LA Phil Blog

San Francisco Chronicles

San Francisco Chronicles

Julien Beaudiment
à bicyclette in the city
of Jack Kerouac.

Playing in San Francisco was a delight. Although it's always hard to change halls. Switching from Disney Hall to Davies Hall is never easy. The Corigliano symphony was actually so well received. I am sure this music particularly rings a bell here. There was a standing ovation, the orchestra was magnificent and Gustavo was very inspired. Then Tchaikovsky, Brahms ... All went well. The acoustics in Davies Hall are much dryer than in Disney, which, in a way, makes it easier to listen to your colleagues. I could hear things in San Francisco I couldn't hear in L.A., which was interesting.

After playing our first two tour concerts in San Francisco, we were so lucky to have a free day in Jack Kerouac's city.

The first time I was in San Francisco was 11 years ago: March 2003. At that time, San Francisco was maybe the only U.S. city where a Frenchman felt safe walking the streets during the invasion of Iraq. I can still remember the headlines on TV in my San Francisco hotel room.

Here I am again, 11 years later, in this beautiful city that I always loved and now love even more. As a European, walking in San Francisco is like having the best of two cultures: the best of Europe, and the best of America ... with a view of the Pacific Ocean. And coming from Los Angeles, it is kind of a relief to be able to walk, see people for real without their cars and sit one hour or more at a café terrace without being scared your car will be towed away.

The big question between colleagues yesterday was, "What are you going to do tomorrow for your free day?"

Some answered museums, others said, "I don't know," and just one said, "Practice." But he is actually now being treated for depression ... Anyway, I decided to do something I really miss doing in France: riding a bicycle. And despite the horrible hills to climb, San Francisco has beautiful and easy roads for cyclists.

"Biking and Rolling" c/o Golden Gate vistas, Clapton and Elvis.

After a brief walk to Fisherman's Wharf, where I love to see the sea lions, who always have free days and never practice, I opened the door of a bike rental agency. What I love about America is that people are so professional and so scared of being prosecuted ... The guy at the agency actually explained how to ride a bicycle to me.

"These are the pedals, now the brakes, etc." Or maybe he thought I was a primitive Frenchman who doesn't know the name for "entrepreneur?" ( A French word by the way.) So after "learning" how to ride a bicycle, here I am: The king of the world! What an amazing feeling. I hadn't done that in ages, and I would love to do it on the 110 between Pasadena and Walt Disney Hall.

Direction: the Golden Gate, of course. But for me, the American dream would be nothing without my favorite music album: "Unplugged" by Eric Clapton. "Tears in Heaven," "Old Love," "Running on Faith" ... All those songs, the California sun, the perfect smell of eucalyptus, and the view of the Golden Gate and the Pacific Ocean make me feel today I might be a very lucky man. This place is really beautiful, the people are friendly, the air is pure and fresh and the bike is now my car ... What else is there??

When I arrived at the Golden Gate, I could see some surfers, and, as a big fan of Vertigo, I knew that I was exactly where Kim Novak jumps into the ocean only to be saved by James Stewart. I hope there will be a Kim Novak to save today ... Yes, French people live for romance. Although the sea is very cold here.

After some nice photos, it's time to come back now. I change the music ... Let's play Elvis. A Frenchman in America has to enjoy every cliché here. When Americans go to Paris, I am sure they love to see French people with a baguette under their arm, listening to Yves Montand or Charles Trenet.

Before giving my bike back, it's time for lunch. Very important. A French obsession. A French disease people have never been to solve or cure, even Mr. McDonald. I can see people eating clam chowder in a bread bun. Great ... Let's try that. The problem is that I am so attracted to the bread, I can't eat the soup.

Tomorrow, Kansas City. Just four hours free. Barbecue instead of clam chowder. I have never been there, but I am also very excited.

I am so sad to leave you, my dear San Francisco. For one day, I felt at home.