Category Archive 'San Francisco'
05 Sep 2017

San Francisco Celebrates 1967

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Judith Miller discusses the odd culture of America’s Cool Grey City of Love as San Francisco commemorates the 1967 origin of the Counter-Culture which today dominates the city.

It is San Francisco’s smug self-satisfaction that so enrages critics like Michael Anton, the San Francisco native who now works for the Trump White House in national-security communications. In a blistering 2015 critique in the Claremont Review of Books, Anton asserted that “San Francisco values” had come to reflect little more than a “confluence of hippie leftism and filthy lucre,” a marriage of convenience between “old-time materialism and hippie ‘morality.’ ” What kept the Summer of Love veneer going for so long, he asserted, is the implicit deal between the high-tech oligarchs and the hippie rank-and-file. “The latter not only decline to use their considerable propaganda skills to vilify the former, but cheerfully glorify and whitewash them,” he wrote. “The oligarchs in turn subsidize the lefties through nonprofits and make-work jobs” and, more important, “take their cues from them on matters of politics not directly contrary to their economic interests.” Both groups benefit from what he called this “socio-intellectual money laundering.” The resulting policies have done little to create opportunities for an aspiring middle class that is neither elite nor bohemian.

Anton is not wrong about the less savory aspects of the counterculture. A notable omission in the city’s much touted tradition of “tolerance,” for instance, is that it rarely extends to politics. There is no welcome mat out for Republicans, especially conservatives. Student mobs at Berkeley boast about preventing conservative scholars from speaking on campus. Socially liberal but fiscally conservative activists like David Crane, who worked as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance director, struggle to raise funds for candidates willing to question the pension burdens being imposed on future generations by San Francisco liberals in the name of “workers’ rights.” Several Republican city residents confided that they would never display a Trump/Pence sticker on their car or home window for fear of vandalism.

RTWT

27 Nov 2015

San Francisco’s History and its Disastrous Impact on American Politics and Culture

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san-francisco-skyline-victo

Michael Anton, in the current Claremont Review of Books, has an absolutely brilliant, must-read article which identifies the peculiar historical relationship between San Francisco’s Barbary Coast outlaw culture and American haute bourgeois culture’s contemporary decadence all of which is closely connected to the incongruous American alliance between big wealth and the revolutionary left.

Contemporary liberalism exists to redistribute wealth, which in turn has, historically, sought to fend off, mock, and discredit liberalism. In the rare cases when these tactics fail, wealth makes the minimum necessary concessions to ensure its own survival against the Left’s relentless envy and resentment.

But for a decade or two now, the rich haven’t needed to make much of an effort because they’ve managed to beguile liberals in much the same way that Tom Sawyer tricked his friends into whitewashing the fence. Rather than clamoring to redistribute wealth, liberalism now gratefully accepts whatever crumbs wealth deigns to bestow—and in return treats wealth with the obsequious deference of a court eunuch.

How this happened—and especially its San Francisco pedigree—I hope to explain. It’s long been a truism that California is the political and cultural bellwether for the nation. But this particular export remains underappreciated.

For the moment, though, it’s enough to recognize that both the rich and the Left—and above all the rich Left—have a clear interest in obscuring and even denying their arrangement: the Left because they need the culture’s rhetorical guns trained rightward in order to maintain their grip on power; the rich to deflect scrutiny and envy from themselves. Politicians decline to stoke populist outrage against this partnership because the rich pay them not to and because, in a democracy, they must court the Left for reasons not dissimilar to Willie Sutton’s rationale for robbing banks. Sutton, though, couldn’t count bankers as backers or allies. Today’s Democratic Party, by contrast, enjoys near universal support not just from Wall Street but from the 1% in every industry, save Big Oil and Big Pharma.

Drop everything and read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

17 Feb 2015

Timelapse Photography San Francisco Video Comes Out Very Noir

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Tho the dark be cold and blind,
Yet her sea-fog’s touch is kind,
And her mightier caress
Is joy and the pain thereof;
And great is thy tenderness,
O cool, grey city of love!

George Sterling

14 Oct 2014

Lost San Francisco

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SFFisherman

photos by Fred Lyon from the 1940s and 1950s.

From Slate Via Fred Lapides.

16 Sep 2014

Bring Back the Grizzlies

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SFGirl
Mission Hipster Chick by Wendy MacNaughton

I recently linked a hilarious account of how exactly she was once moved to purchase a $4000 jacket while out of work by Mary H.K. Choi.

That story was so good that I immediately purchased her “How-I-Came-to-My-Senses-and-Got-the-Hell-Out-of-NYC” memoir (published as a quite inexpensive eBook).

It’s only 45 pages, and I got around to reading it last night. I particularly liked her take on San Francisco.

