After my previous post about the tyranny of apps, concerned readers suggested I chill out.

It’s easier said than done in a city booming with technology. But, when I’m feeling app-ed out, there is one place in San Francisco where I go app-less and unplug: The Presidio.

It only takes twenty minutes by car to reach the Presidio from Southern San Francisco as it’s located at the city’s Northern tip, right next to the Golden Gate Bridge. But it feels as if you’ve crossed a bridge, stamped your passport, and been transported to the countryside once you land on this magic carpet of 1,500 acres of escape holes from city life.


You know you live in San Francisco when you have a thousand apps to organize your life, and you’ve never felt more harried and electrified by technology.

Here’s how it works on a typical day for me in San Francisco.


You know you’re in San Francisco when you do a downward dog at your local gym with two other dogs stretching their paws next to your hands and feet.

That was me this morning, and the best workout I’ve ever had. There are certain things that happen in my daily life here, and I can’t help but think: only in San Francisco.


Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the time to recall the atrocity of the six million Jews killed in one of history’s worst chapters. As Rabbi Serena Eisenberg said yesterday at San Francisco City Hall, we can remember but it is still hard to imagine.

Yet Luigi Toscano, an Italian-German photographer and film-maker, helps us recall the horror of the history through an outdoor exhibition titled “Lest We Forget” of 78 up-close portraits of weathered, wrinkled, and wise faces of Holocaust survivors. All of the photographs are displayed outside in between the trees of San Francisco’s City Hall’s main square, in two rows facing each other. Sixteen of the portraits were shot in San Francisco.


I never realized how important a Christmas tree was to me until I considered not having one.

I first experienced this when we lived in Israel where it was easier to buy a menorah than a Balsam fir. We ended up buying a fake Christmas tree in Nazareth. We were reluctant to give into a plastic evergreen that opened up like a Technicolor umbrella. But, we figured that, if it came from the birthplace of Baby Jesus, then God would forgive us.


A few months after I moved to San Francisco, I had to trade in, by law, my New York driver’s license and go Californian.

“We must grieve this,” said a sympathetic, Californian friend who left his heart in New York.

When the Department of Motor Vehicles’ employee hole-punched the flimsy card that had solidly reminded me of my New York identity over the past three decades, I felt as if he had hole-punched me.


Dear Luca,

Today you are no longer the only eleven-year-old in San Francisco without a Smartphone.

Today it’s your 12th birthday, and Papi and I have decided to give you my old Iphone 6 because we trust you and see that you are responsible. This phone comes to you with a list of 13 instructions to follow (one for each of your 12 years and one to grow on).

But, before I hand the phone and the list over to you, I want you to understand the one reason why I have feared giving you a Smartphone: I do not want to lose you as an active participant in life.

With this phone, you are not allowed to turn into a passive clicker or blasé swiper of life. You must continue to do all the things you have done and enjoyed until now without it. Be smarter than your smartphone: turning it off enables you to tune in better to real life.


A farmer pulled up in his pick-up truck with a smirk on his face and a blonde in the back seat. He opened his dusty door, and rested his work boots caked in mud on the crackly gravel. I shook his sooty, callused hand and inhaled the burnt charcoal of his flannel shirt. I had spent the weekend at my friend’s farmhouse in Ohio, and this farmer, Gerry, would drive me to the airport.

He pulled back the front seat, and my eyes locked with his passenger while she nervously scratched her ear. The blonde had buckeye-brown eyes, golden mascara, and a button nose. She was petite and I towered over her like a weeping willow to a dandelion.


In the last year and half in which I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve watched una piazza take shape, and, by no coincidence, it’s thanks to some Italians. This piazza is not where you might think it might be in the North-Beach-Little-Italy area of the city (an admirable landmark of shops, pizzerie, and restaurants run by extraordinary Italian-Americans still operating their ancestors’ businesses). And it’s not oval, square or rectangular, like most piazzas. Instead, it’s linear, and takes up two blocks on Union Street, between Laguna and Webster Streets, in the Cow Hollow area of Northern San Francisco. Here, my kids feel at home, as if back in Italy. In the following places, my kids can speak Italian, enjoy homemade Italian cooking and gelato, feel the bond of neighborhood friends, reminisce about the Italian culture they miss, and see how the tradition of family-run businesses transcends from Italy to America.


I’m standing in front of an entire aisle of bouillon cubes. Dark green boxes covered with the drawing of a lady in a Fifties’ bob and puffy sleeves rolled up over her apron. The ingredients listed on the small, rectangular boxes are all in Hebrew.


It was the late nineties and the sales’ season beckoned me to Filene’s Basement on my lunch hour. I spotted an emerald, satin jacket on the Super Sales’ Rack. It was collarless, fitted, short-waisted, with shoulder pads, and opened up into a chic upside-down V when all buttoned up. With matching cigarette pants, it screamed Lady Diana. It was designed in Italy, a country I’d dreamed of living in one day. If I couldn’t be in Italy, why not wear it?