Posts Tagged ‘CA 1’

Weekend Cat Blogging with Luna: Fun with Highway Signs

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My eccentric long-standing fascination with numbered highways has long been reflected on this site. Here we see Luna contemplating a couple of our most recent sign acquisitions.

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So what exactly do we do with these? Well, besides just the human tendency to collect things of interest, I have used signs in artwork, photography, video and I am now expanding into more modes of live performance. Mostly, dealers advertise these as “perfect for your man cave”, something which does not interest us at CatSynth in any way. For Luna, they are just more strange objects that pass through her territory. And great neck scratchers.

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Fun with Highways: The Golden Gate Bridge at 75

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Today we at CatSynth and countless others celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The tallest suspension bridge in the United States, the second longest, and painted in International Orange, it is instantly recognizable. In a sense, the Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s “Empire State Building”. Both are iconic architectural centerpieces that represent their respective cities, and both date back to the 1930s and feature the distinctive Art Deco elements of the era. Both are often present in the background during everyday life of the cities. And (at least for me), they are also places rarely visited except when hosting out-of-town visitors.

But the Golden Gate Bridge is an important practical part of the city. It is a busy transportation carrying US 101 and California Highway 1 north from San Francisco into Marin County and points beyond on the north coast. It is very unusual for a modern roadway in that the opposing lanes are separated only by short poles that are moved to adjust the number of lanes in each direction. It seems a bit quaint, in fact. On the city side, the highway split into a boulevard carrying CA 1 south and Doyle Drive (US 101) until this past month when the latter was demolished. From these points, travelers are dispersed onto the city streets of San Francisco. There is no easy highway or rail connection between my part of the city (near the Bay Bridge) and the Golden Gate Bridge, owing to the city’s hilly geography and quirky political history. As such, I find myself not near the bridge very often except when I need to be. But when I am nearby it is worth stopping to take notice.

This is what we most often see when we look at the bridge, the orange structure partially shrouded or occasionally completely enveloped by another of our famous landmarks, the San Francisco fog. But the interplay of the fog, the bridge structure, and the other natural and human elements of landscape can make for interesting compositions.

With the anniversary upon us, much attention is being paid to the history of the bridge, its engineering as well as the politics and economics surrounding its construction. For me, the most interesting part of the history is the work of Charles Ellis, a senior structural engineer and mathematician. In many ways (including his early academic credentials), he was more mathematician than engineer, and did much of the theoretical work on the design of the bridge with large amounts of detailed mathematics, along the way publishing highly cited works such as “Williot Equations for Statically Indeterminate Structures” in Transactions, American Society of Civil Engineers, 1935. Indeed, he is now recognized as a principal designer of the bridge, but at the time he was not given any credit after being fired by Joseph Strauss, chief engineer of the bridge project. He was only officially given credit in 2007 (as described in this San Francisco Chronicle article).

This film from the time chronicles the building of the bridge, but also exemplifies the mythology that Strauss created around himself.

Nonetheless, the bridge itself opened to huge fanfare, as seen in this Prelinger Archives film:

Another copy of this video can be found here.

The festivities for this year’s 75th anniversary began about a month ago with the demolition of Doyle Drive, the elevated highway connecting to the bridge.


[Photo by toyzrus8 on flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

The old highway had elements such as metallic beams in the International Orange color that connected it to the bridge, and it definitely looked to be of the same vintage. It is being replaced by the new Presidio Parkway that will more gracefully connect to the surrounding parkland but also contain the iconic orange color and architectural elements to connect it to the bridge.

Today’s festivities include a planned fireworks display at the bridge. Perhaps most notably there is an ongoing art exhibit at Fort Point called International Orange in which several prominent artists present works inspired by the bridge. I am hoping to see this exhibit soon (perhaps on a quieter day when I can observe the pieces in detail). I did see a preview recently at one of last weekend’s art fairs where Anandamayi Arnold wore one of her dresses for the exhibit, appropriately colored in International Orange. I am also inspired by the concept of this project and the mathematical work of Ellis described above to try my own hand at a creative piece in honor of this occasion.

Please join us in wishing the Golden Gate Bridge a happy 75th Anniversary!

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Weekend Cat Blogging and Photo Hunt: One

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Today’s combined Weekend Cat Blogging and Photo Hunt features the theme of ONE.

Of course, there is only one Luna. No one can dispute that.  And this particular pose features one paw sticking out.

We also veer away from cats and into the realm of highways with California Highway 1. This view from Pescadero (between San Francisco and Santa Cruz) is a quintessential image of our coastal highway.

This one is further north, crossing over a harbor in Fort Bragg, in Mendocino County.

Although thought am sure I have lots of images of Highway 1, they have become rather hard to keep track of in the ever increasing library.   (It’s hard to keep track of all the Luna photos as well, for that matter.)  Tagging and naming files does help, but I would like to use image similarity search as well. Does anyone have any suggestions for this?


