Just north of downtown Portland, Ore., a neighborhood of former warehouses opens up to reveal a culinary hot spot. Once home to bustling factories and rail yards, Portland’s newly hip neighborhood, the Pearl District, gained its nickname when the area’s art galleries opened in the mid-1980s. “All these crusty warehouses, they’re sort of like oysters on the outside,” says Heidi Burnette, co-owner of local Forktown Food Tours (forktownfoodtoursportland.com).
Once home to such notorious inmates as Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly, San Francisco Bay’s Alcatraz Island welcomed 11,166 visitors for the opening of "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz." The Beijing-based artist and political activist created seven new site-specific pieces to be shown in the former federal penitentiary through April 26, 2015.
Located in a squat wood-paneled building, streaked white and gray with age, Audium stands in sharp contrast to its showy Victorian neighbors and the fortresslike church that anchors this San Francisco block. No neon sign lights up the entrance. No windows offer a peek inside. Only the soft glow of a single bulb shines on the steps between the gate and the door.
On a warm spring day, I followed local graffiti photographer and urban explorer Michael (whom the Express agreed to not fully identify) across a green stretch of park lawn. We passed kids playing in the grass and a couple lounging on beach blankets, their heads almost touching as they talked. The weather was perfect for lazily soaking up the sun, but Michael's walk was straight and determined, and I had to jog every few steps to keep up with my six-foot-four guide.
Hall Newbegin, the founder of the natural fragrance company Juniper Ridge, is in the middle of leading a 15-person group of employees and guests on a wild harvesting hike through the Sierra Madre Mountains just north of Ojai when he stops to pick up a piece of dry cougar scat. He lifts it to his nose and inhales deeply.
Fueled by the second tech boom, San Francisco’s skyline is currently undergoing rapid change. More than 20 construction cranes crowd the downtown horizon, and more are on their way. With the transformation of the Mid-Market area, anchored by Twitter’s new headquarters in the old Furniture Mart, a stroll through the city today can feel like a never-ending construction zone.
In a closet-sized darkroom in the back of Photobooth , a tintype portrait studio in San Francisco’s Mission District, Michael Shindler carefully holds a shiny 3-by-5–inch black aluminum plate on the fingertips of one hand. Glass bottles containing yellow- and amber-colored collodion — a mixture of liquid nitrocellulose, ether, and alcohol — are clustered on the countertop.
“Watch your step,” Nick Saraceni tells me right before he stops and looks at the bottom of his black Nikes. The 24-year-old graffiti hunter and I are standing along the side of a brick warehouse in an industrial part of Berkeley, California. Below our feet lies an uneven pile of plastic sheeting, loose wooden planks, and, as Saraceni has discovered, nails.
When my mom took me shopping for my first bra, I was terrified that a classmate might see me. I kept my head low as she guided me through the dense jungle of satin straps and cups, and I nearly died of humiliation when she asked where the training bras were located. Nearly 20 years later, in July 2006, Mom and I are again standing in front of a cashier island in the middle of the sea of lingerie at the San Jose Nordstrom.
Affectionately referred to as “the Town” by residents, Oakland has a surprisingly communal vibe despite being home to some 400,000 people. Diversity is one of the port city’s strengths, as evidenced in its stellar international cuisine, eclectic local bands and vibrant arts scene.
When captured beautifully, people are relatable—
they are you and me. The more local and specific a story is, the more universal it becomes. Cinema taps into that human connection more powerfully
and more entertainingly than any other medium. So see films from other countries, and don’t think of them as foreign.