A funny thing happened on the way to the park

I had meant this to be my Monday post, but because I was a bit shocked about Darla’s closing I decided to hold off a day. After finishing my part two of Golden Gate Park I saw a tweet about the following “job opening” on craigslist. Click on the photo to read it in its entirety.

I have to admit it’s a pretty funny job listing, but what’s a little bit shocking is that some one is so pissed off about Park and Rec [now Recreation and Parks that they call it now] that they were willing to pay $75 to list this job of an job listing. My close personal friend Craig Newmark [who once banned me from his list] must be laughing all the way to the bank on this one.

I do have to admit that our parks are suffering a bit. When we were kids [and I’m sure my other close personal friend Steve will chime in on this] the parks were well grassy more than weedy. I have another close personal friend Nikolai [who deserves special notice because I’ve used that term and have actually met up with him in the past ten years] worked for the park system as a gardener.

Nikolai used to make sure that the grass was grass and the weeds were gone, that the grass got watered and didn’t turn the many colors it does other than green. We used to have a very nice show piece with the park where the only thing you had to worry about when you were being a rough kid with your friends was hitting the odd piece of crab grass that I remember as hurting like hell.

The drinking fountains used to work until some of the bigger kids would stuff gravel in them so that you’d get squirted with a high pressure blast of water which is what we all took our science classes to learn how to do. God knows where the water came from for those faucets, but I’m sure they’d be on a toxic waste list today.

The park used to be much nicer than it is today. The only way to get even close to the experience is to go out to the west end of the park around the chain of lakes at 45th Avenue [Sunset side] or 43rd Avenue [Richmond side]. That’s about as close as you’re going to find to the old GGP I knew as a kid. The playgrounds out around there have sand that the feral cats aren’t using as a litter box for some reason and it’s just a nice clean and green area. The Arboretum and Japanese Tea Garden used to be free and the DeYoung and Academy of Sciences didn’t cost you an arm and a leg. It was really a place to be proud of if you were from San Francisco. The Polo Fields used to have grass before it died off to the point that weeds don’t even want to grow there.

I’m hoping our interim Mayor Ed Lee reads this or at least someone forwarded him the craigslist job listing. Maybe he could do something to change the park for the better.


Golden Gate Park: Part Two

Now that we’ve talked about the eastern half of Golden Gate Park we can move to the west end which for me started when you cross over Transverse Drive. First stop is Lloyd Lake which also is home to the portico of a home built by Alban N. Towne that was all remained of the $80,000 mansion after the 1906 earthquake. It’s a nice peaceful place to walk without much traffic.

Across from Lloyd lake you’ll encounter Speedway Meadows which has been home to many free concerts over the years and is now home to the Outsidelands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. For me my fondest memory was being a kid and my Mom letting me and a friend go to a free concert there. It was 1969 and the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and the Jefferson Airplane were playing there. Oddly enough that was the last show for the Jefferson Airplane to play until they came back to play there once again as the Jefferson Starship. Oh, I was seven at the time. Can you imagine a parent letting a seven year old kid go to a free concert alone in the park today?

Across from Speedway Meadows you have the Golden Gate Park Disc Golf Park which I have to say I have never been there, but now I have to check it out because playing golf with frisbees sounds like my kind of game. It looks like it takes up the wooded area to the right of Marx Meadows.

Head west and on your left you’ll find the smaller Lindley Meadow which mostly used by large groups of picnickers. I used to love that meadow until we all discovered that there are tons of wasps nests in the ground and they will inundate you once you get the BBQ going.

As you get to the end of Lindley Meadow you come to Spreckels lake and the model yacht club. When you don’t see model yachtsmen sailing their boats on the lake you’ll usually find a tow truck pulling a car out of the lake that’s been dumped there for fun by some joy riding kids on a weekend bender.

Next to the west are the buffalo. Yes, we have buffalo in the park. We used to have a pen of elk in the park next to them, but apparently during mating season the elk got a bit too frisky and would jump out of the pen. Across from the Bison Paddock while you won’t see it from JFK Drive is the Angler’s Lodge where people with fishing poles can cast their lines into empty pool to catch nothing. Beer drinking is optional.

Past that to the south are the Polo fields where the game of polo hasn’t be played since I can remember, but it has been home to the occasional concert or two. You’ll mostly find joggers running around the field doing pretty much nothing else. This was usually a good place to find teenagers drinking beer which is perfect for the police because their equestrian headquarters is right next door.

Now as you start to head west towards the beach you’ll notice things get a bit more peaceful and calm. This part of the park is mostly open space with the largest part being taken up by the Golden Gate Park Golf Course. This is the “poor people’s” golf course in that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg or a membership fee to play a round if you’re into that. I have friends who have been trying to get me to go with them to play golf there, but I haven’t been tempted yet. Now that I know about the Ironwood BBQ that’s on the course, I might change my mind.

Lastly there are the Soccer Fields that I have yet to see a game there and the Queen Willhelmina Tulip Garden which is undergoing some much needed redevelopment. It was a nice place back in the day, but it definitely needs some work now.

If you’ve come this far you can stop at the Beach Chalet and eat up before catching a few waves and heading back home.

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Golden Gate Park: Part One

I’m not sure how Golden Gate Park slipped off my radar in the past because it’s the largest attraction in San Francisco and houses some of the best places to visit in San Francisco, so today, we’re taking a trip to the park.

Built in 1893 as the home base for the 1894 Mid Winter Fair [San Francisco’s first world’s fair] the park was a masterpiece of architectural engineering because after all, it was built on the drifting sands of the outside lands. Golden Gate park is not only the largest park in San Francisco, but in comparison is three times the size of New York’s Central Park.

When it was built the contractors had the idea of putting in easy to care for trees that grew quickly and could be used for lumber. So they chose the eucalyptus tree because of its history. Unfortunately they chose the wrong species and planted lots of blue gum eucalyptus that are of no use to the lumber industry because of their high resin content, but they do give the park a distinct odor in the springtime through fall somewhere between urinal cake and mouthwash.

The park’s main gathering place is the Music Concourse which is flanked by the California Academy of Sciences and DeYoung Museum and Japanese Tea Garden. The stage which is the centerpiece is called the Spreckels Temple of Music, which has been home to thousands of bands in the 60’s-80’s as well as the centerpiece for the stand up comedy competition that drew thousands of people from all over the world and turn the park into more of a roadblock on some weekends.

East of the Concourse is the Conservatory of Flowers which is a pleasant trip, but you can enjoy the flowers and plants outside as well as the adjacent Dalhia Garden for free. Across the street from there and a short jog are the tennis courts, DeLavega Memorial Garden and the Koret Children’s playground. The Playground is an interesting stop as it is huge and hold’s a merry go round and miniature train kids can ride as well as two marble slides that park and rec workers used to keep in shape by sliding down on waxed paper to keep them smooth and give your kids a fast ride down into the sand pile. There is also across from the playground a lawn bowling area which is similar to bocce ball, but apparently with an attitude as there are signs that remind you that bocce ball is not allowed. That’s a bit of a shame since I haven’t seen a single person lawn bowling there for years on the well kept lawns.

Tomorrow I’ll continue on with the western park of the park that has places known to many, but other places that make up the quieter end of the park a special getaway.

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