The Chinese Dancers of West Sunset Playground

If you head to West Sunset Playground on the weekends with your kids you’ll likely see a large line up of mostly Chinese women dance exercising to a mix of Chinese pop music or slightly upbeat house sounding music.

Most of the women are in their late 40’s or older it appears to me though I can’t tell because for some reason Asian’s tend to hold onto their youth for much longer than the rest of us. Dancing is a good method of exercise, but this is nothing like the wild dancing you’ll see at a rave. This is a much slower and actually choreographed looking form of dance. Think of it as like country line dancing with Chinese music.

Unfortunately for us, this isn’t the best time to take our daughter to the playground because she loves to watch the dancing and let’s herself go and wants to join in. She runs around the playground for a couple of minutes and goes into hyperdrive running for the dancers. She’s at an age where music makes her move and when she see’s others dancing it makes her want to join in. In some ways I wish my Cantonese/Mandarin was better so that I could talk with the few that are directing the dancing, but that wasn’t high on the list of things to learn when I was a kid. All I ever learned was how to say hello, goodbye, thank you and a few other ways that would get your face slapped. As a side note, growing up in the Sunset district I’ve learned how to get my face slapped in twelve different languages.

But let’s get back to the dancers. They are the regulars which started out as a weekend Tai-chi group and has added in a few more side groups on the weekends. The men sometimes are there to butch things up practicing martial arts in a group. One day there was a group of Chinese fan dancers [which is a little known martial art where the fan thingies between the paper used to be knives]. You pretty much never know what to expect there other than the dancers on the weekends, but it is definitely an interesting cultural display that you don’t really see anywhere else. I tried shooting video of them so you could enjoy the full experience, but unfortunately my iPhone doesn’t have any steady cam features so it would look like the video was shot by an alcoholic going through withdrawals.

The Chinese dancers are a fun event to see every weekend at West Sunset playground if you’re looking for something different to do and if you have a kid or two the playground that has had a recent redo is a great place to visit. ??????


Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine

Rarely do I have an interest in watching old movies anymore, but I happen to stumble across this one on Netflix and I had never heard of it before. The reason this movie makes it to  Baghdad By The Bay is due to the fact that there is a lot of footage shot in 1965 San Francisco. This movie has one of the most hilariously ridiculous chase scenes that is almost a spoof of Bullitt.

The premise of the movie is pretty sketchy, but I guess from the title you would expect that. It stars Vincent Price [Dr. Goldfoot] as an evil mad scientist [no stretch there] who with his assistant Igor [who Dr. Goldfoot has brought back to life from the dead]. Dr. Goldfoot is making female robots that he dresses up in gold lamé bikini’s that parade around his castle/mortuary lair in San Francisco. The reason he makes them is so that they can go out and marry rich men around the world and then have them sign over all of their finances to make Dr. Goldfoot uber-rich. Incidentally, Dr. Goldfoot makes his first appearance in they typical Vince Price like garb, but wear a pair of gold lamé elf shoes complete with the ringing little bells. Fashion faux pax in my book.

The movie gets underway with Diane or number 11 being sent out to meet her first match. In the process she gets shot for no reason several times and walks into a diner and meets Frankie Avalon [Craig Gamble] who after walking up and drinking his glass of milk starts spewing milk out of the gunshot wounds. Yes, this is definitely a slapstick, campy movie throughout. We’re talking Jerry Lewis kind of slapstick with prat falls, spit takes, people falling out of windows and huge objects landing on people’s heads where they get up afterwards and shake it off.

The real fun of the movie is actually during the car chase at the end. At one point we have Price chasing Avalon in two cable cars. They didn’t realize that because they’re connected to the same cable there was no way that you could go faster so at one point Avalon jumps off and steals a car and Price just makes the cable car drive off of the tracks in pursuit all the way to Sausalito.

That was the totally weird, how stoned were the writers when they put this together part of the movie. The car on car chase scenes were pretty funny if you know the city though. At one point they drive down Lombard street and make a right and end up in West Portal where you can see the familiar signs of the Philosopher’s Club and Original Joe’s. Avalon gives Price the slip who drives into the West Portal tunnel on the wrong side only to crash into a K-Ingelside train as it exists the tunnel. Price steals another car and chases after Avalon for a couple of blocks where they make another right and end up driving past Alamo Square. Maps were apparently not necessary back then because after they passed the park at Alamo Square they make a left and end up driving past Fort Mason and down Marina Green toward the Presidio where they end up at Fisherman’s Wharf.

The good guy wins in the end because, well, c’mon it’s Frankie Avalon, he always wins. This movies was stupidly funny and I guess back then seeing two guys at a bar drinking an 8oz glass of whiskey wasn’t considered odd. If you’re a feminist you definitely won’t like this movie that has no nudity but a whole lot of gold lamé booty shaking going on with the mindless mostly blonde [there was one token Black and token Asian girl] bikini’d women serving their evil master Dr. Goldfoot. The movie had to be a spoof on the James Bond Goldfinger released in 1964 and even as bad as it was it was still a movie that I couldn’t stop watching. It gives you a look at the old San Francisco and they way of life people had back then, well, as least from Hollywood’s view point. Now I want to go out and find that castle in San Francisco, because it wasn’t Julius’ Castle.

Incidentally, there was a sequel made called Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs only this time Frankie Avalon was replaced by Fabian.