Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Lands

Recently The Bureau has been more of a photo blog and less of a movie review blog. I predict it will soon lurch back toward reviews but in the mean time, more photos.

In San Francisco, in the last couple of decades, a new neighborhood has been created out of an emptied industrial landscape that stretches along the shore of the Bay south of King Street. It’s called Mission Bay/South Beach. Its two most notable landmarks are the Giant’s baseball stadium and a new campus for UCSF (the medical school for the UC system). We recently walked around the area.

A Richard Serra sculpture on the UCSF campus.

A relic from when this was a thriving shipping and industrial area.

The UCSF Recreation Center where Madame Le Chef takes swimimg classes.

Where Mission Creek emerges from under the city streets and flows into the Bay.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


For those who miss Autumn back East, I include two pictures from earlier this week. The first is from Richmond, VA and the second is from Monticello, outside of Charlottesville VA.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Location, Location

When I first moved to San Francisco, I was totally absorbed in suddenly being in feature films. I went from Bernal Heights to North Beach, were the film I was working on was being edited and edited and edited, and back again. It took years before I began to know other neighborhoods of the city. I noticed that there were no cemeteries, with the exception of the military one in the Presidio and the tiny graveyard next to Mission Dolores. I found out that the cemeteries were all in Colma, a small town south of San Francisco where the dead outnumber the living by a factor of thousands to one.

Only when I started to read about San Francisco’s history did it occur to me to wonder if the city fathers had banned cemeteries in the city from the very beginning (which would make them the most foresighted bunch in the history of humans) or just what happened.

Like every other developing city in 19th century America, San Francisco had cemeteries very early on and, inevitably, they had to be moved as the city expanded. San Francisco had an additional problem in that the amount of real estate was limited by the fact that it is bounded by water on three sides. Finally, in the early 20th century, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance forbidding burials in San Francisco. Then, in the 1930s and the early 1940s, the residents of all the cemeteries in the city (with the exception of the two mentioned) were evicted, hauled in trucks to Colma, and re-interred.

If the dead person’s descendants could be found and if the family had the money (this was the Depression) a plot and a headstone could be purchased. Otherwise, the migratory dead were buried en masse. I was reminded of this recently when I went on a tour of Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery. In addition to the graves and family vaults of various notables, including Joltin’ Joe Di Maggio, there was a large plot of grass adorned with a single modest monument to the 39,000 dead who had made the trip to this hillside in Colma.