“People whom fate and their sin-mistakes have placed in a certain position, however false that position may be, form a view of life in general which makes their position seem good and admissible. . . . This surprises us when the persons concerned are thieves bragging about their dexterity, prostitutes vaunting their depravity, or murders boasting of their cruelty. But it surprises us only because the circle, the atmosphere, in which these people live, is limited, and chiefly because we are outside it. Can we not observe the same phenomenon when the rich boast of their wealth-robbery, when commanders of armies pride themselves on their victories-murder, and when those in high places vaunt their power-violence? That we do not see the perversion in the views of life held by these people, is only because the circle formed by them is larger and we ourselves belong to it.” (Resurrection, Leo Tolstoy, trans. Louise Maude)

New Readers:

Please start reading with my first post "A Cup of Coffee". Originally posted on March 19, the archival date changed when I made corrections on May 13, which is the date under which you can find it now.

I'll learn to manage this all more smoothly someday, but at present I have at most only an hour online each day (that thanks to the San Francisco Public Library system, without which I would be lost).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Death Throes

I like to make broad, sweeping statements that go against the grain for the class of folks among which I live -- or rather, lived.  These generalizations usually raise eyebrows, if not hackles.  This habit is not just a conversational gambit or bit of showmanship:  I always believe what I say even if I know full well that I have overstated my case.  My point is only overstated, not distorted.

I have often been heard to say in conversation with well-heeled tourists just returned from a jaunt to Thailand, say, or Patagonia:  “I don’t like travel.  Why should I haul my sorry ass half way around the world to look at ruins and monuments and works of art when I seldom cross the street to look at the ones we have here?”

I have been heard to say “I don’t like children.  I didn’t like them when I was one, and I don’t like them any better now.  They are cruel, selfish, mean-spirited, and have no conversation at all.”

I have been heard to say among San Franciscans who wallow in self-congratulatory declamations about the grandeur of “The City’s” beauty, restaurants, museums, and successful companies that

“San Francisco isn’t really a city.  Sure it was one once, but nobody works here any more, nothing is made here, and no one in Los Angeles or New York would mistake it for a hub of anything.  San Francisco has become a resort, an elegant ocean liner docked permanently in a grand harbor, a gated community for the very rich, who own houses and apartments here for convenience when traveling far from their homes in New York, Geneva, Paris, or Milan.”

This latter sentiment is one I subscribe to more strongly every day.  With the nascent “improvement” of the Tenderloin, the work will be complete:  no one not in possession of a fortune or earning a six-figure income annually (at least) will be able to find a home here any longer.  And then the death of San Francisco will be complete, what began around the time the Hippies held a funeral service of the Haight-Ashbury will be done.

Here is the latest essay from Mark Ellinger, one of the most important, insightful, and eloquent chroniclers of this sad history:

Whither Sixth Street?