The confessions of a Bay Area Buzzard
5th generation from this wonderful corner of the earth. I had the good fortune of descending on a nice perch in 1989 after spending about a year traveling the world. I do believe we have our faults but if people are voting with their feet I imagine we look pretty good to most alternatives.
We have always paid a fairly high price for our economic process. It is probably best understood in a Darwinian manner. Occasionally I see it described as creative destruction. The best ideas flourish, in theory, while the older ones pass away. At this point to call the system capitalistic is beyond a stretch. Perhaps this is why so many feel left out and hopeless. On some level they correctly sense the fix is in and they are out.
An eccentric client, a friend of JFK’s and a longtime activist, supported a man that wrote a very shocking book about lynchings and photographs of lynchings. She asked me to order more than I could stand to help her friend. About 10 years later I checked to see if the book was worth anything. Dear God the crap the smart machines believed I would like to see was awful and I imagine 10 years later I am still on a list some where as a suspected and rare counter culture white supremacist that happens to be ever so slightly black.
Back to the first story. I have seen the Bay blossom from the stench of my youth into something very nearly appealing. Decades of very rough treatment cause me to warn anyone from eating fish from the bay. There were several mercury mines for at least 80 years and the florescent lighting had mercury as well. Now, they find traces of pharmaceuticals in the wildlife.
The city has gone through periods of elegance, grace and disgrace. Almost without fail every ten years or so the real estate market goes down for a year or two. I am beginning to see some return of traffic but nothing like the madness of about a year ago.
You can expect to be amused and occasionally horrified. My partners mother had a member of the community grab her Mc Donalds French fries. She so enjoyed telling the story I stopped feeling bad about it. I have been fortunate enough to see a fair amount of the world and San Francisco always was among the most beautiful places. These days you need to not look too close but I expect even this will change. The wealth that made so much of the cities social experiments possible is drying up fast and as the offerings become less exceptional I imagine many will move on. It is also worth noting a generation of dinosaurs is ready to step aside one way or the other. In an odd way we all live with Prince Charles nightmare. Our lives are being run by people that should be playing various games and bragging about grandchildren. I adore my older friends they have perspective that can’t be bought or taught but not one of them seeks or clings to power. Nothing quite as weird as a power mad prune.
Some of our younger friends report being able to find nice affordable housing in town when they could not consider it a few months ago. We see puppies and babies with regularity and take this as a good sign.
Life will go on in this magical relatively small city. The buzzards will all eventually vacate their perch. Hopefully we will avoid making the same errors. Herb Caen, possibly our last great wit, was right about one of them.