This year, our patriotic festivities began with our traditional family bbq on the 3rd. Hamburgers, hotdogs, margaritas, red, white and blue everything, we had all the staples and then some. Both of our families spent the afternoon and firework filled evening together, just as we have the last five years. The niece, now five, has become quite the sassy pants and was a spitfire this year. Hilarious one liners and using big words completely incorrectly are my new favorite characteristics of hers. Being completely unaware of her adorable melodramatic nature makes everything extra amazing. The combination of having everyone in one spot together and Monkey’s constant entertainment made for a very successful party. Thank you, R & D.
For the 4th, we decided to do something drastically different from last year. Considering we spent last year at home, all day, poolside in the most understated fashion ever, anything we decided to do this year qualified as drastically different. Always wanting to see the fireworks over the bay, we decided to stay in San Francisco and photowalk the Fillmore Jazz Festival during the day. Ryan and I absolutely love San Francisco. It is truly a city like no other. I grew up going to San Francisco, frequently. As a child I knew of the city as the best place for shopping, theater and baseball. As an adult, I realize it was where I absorbed my highest doses of culture. The skyscrapers, the people, the traffic, the street performers, the beggars, the noise, the energy you get from being 1 of 1 million. Of course, I still love the shopping, theater and baseball but the city itself holds an entirely different meaning to me now than it did twenty years ago. Today, it’s where we go frequently for anything from short day events to extended weekends away. It’s a refreshing outlet when we want a break from the wine country.
The Fillmore Jazz Festival is not something we have ever attended or really ever considered attending. Music is almost an obsession for me. I mostly blame my father as he has the largest music selection of any person I know and started me off very young with classic basics. I was the only kid I knew who’s favorite album was Queen live at Wembley. It possibly still is. Everything from classic rock to reggae, my dad listened to it all and we listened to it all together. I could write for days about the diverse artists I have been exposed to, my mom’s contribution (think show tunes), my deep love for Freddie Mercury, infatuation with Led Zeppelin, crazy collection of anything featuring Jay-Z, my broad spectrum of musical genres that I have phased in and out of and the ones I have stuck with. However, with all of that, I have never been into jazz. At least, what I thought I knew as jazz. It was an unusual choice for us.
Our goal was to get some street photography in, lots of walking and lots of observing. It was a great opportunity to capture everything from architecture to live performers. Fillmore St. was blocked off for what looked like miles. Crowds of people, eating street food, drinking wine, picnic lunching in the middle of the astro-turfed road, all accompanied by live music. The stages were spaced between blocks so as to not have one performance overlapping the other. It made walking through the festival feel like hitting the scan button on a car radio. Everything from old, classic jazz to young, fresh sounds that made me realize, in jazz there is something for everyone. The store fronts that line Fillmore St. are much like the rest of San Francisco, inconsistent in style and painted in every color you can think of. The hot July day meant everyone was wearing their summer best. I had a hard time not watching everything through the lens, everything looked like a picture. People of all ages, all shapes, all sizes, so colorful, so bright. Even the dogs all looked happy and relaxed.
To give our feet a break we popped into Palmer’s Tavern on the corner of Fillmore and Clay. We had cocktails and shared some beer bites to refuel. I tried the Pimm’s Cup which was much like a Moscow Mule with cucumber, delicous. Each selecting a small plate, I ordered the Spicy Meatballs and Babe went with the Flatbread. We were the most content we had been all day. The food was delightful. The ambiance was friendly and the decor was authentic. Much like a gentlemen parlor, adorned with wild game mounted heads and tufted leather, I felt like I was possibly sitting in a booth once occupied by Bogart or Sinatra.
The festival had grown substantially during our time inside Palmer’s. There was much more traffic on the sidewalk and the congestion was discouraging. After shooting a few more shots of the current band warming up, we decided to detour away from the festival. We decided to get lost. Now, at no point did we actually become lost but we knew once we wandered west we ran the risk of eventually needing Google and Uber. Blocks upon blocks of beautiful Victorian town homes and modern apartment buildings, we crossed through Lafayette Park, accidentally, and meandered around Pacific Heights, my dream neighborhood. Eventually, hours later, we reconnected with Fillmore and caught the tail end of people dispersing from the day-long jazz marathon. We had become anxious to put our feet up and rest before dinner and fireworks. With the density of the fog coming in, fireworks were not looking promising but we had come with a committed purpose. We were determined.
