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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

San Francisco City Tour News

The 72nd annual Stern Grove Festival will celebrate the Fourth of July Weekend with the San Francisco Symphony and the 'Inouye Jazz' combo. Sigmund Stern Grove is an outdoor music venue located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco. The July 5th festival starts at 2pm with an opening performance by 'Inouye Jazz' featuring San Francisco trumpet player Mark Inouye, bassist Scott Pingel, percussionist Raymond Froehlich and guitarist Jeff Massanari. The ensemble is lead by Mark Inouye who has been involved in both jazz and classical music. This festival is one of the city's most popular summer tourist attractions and always hosts a very large audience.

The San Francisco Tours Symphony takes the stage at 3pm and will perform several classical excerpts such as Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Piano concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor. The symphony will also play Opus 23 with Inon Barnatan on piano, Gershiwin's An American in Paris and music by Leonard Berstein. The symphony will be led by conductor James Gaffigan who joined the organization in 2006 after three seasons with the Cleveland Orchestra. This annual city music festival is one of San Francisco's longest running tourist attended event and is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The Stern grove Festival is one of San Francisco's most celebrated free public events and more information can be found by visiting

Monday, June 29, 2009

President Ma departs on Central American diplomatic tour

Taipei, June 29 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou departed Taipei Monday on a visit to two of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America in an effort to cement mutual friendship and expand cooperation in various fields.

The June 29-July 6 journey is taking Ma to Panama and Nicaragua, with a transit stop in San Francisco en route to Panama City and another layover in Hawaii on his way home.

This is Ma's second diplomatic San Francisco tour of the region, one of Taiwan's diplomatic strongholds, so far this year.

Prior to his departure, Ma said the visit is part of his "modous vivendi" diplomatic strategy, which calls for a pragmatic and flexible approach to simultaneously maintain solid diplomatic ties with allied countries while forging substantive partnerships with non-allied nations.

Noting that the strategy has paved the way for a diplomatic truce with China, Ma said his administration can now more efficienctly use national resources to consolidate relations with the country's 23 diplomatic allies in addition to developing substantative partnerships with countries that do not maintain formal relations with Taiwan.

The main purpose of President Ma's upcoming Central America tour is to attend the inauguration of Panama's President-elect Ricardo Martinelli in Panama City July 1.

His itinerary originally included a two-day visit to Honduras, but Ma decided to cancel his travel plans there after Honduran President Manuel Zeyala was arrested and forced into exile by military leaders Sunday ahead of a controversial constitutional referendum.

Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi said Monday that Ma will return to Taiwan July 6, two days earlier than scheduled.

Wang said the decision to exclude Honduras from Ma's itinerary was based on safety and security considerations and because the unstable situation in Honduras precludes the purpose of Ma's visit there.

During his stay in Panama, Ma will hold talks with senior officials of the new Panamanian government, visit the Panama Canal, give interviews to the international news media and meet with Taiwanese community leaders.

First lady Chow Mei-ching is accompanying Ma on the June 29-July 6 diplomatic tour. Chow will visit a charity organization that is headed by the new Panamanian first lady.

Following his trip to Panama, Ma will travel to Nicaragua where Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega will drive him to the hub of a bilateral technological cooperation project, which will allow Ma to interact with Nicaraguan citizens.

Ma will also attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a large trade fair to be held in Nicaragua July 1-5, at which many Taiwanese companies are expected to exhibit their latest products.

During the Nicaragua visit, first lady Chow will visit the local branch of World Vision -- a Christian charity dedicated to helping disadvantaged people around the world -- and a development center for physically challenged children.

He is traveling at the head of a 129-member delegation of government officials, legislators, industry executives, academics, university presidents, local government chiefs, charity group executives and performing artists.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Arts groups' networking events proliferate

Asian Art Museum hosts a series of Thursday night events called Matcha, where guests can enjoy live performances, mingle over cocktails, stroll galleries, create art and take special tours. Each event has a theme, typically aligned with something on view in the museum galleries. The museum's major summer exhibition is "Lords of the Samurai." There is also a monthly free day, held the first Sunday of every month. On these free days, the museum offers Yoga Flow from 2 to 3 p.m. for all ages and levels. The museum offers ArtSpeak, a summerlong program that trains approximately 20 high-schoolers to create interactive activities targeted at their peers and other museum visitors. For information, go to

