tape from california 7: mission possible

I Know Which Way the Wind Blows

By this point in the trip, the relaxed vibe of the west coast was sinking in, as I didn't feel an urgency to rush across the bay. I had settled into a pattern of processing photos, writing pieces of blog entries, reading the local papers and waking up to a steady diet of Norman Lear shows on cable (the final season of Good Times gave way to the first, The Jeffersons appeared to be near the end of its run, etc). Any tensions and stresses I felt before the trip had long evaporated, apart from occasional worries about how to park the Grand Marquis in compact lots.

Day two in San Francisco started with a trek to The Mission to check out the neighbourhood's murals and sample some Bay-style burritos. The parade of art began upon exiting from the BART station at Mission and 16th, with a piece based on 1940s Wonder Woman comics greeting me at street level. Near the station were the murals of Clarion Alley (example shown above).

Taqueria Cancun (1)
Taqueria Cancun (6) - Al Pastor Burrito

SF Weekly's "Best of" issue had published the day before. Among the categories was "best burrito", which provided the solution to the problem of deciding where to sample one: Taqueria Cancun. I went with the small al pastor, which was filled with tender marinated cubes of pork. The burrito was accompanied by a small plastic basket of chips that included a smooth, avocado-based green salsa that I wouldn't quite call guacamole.

Tower Theatre, San Francisco Mission Theatre, San Francisco
El Capitan Theatre, San Francisco

Mission Street was lined with movie palaces whose glory faded long ago. The El Capitan met the same fate as the Michigan Theater in Detroit—a parking lot with elements of the original building. Only the facade and foyer escaped demolition in the mid-1960s.

La Quiropractica es Effectiva!

I hate it when lightning bolts attack like mosquitos.

Tearing Their Hearts Out

Most of the murals in the Mission were along 24th Street. The first batch I encountered were based on traditional Mexican images of death and sacrifice.

Blue Mural

This eye-catcher at the corner of 24th and York is Juana Alicia's La Llorona (The Weeping Woman). According to an interview on the artist's website:
La Llorona weaves the stories of women in Bolivia, India, and at the U.S. Border together. It highlights Bolivians in Cochabamba who have fought to keep Bechtel Corporation from buying the water rights in their country; Indian farm workers in the Narmada Valley protesting in the flooded waters of their homes against their government’s irresponsible dam projects; and the women in black protesting the unsolved murders of women in Juarez, in the shadow of the Rio Bravo and the maquiladoras (sweatshops).

Lavenderia Mr. Burbugas

A few commercial murals have nudged their way in. These tended to be more whimsical and lacked the gore factor and other allegorical goodness. A mobile laundry machine engaged in ritual slaughter might not do wonders for business.

Balmy Alley Murals (2) - The Joy of Childbirth?

Many of the murals that caught my eye along Balmy Alley contained images associated with childhood. Could this be the happiest baby to have ever entered the world?

Where Are The Wild Things? They're on Balmy (1)

Now I knew where the wild things were.


Zoinks!...unless this dog is meant to resemble Marmaduke more than Scooby Doo (I could never imagine Marmaduke ever being political in any way). Here's what this duo is afraid of...

Full set of pictures. All photos taken May 21, 2009 - JB


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