A gated community. A city that is becoming uniformly wealthy, out of reach and out of touch. Too much reclaimed wood. Too many high-backed chairs. Teardrop light fixtures, everywhere. Soulless where there used to be a soul. Blank screens where there used to be imagination…Some shitty tapas place called Bask (get it, it’s Basque!) where there used to be Clown Alley. Whatever it is, San Francisco (and its football team) is fucking terrible, but not yet beyond repair.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

There’s a moment in Alex Pelosi’s compelling new HBO doc San Francisco 2.0 when the camera pans over to the crumbling concrete-and-rebar remains of Candlestick Park. Like a spaceship that crash-landed decades ago and has been marveled at, pulled apart and now ignored—the stadia sits there slowly merging once more with the horizon.

A resident of neighboring Hunter’s Point—a woman who is one of the thousands of long-time San Francisco denizens who currently faces eviction in the name of progress—laments the closing of “her” stadium. Seagulls swarm overhead like vultures as cranes remove the ramshackle homes and graffiti’d storefronts she grew up amongst. Crews work double time to replace the old with temporary-looking shelters. Ikea-ized versions of aspirational Dwell magazine-ready structures—all right angles, plate glass and “eco-friendly” composite materials.

Candlestick Park, looking every bit the dystopian scorched earth backdrop—a discarded set from a Neill Blomkamp film—was a brilliantly stark reminder of where the city is going in its continuing crusade to whitewash over the dark corners—or at least its murals. The statistics are depressing: 2,500 residences involuntarily vacated per year (and climbing.) If you click one link today, click this one for the PowerPoint on wrongful or forced eviction put together by SF’s Anti-Displacement Coalition.

The overriding concern, which former mayor Willie Brown summed up in the doc is: everything, including this generation of “young geniuses,” gets old. And nothing ages worse than technology.

Pelosi’s doc draws a parallel between the current infestation of bro coders and Valley wunderkinds and the guy with an advanced degree and thirty years work experience living in squalor in the Tenderloin as a ward of the state—no income, no prospects and no one returning his calls. Too young to retire, too old not to be discarded. Every boom has its bust and though San Francisco, like yesterday’s ingenue succumbing to Botox®, will find a way to reinvent itself—or at least plump out its lips and stick out its hips—is going to be anchored with a massive midlife crisis in less than two decades as the artisanal cocktail swilling, photos of reclaimed wood walls and chalkboard menus posting, left- or right-swiping innovators of tomorrow find themselves more bloated and outmoded than the gas guzzling car model that shares their same birth year.

A city is a fragile ecosystem and when you move out the creatures who do actual work—the beavers who engineer the dams, the egrets who build their nests… and fill the waters with young and hungry crocodiles, it’s only a matter of time before all the resource is dried up, sucked away and the carcass is discarded. And when you fuck with something so fragile as a small city’s biosphere, the real side effect—the evaporation of its delicate soul—is the only reasonable outcome.

I was reminded of this while watching the San Francisco 49ers continue their dismal march though the 2015 campaign cowering at home over the weekend to the fan-owned, still-relevant Packers. At this point, less than five weeks into the season, the once most-decorated and proud franchise in all of sports has been reduced to a child squirming in his seat refusing its vegetables.

In some ways, suffering through a 49er game is an exercise in persistence—thinking about these old 49er faithful balking at re-education made me smile. Resist! Most of Generation One: The Kezar-and-Brodie sect who happened to hitch their wagon to a winner, have died out or at least aged out of the desired demo. But there are some, perhaps I am one of them, who grew up during that gilded era and still have enough sepia-toned memory—mostly about how happy our dads were for a few hours every Sunday when the rest of life, well, was pretty much a grind—to sustain at least moderate interest. Either way, my grandfathered nostalgia and I were told to back off Warchild when that first golden shovel kissed the ground in Santa Clara to build the tax-payer and Goldman Sachs-funded Erector Set of corporate-friendly inequity in the shadow of the Google campus.

But, something else bothered me when I attempted to watch the 49ers Sunday. I realized, they’re just not interesting anymore. The glass menagerie stadium isn’t welcoming. The head coach is a pitiable slob, a patsy of Oswaldian proportions. The players are disaffected and drab. The ownership is uncharismatic and detached. There is absolutely zero there there.

Zero.

