San Francisco. If it's a city and a citizenry obsessed with remaining
the same, why does it change constantly and so fast?
Quicker than I could wonder whether the renovation of Stern Grove
was on track and which performers would christen its new stage this
summer, the festival announced its 2005 schedule. The 68th annual
Stern Grove concert series, the first on its $15 million Lawrence
Halprin landscape, opens June 19 with country rock star Lucinda Williams.
More spare change: I won't shed a single tear for the Roxie. One of
the city's last independent movie houses, the Roxie is up for sale.
Most observers will simplistically blame the theatre's struggles on
competition from multiplexes and a dearth of parking in the Roxie's
Mission District neighborhood. However, critical thinkers might be
inclined to cop to the fact that the Roxie is the city's most uncomfortable,
unpleasant venue from which to enjoy a film.
San Franciscophiles will note that seats from the Roxie once graced
the Surf Theatre, a bygone movie house that was located at 4501 Irving
Street. Woody Allen shot scenes from "Play it Again, Sam" at the Surf
John Frank, a San Franciscan who loves cold treats, is delighted that
the Polly Ann ice cream shop in the Sunset is alive and well after
surviving a recent threat of its own. The Polly Ann, a fixture neighborhood
for more than 50 years, was threatened when developers decided to
rebuild the corner of 39th and Noriega. Now, says Frank, the shop
is back, "bigger and better than ever. With an expanded location a
few yards from it's original site. Polly Ann reopened on February
27, 2005 and continues to serve outstanding ice cream and other goodies."
Frank reports, "Polly Ann has maintained their policy of free mini
ice cream cones for toddlers as well as for all dogs accompanied by
a human being. On May 8th, in honor of Mother's Day, all mothers will
be entitled to a free ice cream cone. Owner Charlie Wu and family
continue to create new and exciting flavors at their factory in South
San Francisco and a visit to this San Francisco institution is a must."
I second that emotion!
Now that the new federal building at 7th Mission looks completely
skeletal, watch for a quick finish to turn this construction site
into the latest addition to the southern skyline. You know this phenomenon
if you have ever seen a real live building appear in your neighborhood
seemingly overnight after months of construction.
It's too bad the same thing can't be said for the new eastern span
of the Bay Bridge, which may be San Francisco's most notorious story
ever - forget Black Bart and Patty Hearst.
I caught up with Tom Sinkovic at Tommy's Joynt just days before his
documentary of the bridge folly aired on KRON. It was clear then,
as the welding scandal was breaking, that the multi-billion dollar
mishandling of the project would be an outrageous story, and it was.
But again, with Mr. and Ms. Bay Area busy making a living and pursuing
their pleasure-filled lives, there doesn't seem to be too much time
left over for outrage.
This just in - Emporer Norton, whose name was raised as a possible
moniker for the new span, wrote me via Hotmail, presumable in care
of a concerned citizen. At any rate, Norton wants nothing to do with
the bridge debacle.
The greatest pleasure that comes from writing about San Francisco
is in meeting the men and woman who embody the spirit of our City.
I close this week with a fond farewell to Betty Coriarty, whose love
of life and can-do spirit made her a true Ms. San Francisco. Betty
passed away unexpectedly on April 16.
As a single mom in 1945, Betty became the City's very first female
truck driver. As she made her way across 50 miles of the City per
day driving for Railway Express, the beautiful lady truck driver was
a charming curiosity on the streets of San Francisco. One newspaper
wrote a feature titled, "Pert Blonde Drives Truck," that celebrated
Betty after 14 years of service. Herb Caen called her "whistle-bait."
A multiple National Safety Award winner, Betty advised San Francisco
drivers to, "Think of what you're doing then do it. Indecision causes
half the accidents." After more than 20 years, Betty left the truck
but not the road. She became a traffic control officer.
I was honored to meet Betty and to reintroduce her to city readers
in this space during her latest experiment with retirement. Betty
said someone once told her to take her parking ticket and stick it
where the sun doesn't shine. Betty told the driver she couldn't -
there were already three there. "If I could use a sense of humor when
I tagged someone, they actually wouldn't mind getting tagged." So
long and ciao to a very cool lady.
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