urban standing
May 10, 2003 7:02 PM   Subscribe

For fans or inhabitants of San Francisco, USA. The great San Francisco bubble, life in America's last great progressive cocoon. What about New Orleans? Or Vancouver (CA)? My Miami?
posted by the fire you left me (54 comments total)
Man, I'm going to miss this place.
posted by hammurderer at 7:12 PM on May 10, 2003

Helluva city. An oh those organic markets!
posted by DakotaPaul at 7:19 PM on May 10, 2003

Well, I'll say one thing for San Francisco, it certainly seems to attract an inordinate number of smug, self-righteous columnists who desperately need to get over themselves.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:27 PM on May 10, 2003

I bet he attended the Masturbate-A-Thon
posted by Ron at 7:30 PM on May 10, 2003

Huh? Get real. San Fran lives in fantasyland it's Disney land for kids in their 20s and 30s who don't want to grow up they truck there from all over the USA on some highspirited vision that is about as real as the billboards the dot the city with crass techno commercialism that blows away any illusion of liberalism. One just has to walk through the Haight or tour the Presidio to see San Fran is not about liberalism it's about corporatism. People I know who live in SF too long get soft and loose touch with reality just like NYers who can't see beyond the Hudson in that famous NewYorker cartoon they need to get out the rest of the USA is much more diverse than their narrow and restricting vision of liberalism.
posted by stbalbach at 7:35 PM on May 10, 2003

Way to pidgeonhole, stbalbach.

On another note, anyone who says the Bay Area lacks good pizza obviously hasn't gotten their lazy asses to Zachary's yet.
posted by Hackworth at 7:43 PM on May 10, 2003

Yeah, but what about the organic produce markets?
posted by DakotaPaul at 7:46 PM on May 10, 2003

This SF Gate guy got deleted last time his "column" was posted the MetaFilter front page.

Here's hoping for strike two.
posted by hama7 at 8:09 PM on May 10, 2003

Ugh. Snideness isn't appealing no matter who it comes from. It's particularly grating when the author is as parochial as this one. Can't we bring back the grand cosmopolitan elitism of yore, at least?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:24 PM on May 10, 2003

I've been to San Francisco twice, and both times it creeped me out. I know that this is heresy, but perhaps it was the hugely pregnant crack addict staggering and screaming in the street, or the whole colony of homeless people in the alley by where I stayed, or stepping over the blood on the sidewalks in the morning, or the general air of loneliness and craziness. And, just for a base line, I love both LA and New York. London, England? I'm right at home; same with Toronto. So tell me: what is it about the city that people love so much? I'm really interested to know. What did I miss? What would change my mind? If I were going tomorrow, where should I start?
posted by jokeefe at 8:27 PM on May 10, 2003

First off the fact that he also failed to mention boston staggers me, but then i have a feelign the major flaw in this article is that if you love the place you live in you can probably tout it over any other place.

The funny thing is i'm about to move from davis square to berkeley (surprisingly similar if you've been to both) and really it's not the location as much as the community that makes one want to live in a place. I'm sure there are people who desperately want to move to places like the midwest or florida, but to me that would be painful. However, the author is wrong in thinking that these people are out of thier minds, they just have a different set of perspectives and desires...and his lack of understanding this view shows the level of his hypocracy. Home is the place you want to be, not necessarily were you live.

Probably the more interesting possibility to me is that as we see the liberals pile onto the coasts (blue states) they attract more of the liberals from the middle (this happened to me, i used to live in indiana). Therefore by moving to the places that we find more attractive (liberally) we may be making the places we're escaping more conservative in the long run. just food for thought.
posted by NGnerd at 8:59 PM on May 10, 2003

Boston will remain world-class as long as it caters to universities. Not just sheer numbers, which are impressive (30 not counting the suburbs), but also Harvard and MIT, which aren't going anywhere soon. If it weren't for the colleges, well, I suppose Boston wouldn't be much different from Worcester. But then again, where would L.A. be without Hollywood, or Singapore without its harbor?

