Sunday, November 6, 2011

Monumental Acorns

Early Sunday morning I was crossing Market Street where it intersects with Dolores. There is a big old-fashioned heroic monument located there since 1898 with the intention of valorizing the disgraceful U.S. land-grab known as the Spanish American War. I took photos of the whole florid thing a couple of years ago and made lots of suitably sarcastic comments at that time, so I won't say any more here about the politics behind this relic, now marooned on a traffic island and largely ignored. What struck me today was the unexpected angle of the unexpected sunlight (after numerous experts confidently declared it would be raining here this morning) falling across the carved granite base, ornamented according to the taste of the 1890s with oaken garlands, ribbon swags and wheat sheafs. It suddenly seemed endearing, this clumsy imitation of the ancient Roman decorative vocabulary, filtered through art nouveau. And I wondered about the nameless and long-dead San Francisco stone-cutter.