Weekend Cat Blogging #323 is hosted by Samantha and Clementine at Life from a Cat’s Perspective

The Photo Hunt #278 is hosted by tnchick. This week’s theme is one.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by Nikita and Elvira at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

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Wordless Wednesday: Pescadero Revisited

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Wordless Wednesday: Looking back to summer

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Bay Area travel madness

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Living in Santa Cruz can be a challenge at times. One of the major challenges is getting to and from places in the Bay Area, where most of my musical, job-search, and social activities located.

For San Francisco trips, one takes Highways 17, 85 and 280 (or 101 as suggested below) into the city:

If I am not in a rush, highway 1 along the coast is always a rewarding experience.

For the east bay (Berkeley, Oakland, etc.), one instead follows highway 17, which becomes I-880, along the east side of the bay:

The trick is avoid the bridges. Sometimes this is unavoidable, and one ends up making a “grand circuit” to and from Santa Cruz around the bay.

The trip is about 70 miles each direction (slightly longer on the east bay side), and about 90 minutes unless one hits bad traffic. Really, it's not so bad, and I have been doing trips like this for years for music and art events, or to see friends, family, and such.

But when it becomes several times a week, and nearing every day, it starts to wear on you. Almost all of my job interviews are in the bay area. Then there is the upcoming performance schedule, back-to-back shows in SF and Oakland followed by the tour.

And this weekend will top them all:

Saturday. Rehearsal for Polly Moller and Company. Then br'er performs in San Francisco that night. It's quite a coincidence that br'er is touring the west coast right now, just as I am about to go on tour. Indeed we will also be crossing paths again in Seattle when we both play on October 20th.

Sunday. Rehearsal again. Then the :plug3: headphone festival in San Francisco. I have a solo set at 7:30PM.

Monday. The tour's kickoff show at 1510 8th Street in Oakland. I have a solo set in addition to our group show.

Tuesday. I need to stay overnight so that…

Wednesday. We leave on tour from SF and Oakland bright and early.

This is out of control. Not because of the activities themselves, which are manageable, but the fact that it is far from CatSynth HQ every day. I have options to stay overnight to make things easier (and will likely do so some of the nights), but that means being away from home, away from everything that needs to be done here, away from Luna (which also means setting up more cat sitting arrangements).

Living in Santa Cruz is becoming one huge liability. It was fine when I was working every day here and going up to the city once a week or so, but now my life and all the action in it seems to be back in the bay area. How long can I keep this up?

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Highway 1: South Monterey Bay

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One of the happier aspects of my increased leisure time is getting to take more trips, some close to home, some further afield. Last Thursday I found myself not to far from home, traveling one of my favorite stretches of highway along the southern edge of the Monterey Bay.

Highway 1 becomes a freeway (as it does in many small stretches), between Castroville and the area south of Monterey. I don't think this section has a name, but I think one appropriate name would be the Castroville-Monterey Freeway. And while there are many more spectacular places along Highway 1, this was one of the first drives I did on the coast, and it is also unique for being a “freeway on the beach”, with sand dunes on either side. Signs of the yellow-diamond variety warn motorists of “drifting sands.” This is most noticeable in the towns of Seaside and Sand City, just north of Monterey.

This photo is from AARoads, one of many great sites we at CatSynth turn to for information and fun on highways.

Also from AARoads, one of the major exits along the beach and dunes in Seaside:


Photo by Pete Sison

I would take my own photos, but stopping along the freeway is prohibited, and doubly so if you look to an over-eager CHP officer like you're photographing highway overpasses for the next terrorist attack, and that if he catches a “suspicious middle-eastern-looking guy” he might get a promotion, or even a medal from W. It's just another sad statement of our times. But we're happy to have resources like the folks at AARoads who publish great photos like these.

Looking from above, one can see the freeway, and some surrounding development, is indeed right on the beach (click the map to enlarge). This includes not only the highway and some resort hotels, but also a huge shopping center, an “auto row” of car dealerships, and indeed much of the commercial development for the town of Seaside. It turns out Seaside is actually larger than Monterey, something I only found out about a year or so ago, and has a lot of the commercial development in the area not directly related to tourism.

More perpexing in some ways is the aptly name town of Sand City. It is an incorporated city, but has a population of under 300. I could never quite figure out what it was about, i.e, why it was a separate town. It's main feature as seen from Highway 1 is a huge shopping center, which I have generally avoid. Sand City's boosters suggest that it is a small but very hip oasis with artists in old industrial buildings, like one might find in trendy sections of New York or San Francisco.

The southern Monterey Bay seems to have had its share of nasty development, despite its current reputation as a resort- and environmentally-conscious area. In addition to Seaside, there were major military installations in the area, and of course the early-20th-century industries in Monterey made famous by John Steinbeck. The area is still recoving in some ways from those scars. One place that seems to be a successful recover project is the Marina Sand Dunes, slightly north in town of Marina. I often stop here on trips when I have some extra time; the sand dunes are quite different from the rest of the mostly-rocky coastline:


click to enlarge

Yes, those sand dunes are actually on the coast. One just was to walk over a small rise for a spectacular view of the dunes and the bay:


click to enlarge

If you look really hard, you might be able to see CatSynth HQ beneath one of those hills across the bay.

