Tourism For Locals: Ina Coolbrith Park Honors S.F. Poet Pioneer

Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
The view from Coolbrith's Park
In the San Francisco poetry world, there's a woman that embodied the sayings of "women rule the world" and "behind every great man is an even greater woman," and that woman was Ina Dona Coolbrith.

Coolbrith was a revolutionary poet who brought local speech and sights into her work and broke barriers for women in the arts. She even inspired and mentored some of the greatest writers in American literature, which include Jack London and Mark Twain.

Coolbrith had many firsts in her lifetime, most notably of which include being the first poet laureate of California (and for that fact, any state in the U.S.), and the first female poet laureate back in 1919.

The San Francisco park dedicated to her namesake is first rate as well, and boasts breathtaking views that reach poetic heights.

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The Great Quake of '06 and The Great Film About It

P.O.V. shot from W.S. Van Dyke's San Francisco (1936) which recreates the Great Quake of 1906 and the subsequent fires.

On April 18, 1906, at 5:12 a.m., a 7.8 quake struck the City. Much of the city was destroyed during an era when retro-fitting wasn't an option. Thousands died as buildings collapsed on them. Fires raged for days. Archival photographs recall the magnitude of the devastation: block after block of rubble.

And 30 years after the great quake of 1906 destroyed much of San Francisco, Hollywood produced a romantic drama about the catastrophic event.

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Ben Tarnoff's The Bohemians Makes Mark Twain S.F.'s Own

Its the 1860s and San Francisco is booming: the Gold Rush has fueled the economy of the City and everything is growing and expanding at an exponential rate.

San Francisco is getting larger -- not just in infrastructure but in population. Innovative technology and overflowing wealth attract multitudes of outsiders and San Francisco is sprawling with cultural and linguistic diversity.

With these hoards of people, there is a surge in literary demand, creating the ripe and perfect environment for writers and poets.

And it's in this plush, literary haven -- brimming with stories and characters -- where Ben Tarnoff's begins his recently published historical novel: The Bohemians.

In his book, Tarnoff chronicles the early begins of four important writers in early frontier literature: literary golden boy Bret Harte, struggling gay poet and travel writer Charles Warren Stoddard, gorgeous and haunted poet Ina Coolbrith, and the leader of these bohemian bards -- a young Mark Twain who was fleeing his draft for the Civil War.

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Tourism for Locals: Danielle Steel's Hedge-Lined Spreckels' Mansion

Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
Steel's bush needs a trim or wax.
There's a house in San Francisco that is shrouded in history and mystique.

Built at the turn of the 20th century, it's an opulent mansion with 55 rooms among three floors -- its contents closely guarded by a massive security barrier.

Seems like the kind of place to be part of a mystery, or romance, novel and how fitting because it's the home of a celebrity author.

Spreckels Mansion is the home of best selling romance author Danielle Steel and she has it surrounded by a massive, approximately 30-foot-high shrub barrier. The hedge itself has its own celebrity status -- caused by a controversy.

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Contemporary Jewish Museum's Homage to Yiddish Radio

Harvey Varga

San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum will put a 21st century spin on 1930s radio this Sunday; a hearty band of actors and musicians will take to the stage of the CJM's auditorium for a delightful afternoon of laughter and tears as they enact actual scripts from the Golden Age of Yiddish radio.

During it's 1930s heydey, Yiddish radio was enormously popular, with 30 Yiddish stations in New York City alone.

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Tourism for Locals: Macondray Lane Paves the Path for Tales of the City

Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
Follow the stairs to discovery the inspiration for Anna Madrigal's home.

After 40 years of entertaining readers and viewers with the adventures and tragedies of Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann Singleton, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, and other characters; Armistead Maupin, creator of the Tales of the City series, is ending the series with last week's release of The Days of Anna Madrigal.

What started off as a set of weekly installments in The San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, Maupin's Tales of the City series turned into an eight-novel series, three PBS television miniseries (based off the first three novels starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney), and a stage musical at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater in 2011.

The Chronicle
Maupin posing with his inspiration.
The ninth and final book focuses on the final days of the title character, the endearing and all wise, transgender landlady and matriarch of 28 Barbary Lane.

