The reason I hate my home state of California is because she broke my heart. In my youth California paired its natural beauty with 7 million hard working citizens and evolved into a virtual paradise. You could, in a single day, surf at Pismo Beach, have lunch under the redwoods in Yosemite, and have dinner at Fisherman's Wharf. When I was growing up in the Central Valley we awoke to the scent of orange blossoms, had a crystal clear view of the Sierras, never locked our doors and we attended the best schools in the nation. And then, in the late sixties, California began to spin wildly out of control....but oh, was it good while it lasted!
San Francisco's fate would be no different, perhaps even more heartbreaking. That once wide open city was so tolerant it could accept socialist Harry Bridges down at the Longshoreman's Union, the conservative Hearsts at the Chronicle and somehow did so without today's political savagery where brown shirt liberals rule the roost and accept no compromise.
San Francisco had an unspoiled Golden Gate park where one could picnic on a Sunday afternoon without being accosted by thugs or bums. She fed you lunch of sour dough and Ghiradelli chocolate and allowed you to luxuriate on the catch of the day at Fisherman's Wharf. And then, dependent on your mood, you could go down and catch Carol Doda flashing her "assets", or wander down to the Hungry I and listen to the crooning of Glen Yarborough or laugh uncontrollably at two brothers named Smothers.
Rod Mckuen was writing his love poems down on Stanyan Street at that time, preparing missives that would lure lovers from all over to make acquaintance with Half Moon Bay and Sauselito.
And if you had one too many the night before Herb Caen's column the next morning would fill you on what was happening around the city...and do so in prose poetry.
And then in the late sixties half of the world's loonies descended on San Francisco. They hung out on Haight Ashbury, slept in Golden Gate Park and created a drug culture that was both career and lifestyle.
They brought with them all manner of religion and philosophies and declared a "summer of love" that lasted for years.
When they finally emerged after tens years of drug stupors they began to codify their Sodom and Gomorrah lifestyle whereby anything that required discipline or ethics or tolerance even for moderation was verboten. And over the decades they said smoking was bad but trolling for coins while high on Purple Crush is acceptable. Where broad shouldered longshoreman once loaded and unloaded the world's cargo, now dwell stoop shouldered metrosexuals that devote their lives to banning plastic bags and MacDonald's kiddie meals.
San Francisco was once a sweet, tough, romantic and exciting city that could wrap her arms around everyone, regardless of political persuasion. Now she is a screaming old hag, strident in her philosophies and as afraid to live as she is to die.
Sad. Damned Sad.