Only then I realized, that’s exactly the same feeling I have when I set foot on the familiar but completely unattainable soil of today’s San Francisco. It’s no longer The City. It’s not the fog-lined streets Herb Caen described as a woman putting on her slip and sneaking out in the pre-dawn shadows of Sunday morning. It’s not the foghorn quieting conversation over cocktail hour. It’s not finding comfort in all the similarly octagon-tiled bathroom floors of Pacific Heights. It’s not the steam rising from the manhole covers, straightening out the wrinkles in your slacks as you hit the ground running off Muni, late for a 9 a.m. Monday meeting.

It’s not that I still don’t have to swallow hard when admiring the majestic sundial shadow cast by Coit Tower over North Beach at dusk. It’s not that I can’t sneak into the Tonga Room and still feel, quite literally, the numbing effects of a drink consumed from a hollowed out pineapple take effect and transport me to a time when businessmen enjoyed three Martini lunches at Tadich and got their shoes buffed next to Shorenstein in the basement of the B of A building. When Giants games could be heard on the radio, cracks of the bat ricocheting off the the office buildings on California and ascending to Nob Hill and above. Where the Brown twins (Marian and Vivian) and their matching dresses, hats and hair ambled around like they were living in a snow globe. You have to look hard, but in the serpentine back alleyways of the Mission and the skunky street corners of the Haight, it exists. Some of that San Francisco, my City, hasn’t been demo’d yet. It’s still there, barely.

And The City shall survive, barely—even if a bit of that goop and grime of Dashiell Hammett’s de-colorized imprint is sitting at the bottom of a safe in the basement of the old mint, I believe it can outlast the current infestation.

I’m not so sure, however, I can say the same about the employers of the gremlin-in-the-pool spawn generation. Those companies, hellbent on turning a carefully crafted and marketed collection of zeros and ones into a surrogate for actual, real human interaction, inherently are flawed.

They are devoid of a conscious, of value—be it social, intrinsic, communal or monetary. When the hoax of coming together through technology is revealed—when everything shiny about how we insulate ourselves present-day in flimsy but formidable individual digital fortresses begins to fade; when the reality that machines and apps alienate, make arrogant noise, create an illusion of commentary, feedback and thoughtfulness where once there was actual dialogue, then what?

Once we (re)discover that a him or a her is more than an account and password and headshot, that we can put aside our devices in exchange for experience—where do we go? What will happen to the thousands of businesses that started without a sustainable revenue model when this round of funding dries up and this stock market plunges? What will happen to recycled ideas of recycled ideas? What will happen to the single-word vowel-laden quippy business names? Who will ping in the break room communal work space if nobody else is there to pong?

Do I root for the demise of San Francisco 2.0 as vehemently as I root against this version of its home football team? Absolutely. It’s something I used to question, used to feel guilty about. Like am I that kind of sick individual who waits for tragedy and revels in delivering the bad news, just so I can see a reaction; just so I can take comfort in the fact that it’s not happening to me?

The answer is no.

I’m just ready for the party to be over. I am ready for The City to shut its eyes with the room spinning. Wake up late with a hangover. Take a quick shower. Wash off all the makeup and glitter, wipe the steam off the mirror, give itself a good hard look and say, “enough.”

Photo: Salesforce

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author ofBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. 

56 COMMENTS

  1. If the city is filled with less jocks because of the demolition of their precious stadium, I’m not crying over it. I’ve always like nerds better than jocks anyhow. In fact, it’s nice to see the jocks getting screwed for once. Have fun in “Oaktown”; looks like you’re Raiders fans! LOL!

  2. To me this is better than the Oregon piece. For the most part when I am back The City I am able to put blinders on and ignore how much it has changed. After spending so much time in Unión St. and in The Marina, I always felt like it was the Marina-fication of SF. But “The Marina SF” crowd was always about stock and bond traders that were looking to make some scrilla to get a sick apartment in Pac Heights, The Marina, North Beach, and live their life to the fullest while they were young, then move to Marin or Lamorinda when they got married and wanted to start a family.
    Every once in a while they would venture to The Mission for a birthday dinner at Cha Cha Cha or Foreign Cinema and then head to Elbo Room for a “dive bar” experience.
    The current incarnate of 20 and 30 somethings are out to turn SF into whatever they want wherever they want.
    Being a person in the food industry, and lover of good food, I love all of the options available in SF. And the demand for new and better places has allowed chef friends and their friends realize their dreams of opening their own places. But all is not what it seems. Just ask Richie Nakano of Hapa Ramen. A life long line cook and sous chef got his chance to open his dream spot when some tech bros backed him. They eventually didn’t like the direction of the chef driven restaurant and told him he needed to change the format of the menu. Ultimately, Richie lost the restaurant he worked so hard to get.
    New money always shows a lack of awareness and knowledge. Let’s just hope that doesn’t ruin The City before it is too late.

