It’s funny (funny-strange/now-also-funny-queer). When you throw in all the extended vacations and transitional periods, I’ve probably spent about 25 years of my life in the Bay Area. Yet I’ve never actually called San Francisco home until this week.
Being here is evoking memories of the last time I actually spent more than five or six hours in the city. Back in my writing-for-monies days, I covered San Francisco for Oyster, and I got to write the text for the SF landing page. I just went back and read it for the first time since probably the week it went live. Kinda fun to see what I came up with:
San Francisco — don’t call it “San Fran,” and please, please don’t call it “Frisco” — has long attracted visitors from around the world. The array of famous landmarks and images is reason enough to go: Alcatraz, cable cars (don’t call them trolleys), the Golden Gate Bridge, the pastel box-like houses packed in, shoulder-to-shoulder, along legendary hills. (Does any American city, save New York, have as many iconic sites and sights? MaybeD.C. But no place else.)
In the ’60s and ’70s, people flocked to San Francisco to experience, or just witness, the epicenter of the hippie movement. And while the flower children of yesteryear are long gone, unceremoniously swept aside by the rise of Silicon Valley in the 1980s and the dot-com boom in the ’90s, the city remains a bastion of liberalism and progressive politics. The gay community still thrives in the Castro District (note the rainbow flags hanging from windows), as does an ethnically diverse population throughout the city (a rainbow of a different sort); in the mayoral election, the Republican candidate sometimes doesn’t even finish in the top three.
Most of all, though, people come to the City by the Bay for its unsurpassed beauty. San Francisco’s peninsular combination of bay and ocean, with steep crests rising in between, creates what is quite possibly the most picturesque natural setting for a major city anywhere in the world. You can find gorgeous panoramic views from half a dozen different spots: Twin Peaks, Nob Hill, Coit Tower, and so on, up and down, peak to peak.
So get those thighs in shape. And when you get there, take a walk across the Golden Gate and a hike to the top of Lombard Street. Grab a ferry to Alcatraz and a slice of sourdough. Oh, and bring a jacket!
I’m pleased to announce that this photo from my spring break trip to South Africa won honorable mention in my program’s annual photo contest, apparently for its “interesting composition.” I’m using the prize money — all $50 of it — to start a scholarship for business school students who have no earthly business being in business school.
I had to title the photo and give a brief description for the contest. Here they are:
"Fleet on Foot"
Before spending one afternoon with Waves for Change, a nonprofit organization that empowers children from the impoverished townships through afterschool surfing programs, our group got the opportunity to [ahem] get our own feet wet, receiving a free surfing lesson from some Waves for Change instructors. Here is the first [ahem] wave of brave souls, heading out to sea like an armada launching from port.
Despite the presence of a few high-end hotels and generally expensive adventure activities, the town of Victoria Falls, on the Zimbabwe side of the Falls, has a very backpacker-y feel — the first backpacker town I’ve ever been to in Africa.