The New Exploratorium: Hands-On Science Makes Splash on San Francisco Waterfront

Trash Clock, San Francisco ExploratoriumTrash Sweepers Clock – All Photos (c) Russell Johnson

San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a reboot of the pioneering, hands-on science museum that had lived in a dark cavern at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts for 43 years is now open on the city’s waterfront, “on the front porch of San Francisco,” says Executive Director Dennis Bartels. The Exploratorium has expanded to 330 thousand square feet of Pier 15 with 600 exhibits, some outside, some inside, all engineered to generate enough “ooh” to please adults and enough “ick” to please kids.

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Don Corleone and Vlad The Impaler Live at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Tucker Auto at Francis For Coppola Winery

A thing about wine tasting: you can only do so much of it. You won’t find me trailing up and down some viney valley imbibing at one winery after another. After the first stop I feel the urge to do a face plant on the lawn.

Wineries have to offer more than tastings to hold their audiences these days and few do it better than showbiz master Francis Ford Coppola.

I spent a couple of hours at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery without sipping a drop. But there were other things to do.

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Not So Noir Anymore: The New Downtown LA

Downtown LA from the pool at the FigeuoraI hear it fluttering above: chucka, chucka, chucka. Officially, the California State Bird is the gentle Valley Quail. The exception is in Los Angeles where that honor goes to the helicopter: following bad men, televising traffic tie ups and car chases. We are in Downtown LA, it is 2AM and my wife and I are rudely awakened: chucka, chucka, chucka, woop, woop.

Next morning I check the police blotter: A bar fight. But not in one of the sleazy Open-At-6AM dives that I associated with this once LA Noir neighborhood, but a at club inhabited by high-strung twenty-somethings.

Welcome to a Downtown Los Angeles of mixed messages: a storied, sometimes tawdry history now burnished with gleaming glass and steel, including a Ritz Carlton monolith looming, chopper level, above me. I am at ground-level, poolside at the not-so-ritzy Figueroa Hotel peering up at the top one-percent, watching searchlights scanning the skies, LA-style, for nothing in particular.

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