Dennis De Young Museum

I had a great time at the Dennis De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. What a great place. I hate the provisional-looking exterior but the content of the museum is top-notch. I was skeptical at first — a whole museum, dedicated to the former lead singer of Styx? Fortunately the collection is more than just classic rock memorabilia. There is an excellent installation by Kiki Smith, showing the figures of two children riding a box kite into a ‘storm’ of hanging raindrops, each one made of handblown glass. They’ve got a really good Andy Goldsworthy installation, and the traditional art from New Guinea is the best display of its kind I’ve ever seen. They also have a journal on display with the original handwritten lyrics to “Mr. Roboto,” which was also cool to see. All in all it was a very good experience (and not too expensive.)

Morbidly obese and lazy hawk in Golden Gate Park

I am growing concerned about the morbidly obese and lazy hawk in Golden Gate Park (in a field beneath a copse of trees, not far from the De Young Museum.) It is so waddlesome and lazy that it can barely fly anymore. It looks like a basketball with wings. I guess the food supply (pigeons, rats, gophers, more rats) must be very plentiful this year. Or maybe all that second-hand pot smoke is drifting up into the trees, sending his appetite out of whack.

On the road

Look for me out on the road starting in June. I am taking “Cactus Eaters” to various cities and towns. This will probably include some sort of slide show/ power-point presentation featuring emigrants, mountains, flora, fauna, pioneer cannibals, trail logistics, little-known factoids, etc. Details to follow.

More information about getting drunk in the woods

Some of you have asked me to provide some more specifics about the phenomenal “Beer Woods” hike in Muir Woods. (That’s the one where you embark on a four-mile loop with a working beer bar right in the middle of the redwood forest.) Here goes. The pub is actually a faux Swiss chalet with stunning views of redwoods and Mount Tam. It’s called the Tourist Club, and it’s managed by a 600,000-member group called Naturfreunde, with headquarters in Austria (so they know from beer.) The club’s address is 30 Ridge Ave., Mill Valley. Call in advance (415 388 9987) to make sure they are open. Also, bring a lot of food before you go there. It’s hard to hike back out of the forest, over steep and sometimes slippery terrain, while shnackered.

Montara Mountain

For those of you who are out here in SF, and are looking for a quick escape, and are sick of the crowds in Muir Woods, try this hike. It’s just off Highway One beyond the Devil’s Slide (near Montara.) It’s eight miles round trip — and the first four miles are straight uphill— but the views of the East Bay and San Francisco are tremendous. Warning: clear your schedule after you do this. I couldn’t walk for a couple of days afterwards.

Allegedly phallic tree revisited

I have been trying, in recent weeks, to make my Cactuseaters blog more focused on the environment, backpacking, trees and “green” issues. With this in mind, I’ve decided to republish a story I wrote some years back for the Santa Cruz Sentinel about an “allegedly phallic tree.” For some reason, this story resulted in a small avalanche of strange attention; I went on various Howard Stern-style radio programs to talk about this particular shrubbery. Fact or fallacy: Sexy tree too much for some Westside neighbors DAN WHITE Sentinel staff writer May 8, 2002 A Westside resident called the cops Monday to report an allegedly phallic tree. Officers responded to the Liberty Street home but found no wrongdoing. They said the 20-footer — actually an evergreen hedge of the Luma genus — is protected by its owner’s right to artistic freedom. “We contacted the city attorney,” said Sgt. Brad Goodwin. “It…

Amy Sedaris at the Herbst Theater

I thought she did an incredible job. They set it up to look like a sit-down interview with Daniel Handler but it was pure, polished improv comedy, right from the start. She would take some ridiculous, offhand comment from the audience (including an astoundingly tasteless remark about Ms. Sedaris’s dead mother in a sexually compromising position), pretend to ignore it, and then refer back to it mercilessly throughout the evening. Comedy is very hard — it’s easy to get up there and look like a shnook — but she seemed fearless. She sparred a bit with Mr. Handler — just enough to make you wonder if it was all part of the act or not. I also picked up on a lot of housekeeping tips (how to put google eyes on peanuts, for example.) There were many other weird twists to the evening — such as Andrew Sean Greer playing…