Things I’ve Learned About San Francisco: Part 1

San FranciscoSince I’ve been traveling about the City more I’ve gotten a more accurate view of what has been going on in San Francisco. Granted it has been biased by the fact that most of the people have the money and interest in using Sidecar, which I drive for, but it still seems to match up well with what other people are talking about.

Even though San Francisco is roughly 7×7 I’m going to have to break it up into sections defined by the people who live there so for today…Let’s start with the Marina/Pacific Heights/Western Addition/Nob Hill/Civic Center/Tenderloin/North Beach/Chinatown since people who live there tend to call this collection of areas Pac Heights or North Beach.

This is the lair of the bros. The fraternity types that apparently were never here before, unless you count the 80’s which no one remembers when they were called Preppies. You won’t find many festivals here because, well, I’m not sure why but every day is pretty much the same. It’s kind of like the GTL of the Jersey Shore, except here it’s more WBL or Work, Bar, Laundry, not necessarily in that order. People here tend to be going to or come from a bar. I have yet to hear about anyone talk about the restaurants, but the Blue Light and Brickyard bars come up regularly. If you get a chance to meet one they are curious in that every other word out of their mouth seems to be bro, hence their name. I once drove a bro out to the beach and in that half hour he called me bro more than once per minute. I actually lost count after about 40.

While I’m not sure it seems like the bros on Union Street don’t mix with the bros on Chestnut Street as I have yet to bar hop a group of people between the two. Union Street seems to be the more popular as thats where most of the people seem to gravitate to unless they actually live in the Marina then it’s Chestnut street. If they’re one of the people who love living in Pac Heights and they just walked out of a door next to garage meaning that they’re living in an add on room off the garage then it’s Union Street. Oh yes, beer is the drink of choice here. No focus on artisanal microbrews, but more a question of, will it get me drunk?

If you move down to the Western Addition it’s still a very nice place to live, but the real estate people like to call it lower Pac Heights so that they can charge more. It’s got a few sketchy parts as you get closer to Market Street, but for the most part it’s still got lots of bars and restaurants. Because there’s a chance that you might one day walk past someone who’s maybe hasn’t bathed in a few weeks or months and talks to themselves this area is considered edgy. If you want real edge you have to move over to the Civic Center/Tenderloin area which is alternatively called Lower Nob Hill or the Tender Nob. You can run across all types here, usually looking very under fed, but usually over meth’d in this area. People here take stop lights as a mere suggestion rather than a rule. If you moved to San Francisco and got a place here then someone wasn’t telling you the whole truth about the area. Sure, it’s close to Twitter and Square, but you might enjoy life a few blocks North a little more.

When you start to move East from the Pac Heights/Marina area you start to see a change. The bros have built up a tolerance for beer and have moved on to stronger cocktails or straight up booze. Nob Hill & North Beach are where the professional drinkers go. Friday’s and Saturday nights you’ll see people stumbling along from bar to bar and there are tons of them once you get to North Beach. You won’t find many bars with $2 beer signs in the window here, but if you need a good stiff drink and your liver thinks beer is for when the sun is out you move to North Beach.

The bros seem to occupy North Beach on the weekends mostly and many of the people I’ve met who actually live there are techies who like to walk to grab some food and a good stiff drink. These aren’t usually the techies everyone complains about in San Francisco who are raising the rents and pushing poor people out [poor people in North Beach?] These are the leftovers from the early days of the first dot com explosion who didn’t work for The only bros and neo-techies you might find in this area are west of Columbus Avenue. That’s where you get into Chinatown, but they still call it North Beach. These are the new comers who everyone has a problem with. Some are true bros who have some money of their own. Lots have Daddy’s credit card to make a name for themselves in San Francisco. Seriously, I have been told that on numerous occasions. Most though are in their mid 30’s and a little older and wiser than those in the Marina & Pacific Heights, but the long time families of Pacific Heights tend to scowl at them so they move to Chinatown, er North Beach.

The only other thing I can say about this area is that Pac Heights for people with kids is the place to go on Halloween. It was just swarming with kids all over the place. People were even sitting out on their front steps meeting the kids to hand out candy. The whole area has a lot of people who’ve been in San Francisco for under a year even though there are still some families who have been here for a few generations, but they’re giving way to the newbs.

Potrero Hill

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in awhile and that’s because I’ve taken a real job that I have to do a 9am to close to 5pm almost everyday in the office. I know that sounds vague, but for someone who has had a bit of hipster life without the bad clothes for the last three years it’s a big change. Most of the companies I’ve worked for have been work from home or work is like home so it’s a bit different for me now and to add to that I work in a part of town that I never went to before 9pm.

I work in the Potrero Hill district of SF and after a week and a half I’m starting to get a better feel for the area. It’s a mix of industrial, commercial and residential which is a lot different than the Sunset District, oh and the sun shines there on a daily basis. When I can drive into work I get free parking and can get there in 20 minutes. When I take the bus it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get there.

Getting used to heat during the day is something new to me. My nordic blood of the Sunset makes me sweat when the temperature passes 60°. I worked in SOMA for a short period where the heat got up into the 80’s every day and all of us were sweaty messes, but that was a print shop this place is a little more upscale and you have to sort of look like you’re working at a business so it’s a different area.

Not just in that aspect, but also in the fact that in the area around 16th and DeHaro where I work you won’t find a corner store anywhere so you pretty much need to bring in everything you need to work with you. Great when I drive in, but kind of a hassle on the bus.

When I used to come out here was about 20 years ago when the music scene had declined to the point that the Bottom of the Hill was the only place left for bands to play. Now there’s Thee Parkside for bands, but I’ve never been there. Other than that there’s very little else to draw me to this part of town. The only grocery store is Whole Foods that is ridiculously expensive, but there’s tons of really nice upscale condos all over the place, so the Potrero has a ying and yang aspect to it.

There are lots of restaurants and you’ll see lots of hipsters sitting out in front in the sun eating their lunch, but you also have a few, but small number of crazy types walking down the block yelling at the top of their lungs. Most of the businesses are also a bit on the upscale side as well even though they’re in old building from the early part of the 20th century.

This is a new experience for me, so it’s going to take me a while to being out here. It’s definitely a part of San Francisco I haven’t really experienced before and I have to say when I get on 280 South at Mariposa my car literally bounces up and down and I’m still trying to figure out why.