Of course, the utility of a city is sometimes confused with your utility in a city. Your priorities change as you get older, and you can outgrow a city. That doesn't make it any less important, however. There's still a fresh bunch of Freshman coming to Boston next year.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:36 PM on May 10, 2003

Things I hate about SF: yuppies, crappy public transportation, filth, crime, yuppies, corruption, yuppies, and idiotic, narrow-minded snobs like the author of that article. The only thing he got right was the bit about losing touch with reality. Boy has he ever!
posted by Potsy at 10:05 PM on May 10, 2003

Man, I'm going to miss this place.

You have no idea...
posted by y at 10:42 PM on May 10, 2003

Lived in Mountain View for three years...and visited The City several times, and was absolutely stunned (in the good sense) by many things -- the architecture, the hills, the entertainment, the dining...and in the South Bay area, I was equally impressed with many things - again, the dining, the weather, the sheer variety of *everything*.

But I don't think I'll ever want to live in the SF area again. Can't wait to visit - many times, perhaps-- but it's not my cup of tea for a long-term commitment. I do understand the appeal that it has for others, but there's a reason that it's a "bubble." It's not for everybody. BUT - everybody should visit SF at least once in their life.

Besides, what other city could have produced Herb Caen? Reading Herb Caen, nibbling on a Noah's Bagels (sesame), and sipping Trader Joe's Ultra Roast Bay Blend coffee...ah, memories.
posted by davidmsc at 10:51 PM on May 10, 2003

I lived in Eugene OR for four years, and on moving back to Boston, I'm amazed how conservative Massachusetts is. Relatively, that is. San Fran may be a bigger bubble, but in Eugene, Berkeley and Madison, it's still possible to find people who don't know that some restaurants don't have vegetarian menus. My bud back in Eugene told me he didn't know a single person in favor of the Iraq war. That's a bubble.

San Fran's not too bad a place, but far too expensive (and one-minded, above exceptions noted) for my tastes. Nice weather, though.
posted by Kevs at 11:05 PM on May 10, 2003

What did I miss? What would change my mind? If I were going tomorrow, where should I start?

well, from your description, it sounds like you didn't make it out of the Market St/Tenderloin area, which, while frequented by tourists due to it's proximity to North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, China Town, and Union Square (all of which, if you ask me, are fairly uninteresting neighborhoods, though they have some charm), is not the nicest place in the world to hang out in (disclaimer: I live on Market and 6th, so there.)

My advice for people going to SF?
Go to the Mission.
Go to the SFMOMA/Yerba Buena/Golden Gate Park Museums.
Go to the Castro
Go to the Haight (well, if you want to spend money on wacky stuff -- i hardly ever hang out in the haight because public trans to get there is bus only).
Go to Ocean Beach.
Go to Twin Peaks and look at the view.

some favorite places of mine:

Bombay Ice Creamery.
Zeitgeist Bar. (best patio in SF).
Beauty Bar.
Jay's Cheesesteaks.
Clothes Contact.
Roxie Movie Theatre.
Whiz Wit.

Dotties True Blue Cafe
Arrow Bar
Tu Lan
Julip Bar
there are tons of great breakfast restaurants in the tenderloin, and lots of good ethnic food.

Red Vic Cinema.
Kid Robot (or something like that).
Axum Ethopian Restaurant.
every bar I've been to in the Haight has been fun.

So i don't know. If you went to SF and just did the typical tourist crap, you're seeing a lot of the bad/uninteresting parts of the city, if you ask me. For example, after living in SF for over a year I've been to Chinatown and North Beach no more than a handful of times (to be honest, I've been to Chinatown ONCE. exactly ONCE.) Market St where I live is full of shoddy merch, and if you get down to where the big dept stores are, well, everyone has big dept. stores, and that place is absolutely DEAD after 7pm. if you get too far outside the city (like Richmond, and whatnot, towards the ocean) then there's not really a lot out there to see but a bunch of victorians. anyhow, i'd definitely give it another chance, but maybe it's just not your town. try this website, for a more thorough rundown, and also check out the websites of the bay guardian and the sf weekly, particularly their best of the bay issues.

the best things about SF, in my opinion: the weather (but i don't like heat, and i like grey days, so...), the views/hills/skyline, the art/underground scene, the food.
posted by fishfucker at 11:06 PM on May 10, 2003

People sure like to talk about this San Francisco place. Where is it and why?

There are very few cities that one can get away with writing about with such chafing and bombastic pride. Yet there are very few cities or places in this country where many still clamor to live let alone visit. Who do you know who wouldn't go to San Francisco if given the affordable chance? San Francisco has many things going for it. The birthplace of Metafilter for one. . .

