Did you wander through Chinatown?
I found this fantastic little art shop there, the Kee Fung NgGallery. They have a lot of sandstone carvings directly from China.This couple runs it. He does not speak English very well, and sheis this lovely woman. They have the best-priced, most interestinglimestone and sandstone carvings. It's such a funky little place,and everything is covered with dust. It's probably the shabbiest ofall those little curio shops in Chinatown, but it's the mostauthentic, with so many one-of-a-kind, original sculptures. We gota bunch of stuff there. That was a real find.
Within walking distance from there is, of course, NorthBeach...
And the Tosca Cafe Bar, which is one of Sean Penn's favoritehaunts. It is the literary stomping ground of some of the greatAmerican writers. The owner has an old registry that I guess HunterS. Thompson found back in a storeroom about 20 years ago. Hebrought it out and wrote the Tosca Bar's preamble and constitutionin it, sort of. Over the years, all these great talents have signedit. Sam Shepard, Thompson, Johnny Depp - the list goes on and on,the people who have gone through there. It's this old-school sortof Italian saloon right across from City Lights Bookstore, whichis, of course, just so, so intellectual, sort of an Americanrenegade. The City Lights Bookstore is the center of that wholeworld there. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and all these othergreat writers were just a common staple there. LawrenceFerlinghetti started City Lights. It's easily the best bookstore inthis country. It's what is slowly dying out in America, a bookstorethat came out of a literary explosion of poetry and new ideas. It'sright across the street from Tosca. The whole place is just wrappedin this progressive, forward-leading, freedom-fighting,expatriate culture.
Where would you go for a drink after work?
There is always the Clift Hotel, the Redwood Room Bar. It's a hugeroom with dark redwood paneling, filled with a lot more girls thanguys, and a huge bar. It's quite a scene. I went there one nightand it was a little too much for me. But it was a big, beautifulroom. It's all wood-paneled. You are surrounded by wood.
I know you have two young children. Are there great placesfor kids?
There is this really great concrete slide. It's zippy, wide enoughfor a grown-up to go down. It's at Seward Street Mini Park. It's somuch fun. They call it the best slide to go down at three a.m.while drunk. A 14-year-old American girl named Kim Clark, whoentered a 1973 park-improvement competition, designed it. It'sreally fun and really crazy.
What's something wild, strange, or funny that happened toyou while you were there?
We were [filming] across the Golden Gate Bridge, but we were stagedon the San Francisco side of the bridge. It was five a.m. They toldme I had about half an hour before I had to get ready. I went on alittle walk. Right underneath the bridge there is a little park. Icome down, and I see a guy in a wet suit and a helmet carrying asurfboard walking toward the bridge. It was foggy and barely lightout. I said, "You people surf here?" He was like, "Yeah, right overthere." And he walked away and got his helmet on. I started walkingalong, and joggers are going by, and I was thinking to myself, Whatkind of surfing could they possibly have under the Golden GateBridge? I mean, we are right in the middle of a bay here.
All of a sudden, he hits the water. I just followed him. The miststarts to move off and it is a giant break right on the rock. Theseguys are dropping in. It was one of the most treacherous surf areasI have ever seen. They are dropping in, basically breaking right onthe shore. It starts a little offshore, and then just starts pilingup with these huge barrels. Everyone has helmets on. They are fullywet-suited up. It was pretty astounding to see that at five a.m.,underneath the bridge. I'm a surfer, and I have never heard ofthat.
What does that tell you about San Francisco?
It's a city [where] they are as close to being free as anywhereelse in the United States. It's kind of cool that they can pullthat off.