Light/Breezes

Light/Breezes
SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Monday, November 5, 2012

CHASING HISTORY AT NIGHT

AT LARGE IN THE FAIRMONT
WITH AN IPHONE
     It is an icon of 20th Century history in San Francisco. Built after the turn of the century, it survived the 1906 earthquake and fire and prevailed as a symbol of the new San Francisco and evolved over the years to become one of the world's leading historic hotels.
    I roamed around with an iPhone breathing in the history of a place that hosted meetings that established the United Nations, where Tony Bennett first sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," where every president since Taft has stayed, where world leaders convene, where show business greats perform, and the setting for several movies and television series.
    These are just quick photo notes, dark, shaky, soft focus and all, that will go into my writing file "scene bank." Please consider these "working notes", shot on the quick simply to capture a mood or moment that I can later conjure in my writing. Here's a quick look, starting with a view of the Bay and Alcatraz from our room.




 The Grand Ball Room where history has been written.

 The roof garden where secrets have been shared.


 THEN, THERE IS THE TONGA
Opened in 1947, the Tonga Room is a premiere Tiki motif
that has entertained and fed generations for 65 years.
It remains a popular spot for tourists and devotees. 
This room is near capacity or with waiting lines most nights.




The Island Boys, the most recent of entertainers who perform on a moving boat on what was the hotel's original pool.  The evening is complete with several thunderstorms and rain showers each evening.  Here kitsch meets history.

9 comments:

  1. The food at the Tonga Room isn't as exotic as the drinks!

    Did you go to Alcatraz? If you do, don't miss locking yourself in the solitary confinement, black out cell. My claustrophobia kicked in in a micro second.

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  2. Great pics, Tom. What characterizes SF most in my mind is it's civility. During the Giants parade last week there were 1.2 million joyous fans lining Market St. and filling Civic Center plaza... there were NO arrests. Every time I'm in San Francisco I feel like I'm in a dream.

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    1. It is truly a great American city. We love it.

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  3. I can close my eyes and recall the first time I set foot in the Tonga Room. I felt closer to tropical paradise than I did when I actually visited French Polynesia.

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  4. I LOVE South Seas Islands restaurants - Trader Vic's, Don the Beachcomber's, the Tonga Room. I just want to live there, fantasy or not.

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  5. Tom - the Tonga is one of the most enchanting restaurants I have ever been to. It is beyond cheesey. And the place oozes history and glamor. Love it! -Jeff Ditmire, Dana Point

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    1. Your description is on target. Thanks for joining the chat.

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  6. Brother Tom: Hope the Fairmont doesn't go through with earlier announced plans to shutter and tear down the beloved Tonga Room. The gods would not be pleased! -Dave Arland

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    1. Hope not as well. It is doing a great business!

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