Category Archives: San Francisco

Ballad of MadC: artist and visionary


Singularly brilliant. Artist MacC. She looks like a normal human. But what she puts on canvasses around the world looks like it came out of a superhuman.

The Berlin artist is doing her first West Coast show, called “Over the Edge.” I met her today as she was preparing and pulling the show together at San Francisco’s
1:AM Gallery. Here she is laying out giant pieces of signature MadC pink vinyl across the floor using the gallery as her canvas. They looked like super tight pieces of post-modern Colorforms.

Photo: Angela Frucci


The Hidden Meaning of “Fragile” Music

My friend’s four and a half-year-old daughter always wants to look at things in my room. She’s not allowed to come in without my permission, so the off-limits zone is mostly likely, enticing.

The other day she was given permission and gleefully wandered around before stopping by my internet radio and listening. “Hey, what’s the fragile music you’re playing?” I was listening to classical music, the only thing I ever listen to on my internet radio. “What do you mean?” I asked her. “Why is it fragile?”

“There aren’t any voices, it’s just music playing, so it’s fragile.” Well, I didn’t ask for her definition of fragile. But I couldn’t get this new term for classical music out of my mind. Coincidentally, I went to the symphony that very evening and ended up OD’ing on a dose of profound fragility.

I listened in awe to the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Antoni Wit complete its American tour with the Russian virtuoso Yulianna Avdeeva, who performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Op. 73 on a Steinway grand. According to Avdeeva, the Steinway was “tuned to 442.”

I kept thinking how fragile Beethoven’s Emperor is, how fragile Avdeeva is (she rarely pedaled on the Allegro — only immortals can carry that off!), and how fragile a 442 tuning is. In fact as the remarkable night wore on, I realized the pantheon of classical music greats and classical music in general, is fragile. It’s all very fragi-cal music.

Photo: Angela Frucci

At the Broken Record, a pinup is born

Just east of Mission at Geneva, lies a whiskey bar called the Broken Record. It’s sure dark in there! But the cuisine in the back room is illuminated enough to have pulled in Food Network’s Guy Fieri to check out why patrons get hysterical over the off-the-charts fare.

Jason King’s owned  the Broken Record for 5 years. And for those 5 years, he wished he had something on the dismal, entryway wall. But as he told me: “I just didn’t know what it was.”  Well, that’s where master muralist Mark Bode comes into the story.

“I chatted with him one night and told him I was a painter,” said Bode. He showed Jason his work and rest is pinup history. Jason gave Bode a wall and he decked it with a seductive redhead lounging atop the front room archway. Done in the style of pinup greats like Vargas, Elvgren and Olivia, the bar now has a righteous  piece of pinup. [And she’ll always be close to Guy Fieri’s “Guy Ate Here” stencil. Guy’s head is well situated over her lusty thigh.]

Photo: Angela Frucci

Endeavour flies slow and low over Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Gaping mouths. None of us standing at the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge could believe it when the Space Shuttle Endeavour circled around Alcatraz and started heading back towards the bridge. It had already flown one low pass parallel to the entire span. But there it was, heading straight for the middle, a 747 punt toward the bridge’s orange goal posts.

Photos: Angela Frucci

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

August fog in San Francisco.

Photo: Angela Frucci

Mark and Vaughn Bode go heavy metal

There are moments when you should step away from a large lizard. “You’re going to get tox’d out,” Mark Bode warns me. He flips on his respirator mask, then rifles through a box overflowing with Krylons and MTNs.

The mural artist was getting ready to block out colors on a human-sized lizard. It resembled a metalic cookie cutter. The reptile’s one of 51 characters  for the show “Metalmorphosis,” opening this week (8/24) at SFrancisco’s 1:AM Gallery.

Bode collaborated with Metal Man Ed, known for making life-sized subway car cutouts to spec. MME + Bode give new, 3-D abstractions to the Bode family of characters. Mark and his father Vaughn Bode, continue to morph, side by side.

First, the lizard’s head gets blocked.

Mark works on a flat surface so there’s no paint dribble.

One of Mark’s favorite colors, cyan blue.

A metalmorphosis has fully occurred.

Photos: Angela Frucci

Occupy wants 1% (and your phone too)

Blake Bäkken, a design director at Venables Bell & Partners on his way to the San Francisco MOMA to meet his partner, stopped walking so he could send him a text. It was Super Bowl Sunday morning — bright and sunny.

“See you there in a bit,” the text read. As he hit send, a young man yanked the phone out of Blake’s hand. The two men locked frozen glances for a split second and Blake blurted:

“You seriously just took my phone?” But when the man bolted, Blake decided he couldn’t get away with it. “That guy stole my phone,” he yelled as he started chasing him down the street. Others heard the distress call and started running after him too. But the bandit disappeared into the distance.

Seeing the chase, a man in an SUV pulled over and told Blake to get in. They drove around a couple of times, saw nothing and pulled up by a Starbucks.

“Holy shit,” he said, “that’s him!” And in a Mercurian moment, Blake flew out of the SUV with wings on his feet, and full-throated adrenaline. He continued to scream, “that guy stole my phone,” and the hunting party grew.

With nowhere to go, the phone pirate ducked into a dark alleyway, quickly realized it was a dead end and exited back out. Blake could see it was a dead end too, but was following so quickly that he clipped the building with his shoulder and was taken down by the impact.

By now, two more men had tackled the thief. “Is this the guy?” Within minutes, foot police showed up, an ambulance appeared, and the man was handcuffed. The tackle dudes procured the phone.

The thief looked at Blake: “I’m sorry, you didn’t deserve it and I shouldn’t have done that to you.”

The man’s ID tied him to Omaha. “Oh, are you from Occupy Oakland?” Yes, he was. The police said he was part of a trend; Occupiers from Oakland coming across the Bay to steal from the 1%.

He was in his early 20s. He had dishwater blonde hair. He wore a grey hoodie, cutoff shorts, and high-top sneakers. He didn’t look criminal or homeless or scary.

The ambulance took Blake to the hospital, dispensed pain meds, set his shoulder back into place. But as he lay there, his shoes begin to feel too tight. When removed, the doctor discovered his big toes were broken on each foot.

He’s felt torn: Sometimes he wonders, was it all worth it? Did he do the right thing? He has come to a conclusion: the best part is knowing there are people in San Francisco that will help you if you ask for it.

Blake said that he’s afraid of the “thug part” of the Occupy Movement, which he intellectually supported and whose mission statement he took upon himself to understand. “My experience from this incident and others tells me that the movement has lost its focus.”

A couple weeks after the incident, Blake realized his shoulder wasn’t healing properly. Surgery’s required to mend the shoulder tendons.

Photo: Angela Frucci