For the past three decades, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has celebrated Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas while remaining constantly relevant. A non-collecting organization, the CJM sparks dialogue and unites people from all walks of life through lectures, classes, films, and constantly rotating exhibitions commonly centered around art. In the past, the CJM has displayed photographs of Allen Ginsberg, trained its lens on the magic of Harry Houdini and the art he inspired, and responded to Hitler's Mein Kampf with artist Linda Ellia's exhibition of 600 pages altered by artists, writers, victims, students, and other Jewish people. More recently, the CJM featured an exhibit on the contribution of Jewish architects, designers, and merchants to creative communities around the US, post-World War II.
Holding all these different facets of culture and design is a building that is itself a work of art. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the 63,000-square-foot CJM combines the legacy of the historic Jessie Street Power Substation with the dynamic angles and arresting shapes of contemporary architecture. Accompanying its overall shape is a blue metallic exterior and symbolic references to Jewish concepts, such as the Hebrew phrase "L'Chaim," meaning "to life."
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the floor and ceiling by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.
By day, Jerry Cimino worked in the computer industry. By night, he quietly collected memorabilia from the Beat Generation, building up little piles of photographs, letters, and first editions of literature by Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. Inspired by the beat poets themselves, who often traded what they had to pursue their passions, Cimino abandoned his 9-to-5 job and opened The Beat Museum. Located on the same ground that was once the epicenter for Beat activity during the 1950s, the museum hosts an ever-increasing collection of cultural ephemera and has been profiled in the Washington Post. The shelves and glass cases brim with various editions of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, a sweat-dappled jacket worn by Jack Kerouac on his travels, and William Burroughs?s guide to perfect table manners.
Ripley?s 10,000-square-foot Odditorium entices families to Fisherman?s Wharf with rarity-racked galleries and interactive exhibits based on the work of Robert Ripley. Self-guide a tour through their collections of curiosities, playing tailor to a shrunken torso, arm wrestling the world?s largest sea lion, and ineffectively icing your arm with a Mona Lisa made of Rubik?s cubes. Historical artifacts such as Buck Helm?s car from the 1989 San Francisco earthquake shed peculiar light on local history, and statues of Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga constructed from candy pay tribute to Americana at large.
Established in 1919 and under the same local ownership since 1964, 4-Star Theatre specializes in independent and foreign films while also showing major studio releases. Touted by many sources as the best place to see Asian cinema in California, the quaint art house runs regular Asian film series showcasing reels old, new, and from 2067. Coming features include Echoes of the Rainbow, the winner of a Crystal Bear at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, which tells the story of a working Hong Kong family whose eldest son becomes sick with leukemia. Legend of The Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is a raucous martial-arts adventure, elaborating on a role made famous by Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury. You can also see documentaries such as The Future of Food and We Are Skateboarders as well as blockbusters such as the second Wall Street installment and the CGI explosion-filled remake of On Golden Pond.
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival unveils an exciting lineup of dramas, documentaries, and other captivating cinema by acclaimed filmmakers. The Castro Theatre's weeklong schedule examines the Jewish experience in documentaries such as Strangers No More, an Academy-Award-winning glimpse into a school in Tel Aviv that educates refugee children with traumatic pasts, and Incessant Vision⎯Letters from an Architect, a film by Duki Dror that surveys the life of German-Jewish Expressionist architect Erich Mendelsohn. Simpsons writer and producer Mike Reiss hosts Jews in Toons, highlighting a range of Jewish–themed animated episodes from the Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy. Dates can court a favorite flame by cuddling up to the romantic comedy The Names of Love or erect a fortress of Raisinets boxes to guard sensibilities against the slasher flick Rabies, which touts itself as the first Israeli horror film.