  3. Well said! These reasons are exactly why I’m enthusiastically getting the word out about Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee. Three people-powered, community-oriented candidates (Francisco Herrera, Amy Farah Weiss, “Broke Ass” Stuart Schuffman) have formed a coalition to oust Mayor Lee and his corporate cronies and SAVE SAN FRANCISCO! Find the facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1040609395974042/

  4. I don’t understand this. San Francisco was a filthy city, poorly managed, with misery wherever you go, and it still is. I was there for the first time in a year a few weekends ago. While I was waiting outside a bar for my friends, someone broke into a bank across the street. Later that night I was reparking my car and almost ran over two guys being chased by a cop. The amount of homeless people is ridiculous, much of the city’s infrastructure is in disrepair, and compared to any other major city in the world SF has an incredibly low population density, which is one reason housing prices are so high. SF has the chance to become a fantastic city on par with greats like Hong Kong, London or New York City. A true world city. The more it is built up, the more it changes, the better it will become. To me, this can not happen fast enough and I am looking forward to it.

    • I grew up in SF and got kicked out of it and ironically live in Brooklyn now–got shunted off to one expensive city and can’t afford to live in the other expensive city. Have you ever lived in NYC? It’s not a “great,” let me tell you. If you call SF a “filthy city,” you have COMPLETELY NO IDEA WHAT A FILTHY CITY IS. Come by NYC after the snow falls, when everyone is done peeing, pooping, and throwing their trash all over the snow. Go trudge in that swill of grayish-brownish goop for weeks afterwards until it finally melts. THEN go back to SF and tell me it’s “filthy.” Jesus F.C.

    • You need to go back to wherever you came from. This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard, you only speak like this because you are not from here, you did not grow up here, yet you like to thrash talk this city of mine. Its idiots with your thinking that is ruining this once soulful city of greatness. Tech companies kicking out local businesses and their shops that they have had for years and tenants who have lived here for decades, and toolbag tough guys who wear nothing but button ups and boat sperry shoes who wouldnt last a day in the REAL Missions district back in the day.
      Id rather keep my filth and copious amounts of homeless than have a bunch of techy assholes running around my city acting like they own this place, acting like they are natives and when you ask where they are from they say “from here, San Francisco”, cool what neighborhood did you grow up in? “well I grew up in new mexico or oklahoma or some crap middle of the country state, I dont give a fuck. CUZ guess what I am from here I was Born here I was raised in these neighborhoods, I remember when there was no techy dickbags walking around. It was only natives and the environment was calm, cool and just laidback.
      SO FUCK YOU TO ALL YOU TECHY ASSHOLES YOU CAN TAKE YOUR SPERRY BOAT SHOES AND BUTTON UPS BACK TO PALO ALTO OR WHEREVER YOU CAME FROM BECAUSE THE REAL PEOPLE OF THIS CITY, US NATIVES HATE YOU AND COULD CARE LESS IF YOU GOT CRUSHED BY A BRICK WALL.

    • Have you considered that there might be a connection between new rich elites moving in and pricing people out of their homes and communities and increasing poverty and homelessness? This is emblematic of a widening wealth gap. The rich have their own clean playgrounds and don’t need to wade in the filth, so they don’t worry about it and neither do the politicians they fund. The common folk might be able to visit and shop in these playgrounds, but they won’t be allowed to live there. I have been to Hong Kong and loved it, but if you want to learn more about that “great” city, google “Hong Kong cage homes” and take a look at how tens of thousands are paying fairly high rents to live in caged bunk beds in dormitories.

  5. Man I HATE these tech companies! They ruin everything! Please share my opinion (hosted on WordPress.com) on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Thanks!

  6. most of the younger people who live there now have no clue what SF was like when it was a real city. a city with diversity and cultural complexity. and they don’t care. the tech jocks don’t give a damn about but themselves and their accumulated piles of shiny stuff. the agenda of obscene greed and self interest warps one more city into another homogeneous caucasian disneyland.

