like a setting sun

SF outer sunset
The Sunset. It’s a long way from downtown. The glare of the sun sinking toward the sea basks everything in a yellowy pastel-themed wash, the salty air gnawing away at the corners, the pale shadows drooping lazily across wooden boards. They call this area the Sunset not because the Sun sets here, but because, well, no actually that is the only reason. The Sun goes up on one side, yeah, and then goes down over this side of town. I mean it makes total sense, if you think about it, this is the west side of San Francisco, the sun generally sets in the west, the ocean is there so it can only set near here, so this place is called the Sunset. Oh sure other places have a sun and that also sets but not like here, here it really means it, with its pastel salty gnawed shadows and its glare and stuff. It is miles away.

I took the N-Judah from the part of the city where the sun neither sets no rises but arrives exactly when it means to, counting the stops and watching my Lego watch for the time; I was coming here for an Event. This was no random trip out to the Sunset, which by the way, isn’t a huge destination. My wife lived out here years ago and hated it – she is a Californian used to the Sun, and while they call it the Sunset they should really call it the BloodyFogHidesTheSun, because it is generally agreed to be the foggiest part of an already foggy city. It’s quieter, more residential, and interesting in its out-of-the-way way. I came here, on the N-Judah as I said, which for the uninitiated is a streetcar line of the Muni Metro, to go to a small gallery for a Book Signing Event.

The Book was “On to the Next Dream”, the Signing author was Paul Madonna, the artist and writer famous for his All Over Coffee strip. A decade ago I first discovered his work in a bookshop in Berkeley while I was out on a sketchcrawl and loved his sepia-washed linework scenes from around San Francisco, sketching people free and largely vehicle free scenes of streets and buildings just as I was trying to do; for a little while I sketched monochromatically myself (before I realized how much I like colour). Nevertheless he was a big influence back then as I aspired to improve my own drawn lines. I actually met him a few months ago, with his wife, at the Manetti Shrem opening event (you remember that, surely), which was a surprise. This latest book of his is a smaller book than his previous ones and features a lot more of his writing, detailing in often absurd situations the reaction to his being evicted in an increasingly unaffordable and alienating version of San Francisco that is exactly the real one. It’s a touching book, with his ever-evocative illustration intertwining his equally illustrative text. I definitely recommend. Oh, and Paul signed it too. I mentioned we had met a few months before and he said, “oh yes, you’re the sketching guy,” which is a pretty accurate description. I got my book which I couldn’t wait to read, and looked at the art on display, ate some of those rolled up sandwiches and other fancy food. There were a lot of people there all lining up to get a signed copy, also looking at pictures and eating rolled up sandwiches, talking about San Francisco, some dressed pretty fancily, arriving in Ubers and Lyfts and other chauffeured vehicles, and if I were the sort of person to mingle and talk to people I would probably have met lots of very interesting people, but my sketching fingers were itchy and I decided to go across the street and draw The Last Straw, which was some sort of shop (my inquisitive mind wasn’t inquisitive enough to inquire what they sold). I saw it from the window, and looking at drawings of buildings makes me want to go and draw buildings. Like Father Dougal, who cannot resist pressing a big red button on a plane if people are talking about big red buttons on planes. So I drew The Last Straw, as more Ubers and Lyfts pulled up behind me and more well dressed city folk went to the gallery. It was nice, but I am shy so I sought out the N-Judah, said goodbye to the ocean, and headed away from the Sunset and into the Moonrise, I guess.

sunset doesn’t last all evening

SF inner sunset tryptich

More from the Inner Sunset, San Francisco. Following the ZineFest I did some sketching first in Golden Gate Park and then around 9th and Irvine Streets. I’m really grateful for those newspaper boxes you get in big cities in America, because it’s something to stand against and lean upon, as I did when sketching the middle image of this tryptich. tutti frutti on irvine street, SFThat store, Tutti Frutti, was too colourful not to sketch. They sell lots of interesting little bits and bobs, cards, t-shirts, miscellany. I like drawing in these little segments, running them together, but it’s fun to see how they look on their own as well, so I’ve cropped the middle piece.

Apparently (I’m told by my wife) I have been around here before, when we stopped by for a doughnnut almost five years ago, days after moving to America. That five-years-since-emigration date is approaching fast; I should celebrate. Half a decade in the US… wow. Anyway, if I recall it was a nice doughnut.

I sketched Sutro Tower from the Park in glorious sunshine. It’s such an odd structure, like an invading insectoid alien stuck on a hill. I can imagine lazers popping from his eyes and zapping everyone in the Mission or the Sunset, before being laughed at. This might be a good zine, if anyone wants to write it (I don’t).

The last image was from The Mucky Duck pub on 9th. I liked it in there, it was a good pub to sit and draw things, especially the way the light came in through that slanted window. The only problem wa there were some people playing that annoying dice game people sometimes play in pubs here, do you know the one, where they slam the dice (or whatever) down onto the bar or table making a loud slamming noise every thirty seconds or so, so loud that you can’t concentrate on your drawing, your conversation, your beer, anything. They should really tell them, oi, no! Go and play ‘penny-up’ in the street or something.

So I only stayed for one, before grabbing some food, sprinting down the street to catch the N-Judah, and trekking back to Davis. I have some more sketches from that day to show though, so stay tuned… (hint: it includes fire hydrants)

inner sunset

inner sunset 9th street
“Inner Sunset”… i like that phrase, like a good way to describe slowly turning to the dark side, or perhaps a piece of you inside of you that is always calm and golden and peaceful. Actually, it’s just a neighbourhood of San Francisco, but an interesting one that I’d never really been to before (and one which has a park side). I was there for the Zine Fest so I took the time to draw some of the area. The above was drawn in the morning, while the Farmer’s Market went on nearby, and a woman played three different tunes on a violin, over and over and over again. When I was done, I went and bought a load of zines.