookbooks, etc.), and both a haven from the world, as well as a reflection of that world…as we sometimes create our own challenges and barriers for each other in our own home. What couples don’t at times?

None of this is to demean how others create their sense of home, only to give thanks for ours, and honor what a true outward manifestation it is of our inner selves. Yet, it’s amazing how truly ephemeral home is (ie: Home is where you make it.”), because when we move on, this space will become a vessel for the next person’s dreams, and concept of what home is. And, wherever we move on to one day will become our new home.

I’ll let one of the soul masters tell it like it is!

Barnyard Golf or Love Making?

After my City Grazing double-take last week, I wouldn’t have guessed another groovy neighborhood discovery was lurking so closely. Having lived in my hood for about 15 years, it’s rare to come upon something entirely fresh, within a few block radius…let alone something on a grand scale. The northeastern tip of Golden Gate Park alone is rife with history, but I thought I had covered pretty much every path. El wrongo!!!

Well, around noon today, I headed out on my lunch break to practice a monologue for my callback in the out-of-doors. What other show is better suited to a rustic park setting than Hair? Me thinks there isn’t one. I knew it would help put me in the right state of mind, and help my characterization of hippie leader Berger take flight (hopefully).

I wandered onto a narrow dirt path just off the paved walking path winding down from the intersection of Fulton and Stanyan, and hung my jacket on a eucalyptus branch. Just as I was preparing to start, I discovered someone sitting quietly on a nearby bench and writing, so I continued my search for an empty glade. Our homeless neighbors also love this region of the park, so I figured I would likely have a few of them as an audience. Maybe they could even offer some hippie tips?

Photo by Octoferret/Flickr

Photo by Octoferret/Flickr

I walked up a dirt path that branched off to the left of the main path, where I had never gone before. It’s always looked like a vehicle path for the park worker’s use. As I came around the bend, a stone wall and some steps became visible. Once even closer, a huge cement courtyard opened up before me, with a giant 20-or-so foot wide horse sculpture on the opposing wall, formed by a natural cross-sectioned hillside about 50 feet high. The inside of the horse sculpture had crumbled away, leaving only the outer features and details. This gave it a real feeling of antiquity…although, I was pretty sure I hadn’t just uncovered a lost ruin.

Horse Sculpture: Before & After

Horse Sculpture: Before & After

Frankly, it was the perfect site not only for my personal run-through but would be just right for an entire production of Hair (I’ll get on that)! It became clear from multiple vertical metal rods (and the horse sculpture sealed the deal) that it was for horseshoeing. However, it was in such shambles and disrepair, it felt haunted. I could easily imagine countless romantic trysts, late-night drug-induced adventures, and homeless encampments here. In fact it’s been counted as the Number 18, in “Best Place to Make Love in Golden Gate Park”. A “For Screamers” category is even included…although this locale didn’t make that list.

Horseshoe Pits: 1930s

Horseshoe Pits: 1930s

These “Horseshoe Pits“, as they are called are also on the National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco, noted with the year 1922. And, to be exact, there are 16 pitching courts of this largely out-of-fashion game, also referred to by the nickname “Barnyard Golf”. I’m hopeful for the sake of this landmark alone that there is a burgeoning horseshoe following. The Golden Gate Horseshoe Club website reveals that this court is used for periodic special annual events, but most likely not regular weekly or even monthly use. Since there is a well kept, grassy horseshoe court down near Stern Grove, it doesn’t appear the city can fill up and upkeep more than one court, with its largely aging fan-base.

Aerial MapNot surprisingly, I discovered online that a skate park had been proposed for this area, a perfect usage of the space, in my mind. But, apparently the poor site lines, thanks to surrounding hills and trees, were deemed less than ideal, since it would be inhabited largely by youth. That park has instead been (or will be) built at an Upper Haight, Waller Street site.

The book “San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: A Thousand and Seventeen Acres of Stories” by Chris Pollack & Erica Katz helped the big picture of this locale’s history come together. The courts construction was in 1926 (later than the National Register record above), and the GGHC tended the courts. Previously it was a rock quarry, from which San Francisco streets were built.

The Horseshoe PitcherThe two concrete bas-reliefs, created on the face of the largest rock formations, include the horse, but also “The Horseshoe Pitcher”, a sculpture by Jesse S. “Vet” Anderson, who was a member of the GGHC, and a cartoonist and caricaturist for the Detroit Free Press.

“The sculptures had been overgrown and long forgotten but were revealed in 1968 by Youth Corps volunteers…The hill above the courts rises 384 feet above sea level to what was once a 100,000-gallon water reservoir that doubled as an aquatic garden for irrigating the Panhandle and nearby park areas. This hill has been known by many names: Mt. Lick, Plateau Hill, and Reservoir Hill.

The site was further developed, in 1934, as a Depression-era Works Progress Administration venture; hand-hewn stonework was laid to define the court area. The work included a raised gallery for spectators and a star lined with large red rustic boulders from Conservatory Drive East.”

Hmmm, a game of Barnyard Golf anyone?! I’ll leave the GG Park lovemaking to you and yours!