Indeed, the area now seems to focus publicly on its coastline and the bay, with the center of gravity moving to institutions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, itself on the site of a former factory/cannery. This makes for an interesting mixture of retro-industrial architecture and sea life, both of which rely on simple structures and geometry, and thus great for photography.

Of course, the main attraction at the aquarium as well as area wildlife preserves are the otters. No one can resist otters. No one.

But otters are more than just cute and furry. They're also very informative and entertaining.

Janis Chaffin in MBA's Basta Basura is seen here as Ollie Otter and Freddie Fishie. I believe Basta Basura will be ending its run at the aquarium soon, but I hear they will be available for bar mitzvahs and weddings starting in September.

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Wordless Wednesday: Pescadero Creek (Highway 1)

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San Francisco May 13 Part 1: Highways, Mothers Day, Music and Art

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I definitely needed to get out of town today. A change of scenery and activity was in order, plus Santa Cruz becomes a complete tourist trap on sunny weekends like this. So north to the city we rode…Of course, before leaving, I called my mom in New York, and got the change to wish both her and my grandmother a Happy Mothers Day. I hope you all had an opportunity to do the same.

Our main routes into San Francisco are highways 1 and 280, which together form the Junipero Serra Freeway upon entry into the city. This is an amazingly scenic freeway, traversing the largely undeveloped valleys along the San Andreas fault south of San Francisco. 280 splits off to the right to become the Southern Freeway, as illustrated in the map below (pay no attention to the “official” names that no one actually uses).

Usually we take the 280/Southern Freeway route, which crosses highway 101 and empties out in downtown. This time, we stuck with highway 1, which continues north as the Junipero Serra for a few meters before becoming 19th Avenue in the Sunset distrcit. Big mistake. We got stuck in traffic all the way to Golden Gate park. Interestingly, the highway 1 freeway was originally supposed to continue all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The stub of the highway 1 freeway and US 101 / Golden Gate Freeway (Doyle Drive) does in fact exist, but is disconnected from the highways in the south of the city:

But they have nothing to do with today’s story. Instead we left highway 1 at Golden Gate Park and headed to the Haight district, home of the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood of 1960s fame, and more recently of Amoeba Music, San Francisco. Amoeba is one of the best brick-and-mortar music retailers left, at least here in California, and they do carry and extensive experimental-music selection. I was there to make sure that my CD Aquatic was part of it. Such is the life of the independent recording musician, I have to physically bring my CD to the stores and get them to take a copy or two. Amboeba did accept it, though there terms are, well, the are what they are.

We also paid a visit to Streetlight Records in the Castro district. I have sold a few CDs at Streetlight Records in Santa Cruz, so why not in San Francisco as well? They took a couple of CDs on the same consignment terms as the Santa Cruz store, which unfortunately reminds me I need to check in with the local shop and see how things are going. While in general these things work out OK, it is the sort of chore that makes me think about signing up with a small indie a label (or a small indie label bigger than my own). Of course, that has its drawbacks as well, not the least of which is being able to do things like the current CD benefit for TeaCup’s family.

In addition to trying to peddle my own music, I always take the opportunity in SF to see other people’s art. Galleries are mostly closed on Sunday, but I did have a few exhibitions I wanted to see at the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art[/url]. The two main exhibitions were a juxtaposition of works by Pablo Picasso with those of American artists inspired by his work – I had actually seen this exhibition in New York last year – and a retrospective of American artist Brice Marden (who is still very much alive). My critiques the exhibitions there deserve a separate article, which I will probably post tomorrow. The other galleries will probably have to wait until June for another visit…


Again, we usually exit the city at the Sixth Street terminus of 280, but because we were coming from Streetlight in the Castro, we ended up using the 101 / Central Freeway ramp at Market Street and Octavia Blvd. This stub of a freeway used to continue north of Market as the Central Freeway until Oak and Fell Streets heading towards Golden Gate Park. Indeed, all the freeways, except for I-80 to the Bay Bridge all seem to empty out onto city streets.

The tiny bit that remains of the Central Freeway (the section north of Market was recently demolished and converted into Octavia Blvd, see this article at SFGate) was originally designed to connect up to the Golden Gate Freeway (also highway 101) shown in a previous illustration. This, along with the highway 1 freeway (Juniperro Serra extension / Park Presidio Freeway) and the now defunct highway 480 (Embarcadero Freeway) were all supposed to connect to the Golden Gate bridge, but all were cancelled in the 1950s/1960s due to opposition. You can see some of the early plans for San Francisco’s freeway system at California Highways and kurumi. At least one connection between the south, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate would have been good, but there really isn’t any way to do that without a nasty tearing apart of neighborhoods along the lines of the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York (one of the freeways in the previously blogged Bruckner Interchange, it just keeps coming back). To bring things back to Mothers Day, my mother grew up in one of the neighborhoods in the central Bronx that was rent asunder by the construction of the Cross Bronx.

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