Over

Over

Wake me up when the holidays are over.


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Literati

Literati

Look, maybe he’ll get you a bowl with your name on it, too.

You know, like when you… oh, I don’t know…

learn how to read.


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Store Face

Store Face

No, that’s not a grocery-store face.

That’s definitely his Jameson-store face.

That bastard always gets that goofy grin whenever he goes in there.

Which begs the question:

Why didn’t he take us?


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Lay Bare

Lay Bare

everything on the big red

bush has fallen.

it is never enough to lay

things bare.


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Fat Blues

Fat Blues

Here’s a Fat Blue-Top, supplied by the Jones Street tank.

I didn’t get a Fat Black-Top. I will endeavor to do that next time.

And if you’re wondering what the hell this is about, here’s more about the San Francisco Fatties and the AWSS.


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Fat Reds

Fat Reds

In addition to the skinny, white hydrants which supply water from San Francisco’s main water system, there are also “the fatties.” These are supplied by The San Francisco Fire Department’s high-pressure Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS). The AWSS was created after the 1906 Earthquake and the great fire that followed and burned for three days, destroying much of the city. One of the reasons the fire was able to burn for so long was because the main water supply hydrants were unusable because the earthquake had caused many of the water lines to break.

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has a good article about the AWSS. Here’s an excerpt:

The solution was the design and construction of the Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS) for fire protection – a separate and distinct water supply system for fire protection use only – with the Fire Department solely responsible for its maintenance, operation and development. Adequate volume and pressure were the primary foundations of the many ideas which eventually evolved into the San Francisco AWSS. More water main pressure meant less dependency on the horse- drawn steam fire engines of the era.

The AWSS remains the only high-pressure network of its type in the United States, and was the only public project funded by the citizenry following the Great Earthquake of 1906. The system was developed with a $5.2 million bond issue approved by the people of San Francisco in 1908.

There are three main reservoirs supplying the AWSS, and the color of the top of the hydrant indicates which reservoir supplies that particular hydrant.

Here’s a good breakdown of which reservoir supplies which hydrants.

Basically:

Black Top: Supplied by Twin Peaks Reservoir. (This is also the backbone of the system.)

Blue Top: Lower zone, supplied by Jones Street Tank

Red Top (like the one pictured above): Upper zone, supplied by the Ashbury Street tank.

In addition to the three main reservoirs there are also fireboats, pumping stations, and a network of about 177 cisterns beneath the streets of San Francisco to help fight fires. As a last resort, salt water can be pumped from the bay. Salt water is actually better at fighting fires, but it also has the negative effect of corroding any metal supply lines.

As the AWSS is over 100 years old now, it is in need of repairs.


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Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

This is Phonlou. He was one of our Cambodian guides. He lead our group through this prison, called Tuol Sleng or “S21,” where people were held and “tried” before being brought to the Killing Fields for execution during the Cambodian Genocide orchestrated by the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot.

The Khmer Rouge would lead all the peasants out into the country from the main towns. Then, they would promise the more educated among them an education and they brought them back into the city into prisons such as this one. Here they were held and tried and, of course, eventually found guilty of some kind of treason or other crime and then executed.

Up to 2 million Cambodians were killed from 1975 to 1979. The effects of the Khmer Rouge could still be seen in the country, when you compared it to Vietnam or Thailand. It’s as though the country has been “stunted.”

Phonlou was a young boy during the Genocide. He said his father escaped basically by lying about who he was. They all pretended to be uneducated peasants.

Our other guide, Khim, told us that when he was ten or eleven, his family was taken away and they died during the Genocide. His parents and all his siblings. He hid, and he survived by hiding whenever the Khmer Rouge came to his village, sometimes in the water underneath bananas, or in the trees. He lived off of bugs and a little rice.

We really liked Phonlou. He was a great guide. Very informative. He also had many good stories, and despite the sometimes tragic and depressing nature of his subject matter, a fun sense of humor. For instance: he explained to us why the bathroom was referred to as “The Happy Room.” The reason is: It used to be you had to use the bathroom in a field, where you were always scared of being bitten by a snake. But when there was a bathroom you were happy because you could just relax and do your business and not be nervous. Therefore: The Happy Room.

More photos of Phenom Penh, including one of the Killing Fields are here. (WARNING: Some of these might be disturbing.)

Also, there is some shaky video (my speciality) of a cyclo ride through the streets of Phenom Penh (after the click).


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Coit Tower Hydrant, San Francisco

Coit Tower Hydrant, San Francisco

Whenever I go to San Francisco, I take a pilgrimage to Coit Tower. I don’t know why. It’s one of those things you do and you feel compelled to do it, and yet you don’t know why and you don’t know what it means. All I know, is that it doesn’t feel right to go to San Francisco and not do it.

When you approach Coit Tower from Filbert or Kearny Streets, you will find this hydrant where the two streets merge at a 90-degree curve. The hydrant is tall and skinny, which means it’s supplied by the city water supply and not the Auxiliary Water Supply System. More on this soon. Maybe tomorrow I will bore you with more San Francisco Hydrant trivia. For now, I’ll just say that all the skinny white hydrants deliver low-pressure city water. After the earthquake and great fire of 1906, the city built the Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS) as a way to ensure water delivery in the event of an earthquake/fire situation that might break the water mains (which is what happened in 1906, and is part of the reason the fire raged for three days and pretty much destroyed most of the city.) The AWSS hydrants are supplied by three main reservoirs and 177 strategically-placed cisterns and they have a different appearance from the low-pressure city-water ones.

Anyway, the point is, when I go to San Francisco, I usually try to take a walk to Coit Tower. And I stop at this hydrant and I look west. Maybe I sit right here. I am usually sweating from the climb even though the air is cool. Just above and behind me is Coit Tower, which you can get to from a narrow set of stairs. Just below is the North Beach area, famous for Italian restaurants and City Lights Book Store and Vesuvio and Caffe Trieste, which are all good Beat-Poet landmarks.

Here is the same hydrant from a trip I took to the spot in 2006… (after the jump)


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