Great American Road Trip: The City By The Bay

The City That Rocks. The City That NEVER Sleeps! Jefferson Starship was referring, of course, to San Francisco, a city built on rock and roll, and also a series of fault lines that leave it vulnerable to earthquakes for the rest of its existence.

I spent last Friday exploring the legendary Haight-Ashbury.  It’s been decades since commercialization overtook culture there, but it was still neat to see- kind of a Bourbon Street with more of a focus on marijuana than drinking.

The theme of drugs and drug paraphernalia was omnipresent in retail stores, on street corners and adjoining parks, which, by the way, were beautiful and relaxing.

Friday night I explored the scene in the Mission, which some locals describe as the Williamsburg of San Francisco.  It seemed more like the East Village to me.  The rent in cool parts of San Francisco actually rival Manhattan.

Perhaps the best thing about the Mission is the string of Taquerias that line 24th street, providing a late night snack that can almost rival pizza.

Saturday was supposed to start benignly, lunch with a pair of friends from law school.  Next thing I know I’m partying somewhat wildly at an artist’s apartment with about a dozen people, including a 65 year old black hipster named C.B.  He chastised me for not taking proper care of my hat.  “I say this to you as a fellow gentleman…”

Part of the cause for celebration was Game 6 of the Phillies-Giants game.  As it became apparent that I was going to witness some history, I got myself downtown to meet up with

some more old friends.  When Brian Wilson mowed down the last hitter, our bar explodeds, chanting “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”  That’s a reference to the legendary 1951 home run by Bobby Thompson  that delivered the Giants the pennant over their bitter cross-town foes, the Brooklyn Dodger. As a die-hard Dodgers fan, the chant still pains me, and almost caused me to switch my allegiance to the Texas Rangers.

The Texas Rangers, however, are the former team of George W. Bush, who still attends games frequently.   In a battle between San Fran (“no one calls it that, Janos”) and Texas, I think the choice has been made for us.

Fear the Beard.

I did not know the Golden Gate was red. I guess that’s kind of well known.  Perhaps I subconsciously felt it would be some golden yellow color, though it turns out the name is derived from the Gold Rush era.

Sunday night we hit up a speakeasy party in Oakland.  It was a benefit for fireman, who were rocking some serious mustaches, though many proved to be fake.

At one point, a fireman grabbed me on the shoulder.  “You’ve been breaking the rules.”  I thought he was referring to the brandy I’d smuggled into the party.  I know it’s in poor taste to smuggle drinks into a fundraiser, but honestly, you can’t have an event that charges cover and doesn’t offer drink specials.  It turned out he was referring to my mustache.

“You’re only supposed to grow it for six weeks.  Yours looks like you’ve been working on it for longer than that.”  He seemed relieved when I explained that I wasn’t participating in the mustache contest.  I complemented his look. He said it was called a ‘face-shield.’

“It was very popular during the Roosevelt and Taft presidencies.”

The band was great.  “They majored in old time music at Oberlin,” someone explained to me.  Gotta love Oberlin.

Here’s to a strong weekend on the bay.

There’s one more post to conclude the Great American Road Trip.  After that, we’ll be back in real time, in New York City, the true city that never sleeps.

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About Janos Marton

Janos Marton is a lawyer, advocate and writer.
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