san francisco


if you’re going to San Francisco…

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be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…

and a jacket.


San Francisco has been a refreshing change of pace, from its crisp air, hilly suburbs, funky boutique stores & bourbon coffees. Here’s a few thoughts as wait to catch the next plane.

San Francisco: I could live here, shades of Wellington.

Favorite Places: Alcatraz (without people), Mission District, Upper Haight, Haight St.

Places to avoid: Alcatraz (with people), the Wharf areas on a nice day (if you dislike tourists).

Low: snorers

High: talking life & sharing a coffee with Sheryl, a homeless lady in her 50’s.

Accommodation: Fort Mason Hostel.

If there is a scale, 1 being a funeral home & 10 being a Roman orgy, then a party hostel would be an 8-9. Waikiki hit an 8 on a few nights, a 6.5 on the best nights.

7 is a good time buzz, great crew & good stories, unlike other scales 7 is the best. Waikiki hit a 6.5 on my last night.

Fort Mason is a 5, a 3 would be sitting in a library. Sometimes Fort Mason resembles sitting in a library. When alcohol can only be served & consumed in the cafe surely that must lead to good conversation elsewhere.

Nope. It leads to a lot of people pretending they’re in a library.

It’s redeeming features are the view, hilltop view of Golden Gate Bridge & Alcatraz. Superb breakfasts, organic-fair trade-blah-blah-hippy food, amazing coffee.

A ‘5’ hostel is a nice change of pace. Calm before the storm.

Missed Moments: Gutted the ‘day in the life of the homeless’ thing never worked out. It ended up costing me quite a bit in cancelled/new flights & accommodation. On an already tight budget (any big-ticket activities have been purchased long ago) this made a few days interesting (almost tried selling my NFL ticket), but thankfully my parents helped me out a little 🙂 This also meant I’ll miss a day in Vegas & a day in Long Beach, where there is also a high homeless population, and I’d hoped to do a couple of lines for a spoken word I’m compiling here.

crystal cathedral (1)

On the flip-side there were a bunch of people, encounters & conversations that wouldn’t have happened had I stuck to the plan. Some times the long shot pays off, sometimes it doesn’t… and on that note, see you in Vegas.


Caged Love

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Spent the day walking around San Francisco, from the Wharfs to Mission District up to the twin peaks to catch the sunset.



In my travels I noticed that a lot of the doorway entrances have a caged door as well…


and then I noticed some churches do too…


and then I noticed not just doorways but little enclaves & places of shelter were caged off…


and then I found this man in an alleyway…


and right across the road was this church…


it had a large sheltered area that would be perfect for alley-man to sleep & shelter in.


It may even make a difference in whether he lives or dies tonight.


I want to ask a question, so I find an entrance. On the way I see the churches slogan on a big sign,

Relationship. Not Religion.


I ask, “why do I see so many areas caged off?”. The answer it seems is because homeless people would take up residence there. “Is this why you guys have a caged area too?”, He looks awkward, a lady pipes up, “You have to remember we have to keep it clean for Sunday”.

I ask her if she knows a homeless guy died from the cold the other night, that he is the 5th in the last 2 weeks. She tells me if they let a few homeless stay (in the courtyard) soon there would be lots & they have families that come on Sunday.

He tells me they’re busy & I have to go now, I thank them for their time, I’m just trying to make sense of it all…

Wouldn’t God be appalled if our courtyards were dirty.

Heaven forbid we became known as a church where the least & disadvantaged seek shelter, or where faith was raw & real for our families, rather than disinfected-white-washed-sanitised-sunday-school-lives.

Lets do some simple math. There are easily a 120+ people there, that would mean committing 1 day every 2 months where you & another person cleaned up & served the homeless that gathered in your courtyard…


who knows, maybe then the words of your slogan would come to life…

maybe then it would stop being religion,

and start being relationship.


4th & long…

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Today I went to the 49ers – Seahawks game, it was freezing but I was well prepared. As for the game itself, it generally seemed like both teams were doing their best to lose… and at times the 49ers were blatantly throwing the game.

