Friday Nights at de Young–Feb 25 thru Mar 18

The Friday Nights at the de Young series runs through November, offering a variety of programs, including live music, tours, talks and more. In conjunction with the Olmec exhibit, the next three Friday Nights at the de Young are put on with a bit of Latin flare.

Feb 25: A Night Featuring Chocolate and Other Culinary Gems of the Americas. There will be live Marimba music in the Wilsey Court and cacao presentations in the Piazzoni Murals Room among other events.

Mar 4: A Carnaval celebration takes place, with the dancers from Fogo Na Roupa energizing the Wilsey Court and other Carnaval-themed events for the whole family.

Mar 18: Olmecs Singing in the Flowers. Live music by Cascada de Flores will be performed in Wilsey Court, while a special presentation of flor y canto, a centuries-old literary tradition, takes place in the Koret Auditorium.

Admission is free for Friday Nights at the de Young events, but you must purchase a ticket if you want to enter the galleries or special exhibits. Events run from 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

Sunday Streets–Penguins to Penguins

Sunday Streets kicked off last month, along the Embarcadero, to a slightly soggy start. However, this month’s event, Penguins to Penguins–the route of roads blocked to car traffic stretches from the penguins at the California Academy of Sciences, along JFK Drive to the Great Highway and over to Sloat Drive and the zoo, where the other penguins live–is anticipated to be nice and dry.

A remnant of Gavin Newsom’s mayoral legacy, Sunday Streets started in 2008 with two events, connecting Chinatown to the Bayview for a scattering of participants. Now, there are 10 Sunday Streets held throughout San Francisco.

The prototype for San Francisco’s Sunday Streets started in Bogota, Colombia over 30 years ago. Ciclovia started primarily as an event for bicyclists, but as it grew in popularity, events for non-cyclists were added, attracting new people to the Ciclovia, resulting in a world record being set, with 37,000 people performing aerobics on one stage at once.

While the number of Sunday Streets attendants doesn’t quite reach Bogota levels–fewer than five percent of San Franciscans get involved—members of the California Outdoor Rollersports Association will attempt to set their own world record by organizing the Guiness Book’s longest chain of roller skaters with a chain of 300 skaters, shuffling hand to hip down JFK Drive.

Beyond the outdoor activity, Sunday Streets is the perfect opportunity to explore a new neighborhood or reconnect with a part of the city you haven’t seen for months or years.
Future events include routes through the Mission, Bayview, and Western Addition, and a route through Chinatown and North Beach was added this year.

Writer’s With Drinks–March Edition

This month’s Writer’s With Drinks includes the creator of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, wherein participants are challenged to complete at least 50,000 words of a novel. The event has grown to over 60,000 blurry-eyed writers, with 10,000 actually meeting their goal.

Other writers participating in this evening’s line-up of talent include Deborah Santana, founder of Do A Little, a non-profit serving women and girls in health, education, and happiness. Her memoir, Space Between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart, was published in 2005.

Also reading is award-winning poet, Melissa Stein whose poems have appeared in many journals, including Harvard Review and the North American Review and were chosen for the Best New Poets 2009 collection.

About Writers With Drinks:

Writers With Drinks has won “Best Literary Night” from the SF Bay Guardian readers’ poll six years in a row and was named “Best Literary Drinking” by the SF Weekly. The spoken word “variety show” mixes genres to raise money for local worthy causes. The award-winning show includes poetry, stand-up comedy, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, literary fiction, erotica, memoir, zines and blogs in a freewheeling format.

160th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival

The 160th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is expected to attract thousands of Bay Area revelers who will be out in a sea of green, hoping for a bit of the luck of the Irish. This day-long celebration is chock-full of cultural events and Irish history, with live performances, dancing, arts and crafts, and plenty of food and drink. So pull out your favorite green outfit, dust off your Irish dancing shoes, and come out for a grand time.

When: March 12, 2011, 10am to 5pm. Parade begins at 11:30am.

Where: The festival is held at Civic Center Plaza, and the parade begins at 2nd and Market and runs down Market to City Hall.

Photo Journal–Dia de Los Muertos

Last night’s Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, celebration was truly incredible to behold.  Hundreds of people, mourning the loss of loved ones, pets, and even a car, marched through the Mission, not only remembering those who have passed, but celebrating life.

A common symbol of the holiday is the calavera (skull) which are typically represented in masks painted on the face.

A group of parade participants built a wagon for collecting the dead that was pulled by a posse of bicyclists.

In keeping with the holiday tradition, Garfield Square, in the Mission, becomes a stage for mourners to construct elaborate altars for friends and family who are deceased.  These altars are typically decorated with the deceased’s favorite food and drink, photos, and candles.

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Photo Journal–Lost Souls Cemetery

It’s no surprise that Halloween is a sacred holiday in San Francisco and the skeletons and jack-o-lanterns hanging from windows and front doors throughout the city attest to this.  But these people have taken it to an extreme, turning the front lawn of their home in Buena Vista Heights into the Lost Souls Cemetery.  On a typical day, this house is a foreboding presence with it’s dark brick walls looming over a yard fenced in with black wrought iron.  Add a cemetery to the mix and you get true creepiness–despite the jovial quips on the fake tombstone.