March 17, 2013

Raygun Gothic Rocketship Blasts Off

Raygun Gothic Rocketship
photo by Styrous®

In February of 2011, I was on the Embarcadero in San Francisco and spotted a beautiful, almost comic-book rocket ship that looked like it had landed straight out of a 1950's pulp sci-fi magazine. Yep, I was not hallucinating; there it was in all it's glory.

The Raygun Gothic Rocketship is the dream child of a team of Burning Man men, Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor and David Shulman with lots and lots of help from "crew members".

Night before last I photographed the last night of its two-year visit on the Embarcadero and it brought back memories I have of Burning Man. (Another time for that.)

 (click on any image to see slideshow)
 photo by Styrous®

I'll let the photos I got that last night speak for themselves and the artists who did it, say it themselves. There are links to a lot of info following the pix.


photos by Styrous®

"crew" members, Martin Sweet,
Leslie Frierman Grunditz with an admirer
and Ake Grunditz
photo by Styrous®


photos by Styrous®

photos by Styrous®

photos by Styrous®

photos by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

photos by Styrous®


A view of the "Bay Lights" art installation project by Leo Villareal can be seen from the Raygun Gothic Rocketship.

photo by Styrous®


SF Chronicle article by John King

A short video clip of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship on YouTube
Opening ceremony of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship on YouTube


What A Blast!!!
(pun intended)


Styrous® - March 17, 2013
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~

March 3, 2013

Juanita's Galley

photographer unknown

I was writing another article about the year 1958 (see link below). The ferries that crossed the San Francisco bay were discontinued that year. Writing about it brought to mind one of the most fantastic personalities concerning ferry boats that ever lived. She was Juanita Musson who ran various restaurants from 1953 to 1984. But it is Juanita's Galley in Sausalito in the early 1960's I will never forget.

One of the old San Francisco ferry boats, the Charles van Damme, built in 1916, was a sidewheel ferry that carried cars and passengers between Richmond and San Rafael for 40 years. It was bought by Donlon Arques at auction in 1959. He brought her to her final resting place at Gate 6 in Sausalito. Juanita opened her restaurant, Juanita’s Galley, on the first level of the ferry. 

I distinctly remember Juanita; she was quite a piece of work; when someone who was obviously a tourist came in and stood hesitantly at the door, she would scream at them (no matter WHERE in the restaurant she was at the moment) to quit gawking at the door and sit anywhere. She was so loud (crass is a better word) it sometimes made the tourist scurry back out the door. No matter, there were more people waiting to get in. Her most famous quote was, "Eat it, or wear it!" She could arrive at a table holding her pet pig or monkey and might answer a complaint about the food by dumping a heaping plate into the patron's lap. 

waiting for the next tourist
photographer unknown


She was born Juanita Hudspeth in rural Texas in 1923. She lived around the southwest in her youth, and married a soldier named Richard Musson in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1944. After the war ended, Richard Musson was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco.

She was fodder for Herb Cain's column in the San Francisco Chronicle. “I first ran across Juanita, or she across me, when she opened Juanita’s Galley in Sausalito during the middle 1950s. She was and is a big girl — some 225 pounds of quivering, pulsating heart concealed in an amorphous mass. Since she liked to eat and drink, obviously, she liked other people to drink and eat. “– Herb Cain, Chronicle, 1975

“Juanita Musson has been described as the drinking man’s Julia Child. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but I like the sound. Style writer Cynthia Robins called her brash, bibulous and bawdy. Now, that I know about.” — Jim Wood, Examiner, 1991 

M.F.K. Fisher said, "I often ate at her place...because she was such a colorful character..." "The food was good home-cooking, prepared with a mother's love & served with the style of a lubricated longshoreman."

“Her ‘ear muff' prank consisted of sneaking up behind an unsuspecting diner and swinging each muumuu-wrapped breast up against the victim’s ears. Then she would cackle loudly and leave." — Sonoma Index-Tribune, 2/28/11 (she muffed me once! It was the second time in my life that had happened; the first not by her, but that's another story.)

