Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sunday in San Francisco

After a tiring day of LOTS of walking, standing, shopping and dancing, I actually managed to get 8 hours of sleep. To you, that might not sound like much, but it’s a lot for me. I don’t have sleep problems; I have problems going to sleep at a reasonable hour.

That morning, my sister took me to a sweet little cafĂ© that I just don’t remember the name of. It was right across the street from a park on one side and The Creamery on the other. After a lovely breakfast of veggie omelet and scone (yes, there seems to be a scone thing in San Francisco) we walked on down to Valencia Street, where it’s all happenin’ in The Mission District.

Our first stop was Paxton Gate. What else can I say about this shop was that it was magnificent, and difficult to describe. Their store description reads: “Treasures and Oddities Inspired by the Garden and the Natural Sciences”. Their postcard also quotes TimeOut Guide: “Martha Stewart meets David Lynch…It’s completely bizarre, and completely unique.” Yah, I’d say so.
Walking into this store was like walking into a classic, 18th century science laboratory slash natural science art gallery of assemblage. Throughout the store are both small and large assemblages of taxidermied and preserved animals (yah, real animals) within a natural vignette. Some are in jars (not so natural…). Can you see the big glass jars behind my sister with the bright red, drippy wax? It’s creepy and beautiful all at once. Wouldn't you love to own that beautiful red bell jar and stand?
I was not allowed to take any photographs of the assemblages, but the store manager was gracious enough to allow me to take some very limited photos around the store, and I am so pleased to share them with you. All the sea creatures you see in the photo above are the real deal, perfectly preserved. The most interesting were the preserved ocean tube plants (the white tube things near the front of the photo).

This store was definitely the highlight of the day, and I can only implore anyone in the San Francisco area to visit and stand in wonder. And, oh yah – buy something!
Yah, those are porcelain mushrooms popping out of these cool little tree boxes. Made of real small tree trunks, the tops of the boxes swing open to reveal a small space inside, perfect for hiding a little nest of eggs, or a texidermied beetle with a little moss.
Right next door is a nonprofit children’s center for underprivileged kids to have a place to go after school. The theme of the center is pirates! Right when you walk in, there’s a big copper tub full of sand and plastic rhinestones. Just perfect to keep the kids busy. I need one of those in my house.
Here is a whole wall of drawers. Each drawer is labeled with a “mysterious” label, enticing you to open it and see what’s inside. For example, one drawer labeled “Enlighten” is filled with candlestick holders. Here’s what was in another drawer. There is also a small covered corner that feels like a mini movie theatre, but it’s really a big fish tank with lots of chairs around to veg-out staring at the fish. There’s a sign just outside stating that no one is allowed to propose marriage within the theatre. In context, it’s funny, ok?

Thrift shops galore! I want these drawers, don’t you?!
Check out the naked babe painting to the left - guess that one snuck in the photo.

Michael de Meng talks about these glove molds in his recent book Secrets of Rusty Things. I can’t believe I saw these at one of the shops.
Another shop I LOVED is called The Curiosity Shoppe.
A true mish mash of lovely and artistic…things…and …stuff…that you just…can’t…live without!

Don’t you agree? Who doesn’t need some white porcelain keys?

or mushrooms?

Or realistic porcelain peanuts? (There is even a small porcelain peanut rattling inside each shell…so cool.
There is a small alley somewhere along Valencia Street, where apparently a group of artists got together to paint murals. In general, there are murals all over The Mission District, but these really got to me. Among the trash and logs of crap (yes, I mean poop) are these beautiful murals. Go there, just watch your step!

This was my favorite:
As my flight time approached, we made one last stop. No trip to the Mission District is complete without having a taco at one of the many taquerias. This one is sisters’ favorite:
Oh my! The chicken soft taco was unbelievably yummy and unbelievably cheap!


Julie said...

DUDE... where did you find all that cool stuff. Every time I go to San Francisco I only see the tourista stuff. Guide me Obi Wan.

peggy gatto said...

So... I need directions please!!!! Great photos.....wish I was there!!!

BloggingQueen said...


Why, oh why did I not get my husband to get a job in SF? What the hell is wrong with me? Excuse me -- what the hell is wrong with him?