Best of the Bay 2009: Sports and Outdoors - Page 4

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To which we can only say, "Hit 'em again!"

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BEST PUBLIC ACOUSTIC COCOON

Ear-piercing squeals, gut-rumbling skronks, the occasional wet fart sound — these are the unfortunate hallmarks of beginning brass instrumentalists. Those living in a city as dense and sensitive as our own have it rough when they want to work out their kinks: neighbors who sleep during the day or get up early yell at them, passersby take none too kindly to the squawking on busy sidewalks, and soundproofed studio space is economically out of reach. For all who need a place to practice, there's the blessing of the Conservatory Drive tunnel, which passes under John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park. An array of practicing jazz combos and amateur tooters take up residence at the tunnel's entrance during the day, providing entertainment to nearby Conservatory of Flowers visitors. The tunnel actually seems to crave music pouring into and echoing through its abyss — it forms a protective acoustic cocoon around performers that amplifies mellifluous passages and somehow blurs out less felicitous ones. Spontaneous jam sessions are common, so don't sit on the grass — pick up your brass.

Conservatory Dr. and John F. Kennedy Dr., Golden Gate Park, SF

BEST MOUSETRAP FOR MINOTAURS

Little-known and charmingly miniscule, the Eagle Point Labyrinth is a jumble of twisty turns perched on the lip of a cliff near an offshoot of Lands End Trail. To reach it, you must set out with a compass in hand, hope in your heart, and fingers crossed. The labyrinth, one of three outdoor mazes known to exist in San Francisco, is a mysterious wonder that has so far avoided being marked on any map (although it can be glimpsed via a Google satellite image for those too faint to blindly wander in search of it). The superlative views it affords of the Golden Gate certainly justify hiking, sometimes panicked, through yards of unpruned foliage. The stone-heaped maze is handmade, and while we speculate about its mysterious origins — a mousetrap for Minotaurs, perhaps? — we can't help but appreciate the karmic offerings of those who have reached the center before us, leaving a small pile of baubles. Mythic etiquette mandates you scoop up one of these and leave something of your own behind.

Lands End, Sutro Heights Park, SF.

BEST COMMUNITY STRETCH

Yearning to try yoga but needing to stretch your dollar? Every Monday through Thursday from 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., YogaKula packs its San Francisco location with eager newcomers for its affordable community class, available on a sliding scale ($8 to $16). Especially lively are the Monday and Wednesday classes with quirky and entertaining instructor Skeeter Barker, who offers genuine, palatable optimism and inspiration along with some much-needed recentering. Barker is an inspirational teacher who, as her Web profile says, "welcomes you to your mat, however you find yourself there." Along with the community classes, YogaKula offers Anusara, a therapeutic style of yoga, in addition to a variety of other wellness practices. Its two locations — one at 16th Street and Mission, and one in North Berkeley — offer courses in yoga training, yoga philosophy, specialized workshops, Pilates, massage, and one-on-one yoga instruction.

3030A 16th St., SF. (415) 934-0000; 1700 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 486-0264, www.yogakula.com

BEST PLACE TO HIDE A JET

To be precise, the best place to hide a jet is behind Door 14 on the Alameda Naval Air Station.