FOCS in Berkeley starts in a few days. Here is some unsolicited advice.
The weather is going to be mild and sunny, but you are not going to wear shorts and sandals. And if you plan to go see the Golden Gate bridge, you want to carry some warm clothes with you.
There is no hotel in downtown Berkeley that is large enough to host FOCS, so the conference will be at a hotel by the bay which is somewhat far from the town center. There are places to walk to from the hotel, and there is public transportation, but it is still worth renting a car, because it will make dinner plans simpler.
Before driving to San Francisco, you can check traffic information on 511.org. You can even see the traffic on the highway in real time via webcams. You can also go to San Francisco via the bart, a subway system. The public transportation system in San Francisco is called muni.
Check out sftation.com to see what’s going on in the city during the weekend.
Among other events, this weekend will be the third weekend of Open Studios, an opportunity to visit the studios of local artists, which are not otherwise open to the public. And let’s not forget the unique opportunity to meet Crispin Glover in person!
San Francisco does not have the museum scene of New York or of a European capital, but it has a number of interesting destinations. Unique to San Francisco is the recently opened Asian Art Museum, the largest such in the West. The De Young museum in Golden Gate park (which is nowhere close to the Golden Gate bridge) reopened last year after a long renovation. The Palace of the Legion of Honor hosts a fine art museum which is all right, but its main attraction is the fantastic view of the bay that you get from the garden. The SF MOMA is hosted in a very beautiful contemporary building.
One of the best parties in town is Popscene, feauturing Brit-pop and “indie” music, but it’s on Thursdays. When it comes to San Francisco values, one of my favorite parties is Trannyshack, which is on Tuesdays. At other places, a drag show is often meant to be a man in a dress lip-synching to a Cher song. Nothing like this goes on at Trannyshack, a San Francisco institution that was the subject of a documentary. There, drag is an excuse for perfomances that can be highly conceptual, purely silly, outright offensive, or just bizarre depending on the performer. One night I was there the theme was punk rock, and there was this 6+ foot tall performer dressed like a punk girl singing a song I did not recognize, while the audience was having fun pogoing. At one point the performer tried to stage dive, but everybody just jumped out of his way (he was big), and he landed on the floor face first. This Tuesday night the theme will be vampires.