    • That’s it right there…. The people coming in never knew SF when it was full of “diversity & cultural complexity”. Yes! I’m a Bay Area native, never from the city, but always in the city. It was where I went to experience (almost) everything that shaped me to be awesome…. now I stay the hell away as much as possible. I’ve watched so many people get pushed out. It’s a shame. I used to feel connected to the city, in the city, and now it feels different, alien even. I like the analogy of SF going to bed with the room spinning & waking up to say enough.

  7. Sour grapes! San Francisco is booming and expensive because it’s outstanding. If you hate it, move elsewhere!

    • You don’t seem to get that it’s losing some of that “outstandingness”. It’s not that people hate it, they hate that it’s headed in a direction where it won’t be as wonderful as it once was. Try and think a little more critically.

  8. The collateral cultural damage is irreparable. This newly-minted Me generation of dooshy tech-bros and coders/designers devoid of social skills as well as facile “entrepreneurs” are lining the pockets of greedy landlords with cash. Even when a seismic change does occur and the economy “balances itself,” the damage will be done.

    It’s scary. Technology is and honestly, always has, become threaded into our culture. “Tech” has been a mainstay of the Bay Area since I began remembering (I think I was 4 years old…and that was 42 years ago). My father worked at Memorex in the 70s and Tandy in the 80s-90s. But this time, it’s different; this is new generation of techie Millennials essentially doesn’t know how to exist outside of their nanny bubble. They grew up in with an instilled sense of entitlement; went to colleges where they only existed within the realm of their campus, and now are riding on their school buses (tech shuttles) to their tech nirvanas (that only hire people of their age group) where they are entitled to free lunches, massages, etc. It’s an eternal cycle that revolves around them. The rest of the world – the people that serve them, that build their houses and fancy restaurants – are nothing more than menial servants. In their hearts (or lack of them), they’re all Shkrelis.

    But in their minds, all of this is “disruptive” (a now wretchedly cliched term used by enfeebled minds). What they will discover is that what they are “disrupting” is a natural rhythm of life…that there is a symbiotic relationship in cities between all of its citizens that allow communities to thrive and grow. When the city falls – and it will – cultural reconstruction may not occur. These bubbles inflate and explode quickly – and each time, the bubble also takes out smaller businesses that are struggling to survive. Wishing that this epidemic of Millennial selfishness will go away is not the solution. This generation needs to learn how to grow up. Millennial techies and hipsters need to learn how to integrate themselves into their communities and foment growth from the street level. Otherwise, the foundation will collapse – and in the wake of this devastation, only the empty exoskeletal carcass of a city will remain.

  9. The collateral cultural damage is irreparable. This newly-minted Me generation of dooshy tech-bros and coders/designers devoid of social skills as well as facile “entrepreneurs” are lining the pockets of greedy landlords with cash. Even when a seismic change does occur and the economy “balances itself,” the damage will be done.

    It’s scary. Technology is and honestly, always has, become threaded into our culture. “Tech” has been a mainstay of the Bay Area since I began remembering (I think I was 4 years old…and that was 42 years ago). My father worked at Memorex in the 70s and Tandy in the 80s-90s. But this time, it’s different; this is new generation of techie Millennials essentially doesn’t know how to exist outside of their nanny bubble. They grew up in with an instilled sense of entitlement; went to colleges where they only existed within the realm of their campus, and now are riding on their school buses (tech shuttles) to their tech nirvanas (that only hire people of their age group) where they are entitled to free lunches, massages, etc. It’s an eternal cycle that revolves around them. The rest of the world – the people that serve them, that build their houses and fancy restaurants – are nothing more than menial servants. In their hearts (or lack of them), they’re all Shkrelis.

    But in their minds, all of this is “disruptive” (a now wretchedly cliched term used by enfeebled minds). What they will discover is that what they are “disrupting” is a natural rhythm of life…that there is a symbiotic relationship in cities between all of its citizens that allow communities to thrive and grow. When the city falls – and it will – cultural reconstruction may not occur. These bubbles inflate and explode quickly – and each time, the bubble also takes out smaller businesses that are struggling to survive. Wishing that this epidemic of Millennial selfishness will go away is not the solution. This generation needs to learn how to grow up. Millennial techies and hipsters need to learn how to integrate themselves into their communities and foment growth from the street level. Otherwise, the foundation will collapse – and in the wake of this devastation, only the empty exoskeletal carcass of a city will remain.