I loathe San Francisco. Sure, it looks like Jurassic Park in places, and the fog layer is enchanting with its plumes and trellises interweaving with the leaves and lichen on the redwoods. But everything else is like if New York’s Gramercy neighborhood got a whole town. On any given night there are way too many ‘going-out shirts’ and the women dress like there was a fire sale at some emporium that only sells clam-diggers and kicky little jackets with ornamental zippers. I have never so frequently witnessed pinstripe and patchwork meeting in the middle as I have on the tragic A-line skirts of Valencia Street. Every man who isn’t contemptibly rich enough to be famous for it reminds me of Matthew Lillard’s pigtail-braided Rollerblader in Hackers. I have never tallied so many ‘Pick-Up Artist’ hats or labret piercings outside of 1996. Fashion is no more than an indication of larger trends. Certain parts of San Francisco are what happens when white people have no natural predators. [emphasis added]

09 Sep 2014

Last Friday

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Two deer interrupted the evening commute last Friday around 5:30 PM, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. They were presumably on their way north to attend one of the private events up at Bohemian Grove on the Russian River.

24 Jun 2014

By Federal Law: Everyone Must Live Here

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pacific-heights
San Francisco: nice view, kind of pricey though.

Kevin D. Williamson considers the implications of applying the principles behind Obamacare more widely.

I have heard it argued that the San Francisco Bay Area is not only the nation’s but the world’s most desirable metropolis. I don’t buy that for a minute, but it’s not entirely implausible. There’s great natural beauty, and many of the world’s most creative people and institutions choose to make the area their home. It’s pricey by American standards but still a bargain by global standards. Like New York City in its golden age, it is a glorious collision between culture and money.

Let’s assume that the Bay Area partisans are correct in their high estimation of the metropolis. What might we do with that information? Why not pass a law requiring everybody in the United States to live there? As with the Affordable Care Act’s approach to health insurance, we wouldn’t be forcing an inferior product on people; we’d be forcing them to drop their second-rate cities for something better. Sorry, Cleveland — you can’t keep your crappy city, so deal with it. There would be some great economies of scale at work, and there are well-known economic benefits associated with population density, which we’d have in spades with a population of 300 million. (Though if we define the Bay Area broadly, we’d still have a lower population density than Manhattan, on average.) We could drop altogether thousands and thousands of redundancies — of school districts, police departments, fire departments, planning and zoning codes, tax laws, city councils. The rest of the country could be turned into farmland or left to revert to wilderness. Think of the efficiency we could achieve.

Once we’ve decided where everybody should live, we can move on to the question of what they should eat.

Read the whole thing.

10 Apr 2014

Lamenting the Decline of San Francisco

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Since the death of George Sterling, San Francisco’s genius loci poet in his room at the Bohemian Club in 1926, people have complained that the days of that city’s wild, romanticism are over and contended that Sterling’s “cool grey city of love” has been going to hell in a handbasket.

Way back in 1964 (before the hippies had even arrived at Haight-Ashberry), John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee reflected sadly on the city’s decline in The Quick Red Fox:

San Francisco is the most depressing city in America. The come-latelys might not think so. They may be enchanted by the steep streets up Nob and Russian and Telegraph, by the sea mystery of the Bridge over to redwood country on a foggy night, by the urban compartmentalization of Chinese, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, by the smartness of the women and the city’s iron clutch on culture. It might look just fine to the new ones.

But there are too many of us who used to love her. She was like a wild classy kook of a gal, one of those rain-walkers, laughing gray eyes, tousle of dark hair—sea misty, a lithe and lively lady, who could laugh at you or with you, and at herself when needs be. A sayer of strange and lovely things. A girl to be in love with, with love like a heady magic.

But she had lost it, boy. She used to give it away, and now she sells it to the tourists. She imitates herself. Her figure has thickened. The things she says now are mechanical and memorized. She overcharges for cynical services.

Maybe if you are from Dayton or Amarillo or Wheeling or Scranton or Camden she can look like magic to you because you have not had a chance to see what a city can be. This one had her chance to go straight and she lost it somehow, and it has been downhill for her ever since. That’s why she is so depressing to those of us who knew her when. We all know what she could have been, and we all know the lousy choice she made. She has driven away the ones who loved her best. A few keep trying. Herb Caen. A few others. But the love words have a hollow tone these days.”

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Well, folks, things have gotten a lot worse since the 1960s.

Dave Schilling and Jules Suzdaltsev have a terrific rant at Vice.com explaing why “everyone worth a damn is moving to Oakland.” And they don’t even mention the political pathologies!

