San Francisco – January 2003 – San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco – January 2003

A turn of the calendar unveils bargain haute cuisine, international art, MLK tributes, the Year of the Ram, and the return of barking buddies to Pier 39 at the Wharf.

  • It’s also bargain accommodation season in San Francisco. Through SF on Sale, a number of grand and boutique hotels in the city are offering discounted room rates until April 15, with prices ranging from $99-135 (based on availability.) Among the participants are Union Square’s Bijou, Savoy, and Sir Francis Drake; Civic Center’s celeb-heavy Phoenix; and Nob Hill boutiques Diva and Serrano. Citywide; 800-677-1509.
  • Foodies are licking their chops, too, awaiting SF Dine About Town 2003. From Jan. 11-31, more than 150 city restaurants prepare special 3-course, prix-fixe dining deals (lunches $19.95, dinners $29.95), with proceeds to benefit Meals on Wheels San Francisco. Perfect for tastings from top bistros like Farallon, Charles Nob Hill, Rose Pistola, Redwood Park, Maya, Le Colonial, and Shanghai 1930. Festivities kick off Saturday, Jan. 11 at revitalized Union Square, where famed city chefs serve up hors d’oeuvres samplings to pair with Vermeer chocolate martinis. Citywide, 1/11-31.
  • Still thirsty? Quench your curiosity with a Plumpjack Wine Class. The Fillmore St. branch of city supervisor (future mayor?) Gavin Newsom’s wine shops rotates its schedule of courses: January sees Southern Italy (1/9), Single Malt Scotch (1/16), and California Chardonnay (1/23). 3201 Fillmore St., 415-346-9870.
  • There’ll be no depression at the Great American Music Hall Jan. 4 for the 4th Annual Sleepless Nights: Gram Parsons Tribute Concert. The godfather of gets due props from his progeny: Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days, the Real Sippin Whiskeys, Red Meat, and more. This gilded gem from 1907, rich with burgundy and gold tones, sports what some call San Francisco’s best acoustics, and makes prime ground for seeing old favorites, or up-and-comers. Also in January: The Mermen (1/3), Living Color (1/16), Chuck Prophet (1/17), Hank Williams III (1/19), Cheap Trick (1/20-21), Cassandra Wilson (1/30-31). 859 O’Farrell; 415-771-7577.
  • Animation fans hurry to the Cartoon Art Museum to catch the recently extended Superwacky: Animation on Television 1949-2002. Postwar American humor and mores are explored through 125+ vintage production cells, concept drawings, character sketches and rare background art from major animation studios like Disney, Hanna-Barbera, and Warner Bros. Running through 1/19. 655 Mission St; 415-CAR-TOON.
  • Photographer Richard Avedon shot Andy Warhol in the 1960s, innovating the multi-panel style that helped land him a choice 1976 gig covering the Bicentennial election for Rolling Stone Magazine. His images of dual power elites from opposite sides of the spectrum show alongside recent works in Richard Avedon: Andy Warhol and the Factory (1969), The Family (1976), downtown at the Fraenkel Gallery, 1/4-3/1. 49 Geary; 981-2661.
  • Warhol, Hockney, de Kooning, and O’Keefe are just a handful of names represented at the San Francisco International Art Exposition, Jan. 17-20. More than 100 international galleries sponsoring 200+ artists of mixed media – painting, photography, video, printmaking, installation art – comprise this comprehensive exposition of 20th Century art: Lower Fort Mason.
  • Art intersects with American cultural heritage at the Presidio in The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. This astounding collection of more than 100 flags, banners, and insignia includes original 13 star flags, ’60s peace flags, and extraordinary relics such as the flag draped over Lincoln’s coffin, and a Taliban regimental flag captured in November 2001 in Jalalabad. 1/14-2/16. Presidio, 561-5500.
  • Out of focus? Seek balance at the Psychic Faire and Healing Festival, Jan 4-5 in Golden Gate Park. Clairvoyant readings cover a variety of themes: Creativity, Love Life, Life Changes, Letting Your Light Shine. 9th and Lincoln.
  • When better than turbulent times to commemorate the great champion of peace, freedom, and justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gather Saturday, Jan. 18 for Youth and Family Day, downtown at Yerba Buena Gardens, and then join the Freedom March from 4th and Townsend to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Monday, Jan. 20. 3rd and Mission; 415-674-6000.
  • Finally, bid adieu to the horse and welcome the ram. The arrival of Lunar Year 4701 on Jan. 25 signals the start of 2003 Chinese New Year. Celebrate with lucky plants and citrus fruits, available at the Chinese New year Flower Market Fair, Jan. 25-26. Chinatown; 415-391-9690.

    – Jay Cooke is a San Francisco-based travel, food, and culture writer.