The once proud, shiny San Francisco of my youth has turned into a feces ridden hell hole thanks to unabated Leftist policies.
I grew up in San Francisco. Moreover, my time in San Francisco goes back long enough that I remember when it transitioned from a working- and middle-class City, with a slightly sophisticated 1960s edge (including ladies who lunches in hats and gloves); to a Hippie haven; to a self-realized, self-actualized, utterly self-involved therapeutic city; to a cutting edge gay freedom town; to an AIDS-wracked yuppieville . . . and then I left.
My overriding sense when I’m in San Francisco now is a sense of sadness and lost. The last time I spent an evening there, going to a little show near Union Square, my friend and I found ourselves walking down a street that was completely lined with homeless people These were not the homeless of the old, 1930s “Hoover-villes,” made up of primarily of people destroyed by America’s temporary economic collapse during the Great Depression. These were people openly shooting up and drinking down any intoxicants they could. Littered around their feet were broken bottles, needles, condoms, feces, and other detritus.
Some sat or lay there inert, some screamed at each other or at imaginary enemies, and some reeled around, lost in their own private world. My friend, one of the most decent people I know, made eye contact with each conscious person we passed, because she feels it’s cruel to deny someone’s humanity, no matter how destroyed their body, brain, and soul. When we reached the street’s end, though, she turned to me and said, “I’ve never been so frightened in my life.”
All trips to San Francisco lately have that feel: cars with smashed windows; piles of feces and needles; and scary homeless people who, in a more civilized society, wouldn’t be lying unconscious or raving on the sidewalk, with needles in their arms and open sores oozing all over their arms, legs, and faces.
Once upon a time, Herb Caen — Mr. San Francisco, the Sacramento boy who came to the City and made it his home — spoke for many San Franciscans when he called my hometown “the City that knows how.” On the one hand, it’s a meaningless phrase. On the other hand, to those of us who lived there, it meant a lot: we were small but cosmopolitan; a lovely blend of natural and man made beauty; hewing to a traditional Democrat Left (think JFK), but willing to let Republicans live in peace in our midst.
The first crack in the San Francisco edifice, of course, was the Hippie era. That came about under the aegis of two Democrat mayors — John Shelley and old Joe Alioto — but they were old-fashioned Democrats who were tuned in to their working- and middle-class constituents. The Hippies were allowed to soil the Haight Ashbury, and those parts of Golden Gate Park immediately abutting the Haight, but they didn’t get to spread their pernicious toxins much further.
Looking back, I suspect both the mayors were good, old-fashioned Democrat racists, because San Francisco’s black slums — Bay View/Hunters Point (O.J. Simpson’s stomping grounds), the Fillmore District, and the Western Addition — did not improve one iota under their administration. Of course, those neighborhoods also haven’t improved one iota under the tender ministration of San Francisco’s last crop of mayors, including gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, all of whom are solid Progressives.
The next crack was the rise of the gay rights movement. On the one hand, it was a marvelous thing. Men and women who had lived in the closet for their entire lives, hiding their sexuality from friends and family, were suddenly free to be themselves. The problem with sudden freedom is that, just like winning the lottery, most people don’t handle it very well. Gay men were free to express their natural testosterone-y sexuality and they engaged in bacchanalian orgies that might even have shocked the Romans during the most morally corrupt parts of their empire.
Long-time readers know that I saw very early what was happening with this joyous excess. The spread of traditional sexually transmitted diseases was only to be expected when men, with help from poppers and other recreational drugs, were having sex with dozens of partners a night at bathhouses and clubs. What nobody saw coming was AIDS.
I worked for a couple of virologists back in the early days when they and their New York counterparts were trying to figure out why gay men were suddenly showing up with obscure cancers, lung diseases, and other deadly or highly unpleasant maladies doctors seldom saw outside of the most broken Third World countries. It was while doing that work that I first learned the statistics about gay sexuality. That’s when I started distinguishing between the nature of being gay, which has never troubled me, and the more extreme types of gay behavior, which I find very disturbing — just as I would were these behaviors to become normative among straight people.
Looking back on the 1980s, on the one hand, that decade was a great deal of fun for me: I was young, pretty, and enjoying myself. Once I finished law school, I had a delightful Yuppie social life during which I committed my own excesses with what seemed to me to be a ginormous salary after a lifetime spent living hand to mouth. I bought a new car, spent way too much money on pretty clothes, and ate out most nights, which is the fastest way I know to spend every penny of your salary. I also walked past young men my age who were skeletal and covered with sores; saw friends dying by inches on old lover’s couches and in hospices; and never knew when a secretary or paralegal would vanish, with a death notice circulating in the firm a few weeks later.
By the 1990s, things in San Francisco were stabilizing. New treatments for AIDS meant that you could no longer tell who was infected and who wasn’t. The Dot Com boom was enriching the City without taking it over. Mayor Frank Jordan, the last of the old working class mayors, ran a fairly tight ship, so crime was down. Various seedy neighborhoods were getting gentrified, and I was young, married, and still having fun.
I left San Francisco when we had children. Even before the City became unhinged the way it is today, it was a hard place to have babies. Parks were few and far between, and even then there was a needle problem. Traffic was nightmarish, so what ought to have been a 20 minute run to the store could turn into an hours long odyssey with my baby screaming its head off. It was also becoming apparent that, because I’d failed to get my Little Bookworm into a quality pre-school while I was still pregnant, the only options were . . . well, there were no options.
Moving to the suburbs was the best thing I ever did. Life here has been so pleasant. When I moved here, I was still a Democrat, so the politics didn’t bother me. Now, even though the politics bother me, I still love the conservative ethos that underpins my community: families in my neighborhood are intact, people work extremely hard, children are expected to be polite and do well in school, streets are clean, the police clamp down on vagrancy, and everything has a delightful Leave It To Beaver quality that means that I’ve always felt I had the community at the back when raising my kids.
And all the while, even as I reveled in my suburban delights, I’ve kept an eye on my natal City. And I’ve been saddened. Deeply, deeply saddened. I’ve written several posts on the subject too. This is the most comprehensive and representative post: San Francisco: America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism.
These are also representative posts, none of which reflect well on the City:
- Critical mess
- San Francisco Nimbys
- The end of civilization as we know it
- America is not ready for DIY pissoirs
- San Francisco mulls expanding gay rights program at expense of academic programs
- San Francisco School Board cuts academic programs to fund gay rights at school
- New editions of the old antisemitism problem at San Francisco State University
San Francisco no longer knows how. It is a sh*thole. It is the QED of Leftist politics. Paul Joseph Watson shows how far this once proud, sophisticated, lovely City has fallen:
Americans: Be warned. If you give Leftists power, this will happen to you.