Friday, November 27, 2015

Elevations Connection: A Streetcar Named Marfi

This post covers pages 16, 17, and 18 of CanisVulpes Elevations

The one thing I absolutely love about San Francisco is how ridiculously robust their transit system is. Seriously, those buses will take you anywhere in the town. I spent a day back in April doing random exploration of the city (for comic preparation, I swear). This was the first time I actually relied on Muni beyond a short hop from water to mall, and given the stories I've heard about the system, my standards were low. Needless to say, I stood corrected. The service is frequent (never have I seen nearly every other line be 10 minutes), and if it weren't for traffic, the most you'd be on is an hour.

Plus, riding one of the trolleybuses down a steep hill is as close to a coaster as you'll get in the city.

I have had a lot of cases involving barely missing the bus, waiting in the dark, or waiting forever to find it'll never show. I've become adept at intentionally walking the extra mile to catch a better line, or take a longer route under the assumption of more convenience. A majority of these have happened with my local VTA, which tries so hard to emulate Muni in coverage, but fails so hard at being frequent and reliable, cute little thing).

April of 2012, I was visiting San Jose for my eventual  move down. It was unexpectedly raining, my phone was dead, and I left my phone charger back home. I looked around Diridon Station for maps in the hopes of being able to find a way to family in the area. I also tried to get a new phone charger because, well, communication good.

To cut to the chase, I did get a cheap charger, and I pulled up a large map and traced a line from downtown. I did catch the line...albeit in the wrong direction. The bus ended in downtown at this sandwich shop (Lee's by SJSU if you're still keeping score). At this moment, it was pouring so I made a run for the sandwich shop to do a quick charge. I didn't know when the bus was gonna leave, so I quickly ran outside, in the rain, waiting. Meanwhile there was this man, mumbling, grunting with pounding fists (just imagine the Spongebob Rock Bottom Episode and you get a good idea of the situation. Needless to say, I couldn't be any more happier to be onboard.
Exterior inspirations for Pages 13-15 (off Geary and Stanyan)

This was partial inspiration for this week's pages, as a worst case scenario of "putting a cute, innocent airhead of a dog into a situation he cannot help himself out of". In hindsight, I should've made him a little more creeped out, because night is creepy.

I mean, I've personally had no problems with a stroll in the dark. Heck, I even enjoy a walk along the block every now and then, but even then, when the air is too quiet and still and there is an abnormal lack of lighting on the street, even the most peaceful of suburbs can begin to look like a setup for a horror film. Boy does San Francisco get dark at night. I walked around the Richmond district (between Geary and California, just west of Presidio for those keeping score) one time for a family occasion. The area is nice, and the houses actually do reflect their rent (lawns and all). I visiting around the afternoon, close to sunset. What was once pleasant looking by day quickly turned scary.

Exterior inspiration II for Page 17 (Not Richmond, but Sunset).

I mean nothing bad happened but those blocks have practically absent street lighting. I felt like something would lurk up behind me.

Production Trivia
Below is the rough path Terry would've taken these past six pages. I did do some rough research on this beforehand. It is much longer than I thought at approximately a 40 minute walk. That said, I wouldn't mind giving this a go sometime.

In hindsight, I probably should've included a few extra pages of Terry walking in Golden Gate Park. Future bonus scenery porn?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Elevations Connection: Sutro Tower

This post covers pages 13, 14, and 15. Comments relating to those pages can be posted here at the bottom of this entry.

You see it there. Above the fog, atop the tallest peak, creeping behind the skyscrapers of the Northeast, the Sutro Tower stands above it all.

San Francisco is full of hills. This made it a challenge for broadcasting signals until around the mid-century when it was realized that perhaps building a giant tower to allow convenient broadcast throughout the Bay Area might just be a pretty good idea.

It was the 1960s. A pyramid was taking shape, a subway was being lowered underwater, the Summer of Love was in full swing, and a stationary Googie tripod (that makes for an adorable coat rack) erected itself atop, fittingly enough, Mount Sutro in the middle of the City. This made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Like most major structures in the city when they're first built, people hated it. Unlike those major structures that became adored over time, this one just... existed. Standing there, watching over all the unassuming citizens below.

Some random, trivial facts about Sutro Tower:
  • There are 249 antennas on the tower itself. These are used by 11 TV stations, 4 FM radio stations, local civic services, mobile cellular service, and other communication outlets.
  • The tower is (disappointingly) not open to the public. The closest you can get is via trails adjacent nearby Summit Reservoir, though the further Twin Peaks is much more accessible.
  • The tower stands tall at around 980 feet (only slightly shorter than the Eiffel Tower if you don't factor in height from Sea Level).
  • The tower does not let you take control of the entire Bay Area with the right code (if it did... oh the powers I would use with that).
  • It really needs to have an observation deck and a restaurant. I'd pay tons just to eat above scenic fog!
As one can't actually visit and go to the top as an average citizen, I would like to end on this video find (courtesy KQED) of someone who'd been able to do just that (and boy is that view pretty):

Images by yours truly
History and research from, Wikipedia, and Exploratorium (via YouTube)