The First-Thursday “Place to Be” — Good Food and Outlandish Fashion Challenge Great Art

Dear 49 Geary: I'm afraid you just got served.

First Thursdays at the prestigious address are always intellectually, perhaps even spiritually satisfying, not only for art's enriching effect on the mind and soul, but also because, as with any intellectual or spiritual pursuit, you must suffer physical discomforts, deprivations, and abstentions to achieve enlightenment. The elevators are invariably so busy you don't bother to take them from floor to floor in the five-story complex, and instead opt to squeeze past the corridor texters to schlep the cold stone stairs, regretting the high heels you thought looked so Helmut Newton.

The galleries are lit and kept at a similar temperature to Whole Foods' hot buffet, and when you visit one of the few that offer refreshment, you are given a plastic cup of water that would be enough to soak your contacts in. You find yourself lingering near the refreshment stand, pretending to find whatever art happens to be nearby particularly mesmerizing, and return three or four times, hand outstretched like some sweaty, blotchy Oliver Twist in senseless shoes and Rorschach mascara cheeks: “Please, intern, can I have some more?”

To be sure, notable works were on display at the venerable art-mall. But first, 49 Geary, I'll speak of your First Thursday competition. Its name is the San Francisco Jazz Heritage Center.

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