Goodbye San Francisco

I lived in San Francisco for thirteen years. All of my twenties. A fragment of my thirties.

I’ll miss the fog and the summers in the Mission and the drum circle on Hippie Hill. I’ll miss the burritos. I’ll miss the Haight-Ashbury, the neighborhood that I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past two and a half years. It’s going to be extremely hard to find a replacement for Rockin’ Java, where many things were written, or the Booksmith or Ploy II or, hell, just everything really. I’ll miss the fag hags, the creative swindlers, the misunderstood people on the more interesting half of Polk Street, the guy who drums the same beat for hours on plastic buckets on Powell Street next to the meticulously groomed evangelist telling all who will listen that sex is evil. I’ll miss Frank Chiu, the tech geek crowd, the strange exhibitionist empathy, and the unapologetically corrupt politicians. I’ll miss Dan Leone’s Cheap Eats column. I’ll miss many friends and acquaintances, those noble soldiers of the Sunday Writing Circle, and I’ll even miss the sneers of some of my enemies. I’ll miss trips to Berkeley and the Great American Music Hall and the Red Vic and the Lucky Penny, easily the worst diner on the West Coast. I’ll miss Ross Mirkarimi. I’ll miss the incongruous automated voices inside MUNI buses, the capacious thatch of Dolores Park, the dogs flitting about Duboce Park, the almost perennial sixty degree temperature, the sex subcultures, the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Bottom of the Hill, the Edwardian and Victorian houses, the many confused kids and misfits demanding spare change, the martinis at Blondie’s, the post-2AM crowd at Sparky’s, The Mint, the hills and the valleys, the earthquakes, the smell of oak trees in the Panhandle, the interesting developments around Divisadero Street, the snobs at Reverie, and the pretentious Marina crowd. I’ll miss the Exit Theatre, the Castro Halloween Parade, the lonely people I talked with during Christmas, the nice Russian ladies at the Yellow Submarine, the influx of Indian food in recent years, the notebooks at the Blue Danube, the sand hills near the Pacific, the drunks writing for the Guardian, and too much to list here really.

Goodbye San Francisco. It was a great run.


  1. I lived in San Francisco for nine months. I worked as an unpaid intern at Soma Magazine. I didn’t make any friends. A typical Saturday night consisted of me buying three cd’s at Tower Records and then driving around the city until I decided that my taste in music was horrible and that I should go home and go to sleep. My bedroom was above an automatic garage door. Sometimes I would try and write and when I did I ended up writing countless scenes of senior citizens having rough sex. My girlfriend came to visit me once. The next time I talked to her she broke up with me. I was homesick. Every other weekend I would drive down to Los Angeles and sleep in my old bedroom. My father and my brother threw parties where people did cocaine and if I complained about it my dad would tell me how much I reminded him of his older brother. I tried to get into the MFA program at USF but they had to politely decline. A typical Sunday consisted of me driving around North Beach for two hours looking for a parking space so that I could go and eat at Mario’s Bohemian. I never found a parking spot. The publisher of Soma, Ali Ghanbarian, made me deliver a brown paper bag filled with money to a filthy werehouse in South San Francisco. I asked him if I could review Mason & Dixon. He said yes but I couldn’t even make it past page sixty. There was a girl who worked as an Asst. Editor at Soma and her name was Carrie Smith and I think I was in love with her because whenver she was around me I had trouble speaking and to compensate I reverted to the stale James Dean-ish mannerism that I had thought worked in high school. David Foster Wallace read from a Supposedly Fun Thing…at A Clean Well Lighted Place and I stood in line to have him sign my copy and when I finally got to the front I asked him if he had final say on what the covers of his books looked liked. He said he didn’t and that the only person who did was William T. Vollman. After he signed my book I went and purchsed a copy of Argall, but I couldn’t make it past page twenty. My father paid my rent. I lived in a thousand square foot one bedroom near the Palace of Fine Arts. It was the last time in my life that I was happy and not a day goes by that I don’t regret leaving.

  2. Oh–good bye! I hope you are going somewhere beautiful–I too, love this place. I keep thinking about moving to NYC, but then realize that would mean living San Francisco and Berkeley.

  3. But have you told us yet *why* you left SF, and *why* you’re now in NYC? I missed that post.

  4. Hey, man, I hear you – I lived in SF for about 15 years, from NJ to SF, and moved back to the east coast several years ago, to NYC, and boy, oh boy, what I miss most about SF is the burritos! You can’t find a good one in NYC or anywhere on the east coast. Okay, I miss Zuni cafe’s oven roasted chicken for two. And the vistas. But more than anything, those burritos. Taqeria La Cumbre was my favorite. “Welcome back” to the east. Let’s open a truly SF-style burrito joint! Best, Joe

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