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art hosts Rooftop Garden Blue Bottle Coffee Bar on Thursday nights, drawing a hip crowd. Live Twitter tours are offered to a select group of museum Twitter followers. For information, go to www.sfmo

Oakland Museum of California offers a monthly after-hours program, First Fridays After Five, from 5 to 9 p.m. Bay Area bands and ensembles perform, dancing is welcomed, there is a cash bar and cafe, as well as gallery tours and receptions. The evening may also include a screening, lecture, belly dancing or author signing. On Aug. 7, the museum will host the East Bay Express' Best of the East Bay party. Some 500 revelers are expected. Free, with a no-host bar. For information:

The Exploratorium offers an After Dark series that will start again in October. The event mixes cocktails with conversation and programs about science and the arts. Along with adult amenities such as music and a cash bar, each Thursday night will showcase a different theme: live performance, films, unexpected extravaganzas, new media and one night of Science After Dark, which involves the science behind topics of adult interest, such as gambling, alcohol, fashion, sex, extreme sports and gaming. Programs are playful and yet content-rich and involve cutting-edge technology. It's been billed as an intellectually stimulating playground for adults - with free parking. To be included in the Exploratorium After Dark e-mail list.

Fort Mason Center will begin hosting Make My Monday, a happy hour with culture to be held the last Monday of every month starting Monday. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet local artists as they create affordable artwork available for purchase. RSVP at or on Facebook to hold your place at the bar. For information on this and other programs at Fort Mason, go to

California Academy of Sciences hosts NightLife from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, with the last entry at 9 p.m. The event generally draws a younger audience to the museum (guests must be 21 or older). The evenings offer DJs, bars and renowned performers and speakers, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau and ocean explorer Graham Hawkes. For information:


Berkeley Repertory Theatre offers regular networking events for every production, with focuses ranging from teen nights with pizza parties to gourmet tasting events and onstage interviews. For information:

American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco regularly offers discussions before performances. Select Wednesday nights offer ticket holders hosted drinks, desserts and mingling with the cast after the show. For information, go to

California Shakespeare Theater offers college pizza night with a preshow pizza party for college-age students, Yelp night, LGBT night, and Shindig for young professionals. There are also tastings, meet-the-artist matinees and talks before each show. For information:

"Beach Blanket Babylon" is just beginning a social networking program, with its first two LGBT nights Friday and Sept. 4. For information, go to

Marin Theatre Company offers senior matinees on Thursdays, which usually sell out. It hosts a popular wine tasting night the second Saturday of every show. For information, go to

Teatro ZinZanni in San Francisco is beginning a monthly Young Professionals Night, offering special prices for select dates.

Classical music

San Francisco Symphony offers an array of social networking events. Davies After Hours is an after-show jam that goes until midnight. It ran from March through May. The SFS offers pre- and post-concert talks, with its Off the Podium and Inside Music events. For information, go to

San Francisco Opera Bravo Club offers young adults the chance to come together over a love of opera. The group, with 500 members, hosts educational and performance-related events. The Opera also offers talks before every performance (except special family performances). Music scholars present overviews of the opera and offer insights on the music, composer and historical background.


San Francisco Ballet offers Fridays at the Ballet, held at 7 p.m. on select Fridays, featuring interviews with dancers, as well as cocktails and appetizers before the performance (geared toward patrons ages 20 to 45). On occasion, "Afterglow," a post-show cocktail reception, is held in the dress circle lobby. An LGBT NiteOut (21 and older only) is a periodic event with post-show cocktails and snacks. In 2010, dates are Feb. 12, March 26 and April 9. Encore, a young professionals group, meets throughout the year for events and pre- and post-gala parties. The Silver Series and Bus Series are for senior citizens on Saturdays; participants meet at 11 a.m. at San Mateo's Commuter Park and Ride (near highways 92 and 101) for a trip to the Ballet.

