Tuesday, July 28, 2009

for those who come to san francisco, summertime will be a love-in there

Terribly sorry to the 4 people who read this for the delay in posting. It has been quite a busy couple of weeks, but I will backtrack and attempt to capture a LOT of amazing stuff...

Days 16-20 San Francisco via the Oregon and NorCal coasts

In 1967, John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas fame wrote "San Francisco" for Scott McKenzie. The song quickly became the anthem for the Summer of Love, in which over 100,000 crazy hippies descended on the Haight section of San Francisco, creating an international cultural and political upheaval. Their message was simple: love and common understanding could cure the ills of a world at war.

Fastforward 42 years. It's true. San Francisco is perhaps the most expensive city in America. It is certainly high-style, high-fashion and high-powered. The traditional homeless population (more than I have ever seen in any city in my life) outnumbers filthy hippies wandering the streets.

But at it's core, San Francisco still belongs to the counterculture. Regardless of how expensive the homes in Cow Hollow, the lower Haight and North Beach get, San Francisco to the core still belongs to people searching for a more ideal society where peace exists across borders, cultures and peoples.

At the corner of Haight and Ashbury, the epicenter of hippiedom...of flower power...of free love...of the Summer of Love in 1969, still sit tens of young people who have travelled tens, hundreds or thousands of miles to be at the center of a revolution over four decades in the making. Though prodigal hipsters own the streets (and scared Zach to death) this neighborhood still exists as a haven to young people who see it as a symbol of mutual understanding and love for each other, not the overpriced vintage boutiques and record shops that rule the streets.

Follow Haight down the hill, east from Ashbury, and it meets Castro. Turn right and follow Castro several blocks and notice that every house and business is emblazoned with the rainbow flag, welcoming you to a neighborhood founded in a similar time for a similar reason: a common understanding and the promotion of love. The Castro is the gayest neighborhood in the world and it is truly as fabulous as it thinks it is. Some claim it is watered down with tourists, but that is perhaps the beauty. It seemed as though everybody walking the streets had a companion, and the couples were of every sexual orientation, age, color, shape and size. Everybody was just happy to be there, to be in love, and to understand that everyone else was there to love someone. It was something hard to put into words, and something that should not be shocking or unusual. It was a better way of life. Every person is in love with another person, every person is in love with every person. Really spectacular.

Otherwise, San Francisco was entirely pleasant. I enjoyed an Anchor Steam beer and a grilled cheese at Boudin on Fishermans Wharf my first night. Met up with my dear Billy for lunch on Saturday, drinks with Daniel and his friend on Saturday night, and a grand tour featuring barbeque and reading in the park on Sunday, followed by a drive through the highlands to Stinson Beach. San Francisco is amazing...hilly...kindof dirty...really amazing. I recommend that everyone goes to San Francisco, with a flower in their hair, prepared to show some love for the hippies...for the gays...for the students...for the business people...for the hipsters... for homeless...and for the man who jumps out of bushes just to get a jump and a smile from passerbys.

It is a city that breathes the breath of the counterculture that put it on the map. The counterculture that perhaps should be the major culture. Though these people have come to sometimes use self-righteousness as a crutch against oppression, they have good things to say, and good things to believe in. Go and believe it.

As for now, my bed in fabulous Las Cruces, NM looks quite lovely. More on LA, the southwest and CO tomorrow from San Antonio. Perhaps I will finally catch up.

Love to all. See you soon.

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