For me, attending sport live is purely for the atmosphere, and it was there in bunches, the noise was amazing, the crowd entertaining…

except for two things I’ll never understand, leaving early & getting smashed. One lady was trolleyed by halftime & keept falling over, eventually taken away by a medical crew. The other, bunches of fans left with 9 & 6 mins to go with their team down in a close game against a good opponent.

As a sports fan you live for these moments, sure you may beat the traffic home, but you’re leaving a potentially fantastic finish (how many Rockets fans regret bailing early in this game) not to mention you’ve just payed how much to be there?!!

Niners comeback & win.


I mentioned it was freezing, I read in the paper this morning that a homeless person died last night because of the cold… preventable death seems inherently more saddening.

While I’ve seen & talked with a couple of houseless people around the touristy areas, they are few and far in-between. It seems that for many on the streets money is made by recycling, scouring through the rubbish bins for cans & bottles, then trading them in.

In San Francisco, you can’t do that around the touristy areas, the bins are padlocked & have special lids.

vlcsnap-2013-12-26-21h46m14s67I would have thought, having someone sort your recyclables from land fill for free would be a good thing.

During the course of my travels this morning a run into two guys who work with the homeless & we get to talking… the plan is I’ll follow a houseless guy around for the day, either here in San Francisco, or in Oakland, I’ll get to go through soup kitchens, shelters and some of the social services. The catch, this still needs to be ok’d by the boss who will be back on Mon or Tues (I’m assured this shouldn’t be a problem as it’s been done several times before)…

Oh, and I’m due to fly to L.A 6am Monday morning.

4th & long.

Do you leave early or stay in hopes of pulling off something special.


Low: Darth Vader has left my dorm… only to be replaced by the worst snorer in the history of humankind. Imagine what it would sound like to give someone liposuction by placing a straw on their belly & trying to suck the fat through the skin (sort of a reverse raspberry), now mix that with a chainsaw.


If I’m arrested for murder you’ll know why.


High: Great conversation with a gay-Iranian cab driver on life in SF, his parents moving after the revolution & culture.



The Rock

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Last night I went out for dinner, which I’m aiming to do at least once every place I visit, but financially most of my meals will make use of my newly acquired minimalist skills. Anyway I had one of these, it’s a bloody marry with bacon (because it’s not American if you can’t add bacon), it also had olives, blue cheese, beans & shrimp.

WP_001549Said beverage drew the attention of the couple next to me (much like it drew my attention in the first place), we ended up talking & one thing led to another… no not like that, honestly I wonder who my readers are sometimes.

Long story short, she works at Alcatraz & I’m heading there tomorrow, so my day kinda went like this.

Got up really early to beat the masses, my info had been left at the ticket pick up so I could change my ticket to the first trip. The boat docks, and she’s standing there, she says I’m with her & I’m one of the first off the boat. Everyone else goes right & waits for the boat to unload to have a briefing, she says to do the audio tour later, miss the briefing, obey the signs, stay on the path, head left.

I pretty much have Alcatraz to myself for the next 45 mins…


So while I can’t get into the cells before anyone else, I still have a blast wandering the parade ground & exercise yard solidarity. Not to mention it’s any photographers dream to be able to shoot tourist attractions without the tourists.
I work my way back to the beginning then do it properly, the audio tour is a must.

I spend about 4 hrs on Alcatraz, by which time it’s swarming with people (1000+ easy), then I head to the Golden Gate Bridge & shoot a couple of time-lapse series. I’ll add them when they’ve been edited.



On they way back, (it’s been an epic walk, 13+  km) I take some pics at the Palace of fine arts…



then stumble on to these tasty treats.


Ice-cream + peanut butter = Mmmmm….

Surprise: I enjoyed learning about some of the islands non-prison history, in-particular the Native American protests.

Traveler Tip: Alcatraz – get on the 1st boat, miss the briefing, you catch a later one if you want, head left (like you’re going to the smokers area but keep going). Enjoy, after that 290+ people are dropped off roughly every hour.

High: Sitting by myself in the exercise yard

Low: So I chose a 4 bed dorm hoping it would be quite, turns out there are two snorers & a dude with a sleep-apnea machine… sounds like someone is dueling Darth Vader with a chainsaw.