ODC Dance hosts a Summer Sampler series with wine, hors d'oeuvres and contemporary dance. The next dates: July 31 and Aug. 1 at the ODC Dance Commons at 351 Shotwell St. Small Plates is an annual event at ODC Dance Downtown (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) where, for $20, guests receive a seat, drinks and appetizers and a one-hour performance. The next one will be in March. The Unplugged Series, held three times a year at ODC Dance Commons, features a preshow reception and behind-the-scenes look at new work by ODC choreographers. Dates for this year: Sept. 25 and Nov. 13. Verge, a group for young dance fans, hosts social events to connect the three branches of ODC (dance company, theater, dance school) and other dance fans. Summer Sampler and ODC Dance unplugged events sell out quickly. Open bar for all events. For more information, go to, ODC's twitter page or the company's Facebook page.

The King is Dead

TMZ was the first to report it. The Los Angele's Times corroborated the story an hour later at 3:20 PST. And, at 4:30, via official word from the Los Angele's County Coroner, CNN confirmed that Michael Jackson, th” has diede “King of Pop.

Jackson was rushed to UCLA Medical Center early this afternoon following a call from his home to the Los Angeles Fire Department, which sent paramedics who treated Jackson for cardiac arrest. Fire Department Captain Steve Ruda reported to the Los Angeles Times that Jackson was not breathing when EMT crews arrived, and that CPR was performed.

Despite Jackson’s recently announced san francisco tours, which kicks off in London on July 13, 2009 and includes some 50 concert dates, speculation abounds about the state of Jackson’s health. Simultaneous to CNN reporting that Jackson passed the stringent physical examinations required by the sponsors and insurers of the 2009-2010 san Francisco tour, it broadcasted interviews with individuals who know Jackson or have had recent contact with him, most of who reported that Jackson looked “unhealthy” and “older than his age”.

Siblings Randy, Latoya, Jermaine, Jackie, Tito, and father Joe Jackson have been notified and are reported to be en route to Los Angele's. The location of his three children, of whom Jackson is reported to have custody, Prince Michael II (6), Paris Michael Catherine (11), and Prince Michael Jr. (12), was not immediately known.

Thousands of fans have already gathered around UCLA Medical Center to await official news of Jackson’s condition.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Randy Bachman's rockin' san francico vacation tales of summers past

Randy Bachman is a legend on the international music scene with more than 120 gold and platinum awards, and record sales of over 40 million. Collaborating with another (Canadian) music legend, Burton Cummings, Bachman created smash hits, These Eyes, Laughing, No Time, No Sugar Tonight, Clap for the Wolfman and the classic rock radio staple American Woman.

His music has been recorded by many artists and used in several movies. He's even been a special guest on The Simpsons.

When he isn't on San Francisco vaction, he hosts Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap on CBC radio.

The guy is a walking Wikipedia of popular music. For two hours each week, he plays his favourite songs and tells stories from his life in the industry. In early May, Bachman travelled to Ottawa to accept his Order of Canada award.

Bachman spends a lot of time on the road, waiting in airports and tries to make to most of his time with the help of modern technology.

"Things have changed. I used to spend hours at home late at night answering the missed emails. Now, I sit in the airports with one or two BlackBerrys going through my list," says Bachman. "I'm one of those guys who is turning the device on as soon as the plane has docked."

Bachman always takes his laptop with him as part of his carry on luggage where he busies himself composing new music. "I have a program called garage band that I can use to create demos. I always bring my own healthy food and of course the BlackBerrys."

His first travel memory had nothing to do with a plane, but instead a station wagon

"As a band out of Winnipeg, it was a station wagon. Three guys in the front and three in the back. The very back was all the gear because it was precious and our luggage was strapped to the top because if it fell off - who cares. The drums have to stay dry!"

Growing up in Winnipeg and trying to establish himself as a musician,Bachman says there wasn't much choice but to drive to the different cities he was performing in."The thing about growing up in Winnipeg, it's the middle of nowhere and the middle of everywhere. We drove to all our gigs. Road trips to Thunder Bay, Regina, and Minneapolis were standard. We'd get a gig in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, come home and head back out to Boston."

His two favorite destination here at home and around the world are also where he lives."I'm very lucky. I've chosen to live in my two favorite places in the world. I've got my place on Salt Spring Island with the nicest city in Canada - Victoria - nearby. And, since 1967 I've been going to London, England. My wife and I go about three times a year to our place in Covent Garden for a month at a time. We love the contrast between the two. Salt Spring Island is so laid back and hippy-dippy working in the garden or writing songs. But in London I write during the day then we are out every night to see The Who, Neil Young, The Eagles, Chuck Berry or a play or for great food."

