San Francisco is, alas, not a city. It is a large, filthy village. Not many people live here. BART — the train that connects this podunk town to other podunk towns in what’s called The Bay Area — stops running at midnight. At midnight, yes, that’s right.
Restaurants close at around 9; they’ll kick you out if you’re still eating come 10.
Did I mention that this city is filthy? And I mean not just filthy but fetid. It’s all the moisture in the air coupled with the astronomical homeless population: it breeds the most grotesque disease. The Bubonic Plague is back — in SF. I’m not kidding.
It’s not a friendly city. As it is overrun with 26 year olds, it has that very particular post-collegiate angst. People go out in cliques. Rarely are these cliques penetrated. In my brief time in LA, everywhere I went, people would look up to see….if I was a star. Still, they actually made eye contact. Not in SF. Lord knows what might happen should you lock eyes with a stranger. (Now try being a single guy. In SF, the women prefer online dating to real space encounters. Eeesh.)
The whole city is organized like a college campus with its egregious sororities and fraternities. Somehow, if you live in a certain neighborhood, it means you are a type — a Marina girl, a Mission hipster, a Noe Valley yuppie (which is ironic as the new SF hipsters are the new yuppies — they don’t work for banks, as they did in the 80s; they work for Apple — corporate lackies who party).
The thing about 26 year olds is that they feel like they’re the first to discover whatever it is they’ve discovered. Raw food! French press coffee! Pho! While I enjoy the excitement they feel at their discovery, their self-righteousness undoes said enjoyment.
Of course, I came here 20 years ago, when I was 21 and it was amazing — cheap and filled with freaks. Now it’s freakishly expensive and all those young ‘uns? They work for Google (or Apple or Yahoo or Genetech; there is an endless parade of corporate buses barreling up and down Guerrero headed to or from the Peninsula on a daily basis).
Don’t get me wrong. There are some things to love about this city. The sky, for instance, is fucking amazing — impossibly close and ever aswirl. And the ocean is right there. And, yes, there is a lot of good coffee. A lot. It’s silly, in fact, how much good coffee there is — and each shop is owned and managed by those 26 year olds. And the food: I can get locally grown, organic produce, meat, and cheese on nearly any corner of the city. That is amazing and not to be taken for granted.
But, fuck, it’s such a socially and culturally limited town that it distracts itself with 10 million breeds of kale and an equal number of coffee roasteries. If we keep eating, maybe we won’t notice that we live in a filthy village of anxiety riddled 20-somethings.
Ah, maybe I’m just a curmudgeon. Maybe I’ve outgrown this dirty playground. Thing is, I’m stuck here. Suddenly, I feel like Joseph Garcin.