In the Bell Jar.

When I shop, I often find beauty comes in the walking:  a window left open,  a perfectly symmetrical cross, the fluttering of hands as two deaf women speak.

So, take your time as you visit the Mission District’s shops this weekend and don’t despair if you’re only looking. Here are a few places I dropped in on. More will come later in the week as different staffers prowl the Mission during this Season of Things.

Picture 5

As I left from the office at 17th and Treat streets, I remembered an art show I had seen at the Blue Studio on Mission Street last year and wanted to revisit it. But it was, of course, closed. I went on, forgetting to drop in at  Bolerium Books , which is a shame because it always has something interesting. Its web page, for example,  is now featuring this $50 book on Berkeley protest posters, which seems very fitting now.


My first stop was the Candy Store Collective at 3153 16th Street where I saw these earrings made of vintage plastic for $28 a pair. I’ve noticed them on some of my students and they look great. A definite gift for the nieces. It was hard not to like this collection of postcards for $11 from the Yellow Owl workshop, but nostalgia was at work. The old typewriter offers the illusion of a simpler life. Even before I left the office, I knew shopping on a  Monday would be difficult.  Adobe Books and many other possibilities were  closed.  Nothing in Idol Vintage really caught my eye, so I crossed over again to the Bell Jar. Ah! If only I had tiny feet, I would fork over $300 for these  button up shoes and never take them off! Wonderful. I could stomp around feeling like I belonged in a different century.

And then, a surprise. Camilla Newhagen, whose show I had seen last spring at the Blue Studio, has a show at the Bell Jar.


And here are her men. The pieces, both funny and complicated, run around $500.


I’m generally no lover of ceramics, but there is something about  the reindeer leaping from the vase behind these birds.


Around the block and up Guerrero,  Claudia Kussano Jewelry Atelier at 591 was closed. But some lovely stones hung in the window.  For the last couple of years I’ve done the shopping for at least one of my sisters here.


And then another surprise in Kussano’s  window. Newhagen’s eternally fluttering, pinned butterflies. You have to love whimsy.

On to Retrofit  at 910 Valencia where there is always something reasonable. A pair of vintage sunglasses to put on for example–


right before pouring a Lillet into one of these glasses in Retrofit’s window.


Neruda would  laugh.  Who cares, you can pick him up anyway at Modern Times Bookstore.

Modern Times also has a thick collection of calendars for the practical gift givers that we all aspire to be.


As long as I was on Valencia, I had to hike up to Laku–possibly the prettiest storefront in the Mission District and just as lovely when you walk in–full of hand-knitted gloves and hats, as well as slippers, dresses, vintage jewelery… all placed with attention by Yaeko Yamaschita who is often sitting in back working on a piece. 

I bought a string of clear glass beads.


It’s funny how we often want to shop at places or at least just experience a shop that isn’t even open yet. It’s how I feel about this place being readied at Valencia and 21st Street by the 16th Street poet, Jonathan Siegel.  He’s going to sell home furnishings in a sort of mise-en-scène fashion. But, with a poet’s timing for commerce, it won’t be ready for the holiday rush.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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