His very mode of transportation?

"Oh man! If I could walk into a phone booth and be transported or say ‘Beam me up, Scotty!' That would be my way to go. I spend way too much time getting to where I want to be. I'd almost play for free if it was easy to get to places. What I get paid for is the endless loneliness of being on the road without my family and the crazy effort it takes to set up every day on San Francisco family vacation. I've got all sorts of people paying a lot of money to see the perfect show and I want to give it to them. If I could step into the booth and walk out on stage without the hassles ... that would be my mode of transportation."

For Bach man, it's all about the destination not the journey

"Life is the journey not the time I spend on the road trying to get to where I want to be. It's gotten to the point that I pick only certain hotels to stay in, too. Continuity is important. I bring my favorite style of pillow and after forgetting about 20 of them in hotels - I now have a really silly pillow case on it so that when I take that last look around the room for items -BAM! I see it on the bed.

After spending so much time and so many years on the road San Francisco touring, one would think Bachman would have several "worst travel" tales to tell, but not so. His worst experience traveling happened just last year.

"Coming out of L.A., my wife and I were on a short flight to San Francisco to see her family. As we took off, there was an explosion under our feet, the plane started to shake and the wings started to vibrate. An engine blew up. It was really scary.

Everybody thought the plane was going down and was screaming and crossing themselves. I took my wife's hand and thanked her for a nice life and expected the plane to crash.The pilot banked us over the ocean, dropped all the fuel and swooped into Orange County for a wild landing. Then ... crazy as it sounds, we get back on another plane and continue on to my mother-in-law's 92nd birthday party."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barcelona to play Chivas in San Francisco

NEW YORK (AP) — European champion Barcelona will play Mexico's Chivas Guadalajara in San Francisco on Aug. 8 in the final game of the Spanish team's three-match U.S. preseason tour.

The game at Candlestick Park is part of a doubleheader that opens with a Major League Soccer game between San Jose and Columbus.

Barcelona also plays the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and is at the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 5.

Barcelona and Chivas have met twice before in recent U.S. friendlies; 1-1 in 2006 at Los Angeles, and Barcelona won 5-2 last year in Chicago.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

San Francisco Juneteenth Festival

June 20th and 21st, 2009 marks the 59th Annual San Francisco Juneteenth Festival, the largest gathering of African-Americans in northern California. It is the most respected brand name among the more than 440,000 black households in the Bay Area because of the historical significance of the observance and the traditions that have been developed locally.


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San Francisco International Airport to Receive Stimulus Money

The San Francisco International Airport is slated to receive $15 million dollars in federal stimulus money for a new baggage handling system. The new system will lessen the time passengers wait to check-in their luggage while improving security. The plans for a new baggage handling system was announced Thursday along with the announcement that SFO would receive the federal dollars to fund the project.

The funds are part of the American recovery and Investment Act which was passed by Congress earlier this year. This new system will allow passengers to not only bypass the Transportation Administration Security screening station but will also reduce repeat bag scans and physical searches and use a state of the art explosive detection device. This new system is great news for San Francisco tourists and will aid in decreasing their travel time and increasing their time spent touring the city, wine country and sightseeing.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Handmade Products Abound at Summer 2009 San Francisco Show

More than 100 exhibitors featuring handcrafted products will showcase their work at the upcoming summer edition of the San Francisco International Gift Fair, which runs August 8-11 at the Moscone Convention Center.

"Handcrafted resources can be found in each of the six neighborhoods of the show," says Aubin Wilson, show director. "This summer's market features accomplished makers and artisans from the United States and abroad. We will present a collection of individual and production craft in all media and across a myriad of product categories including tabletop, ceramics, textiles, home decor, jewelry, apparel, stationery and more."

Exhibitors offering handcrafted goods include: Kat Soto (handcrafted dolls); or tables and lamps made from reclaimed wood by Bitters of Seattle (tables and lamps made from reclaimed wood): Household decorations from Cody Foster (household decorations); Gather Studios (glass pendants, "quoteable quotes" stones or hand-painted salt & pepper shakers): Dahlias & Pears (elegant stationery and cards); and Libra Knits (hand knitted hats for babies.

