It takes a certain kind of brass to mount an art show on the cliffs above the Golden Gate, a view so staggering no mere art work can compete. But ‘Homeland Security’, currently running until December 18 in former missile batteries at the Presidio’s Fort Scott, has other things on its agenda – urgent, powerful political art like a model mosque made out of gun shell casings, a regal robe of thousands of soldiers’ dog tags and the always stunning Liza Lou, here with beaded chainlink fencing and golden jail bars. It is also a reminder to thank the US Army not just for defending our country but for saving the Presidio from condos.
Here’s a solution to the ever maddening hassle of driving to the City’s cultural events. Stay in your hometown. I’m delighted to see that rustic little Mill Valley for example has its very own symphony. On November 4th,5th and 6th the ambitious Mill Valley Philharmonic in collaboration with the Throckmorton Chrous will be performing works by Leonard Bernstein and Ralph Vaughn Williams. Ticket prices are considerably more reasonable than Davies. They’re free.
Halloween is the quintessential Bay Area holiday and not at all limited to kids threatening you for candy. You probably already know the blocks where creative neighbors go overboard decorating their homes. You are unfazed seeing your local bank tellers dressed as The Walking Dead. A couple of interesting events to add to the mix are the Skeletonfest at the Richmond Art Center from 12 to 3 on Saturday the 23rd where you (and your grandkids) can create masks and movable skeletons, decorate sugar skulls and silk screen skeleton t-shirts. Down south the Museum of Monterey is holding a surreal costumed Salvador Dali Feast on October 28 with fire dancers, aerialists and more. Tickets start at $10
Break your vow never to go back to Fisherman’s Wharf. The armies of tourists have thinned out and the weekend’s Wharf Fest has a very tempting Clam Chowder competition. It happens on Saturday from noon to 3. Ten major seafood restaurants will be battling to be anointed Best. You can do your own taste testing though the winners will be decided by serious chefs and local politicos. The Wharf Fest, which includes a Segway obstacle course and climbing walls, is free. Tickets for the Chowder are $15 ($20 at the door).
Take out your frustrations with our maddening traffic and push your foot down hard on the accelerator at the Sonoma Raceway Racing School. On California’s longest track you can drive your own car learning safety and professional driving techniques, test out F-3 racing machines, even take a spin at Go Karting. Prices start at $495.
Despite its slightly salacious sounding name Farmcation up in Sebastapol is an innocently omnivorous site for field-to-mouth foodies excited by tours of meadows and vegetable patches with lunches, dinners, classes in cheese making, canning and cooking. Their upcoming lunch and pumpkin-pie-from-scratch class is unfortunately sold out but keep an eye out for their future curated agro experiences. If you’re looking for an unimpeachable recipe for pumpkin pie you can’t do better the baking queen herself, Maida Heatter.
Scathing critic Diane Johnson calls California regional writing the “Canada of American literature” but every year the Litquake Festival here does its best to prove her wrong. The current celebration of authors is now underway in the City running through this weekend. Events take place around town with dozens of lectures, readings, discussions and awards and ticket prices around $10.
God knows what Ken Kesey would have thought of the Magic Bus, the tour company that travels cross town backwards through the City’s history, reliving the glory days of the Haight, the Fillmore, North Beach and around town while folk rock wafts through the bus’ speakers. Tours take around 2.5 hours. $60. If you’re feeling the blissed out tug of nostalgia you might want to check for tickets to Donovan’s Sunshine Superman Tour playing tonight (Thursday) at the Regency.
Who would have thought that with all the Ubers, cyclists and motorists filling City streets there would be any space for a dance festival? But that is exactly what is happening this Saturday and Sunday at the San Francisco Trolley Dances. For a $1 senior Muni pass hop on and off buses to see a free modern dance festival with some of the most adventurous troupes in town kicking up their heels. The 8 tours start at 10am at the Eureka Valley Branch Library and last a couple of hours. Tickets are first come, first serve and go fast.