Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 14-Aug, Part 3

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Frank’s last day in California/first day on the road …

Dottie’s True Blue Cafe

‘My morning began at 7.45. I took care of whatever last minute things I could think of. This included imposing on the patience of Kit to dispose of some things I just hadn’t gotten my act together to pack, including some rolls of wrapping paper that had been sitting around my room for months if not years. How do you pack wrapping paper? You don’t. I should’ve gotten rid of it weeks ago. That and all the other crap I left behind for my poor housemates to dispose of. My apologies, Erin and Kit.

‘I sat and watched a little morning TV while waiting for Steve to arrive from the other side of the Bay. It was an act of anxiety—I was tired of pacing around. The house seemed so weird. The energy was horrible. The sun was out, it was a beautiful Bay Area morning, yet the place felt like a mortuary. The downstairs echoed and rattled with the emptiness of my cleaned-out room. Even the kitchen felt hollowed out. Kit was upstairs in bed with the dogs. They all seemed bummed out and stuck to themselves while I paced and fretted and sweated.

‘I watched KTVU. The show had this bouncy featurey piece about undiscovered great SF restaurants. The restaurant on tap was Dottie’s, a diner in the Geary/Jones area that I had not heard of (let alone patronized). The reporter was a perky brassy blonde who wandered around asking obnoxious questions of the clientele (and the harried owner/chef, whom she’d obviously interrupted in the middle of the morning rush) and taking showy on-camera bites of their omelets and pancakes to demonstrate how awesome the joint was. The camera panned around to the door once or twice to catch shots of the bleary-eyed yet lively line of waiting customers at the doorway. There were the usual SF assortment of bike messenger types, suit-wearing government employees, platinum blonde lesbians with piercings, queer fashion plates, you name it.

‘That short three minutes of bubbly morning TV seemed to sum up everything I love (and hate) about SF in one swoop: the parochial banality disguised as urbane sophistication, the relentless and almost heedless California optimism blended with the yawning pretend-New York City display of “we’ve all seen and done this before” (I say this because, for example, when Candace Bushnell is interviewed by a New York newspaper it’s a “whatever” event, but when she’s interviewed by the Chronicle it’s not only a front-page arts section spread, it’s a bizarre display of “Look at our coup! Only in San Francisco would Candace Bushnell agreed to have been interviewed by a newspaper!”), the public (and public-relations) show of inclusiveness not ever quite obliterated by the reality of SF’s unending history of exclusionary attitudes and politics, the strange and unshakable sense you get that SF really truly and honestly believes that it’s the one place that’s at the cutting edge of everything in American culture, politics, and zeitgeist.

‘—Posted by Frank at 09:00:00 | 14-Aug-03’