"This is very much a show where artists have center stage," Wilson explains. "There are artisans from around the world who will be participating in the show, including The Pacific Indie Craft Collective, a group of artists from Portland, Oregon and along with many first time exhibitors such as UP ‘N ATOM, a handcrafted soap maker from San Francisco and The Martinez family from Oaxaca, Mexico who will present their line of Zapotec rugs."


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GreenRoad Wins San Francisco Business Times' Green Business Award

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- GreenRoad, a global pioneer in improving driving behavior, announced that it has been named the winner in the San Francisco Business Times' Green Business Awards, in the transportation category. The company received the award at an awards reception held at the Hilton San Francisco, June 11.

"We are honored to accept this award and acknowledgement of our hard work toward improving driving behavior and reducing vehicle emissions," said Dan Steere, CEO of GreenRoad. "We appreciate being able to contribute to San Francisco's leadership in green innovation, and already are working with other great cities and states who are following suit."

"GreenRoad was one of 15 exceptional companies who received the Green Business Award out of a pool of more than 200 nominations," said Mary Huss, publisher, San Francisco Business Times. "GreenRoad sets the bar high for green innovation, providing solutions that not only can save the environment, but also save companies money and save lives. Companies like GreenRoad are the engine for economic growth."

GreenRoad's service combines patented in-vehicle technology with integrated Web-based applications that continuously rate driving skills and behavior, provide drivers feedback as they drive and sustain behavior improvements through constant reinforcement. Sensors analyze up to 120 separate types of driving events. Drivers receive in-vehicle feedback in the form of a red-yellow-green LED display.

The San Francisco Business Times' Green Business Awards are designed to honor the leaders and entrepreneurs in green business, clean technology, energy conservation and alternative energy, as well as innovators and champions of green and sustainable business. Winners were announced in 15 categories, selected from 29 finalists.


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S.F. to impose fines for tossing food scraps

Mandatory composting part of city's plan to eliminate landfill waste by 2020

SAN FRANCISCO - Trash collectors in San Francisco will soon be doing more than just gathering garbage: They'll be keeping an eye out for people who toss food scraps out with their rubbish.

San Francisco this week passed a mandatory composting law that is believed to be the strictest such ordinance in the nation. Residents will be required to have three color-coded trash bins, including one for recycling, one for trash and a new one for compost — everything from banana peels to coffee grounds.

The law makes San Francisco the leader yet again in environmentally friendly measures, following up on other green initiatives such as banning plastic bags at supermarkets.

Food scraps sent to a landfill decompose fast and turn into methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. Under the new system, collected scraps will be turned into compost that helps area farms and vineyards flourish. The city eventually wants to eliminate waste at landfills by 2020.

Chris Peck, the state's Integrated Waste Management Board spokesman, said he wasn't aware of an ordinance as tough as San Francisco's. Many cities, including Pittsburgh and San Diego, require residents to recycle yard waste but not food scraps. Seattle requires households to put scraps in the compost bin or have a composting system, but those who don't comply aren't fined.

"The city has been progressive, and they've been leaders and it appears that they're stepping out of the pack again," he said.

Fines to be enforced in 2010
San Francisco officials said they aren't looking to punish violators harshly.

Waste collectors will not pick through anyone's garbage, said Robert Reed, a spokesman for Sunset Scavenger Co., which handles the city's recyclables. If the wrong kind of materials are noticed while a bin is being emptied, workers will leave what Reed called "a love note," to let customers know they are not with the program.

"We're not going to lock you up in jail if you don't compost," said Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom who proposed the measure that passed Tuesday. "We're going to make it as easy as possible for San Franciscans to learn how to compost."

A moratorium on imposing fines will end in 2010, after which repeat offenders like individuals and small businesses generating less than a cubic yard of refuse a week face fines of up to $100.

Businesses that don't provide the proper containers face a $500 fine.

Proponents: Others will follow SF's lead

Sean Elsbernd, one of the two supervisors who opposed the proposition that passed 9-2, said the measure was "over-the-top" and that calls to his office Wednesday were critical of the new law.

"This is just going to aggravate and aggrieve homeowners who are doing their best," said Elsbernd.

