Sunday, August 19, 2012

Playing Catch Up

A quick recap of the last couple of weeks:  a girls dinner when several husbands happened to be out of town at the same time was an opportunity to drink, talk, laugh and remember how much we like each other and how easy it is to enjoy the moment.

Which was good preparation for a bad moment a few days later when I managed, incredibly clumsily, to back into that fire hydrant sitting so innocently on the sidewalk in an area of Oakland that's becoming revitalized with little eating places, artist studios and the odd gallery or two.  The lunch was good but the chunk the hydrant took out of my bumper is taking a chunk out of my bank account.  Ouch.

A quick visit back in time at the 1968 Exhibit currently at the Oakland Museum brought those days back in a rush. 

That was quite a year, including within it the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, Apollo 8's lunar orbit, The Tet offensive and a terrible spike in casualties in the Vietnam War, the premiere of Laugh-In, the conviction of Dr. Spock for conspiracy to encourage draft violations, the capture of the USS Pueblo by North Korea, the Eugene McCarthy campaign for the Democratic primary and the Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago that pitted Mayor Daley's police against anti-war protesters.  And then there was Richard Nixon, whom (and I cannot believe I'm actually saying this) I would be happy to have back again, given what's happened to the Republican Party since then.  And that was only in the US. 

Walter Cronkite, America's "Uncle Walter" covered the moon launch and came back from a trip to Vietnam to tell the nation that despite official pronouncements the war was unwinnable and should be brought to an end.  That was the last time a war the US was involved in was covered freely by news media as far as I can recall.

Leaving the past behind, we spent a few days showing a visitor around.

I've lived in Berkeley more years than I care to remember and had never been to the top of the Campanile, which turns out to be the third tallest clock/bell tower in the world.  Who knew? 

There are something over 60 bells up there and we got out just before they started to play them.

 A wishing tree in the courtyard of The Jewish Museum, the Cindy Sherman exhibit at SFMoMa,

a four-hour whirlwind tour of the Palace of Fine Arts lagoon, the Legion of Honor, the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point, the "painted ladies" Victorian houses at Alamo Square,

and Coit Tower with its wonderful Depression era murals funded by the Public Works of Art Project, one of the New Deal's first public employment programs.

Not only do we not have anything like those programs today, but the auto ferry to Oakland is gone too.

A last gasp that afternoon took us to North Beach and Chinatown, 

where they offer culture the way I like it, not too heavy.

And so to bed.  Whew.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gaultier à San Francisco

We've been back in California for a month or so but hadn't gotten to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park until last weekend.  Fashion exhibitions seem to be proliferating in museums the last few years, apparently because they bring in the visitors and pay for less 'popular' shows.  Some are more interesting than others.

This one was pretty spectacular.  Gaultier's work plays with gender roles and images, sexual provocation, multi-ethnic inclusion and in-your-face assaults on societal expectations, all displayed here.

The 'truc' was the holographic projection of living, speaking, moving faces on the mannikins, creepy and wonderful at the same time.

There were times when one simply could not believe that there wasn't a living person somehow hidden in there, eyes moving to wink at you, lips muttering at you.  At the entry Gaultier himself was projected, speaking to the entering visitors, interrupting himself to say hello, seeming to notice people mocking his accent, all convincingly real.

It was nearly enough to take attention away from the equally spectacular clothes, some of which had signage noting the number of hours it had taken to produce, numbers in the multiple hundreds.

It's hard to imagine many people actually wearing most of these stunning clothes/costumes, but much of Gaultier's work is for film, video, music tours.  This is not your mother's couture.

All appearances to the contrary, Naomi Campbell is not naked in this shot.

She's wearing this.

The crowds were milling around, chatting, pointing, discussing; if the museum had served drinks it would have been a great cocktail party.  If you have a chance, see it before it closes on August 19.