October 12 – October 18
You don’t realize how broke you really are in San Francisco until Pay Day.
In your mind, the moment you see that bank statement you’re running through all the things you need, you want, and want to do–any way to spend that money as fast as it was put into your account. You think all this upon feeling richer and right before this city punches you in the gut, back to reality, by its price tags.
With this surge of a new Golden Era (can be disputed) for San Francisco’s economy, having the big boys of tech in town means catering to them– and not without the opportunity to reap benefits. The only way to go is up nowadays– and there is a hidden mass of denizens inversely sinking under. Including myself at times. I’ve learned to stay afloat as smartly as I can– opting out from $140 splurges on purple fedoras from Goorin Bros. and Philz coffee every damn day.
The sure signs of financial disparity within the city can be seen on a grander scale as well. An older scale; the demise of what people call the “legacy” businesses that have been around before I was even born and are usually landmarks or driving forces of microhoods/ local communities surround them. From a span of businesses catering to different demographics, all that Lexington Club’s lesbians, the kitschy cocktailers at Empress of China, and even the diamond gals whose FiDi husbands frequented Shreve & Co. can unify on is the unfortunate and bitter end of each. Shreve & Co. still lives on down the street in a new location, but how much longer can a soul survive without its true vessel?
Back on a broke note, I found myself with friends at the Elbo Room for the middle echelon of the Mission. Crowded, campy, and dark with voyeuristic vibes of being inside the confines of a circus organ, there was something so alive and gracious and graceful about it. Perhaps it’s because they too are doomed; set to leave this place gone and chained up for some new artisan/craft business that can afford the high lease– and these last remaining nights are a swan dive. It’s graceful, but not entirely generous. Feeling tired and nostalgic, no drink would do, but at least a soda water with a lime on the rm makes you look less of a prude. It was $2.50. For water. So maybe they’re just trying to take what cash they can from the joint. I can’t say this is the first time that’s happened with me and water either. San Francisco, God save you.
There’s some hope. Election is around the corner and thanks to the pamphlet from the League of Pissed Off Voters I got while waiting in line at the Make Out Room earlier in the night, there’s good signs of room for potential improvement and preservation. But life as we know it in this city somehow always falls short of locals’ ideals for how the city should be– how it used to be. Hippies of the 60s will always want the SF of the 60s as the 20-year transplants will always long for the first tech boom of the 90s; the Hey Day phenomenon only goes to show that no, it’s really not that bad now– this too shall pass, and something better– or worse might come along. If I could vote in SF I would. Still, what I read in line from that pamphlet gave me enough hope that legacy businesses will survive and people won’t get evicted from their homes– people are taking notice and not without change.
So I shall always love you, city by the bay of mine. For whatever iteration of yourself you become in the decades to pass, everyone will have nights like at the Elbo Room in photo booths , walking around the North Beach twilight, and sometimes coffee shops on seedy corners, face to face with acquaintances that offer much needed company. Not everyone will like you as you exist in the now, especially at your most expensive– but always, they will love certain things that surprisingly, cost nothing.