from the photo set: Sutro Runs by Corey Denis

The Very Best Of Journey

or 11 things I love about San Francisco

Thank you, Peter Shih, for inspiring my contribution to a growing list of love letters dedicated to the painted ladies, be they menstruating, menopausal or pregnant with ideas. Just last week I took Journey’s Greatest Hits for a spin while walking up to Sutro Tower, and all I needed was the impetus to add a few words of my own.


photoset: Muni Halloween 2006 by Corey Denis
  1. ONLY THE YOUNG

San Francisco is a place where Christmas isn’t Christmas, it is Halloween. Neighbors can be spied out-sewing & out-crafting one another’s costumes by mid July. For those who really get into the holiday spirit, there’s Tom & Jerry’s house where we gather to take photos at Christmas time and pretend it’s halloween.


photo set: Sutro Runs by Corey Denis

2. DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’

Rent Control! Any one of us can create a life in one of the most expensive cities in the USA. San Francisco is friendly to renters. There are numerous free & donation based resources for renters, including the San Francisco Tenants Union where talented attorneys are poised to defend your right to reasonable rent.


photo set: Sunday Streets (Mission District) by Corey Denis

3. WHEEL IN THE SKY

I haven’t owned a car in eight years and haven’t needed one. Living in a startup environment has meant access to innovative footprint solutions like ZipCar and Lyft long before other cities in the country. I walk almost everywhere there is to go in our little 49 square mile city, and take Muni, Bart, CalTrain or a flight out of SFO to go everywhere else. Nobody needs a car in San Francisco, though it’s a luxury many choose to afford. We don’t need cars to make our city work or to work in our city. Sutro Tower and Twin Peaks are just a 20 minute run from my front door. There’s a WWII cannon out on Land’s End where I like to go by myself, without letting anyone know, and read a book, watch the ocean. That experience is 35 minutes away from my front door. I take the muni, and walk a little.


photo set: Sutro Runs by Corey Denis

4. FAITHFULLY

When one ungrateful dude writes a list of ten recycled jokes about our fine city and posts it with the photo of a dying homeless man, we react with love letters and solidarity.


Danyol (photo credit: Corey Denis)

5. I’LL BE ALRIGHT WITHOUT YOU

SF is home to some of the most independent women in America and it’s not just because Trannyshack is more fun than dinner with guys like Peter Shih. The population of both taken and single ladies in San Francisco is filled with sexy tough girls in glasses who can kick your ass, pour a glass of Russian River pinot, balance an equation, play cello, quote Yoda, shop at Good Vibrations and code a website all at the same time. The SF Woman leaves heels to New Yorkers, conquers steep hills in smart shoes, is very busy marching in the streets for equality, popping vitamin D, making confit at home, meeting the ladies at Mission Cheese, banning foie gras, founding a company, reading, updating her operating system, backing up her network, and she doesn’t have time to date you. Prepare to work for her. She’s leaning in, out, and sideways because she’s got pilates in an hour.


photoset: Street Art by Corey Denis

6. ANY WAY YOU WANT IT

Art and politics, politics and art. Mere mortals with limited life spans and unprecedented access to historical documents, San Franciscans live in one of the richest hotbeds of both. In addition to birthing jam band politics, heavy metal and gay rights, San Francisco is home to one of the most controversial graffiti art movements in the world. Multiple documentarians have explored San Francisco’s graffiti & our relationships with art and politics including Against The Wall (featuring local music, too) while more than 50 books have been compiled so far on the subject.


photoset: SF Pride 2009 by Corey Denis

7. LOVIN, TOUCHIN, SQUEEZIN

It’s not porn if it’s Sex Positive. Look it up.


photoset: Eat Brains 2007 by Corey Denis

8. SEPARATE WAYS (WORLDS APART)

If free pillow fights in Union Square or flash zombie mobs bother you, love won’t find you here.


photo: Redd Kross @ GAMH 2012 by Corey Denis

9. LIGHTS

Without music, there is no night life. Peter Shih is in his car, but take the 22 Muni to The Fillmore and check out The Fillmore Poster Room. Stroll by The Purple Onion and consider how it was once a Jazz club-turned Tom Guido’s effed up punk club - turned comedy club. When Peter Shih runs out of money, he might consider complaining about the Fillmore Jazz Festival, Stern Grove, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and Dolores Park Works. SF is a city where we fight back when cops raid our venues by calling it the War On Fun. We build makeshift phone booths with wireless VOIP running on a bicycle powered generator outside of City Hall and have Call The Mayor Day. And when we leave, for a few days or weeks, we write songs personifying her charm.


photo set: World Series 2012 by Corey Denis

10. OPEN ARMS

Ok, so we had to ban Paxti’s and a few other spots, but Healthy San Francisco keeps us safe from deadly disease, our babies viably birthed, and our underemployed residents in the care of distinguished physicians. In our city of kindling, the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital provides our fire victims with plastic surgeons, physicians, registered nurses, physical and occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dieticians, psychiatrists, case managers, pharmacists and art and play therapists. We step around the Red Cross when needed by our own; we hold fundraisers for fire victims in our neighborhoods, where burning buildings are not uncommon. With so many of our homes built in the early 1900s, one on top of the next, we need each other, and we know it.


Me, in the 1970s. Photo Credit: My Beautiful Mom

11. SEND HER MY LOVE

Both East Coast transplants, my parents found themselves in California during the love revolution of the mid 60s; my dad a young politico and my mom having recently left family behind in Philadelphia to ban the bra in Los Angeles. Dad was in Los Angeles on an extended business trip where a disc jockey friend set them up on a blind date. It’s stranger than fiction but it worked. All too soon, my dad went north to a political conference in San Francisco. After a day of walking around the city, he realized he was in love. They married in California but we lived back East, and I spent my first 18 years yearning to move to San Francisco. I’ve lived in California for ten years, eight of them here in SF. Everyday I wake up grateful to have a home here, a city where the idea of my existence was born, the city where I have found myself.