San Francisco (Set 1): The City & Berkeley…

I was able to cram in one small (4 days) quicky vacation to one of the cities I love: San Francisco, before my life becomes an endless ramp-up to one week in July.  I love SF because it’s still a city you can go to and walk around and visit actual, honest-to-god BOOKSTORES. (I also love it because my dear friend Caryn lives there, and hey … any chance to see her is okay by me.) And, oh yeah, San Francisco has other stuff, too.

Every time I travel these days, I come home and realize that no matter how much I love San Diego (and I LOVE San Diego, don’t get me wrong), its downtown area is made up of one dying shopping mall (Horton Plaza)—which was considered wonderful and revolutionary at the time of its inception—and a bunch of chain or ethnic restaurants. That’s pretty much it. San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and of course, New York City, are so vibrant and buzzing and teeming with shopping and entertainment and museums, and San Diego is just … blah . . . these days to me. It’s a small downtown area, beautiful in its own way, but it needs something major to shake it up, and the new Horton Plaza park (which opens May 4, 2016) is NOT going to be it.

But I digress. As I was saying, I love San Francisco. I’ve visited many times, so my photo expeditions are becoming a bit smaller and more focused, because otherwise I end up repeating myself. I have three sets to share with you, including this one, which concentrates on a bit of the city (the first sight I saw coming up the escalator from BART; a noirish alleyway; the dome of a–believe it or not–MALL), and my usual bookstore expedition to Berkeley, which takes me through “hidden” Berkeley, away from the university and by beautiful old homes and businesses, including the funky, old Elmwood Theater, which is impossible for me to walk by and NOT take a few photos.

All in all, I visited 12 bookstores and 2 comic book stores. It’s a great bookstore town, as is Berkeley (home of 5 of those 12 above mentioned bookstores, and both cats featured below).

More photos later.

All photos were taken with an iPhone 6. Click on the thumbnails to see the photos larger on your screen and in slideshow mode. If you like my photos please follow me on Instagram @gg92101.



 

Another Train Ride …

Two weeks in a row in late March/early April found me on train rides to Los Angeles and beyond. This time it was to Glendale for a vintage paperback show (more about that later, maybe), a new passion of mine. Having gone to Los Angeles and back the week before, the only new part of the journey this time was the 10-minute ride to Glendale. And once there, I walked off the train into another time capsule, a beautiful little train station preserved as it was built. The Glendale Amtrak station is a treasure trove of photo opportunities.

I also spent a bit of time in downtown Glendale, home of the famous Glendale Galleria (didn’t go) and the outdoors entertainment mall, Americana at Brand (just visited the chain bookstore there). In Glendale, I encountered the 90-year-old Alex Theatre, another historic gem.

The trip was book-ended by long train rides on which I took photos (once again) of the passing beach and ocean. There’s also one solitary Los Angeles Union Station photo (after the photo of the barrelling freight train that went flying through the Glendale station as I waited for my train for the trip home). Included along the way: A quick look at the beautiful tile work in the San Diego Santa Fe station; the giant neon diving girl at the Museum of Neon Art; and the giant flowers “blooming” in downtown Glendale.

All in all, it was a great trip (especially vintage paperback-wise), but I think I’m done with west coast trains for a bit … except for mass transit, maybe. Another trip looms on the horizon, to a city I dearly love …

All photos were taken with an iPhone 6. Click on the thumbnails to see the photos larger on your screen and in slideshow mode. If you like my photos please follow me on Instagram @gg92101.



 

Downtown Los Angeles and The Last Bookstore …

I was recently in Los Angeles for a work-related few days, and one of those days I managed to slip away and go for a walk through parts of downtown L.A.

Let’s be frank, shall we? There are parts of downtown L.A. you don’t want to walk through, but for the most part what I saw was a time capsule. I was shocked at how many old, abandoned movie theaters still existed, just sitting there, waiting for some kind of purpose to come their way again. I have a habit of attributing feelings to inanimate objects, and I can’t help but feel sad for these beautiful old movie houses, built in the golden age of American cinema, just sitting there, rotting away.

The first dozen photos below are slices of life of downtown L.A. It really doesn’t seem to have changed much, other than adding a sense of forlornness and slow decay. Luckily there is one area that seems to be thriving … The Last Bookstore.

I first visited The Last Bookstore a few years ago, on one of my holiday season visits to the city. I stopped in on my way home on a Sunday, and I believe they had just opened in their current location. Someone had likened it to The Strand in New York City and that was good enough for me, but at that time it wasn’t true. I walked away from The Last Bookstore with a “never again” attitude.

I’m happy to say that has changed and I found The Last Bookstore to be an amazing place this visit. While I only had a brief time to look around (and I didn’t buy anything, sadly), I was excited about how much it’s changed since my first visit. The interior of the store is incredible, and if you go, visit the upstairs where there are imaginative displays of books (see some of them below) and rooms with local artists. The bookstore is like a mini-Strand, nowhere near the amount of books, but it’s an interesting and vibrant mix of new and used books, and it was bustling on the weekday afternoon that I was there.

I love bookstores and I always seek them out when I’m in a new (0r old) town. The Last Bookstore does live up to the hype and it’s a must-see store if you’re in Los Angeles.

Additional links for The Last Bookstore: Instagram; Twitter.

All photos were taken with an iPhone 6. Click on the thumbnails to see the photos larger on your screen and in slideshow mode. If you like my photos please follow me on Instagram @gg92101.