Although Japan had been absorbing external cultural influences since the 7th century, especially from Korea and China, it spent many hundreds of years purposely cut off from the rest of the world. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that Japan began opening up to the outside world. While western history records this as the “opening”…
As an honest artist, Wesley Stace doesn’t mind a clear assessment of his 25-year career in music. As an optimist, he doesn’t struggle to find the bright side. “I’ve never been a household name, it’s true,” he agrees. “But that means I’ve never had a big song that I have to sing over and over….
As any visitor to Kyoto will soon notice, geisha are not just historical figures. With some luck, a visitor wandering in the city’s ancient Gion neighborhood may well catch a glimpse of one of these exotic, mysterious women as she moves quickly through the area’s narrow streets, on her way to work. But who are the geisha? What do they do? And in the 21st century, what is their role in society?
Flowers are valued as offerings throughout Asia. From Thailand to Bali to India, bouquets or even single flowers are an offering to the gods: a gift of life, given in thanks, to the Source of Life. And around the world, flowers have been offered at funerals as gifts to the spirits of the dead.
In the world of beef, there are top sirloin steaks from Omaha, bifteck in France and lomo from Argentina. But Kobe beef stands alone, with a reputation for high quality and a deep mystique surrounding its breeding and raising.
Visitors who spend any amount of time in Japan quickly become aware of the importance, even the primacy, of presentation. A nice meal, or a gift, or even an everyday object, is always appreciated for itself – but just as important is how it is wrapped or otherwise packaged.
Warriors, nobles, scholars and ultimately outcasts, the samurai, or as the Japanese are more apt to call them, bushi, were crucial figures in Japanese history for nearly a thousand years. For a third of that time, they ruled much of the country, but about 150 years ago, they all but disappeared. To understand why, we must know where they came from.
Japan offers more extraordinary food experiences than nearly any other country in the world. Even if you want French crepes, or Italian osso bucco, or delicious Sichuan – even just a great cheeseburger and milk shake – the Japanese can cook it, and cook it well.
Unless you are going to spend all your time in Japan shopping, eating and drinking – and we could hardly blame you – Japan is one of the great cultures of the world when it comes to religious, or spiritual, expression. Much Japanese art and architecture is devoted to spiritual matters, and the country is loaded with artifacts from grand temples to tiny shrines, sometimes in the unlikeliest places.
Some things take more than effort – some things may just be a bit more than you can handle. And if you’re like most westerners over the age of 20, every fear you may have of being unable to “go Japanese” can be summed up in one terrifying word: Seiza.
Whether in the form of udon, soba, yakisoba, somen, the universally-popular ramen or others, Japan’s love affair with noodles is rich and varied. Given the many uses of the form, in a broth as soup, in hot dishes, or in cold salads with a variety of dipping sauces, the Japanese prove every day that they can do nearly anything with noodles.
Japan’s position on top of a volcanic archipelago has clear disadvantages, so it’s important to remember one of its great benefits: Japan is home to literally thousands of hot springs, or onsen. The Japanese have a long and beautiful tradition of deep enjoyment of this natural advantage.
Its name in Japanese is simple – chakai (tea gathering) – but to the rest of the world it is regarded as one of Japan’s greatest mysteries, and is known distinctively as the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
But the chakai (or more formal chaji) is not just about tea, nor is it simply a ceremony, something to be learned, performed and added to one’s list of accomplishments. Chakai is more than that. It is a way of life itself.
Japan is home to not one, but two religions, Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples often stand side by side, and the Japanese see no inconsistency worshiping the Buddha and the many Shinto kami with virtually the same breath. After nearly 1500 years, they are deeply, culturally interconnected – though that was the result of a long, complex process known as shin-butsu shugo (Shinto-Buddhism coalescence).
Ki is possibly the most powerful, useful and even quintessentially Japanese word in the Japanese language. Familiar to everyone from fans of modern manga to practitioners of ancient Aikido, alone or in combination with other syllables, ki can mean many things.
There are few places offering greater opportunities to violate local customs that at the dining table. Nowhere else do such clear rules come in conflict with such a basic need: we are, after all, hungry.
So here are ten tips for gaijin.
The Japanese language is difficult enough to learn, even for people who live for years in Japan; writing it is well beyond the ability of any visitor of short duration. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be enjoyed for its great beauty and delicacy.
