Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Literary San Francisco

San Francisco has long been considered a literate city. I have seen articles that say that San Franciscans read far more than the average American.

Authors started venturing here shortly after the Gold Rush. Mark Twain -- still using his given name of Samuel Clemens -- was a young journalist in San Francisco and Nevada. Brett Harte also made his name during the Gold Rush. Twentieth century luminaries include Frank Norris, Jack London (born in San Francisco, but raised in Oakland), Jack Kerouac, Amy Tan, and Dave Eggers.

My favorite bookstore in the City has long been
Green Apple Books at 506 Clement Street. Green Apple has a large selection of new and used books. I regularly take my old books to them for trade; enabling me to buy more books without laying out any cash.

City Lights Bookstore is 53 years and continues to thrive in North Beach at 261 Columbus Avenue. The nation's first paperback bookstore, City Lights gained fame as home to the Beat Generation or Beatniks. (The latter term was coined by longtime San Francisco journalist, Herb Caen.) Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and co-founder of City Lights, welcomed Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and other Beats to his new bookstore in the 1950s. 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of City Lights' publication of Allen Ginsberg's poem, "Howl." San Francisco police and US Customs found the book to be obscene and arrested Ferlinghetti. In a surprise verdict, the court found the poem had "redeeming social significance," a ruling that helped end book censorship in the United States.

A newcomer to San Francisco is Berkeley's
Cody's Books. Long a fixture on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, this year marks Cody's 50th anniversary. Late last year, Cody's opened its third store at 2 Stockton Street in San Francisco. (Cody's also has a branch on Berkeley's Fourth Street.) Cody's is known for its large selection spanning most genres.

While visiting San Francisco, take some time to visit these and other bookstores that have contributed to our literary tradition for so long.
Come on a private tour of San Francisco and I'll tell you about the real Tom Sawyer. To book your tour, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Rains

As you have undoubtedly read, or experienced if you live in the Bay Area, we've been getting buckets of rain. While there was significant damage in the city of Napa and in San Anselmo in Marin County, San Francisco was pretty much unscathed. Heavy rain is normal for this time of year, but there are also many warm sunny days between the storms, such as yesterday. The clearest days of the year are often during the winter. Often you can see the Farallon Islands, which lie 30 miles off the cost, on a clear, winter day.

I did a few tours during the rains and my guests were able to enjoy many of San Francisco's wonderful sights in the dry comfort of Blue Heron's van. Coit Tower still provided one of the great views of San Francisco Bay. Old Fort Point, below the Golden Gate Bridge, is always a great vista point; however, on foggy or cloudy days it frequently provides the best view of the Golden Gate and the Bridge. I took one couple to see the beautiful murals on Balmy Alley in the Mission District. Rather than walking the block, we stayed dry and slowly drove this block-long treasure. Don't let the rains stop you, with Blue Heron you can stay dry and see the sights.

If you are traveling on your own, San Francisco's many museums are great activities on rainy days. In addition to the major museums -- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, De Young museum, Legion of Honor, and Asian Art museum, there are great small museums. I highlighted some of these small museums, along with other rainy day activities, in the December 2003 "Rick's Tips." The Museums of African Diaspora and Craft and Folk Art, which I discussed in my last post, are also good places to visit on rainy, and sunny, days.

If you would like to take a private San Francisco tour, please call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here.