  10. Is this article serious? If soI feel like this is the 1200th article I’ve seen that reads exactly the same- that wah wah wah…. nobody can afford to live in SF anymore, its been taken over by techies, and that the people who rightfully DESERVE to live in the city are being priced out.

    I moved here 16 years ago- during the first tech boom. Back then guess what? Living in SF was totally out of the question. So I wound up renting in the East Bay instead in a not-so-great neighborhood. Did I want to? No, but on the other hand I couldn’t afford SF and so I made a decision.

    In the years following I worked at jobs stocking shelves, cleaning tables, working at big box stores… barely scraping by. I rented tiny rooms in homes packed with other people. I drove the same shitty car I owned in high school and did the repairs myself.

    And then I worked my way up and 16 years later am now one of those higher end wage earners, bought a house, got married and so on. Was it easy? No. Is it easy now? No. Did I bitch and complain about the high cost of living? Of course I did. But I never- NEVER blamed another group of people for it nor did I ever proclaim that I was a more deserving resident who deserved to live here more than others.

    The Bay Area is a very challenging, expensive place to live. But its always been that way. During the gold rush a single egg cost $1. Yes- $1 in 1849 dollars. There has been a constant slew of huge boom and busts since then. I moved from a sleepier, less populated, less expensive and much easier place to live elsewhere in the country. What I’ve learned from that experience to here is that if you want to live here sometimes that means making some sacrifices. Can’t afford to live in SF? Share an apartment or house with other renters, move to a less desirable part of the city, or maybe even ( Gasp ) move across the bridge to the East Bay.

    Oh- and one last thing because it goes both ways: Back during the last and very recent housing bubble in the 2005-2008 era NOBODY from SF would even talk about even visiting Oakland. Noooooo- Oakland was tooooo scary. Well things are certainly different now: Oakland has become the latest hip-n-cool place to live for all those misplaced SF artists, bohemians and so on. And so while many of those same people are probably bitching and complaining about how all those techies have “ruined” THEIR city… they’re actually doing the exact same thing by moving to Oakland.

    Its a big city people. Learn to live with one another.

  11. I moved here 16 years ago- during the first tech boom. Back then guess what? Living in SF was totally out of the question. So I wound up renting in the East Bay instead in a not-so-great neighborhood. Did I want to? No, but on the other hand I couldn’t afford SF and so I made a decision.

    In the years following I worked at jobs stocking shelves, cleaning tables, working at big box stores… barely scraping by. I rented tiny rooms in homes packed with other people. I drove the same shitty car I owned in high school and did the repairs myself.

    And then I worked my way up and 16 years later am now one of those higher end wage earners, bought a house, got married and so on. Was it easy? No. Is it easy now? No. Did I bitch and complain about the high cost of living? Of course I did. But I never- NEVER blamed another group of people for it nor did I ever proclaim that I was a more deserving resident who deserved to live here more than others.

    The Bay Area is a very challenging, expensive place to live. But its always been that way. During the gold rush a single egg cost $1. Yes- $1 in 1849 dollars. There has been a constant slew of huge boom and busts since then. I moved from a sleepier, less populated, less expensive and much easier place to live elsewhere in the country. What I’ve learned from that experience to here is that if you want to live here sometimes that means making some sacrifices. Can’t afford to live in SF? Share an apartment or house with other renters, move to a less desirable part of the city, or maybe even ( Gasp ) move across the bridge to the East Bay.

    Oh- and one last thing because it goes both ways: Back during the last and very recent housing bubble in the 2005-2008 era NOBODY from SF would even talk about even visiting Oakland. Noooooo- Oakland was tooooo scary. Well things are certainly different now: Oakland has become the latest hip-n-cool place to live for all those misplaced SF artists, bohemians and so on. And so while many of those same people are probably bitching and complaining about how all those techies have “ruined” THEIR city… they’re actually doing the exact same thing by moving to Oakland.

    Its a big city people. Learn to live with one another.

    • Your closing statement is perhaps the biggest problem with your whine against the whiners. It’s the “newcomers” that are able and willing to pay for the exorbitant rents that don’t want to learn to live with others. So you’re telling people to learn to live with one another, when in fact the new power structure is basically composed of people who would tell you to take a hike. And because of this, in the end your post basically has no aggregate value.

