The Owl Tree

This is kind of cool. I took the picture to the right on my Blackberry some time ago. It’s the sign that used to hang above a funky old bar in my neighborhood, called The Owl Tree (as you may have guessed). The bar was right down the street from my house, and I used to pass by it every day on my way to work or Bart or pretty much anywhere east of my apartment. As you may have also guessed by the name of the bar, there was a not-so-subtle Owl theme going on in The Owl Tree. Everything was owls. There were stuffed owls, carved owls, paper owls, stone owls, owl dolls, owl clothes. The menus were in the shape of owls, as were the napkins. Owls everywhere! It was overwhelming at times, but also so cooky as to make it interesting.

The owner was this old cantankerous guy named Bobby C. (the full name of the bar was Bobby C.’s Owl Tree), and he had owned and operated The Owl Tree just so for about 25 years. He played like he was mean, but he was really a softy. I used to wave to him every time I passed by, and I would frequently pop in for a drink. I loved going in there with people he didn’t recognize, because he would put on a show for everyone. He was that old school type of bartender; he’d put down a napkin, give you a bowl of that pretzel/nuts/wheat chex snack stuff, a packet of moist handy wipes and take your order. If you came in regularly, he remembered you and you’d usually get a drink on the house.

Anyway, old Bobby C. died of cancer several months ago. In his last few months, Bobby seemed to want to pour all his customers a final drink on the house before he died. I remember him encouraging me to come by for a drink. “Stop in, I’ll buy you a drink,” he insisted. Eventually I did, maybe a month before he died, and indeed he poured me a couple of drinks and wouldn’t let me pay for them. That’s the last time I saw him.

Bobby worked his last day on earth (so the story goes), and while I wasn’t there that night, my money says he was up to his old tricks that night. After Bobby died, the Owl Tree shut its doors for good. It’s now being renovated, and if the trend in the rest of the neighborhood carries, it will be home to some suave, pricey, uber-swank hipster bar. So it goes in the TL.

But the point of my post isn’t to talk about the Owl Tree and all the great stories that came out of there, but rather to talk about how cool I am. The photo I took was selected to be used in the Schmap San Francisco 2007 Guide. As far as I can tell, Schmap is a mash-up application that uses flickr, Yahoo’s geocoding API, Yahoo Maps and some venue review data to provide a map-based photo review of various venues in the city. It’s pretty cool (although not that smart since it doesn’t know that The Owl Tree is no more). They provide a widget (at right) that people like me can post on their blogs. Somewhere in there is my photo of the Owl Tree. I will probably add this widget to the side bar at some point.

Anyway, I’m proud of my stunning, thought provoking photographic work. I’m blessed, really. It’s a gift. Some say I’m channeling Ansel Adams, but I say he should be so lucky.