writer, teacher, traveler, and lazy gardener

Tag: writing inspiration

Pacific Heights: “Love Match” Photo Tour

Remember the thriller Pacific Heights? About a yuppie couple (Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine) who renovate their Pacific Heights house only to have their psycho  tenant (Michael Keaton, possibly trying to stretch his acting chops after two rounds of Batman movies) terrorize them and ruin their home improvement bliss? It was a bit of fun schlock. More unintentional giggles than thrills. The biggest laugh was that the couple’s dream house wasn’t located in the Pacific Heights at all, but Potrero Hill. Only San Franciscans would know the difference and appreciate the irony. Pacific Heights was (and still is) a very upscale area whereas Potrero Hill in the early 90s was a working class district. Gentrification has since kicked it up a rung; it’s now an upper-middle class neighborhood.

I thought about the movie last October when I was driving around the area looking for examples of Edwardian houses that were the inspiration for Love Match character Joe Trigoboff’s place. The view is still spectacular when it’s not obscured by all the construction. There’s tons of renovation going on. Rumor has it the budget for one home remodel is around $10M. It’s completely sheathed in white plastic to keep the flying debris and dust at bay.  All those dotcom millionaires have to spend their money somehow.

There were plenty of Victorian, Mission revival and Chateau styles but fewer of the less ornate Edwardians. Did I imagine they were plenty in this neighborhood? Would I have to be like the movie’s location manager and go to another area for good examples? After much searching I found a few, but the intricate green terrazzo steps with red jewel-like granite … I found those in the Mission.

Jessica leapt up the terrazzo steps of a stately Edwardian house in Pacific Heights and rang the doorbell. Even though a few lights glowed from inside, nobody answered. “Mr. Trigoboff!” She banged on the door. “Joe! It’s Jessica Durrell!” Still no one came. She turned to go, her hopes fading, when she heard the deadbolt snap.

Fisherman’s Wharf: “Love Match” Photo Tour

“Tourist trap” is defined as a restaurant, shop, or hotel, that exploits tourists by overcharging. That definition isn’t exclusive to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco’s renown waterfront tourist destination. One could argue the whole city has become a trap of sorts; it’s become so expensive to live there and visit there. But this hasn’t stopped tourists from flocking to the wharf to munch on crab rolls, sourdough bread bowls filled with chowder, take boat tours of Alcatraz Island, and stock up on made-in-China plastic tchotchkes. Who cares if it’s cheesy. Fisherman’s Wharf is a vital part of San Francisco’s history.

According to FishermansWharf.org the waterfront has been active for over 125 years. Generations upon generations of families have been hauling in their catch from the waters around the Bay Area. The prized and plentiful Dungeness crab came from the “… Straits of Carquinez on the inland reaches of San Francisco Bay to the sandy shorelines off Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda. Over the years, clams, the natural food of the crab, disappeared from the Bay. The best crab catches were then made just outside the Golden Gate. Today, the crabbers must drop their crab pots far out near the Farallon Islands in 18 to 35 fathoms of ocean water.”

Like most things in this world, too much of a good thing, overfishing, has caused a shortage. You’d never know that visiting the wharf. Crab and other seafood is still in abundance. But the lobster is flown in from Maine. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

At Fisherman’s Wharf, it was business as usual. Tourists in their uniforms of bright polo shirts, baggy shorts, and webbed sandals grumbled in long lines as they waited for the ferry to take them on the Alcatraz Island tour. Many gathered around steaming seafood stands, which sold clam chowder in crusty sourdough bread bowls. Moving through the crush, Hayden pushed past a German tourist whose face was pressed into a guidebook, then sidestepped a vendor hawking a cable-car bank in one hand and Coit Tower pepper mill in the other. Crowds annoyed him—except, of course, when they were packing a nightclub to see him play.

 

San Francisco: Love Match’s third character

It’s become a romance genre motif that the city where the events take place acts like a third character in the story. From Woody Allen’s Manhattan, which rhapsodized poetic about the city’s romantic virtues, to Sex and the City, and even Donna Tartt’s novel, The Goldfinch, New York City underscores, sentimentalizes and enriches the story.

The “third character” in Love Match is San Francisco. It’s a place I know well, is loaded with memories, and in many ways still has a hold on my heart. I wanted to show the places that have inspired scenes in the book—some are real while others are fabrications. All photos are taken by me unless otherwise noted.

She resided in Sea Cliff: an upscale enclave near the beach, populated by rock stars from the sixties, old-money families, and new-money venture capitalists. Her ocean view may have been to-die-for, but the marine layer was often locked in for days, even weeks.

 

 

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