The Hell's Angels, Robert Mitchum, Sterling Hayden, Joseph Cotten, Noel Coward and other celebrities, as well as lawyers, judges and politicians were regular hangers out at the Galley. The Smothers Brothers, Shelley Berman, the Kingston Trio, Jonathan Winters and Bill Cosby found their way across the Golden Gate Bridge following late-night performances in San Francisco


Juanita wearing her "uniform" muumuu (1976) 
photo by Lewis Steward


Not surprisingly, she was friends with madam and eventual mayor of Sausalito, Sally Stanford. Juanita was asked if she'd worked for Stanford and she'd reply, “I never charged a nickel from a horizontal position.” 

Juanita herself said more than once she was no angel, “but I ain't never turned away an animal that didn't have a home, and I ain't never turned away a man who was hungry.”

She was fond of animals - most of her places featured assorted pets of some kind, wandering in and out. They included monkeys, chickens, goats, dogs and cats (that would NEVER get past the health department now). Once or twice she adopted an orphaned fawn deer (see fawn link below).

After three bawdy years, it was closed by a gang fight and what has been gracefully called the triumph of Juanita's "generosity over her business sense." The Internal Revenue Service seized the Galley as Juanita was somewhat careless about taking care of her taxes.








Jaunita Muson (2006)
photographer unknown


Juanita died from a stroke on February 26, 2011, at Agua Caliente Villa, a resort hotel turned retirement home in Sonoma County. She was 87. Her ashes were scattered in the bay off Sausalito.




the ferry boat, Charles van Damme

photographer unknown




photographer unknown



Charles van Damme in later years
photographer unknown



There is a great video with the 
ferry boats in operation on YouTube




There are two books concerning Juanita Muson




 Juanita: The Madcap Adventures
of a Legendary Restaurateur  


and



 Juanita's Eat It or Wear It Cookbook
cover illustration by Janis Kobe
photo by Styrous®


after the recipes there are some great photos
with commentaries by Juanita,
 well worth buying for the 
entertainment value if nothing else


Links to Juanita stuff:


Most of the information I got was from the links listed below but there was MUCH more information in them than I have used. Check them out to find out more about Juanita and the Charles van Damme.

The Sausalito Historical Society webpage devoted to Juanita.
Juanita's Eat It or Wear It Cookbook is available through Alibris and Amazon
ferry boats in operation on YouTube

Juanita talks about her pet fawn on MarinNostalgia 
(CAUTION: it is PG rated).


Adios, Juanita, I don't think anyone who met you will ever forget you.


Styrous ~ March 2, 2013


There are two other related (believe it or not) Viewfinder articles:
20,000 vinyl LPs 22: Van Cliburn & Sputnik




~

March 2, 2013

Juanita's Galley on a ferry boat no less!

photographer unknown

I was writing another article about the year 1958 (see link below). The ferries that crossed the San Francisco bay were discontinued that year. Writing about it brought to mind one of the most fantastic personalities concerning ferry boats that ever lived. She was Juanita Musson who ran various restaurants from 1953 to 1984. But it is Juanita's Galley in Sausalito in the early 1960's I will never forget.

One of the old San Francisco ferry boats, the Charles van Damme, built in 1916, was a sidewheel ferry that carried cars and passengers between Richmond and San Rafael for 40 years. It was bought by Donlon Arques at auction in 1959. He brought her to her final resting place at Gate 6 in Sausalito. Juanita opened her restaurant, Juanita’s Galley, on the first level of the ferry. 

I distinctly remember Juanita; she was quite a piece of work; when someone who was obviously a tourist came in and stood hesitantly at the door, she would scream at them (no matter WHERE in the restaurant she was at the moment) to quit gawking at the door and sit anywhere. She was so loud (crass is a better word) it sometimes made the tourist scurry back out the door. No matter, there were more people waiting to get in. Her most famous quote was, "Eat it, or wear it!" She could arrive at a table holding her pet pig or monkey and might answer a complaint by dumping a heaping plate into the patron's lap. 

waiting for the next tourist
photographer unknown


She was born Juanita Hudspeth in rural Texas in 1923. She lived around the southwest in her youth, and married a soldier named Richard Musson in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1944. After the war ended, Richard Musson was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco.

