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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Pier 39 Sea Lions Celebrate a Milestone by Laying Around and Barking

Beth LaBerge
Sea lions hard at work
What do tourists and sea lions have in common? They arrive in droves to claim Pier 39 as their own.

Just when you thought a group of 850-pound 6-foot-long slippery mammals couldn't get any bigger, (the sea lions, not the tourists...) Aquarium of the Bay and Pier 39 announced that today marks the grand opening of the Sea Lion Center, a kick-off event for the 24th anniversary of the sea lions arrival to Pier 39.

The Sea Lion Center overlooks Pier 39's K-Dock, where the sea lions have called dibs and declared home since 1990, shortly after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

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Tourism for Locals: Diego Rivera Mural Satisfies the Eyes and Wallet

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Top Half Panorama of Diego Rivera's SF Mural: "Pan American Unity"
Want to experience the vibrancy of museum-worthy visual art but live on a street art budget?

In this week's "Tourism for Locals" entry, we bring you a massive piece of modern art that was commissioned specifically for San Francisco by one of the greatest modernist painters of the 20th century: Diego Rivera.

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Video of the Day: Dia de los Muertos Parade and Art Show

Marigold Project

The Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos is something of a cross-cultural collaboration. While the Aztecs used their summer month of Miccailhuitontli to celebrate dead children, fallen warriors, and other ancestors, the Spaniards brought the Roman Catholic All Soul's Day with them in the 16th century.

Eventually the two holidays merged -- the Spanish influence pushed the celebration into the fall, but it retained the rituals of the indigenous tradition. Here in San Francisco, our own Day of the Dead festivities draw from two distinct cultures as well. Each year, the city's artistic types come out in style alongside the Mission District's Latino community to celebrate those that have passed from this world.

See also:

Tacos, LSD, and Jesus: The Stranger vs. The Believer Storytelling

Books for Surviving the Impending Apocalypse

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Downtown San Francisco's Top 10 Secret Spaces and Hidden Oases

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We've heard lore of bamboo forests and sun decks in the otherwise inhospitable downtown San Francisco, but when we endeavor to visit such mythical places, it always ends the same way: we can't find the exact location, or a menacing security guard prompts us to quickly turn away. Surely all the good worker bees should just continue hunching in front of the computer during lunch because that's the only option, right?

Wrong. Since 1985, this fine city has required developers to provide one square foot of public space for every 50 square feet of office space, known as POPOS or privately owned public spaces. How do you find POPOS? Developers aren't keen on making it easy. Bad signage or front desk inquiries are de rigueur, the nonprofit urban think tank SPUR noted in their 2009 report, but they've been on the case ever since,  and this month they've released a new app which promises to radically alter your lunch hour. S.F.'s Secret Spaces and Hidden Oases identifies over 50 POPOS on a map, as well as hours of operations and tricks to getting to where you want to go, whether it is a five-story atrium or a sculpture garden.

We combed the app to bring you the top 10 gems hidden in plain sight in downtown S.F.

See also:

San Francisco's Top 10 Offbeat Museums

The Haas-Lilienthal House Declared a National Treasure

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Show Your Love for the City's Art with this Photo Contest

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Calling all Instagram lovers, which judging from my Facebook feed, is everyone and their mom's dog.

Show off your badass tilt and shift skills with this contest that also celebrates local artists and studios. Part of the month-long SF Open Studios event, the San Francisco Travel Association (our official tourism org. Did you know we had one?) wants to encourage your support of the arts through self-guided tours and Instagram photos. Here's the skinny:

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What to Do this Weekend -- SOMA Walking Tour and Live Mural Painting

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We're big proponents of non-corporate, revelatory tourism -- the kind that's interesting to both outsiders and locals who've lived in San Francisco for years. Many of S.F.'s secrets lie in the changing landscape it was built on, the patterns of which are still evident in the city's physical shape. As part of the "Performing Community" project this month, SOMArts and SF Camerawork put together Dunes, Trains, and Beer: The Buried History of SoMa, a neighborhood walking tour that explores its buried history.

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Bored in Chinatown? Go on a Cat or Ghost Tour

The day of Beckoning (cat) is at hand!

We've all seen the (Japanese) "Beckoning Cat" Maneki-neko that has a popular presence in Chinese businesses, but have you also noticed the prevalence of real cats straight chillin' at every dim sum joint and non-touristy dive bar in Chinatown? The last time I met one of these elusive kitties, I asked the owner if she was his, only to find out that most of these eerily all-knowing felines are neighborhood pets and strays that restaurant owners don't mind keeping around. But everyone loves kitties, don't they? I'm certainly not the only one who's friends with C.A.A. (Cat Addicts Anony-mouse) on Facebook. And yet no other neighborhood consistently offers me the company of a cat. Why are the alleyways and bun bakeries in Chinatown so willing to let our furry friends hang around?

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Interview: Submerged Queer Spaces filmmaker, Jack Dubowsky

Benjamin Coopersmith

Composer, writer, and filmmaker Jack Curtis Dubowsky has scored five feature films, and directed several shorts. But now he's ventured into feature-length territory with his first  documentary film, Submerged Queer Spaces, a study of San Francisco's queer history through architecture and urban archaeology, which premieres at this year's LGBT Film Festival, Frameline36. Dubowsky will be a big presence at the festival, with a walking tour of spaces highlighted in the film and and his choral work, Harvey Milk: A Cantata, featuring unpublished texts by Milk.

Dubowsky told us about finding interview subjects who were going out in San Francisco in the '40s, the effect architecture has on our lives, and the importance of getting out in the world and talking to people.

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Audio Tour to Find "Everywhere Man" Unfolds as Narrative Rather Than Sight-Seeing Trip

Tourists in San Francisco surely have taken, collectively, tens of millions of photos of the city -- especially its most tourist-laden areas such as the cable cars and Fisherman's Wharf. And in the background of many of these photos exists the Everywhere Man, a man of mystery whose face is always obscured but whose presence -- once noticed -- is everywhere.

Once you've discovered he's out there, the search for his identity begins. Here to guide you rookie detectives through the process are the folks at Invisible City Audio Tours, who -- as part of Litquake 2011 -- and their third self-guided audio tour, Everywhere Man.

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