Out of town for a bit. Plan to resume the Geezer on Oct.13.
Now that the coastal fog has (hopefully) lifted and the evenings have not gotten too wintry you might want to consider kayaking along our version of Scotland, the rugged Sonoma Coast located 20 miles from Guerneville where the Russian River makes a final dive into the Pacific. Sunset Kayaking Tours offers 5-hour two-person adventures plus a guide for $90. The gilded sunset alone is priceless.
The fall harvest spotlight moves on to pears in all their juicy California seasonal varieties. They don’t get the attention stone fruit does but at the Moraga Pear & Wine Festival on Sept 24 you witness a pear cooking contest, purchase homemade pear pies and hear live live music. Every August here in Moraga10,000 pears are harvested from a nearby orchard and donated to the County Food Bank. Up in Lake County the 24th annual Kelseyville Pear Festival includes a parade, a horse fair and singing cowboys this weekend. Then what are you going to do with all those pears you purchased? How about dense, sweet pear tarte tatin? Here’s the recipe.
For the dumbfounded readers who wouldn’t believe cremated human ashes could be transmuted into diamonds you are invited to check out proof at the SF Art Institute on Chesnut Street. Jill Magid’s “The Proposal” is a multi-media artwork detailing the legacy of the astonishing Mexican architect Luis Barragan and includes the 2-carat engagement ring created from his ashes. Runs through Dec.10 at the Walter and McBean Galleries. Free. Speaking of art, let me remind you of the most awesome upcoming exhibit, the Art Miami-Basel Fair at the San Mateo Event Center October 6-9. I am breaking my rule about not repeating events previously mentioned but this one has been annually amazing.
This weekend’s major regatta does not take place on the Bay but on tranquil Spreckel’s Lake at 36th Avenue and Fulton in glorious Golden Gate Park. It is the 10th bi-annual Wooden Boats on Parade. Dozens of meticulously crafted wooden model boats will be sailing from 9am to 4pm, including sail, power and remote controlled models. Free.
You thought diamonds took billions of years to be created from carbon-containing minerals. You are wrong. There are now labs that take cremation ashes and, under high pressure, turn them into actual, certified diamonds. So your kids can have mom in a pair of earrings and dad in cufflinks. Google this ghoulish jewelry if you don’t believe me.
Don’t buy me a fitbit for my birthday. I will never use it. I will never check my smartphone to see how many steps I walked this morning. The only time I will use my blood pressure device is when I feel woozy. I do not read the sides of packages for nutritional content, Thanks anyway but I do not have the time to spend my silver years measuring my life.
Age has its privileges. There are institutionalized benefits to getting older here in the world’s #1 superpower. I do appreciate my discounts on BART, at the movie box office and Supercuts, and, certainly, Medicare. But am I being gerontologically greedy if I request senior dental insurance, special deals for Warriors games, hearing aids for $500, passes for the freeway carpool lanes, free massages on my birthday, being allowed to cut to the front of lines especially at SFO?
To my unprofessional eyes it looks like Putin has had a facelift. Same with Larry Elllison. I get it. The unstoppable creasing, wrinkling, aging of our faces is scary. Every time I look in the mirror there’s a half a second pause to guess who I am. Slowly I am becoming as rugged as Gabby Hayes. What was I thinking lying all day on Stinson Beach in my distant youth? So I understand why Larry Ellison is fighting back. What I don’t understand is that lab he is funding to extend our lifetimes deep into three digits. No thanks. I am 100% sure that if I were ever to live to 100 I would end up looking like a sharpei.
If the only way you keep up with local news is local newscasts you might think we are living in the middle of a crime tsunami. Every night at 6 we get 15 minutes of car jackings, freeway shootouts & trigger-happy gang bangers. The truth is less alarming. From 2008 to 2014 new prison incarcerations in the Bay Area dropped 93%. And don’t let anyone tell you that the Mission is gentrified. I went strolling down the Street between 24th and16th the other afternoon and it was hellish- garbage everywhere, dirt encrusted guys sleeping on the sidewalk, screaming crazies, straight out of Dante.
This is getting ridiculous. By ’this’ I mean living in this coffee obsessed, Uber-addicted, yoga-dependent, arty, artisanal, data-driven, tuna-belly loving, rent ranting, traffic talking, creative cocktailing, clinically narcissistic, tastily tattooed town. Where is Tom Wolfe when we need him?
The fall semester has started and like I have every year of my Geezerhood, I go back to school, volunteer coaching classes in Berkeley Public Schools and this year in the Tenderloin. Teaching may be the best job on earth and this is the best version of it – enjoying middle schoolers thoroughly for a brief couple of hours a week.
I missed Burning Man again this year.
Berkeley alumni still nursing their nostalgia for the long-departed Cody’s bookstore might want to stop by Telegraph Ave to see its new incarnation. Now it is the Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media, which is long-hand for used books and LPs (including a whole section of German punk rock). But what makes a visit worth it are the array of droll sculptures by the wondrous Mark Bulwinkle. His work is instantly recognizable, wildly underground cartoonish and vaguely Mexican. Find his pieces all over the East Bay, including under the 80 Freeway at the Powell Street Exit and Emeryville’s Home Depot parking lot. A local treasure.
Salvador Dali is having the last laugh. Critics gave the surrealist credit mostly for being a master of publicity. But his work continues to draw crowds, witness the current exhibit at the former Monterey History Museum at the foot of Fisherman’s Wharf with over 500 pieces, including etchings and paintings. FYI the artist sat out World War II on the Monterey Peninsula, hanging with the boho nabobs on the 17 Mile Drive, thus the title of the exhibit, “Dali 17”. Seniors $16.
Is visiting wine tasting rooms getting a little old, a little crowded, a little touristy? May I suggest climbing aboard the Wine Carriage, a 5-hour, 5-mile adventure starting out at the Anderson Valley Vineyards (duck into their vast cave before you start) and trot off to tastings at Hanna and Soda Rock ( one of the most architecturally inventive wineries in Alexander Valley). A gourmet lunch is served along with rich details of wine country lore by your garrulous coachman. Price is (gulp) $200 per person. Free for lap children.
For jaded readers who have “been there, done that” and are looking for new adventures, consider checking out the tempting getgonetraveler.com site which offers short food tours around the Bay (and the world). Their menu of excursions includes a tasty visit to Strauss Family Creamery ($125), the fresh Flavors of West Marin ($195), a Distillery Tour and Tasting in Sebastopol ($20), a crawl through Mission Food & Drink($125) and an artisinal Chocolate Tour ($70). It’s a movable feast.