Leilani Marie Labong
Even in the rain, Big Sur is a remarkable place to explore. We holed up here recently on a particularly showery weekend, which didn’t stop us from exploring beaches and redwoods or foraging for high gastronomy. (It also didn’t stop us from bunkering in our room, fireplace ablaze, for cozy afternoons).
On the sunny patio of her new restaurant, Arguello, a Mexican eatery in the historic Presidio Officers’ Club, restaurateur Traci Des Jardins takes a sip of her hibiscus agua fresca and unleashes an impassioned defense of undocumented immigrants. “I think it’s appalling that we have not done more for the Latin American population. I think it’s a failure of our federal government not to recognize how much this population has contributed to our society. From an immigration standpoint, they get the short end of the stick. Absurd!”
Sotheara Yem has tears in his eyes. Formerly one of San Francisco’s homeless, the 27-year-old is recalling the day one of his mentors, Tipping Point Community founder Daniel Lurie, purchased a sharp navy-blue designer suit for him. Yem, a first-generation Cambodian American, was scheduled to deliver a speech in front of 900 people at the 2011 Tipping Point benefit gala, and Lurie, who had helped the amateur filmmaker secure housing and employment, knew that a blazer from the clearance rack at H&M wouldn’t cut it.
The vanity license plate on the 26-foot van parked outside the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) in Burlingame reads, “Fix Me.” The wordplay refers to the 900 free spay and neuter surgeries that have been performed inside the state-of-the-art mobile clinic each year since 2005, when the van was gifted to the organization by lifelong animal welfare activist Vanessa Getty. The reason? By fixing and vaccinating dogs and cats in low-income Bay Area communities, San Francisco Bay Humane Friends—an auxiliary of PHS/SPCA, founded by Getty—has greatly reduced the number of unwanted and stray animals on our streets.
For the first installment in our Five Star Spirituality series (brainchild of 7x7 culture editor Brock Keeling), we head to the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, which is the third tallest building in the city, making it a great place to view not just Fleet Week flybys and America’s Cup races (will we ever see those on our waters again?), but also to scan the windows of neighboring buildings for trysts (a pair of binocs in the room is practically a green light to practice voyeurism).
When pondering the meteoric career of pop artist Keith Haring, the phrase “flash in the pan” is often uttered, but its relevance is up for debate. Dr. Timothy Leary, late psychologist and LSD poster boy, appreciated this description of his friend, despite its anticlimactic connotations, saying that it was a “good place to start.” A mere decade in the making, Haring’s skyrocketing trajectory, tragically cut short by AIDS in 1990 when he was 31 years old, surely qualifies as fleeting, but then again, his work—easily recognizable by its strong lines and kinetic nature—still makes an impact.
CEO of Restoration Hardware / age 57
Founder, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation / age 44
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