Heart of the City Archives

Detail, Golden Gate Bridge
Wish you were here...
by Hank Donat

If you were here, you would have seen as beautiful a Sunday as any in February in San Francisco - ever. A high pressure system to the North is a San Franciscan's weekend playmate who arrives unannounced for a sunshine orgy. Though it's normal to have a short heat wave in March before the end of the rainy season, this weekend was a boon to the fragrant Victorian Box trees here in the City of No Seasons. 

If you were here you'd know that, in fact, the city has a number of seasons, though locals disagree on when the periods overlap, depending upon which neighborhood the San Franciscan calls home. Hal Sweetman, who lives in the Marina, swears we never see the year's first warm day until April. 

The sunny Sabbath that comes by surprise is quite a responsibility. Red Kelly and I were not alone in our quest to find the most suitable way to spend the afternoon in a City filled with grown up kids on an anti-snow day. Before sunset, a local woman at a Union Square coffee house advised a tourist bound for Ocean Beach to take the Geary bus. "If you take the N-Judah you'll be fogged-in by the time you hit 25th Avenue." The tourist was surprised to hear that we have fog at the beach at all. They always think it's Knot's Landing... 

Fine and Mellow: If the warm weather continues without rain and Brian Hackney declares a drought, that will bring conservation of both electricity and water into primacy at the same time. Seems like yesterday since the last extended drought. That one reigned but did not rain over the '80s, when gardens turned gray and people came up with way after creative way of designing "If it's yellow let it mellow" signs for rest rooms. 

Electricity conservation is another issue entirely. I am hard pressed to find a reason why it should be incumbent upon ordinary citizens to work in the dark because of botched deregulation. It would be a lot easier to do so if PG&E executives hadn't conveniently taken profits just weeks before the crisis. We submit because electricity in the 21st Century is life's blood. You can change Bush Street to Puppet Street, as we saw in last month's inaugural demonstration, but there wouldn't be much left of the Internet without W-W-Wattage... 

Dateline Chinatown: Early in the morning I'm watching the neighborhood wake up near the AA, my favorite Chinese Bakery on Grant. It will be hours yet before the neighborhood swells with visitors. Hummingbirds dart between bright awnings. One of the many homeless people with whom we share the City studies a bin of dried sea horses at a sidewalk market. Almost before I realize he's attracted my attention, I've attracted his and he hates me on sight. With his long white beard and swollen features, he looks like an R. Crumb character come to life. I know I'm in for it when he starts shouting in my direction, "Get out of here you New York queer!" And the only thing I can think is, how dare he call me a New Yorker? 

Note to D.A. Hallinan: Arrest killer mastiff-owner Robert Noel, pronto. The Twinkie defense was one thing, and we won't stand for the CK-1 defense either. Throw the book at him. 

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Copyright 2001 Hank Donat
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