If one were to pick a phrase that aptly sums up the traditional aesthetic sensibility of the Japanese, it might well be wabi-sabi. A combination of two old words with overlapping definitions, wabi-sabi might be the Buddhist view of the facts of existence: Both life and art are beautiful not because they are perfect and…
While many gourmands around the food world laud the current trend of “farm-to-fork” cuisine – with its focus on fresh, local, seasonal ingredients and simple-but-elegant presentation – the Japanese have been raising the same approach to a high art for centuries. Kaiseki, Japan’s multi-course haute cuisine, has been refined over the four hundred years since…
The word sake is actually a generic Japanese word, and refers to any alcoholic beverage. Vodka is, then, sake in Japan, as is beer, which now out-sells sake in Japan. What English speakers call sake is what the Japanese call seishu or nihonshu: “Japanese liquor.” But since English-speakers routinely call it sake, we will continue with that usage here.
Tea, its cultivation and consumption, are crucial to Japan and its culture. Such elegant ancient rituals as the Japanese tea ceremony and unique contemporary creations as green tea ice cream have created the impression that Japan and tea are nearly synonymous. In fact, Japan accounts for a relatively small amount of global tea production…
Japan is a modern country, moving ever faster, and it is easy when visiting to get caught up in the Japanese enthusiasm for the shiny, flashy and new, whether it is manga or karaoke or the latest food craze. Japan, especially Tokyo, can be as loud and glitzy as any city on earth – perhaps…
Elegant and timeless, these buildings remain Japan’s quintessential architectural creations, many of them having survived earthquakes, war, blizzards and dynastic changes over 1,300 years. In 2003, Japan’s government designated 3,844 buildings and other structures in the country as either National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties.
Even if you have ample funds and a healthy credit card, there are good reasons to shop for bargains beyond simply saving money: Watching for bargains gets you out of your accustomed ways, puts you in the position to meet ordinary Japanese (and other travelers) and see how they live, introduces you to new habits, and gives you the opportunity to learn the value of a Yen. No one minds saving a little money.
As far from the “real world” as it may seem, Burning Man is a part of our world – money, income inequality and all. Does that make Burning Man commercial? Or is it a valiant and largely effective effort to balance a culture in which money warps our politics, our religion, even our personal relationships? The answer is yes. And no. Or, as in real life, somewhere in between.
The Roman ruins and Renaissance cathedrals are getting some competition for tourist dollars this year from something decidedly contemporary: Milan’s Expo 2015, this year’s international exposition. Having opened in May to great fanfare – as well as charges of incompetence and indictments for corruption in its construction – features acre after acre of spectacular national pavilions that focus on this year’s theme: Food production.
I really did love my stuff. I even used a lot of it. And I had a lot: My gorgeous Victorian home in downtown Sacramento held closets full of clothes, a kitchen crammed with utensils, a garage full of sporting gear, a formal dining room, a roomful of records, even a library, floor to ceiling with books. So much stuff. These days, I have a backpack and a duffel bag
Standing stately still and elegant at center stage Tuesday night at City Winery, Colin Blunstone owned the stage like someone who has been doing this for a long, long time. Indeed he has. As he noted in passing amongst the many quips and war stories that framed his songs, Blunstone, now 68, has spent a…
One must assume that they didn’t have red-eyes in 1849 – don’t you need an airplane for that? – but the title isn’t the only anachronistic reference in the strange, compelling and utterly fresh Red-Eye to Havre de Grace, now playing at the New York Theater Workshop in the East Village through June 1. Based…
In 1978, three Sacramento brothers reimagined the iconic Swiss Family Robinson as a musical. Now, more than 30 years later, it’s finally brought to life on a New York City stage.
If you’re sick of the Sacramento Kings drama, imagine how reporters covering this story must feel after spending the last four months—or four years or seven years or 13 years—poring over every angle. Each mayoral press conference, every new civic suitor (Anaheim, Virginia Beach, Seattle), city-council votes and arena studies, those task-force meetings or cryptic pronouncements from the brothers Maloof. This past week in New York City was just the latest twist in a winding, convoluted plot that is beginning to rival All My Children in its length, complexity and unexpected turns.
