I have lived in San Francisco for 12 glorious years. Like most long-term relationships, there are ups and downs, but I have managed to fall more and more in love with this fine city as the years go by. It’s safe to say I’m kind of obsessed.
Like other things I’m obsessed with, I have committed many hours to researching all things “San Francisco,” mainly in the form of movies set here. One of the best movies to showcase SF is Hitchcock’s Vertigo. He elegantly captures the glamour and beauty of San Francisco in the 60s. When I watch it, my heart aches for not having known that San Francisco. Yet, one of the first scenes, between Jimmy Stewart’s wry Scottie and an old college buddy Gavin Elster, has this all-too-timely dialogue:
San Francisco’s changed. The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast.
(Scottie smiles at the old prints of Gold Rush era San Francisco on the wall.)
Like all this.
(Nodding) I’d like to have lived here then. The color and excitement… the power… the freedom.
This conversation is currently happening at every cafe that serves locally roasted coffee across the city. According to some, everything that we love about San Francisco is now overshadowed by Google buses and $5 toast, and it’s only going to get worse from here on out. People are certain of that.
Over the past few years there have been some articles, like this one by a New York transplant who is kind of the worst, or this one by a new-to-the-city hipster who thinks we’re all the problem and there’s nothing we can do about it, or this piece of crap that isn’t even journalism but somehow littered my Facebook feed a year ago. I see links to these articles about how San Francisco is on a runaway train into the toilet thanks to the booming tech industry, tourists, and the fog. They say San Francisco is changing; like this is something new or bad.
Well get ready for your mind to be blown, people – I’m going to tell you why San Francisco is the best goddamn city in the goddamn country, using the very arguments the naysayers have been using against it. BOOM!
SAN FRANCISCO IS THE BEST BECAUSE OF:
The Start Ups
We want a scapegoat to point fingers at for the inflated rents and expensive street food, so we pinpoint a “new” community that makes a boatload of money, and villainize them. Let me point out that the tech community has been in the Bay Area for decades and they are not all “Glassholes” working for Big Data companies with ping pong tables. Some of these Startups are going to change the world (or already have!) and San Francisco is the city nurturing these companies. Welcoming them into the Bay Area is part of what makes us who we are – we’re innovators and risk-takers! Let’s not shun smart people with good ideas just because their industry is diving into piles of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.
Like any thriving city, SF has crowded tourist areas. The only time I end up in those places…is when I’m with tourists. They are not hard to avoid. So, can we not shit on the people who are curious about our city? They are pouring money into our economy, they are going to Fisherman’s Wharf so we don’t have to, and some of them are Australian hotties. When I take visitors around the city, I get to see San Francisco for the first time all over again. I love seeing their faces when the F car, which looks like a boat, sails by, or when a seven foot tall drag queen glides down the sidewalk, or when they come upon a man lounging on a bench wearing penile ornaments and nothing else. I remember making the same face the first time I saw San Francisco. I remember the shock of being surrounded by freaks. I remember the moment I realized I was home.
I am so over people bitching about the weather. They hate the fog. They hate the chill. They hate the occasional rain. WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT IT? You guys, we live on a planet with an atmosphere, this is part of the deal we agreed to. We live, breath, eat, sleep, dance, fornicate, read snappy articles, and in return, we live with forces of nature we have no control over. So, if you don’t like sweater weather, get the hell out of San Francisco. (And for the record, the fog is one of my favorite parts of the city.)
So here is my call to action: let’s stop posting what we don’t like about San Francisco. Let’s not yell from our soapbox about how everything is going to shit without any course of action on how to save it. Let’s not waste our time by complaining about things out of our control, like an industry’s success or the fucking weather. I vote we passionately love the city we live in by actively protecting what we love about it. I promise to continue to make affordable theater in the city. I promise to clean up my trash in the park. I promise to be an advocate for the LGBT and immigrant communities. I promise to embody what I love about San Francisco, and not run away when things get hard.
I’m not saying there’s no room for improvement. I’m saying that if you’re going to blast a city you choose to live in, try to be a part of the change you want to see. Don’t tell me why San Francisco “sucks”; tell me what you’re going to do about it.
While you do that, I’m going to continue to take in this incredible place and thank the Universe that I’ve been allowed to live, love, and play here.
Featured image courtesy of Daniel Parks