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Dear San Francisco,
I love you. I do, honestly. You’re filled with the bizarre and the fantastical. You have the magic so many other cities wish they could have. I also hate you. Strongly, emphatically, and with the same passion with which I love you.
I love that your reputation precedes you. I love that a city of less than a million people has the same notoriety as a city the size of Manhattan. I love that you have so many beautiful, almost quaint-looking buildings and I love that inside of them, things are happening to this day that would melt most people’s brains. I love that acid is common place and sex clubs are frequented. Not by me, but I love that they exist and other people go to them. I love how quick you are to evolve and to grow and yet how carefully your history is preserved. I love that people during the sixties and into the eighties talked about you as the place people went to be themselves when said places were scarce.
I love that you have shown me such a beautiful and frightening face of homelessness. I love that in many ways, you have, more than any other city I have lived in, pulled away the frame of reference I once used to understand poverty and scarcity and showed me both a crime against humanity and a community that has existed within that crime. I hate that you have people inside your limits who have started San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team and Homeless Youth Alliance yet others vote to criminalize the most simple of actions, as Sit and Lie has done. I hate that as a City that’s known for inclusion and enlightenment, we allow a population to suffer on the streets rather than believing that as humans, we should want for a better standard of living for all of us, not penalties and dismissal. We should be disgusted by the idea of our own kind having to beg and die in alleyways like a Victor Hugo novel and we should be doing everything in our power to help them because that is the only way we as a species will evolve.
I love that you have passion. I love that, regardless of whom I voted for, there were cheers and street parties when the election was called and there is so much love in this city even an admitted Libertarian like myself who would never cast a vote for a mainstream candidate could be accepted into the celebration simply to revel in other people’s happiness. I hate that you confuse passion with mania. I hate that when your sports teams win, parts of the city in which these fans are rallying with pride get lit on fire. You can defend that and tell me there were only a few people actually doing it but you’d be wrong. I live on Valencia street and watched dozens of people throwing garbage cans and breaking bottles to demonstrate the pride they felt for the city they were trashing.
I love that you have art everywhere. I love that buildings become canvasses and theaters are forged anywhere there is enough room to put a stage and lighting. I hate that there is little concern for the state of artists or what is becoming of a once-bohemian landscape, but I love that I’m not the only one concerned about this.
I love your gentrification. I hate your gentrification.
I love how green the city is trying to become and how staunchly you remind us of social responsibilities like recycling, composting, and not being a slob. I hate that you only think social responsibility goes so far and allowed tax breaks for Twitter while assuring us the reason for doing so was to build up an area that has had trouble maintaining business. I love that you have concern for areas that aren’t doing well but I hate the route with which you try to help them. I hate that Twitter gets a tax break to set up shop in San Francisco while people like U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in conjunction with the DEA support the systematic attack of medical cannabis dispensaries, putting so many San Franciscans out of work and leaving empty storefronts where there were once-thriving businesses. I hate that you have officials in your employ that demonize one business over all the others.
I love your rent control and the Tenant’s Union that has helped countless people stay in their homes. I hate your landlords though, who seem to be the same all over. I love how protective you are of these beautiful old buildings and I even love the new condos because there might never be enough space for all of us in the narrow, drafty Victorians.
In closing, my fair city, I do love you. If I didn’t, I would have left you already but there are times when you bring the bile to the back of my throat and you make me so angry I have trouble even explaining it. You’re one of a kind and you know it. Sometimes you get too cocky, sometimes you give yourself too much credit but I do enjoy you immensely, for all your high points and faults. Basically, if you were a person, I’d hate-fuck you at least once a week but other than that, we’d live together in sheer bliss.