2014 is slowly turning into the “Year of San Francisco.” The East Coast media in America has anointed SF as the new hub for innovation, conspicuous consumption, and comically absurd rents. New York Magazine parachuted a bunch of reporters into the Bay Area to figure out how to steal their douchebags back. The article asked “Is San Francisco New York?” No, it’s much worse. The existential crisis around San Francisco’s ascension to the heights of assholery stands in stark contrast to the fact that it is damn near unlivable for most normal people.

Read the whole thing.

13 Feb 2014

Essential Map of the Bay Area

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16 Jan 2014

Artisanal Toast

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Artisanal Toast

John Gravdis, in Pacific Standard, tracks down the strange, but oh-so-California, origin of the left coast’s latest food craze: $3-4 a slice artisanal toast.

All the guy was doing was slicing inch-thick pieces of bread, putting them in a toaster, and spreading stuff on them. But what made me stare—blinking to attention in the middle of a workday morning as I waited in line at an unfamiliar café—was the way he did it. He had the solemn intensity of a Ping-Pong player who keeps his game very close to the table: knees slightly bent, wrist flicking the butter knife back and forth, eyes suggesting a kind of flow state.

The coffee shop, called the Red Door, was a spare little operation tucked into the corner of a chic industrial-style art gallery and event space (clients include Facebook, Microsoft, Evernote, Google) in downtown San Francisco. There were just three employees working behind the counter: one making coffee, one taking orders, and the soulful guy making toast. In front of him, laid out in a neat row, were a few long Pullman loaves—the boxy Wonder Bread shape, like a train car, but recognizably handmade and freshly baked. And on the brief menu, toast was a standalone item—at $3 per slice.

It took me just a few seconds to digest what this meant: that toast, like the cupcake and the dill pickle before it, had been elevated to the artisanal plane. So I ordered some. It was pretty good. It tasted just like toast, but better.

Behind every foodie breakthrough, there is a PC sob story. Go ahead and fork over $4 for that slice of toasted bread, it’s for a good cause!

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J. O’Dell blames the tech industry.

I went to The Mill for breakfast today and got a black cup of coffee and a single slice of toast topped with butter and sour strawberry jam. For $6.

It was an experiment in upper-middle class lifestyle consumerism. In San Francisco, flaunting your wealth has been elevated to new lows, if you will. The labels aren’t the usual lineup of foreign design houses; rather, we pay $300 for simple denim jeans or $200 for plain black yoga pants. We don’t go to the opera; we overspend on the simplest facets of life.

Coffee. Water. Bread. Housing. The kinds of things our pioneer forebears made themselves and considered basic necessities or small comforts.

And the tech community is largely to blame, in this writer’s opinion.

Here’s the cycle:

    Someone creates a business for consumers with too much money and pretensions of superior taste. It might be a physical good, like toast; it might be a service, like black-car, chauffeured rides.

    Tech folks, being one of the largest demographics in the city with ample disposable income, patronize, promote, and even invest in said business. (See: Blue Bottle coffee.)

    Aforementioned business prospers and grows its profile.

    People both within and outside the tech community are inspired to create more bourgie businesses that cater to the bored and overprivileged, peppering their descriptions with buzzwords like “organic” and “fair trade” and “artisanal,” the most meaningless of them all. Rarely are these goods and services truly accessible and affordable.

    San Francisco becomes saturated with overpriced crap that is comparable in quality to less overpriced crap.

    Middle class and working class families and individuals in the community find themselves priced out of goods and services. Small businesses in those sectors languish.

Good toast and a plain cup of coffee shouldn’t cost $6. But I can’t imagine the tech community putting the brakes on this trend any time soon. We’re obsessed with false ideas of quality. We fetishize the precious processes and benchmarks and prices that, in reality, have no bearing on how good something is.

Hat tip to Lisa Schiffren.

18 Oct 2012

Team Oracle Capsized in SF Bay

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The America’s Cup race is a match between a defending and a challenging sailing yacht, each representing an organized yachting club. Larry Ellison, the notoriously abrasive and egomanaical CEO of Oracle, early in the 2000s developed a yen to compete for the Cup, and needed a yacht club to represent.

Larry naturally first approached San Francisco’s venerable and aristocratic St. Francis Yacht Club. The St. Francis folks were initially happy with the idea of Larry Ellison flying their club pennon and competing in their name, but when Larry informed the St. Francis Club that he expected them to surrender majority control of the club’s governing board to him as part of the deal, the St. Francis Club demurred.

Larry responded by going down to road to a more modest and considerably more desperate organization, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, a much smaller, ordinary middle-class club, the sort of club a SF fisherman’s family (like Joe DiMaggio’s) might belong to, at the time in the process of going broke. Golden Gate welcomed Larry Ellison (and an additional 100 minions and lackeys) as new members, whose waterfall of dues wiped out the club’s deficit, and in return surrendered board control to King Larry, who does not, it seems, really bother to visit this latest small outpost of his personal empire. When the Golden Gate Club requires Larry Ellison’s attention, they come humbly to his door.

