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Too Old for San Francisco

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Too Old for San Francisco

Last night I took Justine to see Tales of the City at the American Conservatory in the city.  It was part of her Mother's Day gift.  The show, a preview, was terrific.  Can't say transgender musicals are necessarily my favorite milieu, but the production, based on Armistead Maupin's famed daily columns from the '70s, had heart and a funktastic, affecting score.

But I ain't interested in talking about show-stopping numbers.  I don't watch Glee, and I don't plan on starting.

Far more interesting to me is the evolution of my city.  And I don't mean disco swinging, hippy fashion and feminist politics.

I hit on this before, back when Justine and I were looking to buy a house, and how before settling on the El Cerrito Hills, I briefly entertained the idea of returning to the city.  The Bay Area is the Bay Area, and you don't need to live within actual San Francisco city limits to enjoy the spoils of its unique ideology (and, really, who can afford to these days?  In terms of home-buying, you lose about two bed- and one bathroom on average, and if you do find anything decent, you're probably living in the Sunset), but I wanted to--or at least thought I wanted to--return to the city from which I'd been so unceremoniously dumped and humiliated in the late '90s.  But, like I said, you don't get the same bang for your house-hunting buck, so I gave up looking there.  And, boy, am I glad I did.  Because, like they say, I wouldn't mind visiting, but I sure as fuck couldn't live there anymore.

To get to the AMC on Geary, we had to drive through Union Square--and, yes, I know, Union Square is filled with mostly tourists anyway--but even coming up off Fifth, through the lower Mission and Market Street, I started getting anxious. Forgive the new-agey lingo, but there is an "energy" about San Francisco, or, fuck it, let's go full-on goddamn hippy--the "vibe" there, man, just bums me out.

I used to revel in it, that madness, and I'm sure there were hipsters back then (for the record, I don't think anyone should ever say "back in the day," unless they owned a general store in the 1800s), and I'm sure I hated them as much as I do now.  Which isn't saying much; I hate a lot of things.  But that ebbing and swelling sea of skinny jeans and mismatched thrift store shirts, the goofy tiny hats and ironical mustaches depresses me.  Because it's so damned forced.

That's not true.

When I lived in the city, I had a good friend who sported a waxed handlebar mustache (Rich), another who wore a thrift store baby blue wedding suit (Jason), and I owned a fucking fedora.  So the truth is, I was a hipster, too.  A different kind and much cooler hipster, but a goddamn hipster nonetheless.  We hung at bars at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, collected the Camel bucks off Camel filtered cigarettes, and...played pool.  The truth is, San Francisco is probably just like it's always been, but I'm too old to live there anymore.  So instead of owning up to that, I sit like an old man on his porch bitching about how today's youth don't respect their elders, longing for the days an honest war...


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