San Fran is also a city with a pretty good handle on the pulse of irony. I assume this because Morford is still gloriously being published. Enough can't be said about the rare but rich irony fields of America that must be conquered and liberated. I'm glad Morford is around. He represents exactly what makes this country still livable even though there's only one San Francisco. Even though it must eventually too, be liberated.
posted by crasspastor at 12:17 AM on May 11, 2003

Oh and those awsome views..... from the Marin Headlands looking back towards San Francisco. From the hills above Berkeley looking out towards the Golden Gate.
posted by thedailygrowl at 12:30 AM on May 11, 2003

I must disagree most vehemently with fishfucker's characterization of the Richmond district of San Francisco. I lived in the city for five or six years, and spent the last year or so out there, and it was probably the year that I enjoyed the most. There are actual bustling little neighborhoods out there, it's true. It doesn't have the iconic resonance of Coit Tower, or the Castro, but the Richmond is a charming, fun, and fairly pleasant place to live, if you have to live in a city like SF. Small stores, great ethnic food, and one of the best bookstores in the world. Plus, every once in a while, you can find a parking spot. (The long-running joke is that San Francisco is spanish for "No Parking".)

That being said, I am so out of that crazy-making town. It's a lot more relaxing here in Austin, where I can actually afford to buy a house, and there's still enough weirdness to make life interesting. (On the way to a movie yesterday, we drove past two different men with full beards walking down the street, decked out in dresses and heels - and neither one was Leslie. Woo!)
posted by majcher at 1:03 AM on May 11, 2003

if money were no object, i'd move to san francisco in a heartbeat. it has been one of my favorite cities forever. i can't put a handle on it.

money is an object so i'm staying put in austin. then again, i've recently fallen in love with vancouver, bc.
posted by birdherder at 1:06 AM on May 11, 2003

Don't listen to fishfucker. The N (Muni Metro - the subway/streetcar) runs out to the Upper Haight, and the Lower Haight is walking distance from Market St. and the Castro Safeway (N and J lines). And if you go at the right time, you won't miss the homeless people and nasty sidewalks, either.

He does have a point about avoiding downtown, however.
posted by jaek at 2:03 AM on May 11, 2003

Last time my friends mother was here and wanted to see some of the "real" san francisco while he was at work he pointed her to the 22 Fillmore bus - it runs through many of th great neighborhoods.

Start off in the up-and-coming dogpatch area. Stop for a coffee at Farley's in Potero hill (and enjoy the tremendous views of downtown), grab a burrito around 16th/Valencia, explore the edge of the Castro at Church/Market, get off in the Lower Haight, grab some lunch and perhaps even walk down to the funky stores in Hayes Valley, continue up Fillmore st. to the fun and gentrified area around California/Fillmore, walk around the posh Union St. area and finally end at the marina green where you can watch the sailboats race along the bay.

All on one bus! She had a great time.
posted by vacapinta at 2:55 AM on May 11, 2003

That guy is a real prick, but I'll admit (as an SF native) that we are home to many a large number of pricks. Still, I love this town, and despite it's wussy reputation, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
posted by Down10 at 3:07 AM on May 11, 2003

Articles like this serve only as masturbatory pride devices, and nothing more. I feel worse off for reading the whole thing through.
posted by phylum sinter at 4:35 AM on May 11, 2003

"Therefore by moving to the places that we find more attractive (liberally) we may be making the places we're escaping more conservative in the long run."

NGnerd: Moved from San Francisco to South Bend...to balance your move & help even things out.


P.S. Here's what the view from the street in front of my house was. (Not my pic).
posted by lathrop at 7:00 AM on May 11, 2003

San Fran is also a city with a pretty good handle on the pulse of irony.

Oh lord do I hope you're being ironic here, crasspastor. The lack of irony, or any sort of reprieve from the all-too-pervasive self-seriousness, is exactly what I found most disappointing about EssEff. It's a great town, don't get me wrong, and I don't regret a minute of the two years I lived there. But far too many of its denizens are far too wrapped up in their own identity — no small part of which is that, Dude, they're from San Francisco. People seemed to care a lot more about how they described themselves than about what they actually did.

