The Rock


Not the wrestler.

The island.

Alcatraz

The view from Alcatraz

I went out to Alcatraz today with my dear friend whose birthday celebration happens to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the penitentiary closing.

The last inmates were shipped off 65 years ago and they shut the prison down.

Thank God.

I cannot think of a worst place to be, and I am sure there are worse, but to be stuck on a rock in the middle of the bay and see the beguiling San Francisco just across the way is a kind of torture I just don’t think I could bear.

“Don’t worry, we’ll be back in San Francisco soon,” my friend patted my arm as we waited for the ferry, the line was long, so many of us, though not many of us from San Francisco itself, were waiting that I did have a moment of panic.

I laughed out loud.

I am that obvious.

Take me out of the city and I am itching to get right back to it.

Although my friend and I agree, I seemed to have out grown the Mission, and though I don’t look my age, 42 (and thank you Uber driver for the flabbergasted look on your face when I told you my age), I do feel it quite often, and I am a grown up living in a grown up place.

The Outer Sunset.

Oh.

There’s some kids out here, surfers and guys and gals, and some hipsters and the like, but it does seem a community less focused on the hip, slick, cool, and of the moment.

I am not a tech girl, but as I realized, again on the Uber drive to the Ferry Building (when the bus rolled over the hill on Judah I remembered that there was construction on the Sunset Tunnel between Duboce Park and Cole Valley and I was about to embark on a journey that would put me way behind schedule, I called for a lift), just from living in San Francisco I am often a head of the curve with tech and its uses.

I’m still not savvy enough to use my google map or to know how to delete apps of my phone.

Thank God a friend noticed me struggling with my Iphone and showed me how to get Tinder off it.

Complete and total side bar.

I got rid of Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid on my phone.

I kept OkCupid online though.

A girl has got to have a few balls in the air.

Or a cute tour guide to flirt with.

Dude.

The cute guy at Alcatraz knew my girl friend and I were there for the @Large exhibit by Ai Weiwei.

“Anyone from San Francisco,” he hollered as we joined a small group clustered below the penitentiary sign.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

 

My girlfriend and I nodded.

“Here for the art exhibit?” He asked.

We nodded our heads, it was pretty obvious, yes, we’re locals and yes we came out to see the art, not so much the cell blocks–we were the only folks in the group to acknowledge we were there for the art.

Though it was pretty impressive to see the prison.

And spooky at times.

Especially when the fog started to roll in.

Fog

Alcatraz

The guide gave us directions and we went to the exhibit.

It was truly amazing.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Wei Wei–Blossom

The light was one of the things that would have saved me if I was an inmate at Alcatraz, little else.

The artist, Ai Weiwei, though confined to China, seemed cognizant of the light, spectral, haunting, smashed by the sea and melting through the wired panes of windows.

It was dreamy and dangerous and affecting.

The first piece was a large floating Chinese dragon kite.

Dragon

Dragon

It was astounding and wound through a large holding cell space.

Dragon Body

Dragon Scales

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon head

Color and light

Then the portraits of various activists and artists laid out on the floor with Lego’s.

Legos

Edward Snowden in Lego’s

Lego Art

Lego Activists

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, I do encourage you to take the trip out.

I don’t know that I would have gone out otherwise and I am glad to say that I did.

The art was exquisite and the juxtaposition of it in the prison was superb.

Haunting.

Depressing.

There was a room, “Hydro Therapy” that gave me the goosebumps.

It was like someone had stepped on my grave.

Bathtub

Hydro Therapy Room Alcatraz Psych Ward

I had a flash of an inmate disrobing and being hosed off with high pressure water, the light refracted around the enamel bathtub and I took the shot and shivered.

I had no desire to walk through the cell blocks are take a photograph in one of the tiny cells.

Although, I laughed and acknowledge that a few of the cells were actually larger than my studio.

The light better too.

But I would not trade what I have for a prison cell.

Even if the square footage was impressive.

I counted a lot of my blessings today talking with my dear friend as we traversed the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building (a bit over priced–$7.00 for two Aztec Fuji apples, albeit delicious and gigantic) and picked up lunch and snacks for the afternoon adventure.

I had divine boxed salmon sushi from Delica and two of the most amazing rolls I have ever had that I bought ala carte, sushi rice with rare roast beef (sushi doesn’t have to be fish, fyi, “sushi” means food on rice, it is often vegetables and fish though, the beef was exquisite and I couldn’t even bring myself to share it with my friend, who thankfully had brought her own lovely lunch) draped over the top of it topped with fresh wasabi.

Oh my goodness.

I get to live in San Francisco being very near the top of that list.

I get to go out on ferry boats and travel the bay and see amazing national park areas, Alcatraz is part of  The Golden Gate National Park System, I mean, basically right in my back yard there are all these incredible parks and land marks.

Plus.

You know, the Burning Man community started here, Bakers Beach, baby, and all that Burning Man is to me.

My friend and I discussed that a lot today as well.

I have started my list of the stuffs that need to be gathered.

Another reason to love the event, it brings out the inherent hunter/gatherer in me.

And of course, there was much talk of the graduate school program and just how far I have come in a short time.

I mean.

Really, it was not quite two years ago, I was coming home from Paris and when I got to Berlin to change in my Euro (the only money to my name) I got back $10 American.

I came from that to where I am now.

I work my ass off.

I took a moment or two to bask in my glory, to reflect on my gratitude for this city, for my dear, darling friend, and when we saw our photograph taken by the tour guide on the trip,  we didn’t have any problem shelling out the $30 bucks for two copies of it.

I’m lucky.

Or graced.

Or lucky.

I got to open up the cell door of my own imposed prison and walk out of it.

Free.

Clear.

And moving forward.

Becoming even more myself and more in love with my city by the bay.

It was with much gratitude and love that I stepped off the gangplank of the ferry and hopped the F-Market back downtown.

It was truly an experience to see the city from Alcatraz.

But I prefer to see Alcatraz from the city.

My home sweet home.

San Francisco.

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