Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Public Art

The bureau chief has been meaning to post this photo of an enormous mural on two abandoned grain silos down by the bay. This was taken from the top of Bernal Heights.

The impetus for finally posting was an excellent article in today's SF Chronicle by John King. It has lots of great photos from a much closer perspective.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mission Street

Everyone knows that Mission Street will go the way of Valencia Street and be gentrified, but at the moment there is plenty of photographer bait left.

We can start with some photographs. Please click.

Ropa usada.

This is art.

Yet more.

Philosophical advice.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Alexander Payne was born and bred in Omaha, Nebraska.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Alexander Payne's "The Descendants", which the bureau chief liked quite a bit, marked the first time that the director had merged his dark humor with some heart. He pulls that feat off again in "Nebraska." The two films offer some interesting contrasts of social class. The prize that concerns the King family in "The Descendants" is 25,000 acres of pristine family land in Kauai, the sale of which will make the family members very rich. The supposed "grand prize" of a million dollars in "Nebraska" is recognized by everyone who examines the document to be a magazine subscription come-on; everyone except for the aged and confused Woody Grant (Bruce Dern).

At the start of the film the old man is drunk and has set off to walk on the highway from Billings Montana to Lincoln Nebraska to get his grand prize. He's picked up by the police and his son David (Will Forte) gets him out of jail but when Woody sets off again, David decides he'll drive Woody to Lincoln. The film is the trip. It's a trip back in time since they stop in Woody's home town in Nebraska where a lot of Woody's family still live. An impromptu family reunion is organized. David's mother Kate (June Squibb) and his older brother Ross (Bob Odenkirk) come down from Billings to join them. Woody blurts out that he has won a million dollars and the extended family refuses to believe the immediate family's statement that that this isn't true. Old debts are suddenly remembered or created.

It's a exercise in deadpan dark humor but also has some moving moments. Some of them are created by Phedon Papamichael's black-and-white cinematography which finds amazing beauty in the enormous depopulated prairie landscape. Alexander Payne comes by his take on Midwesterners honestly since he was raised in Lincoln. The film has a satisfying ending and I recommend it.