A gross generalization, to be sure, but one I had a hard time escaping while I was there.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2003

But far too many of its denizens are far too wrapped up in their own identity

You lived in SF only 2 years and you think you have a good handle on the character of the whole of its citizenry? Doubt it. Maybe the people you ran with fit that description. Maybe you too are a bit wrapped up in your own identity.
posted by brantstrand at 9:47 AM on May 11, 2003

Holy shit, did he really say "ethnic people"?

He really didn't go into detail why San Francisco was so great, but I presume it's because it because of asshole psuedo-progressives like him. For someone so upset about "psychopatriotism" he's pretty hepped-up about what a orgasmically great place his city is, and shows it by making crude denigrations of every other place on the planet. Mr. Moroford, if you and your cohorts really can't stand to be exposed to things outside of your self-created bubble, (beyond the "Ooh, look! Ethnic people!" view of diversity,) then never leave your city again. Leave actual life-changing, or at least enriching experiences in travel to other states, let alone Italy (besides those "...deliciously hot pockets..." that are exactly like your city, or, you know, at least try really hard to be,) to those of us who actually appreciate different things.

I betcha 10-1 that this guy rants about the "McDonalds culture of mediocrity."
posted by Snyder at 9:55 AM on May 11, 2003

Great Zombie Christ, that was one annoyingly written article. I have to go take a shower now.
posted by dhoyt at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2003

Judging by the samplings of the hatemail he gets from the freeper crowd I don't blame him for any of his crassness.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:14 AM on May 11, 2003

Smug, creepy, bombastic, chest-thumping boosterism though this may be, there were some things that registered with me. And not just about San Francisco.

I live and work in a medium-sized pretty normal kinda city (Denver). I can go for months without going to the suburbs. When I do, I feel that suffocating horror that the columnist describes. Chain stores, miles of mini-mansions, and nothing but white people.

Am I one of those "urban elitists" who prefer diversity, tolerance, and little mom-and-pop or mom-and-mom stores to what the great washed majority has to offer? Hell, yes.

Although I do hope I don't come off sounding like Mark M.

(BTW, I lived in the Mission district for a year. I moved back to Denver. I'm visiting SF in August. I have mixed feelings about that wonderful place.)
posted by kozad at 10:28 AM on May 11, 2003

I moved to Berkeley from Baltimore about a year ago, and I like it okay. San Francisco is okay. Best things are: produce (good god there's great produce here!), bookstores, the hills and beaches, freedom to be weird, and restaurants, all with a multiculturalist twist in a way I never saw on the East coast. I find the people here to be not as 'grown up' as elsewhere--in good ways and bad. They are both eager and annoying in their political earnestness, but even when I think they are missing the point, I do admire their activism. The most hugely damning aspect of SF Bay living is the cost (though it's coming down), the terrible economy, and the increasing likelihood of a big-ass earthquake (something like a 70% chance w/in the next 30 years.)

SO ANYWAY, I am stuck here for a few years while my wife finishes school, but we are already thinking about our next move. Question is, to where? Suggestions? I really like New England, but are there cities in New England that bring the funk, food, and culture? I also hear Portland is great. I eagerly await your recommendations . . .
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:30 AM on May 11, 2003

Suggestions? Not Minnesota. For years, they've warned us that we need to keep up with the Seattles and Chicagos and Bostons, or we'll be a "cold Omaha". Well, stick a popsicle stick in it, it's happened. Tell the last person with a brain who leaves to make sure the little light in the fridge goes out.
posted by gimonca at 11:01 AM on May 11, 2003

The city does little to provide inexpensive housing, which I would think a pre-condition to having lots of resident artists. But in their PR materials, they're always eager to boost SF's image as a creative paradise.

In fact, the high cost of living in SF itself has rapidly edged out a lot of artists, and brought in a ton of yuppies who contribute nothing to anyone's quality of life except their own.

"Artist" and "activist" are terms lightly bandied about here by white folks who've sold themselves out to fancy careers and need to win back some self-respect. As if art were a recreation. I'd like to live in a city where every dishwasher is a poet. But in SF, it's more like every software engineer is in a band.