SF Examiner: New Home for America’s Cup

SF Examiner: Ellison Too Good For His Golden Gate Club

The chaps standing around the bar at St. Francis are doubtless having a good laugh today. Larry Ellison’s crew lost it on a turn on Tuesday and pitchpoled (overturned so that the stern pitched forward over the bow) his $8-million 72-foot Oracle Team catamaran.

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The results were not pretty. One wing was basically shattered in fragments, and an ebb tide was sweeping the whole mess through the Golden Gate out to sea. Most of what was left was salvaged and dragged back to the dock, but Larry Ellison will be writing a very large check after this accident.

18 Apr 2012

Government Spent $205,075 Relocating a Bush in SF

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CNS:

The government spent at least $205,075 in 2010 to “translocate” a single bush in San Francisco that stood in the path of a $1.045-billion highway-renovation project that was partially funded by the economic stimulus legislation President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

“In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio as Arctostaphylos franciscana,” the U.S. Department of Interior reported in the Aug. 10, 2010 edition of the Federal Register. “The plant’s location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge.

“The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010,” the Interior Department reported.

The bush—a Franciscan manzanita—was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant. The particular plant in question, however, was discovered in the midst of the City of San Francisco, in the median strip of a highway, and was deemed to be the last example of the species in the “wild.”

Prior to the discovery of this “wild” Franciscan manzanita, the plant had been considered extinct for as long as 62 years–extinct, that is, outside of people’s yards and botanical gardens. …

While the MOA did not detail all the costs for moving the bush, it did state that in addition to funding removal and transportation of the Franciscan manzanita, Caltrans agreed to transfer $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten (10) years following relocation and two (2) years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

Furthermore, Presidio Parkway Project spokesperson Molly Graham told CNSNews.com that the “hard removal”—n.b. actually digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it–cost $100,000.

The MOA also stated that Caltrans agreed to “Transfer $25,605.00 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

The $100,000 to pay for the “hard removal,” the $79,470 to pay for the “establishment, nurturing and monitoring” of the plant for a decade after its “hard removal,” and the $25,605 to cover the “reporting requirements” for the decade after the “hard removal,” equaled a total cost of $205,075 for “translocating” this manzanita bush.

But those were not the only costs incurred by taxpayers on behalf of the bush. According to the MOA, other costs included:

–“Contract for and provide funding not to exceed $7,025.00 for initial genetic or chromosomal testing of the Mother Plant by a qualified expert to be selected at Caltrans’ sole discretion.” (MOA – Fran Man – 2009.pdf)

–“Contract for and fund the input, guidance, and advice of a qualified Manzanita expert on an as-needed basis to support the tending of the Mother Plant for a period not to exceed five (5) years, provided that said expert selection, retention and replacement at any point after hiring rests in the sole discretion of Caltrans.”

“Provide funding not to exceed $5,000.00 to each of 3 botanical gardens (Strybing, UC, and Tilden) to nurture salvaged rooted layers and to monitor and report findings as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

–“Provide funding not to exceed $1,500.00 for the long-term seed storage of 300 seeds collected around the Mother Plant in November 2009 as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

The plant is now protected by a fence and its location is kept secret, in part because the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service fear that nature-lovers seeking to see the rare wild Manzanita might trample it to death.

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This nursery normally sells Franciscan manzanita.

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It is a bit complicated. Hooker’s manzanita is a shrub indigenous to the San Franciso Bay Area with several subspecies. One of these subspecies, Franciscan manzanita, was thought to be “extinct in the wild.”

It, nonetheless, survived in cultivation in yards and gardens, and could be purchased from nurseries at modest prices.

Doubtless, the extinction “in the wild” of the subspecies specifically associated with San Francisco has a lot to do with the reduction of the extent of “the wild” in an intensely developed, densely populated urban center.

So, having found an example flourishing in what the authorities choose to define as the wild, those same authorities with the characteristic wisdom and fiscal responsibility concluded that pompous, heroic (and very costly) measures had to be taken to save the contextually-precious plant.

No one in authority noticed that all this was complete madness.

11 May 2011

Perfectly Innocent Mistake

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Daily Mail:

‘Maybe he was looking for the bathroom’: Family defends Yemeni passenger who stormed cockpit, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ as plane came in to land at San Francisco.

Right.

13 Sep 2010

Quick, Throw Some Water on Pelosi

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John Dennis is running against Nancy Pelosi and has cleverly targeted this advertisement to appeal to the hyperactive and numerically significant Friends of Dorothy voting bloc in the relevant congressional district.

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