A sunny day in San Francisco 1958

San Francisco 1958 from Jeff Altman on Vimeo.

Found this old footage of San Francisco on the Atlantic. Apparently, the back story is that:

Jeff Altman, a professional film colorist in Chicago, restored the film, which was shot by his grandfather. He was a police officer in Chicago and a 16mm film enthusiast, shooting rolls of perfectly exposed film on trips around the U.S.

It's very, very cool to see the city I live in 60 years ago. Strangely, much of the city feels the same. The cable cars are still here (including the turnaround on Powell) and the skyline has the same aesthetic with landmarks like Alcatraz and Coit Tower piercing the skyline, despite some other notable absences. I also love seeing the charming fashion of the time.

I can really geek out on this urban history stuff. I was pretty obsessed with it when I lived in Chicago and London. I read tons of books, took classes, and went on all sorts of tours. I think part of it is that understanding the histories of the cities in which I live makes me feel a part of something bigger. I understand where we came from and where we're going. 

When I first got to San Francisco, I went in search of urban history books about the City. Interestingly, I didn't turn up too many—at least not as many as I could find about New York, London, and Chicago. Does anyone know why?

I have a couple of crazy theories on it:

1. San Francisco is a young city in comparison to its other American metropolis peers. San Francisco was first settled in 1776, some two centries after New York City was first settled by the Dutch. London, of course, way preceded both cities, since the British capitol was one of the first modern cities ever created. But the city of San Francisco is in many ways still younger. I think the earthquake and fire of 1906 must have wiped out much of the old archtecture. Which is why there may not be as much of a historical connection to the days of old. 

2. Maybe the most vibrant historical era is in the counter-culturalism of the 50s and 60s—and could that distill less reverance for history? There's a lot about San Francisco that has pushed the status quo. The Beat Generation, the Hippie Counterculture, Berkeley in general, and Harvey Milk. Ironically, maybe this city has had a historical disregard for the past.

Anyone else have ideas about why there many not be as much depth of urban history here? Or any book recommendations?

Christmas tree decorating success!


Christmas tree 2011


Christmas Tree decorated


  • 1 large Christmas tree
  • 2 bottles of premium Charles Shaw wine
  • 2 packages of mulling spices
  • 1 Target run
  • 2 sets of white tree lights
  • 1 box Trader Joe's sugar cookie mix
  • assorted ornament balls from Target
  • friends


Mix all ingredients together. Let mingle for several hours.

Result: Tree decorating success!

We had a lovely holiday get together of friends this past weekend, during which we made sugar cookies, mulled wine, played shovunda, and decorated the tree. The result was triumphant: a beautiful Christmas tree!

Happy holidays to all!

O, Christmas Tree!

Christmas tree 2011

The holidays have officially arrived in the Chun home. Josh drove with me to Home Depot in Daly City yesterday to help me pick out (and, OK, maybe help carry) a beautiful 6-foot Douglas fir.

Tonight we're going to go to Target to look for some decorations and lights, and tomorrow some friends will come over to help decorate.

It's actually not the first time we picked out a tree together. The week before last—the day before Thanksgiving, actually—we went with my dad in Hawaii down to Don Quixote, the Asian market, which had received the very first shipment of trees in Honolulu.

And after much tugging, tossing, and turning, we chose a really lovely tree for my parents' home. Though most families wait until after Thanksgiving to set up their tree, my dad insisted that it was much more fun to have the tree up in time for Thanksgiving guests to see. It was worth it in the end. 

Here's the tree in action during Thanksgiving gift exchange, a tradition my family calls Shovunda (cause you "shove it undah da bed").

Christmas tree in Hawaii

It's the most WONDERFUL time of the year!

The Best Worst Things to Bring to a Picnic in the Park

A Fall's Summer in Mission Dolores Park

There must have been half a dozen times in the past few months when autumn cool has swept San Francisco, and I declared it a new season—time for scarves and hats and coats and boots and hot pumpkin lattes. But, just as quickly as fall arrived, summer would flush the air again and bring wind hot and heavy with heat and broad, generous sunshine. So is September and October in the Bay. 

We had one of those heat waves a few weeks ago. Tom—our resident Midwest loyalist whose many skills include checking the weather—announced that it was going to be a beautiful Saturday, which called for bbqing in Mission Dolores Park. Quickly, we realized that none of us actually owned a hibatchi or had any time to get meat, so plans were adjusted for a potluck picnic on what was forecasted to be one of the nicest days in the year. 

If you've never been to Mission Dolores Park, it is somewhere between a playground, the DMV, Central Park, a bark park, and one big bong. And it is totally appropriate for children. Frisbees, balls, and dogs fly freely, and all manner of people come out to sit on the green hills and do exactly whatever they want. Sometimes police vans arrive and sit at the foot of the hill and watch.

But for our part, we had planned an innocuous picnic, and I was happy to pick out two bottles of Italian soda, soft brie, blue cheese, duck pate, and a baguette.

Which all seemed to be a wonderful idea until we realized that none of those foods held up very well in the rogue summer heat. The brie became runny, the blue cheese got gooey, and the pate turned suspicious. Which is why our romantic picnic foods became a sorry idea shielded by a large shade tower made of Ruffles potato chips:

A Fall's Summer in Mission Dolores Park

Oh well, lesson learned: No more soft foods on hot San Francisco days—unless eaten quickly. :-)

First "snow" in San Francisco


San Francisco, 5:15 p.m.

It felt quiet in San Francisco last night. It was the first work day since time fell forward on Sunday and by 4, the cold edges of the evening were already creeping in. By 5, the city was growing blue with darkness. Temperatures dropped a few days earlier, and together with the light, the crowds downtown seemed hushed, almost preoccupied with themselves — sort of like when first snow falls and the whole world goes muffled from the covering; people walk slowly from the awe and from the fear of falling (though we don’t have any of this here). 


It was cold — I could feel it in my fingers — and I watched people walk toward me in their light California jackets with their arms hugging their own bodies for warmth or with their hands dug deep into their pockets.


I look forward to these days in a similar way that I loved Chicago. It means coming home in darkness and hands numbed with cold. You’ll get a headache and realize that it’s actually your ears burning from the chill. But it’s so nice to be inside.


I think the beginning of fall (or is it winter here?) might be starting.