Category Archives: 2017

Ein Schönes Wochenende (A Beautiful Weekend)

The ten-year drought in California is over. Fountains are flowing again. Cherry blossoms and daffodils are in bloom in the Park. I have come out of hibernation and the synapses are sparking. And Spring is in the air!

Unlike the East Coast, we are experiencing beautiful weather in San Francisco. Germans often wish friends and family “A Beautiful Weekend”, and indeed we celebrated one this week.

Can you walk to a museum within a mile where you live? Indeed, we are fortunate enough to have both the DeYoung Museum and the Academy of Sciences within a stone’s throw of home. We finally took advantage of the convenience and did a twofer in one day to use our memberships in both. For visitors to San Francisco, you can easily conquer these in one fell swoop as they are opposite each other in Golden Gate Park. In the tower at the top of the DeYoung (a Herzog and DeMeuron masterpiece), you can grab a killer view of San Francisco within Golden Gate Park (see images shown below) from the tower (see header image above of tower).

The annual “Bouquets to Art” at the DeYoung allows floral designers to interpret a famous painting or exhibit. The scent of the flowers enhance the experience. A few of my favorites are shown here. Flowers are scattered throughout the museum, with two or three displays in each gallery. The floral displays coerce you into a lively dialog with the paintings.

The nearby Academy of Sciences is a recently renovated, Platinum LEED building. That means it is a sustainable, net-zero energy building. We had neglected this natural history museum and aquarium until recently, after I saw the ones in New York and Berlin. The albino crocodile, Earthquake exhibit, Butterfly Terrarium (in a structure that imitates the Reichstag!) and full-scale skeleton of a blue whale are notable. And, in true San Francisco style, the Terrace Cafe had a decent menu with our choices here (Fish Tacos and Skirt Steak with Arugula Salad).


The annual CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) Festival, held in San Francisco over the past couple of weeks, closes this weekend. The “Guangzhou Dream Factory”, was an evocative documentary about African entrepreneurs in China, and a series of seven short films showcased emerging filmmakers. Here’s a couple of shots from the new trendy “Uptown” neighborhood of Oakland where the New Parkway Cinema is located, and the Q&A with the directors and actors of the film shorts.

My midterm art review for figure drawing earlier this week helped me to organize and present what I have produced in class. Here is a spectrum of work along with others’ work. See if you can detect my “style” vs. others’ contributions!

At the beginning of the week, the Acting Chancellor of City College of San Francisco presented plans for the Fort Mason campus, where I attend art classes. Unfortunately, the lease is up for renewal. Options were presented to a vocal group of teachers, students and representatives of the arts in San Francisco. It was a contentious meeting. Despite the re-accreditation and free tuition for San Francisco residents next year, the budget and planning process is very unclear and dubious.


You’ll soon see the launch of the Fourth Annual “Travels with Myself and Others” World Trip! Stay tuned and follow along “real time” during the posts next month! You can check out the itinerary of places to be visited on the tab at the top for “World Tour 2017 (or in the series of bars on the upper right on a mobile device). Join me and and don’t forget to send your comments!

Cafe Lily: Uzbeki-Korean Crossover

Report by Special Correspondent AD Craig (who was not able to attend the White House Correspondents Association dinner due to assignment in Brooklyn):

We all went there today, Saturday, for a late lunch–Emilie, me, our son Sacha, his wife Kate and their 9-month old son Xavier.

Out on the street, the ambiance is pure immigrant Queens–Uzbeks, Russians, Koreans, Chinese.

Inside, the ambiance is pleasantly Soviet–heavy burgundy drapes, with red table-cloths showing under the plastic covers. The lingua franca between the staff–Korean, Uzbek, Russian–is Russian.

The restaurant is a BYO (bring-your-own). The table opposite us–two Uzbeks talking quietly to each other in Russian–were drinking what looked to me like Hungarian “Bulls Blood”, a Soviet red wine favorite from the 1990s.

