BBQ at Ocean Beach

On Saturday, June 16, 2001, I went to a BBQ at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I was invited to the party by Eric a couple of days after I had arranged to meet up with a former colleague, Jen Leibhart, who was attending a conference in SF from New York. I figured that I could catch two events on the same day and coordinated to meet Jen at Ocean Beach at 6:30 pm.

Me being the great San Franciscan that I’m not, I struggled to find Ocean Beach. The party was originally going to be held at China Beach, but that venue closed at 7:00 pm, which would have made for a short BBQ party. So, the organizers, Amabelle and Felicia Sze, made the last minute change to move the party to Ocean Beach. On the corner of Lincoln Way and the Pacific Coast Highway, it was pretty easy to find, unless you got your Lincoln’s mixed up as I did! San Francisco can indeed be a confusing place to navigate in, but luckily I had a map and an ample set of directions from Felicia, Eric, and my Aunt, whom I called while parked near China Beach.

I’ve seen pictures of my parents when they were younger and living in Hong Kong. I have also seen pictures of Eric’s parents when they were around our age. These photos depicted our smiling parents with their friends and family, out hiking around the countryside in Hong Kong or Taiwan. It hit me the next day while looking at these pictures that we were recreating what our parents did years ago. The scenery had changed, with the ocean and the beach replacing the hills and the mountains our parents climbed. The faces changed, from our parents and their friends and family to their sons and daughters. But, the line that kept them together remained: weekend adventuring and photo documentation. Just thinking about it blows my mind; despite the many differences that we perceive exist between our parents and our generation, there are just as many common threads. Fascinating.


There were three SLR photographers at the BBQ, Rita, Eric, and myself. Rita was using a manual Canon with a 50mm and a 135mm lenses, Eric was toting his D30 with the 28-135mm IS lens, and I had the 24-85mm and the 50mm, which was handy when the sun went down. Other people at the event had a variety of point and shoot digital cameras. What I found fascinating about the event was the different types of shots that people took at the beach. Check out the following links:

Eric and I have been covering many of the same events lately, and it’s fascintating to see and compare what he shoots and what I shoot. In the book, Shutterbabe, Deborah Copaken Kogan describes how ten photographers at a blazing housefire would produce ten completely different set of photographs of the event. The same could be said about this event, not only in pictures but in words. Everyone has their own set of memories regarding the event, and it’s quite informative to read up on their impressions and thoughts on the event.

Feeding The Animals

Eric’s friend, Allon, brought his dog, Reno, to the beach. Reno was remarkedly well-behaved for a dog and definitely smarter than its human companions. As night fell, he was smart enough to dig a hole for himself in the sand, which served as a mini-heater. Jen and I noticed this and later buried our feet under the sand; while cold, it was definitely warmer than having our feet on top of the sand in the cold evening!

Whenever Reno saw someone with food, he approached ’em and looked longingly with his puppy-dog eyes. Reno even raised his foot up so as to shake it. I shook it a couple of times and gave him some of my food, a hot dog and a burger. Most pets have to eat the processed, Kibbles and Bits type food… man, I don’t think that I could be a dog or a cat. To live life eating the same thing over and over again sounds very boring!


I had met Jen originally through work a few years ago. We were working on a project together across two companies and the continent. I was based in Santa Clara, and she was in New York. We kept in touch over the years, but didn’t get a chance to meet up again until Saturday. At the BBQ, a bar between Larkin and Polk, and finally at Mel’s Diner on Van Ness, we got each other up to speed on all of the happenings in our lives, talking as if the two and a half years were never there.

We plotted my ’round the world trip, and how, given the time and guts, I’d start travelling to the East, with my first stop in Australia and New Zealand. Then, I’d make my way up into Asia, visiting locales such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and China, before heading towards India and the Middle East. I don’t know how long I’d stay there before travelling to North African coast. A few countries later, I’d find myself in the former Eastern Bloc countries and Western Europe. A flight across the Atlantic to Central America would top off my travel before I returned to the states. I don’t know how long that would take me… 6 months… one year? If I ever did this, I’d have to figure out a way to update this web site on a frequent basis. After all, I would like my friends and family to be able to keep tabs on all of the places that I’m travelling and exploring!

I don’t know if the technology is good enough to be able to pull off such an adventure at this time. I’d need to travel to countries with ample electricity (i.e. not California!) and reasonably fast Internet connections. That limits me to the places that I could go, unless I just resign myself to the fact that I’ll be using pen and paper for parts of those trips, along with film-based camera equipment. We’ll see, however, as there’s lots of planning to undergo if I ever decide to pull this caper off. Jen was great in encouraging me to go. At 26 years of age, I feel that you’ve got to do something like this before you’re 30, or at least before responsibilities like kids and a family come into effect.

The question for me isn’t whether or not I’m going to do it, it’s when I’m going to do it.

More Pictures

Additional pictures from the BBQ at Ocean Beach:

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