Ryan’s collection of photos from the day turned out beautiful. His editing style for the set captured the over cast, misty aired atmosphere that covered most of the morning and from early evening on. His eye was really on that day. Super proud wifey moment to now follow:
I cannot find the words to emphasize how rejuvenating a cocktail-sponsored, bubble bath foot soak feels after walking up and down the streets of San Francisco for over five hours. Life changing. I drained, refilled and re-bubbled through half a Drake album and one solo cup of Crown and Coke.
Rested and recharged, the bar bites from hours past had worn off and hunger was setting in. Although the sky did not look forgiving, we had high hopes of getting a show come night-fall. Dinner selections around our hotel, Cow Hollow Inn, were overwhelming. We stay at the Cow Hollow in the Marina District often. It’s been a place my parents have stayed at for years. It’s been recently renovated and offers everything from single bed standard rooms to two bedroom suites that are like the SF apartments that we never had. The location is perfect if you enjoy immediate access to Chesnut St. and don’t mind noisey late nights.
We had no idea where we planned on eating but headed out anyway. Passing up numerous options, all seemed great but very packed, we ended up at The Tipsy Pig, a pub style, comfort food restaurant and bar. The menu is small plate style, our favorite. There was no question right away that we were ordering Mac n Cheese, that’s almost always a given when thats an option. In addition we decided on the pulled pork sliders with cole slaw and popcorn shrimp with andouille sausage. The food was no fuss and well done. As Babe said mid-shrimp, “I could eat this every day.” If I had to pick something to complain about I would have to say a little more cheese in the mac but seriously would order it all again and most likely will next time. For refreshments, after being on my fancy-shmancy cocktail kick, I went with a Kentucky Mule while Babe stuck with Crown and Coke. My drink had a smooth peach undertone with lemon and bourbon. I had two.
It was immediately apparent after dinner that there would be no visible firework show but we walked all the way down to the water anyway. It was cold. It was foggy. It was grey. It was windy. It was everything you wouldn’t want it to be for the 4th of July. We took a few shots and headed back into the neighborhood hotel-bound. We were calling it good.
Our walk back was almost better than a firework show over the bay. We took the long way back and spent dusk snapping building fronts that captured the essence of the notoriously desirable district. I felt like I was back in Hollywood. The elaborate doors, the trim, the preserved fixtures, the glamor.
Closing out the night we listened to the boisterous explosions that were doing their best to shine through the fog out our hotel window. With Independence Day on the TV and live stream of whatever firework show there was on the phone we rang the night in wearing jammies and eating Cheeto puffs.
The morning came quickly and we were anxious to head out, beat the traffic and get home. Deciding to forfeit a sit-down breakfast and go for a quick coffee to go, we walked over to Chestnut Street Coffee Roastery. With white chocolate mochas and bacon breakfast sandwiches, we soaked in the last bits of the city-meets-ocean air. Fresh-faced, sweats adorned and brown paper bag in hand, for a split second, I felt like a local. As a parting gift to ourselves, we stopped into Susie Cakes for a box of cupcakes. I feel like I have an obligation to try as many featured flavors as possible. Everything looks too pretty to touch and tastes too good to be real. I blame my Susie Cakes addiction on my mother.
Our coveted 4th of July weekend was one of a kind. Celebrating our freedom and the individuals that allow us that freedom by fighting for the rights that we often, carelessly take for granted can be done and should be done anywhere in the United States, everyday. Not a day goes by in our home that we are not in one way or another reminded of how lucky we are to be American. However, something about being in San Francisco, where so much history has walked the streets, made the day feel special, more so than it already is.
Cheers, to the USA, especially, the city by the bay.