But proponents say it is important to get people's attention about the importance of keeping those biodegradable materials out of landfills.

Ballard predicted that recycling food scraps eventually will seem as ho-hum as saving aluminum cans and newspapers.

"That used to seem like such a chore," he said. "Now we do it every day."

Newsom was expected to sign the measure if the board passes it in a final vote next week.


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Monday, June 15, 2009

San Francisco Approves Nation's Toughest Recycling Law

Intent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, San Francisco officials this week approved an aggressive expansion of the city's recycling program, requiring all residents and businesses to separate recyclable materials and food waste from garbage that winds up in landfills. Every home and commercial operation will now be required to sort its refuse into three different bins-blue for recycling, green for compost, and black for trash-or else face fines by the city. Residents could be hit with $100 penalties, and businesses up to $500, for not placing refuse in the correct bin. City officials insist the fines will only come as a last resort after numerous warnings are issued first.

City leaders hope the program will reduce by two-thirds the 600,000 tons of garbage San Francisco dumps annually into landfills, by redirecting plastic bottles, cans, and food waste to reusable operations. A study conducted of the city's garbage found 36% of San Francisco's waste can be used as compost, and another 31% is recyclable. Food waste in particular is a problem in landfills, because as it decomposes it produces methane, one of the heaviest gases helping to exacerbate global warming.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said the ultimate goal of the city's recycling program is to completely stop sending refuse to landfills or incinerators by 2020.


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San Francisco airport to get new $15M for baggage system

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco International Airport is getting $15 million in federal stimulus money for a new baggage handling system that officials say will speed up the check-in process and improve security.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the funding for a new inline baggage handling system Thursday during a tour of the airport. The money is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress earlier this year.

Officials say the new baggage system will eliminate the need for passengers to walk their checked luggage to a Transportation Security Administration screening station. It also has enhanced explosive detection technology and is expected to reduce repeat bag scans and physical searches.


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San Francisco Zoo opens up lion and tiger house, but won't show off feedings

The San Francisco Zoo has reopened its Lion House to the public for the first time in about two years, zoo officials announced today.

The Lion House, home to Siberian and Sumatran tigers, African lions and snow leopards, opened Thursday afternoon and will remain open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for public viewing, according to the zoo.

Zoo Executive Director Tanya Peterson said the opening was to commemorate the zoo's 80th anniversary this year, and because of its popularity with visitors.

"The Zoo's mission is to connect people with wildlife, and the Lion House provides visitors with that personal connection with these majestic animals," Peterson said.

Public big cat feedings will remain closed to the public and will be done in the morning before the zoo opens "to provide them a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere," the zoo said.

The zoo's big cat feedings were first discontinued after a December 2006 incident in which a female zookeeper was bitten and clawed, then reopened briefly in September 2007, and discontinued again after the Dec. 25, 2007, fatal mauling of a zoo visitor by an escaped tiger.


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Carnaval San Francisco 2009

Faviola Medina wore an ornate costume as part of the Xiuhcoatl danza azteca group. The annual Carnaval parade down 24th Street and Mission Streets drew thousands of spectators despite the cold temperatures Sunday morning May 24, 2009.


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Friday, June 12, 2009

The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee

This Tony® award-winning hit musical recently closed on Broadway after nearly 1,200 performances. The hilarious comedy celebrates the mania of competition as the funniest and sardonically nerdy contestants compete for the Spelling Bee title. Six wacky misfits strive to define themselves apart from their crazy families as they confront the pitfalls of puberty. The quirky youngsters discover themselves as they vie for selection in this witty and wise Broadway hit about coming of age on stage!


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

San Francisco Bachata International Festival July 16-19, 2009

This upcoming weekend will feature bachateros from all over the world in the greatest city in the world - San Francisco! S.F. Bachata Festival is a 4-day dance festival focusing on Bachata and various art forms such as Tango, Merengue, cha cha cha, Salsa, Martial Arts, Lap Dancing, Fitness and Kizomba.


