Memories of San Francisco


By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views  

As a fourth generation San Franciscan, it hurts me to see how the city of my birth is now a progressive neo-fascist enclave.  This transformation has occurred under the umbrella of being a Sanctuary City where individual freedom is being protected by aggressive governmental policies.

It has become a place where democracy has been subverted by political forces that favor people of color, the poor, radical socialists, non-patriotic types, and the very wealthy.  In trying to stand up for the little guy, San Franciscan’s has lost perspective of how lucky they are to live in a beautiful city where tourists and convention goers subsidize governmental over spending.

All that is missing is a big enough tent for the rest of the world to handle their progressive message for all to hear.

In growing up things was never that way for myself or my middle class family. Living side by side with African Americans, Asians, and families previously disenfranchised from all over the globe, diversity was achieved naturally. Passing laws was not the route taken to achieve social justice.

San Francisco was a place where those who had a difficult time adjusting to the norms of society could immigrate to.  Typical was Harvey Milk who adapted the City by the Bay to be his own after having difficulty being rejected for being gay in New York.  His sexual preferences did not matter out West because what was in Milk’s heart mattered more than whom he dated.

When Milk ran for Supervisor and eventually won, he was judged on his ideas and character, not stereo types.  At that time San Francisco was a place that prided itself in giving second chances to the disenfranchised.

While working on Milk’s Supervisorial campaign, I even convinced my then 90 year old Grandmother to support him.  She thought he had gentlemanly qualities missing in my Dad and me. Nana was right.

All of this has changed in the past 30 years.  “The City that knows how”, has become not only become elitist but hateful as well.  The political culture is tightly wrapped in              “do-gooderism” where the homeless are lionized, police looked down upon, and affirmative action has become more important than competency. While all of this has occurred, the role of government in everyone’s lives in San Francisco has expanded exponentially.

Indicative of this change has been the emergence of P.C. thinking and hate crime laws that have been designed to stifle political opposition.  The place that has prided itself about being the “city that knows how” has become a liberal neo fascist place that tries to determine who the winners and losers are to be.

Its progressive values were supposed to promote liberalism but have done just the opposite.  Indicative of this are San Francisco’s Draconian rent control laws that make landlords into being the reincarnation of Darth Vader.

This change of attitude became apparent to me several years ago when I ventured into a drinking establishment on Chestnut Street in the Marina District for a cocktail while waiting to meet a friend.

Coming to the place of my birth felt great; especially being able to be hanging out in my old stomping grounds.  While the City had changed from my youth, the bond between me and the locale where one should be” wearing flowers in your hair”, had never wavered. I felt invigorated to be where Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead once roamed.

During the course of hanging out at the bar, a heated discussion developed between a couple of fellows about the Democratic Party not being liberal enough to suit their tastes. Exasperated, by this argument, one of the guys asked where I stood. Peering up from my scotch over, I innocently responded, “Being an independent minded Schwarzenegger type Republican, it is difficult for me to agree with either one of you.”

Then the roof caved in.  The fellow pouring the spirits ordered me to “finish your drink and get out of my bar. We don’t allow Republicans of any type in this establishment.” Taking my last sip thinking I should have ordered a Dewar’s instead of this swill, I quietly got up and scurried from this dive where the first amendment had been short circuited.

My love affair with San Francisco was starting to fade.

Other things started to happen.  Huge fines were levied for minor parking violations which made driving in the city virtually impossible.  This further sunk in after being towed from a construction zone where no signs were posted warning that work was taking place.  Even worse, I found out complaining about this costly mishap in court was virtually impossible. No one cared.

The last straw came after almost having my car broken into on a cold foggy night by PETA types who thought my beagle was being inhumanely treated because of alleged high temperatures inside the vehicle.  Even though I escaped from this incident unscathed, P.C. World in San Francisco had created a hostile environment to be avoided.

As a result of the repressive attitude San Francisco, I now only go in for a rare business appointment or to see a few Giants games. Blum’s Candy, Kezar Stadium, Original Joe’s, The Hippo, North Beach, and the St. Francis Ice Cream Parlor on York Street, are but nostalgic faded memories in my mind.

Unfortunately, they mean little to a new generation of high tech city dwellers who have rendered me to be what Richie Havens once described in the classic  Quicksilver Messenger Service song,  What about me, “I feel just like a stranger in the land where I was born.”

So what has happened to the place where freedom rang out and people could do their thing? An environment that politicians such as Joe Alioto, Willie Brown, and Quentin Kopp could use their unique abilities to the betterment of the city? A town where iconic columnist Herb Caen plied his trade at the Three Dot Lounge, in a world where breathalyzers could never be found.

Unfortunately, things are different now both for me and San Francisco. I am estranged from the place of my birth knowing that reconciliation is not even remotely possible. The feeling is apparently mutual. “Frisco” is too busy constructing high rise buildings, entertaining convention goers, and operating local government like a police state to worry about the likes of me.

San Francisco seems to think they are progressive in their thinking even though they are actually more right wing in their actions.  Suddenly for me, being conservative doesn’t seem to be so bad after all.

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

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