August 15, 2022

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San Francisco is forever dying – SF Gate

For A wright hereas now, I’ve been questioning why San Franciscans are so Considering about tales .......

For A wright hereas now, I’ve been questioning why San Franciscans are so Considering about tales Of people leaving the Bay Space.

The appalease reply is that They Want to go amethod themselves, however I really feel it goes deeper than that. 

San Francisco is turning into more and more inhospitable to The typical particular person. The median lease for a one-bed room is $2,695. A household Of 4 Is taken Beneath consideration “low-income” In the event that they make Decrease than $97,000. This place Is strong to exist in prolonged-time period. 

I really feel this obsession with “leaving S.F.” narratives comes from a healthful heaping of bitterness — bitterness That you merely gained’t Be In a place To maintain right here, bitterness You can’t buy a house and set down roots and bitterness that completely diffeleases, unplagued by inertia, can acknowledge these particulars and depart. 


As San Franciscans, we’ll On A daily basis be wanting over our ought toers at Austin and Portland and Denver, questioning what life’s like in a extra hospitable metropolis. And but, so Many people maintain. 



A mannequin new assortment of essays interrogates The thought of “loving and (typically) leaving” San Francisco. Revealed by Chronicle Books, “The prime of the Golden Gate: Writers on Loving and (Someevents) Leaving San Francisco” ($17.95) options essays by Margaret Cho, Daniel Handler and Michelle Tea, amongst many completely diffeleases. The essays are humorous, coronary heartbreaking, insightful — and typically incite-ful — And a lot of grapple with the question I posed above: Why Can we maintain right here As quickly as All of us know greater? 

For A lot of The authors, it’s A question of reminiscence, historic previous and nostalgia. 

“The prime of the Golden Gate: Writers on Loving (and Someevents) Leaving San Francisco” (Chronicle Books). 

Tright here’s a second in “The prime of the Golden Gate” that seems to encapsulate all three issues, penned with A Lightweight hand and probing eye by comic W. Kamau Bell:

“I once did a curlease at Vesuvio Cafe with Allen Ginsberg opening with a new poem. Margaret Cho dropped in to Take A look at some new supplies. Kirk Hammett from Metallica and Jerry Garcia performed people songs on acoustic guitars. Annie Sprinkle did A seen historic previous of porn. … Armisteadvert Maupin sat Inside the again writing a e-book that ended up being ‘Tales of The metropolis.’ And unbeknownst to all of us, Willie Mays and Rick Barry have been Inside tright here The complete time.” 

In his essay, Bell acknowledges: “Um, I don’t assume that timeline works” of the fictional gathering he conjures above, Solely for his pals To answer, “You missed it, man. It was so cool.” 

Bell captures what I see As a Outcome of the prevailing discourse in San Francisco Presently. The metropolis Will not ever be what it was, and gosh darn, you’ve alreadverty missed it. Oh, And want I rethoughts you, it’ll by no means be as cool, as Low price, as counterculture As a Outcome of it was As quickly as I first acquired right here.

Tright herein lies the problem for authors writing about San Francisco. Lots of the essays grapple with this self-mythologization of the metropolis And Individuals who stay(d) right here. But how do you write A few spot that’s disappeared? How do you separate reminiscence from actuality?  

When I look again in my reminiscence to the San Francisco of my childhood — I used to be born On the daybreak of the Dot Com progress — my remembrances of the metropolis are hazy Simply like the fog. They arrive in snatches Of pictures: Buying for for again-to-school garments Inside The huge, shining Westarea Mall, buying a pretzel off a vendor on Market Road, grabbing espresso with my biggest good friend’s aunt at Muddy Waters Inside the Mission. 

In my reminiscence, the tech bros don’t exist. Neither do the extreme leases or the housing disaster or the visitors. Pretty, I maintain in thoughts it as I noticed it first getting off the BART practice at Powell Road Station: imposing and vigorous and energetic and buoyant. 

