Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2007 Best of the Bay: Tuning In

By Marke B.

The segments of the trip swing open like an orange. There is light in there and mystery and food. Come see it. Come not for me but it. But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other. -John Ashbery, "Just Walking Around"

A few years back, I took a fish to the symphony. Seriously! OK, it was actually a little black-and-white lute shaped like a fish, bought when I was a kid in Dubrovnik-a sparkling seaside resort town in the former Yugoslavia, soon to be drowned in the Balkan War's havoc. The occasion was an interactive performance by the San Francisco Symphony of composer Terry Riley's freaky phenomenal classic In C.

Riley's a child of Berkeley in the '60s, given then to putting on all-night concerts featuring vacuum cleaner motors and tape-delayed saxophone loops. He wrote In C in 1964, but it might as well have been the 1967 Summer of Love's unplugged soundtrack, with its miraculously simple yet cosmically democratic main idea: Orchestra members are given 53 itty-bitty phrases of music in the basic key of C major. Each musician plays whichever one he or she wants until they get bored, then moves on to another, leading to...gorgeous chaos!

This time, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas had invited the audience to join in, playing whatever instruments we cared to bring. There were oboes and air horns, didgeridoos and comb kazoos, trumpets and tambourines - and you bet I almost lost it when the tranny down the aisle from me whipped out her glistening flügelhorn. In the en masse autonomous cacophony that followed, I heard the woozy call of mermaids and the whirling screech of Black Hawks, a water cannon's body-slamming whoosh and the fiery chants of Buddhist monks. I also heard the sizzle of Chinatown kitchens, the groovy snaps of North Beach beats, Fillmore jazz horn solos, ragged Janis Joplin howls, and the subsonic rumble of the fog as it crests Mount Sutro. In short, I heard the best of the Bay.

Thus, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, our Best of the Bay 2007 theme: sensational! A guide to the fantastic, far-out pleasures of the Bay.

Because living here's a total trip, right?

In 1974, Esquire magazine asked the Guardian for ideas for its Best of the USA issue, and we responded by publishing the original Best of the Bay issue. Selected by the people of the Bay Area for the people of the Bay Area, it's our annual chance to celebrate the personalities and places that make this city great. We were the first weekly paper in the nation to print a regular Best Of issue. Thirty-three years later - and 41 years after we opened our doors - it's still going strong.

In this year's installment, you'll find explosive opinions and sensual appreciations, journeys through classic neighborhoods, profiles of heroic hippies (check out our center photo spread picturing more than 200 Summer of Love participants and descendants), and our Editors' Picks of local, independent businesses and organizations that we think offer some of the very best sights, sounds, flavors, aromas, textures, and spirit of life around the Bay. It's a glorious racket, and you're included by way of the Best of the Bay Readers' Poll results, in which you honor the many things you feel capture the essence of your experience here - everything from Best Bowl of Noodles to Best Burlesque Act, from Best Local Animal Rescue to Best Hot Tub Rental.

Editing the Best of the Bay issue is a frantic hoot, a time for me to prove that rehab works - and I couldn't have possibly done it alone. I had the privilege of working with the utterly fierce Guardian staff and an amazing smorgasbord of local talent to kick this year's crazy idea out the conceptual door. Luckily the city's still full of enough crazy dreamers to make it all work. I shower grateful smooches on them all, particularly on my partner in style, Guardian Art Director Mirissa Neff; Mie Hommura, the mind-blowing artist whose compu-psychedelic illustrations grace these pages; my fab assistant, Molly Freedenberg; and the ever supportive Hunky Beau, my own personal Best of the Bay.

And, of course, we at the Guardian thank you, our readers, for continuing to inspire us. Stay cool, stay hot, stay sensational. Peace.

About the Illustrator

Born on the island of Kyushu just south of mainland Japan, multimedia artist Mie Hommura spent time in Miyazuki, Tokyo, and Nagasaki before moving to San Francisco. She describes her work as "playful and Wonderlandesque, a system of contemporary hieroglyphs whose bright colors and organic shapes are meant to express the complexities of the subconscious mind." Hommuru has worked in digital design, illustration, fashion, and plush-toy creation, or "soft sculpture." You can see more of her art online at or on T-shirts at the My Trick Pony store (

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]