Disco music was playing softly in the background. This prompted our young disco star, Xavier, to jive in his high-chair for most of the lunch. The Russian & Korean waitresses regularly stopped by to give him a loving smooch.

Our Uzbek waiter was very helpful. He understood that we were looking for a good balance between the Korean, Uzbek & Russian components of the menu. He encouraged us to try Korean salads, Russian soups & pelmeni, and Uzbek shisk-kebabs of various kinds. We readily agreed.

We also added Korean blood sausage–something I had enjoyed in street markets in Seoul–and pan-fried liver.

Our family group was very happy with the results. They were a little surprised that I was mildly critical of some things. For example, all the salads had a kimchi taste. I love kimchi, but Korean salads are very varied with many different, subtle flavors–so I would have liked to see more of that in the menu.

The soup received universal praise from our gang. This is the same soup that the NYTimes reviewer describes in their review. The generous pelmeni with sour cream also went down well.

Surprise, surprise, there was a misunderstanding about our order, so the kebabs didn’t show up. No problem, since we were pooped with the salads, soup, pelmeni, blood sausage & liver. We promised ourselves we’ll try the kebabs next time..!!

Voilà for our family restaurant review of Café Lily, Bensonhurst, NY

The original review:

You can find more of ADavid Craig’s musings in iTunes under:
Footloose by The Grinch

Impressionistic Views

Monet Exhibit

The special Monet exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is worth seeing if you are in town through May. You get an extra bonus on a beautiful day with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Monet’s early years were revealing. He wasn’t always the fuzzy artist we have come to know. He was very accomplished and painted his family and landscapes on trips to London and Holland. His studies of flickering light on water and objects were exquisite. These led him to the later impressionistic work as his eyesight failed him.

He worked so skillfully en plein air that all the paint was still wet on the canvas when he put his brush down! Amateurs could only dream of mastering painting like that.

Going dark

You might think its pretty hard to avoid the news media these days, but I am proud to say that I have gone dark for over a solid month now. After battling a serious addiction to the news, I decided to kick it completely. I couldn’t take the noise and felt like I was going deaf from it.

Short of a few minor infractions by headlines that popped up on innocent websites not known for news (my bank, Instagram, or Twitter for the non-news sites I visit), I went cold turkey. That included TV, internet and newpapers!

The filtered, second- or third-hand information you inadvertently receive from conversations with others protects you from heading into a 100-year flood or dam collapse. My best solicited sources of news and weather reports in California were from friends in Germany! They certainly were much more concise and only told me that I need’t look for Noah’s Ark yet.

I finally broke the ice today and listened to Deutsche Welle’s Langsamer Gesprochen, or news in German spoken s-l-o-w-l-y. I got both curiosity and language learning covered at-the-same-time.

Racist or Anti-Racist?

At our German class last night, we had an interesting assignment. Specifically, we were learning the words for musical instruments and prepositions. In general, the story we were to read with a partner involved a group of residents in an apartment building in a German city. Each of the residents played a different instrument. When they each practiced, they caused havoc and complaints between neighbors in the building.

Next thing we read is that a foreigner moves into the building. He plays the guitar. Suddenly all the neighbors who never spoke to each other become friends and band together to complain about the new neighbor. I love learning German for all the analysis and critical thinking they throw into exercises just to make sure you are paying attention.

The guitarist eventually moves away, and the neighbors go back to being the way they were–unfriendly,complaining, and not speaking to each other.

Clearly there are cultural differences between moral judgment and how we are taught in Germany and the U.S. But if the teacher hadn’t explained it to us, I would have thought it was a racist story! What do you think?

Cafe Lily

I discovered from one of Ruth Reichl’s tweets that a Korean-Uzbeki restaurant exists deep in the heart of Brooklyn. I immediately calendared this intriguing cafe on my list of go-tos once we arrive in New York on our upcoming trip eastward.