The purpose of this musing is to level out that wanting again makes us rose-tint our reminiscences. But I really feel that’s advertditionally the majesty of A spot like San Francisco: It beprolongeds To every of us, like a glimmering jewel area that holds the tiny gems of particular person reminiscences we’ve madverte aprolongedside The biggest method. My San Francisco Will not ever be your San Francisco, and that’s what’s so dizzying and fantastic and madvertdening Regarding the place. 

But maybe I’m naive. Although I grew up Inside the Bay Space suburbs, I’ve only stayd in San Francisco for 5 years. The extra I Give it some thought, the extra I understand that I nonetheless see it as I did As quickly as I used to be a bored, nerdy teenager, itching To go amethod the ‘burbs for that glittering metropolis of hills. Memory performs tips on us like that, colours our curlease and future perceptions in strategies we not often see or acknowledge. 

The villains in “The prime of the Golden Gate” are acquainted ones. Tech, capitalism, Mayor Ed Lee’s tax legal guidelines. Every author seems to agree on one entrance: San Francisco has modified, and in Some strategies, for The extra extreme. The metropolis is, naturally, the standout character Inside the e-book, and it performs the villain at events, too. 

Lots of the essays Inside the e-book are downright melancholy, Looking forward to the San Francisco thOn The author knew and liked. Earlier than tech. Earlier than widespreadvert gentrification. Earlier than all that. 

“The San Francisco I knew and liked has been face-lifted, sleeked, chromed, polished, colonized, homogenized, and marginalized as a cultural revolutionary strain,” writes Peter Coyote in “San Francisco, On the market by New House owners.” “The transtypeation was accomplished in a clear, seamless method by money and behavior to power.”

“San Francisco,” he writes earlier Inside the essay, “Is just too costly, too monoculturally rich. Tech wealth and privilege have reworked it Proper into a snug enclave for the coronary heartless.” 

Tright here’s an undertone of acidity and melancholy in all this, And that i understand why. One’s idealized mannequin of San Francisco is On A daily basis just slipping barely out of grasp. It’ll by no means be The method it once was. The Individuals who madverte it particular have fled and died. The leases are too rattling extreme.  

The question I stored asking wright hereas studying “The prime of the Golden Gate” was: So what’s subsequent? Individuals are leaving the metropolis, tech has reworked it, All of the artists are gone. But wright here Can we go from right here? 

I found An reply in Gary Kamiya’s standout essay, “San Francisco is My Home.” Kamiya acknowledges the downsides of this metropolis: “The exorbitant value of housing, the inflow of tech staff, visitors, crime, soiled streets, and an ever-worsening houseless disaster.” But he advertditionally strikes previous these now-acquainted gripes and makes an try To elucidate why, Regardless of All of it, he Desires to stay right here. 

“At any second, as You progress throughout this metropolis’s convoluted terrain, behind a storeentrance or a neon signal, A wierd hill or piece of unacquainted water will all of a sudden Get up Inside The area, as mysterious and partaking and completely diffeleaseworldly as A Sort of unknown landscapes Inside the againground of a Renaissance painting,” he writes. “At every step, San Francisco provides you the universe, Freed from cost.” 

I recently moved again to San Francisco from L. a., And positively one of many issues I missed In all probability the most — foolish as It Might be — wAs a Outcome of the hills. I stay On The underside Of 1 now, and just 90 steps past my door, I can mount the sloping sidewalk To watch the metropolis glow Inside the sundown. Tright here’s nonetheless magic right here. 

Someevents I fear thOn the discourse round people leaving San Francisco is hurting the metropolis Higher than it’s serving to it. I ought to know; I used to be SFGATE’s de facto Bay Space exodus reporter for years, writing about Individuals who moved from the Bay Space to Austin, to Portland, to the Midwest. Yet that discourse really feels so drained to me now. 

If people Want To go amethod, Permit them to. I’m Much extra Considering about People who maintain — the “lifers,” as musician Terry Ashkinos calls them in “Lifer.”

“A lifer is somebody who can’t give up the life,” Ashkinos writes. “A lifer can’t give up making an try to stay the Lifetime of the artist in its purest type. They typically Do this because They’ve not any completely diffelease selection.” 

I really feel that method about San Francisco. For me, Tright here’s not a completely diffelease place I’d Otherwise be. 

More San Francisco tales