But even if Mrs. Madrigal is ready to "leave like a lady" and Maupin is bidding goodbye this cast of S.F. personalities, it doesn't mean you have to as well.

After all, Tales was inspired by events and location here in our very own foggy City. So let's visit the place that inspired the fictional address of 28 Barbary Lane: Macondray Lane.

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Final Tales: Q&A with Armistead Maupin on Concluding his Iconic San Francisco Series

Juan De Anda/SF Weekly
Armistead Maupin: Chronicling San Francisco one Tale at a time

Armistead Maupin refuses to be the old fart who bickers about San Francisco not being what it used to be, even after chronicling it for nearly 40 years.

What started off as a set of weekly installments in The San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, Maupin's Tales of the City series turned into an eight-novel series, three PBS television miniseries (based off the first three novels starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney), and a stage musical at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater in 2011.

Harper Collins

However, Maupin's work is more than just a popular fad of literature. It's a big-hearted portrait of a time, place, and people that were misunderstood, oversimplified, or simply ignored. Maupin was able to take a 1970s San Francisco that was the national mecca of sexual liberation/acceptance and depict in an endearing and humane manner.

Tales of the City chart the unexpected adventures of esteemed characters like Anna Madrigal, Mary Ann Singleton, and Michael "Mouse" Tolliver while simultaneously commenting and chronicling the changing times of San Francisco and the world at large.

Now Maupin has chosen to end the series after 40 years with last week's release of The Days of Anna Madrigal, a work that is less about departure than coming home. The book is an 270-page love note and elegy for the characters, their way of life, and to that place we and they call home: San Francisco.

SF Weekly had the opportunity to speak with Armistead Maupin on his literary trajectory, the changing nature of gay identity, writing plot lines and sagas over the span of decades, HBO's Looking, and saying good-bye to the residents of 28 Barbary Lane. Below is the full interview with some slight editing for brevity.

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Our Q&A with The Pornographer's Daughter

David Allen

Liberty Bradford Mitchell grew up in the shadow of the adult entertainment industry. Her father was Artie Mitchell, who, along with his brother Jim, opened the San Francisco strip club Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre in 1969. The club was praised by Playboy magazine and Hunter S. Thompson, famously despised by Dianne Feinstein during her tenure as mayor, and was one of the first strip clubs to offer fully nude lap dances.

The brothers also released several adult films, including the groundbreaking Behind the Green Door, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival. But their story turned tragic in 1991, when Jim shot and killed Artie.

Mitchell recalls growing up with this pornographic dynasty, and the circumstances surrounding her father's death, in her new solo show, The Pornographer's Daughter. She recently agreed to answer a few questions for SF Weekly.

With so much history at the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater, how did you decide what to put in the show?
The show is about my experience, personally, growing up as the pornographer's daughter. I do give some tentpole reference to the theater, but really it's my personal experience growing up in my family. I just try to speak for myself.

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Liv and Ingmar: Talking with Director Dheeraj Akolkar About the Love Story

Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman.

On January 10, Liv and Ingmar, Dheeraj Akolkar's moving documentary about Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and his muse, actress Liv Ullmann, opens at the Opera Plaza Cinema. The film is a love story, a valentine to two great artists who inspired each other to do their best work. Decades after their romantic relationship ended, Ullmann and Bergman continued to love each other deeply and profoundly. The films they made during their post romance period continue to mesmerize film lovers.

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Al Goldstein, Creator of Screw Magazine and Free Speech Advocate, Dies (1936-2013)

Al Goldstein and his infamous creation, Screw Magazine

A few decades back, free speech advocates held a rally in New York City's Washington Square Park. The issue at hand was an attempt by local conservatives to get several late night adult programs which were seen on channel 35, Manhattan cable's paid public access TV station, removed from the airwaves.

One of the speakers was a frail, 80-ish Al Lewis, fondly remembered as Grandpa on the 1960s sitcom The Munsters. "Don't let them silence you," Lewis shouted, his fist in the air, "Fuck 'em! Fuck 'em!" For years afterward, Al Goldstein ran clips of Lewis' speech on Midnight Blue, his long running, hilariously raunchy channel 35 chat show.

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