Life is generally good in the Bay Area, though. Come on down. Bring money. I escaped to the East Bay, which I love. But I'll never go back to SF.
posted by scarabic at 11:08 AM on May 11, 2003

I have found after about 5 years in the area that the best way to enjoy San Francisco is to live in Berkeley.
The best things about the city are a BART ride away, and in the east bay you can still find a parking place.
posted by 2sheets at 11:10 AM on May 11, 2003

I'm moving to Italy!
posted by mrhappy at 11:36 AM on May 11, 2003

In my experience, San Franciscans are rather angry and bitter, and the much-vaunted openmindedness doesn't really go very far--just try being a Republican Christian (I never did) or a parent under the age of 35 (That, I tried. Bad results). I assure you, you will not be welcomed with open arms.

It doesn't take long to figure out why they're all so angry (short answer: majorly conflicted). And I do often want to move back up there, but honestly, I'm just not hip enough, angsty enough, or agile enough in stilettos on a steep grade. Better that I stay in the suburbs.
posted by padraigin at 12:17 PM on May 11, 2003

you can recognize s.f. pop writers/journalists a mile away: they cannot finish a sentence without making up a cutesy word or at least needlessly stringing some exciterating writertastic bojoizus adjectives in a row. and their every thought seems to be a dependant clause, by the way, if you hadn't noticed, i mean my god.

even the good staff of aquarius are this way in every review.

when i lived there, they seemed to talk normally. whereas new yorkers write better than most anyone, and talk like they are all on heavily medicated or should be...
posted by mitchel at 12:33 PM on May 11, 2003

Best things are: produce (good god there's great produce here!), bookstores, the hills and beaches, freedom to be weird, and restaurants, all with a multiculturalist twist in a way I never saw on the East coast.

Substitute "mountains" for "hills" and it sounds just like Vancouver...

Thank you all for your SF recommendations. It may have just been the phases of the moon, or something, that coloured that particular trip in such a way. Or that, in retrospect, it turned out to be the last happy time I spent with the person I was involved with at the time. Yeah, just maybe that had something to do with it...
posted by jokeefe at 12:53 PM on May 11, 2003

Judging by his crassness, I don't blame the hatemail he gets from the freeper crowd.

C'mon, those freepers drive me crazy too, but even I was somewhat torqued as he passed judgement on the rest of the US.

Should I feel guilty about living in Charleston?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:11 PM on May 11, 2003

I moved to SF, from New Orleans, in 1989. I grew up in the deep south. I have never regretted moving here. I lived through the dot com bubble and could not be happier that it is over. I have plenty of friends who are hurting due to the bust but the city is better off without the instant millionaires that drove rents and the real estate market through the roof.

It's a great town, don't get me wrong, and I don't regret a minute of the two years I lived there. But far too many of its denizens are far too wrapped up in their own identity — no small part of which is that, Dude, they're from San Francisco. People seemed to care a lot more about how they described themselves than about what they actually did.

You didn't live here during the dot com days did you?

When I go home to the south (Mississippi) I am always a little shocked by the culture change and often joke that I should have a passport to enter. No all the culture change is bad, far from it. People are friendly and if you run into someone you know at Walmart you had better plan on stopping and chatting for a while.

There are good and bad people in both places. I once met a Baptist preacher who asked me how I liked living in a city full of atheists, homosexuals and liberals (I'm paraphrasing). I told him that was a bit of a generalization and assured him that I am constantly reminding the people I meet in SF that not everyone in the south is a Bible-thumping, Klan-loving rube married to their 14 year old first cousin.

I live in the Inner Sunset and love my neighborhood. It is sometimes referred to (along with the Richmond) as "the burbs" and in a way they're right. It's what a suburb should be. I have my local deli/convenient store where they know my name and I can just ask for a sandwich and Mary knows exactly what to make. I am in walking distance of a brew pub, quite a few excellent asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai), a great produce market and just about everything you might need and you can walk to all of them. The N-Judah (which runs from Ocean Beach through downtown and out to the Caltrain station) is a block away with Golden Gate park a short half block away.

To really enjoy a visit to SF you should leave all the tourist traps. It's best if you know someone who's lived here a while. If they love you, they will take you to Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown and Alcatraz if you insist. They will also show you all the little secret things (the 22 Filmore bus route is one I'll use in the future, thanks). The restaurants alone are worth a visit. A friend's sister and her husband were in town from Florida. We took them to a little nondescript Vietnamese restaurant in the Outer Sunset, near the beach. They are both well traveled and couldn't stop raving about the food. They were also treated to the site of Robin Williams having a quiet dinner with his wife and kids.