David Watts Barton left the Sacramento Bee in 2007 to work at the Sacramento Press, a hyperlocal digital news operation. In the Columbia Journalism Review, he described the extreme difficulty of producing credible journalism based on volunteer labor. “Editing costs money. Citizen journalists are cheap and they can even be good. but even great journalists need some editing; citizen journalists need a lot of it. … Without journalism jobs, we don’t have journalism.”
New York City was the dream. I visited here dozens of times, got married here in 1983 and came here to blow off steam when I was divorced 12 years later. I overstayed my welcome with some friends and pushed it with others. I took a year off in 2006 and sublet a place on the Upper West Side. So, when I finally signed a lease last fall, it was a beginning, but it also felt like the realization of a decades-old dream. After numerous tentative starts, I can finally call myself a New Yorker.
By the end of the week, this storm revealed the extent to which climate change may soon be affecting many millions of people—because it already has. The deniers will continue to deny—it’s what they do—but if Manhattan is not safe, if the “Capital of the World” can be plunged into darkness so quickly, so completely, what does the future hold for other cities?
Six months ago, I was living in a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom 1880 Victorian, with a formal dining room, a huge kitchen and bathroom, a foyer, a parlor and a library. A library full of books. Beautiful books, some mine for 30 years, some my grandfather’s for much longer. But after two years of dealing with the twenty-first century American Nightmare—bad loans, unemployment, short sale, foreclosure—along with a perfect storm of even more personal losses of family and friends—I’ve had to learn to let go.
So I’m letting go with a vengeance.
Kinde Durkee, a former campaign treasurer to Democrats in California including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, pleaded guilty to charges she embezzled thousands of dollars from political committees that hired her.
This was a particularly good show that captured a lot of the flavor of our broadcast area, leading with the latest on attempts to get a new arena built for the Sacramento Kings, as well as an interview with three local brewers for Sacramento Beer Week, a preview of a proposed hiking trail that would…
Mortgage settlement, bar pilots, etc
My interview with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson about the push to build a new arena in Sacramento.
In this panel of local journalists, hosted by The Sacramento Bee’s Ed Fletcher, my comments appear at about 11:00.
Longtime Sacramento journalist David Watts Barton asserts in an article published this week in the Columbia Journalism Review that without journalism jobs, we don’t have journalism. Barton talks about how the journalists “lit a fire under the local news media, focusing on stories that The Bee, the local alternative weekly, and the Sacramento Business Journal either didn’t notice, ignored, or couldn’t afford to cover.”
Much of this piece, which was intended to be about journalism, is instead about money. Perhaps that’s the ultimate message, as journalists everywhere are discovering. As journalists, we’re nothing if we don’t tell the truth, backed up by solid reporting. But unless someone, somewhere, is bringing money to the table, our political insights or critical acumen or familiarity with the machinations of city hall are mere dinner party—or Facebook—fodder. Without the money, we don’t have jobs. And “citizen journalism” notwithstanding, without journalism jobs, we don’t have journalism.
By Michelle Alexander, SacramentoPress.com, Nov. 4, 2011 Arts Journalism Honoring journalists for covering the regional arts scene, during the past year with accuracy, vigor and relevance. David Watts Barton has been a part of Sacramento’s arts and culture scene for 35 years as critic, columnist, blogger, editor, radio host and performer. Starting with local music…
Over my nearly three years at The Sacramento Press, I’ve written some nice farewells to folks who’ve left us, and I’ve even had to fire a couple of people. But now I find that the tables are turned: I was laid off yesterday as Editor in Chief of The Sacramento Press. It was a cost-cutting measure, done to get this young company to profitability. Not the way I wanted to help get there, but you do what you can.
This morning’s announcement that the Kings will be staying in Sacramento is unalloyed good news. Whether or not the Kings staying in Sacramento is ultimately the “right” thing for Sacramento is still up in the air; but today, it is very much a good thing. Whether that remains true going forward depends on a lot of things coming together.
The aggressive exploitation of this tragedy by a handful people with an agenda has been disturbing. Let’s be real: The nuisance of immature, drunken people is not comparable to an innocent young man dying in a crossfire. Those who are linking the two together for their own rhetorical gain should be ashamed of themselves.
Grocery stores aren’t as cool as bars. But what a difference a grocery makes. Neighborhoods that thrive – neighborhoods where people live – need grocery stores. Grocery stores may not be sexy, but they keep us alive.
Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. asked a California judge to declare a mistrial or order a new trial over a jury’s $677 million damages award for claims the company improperly staffed its nursing homes.
As we in the Sacramento Press newsroom digested the news that a newly hired deputy city auditor was resigning – as a result of one lunchtime phone call to auditor Gerald Silva from our city hall reporter, Kathleen Haley – I marveled at several things. First, that the Sacramento Press’ inquiries had caused a city official to resign. Despite what people might think, that’s not the most rewarding thing a journalist can do. But when the official and his boss have hidden damaging information from city staff and the public – in this case that Silva was fired for his role in a sexual harassment lawsuit while working for San Jose’s city government – well…that’s good stuff. But there’s more to marvel at.
David Watts Barton, 50, editor in chief of the online Sacramento Press, lives in a restored Victorian house in Alkali Flat, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. He’s just a few blocks from City Hall.
“I can walk everywhere,” he said, running down a list that includes cafés, restaurants, the post office, live theaters, movie theaters, clubs, nightclubs, concert venues and the library. Because he does some writing for some national wire services, he also can walk just a few blocks to get files or cover cases at the county and federal courthouses.
One sign of a world class city is that its citizens don’t sit around dreaming up ways to hit that one grand slam that is going to instantly vault it into the status of “world class” cities. Ideas like the Saca twin towers. Like Aura. Like the Sacramento Boqueria. Big projects that promise much but ultimately come to nothing. I believe in dreaming big. But right now, in this town, we need a success. And success isn’t going to come in one fell swoop, with one grand gesture. It is going to come with something that is already happening on K Street: critical mass. The Promenade on K project offers just that.
Moody’s Investors Service Inc., Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings asked a judge today to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two California investors who claim the companies gave inflated ratings to inferior bonds. The companies named the bonds “investment grade” to achieve more sales of their rating services and didn’t downgrade the bonds until Lehman filed for bankruptcy in 2008, plaintiff Ronald Grassi said.
Sometimes you can want something so much, and push for it so hard, that you end up creating the opposite of what you wanted. Which is perhaps how we’ve ended up with such a weak mayor. That was never more clear than on Tuesday night, when Mayor Kevin Johnson’s dogged pursuit of a “strong mayor” remake of the city charter went down – spectacularly – at the hands of a city council united against him.
En EE.UU encontramos multitud de ejemplos de periodismo ciudadano hiperlocal y Sacramento Press es otro de ellos. Se trata de un sitio web que combina el trabajo de periodistas profesionales y ciudadanos para ofrecer información local relevante para una pequeña comunidad, pero intrascendente para los grandes medios.
Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings sought dismissal of a lawsuit by two
California investors, claiming they weren’t responsible for the plaintiffs’ investment decisions.
Managing editor David Watts Barton said the publication is still primarily driven by community journalists. He said the Web site aims to be something of a “hybrid” with a combination of professional journalists and community contributors. Barton wants the two full-time reporters to anchor the site with “real quality journalism,” with coverage of business and development matters and city government, and hopes their stories inspire more involvement from community members.
These are the times that try men’s souls, it’s true. And you see a bit about people in their reactions to the bad news, not always appealing. I admit my own vascillations between hope and despair, particularly in the way I talk – one day I’m quoting terrible news, the next I’m sayin’ it ain’t so bad. Strange times. But I had a conversation with some good friends the other night, outside the Torch Club, and the conversation turned to the economy, and the gloom. And several of the conversants – all guys in their 30s and 40s – opined that, in times like these, the cops were spread thin, and the best insurance against hard times was a shotgun.
Christopher Warren, a Californian who fled to Ireland and Lebanon, was arrested in connection with a $100 million Ponzi scheme involving mortgage fraud, U.S. prosecutors said.
Backers of California’s gay marriage ban lost a bid to keep some of their donors’ names secret after a judge said campaign-finance disclosure laws outweigh concerns that supporters may be harassed.
An online effort at citizen journalism aims to inspire Sacramento-area residents to contribute local stories and help a startup compete for advertising dollars with traditional media outlets. “We’re putting it out there in a more raw form,” said managing editor David Watts Barton, who left The Sacramento Bee in September 2007 after 23 years.