  12. Techies don’t make that much money(they have many roommates that make it possible for them to make those payments)it’s the people selling the property who are asking a pretty penny to live there

    • In all transactions, there is supply and there is demand, there is a seller and there is a buyer. If the buyer is willing to pay what the seller asks, then you can’t wholly blame the seller for raising prices. Because they wouldn’t raise prices if buyers wouldn’t pay them.

  13. SF is better than it was before. This is article is the worst of one person’s extremely one sided opinion. If any city can save the world. It’s San Francisco. Putting the city as a whole down is terrible.

  14. Interesting read…but the 49ers were NEVER the most decorated and proud franchise in sports. The Lakers, Celtics and Yankees have more than tripled the amount of championships that the Niners have won.

  15. I love the comment “If you don’t like it, move.” We have, some by choice, others by force.

    As someone who is a Bay Area native who moved away this past year, I have to say that the idea of this (and so, very many of pieces like it) rings true: the lack of diversity is indeed hurting the city. Change is not bad, but when a city this whitewashed, it lacks the spunk that once drew so many people to it.

    People have moved away, in droves. The workers who make up the infrustrustructure to hold SF together are struggling. Guess how much the person who latte, cocktail, or dinner makes. Not enough to live or near the city. There are lots of great cities in the US, and people are taking their skills and creativity elsewhere.

    SF will always be a great city. Sure it’s still dirty as f#*k, and always will be, There’s also great beauty in it too. But recently lost its edge, and much of its soul. Newcomers don’t see it, but anyone who’s been there a substantial amount of time does. And, yes, we’re sad to see it happen.

    Why is everyone complaining? It’s hard to see a place of diversity, not just of race, but of beliefs, standpoints, lifestyles, and an artistic haven become sterile. Sure, you’ll still see people strutting sequined g-strings through Dolores Park on the weekend, but I gauruntee they’re praying they don’t get kicked out of the rent controlled apt the next day.

    The pendulum swung one way, and now it’s swung this way. It was interesting to see where it went, but I think many of us can’t wait for the momentum to change.

  16. I moved to SF when 21 in 1963. This was pre-BART, and the City had the Crown Zellerbach building located at One Bush, its first high-rise. I traveled the City on Muni bus, streetcar, and cable car, charmed each and every day at the sights and diverse population. When Reagan was Governor, we started seeing homeless people as he emptied our mental institutions. Employers started a mean spirited wage disparity between management and the workers. Our local government eased building restrictions, and now the corporations no longer give back to the community. 50 years after arriving in SF, buying a home and raising my family, I’ve thrown in the towel and moved away. I watched San Francisco 2.0, and when Tony started to sing I began to cry. Goodbye my beautiful, diverse, open-minded, wonderful City.

  17. Cities change and evolve. The trouble with San Francisco is that it is stuck with two warring cultures, both of which wish to preserve a utopian vision in amber and call it a city.

    Of all the major US cities I’ve lived in, San Francisco has the most divisive politics, worst attitudes towards outsiders, and worst NIMBYism. It’s skyline is virtually unchanged in the last 15 years while other cities in North America have completely transformed.

    And when the current tech bubble bursts and all the workers leave, the next crisis of “The City” will hit. When high wage earners are gone, there will be nobody to pay for all those services that “longtime residents” have voted themselves.

  18. So kick out all of the qorkong entrepreneurs and reinfest the city with drug addicted aging hippies? Would that really fix the situational issue? oh no wait! The drug addicts are still there, except theyre using violent psychoactive synthetic substances

  19. I’m kind of confused by the premise of this essay. Candlestick Park was demolished because they built a new, better stadium. You make it sound like Candlestick is some kind of Ozymandian symbol but on the contrary, it’s gone now and will soon be replaced by a very large residential development.

    Ok, the 49ers suck. And? Trying to spin your disappointment with a sports team into a grand statement about the culture in the team’s city is pretty weak sauce. This is like the least trenchant observation about SF’s problems that I’ve read all month.

