During the time of the plague–the virus mainly, more than the orange man in that white house–I have been taking long hikes in the city, first in Golden Gate Park, discovering nooks and crannies off the beaten path and now, along the bay side and the shore, south of the new Warrior stadium. Under siege now by the developer caste, and their paint-by-number, utterly hideous box buildings, mostly 2 or 3 story apartment complexes that could be anywhere, are always somewhere in the gray spectrum, and have absolutely nothing to do with the style or tone that distinguished this once unique city, it remains, so far, a largely neglected, semi-industrial zone. The photos catch parts of it, beginning, though with the UCSF medical complex which is a massive hospital/research array of buildings that have almost zero street level identity and hence feel barren even though some of the buildings are above average in their architectural distinction. South of there the waterfront is still mostly industrial and those two areas are where the photos come from so, if each is worth a 1000 words, it’s time to move to pictures.
4 balls, highly reflective, outside the Chase Center
A character in Money Heist reminded me of Wile. E. Coyote who comes up with ingenious plans to capture the Road Runner, only to see them fail every time. He never learns and the characters never change. They just go through different challenges with the same results, akin to one definition of crazy. But, in this case, funny. So: Aren’t many TV series, even some of the best like that? The basic qualities of the key characters are established early on and then they face challenge after challenge only to find a way to overcome them. Character development or change is rare since the appeal of the challenges is seeing how their fixed personality gets them through the problem: Saul Goodman’s resourceful efforts in Better Call Saul to work the legal system to benefit less than law-abiding citizens, Marty and Wendy Byrde’s incredible ability in Ozark to use their wits to outsmart gangsters and cartels, scheming locals and crooked politicians no matter how dire the circumstances? Money Heist explores a single robbery attempt over two seasons as challenge after challenge confronts the impressively resourceful robbers, who also have a political axe to grind with late capitalism! And in others like The Bridge or Shetland or A Place to Call Home, the challenges may impede a murder investigation or test the mettle of an entire family, but the characters alter little while the challenges proliferate like a field of wildflowers. But doesn’t this idea of fixed characters confronting severe challenges that they typically overcome with skill and wit not go back at least to The Odyssey? Do TV series owe an enormous debt not only to Chuck Jones and his amazing cartoons but also to Homer and his classic tale of an almost interminable quest to achieve a long-desired goal despite nearly insurmountable obstacles? Except in some TV series the hero’s journey doesn’t bring them home so much as the kind of predicament that invites another season. Stay tuned.