I (heart) San Francisco.
These fellows set up their tables along Market Street, on the rather unpleasant block between 5th and 6th. It's completely unexpected: a crowd of men playing chess, or watching each other play chess, everyone mostly silent except for the hands that fly out to click a piece down on the board or punch the clock. They seem like they belong in a park instead of next to a busy road where the streetcars trundles past and a homeless man in a safari hat patrols the sidewalk to the sound of Christmas carols spilling from the boombox that he carries in a bag over his shoulder (honest. do you really think I could make that up?).
Ice cream sandwiches at 'wichcraft. Crumbling chocolate. Mint. Gluttonous delight.
The Great American Music Hall is a gorgeous venue. It's red and gilt and decadent with just enough tarnish and grit that it feels like an actual place and not a flimsy set. My sister and I went to see the Evelyn Evelyn show here, and while they (and their alter egos, Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley) were excellent, Sxip Shirey is the one who sneaked up and stole my music-loving heart. I mean, when someone can make wonderful music out of taped together music boxes, harmonicas, a marble in a glass bowl, bicycle bells, pennywhistles, and hand bells, how can that not be magic?