As for why should anyone move to SF? There is no reason to move here, please don't. I am actually starting to be able to find parking on the rare occassions that I have to drive anywhere. You're better off where you are. Really.

By the way, the Chronicle describes Morford's columns as "skewed" so take into consideration that his is not presented as a balanced view of anything.
posted by whatever at 1:45 PM on May 11, 2003

As if art were a recreation.

Nothing has been responsible for more adult children living with their parents as the delusion that being a full-time artist is a substitute for a day job.
posted by deanc at 1:53 PM on May 11, 2003

You lived in SF only 2 years and you think you have a good handle on the character of the whole of its citizenry? Doubt it.

No, sure. Like I said, it's a gross generalization; and of course not true of everyone -- but I really was unable to escape the overall impression.

You didn't live here during the dot com days did you?

For most of the time I was there, yes -- but I didn't get the sense that that fully accounted for my perception. For instance, random interactions with SF folk generally seemed unnecessarily taut. My tendency is to make fun of myself and the situation around me, and I had to learn to resist while I was there, because it so often seemed to be misunderstood; too many people seemed to take jokes as a personal challenge or affront. (There are many possible explanations for this, of course, not least of which is some possibly appalling lack of social grace on my part. But, for instance, I remember when I drove across country with my brother, coming back East, getting to Pittsburgh, where, twice, (at a used bookstore and at a fast-seafood restaurant), people made spontaneous, ironic, almost cutting jokes (but with good-natured body-English) about something or other to do with some dumb thing one or the other of us there had just done or told about, and my being amazed -- wait a second, did she just say that? And it occurred to me, a), I'm almost home; and b) Dang, that joke would get people mad in California.... But it was just funny, if you didn't take it seriously.)

All of which is intended just by way of explanation, as to what was behind my original remark (which I made solely to respond to crasspastor's remark about irony); I know it's not an argument for anything. But that was my perception, that for many people, their political, cultural, sexual, gustatological -- or whatever -- identity, and their personage itself, was Serious Business, and Not To Be Treated Lightly.

(Perhaps I should say -- SF really was a great place to live, I thought. I spent hours walking all over that place, and its hills, parks and beaches, and was still finding new things the month before I left; and it's full of smart, interesting and talented people (even if you had to take many of them with a grain of salt) -- just selling my stuff on Craigslist turned up a guy who'd done his turn in the Army (and was 6'6) and come to town to teach high school mathematics, and a writer who borrowed a trailer for his bike from the bike co-op, to wheel away my office chair. I wouldn't be surprised if I moved back there some day.)
posted by mattpfeff at 2:48 PM on May 11, 2003

Snyder: Holy shit, did he really say "ethnic people"?

That's what grabbed me, too. The great Universal Subject thinks he lacks an ethnicity. For him it sounds like living among some non-white people is like going to the zoo.

Padraigin: In my experience, San Franciscans are rather angry and bitter, and the much-vaunted openmindedness doesn't really go very far--just try being a Republican Christian (I never did) or a parent under the age of 35 (That, I tried. Bad results).

Shit, just try using a debit card. I live in central Austin, went to the little Fresh Plus grocery down the street in Hyde Park, had to use a debit card, got some hilarious attitude from the woman working there: "What, are you going to whip out your cell phone next?" (Yeah, that really happened.)

I told her I suppose I could, if she liked, which confused her a bit, but for crying out loud I was standing there at a little local grocery buying fucking Grape Nuts and soy milk and some green tea -- even if I were *trying* to toe some urban liberal stereotype to gain her approval I don't think I could have done a better job. What a little Ayatollah she was. Made me want to send her a Polaroid of myself wearing an "I heart my SUV" t-shirt and buying an Egg McMuffin at a McDonalds inside a Wal-Mart while talking on my cellphone and giving her the finger.

That said, I'd rather put up with crap from the occasional insecure adolescent my-identity-is-wrapped-around-my-neighborhood grocery store clerk than live in the suburbs, because I'm with kozad -- that shit makes me really crazy. I love where I live now. I grew up in a suburb, hated it, don't even like visiting them, and it has nothing to do with thinking they're not hip.