  20. So out here in the Richmond things seem quite the same. Lots of diversity on our streets. Another Chinese grocery opened, recently. Green Apple added a store in the Sunset. I can walk to Golden Gate Park and enjoy our beautiful (not-so-new) museums. It always takes systems a long time to catch up to changes, and a city is a complex system. A hundred years ago the Mission was an Irish and Italian neighborhood. San Francisco has always been taken care of by its citizens, and hopefully these newly arrived workers who truly put roots down here will continue this tradition. There seem to be a lot of initiatives being launched now, both governmental and civil, to help deal with the extraordinary growth in population we’ve experienced over the past twenty years, but it’ll be another ten before we see if they’ve worked or not. In the meantime the wind and fog still make our streets dirty and wet, and our compassion draws people here as much as our dynamic jobs sector does. It is a difficult time, a time of changes, but I’m not willing to write the old girl off yet–I think she’s got a lot of life left in her bones.

  21. This is an overly sentimental ode to one persons version of SF. What surprises me most about the city I live in is not how much it has changed, but how vehemently and negatively it’s populace has responded to these changes. This is supposed to be the city of live and let live, but to me it seems like the city that will show up at town hall with pitchforks demanding that “these people” get out of “their town”
    I think the simple reality is that SF will forever be a small town who revels in its “towni-ness”. SF doesn’t care that you find it unsophisticated, or filthy, or that homeless are literally rotting to death on some street corners. SF doesn’t care that outside of the trees growing larger, 90% of city neighborhoods are exactly the same as they were 50 years ago. Try and point out the minuses in this town, and five people will tell you to GTFO for every one person that agrees. I have to imagine that at some point in its history SF wasn’t populated by people so hell bent on proving how small minded they can be and how proud they are of being small minded. At any rate, best to avoid these drippy syrupy sweet nostalgia pieces and just go out and enjoy this beautiful city from afar. Close up, things are really a mess.

  22. Since Moving to San Francisco I have encountered several articles like this one. (Which is weird why so many people have deemed it unique) And I completely agree that there is a systemic class problem in American cities (our whole country) that destroys communities, perpetuates racism and sexism, displaces people, and creates a further wealth divide.

    I however cannot read one more article that assumes “technology” is this temporary evil that will be unveiled as useless. It is a naive, short-sighted statement. The more “thinkers” dispute the validity of technology (and what I’m talking about is social media, smart phones, apps, and any tool associated with the Internet and the Internet itself) rather than analyzing it and dictating its place in our culture, the better advantage capitalistic greed has in warping it to something that doesn’t serve humanity but manipulates it.

    You can’t cure the disease by constantly writing opinion pieces about the symptoms.

  23. The promise of technology is to give us more time to do cool things and on that front it sure has failed miserably. I moved out of SF after 18 years because a one bedroom apartment became unaffordable when I wanted to move out of my studio dive and share a place with my lady and yes, SF is not as cool as it was–fewer cool places with character and more expensive restaurants.

  24. Is this an article about the current state of SF or an ‘edgy’ hipster whining? Either move out or do something about it.

  25. Is this an article about the current state of SF or an ‘edgy’ hipster whining? Cry a little harder elsewhere and write with a little less conjecture.

  26. When I read this and similar description of techies, and the inevitable “Right on!” comments, I am reminded of the way racists talk about blacks, or the way homophobes talk about gays and lesbians, down to the stereotypes about what “those people” wear. Do you even know any techies? I’m a senior citizen, hired 10 years ago, with “an advanced degree and 30 years work experience,” by a tech firm, and I’m still working there as a software engineer. If you think that the social media are “a surrogate for actual, real human interaction,” and you rail against the hundreds of techies in SF who develop these things, then you should sit up and look around at the rest of the planet, where billions of actual, real humans use these tools to interact every day. SF, and the world, have moved on.

  27. My God (or Deity That Be ™), Clown Alley is gone? It’s worse than I thought, and I’m not trying to be humorous.

    When I arrived in S.F. during June of 1976, I knew something was amiss when I found a McDonalds at the corner of Haight and Stanyan, but I found a still dominant core of uniqueness, creativity and nearly unrestricted openness influencing the direction, feel and aura of the city.

    When I left for Santa Rosa in 2002-3 those attributes had withered significantly and I had witnessed what I call ‘financial migration and economic relocation’ foment a vacuum that wealth and power easily slipped into. Gag me with a forklift!

    No Clown Alley (I assume it’s the downtown, not the Lombard location), where do late night North Beach musicians eat now?

    From Haiku Spelled Backwards, I wave bye bye to the city I was intensely proud to call home for 27 years.

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