She was fodder for Herb Cain's column in the San Francisco Chronicle. “I first ran across Juanita, or she across me, when she opened Juanita’s Galley in Sausalito during the middle 1950s. She was and is a big girl — some 225 pounds of quivering, pulsating heart concealed in an amorphous mass. Since she liked to eat and drink, obviously, she liked other people to drink and eat. “– Herb Cain, Chronicle, 1975

“Juanita Musson has been described as the drinking man’s Julia Child. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but I like the sound. Style writer Cynthia Robins called her brash, bibulous and bawdy. Now, that I know about.” — Jim Wood, Examiner, 1991 

M.F.K. Fisher said, "I often ate at her place...because she was such a colorful character..." "The food was good home-cooking, prepared with a mother's love & served with the style of a lubricated longshoreman."

“Her ‘ear muff' prank consisted of sneaking up behind an unsuspecting diner and swinging each muumuu-wrapped breast up against the victim’s ears. Then she would cackle loudly and leave." — Sonoma Index-Tribune, 2/28/11 (she muffed me once! It was the second time in my life that had happened; the first not by her, but that's another story.)

The Hell's Angels, Robert Mitchum, Sterling Hayden, Joseph Cotten, Noel Coward and other celebrities, as well as lawyers, judges and politicians were regular hangers out at the Galley. The Smothers Brothers, Shelley Berman, the Kingston Trio, Jonathan Winters and Bill Cosby found their way across the Golden Gate Bridge following late-night performances in San Francisco


Juanita wearing her "uniform" muumuu (1976) 
photo by Lewis Steward


Not surprisingly, she was friends with madam and eventual mayor of Sausalito, Sally Stanford. Juanita was asked if she'd worked for Stanford and she'd reply, “I never charged a nickel from a horizontal position.” 

Juanita herself said more than once she was no angel, “but I ain't never turned away an animal that didn't have a home, and I ain't never turned away a man who was hungry.”

She was fond of animals - most of her places featured assorted pets of some kind, wandering in and out. They included monkeys, chickens, goats, dogs and cats (that would NEVER get past the health department now). Once or twice she adopted an orphaned fawn deer (see fawn link below).

After three bawdy years, it was closed by a gang fight and what has been gracefully called the triumph of Juanita's "generosity over her business sense." The Internal Revenue Service seized the Galley as Juanita was somewhat careless about taking care of her taxes.








Jaunita Muson (2006)
photographer unknown


Juanita died from a stroke on February 26, 2011, at Agua Caliente Villa, a resort hotel turned retirement home in Sonoma County. She was 87. Her ashes were scattered in the bay off Sausalito.




the ferry boat, Charles van Damme

photographer unknown




photographer unknown



Charles van Damme in later years
photographer unknown





There are two books concerning Juanita Muson




 Juanita: The Madcap Adventures
of a Legendary Restaurateur  


and



 Juanita's Eat It or Wear It Cookbook
cover illustration by Janis Kobe
photo by Styrous®


after the recipes there are some great photos
with commentaries by Juanita,
 well worth buying for the 
entertainment value if nothing else


Links to Juanita stuff:


Most of the information I got was from the links listed below but there was MUCH more information in them than I have used. Check them out to find out more about Juanita and the Charles van Damme.

The Sausalito Historical Society webpage devoted to Juanita.
Juanita's Eat It or Wear It Cookbook is available through Alibris and Amazon

Juanita talks about her pet fawn on MarinNostalgia 
(CAUTION: it is PG rated).


Adios, Juanita, I don't think anyone who met you will ever forget you.


Styrous ~ March 2, 2013


There are two other related (believe it or not) Viewfinder articles:
20,000 vinyl LPs 22: Van Cliburn & Sputnik




~

Sweets Ballroom ~ Jitterbugging in the Forties


I was writing about another topic, the memories I have of the year 1958 (see link below). One of those memories, the ferries that trolled back and forth across the bay in the 1940's and the 1950's, came alive.

