Monday, December 15, 2008

Beacon Beckons

In which we shed a little light on the weather
If you want to start an argument, or perhaps even a fistfight, in San Francisco, sing the praises of the city's newest skyscraping condo, One Rincon Hill. This towering megalith, which looms over the western foot of the Bay Bridge, has been decried as the ruination of San Francisco's famous "skyline." They forget that San Francisco's famous skyline, as we know it today at least, really only dates back to the building boom of the 1970s and '80s, and that most of those then new skyscrapers -- especially the now iconic TransAmerica pyramid -- were considered the ruination of the city's previous famous skyline (or, rather, "hill line").

Never mind. At first I too was in the One Rincon hater's camp. But, just as the TransAmerica Pyramid grew on Herb Caen, One Rincon has been growing on me (if somewhat less famously). Now I find it hard to imagine looking out at the Bay without "the finger," as it is sometimes called, flipping me the bird. True, the thing does obscure views of the elegant and silvery Bay Bridge, but nevertheless I've grown accustomed to it.

And recently, One Rincon won a few more goodwill points with me with the introduction of a weather beacon atop its tower. The beacon shines different colored lights depending upon the weather forecast. One Rincon's designers thought up the following mnemonic device to help 'Fricans remember what prediction each color indicates (thoughtfully transcribed in the San Francisco Chronicle by the inimitable Carl Nolte):

Glowing red, warmer weather ahead

Shining blue, colder weather in view

Going green, rain foreseen

Amber light, no change in sight

If I have but one complaint it's the beacon is not quite bright enough. This may have to do with the fact that they are trying to be "green" by using low-energy LED lights. But that is but a peccadillo. It's a frivolous thing, the beacon. In reality it serves very little purpose. (No one will plan his day by the it.) But frivolity -- and a shining beacon -- is what's most needed in these dark and serious times.


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