I try and stay away from the comments sections on articles concerning San Francisco. You can divide the responders into three camps, the first do not live here at all and hate liberal SF and everything we stand for. The second group live here but transplanted, usually for tech jobs, from some ultra right wing hell hole and want SF to conform to their will and their view of how they want to live, instead of them trying to fit into SF and our grand liberal tradition. The final group are people who were born here and some who were not, that are proud of the city and the way life is run here, that embrace our problems, and our history and are the grand liberal majority. Unfortunately the venomous vitriol, the splenetic explosions, out and out class war ramblings, and pustulant racist exhortations to hatred are so all consuming that they drown out the decent majority of people who actually live in the city. Everyone is a journalist, there is no responsibility for your own textual emissions and the first amendment is either in grand peril, or else grievously misused and abused.
Women are not even off the hook, the grinding spew of hatred, lack of empathy, compassion and love for the city pours out from male and female keyboards alike. They amuse me with their assertations not based in the reality of the streets or life in the rougher parts of town, but instead in a San Francisco seen through the eyes of Travis from Buttfuck Ohio. I feel kinda sad for Travis, he only wanted to work in tech, he never thought he would have to live in a place that his upbringing so ill prepared him for. The tech exodus from town, now people are working remotely, I hope has returned some people to the habitats that they are more comfortable in. Back to the casual racism and the rural boredom of whereever spawned these fragile souls, so devoid of compassion, empathy, with no education in the reality of life for those who are left down here with the rest of us. Lives not blighted by circumstance, they can carry on with their red hat wearing inanity and their coding away from the city. I think San Francisco is due a renaissance, a cultural and artistic awakening, getting back to it’s roots, to where it belongs, and I am excited to be here for it. It can only happen if those who are not on board with the future of this city stop dragging it down and away from what it has always been: a bastion of progressive liberalism.
I have to admit to a small amount of pride in where I live, out here in the ‘Loin. Outside my window is a tent city, and we tip out into the street to be greeted by the hookers and the pimps, the hobos and the crackheads, what is left of the junkies and the pill heads, the dealers, the broken and the breaking, the hustlers and the artists who cannot afford to live anywhere else. Our block even has our own tricoteuse, who sits knitting not by the gallows but in her wheelchair outside of her apartment, offering snappy comments, judicial reckonings and a running commentary of the sins of the streets and those around her – me included. “I have every right to be depressed” she screams at me! I didn’t say she didn’t. I walk on by before she gets the idea that I did something else wrong, as she yells “nice dog!” at a small woman who picks her pooch up before the Tricoteuse of O’Geary can jab it through the skull with a needle and make it into socks. At least this dirt is honest, at least these streets are not pretending to be something they ain’t. They are honestly terrifying for the most part. Honestly depressing. Honestly horrifying. I did my time in New York. I did my time in the long slow death of rural small town America, but nothing beats this city on the bay which everybody in it, however much they profess to hate it, knows it is the only place to live in terms of beauty, opportunity, climate and verve.
Civic Center to the south of me feels like a no man’s land, no body lives there apart from a few homeless people in dangerous encampments, I dread walking through there, because no truce is signed, no agreement of keep your hands and eyes to yourself and survive the experience. The law of averages says that eventually, having spent enough time there, something bad will happen to someone. Mission is trendy, but never feels at ease with itself and walking through it is an exercise in nerves of steel – a post industrial hive of barely legal activity with some good shops and places to eat, and in my experience a really bad attitude. Fillmore is diverse and friendly, with Japan Town encased within it. It is not until you get towards the bay that things get very privileged, with the houses perched on hills improbably expensive and beautiful and old. The painted ladies and the Haight mansions, the sea front billionaires row, and the overpriced apartments.
Sometimes I venture out of my accepted area into places where the people in shops and bookstores smell poverty on me. They look down at me, and ignore my questions. The people I sometimes have to talk to from various institutions in these areas call my by my first name and make it sound like an insult. I read comments saying things like “someone got stabbed in the TL, who even LIVES there anyway!” I sit and snicker at the thought of someone existing in the city who cannot imagine a reason why anyone would live in this part of town! I consider replying and telling them it is the only place some people can afford, others can’t afford anywhere else, and even if they could, the intense snobbery of the chattering classes imported from elsewhere in the Union would render them dumbstruck and unable to create the works of art they paint or write or play. For the heaviness of the brutality of downtown SF, we are at least free of the tyranny of the chattering classes and their standards, presumptions and preoccupations. No keeping up with the Joneses for us, baby, we are too busy trying to survive!
What these people really want is suburbia, they want the hostess trolley dreams and the dinner party scenes. I wonder if they live in total isolation from reality. What would they do with it even if they found it? Probably lock it up in prison, or else call the police in to shoot it. Reality is up on trial in 2021, and it ain’t even fun anymore. You see them stare at you in Trader Joes, all nervous how can I pay for the mortgage on my 3 million dollar 800 sq foot apartment smiles, as they try another credit card, all designer clothes and uncomfortably shod feet, ready to totter out to the MuskMobile outside, sneering “Get out my way, Serf!” as you peer at the bags of almonds and wonder if the marcona ones are worth another buck (the answer was yes). OK, I added the serf, but it was implied in bucketloads of contempt dripping from botoxed lips that the mask has fallen below, only caring enough to wear it on their chins. Caring for others is so infra dig, so lesser, Darling. “Who do you think you are, the fucking Queen?” I enquire coolly. They wilt. Oh, they do not like that, it puts the fear of the lessers into them. I might be (whisper) crazy or something.
Even I won’t go up to Golden Gate Park, it appears wholly populated by rapists and murderers, bag snatchers and rich women who go there to walk their dogs amongst this unholy mess, for reasons I will never understand. I prefer the smaller parks near Haight, or a walk along the Embarcadero by the Big Clock.
One day I will have a house in Fillmore. OK, not a house, an apartment, but my feet will always be in the Tenderloin of life.