In the 1920s, going to the movies wasn’t just an easy way to kill a couple of hours, it was an experience unto itself. That had to do with the invention of the movie palace: grand theaters with glittering chandeliers, space for hundreds, and high ceilings. In San Francisco, movies might come and go, but the city is dedicated to preserving its historic theaters. Take a look at three of these institutions—and veritable San Francisco tourist attractions—to see why they matter and how they’re being preserved. The Roxie San Francisco’s oldest continually operating movie theater opened in 1909 as the C. H. Brown Theater. Six name changes and more than 100 years later, and The Roxie still serves the Mission District, screening independent, documentary, and foreign films. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, the theater was playing second- and third-run Hollywood films, which meant it was often screening worn-out prints with poor sound. But in 1976, The Roxie as we know it today was born. The theater has premiered the artistic works of Werner Herzog and David Lynch and even launched its own distribution company, which was responsible for the 30th anniversary re-release of Night of the Living Dead. It carries on its dedication to independent cinema today as a nonprofit. The Castro Theatre Less than a mile away from The Roxie lies The Castro, an architectural gem that landed on San Francisco’s list of city landmarks. It was designed by legendary architect Timothy L. Pflueger, who is known for his awe-inspiring Art Deco style. Every trip to the theater is like simultaneously going to an art museum and traveling back in time. Part of The Castro’s success is due in part to its ability to cater to the historically gay neighborhood, which is why it screens the Frameline Film Festival—the world’s largest LGBT film exhibition. It also does well to remember its past while keeping up with the times, showing classics like North by Northwest and Double Indemnity, but also playing classic 70mm film with new and improved digital sound. The New Mission Theater While The Castro and The Roxie have stood for decades, The New Mission Theater—soon to be The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema—is only now being saved from destruction. The 2,000-seat theater hasn’t been used since the ‘80s, after which it went from furniture showroom to rave hot spot to pigeon roost. That is, until the Alamo Drafthouse, a Texas theater chain, stepped in to rescue it. Whereas such palaces like The Alhambra Theater have been repurposed as fitness centers or shops, The New Mission Theater will retain its intended purpose with five new screens, a bar, and ample bicycle parking. Set to open in 2015, it might even be the start of The Mission as the city’s artistic cinema district.Read More
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San Jose golf courses don’t boast beachfront property like some other golf regions of California, but that doesn’t mean players can’t still get plenty sandy. Greenside bunkers are, of course, one of the most common hazards on any golf course, so knowing how to escape one comes in handy whether you’re teeing up at Pebble Beach or San Jose Municipal Golf Course. Read on to learn the basic technique behind snagging sand saves. Choose the Right Equipment To escape the grainy clutches of a greenside bunker, players typically pull out one of the wedges in their bag—a standard sand wedge has 56 degrees of loft, but some may prefer to simply use their most lofted club. Anything from a pitching wedge to a lob wedge (usually 60 degrees or more) can be used effectively. Address the Ball Inside the bunker, take an open stance and give yourself a firm base. Some golfers really dig their feet into the sand to keep from slipping or twisting, though this may not always be necessary. Once you’ve got a good setup, rotate the club to open up the clubface, in effect increasing its loft. The Swing While setup is important, it’s the swing itself that makes the sand shot truly unique. The sand trap is the only place on the course in which the ball shouldn’t be the first thing your club strikes on the downswing. Instead, aim 1–3 inches behind the ball and take as much sand as is appropriate for the shot—this is where practice, the situation, and even the sand itself really come into play. The goal is to lift the ball out of the bunker on a pillow of sand and have it land softly on the green. Feel free to take a three-quarters swing; due to the resistance from the sand, a swing that would normally produce a 40- to 50-yard shot will only launch the ball 15 to 20 feet. A Word About the Rules Rules forbid golfers from “grounding” their club (or touching any part of the sand) in a bunker before making their actual swing, so keep that in mind as you make any practice motions. Remember to Rake Raking sand traps is one of the most important things golfers can do to leave the course the way they found it—a major part of golf etiquette. After hitting the ball out of the bunker, grab one of the nearby rakes and rake away the evidence of your having been there, including footprints and the divot left by the club. Pro tip: don’t take your golf bag into the trap; that will only make for a wider area to clean up with a rake when you’re done.Read More
San Francisco concerts have long reflected the music of the times, but the inverse is also true: time and time again, music has revolved around whatever’s going on in San Francisco. This was most apparent in the 1960s, when bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane turned the hippie counterculture into the city’s greatest export. Five decades later, we can look back and identify five concerts that changed American music forever—an inventory of five San Francisco nights that defined San Francisco nightlife. The Beatles at Candlestick ParkAugust 29, 1966 Nobody but the Beatles knew that this show at chilly Candlestick Park would be their last live concert performance ever. If it had been announced ahead of time, the Fab Four might have sold the place out. Instead, large swaths of seats were left unsold for the final date of their fourth and final North American tour. It was a strangely low-key farewell for the most popular rock band of all time, who occasionally paused their 11-song set to snap pictures with a camera they had brought on stage. It was the end of an era in many ways, and it paved the way for the decade’s latter half and the Summer of Love, which would take shape in San Francisco less than a year later. The Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park January 14, 1967The Summer of Love actually started with this mid-winter event at Golden Gate Park, just a stone’s throw from the Haight-Ashbury district that would soon become synonymous with the counterculture. Inspired by sit-ins taking place at lunch counters, colleges, and universities across the country during the early 1960s, the Human Be-In was perhaps the first focused expression of the hippie movement. California had recently passed a law banning LSD, and everyone from poet Allen Ginsberg to psychologist Timothy Leary showed up to encourage a crowd of thousands to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” Of course, no celebration of hippiedom would be complete without bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, both of whom found their way onto the bill. Aretha Franklin at Fillmore WestMarch 5–7, 1971Though people tend to associate San Francisco with the hippie counterculture, the city has long been a haven for jazz and soul. From Jelly Roll Morton to John Coltrane, musicians would flock to play the clubs on Fillmore Street, and their hundreds of legendary concerts exist now only in memory. This is not the case with Aretha Franklin’s three-night set at Fillmore West, which eventually became one of the best live albums of its era. The Queen of Soul dove right in with her hit song “Respect,” but she filled out her set with such hippie standbys as the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” In doing so, she bridged the gap between the counterculture and modern American soul in a way that few singers had ever attempted. The Band at Winterland BallroomNovember 25, 1976Another concert that’s been immortalized for new generations to enjoy, the Band’s farewell show at Winterland Ballroom is considered one of the greatest concerts, period. Martin Scorsese's documentary film The Last Waltz captured the Band in all their fading glory, but they weren’t the only ones to take the stage that night. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Staples Singers, and Van Morrison were among the special guests on hand, making this arguably the most star-studded affair in San Francisco’s history. Metallica at The StoneMarch 5, 1983Who knew that the future of heavy metal would be born on a spring night in San Francisco? Metallica had already made a name for themselves as thrashers whose live show took no prisoners, but this date at The Stone felt different. For starters, it was their first show with new bassist Cliff Burton, who would eventually go down as the greatest metal bassist of all time. It was a prelude of what was to come later that summer on Kill 'Em All, one of the fastest and heaviest albums in history. And—like many of the best moments in American music history—it all started on a sweaty stage in San Francisco.Read More