A New Jersey broker of processed tomato products agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing and racketeering charges and pay $600,000 for making kickbacks to customers and inflating prices, prosecutors said.
What do you get from following the news these days? Is it mostly all in your head? Is it freaking you out, too? Does knowing the details of terrible things you can do absolutely nothing about add anything good to your life? Is it just entertainment? Monkey mind? The rubbernecks-at-a-car-crash effect? I’d really like to know.
A Bee Business story on this week’s buy-outs was long on numbers, but it didn’t mention a single name of the very real people who are leaving The Bee this fall. So I’m going to drop the commentary and just list those who are leaving. Read the names, remember the people – and the stories. These are the people who made The Bee what it is…was. And the names say it all.
So you want to know what some folks really think? Check their blogs. For better and worse, bloggers can say whatever they think—and they do. Prolifically. Bloggers generally aren’t pros—their work often lacks professional editing and fact-checking—but there’s little question on where they stand, and that’s their appeal. Local bloggers who write about Sacramento give a street-level view of the city with an aura of authenticity that more managed media can lack.
A ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California can go to voters in November, a judge ruled, over
the objection of an advocacy group that said state Attorney General Jerry Brown improperly changed its wording. A group opposed to same-sex marriage sued the state claiming Brown’s changes to the measure’s title and summary — the first words voters see on their ballots — could sway Californians to vote against it.
Sun, sand, trees, trails, water, wildflowers, wildlife. Many such words come to mind when we daydream of summer in all its coming glory. And now it’s here. In our guide to the outdoors, we explore a variety of ways for you to put our region’s great weather and ample natural amenities to good use. From hiking and cycling to swimming, kayaking and more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So let’s take it outside.
As our four-seat seaplane lifts off the glassy surface of the Sacramento River, giving our tour group a bird’s-eye view of the winding levees and tracts of farmland stretching east to the Sierra Nevada and west to the Coast Range, I get a sense of Sacramento that’s hard to get on the ground.
Undertaking the Pacific Crest Trail isn’t just “doing a hike.” It’s often difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, occasionally dangerous and, above all, a very, very long haul.
Dan Gehweiler, accompanied by his wife and toddler son, as well as by his parents, accepted the award quietly. It was more than two years in coming, but it was welcome nonetheless. Speaking the day before the ceremony, Gehweiler recounted the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2005, when his truck hit an explosive device on the road back to his base. The shrapnel tore through the floor of the truck he was driving and “a hunk of metal the size of a golf ball” lodged in his right arm.
Burning Man’s dominant aesthetic, if it has one, is a hard-core, “Mad Max”-style anarchy, where art burns, explosions go off for their own sake, and hundreds of fire dancers spin flaming poi, leaving vast clouds of smoke in their wake. So how does Burning Man go “green”? And why?
What would you do without Gracenote?
Well, for one, you’d be typing into your computer the name of every artist and every song on every CD you pop into iTunes or other music management program you use on your computer.
Do you feel grateful yet?
By David Watts Barton, The Sacramento Bee, March 7, 2006 Tower Records has seen better days. Everyone knows it. Russ Solomon certainly knows it. Solomon launched Tower in 1960 out of his dad’s pharmacy in the Tower Theatre building at 16th and Broadway. He built the company into the most influential record chain in the…
The start of a new year seems like a good time to plan to enjoy our sweet spot of outdoor fun. Plus, you don’t want to wake up one day 20 years from now and wonder why you never hiked Yosemite, rafted a Class IV stretch of river or reeled in a king salmon, do you?
It’s still hard to believe. Someone shot Beatle John. It happened 25 years ago today, but it still doesn’t make sense that someone – a fan – would kill a man who sang a whole generation awake. But John Lennon was indeed shot this day in 1980, and many Sacramentans are remembering that heinous crime, some shedding fresh tears over an old wound.
With the four-piece band he’s been leading for an ongoing series of tours that started in Oakland in 2002, McCartney has become one of the hardest-working classic rockers on the road. Still at the top of his game musically at 63, he looked and sounded a good 20 years younger as he worked through 37 songs in 21/2 hours.
You’d think that people would have had enough of Paul McCartney. But you look around you and you see it isn’t so. With a sold-out show at Arco Arena on Wednesday, yet another album in the Billboard Top 40 and a seemingly endless stream of books being published about his first band, the Beatles, McCartney is the object of enduring interest, especially for baby boomers who grew up with the Fab Four.
