Friday, June 5, 2015


“I can tell that he's kind of smiling.
But what does he know?
What does he know?
We're always one step behind him, 
He's Brian Eno”
MGMT, “Brian Eno”

“Oh, but it's all right
Once you get past the pain
You'll learn to find your love again
So keep your heart open”
Pablo Cruise, “Love Will Find a Way”

Donna and I were staying in San Francisco about two blocks from Fort Mason.  She needed a nap, so I decided to take a walk along the Marina and then check out the Fort.  A former military base, it is now known as the “first urban national park”, and evidently there were a multitude of fascinating sights to explore, both cultural and scenic.  On the west side of the park are three oblong buildings (former barracks?), and supposedly there were all manner of shops and businesses to explore.  I had just finished a five mile hike, but had enough energy to at least check out the SF Zen Center operated vegetarian Greens Restaurant for a possible future meal.  But right before the restaurant was a bar, a place called The Interval, so I decided to check it out.

I walked in to a medium sized open room, and the first thing you see is a huge orrery, depicting our solar system.  It is an impressive sight, must be seven feet tall, the planets and sun at the top, but all manner of shiny metal gears and pieces supporting the structure.  Directly behind it, on the second level, was a wall of bookcases, and some had books in them, all kinds, not theme that I could see.  Across the room, past a sort of metal sculpture rectangular table, was the bar, with the usual array of liquor, and an interesting piece of art in the center of the bottles, a large colorful square upright on one corner, resembling a diamond.  There weren’t too many people there, and I was tempted to stay, but the fatigue was settling in and I decided I better get back to my cousin’s apartment, where we were staying.

A couple days later, Donna and I decided to walk to the Palace of Fine Arts, about a mile from the apartment.  What a magnificent place!  For years, my most cherished memory of The Palace was seeing an amazing music/sculpture exhibition by Brian Eno there.  The sculptures were three dimensional geometric “boxes” that slowly changed patterns and colors as ambient music playing.  I had been gob smacked in the extreme, especially considering my fan boy obsession with Eno, whose music I have admired since Roxy Music.  At any rate, we zig zagged around tourists snapping pictures on the Palace grounds, and then entered the main building, where the Exploratorium used to call home before moving to Pier 15.  We were greeted by an affable gentleman whose open nature made it obvious he would be willing to field any and all questions or concerns.  After a few minutes, he told us he had worked many years for the Exploratorium before it moved, so of course we asked him if he knew our dear friend Daniel DiPierro, and in fact he said that he, too, was DD’s dear friend!  At this point, we asked who he was and he pointed to his name tag: Pablo Cruz.  

So of course now I asked him about the Eno exhibition.  He went online and began looking for info about the exhibition, but found nothing - no mention of it whatsoever, like in fact it never happened there at all.  I couldn’t believe it; was I mistaken?  But he did find something else: evidently Eno and a dozen others had formed a foundation in San Francisco in 1996 called The Long Now, and one year ago this month they had opened a public space for gatherings, a bar in Fort Mason called The Interval!  Yes, the very bar I had stumbled upon a few days earlier.  Now I knew we had to return to this place and actually experience what was going on there.  Such an amazing musical serendipity must have been guided in some mysterious way by DiPierro; I cannot think of any other reason for it unfolding as it did.

So when we were finished at The Palace, which took awhile as this year is the 100th anniversary of its opening, and there were many sights to behold, we walked along the Marina to The Interval.  Through the front door, past the orrery and mechanical table, and right up to the bar we strode.  We were greeted by a fairly friendly bartender, though Donna detected some hoitin’ and toitin’ that escaped me, maybe due to my glee at being there.  Right behind our server was the art I had noticed the first time there, but now I saw the “sign” underneath: art by Brian Eno, and now I realized that this art was slowly, like a clock, changing, new patterns being created as colors morphed from one to another, the piece never repeating itself.  This was exactly like the exhibition I remembered so many years ago, but of course smaller and one dimensional.  I asked if anyone knew of this ancient exhibition, but no, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar, and I was coming to the conclusion that I had somehow got the venue wrong.  (Subsequent research has come up with an Eno exhibition in the early 80s in Berkeley; maybe that was it?  Maybe someone reading this will know?)

And so it goes.  We had a drink, we took some pictures, we found out more about the Long Now.  Time to move on.  I can only hope my future memory of this experience will place it at the correct time and place.  Or maybe it doesn’t matter?

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