Friday, December 01, 2006

San Francisco

I’m in SF for the morning before we head up to Point Arena for cousin Seth’s 50th birthday bash.

Currently, I’m sitting in a café across from Dolores Park, drinking coffee, and admiring the hipsters, styling lesbians, and groovy parents coming in for their morning caffeine and pastries.

Larry has, of late—and with good cause, I think—pilloried San Franciscans, their holier-than-thou attitudes, and made a good case for the general hypocrisy and provincialism of people living in the town immortalized by the band Journey (appropriately enough) as “the city by the bay.”

Still, every time I come here—two or three times a year—I’m reminded of what a uniquely beautiful and magical place it is—for all its propensity to be a parody of itself, without the sense of humor that would actually require.

I first came to San Francisco in the summer of 1975, the Monday after my Friday graduation from high school. I spent a month house and dog sitting my friend Carter’s house and dog on 48th Avenue in the Sunset district, right across the highway from the ocean. My days were idyllic: I’d get up in the foggy dawn, ride Carter’s bike to the Golden Gate panhandle, where I’d do Tai Chi for an hour, following a cup of coffee on Haight Street, I’d take a mime class; afterwards, I’d ride home, practice my flute for a couple hours and read philosophy until evening, when I’d get stoned and listen to Carter’s Lenny Bruce albums.

Even though, at the time, I thought (rightly, I think) I had missed the golden age of SF’s glory by half a dozen years at least, I still fell in love with the place and ended up moving back twice—once for a year, later for four.

I couldn’t live here now—too crowded, too expensive, too cool for me—but it sure is great to visit—and I haven’t even been to Hunan yet.


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