My first recollection is a vague remembrance of my mother and father taking me down to the Ferry Building to catch the ferry to Sweets Ballroom in Oakland late in 1945 just after the war. They were out celebrating it's end and we were all very excited, although at the time, I didn't really understand what we were excited about. All I knew was that we were going DANCING! The clear part of the memory is kneeling on the seat (I was always tiny for my age, whatever age I was) in front of a huge window on the ferry looking out at the city as it slowly slid away; so does the memory . . . 

 
 San Francisco Ferry building & ferry
1940's
photographer unknown


. . . the recollection fades back in to a jammed crowd of giants dancing madly in front of me. The "mad dancing" was couples doing the jitterbug (coined by Harry Alexander White in 1934) with the couples (including my mother and father) wildly gyrating on the dance floor . . .

 the Jitterbug 1938
photo by Alan Fisher
New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer


. . . as I jumped up and down at the foot of the bandstand in time to the music pounding loudly in my ears there in Sweets Ballroom. What a fantastic adventure for a five year old boy!

 The bandstand at Sweets Ballroom
photographer unknown


Sweets, called "The East Bay Home of the Big Bands," was where people went to enjoy dancing to swing music and Latin jazz. The night time was for the serious stuff but in the afternoons whole families would be there to dance. My folks took me there often and it's were I learned to dance. There were house photographers who took photos of the dancers, then sold the prints to them.  Somewhere (it got lost years ago) there is a photo of a five-year-old me dancing with a girl (she was taller than I was, of course).

Sweets canopy
photographer unknown


The ballroom was opened by William Sweet sometime in the 1920's at 1933 Broadway in Oakland, California.


a Sweets ad


The Sweets Ballroom had a house band that played in the afternoon and in the evening when special gigs featuring famous bands were not being presented.

Sweets Ballroom House Band, 1939
left to right, back row: 
Squire Girsback, Gordon "Gramps" Edwards, Bob Scobey, 
Lu Watters, Bill Yeaman & Hiram "Hi" Gates
left to right, front row: 
Russ Bennett, Bob Helm, Henry Abrahamson 
& Ken "Buss" Greene.
photographer unknown


In the 1930s, the music of Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico (the precursor of Afro-Cuban and salsa music) were popular in New York and it spread to the rest of the country, including Oakland; there, Sweets showcased the best of the best.

 Sweets Poster with Count Basie


 
Duke Ellington appeared at Sweets


Xavier Cugat popularized Latin jazz for American audiences. He opened the door for a generation of Mambo Kings including Perez Prado, Tito Puente, Machito, Willy Bobo, and Cal Tjader; all of them played the Sweets at one time or another.

 Xavier Cugat and his orchestra perform at
Oakland's Sweets Ballroom. September 26, 1944
E.F. Joseph, photographer
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Charles Hector Carlos






some shots of the wild stuff











The Jitterbug
photographer unknown






Jitterbugging in a Negro juke joint
Saturday evening, Clarksdale, Mississippi
November 1939 
photo by Marion Post Wolcott
for the Farm Security Administration





 really gettin' down
photographer unknown





 Jitterbugging in Harlem - NY (1939)
photo by Sid Grossman






Sweets was abandoned at some point in the 1960's. There was a limp revival with the advent of disco in the late 1970's and some off-the-wall events after that.

 Fright Fest at the Sweets (2010)


°    Xavier Cugat can be heard on YouTube.
°    Perez Prado can be heard on YouTube.
°    Tito Puente can be heard on YouTube.
°    Machito can be heard on YouTube.
°    Willy Bobo can be heard on YouTube.
°    Cal Tjader can be heard on YouTube.
°    There's a wacky but fun instructional video, Groovie Movie (1944), on YouTube.
 °   Ferry boats in operation video on YouTube.

There is another blog, No Pattern Required, that has an article, My Grandmother's Glasses, about Sweet's Ballroom that is really terrific with some GREAT photos. Check it out.

There are two other related (believe it or not) Viewfinder articles:
Juanita's Galley


I had a terrific time riding those old ferries and dancing at Sweets Ballroom when I was a little kid . . .



. . . and I've been dancing ever since!




Styrous ~ March 2, 2013
~