John Lennon been turned into a soft-focus pop icon, a pinup for peace. A driving force behind that, all agree, is Ono, who, as Lennon’s widow, creative partner, business partner and manager of his estate and legacy, has revised the man. Now, he comes across as a dreamy house husband, not as the firebrand who wrote the raw, violently emotional “Yer Blues” and “Working Class Hero.” Instead, we get the Lennon of clouds and dreams and childish doodles, widely available as lithographs – “limited edition,” of course.
When she set out to hike 200 miles of the John Muir Trail, Anne Arthur, 57, wasn’t aiming to make a statement. She just wanted to go on a hike, the kind she and her husband had planned to do. “We’d been trying to get back to backpacking,” she says of her hiking plans with her husband of 22 years, Jeff. “It was an activity in which we both felt alive; it was something that we shared.” But that was before Jeff, 58, died unexpectedly last November. And before Anne was forced to think about her life and her dreams in a new light.
Sheltered from the big waves of the opening to the Pacific a few miles south, Richardson Bay offers gorgeous vistas, wildlife and companies ready to offer beginners their first experience of kayaking.
From the time he first stepped on stage with the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, dubbed “Captain Trips” by his following, exhibited the kind of charisma that would make him a revered cultural figure. Even after his death at 53 from heart failure 10 years ago today, his influence echoes among the younger musicians and fans of the booming jam-band genre. The same is true for older fans who – long ago won over by the music – sport J. Garcia ties with their business suits and drink J. Garcia wines at suburban dinner parties.
Nature is disappearing, and not just where we notice it. Certainly, the natural world is going under the bulldozer at a frightening rate, from the Brazilian rain forest to North Natomas. But that’s not all that concerns Richard Louv.
What worries the journalist and author is that nature is disappearing from inside us. People are spending less and less time in natural settings and, he says, are losing touch with nature in many different ways.
The Alexander Valley, which lies along Highway 101 and is centered on Healdsburg, population 10,000, still plays a secondary role to the world-famous Napa Valley. But the area is more familiar to outsiders than they might at first think, and for a simple reason: Like the weather, the wine is good here, too.
By David Watts Barton, The Sacramento Bee, April 21, 2005 First, it was the skiers’ and boarders’ turn to enjoy the abundance of precipitation this winter. Then came the wildflower enthusiasts, who traveled from all over the world to see the most colorful desert blooms in recent memory. Next up: whitewater rafters and kayakers. They…
Someday, anthropologists will be able to explain the human fascination with speed. Until then, we’ll just keep driving fast, faster and faster still. It’s how some of us are wired. Last week, several dozen NorCal members of the Rocklin-based CFRA, including Wong and others from the Sacramento area, brought their search for thrills to Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point Raceway), just off Highway 37 in Sonoma.
To say that a well-known artist was ahead of his time is a critical cliche. It might seem doubly ludicrous to say that about Brian Wilson, whose songs and productions for the Beach Boys in the first half of the 1960s virtually defined his time. But Wilson’s greatest work, largely written and recorded in 1966, got too far ahead of his time, his band and his audience, and even of Wilson himself. But Thursday night at Davies Symphony Hall, Wilson, his music and his audience finally all caught up to the music he dared not release in 1966: “Smile.”
The Host greets us at the door. We’ve met him before, when he was wearing a T-shirt, handing out handbills at a music festival. But now he’s wearing a black dress shirt and colorful tie, and his manner is gracious and welcoming.
He is fairly beaming with pride, for we have arrived at our undisclosed location. The air smells of onion, cumin and candle wax. We have found The Restaurant.
Angel Island looms large in the geography of the Bay Area, but it also occupies a special place in time.
It’s been revered by early residents, such as the Coast Miwok tribes, and used by various branches of the U.S. military for nearly 100 years. It was the first place many Asian immigrants touched ground upon arrival in America.
If the goal is to get to the top of a granite tower such as 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite and get a workout doing it, there are good trails to the top. Pulling oneself up a sheer rock face seems, well, inefficient. Not to mention difficult. And dangerous. But as I discover during my first day of rock climbing, the sport has an advantage that outweighs all these disadvantages: It is a thrill.