Thursday, September 23, 2010

North by Northwest SF

If i look closely enough from our offices i can see pieces of Chinatown -- Waverly Place's temples atop brick buildings like you see here in the lower foreground. Two temples line the bottom left corner. Note the lower one. It is Tin How Temple { 天后古庙 } established in 1852 and dedicated to the 10th Century female deity, Mazu { 妈祖 }. Up at least 4 stories, maybe more, the sanctum sanctorum vibrates intensely with taoist powers and an unearthly idolic beast reigning over the hanging red prayers of bereft mothers and sailors' lovers abandoned to the fate of Gold Mountain { 金山 }, the old local Chinese name for San Francisco.

Above & beyond it is the northeastern slope of Nob Hill. The smoke stack near the upper-center together with the long warehouse structure is the Washington-Mason Cable Car Powerhouse, Car Barn, and Museum. A walk through it is free and instructive, watching the great wheels turn massive cables that in turn pull the cars from downtown to the hilltops.
You can find me pretty much every weekend across the street there on the ground floor corner of the light blue apartment building at Gallery Cafe. It's a very well run coffeehouse hosted by a largely Indonesian crew. It is a pleasure to wake up with them, with my neighbors, and with the steady stream of tourists coming off the cable lines.
A shot like this from the height of a skyscraper can hypnotize with its densely-wound information and off kilter horizon, but the terrain is so familiar to me now that i revel in it, unhurriedly, aware that i am very much in this picture.

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