Friday, September 30, 2022

This Changing City

I first went to Salzburg in 1990 and the last time I was there in 2018, it was pretty much the same almost 30 years later. The same Merkur, the same empty fields, no new downtown high rises. I spent some time in the early 70’s hanging out in Greenwich Village and the last time I was there around 2017, I ate again at John’s Pizza, walked by Café Wha and heard some jazz at the Village Vanguard. 


Change is the normal state of things, be it in the natural world or cities, but continuity is also to be valued and appreciated. If you stay rooted in one place long enough, you get to witness both, some with nostalgic longing, some with renewed appreciation. When I was recently asked if I still loved the city I lived in or thought it had gone to the dogs, it felt like a good idea to document precisely those changes and continuities. 


And so bear with me as I flip through the rolodex of old addresses (ah, there’s a change! Who uses rolodexes anymore? Or even knows what they are?) to name the old friends passed on and appreciate the new ones who have moved in. If you live in San Francisco or know the city, read on. If not, maybe use this little introduction as an inspiration to make your own list wherever you may live. Here I go!


Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

• Movie theaters—the Surf, the Gateway, the Richeliieu, the Lumiere, the Alhambra, the Coronet, the Alexandria, Parkside, the Northpoint, the Regency 1 and 2, the Bridge, the Clay. 


Bookstores, Record Stores, Video Stores— 9th Ave. books, Cover to Cover, Borders, The Magic Flute, Streetlight Records, Tower Records, Le Video.


Restaurants, Cafes, Bakeries, Ice Cream Stores—Narai Thai Restaurant, Mai Thip, Pasands Indian Restaurant, Yet Wah, Stoyanoff’s, Peppers, Hana’s, Tom Kiang, Pluto’s, Il Forniao, Fog City Diner, Louis, Cliff House,  Heidi’s Bakery, Tassajara Bakery, Tart to Tart, Just Desserts, Xephyr Café, Uncle Gaylord’s Ice Cream, Bud’s, Gelato.


• Sites and other stores—Fleischacker Pool, the North Beach postcard store, top of the Fairmount Hotel and its outside elevator, Clarion music Center, Lark in the Morning Music Store, Haight Ashbury Music, Keystone Corner Jazz Club, Yoshi’s Jazz Club, Beach Blanket Babylon, Candlestick Park, Community Food Stores


Changed Venues: Mechanical Museum, De Young and Academy of Science, Exploratorium, Castro Theater


Survivors: Yellow Submarine Sub shop, Cole Hardware, Tadich Bar and Grill, Nan King, Café Trieste, Rainbow Grocery, Ashbury Market, City Lights bookstore, Green Apple bookstore, the Buffalo in the park, Day of the Dead and Carnaval celebrations in the Mission, Sea Chanty sings on the CA Thayer,  the California Revels, Zen Center, The Community Music Center, Parks in the city, land preservation in Marin, forward-thinking politics. 


New and Unwelcome: Salesforce Tower, Salesforce Tower and Salesforce Tower; Manhattanization of downtown, cost of housing, rise in homelessness, rise in crime.


New and Welcomed: Trader Joes, Embarcadero, Ferry Building, Fort Mason, Crissy Field, Tunnel Top, Presidio, Conservatory and Japanese Tea Garden free to SF Residents, Moma, Yerba Buena Gardens,  Ballpark, Chase Center, Crane Flat, Dogpatch, Farmer’s Markets, Family-friendly Buena Vista Park, Opera in the Park, Comedy in the Park, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, SF Jazz Center, bike lanes, closed streets (JFK/ Great Highway). 


So there you have it. The good, the bad and the ugly mixed together as they’ve always been and always shall be. If I weighed them, I believe I would say yes, I still love this city and its spirit and believe in its resilience and capacity to both survive and thrive. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.