One of the most enjoyable things about visiting a major city is seeing places that were in the news or that you remember from the movies or television. Thursday, Oct. 14 we had a three-hour tour of the city in a hybrid kind of vehicle that was a replica of a cable car, right down to the open sides and enclosed cabin in the middle, but it was actually a small bus. The tour was fantastic. Drove past Fisherman’s Wharf, which I will re-visit on Saturday, OJ Simpson’s high school, and then our tour guide pointed up a steep hill.
That hill, he said, was the one used in all the old television advertisements for Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat! Maybe you remember them with the old song. And because our timing was just right, a cable car was coming down the hill!
We stopped at Lincoln Park to admire the view across the strait to the Marin Headlands. It’s a lovely site, featuring a moving Holocaust memorial. The park is also home to the California Legion of Honor, a fine arts museum. Outside the museum is a lovely reflecting pool. And someone had chosen the pool as a good place to leave a bottle of water. Why so people give themselves permission to do this, I ask myself, when bins are so close.
The tour continued and we wound our way through Haight and eventually came to the famous intersection of Ashbury. There’s a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream store on the corner, with a slogan that stands as a tribute to the summer of love.
In the 1960s, this was the most famous intersection in the world as young people came from all over North America, in their beads, bell bottoms, floppy hats, sandals and tie-dyed clothes to smoke dope, drop acid, and enjoy the sounds of Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. There’s a few remnants of those days left, along Haight, pipe shops and the distinctive graffiti of the hippie culture, but the days are long gone. The Woodstock generation’s getting old. I know, because I am one of them.
In the evening I attended the opening ceremony of Bouchercon and was hugely impressed by a brilliant film montage depicting San Francisco in the movies. Then I went to the St. Martin’s party at Pier 1 1/2 where I had a chat with Louise Penny, a fellow Minotaur author. Her success has been jaw-dropping but she remains so gracious and affectionate.