The saddest thing is that this guy's attitude helps widen the cultural chasm between places like SF and the rest of the country. I can just imagine people visiting places like SF from the suburbs or a rural town being snubbed and laughed-at and ending up thinking, "Wow, these people are really a bunch of elitist assholes", vowing never to come back, and not hearing anything they have to say about why it might be nice if a neighborhood contained something other than strip malls full of the same sad crap you find in every other identical town.

Another sad thing: This really is all about money. I *really* loved SF when I visited there, but I just can't imagine ever having the income I'd need to live there. I can handle central Austin, but even here housing is insanely overpriced. Or, if you can find something more affordable in a newly-gentrified area, you'll be enjoying it at the expense of the people who were forced out when the rents tripled. Given the expressed values of many of the people moving in, you'd think we'd hear either more complaining about this, or more celebration, given that some number of the people moving out are tv-addicted, fast-food-chain-eating homophobes. Maybe this has something to do with their value as "ethnic" props to add "character" to the neighborhood, provided that only a few of them stick around?

I smell a Barton Fink here.
posted by boredomjockey at 3:07 PM on May 11, 2003

22 Fillmore bus - it runs through many of th great neighborhoods

And some of the crappiest. The 22 really illustrates how closely geographic height often correlates with socioeconomic status. (I live on the 22 line, at a medium elevation.)

One cool thing about San Francisco's buses is that a lot of them used to be streetcar lines with the same routes and numbers. In Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op stories from the 1920s, he talks about taking the 22 streetcar line.

I've lived in San Francisco since May 1995, just before the boom, and I love it, although I won't ever be able to buy a house. (I just read someplace today that the median price for condos recently dropped to $515,000.)

For all its (mostly justified) claims at being multicultural, San Francisco has a relatively small African American population (7.8% in the 2000 census as opposed to Oakland's 35.7%).

The long-running joke is that San Francisco is spanish for "No Parking".

Also, "Potrero" is Spanish for "between two freeways."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:36 PM on May 11, 2003

"...homophobic as Rick Santorum, intolerant as Utah..."

Just for the record, Utah is not intolerant. Utahns are intolerant.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:39 PM on May 11, 2003

Just for the record, Utah is not intolerant. Utahns are intolerant.

I believe the PC term is inclusive.
posted by mattpfeff at 4:28 PM on May 11, 2003

gimonca, I'm assuming you're referring to Minneapolis and St. Paul, but considering the incredible number of cultural institutions we have here I have no idea how you can compare them to Omaha. We have a terrific music scene, some great universities, world-class museums, good non-corporate radio (Radio K, KFAI, etc), and more professional sports teams than you can shake a stick at. Socially it can be a tough nut to crack, but once you do it's a wonderful place.

For what it's worth, two of Minneapolis' 13 city council members belong to the Green Party. I doubt many other cities can say that.
posted by mrbula at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2003

as i said before berkeley and the davis square area of boston are very similar in attitude (it used to be harvard and berkeley but harvard has become extremely corporate). If you have kids i'd suggest Brookline. Davis is much smaller, but the cost of living is just as much (i may actually be looking at cheaper living by moving TO san fran). It seems to me that finding an area which is pluralistic and interesting without seeming dangerous is impossible without paying rediculous sums for rent or a house...but in my book it's worth it (i was raised in the suburbs and i could never live that way again).
posted by NGnerd at 7:36 PM on May 11, 2003

mattpfeff :You didn't live here during the dot com days did you?

For most of the time I was there, yes -- but I didn't get the sense that that fully accounted for my perception.

Here's, IMHO, the reasons why to oursiders San Franciscian (being a native) seem so humorless and uptight.

1. San Franscians are not, by nature friendly. We're polite, warm but not terribly entrused at the prospect of having to talk to anyone we don't already know. It's hard to make friends here. Many people here are self-selecting group of loners and outcasts, often misunderstood and hassled wherever they came from. They come here looking for a safe harbor, or at the very least, to be left alone. It takes a while to establish rapport with a person here.

2. It's an unspoken rule here that you must pretend like you don't notice that the person next to you on the bus is a 7ft tall transsexual lesbian-identified wiccan priestess with one leg. The rule is basicly this: I'm a freak, you're a freak, you pretend that I'm not a freak, I'll pretend you're not a freak. It's how we all manage to live together in relative harmony.

