Friday, August 22, 2008


Usually I leave work at 2:00, because I arrive so early in the morning, and that means that my typical San Francisco commute back and forth between the Mission and the library where I work (over near Golden Gate Park) is serene and uncrowded and usually in charge of bus drivers I have long known in quiet friendliness. Today I worked late and then the 33 was late, and I waited forever on Fulton (between Stanyan and Arguello). Friday afternoons are not MUNI's typically shining hours. But I did not really mind, diverting myself by stealing photos of some of the other victims of public transportation.

Two Fulton Street row houses, one flat up and one flat down in each.

Indescribable. Because I hate each individual element, yet am in awe of the whole.

First saw this mansion in 1970, the summer I arrived in San Francisco. It was famous then as the headquarters of Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane. It seems to be forgotten now.

Time-worn architectural folly at one of the Fulton Street entrances to Golden Gate Park. Maybe 1915? Part of an ornamental gateway where Arguello enters the park. These days it is faded and no longer quite level. One of the urns recently went missing, crow-barred off its plinth (probably by somebody whose honesty was simply overwhelmed by those marvelous ram's-head handles). When the bus finally pulled up, it was already packed to the gills.

There was a certain wish to escape through the roof opening of the bus, but instead I concentrated on my headphones. They were delivering Lorraine at Emmanuel, by the late and dearly mourned Lorraine Hunt Lieberson from the 1990s in her glorious prime in live recordings from the archives of Emmanuel Music, Boston. Bach cantatas, and Dejanira's mezzo arias from Handel's Hercules. Conducted by Craig Smith. He is dead too. I hate to admit there is a ghoulish pleasure in obsessively listening to this music performed by these intensely alive musicians who are all the same recently dead. Another thing I hate to admit, fan that I am of Anne Sofie von Otter, but von Otter's Dejanira sounds both pale and forced, heard against Hunt Lieberson's.