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Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay: Baseball, Books and Icons by the Bay

by Catherine Bigelow

Boys (and Girls) of Summer: Delayed this year by MLB negotiations, the Giants Community Fund’s annual Play Ball Lunch swung into action on June 10 at Oracle Park. This beloved benefit starred SF Giants players and coaches signing balls and bats on the field. Then 400 fans headed up to the suite level, where they dined on ballpark fare (burgers, licorice and Cracker Jack) as the program — emceed by Giants announcer Renel Brooks-Moon with Giants CEO Larry Baer and fund board co-president Brian Murphy — unfolded on the field of green.

Supporters raised more than $400K for the fund’s programs — which are led by executive director Sue Petersen and reach some 20,000 underserved youth in 90 leagues across California, Nevada and Oregon. Services focus on healthy lifestyles and anti-bullying techniques, as well as the free, cherished Junior Giants summer baseball program for kids that is spearheaded by volunteer coaches. In 2021, the fund developed a new educational initiative: The Willie Mays Scholars empowers five Black high schoolers to achieve their dreams of higher education by providing each with hands-on mentoring and a $20K scholarship.

Aero CEO Uma Subramanian at a cocktail party hosted by Alexis and Trevor Traina. | Photo courtesy of Drew Altizer

Blue skies: As COVID variants surge plus logistical snafus yield long lines and strand summer travelers at airports worldwide, it’s time to upgrade. So Alexis and Trevor Traina hosted a Nosh-catered cocktail party on June 2 at their Gold Coast manse to introduce Aero CEO Uma Subramanian to their high-flying friends.

This luxe, semi-private jet service, founded in San Francisco by Uber cofounder Garrett Camp, in concept, seems akin to an opulent carpool: The high-tech interiors of the sleek, seven-jet fleet hold 16 solo seats. Guests enjoy concierge service along with private lounges and terminals, natch. The main difference from pure private? It flies on a schedule.

While its map is not large, Aero services such four-star playgrounds as London, England; Los Cabos, Mexico; Ibiza, Spain; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Nice, France; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Mykonos, Greece. One-way fares from SFO start at $1,600.

Classic covers of The Believer magazine, which relaunches in November. | Photo courtesy of The Believer

Trevor, who has flown these friendly skies, loves the experience: flying private at a fraction of the cost. But he worries for the company’s bottom line. “Aero is so affordable, it’s roughly equivalent to our Cal-Mart grocery bill,” he says, with a laugh. “I want Aero to succeed. I’m thinking Aero should raise their prices and perhaps Cal- Mart might lower its prices.”

Beach reading: Well, actually a new art book. Jacques Villeglé and the Streets of Paris is too pretty, and heavy, to lay atop a sandy beach towel. Gallerist Martin Muller and his friend, author Barnaby Conrad III, hosted a book signing on June 2 at Muller’s Modernism Gallery to celebrate Conrad’s biography on the legendary French décollage artist. Shortly after this tribute, Jacques Villeglé, who was long represented by Muller, died in France at age 96.

“Jacques’ work is a form of ‘urban archeology,’ part of a school called Nouveau Réalisme,” Muller explains. “Many of Jacques’ works are created from Parisian street posters that he’d rip off a wall and layer on a canvas in mixed-media collage. The result is evocative of topics ranging from banal advertising, social issues and politics.”

Martin Muller and Barnaby Conrad III celebrate the work and legacy of artist Jacques Villeglé at Modernism Gallery. | Photo courtesy of Catherine Bigelow

While Muller has penned numerous scholarly works on the artist, Conrad dug deep into the artist’s long, extraordinary life. “I planned for about 100 pages, but ended up at 255,” he shares. “I was swept up in research rapture: Jacques toured me through his old Parisian haunts, where he’d hung out with Hemingway or Andre Breton. I began this book when Jacques was 90. His life was so large, it required more research than I realized, with many trips to Paris, late nights and a lot of Calvados.”

Don’t stop believing: Following a long, strange road of ownership and mission (too long to share herein), The Believer has moved back home. Founded in 2003 by authors Heidi Julavits, Ed Park and Vendela Vida, the magazine was reunited in May with McSweeney’s — the independent publishing house founded by Vida’s husband, award-winning author Dave Eggers — and will reclaim its literary roots with poetry, essays, comics, journalism and culture.

“We’ll continue our commitment to discovering and supporting established writers such as Zadie Smith and Jonathan Lethem as well as new writers. Early in their careers, we published Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah and Rivka Galchen,” enthuses Vida. “I’m personally thrilled that Nick Hornby will continue writing his beloved column, ‘Stuff I’ve Been Reading,’ for the magazine.”

As McSweeney’s is now a nonprofit, readers can donate support to The Believer. The full-color print quarterly next drops in November.

Fare thee well: Elegant, witty and the embodiment of grace under pressure, Gina Moscone — a longtime War Memorial Board trustee and former first lady of San Francisco — passed away on June 7. Even amid personal tragedy that played across a public stage, this San Francisco native remained an active participant in the City’s civic and cultural life. But her most cherished roles: a devoted wife to her late husband, former Mayor George Moscone, and mother to their children, Jenifer, Rebecca, Christopher and Jonathan Moscone. A public service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on July 11 in North Beach at Saints Peter and Paul Church.

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