The article from the NY Times attached explains how Koreans ended up in the far-flung former Russian state in Central Asia. If it hadn’t been for Julianne’s classmate, who had been to Uzbekistan on a Korean Christian mission, we never would have connected the dots.

But indeed the Koreans were purged from cities like Moscow and Vladivostok during WW 2 to isolated Uzbekistan. If you remember from my first travels in 2013, I visited the Silk Road cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bokhara and Kiva. I can’t wait to get another sweet reminder of the delicate flavors from there, combining plov (pilav) and root vegetables with kim chee and barbequed meat!

For those interested, here’s the writeup:

Here are the photos (reformatted with new editing tools) originally posted from travels to the Samarqand market Bazaar in Uzbekistan in 2014. The market in Tashkent was even larger– one of the biggest in the world that I have seen! (Click on photos for captions and larger images)

Bouquets of Birthday wishes in March to: Farris, Marilyn, Julianne, Frances, and Corene!

A Chinese Chicken Kind of Year

For Chinese New Year’s, I prepared a dinner for eight to those who have never experienced a Chinese celebration. I served the usual chicken and duck (purchased from Irving Street), but added vegetable dishes that included three kinds of mushrooms (not shown in the photo above) with greens and a Fuschia Dunlop recipe of shrimp with green tea over water chestnuts, snow peas, and carrots.

The missing dish from the picture was the taro root and pork belly casserole that was still in the oven. Guests opted for cold noodle salad over black rice. Starters included lotus root chips, and a cross between Chinese salame and head cheese made with pigs’ feet in aspic from an ancient Chinese cooking manual.

Many friends and followers may not be aware of the Lunar New Year celebrated by Chinese all over the world. While it’s not a religious holiday, it’s a version of religion when the focus is on FOOD. I can’t think of another culture that places such great importance on what we eat. The Chinese, although becoming more health conscious, will still defy any food allergies or restrictions. No vegan, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant or peanut-product allergists need apply. We eat pork, chicken, lamb, beef, and fish from head to toe and everything in between. Literally.

I’ve often given a long leash to the Chinese with the notion that deprivation drove habits, desires and fetishes. And certainly food is the best example of Chinese culture in this respect. We have taken food and cooking it to a different level, for the reason of the greatest deprivations we have endured. Chinese greet each other by inquiring if they have eaten yet, not how they are. And frequent roadside conversations among friends and strangers resort to the different type of soup they are preparing or should make to cure an ailment.

So in the year of the Chicken, it’s appropriate to serve the noble bird, along with every other kind of meat you can get your hands on. It used to be an annual event when you could have meat, so the quest for meat has always been compelling in Chinese culture. Even in the land of plenty, old traditions die hard. We still like to see the twinkly eyes of the dead chicken and fish despite the Westerner’s horror at seeing them.

We have evolved over centuries and generations, to still honor our parents, focus on education, and be humble. It’s difficult to break outside the box when millions of our forebears remind you of your place in society. Yet it is a strong and compelling force. The older we get, the more alike the rest of our ancestors we become. And, it’s such not a bad place to be.

According to most Asian cultures, everyone is born into the year of some animal. They repeat every twelve years based on the lunar new year cycle. Gee Kin just discovered that, while he always thought he was a rabbit, he is actually a tiger!! Apparently, in the year he was born, the actual date of the new year was after his February birthday, not before. He never checked the dates until yesterday. So he’s now in the midst of a trans-animal personality change. It’s a pretty big flip-flop from being a bunny to a tiger. Oh dear. Now I can’t stop him from leaping from room to room and scaring the hell out of me, when he used to meekly tiptoe and be terrified of me.

If you are interested in what goes on here in San Francisco over the week of Chinese New Year’s celebrations, take a look at:, with compliments from daughter Melissa.

And speaking of travels, my new page for 2017’s travels will be listed below the header on this page.