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Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Sidewalks of San Francisco

Coming off a weekend in which New York City gave one of the most famous stretches of street in the world to pedestrians, we're going to San Francisco to take a walk with Streetsblog Network member Pedestrianist. They've got a post on the inadequacy of that city's sidewalks -- and a few very simple suggestions for improvements:

While some neighborhoods in this city have held onto luxuriously wide sidewalks, they are almost all dissected by arterial roads. That is, streets that were re-engineered after the rise of auto-centrism to serve as expressways for large volumes of car traffic. Since these streets tend to be not much wider than average, the extra road space devoted to cars usually comes at the expense of pedestrians.

The intersection of Potrero Avenue and 16th Street is one of the worst. This is a major transfer point for several Muni lines (37,572 people ride the 9, 22, 33, and 53 lines every day). As people dash between buses, McDonalds and the Potrero shopping center, they jostle for limited space with each other and with speeding traffic.

The layout of the intersection hampers pedestrian flow and lowers the quality of this space. This broad square enjoys lots of sunshine and great views of downtown and Twin Peaks. This is a historic spot, where Joe DiMaggio played with the San Francisco Seals. But it's a miserable place, to be avoided even by those who pass through out of necessity; and it doesn't have to be that way.

Pedestrianist goes on the submit a humble proposal for change that includes bus stop and corner bulbouts -- a relatively cheap and easy solution that would provide significant relief.


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Crown Memorial State Beach and Shoreline Trail

On the southern shore of Alameda is Crown Memorial State Beach, whose long shoreline looks across the bay to San Francisco and San Bruno Mountain. At the western end is horseshoe-shaped Crab Cove, a perfect spot for exploring tide pools and watching shorebirds. From there, you can walk 2.5 miles along the Shoreline Trail to the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, a salt marsh at the eastern end. Long a popular Bay Area destination for its inviting water and warm sands, this beach has been the setting for amusement parks, carnivals, balloon rides and prize fights. The park is named after its champion, state Assemblyman Robert W. Crown.
Crab Cove

Start your outing at the Crab Cove Visitor Center (1252 McKay Ave.). This warm and friendly wooden building, often filled with schoolchildren, offers an 800-gallon aquarium filled with marine creatures, hands-on exhibits and a well-stocked bookstore.

Walk down to the Crab Cove Marine Reserve. During low tide, a special wheelchair-accessible ramp and viewing path leads you right down to the water, where you can almost touch the barnacles. This is a protected area; collecting or disturbing marine life is not allowed.

Depending upon the tide and the season, you may see brown pelicans, grebes, mallards, buffleheads and shorebirds such as sandpipers, dowitchers, willets and egrets.
Crown Beach

As you walk east along the shore (water on your right) to start along the Shoreline Trail, you enter an area filled with picnic benches, barbecue pits and freshwater lagoons. Canada geese and ground squirrels are everywhere. The main entrance to the beach (off Otis Drive and Eighth Street) offers wheelchair-accessible changing rooms and restrooms. Enjoy the views of San Francisco across the bay, especially from the City View picnic area.

Continuing on, Shoreline Trail may look like an ordinary sidewalk, but it's a multiuse path: You'll see cyclists too. To your left, across Shoreline Drive, are homes and apartments; to your right are dunes covered with native plants, such as California poppies and salvia, as well as the invasive ice plant, wild radish and dandelion. Frequent boardwalks lead across the dunes to the sandy beach: You can choose between the paved trail and the sand.
Getting hungry?

Past Willow Street on your left is South Shore Shopping Center, where you can stock up on lunch supplies for a picnic or stop for a bite at a cafe.
Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary

At Park Street, the beach ends as you come to the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, a marsh area that is home to many birds, including the endangered California clapper rail. Shortly before Broadway, a wheelchair-accessible overlook lets you gaze across the marshes. If you brought a picnic, this is a great spot for it.

The bright dense cordgrass that you see (Spartina alterniflora) is a fiercely invasive species that is marching through salt marshes around much of San Francisco Bay. A major eradication effort is currently under way. Past Broadway, the trail ends, but you can continue your walk on the mostly dirt path that continues along the marshland all the way to the Bay Farm Island Bridge.
Things to Know

The Crab Cove Visitor Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The parking fee in the Crab Cove lot is $5 from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Dogs on leash are permitted on the grassy areas and on the Shoreline Trail but not on the beach.

Fishing from the shore is permitted. Persons 16 and older must have a California state fishing license.


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