3. There are many creepy, unstable, unsavory people who come here, too. Living here, you can't help but run up against at least one of them sooner or later; some person who seems so "normal" and pleasant, but turn out to be a sociopathic erotomaniac who believes that they're the messiah. People are wary of anyone that is too out-going or friendly, not being sure if you're just an enthusiastic guy or a loony ticking timebomb just waiting to go off.

4. This whole tourism thing can be a real drag. It's unnerving to have packed buses of tourists gawking at you when you're walking your dog or going to pick up a gallon of milk. Especially when you suspect that part of the attraction of coming to SF for many visitors is the opportunity to "lookit deh freaks and faggots". And then there's the local suburbanites who come in on a Friday night, get drunk and start fucking with people. If I never see another drunk frat boy roll down his car window to scream "fags" at passerbys while driving through the Castro, I will die a happy woman.

So if you're a inquisitive, gregarious guy who looks really conventional, what to you seems like a harmless, icebreaking little joke or comment shared with a stranger, can sound like a warning signal that quite possibly you're either going to start fucking with us, are violently insane, or both.

That being said, there are alot of smug pretentious, self-involved, emotional adolescents with huge chips on their shoulder living here. It's a major destination spot for ivory tower trustifarians who imagine themselves becoming famous for some ill-defined, questionable talent they have. It's one of the pitfalls of living here.

If you every come back, make sure you go to Polly Ann's ice cream on Noriega. It's been around since I was a little girl, at least 25 years or so. They have an amazing, somewhat bizarre selection of flavors - they make both rose and durian flavors. Then there's the bizarre collection of engraved plaques with corny proverbs about teens embracing chastity and respecting their parents that cover the walls. That's an examples of the real SF that tourists never see.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:33 AM on May 12, 2003

San Francisco:

Come to reinvent yourself.
Stay for the burritos.
posted by LouieLoco at 6:38 AM on May 12, 2003

I must disagree most vehemently with fishfucker's characterization of the Richmond district of San Francisco.

woops. yeah, i agree, there *is* great stuff out there (and i really like the victorians, though it looks like i malign them), I just think it's hard to see if you're vacationing. didn't mean to imply that there's anything wrong with the Richmond district. Green Apple Books is good -- it's no moe's, but it's good.

and, yes, listen to Jaek, and not to me about pub trans. toward the haight -- i was intently staring at the MUNI map a few days before and decided there was no way the N could go out to the Haight, but I suppose I'm wrong (I don't think I've ever ridden the N, because I usually walk or ride my bike everywhere. something I suppose I should remedy.).
posted by fishfucker at 9:51 AM on May 12, 2003

if you live in San Francisco:

1. get a bike - public transit isn't *that* bad, but on the weekend you can end up waiting for that "N" to GG park for a loong time.

2. live with others - 1BRs are the biggest ripoffs (oh, aside from those new lofts - somebody just told me the "bargain" she got for $500K). if you're not shacking up, find a roommate situation - the best part of SF housing is that there are *lots* (i was only paying $410/mo. (w/ washer/dryer, shared wireless DSL, disposal, etc.) b4 my old place burned down - :( ) and most are revolving leases that maintain rent control.

3. ignore #1 and ride the bus - even though it's not the most efficient way of getting across the city, it's the most illuminating - southeast bound #33 has an amazing view of the city, as do #22, #19 and #27 (talk about your divergent communities), and even the now #47 loop. i learned plenty about SF in my first few years by just riding the bus at all hours and listening to the widest range of conversations possible

4. get involved - it seems a lot harder to meet people (and (if you're not a gay man) have sex with them) in SF than it is in other metropolitan areas. could be a culture of pretentiousness, could be socioeconomic, not sure. however, there are a myriad of possiblities for meeting people (exluding, as i've been told repeatedly, fashion design). if you're interested in something, there's likely an avenue for it in the city (or Oakland, or the *massive* suburbs)

anyway, my2c. my 3 biggest reasons for living in SF: political progressivism, lack of materialism (scoff if you must, but at least we already know we ain't buying no house in this lifetime), food (for me (a vegetarian) it beats NY any day).
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on May 12, 2003

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