Monday, January 08, 2007

My Secret Crush on San Francisco

Crazy Cable Car
"San Francisco is a mad city inhabited by perfectly insane people whose women are of remarkable beauty." - Rudyard Kipling
The fabulous city of San Francisco has not received enough attention from me. UCSF is located in the heart of the city, and we are so privileged to live in one of the craziest, loveliest, most passionate places in the world.
If San Francisco were a woman, I would be in love with her. She has culture, but she's not snooty. She's stylish and classy, but also very natural, down-to-earth, and laid-back. She's equally at home drinking wine in Napa Valley and roughing it in the outdoors -- biking, kayaking, running, hiking, swimming. Her signature monument is a giant tomato red structure called the Golden Gate Bridge, which seems to simultaneously blend in and stand out from the stunning natural beauty that surrounds it. San Francisco (the woman) is definitely a free spirit and a champion of independent thinking and progressive social reform.
Of course, I can still objectively say that San Francisco has her faults, like all people. She's rather moody and mercurial -- unlike her flat and reliably sunny sister, Los Angeles, to the south. When I first came to San Francisco, I thought that the whole city suffered from a serious case of multiple personality disorder. Gorgeous Victorian houses are built on hills with 45 degree inclines; people are expected to parallel park on those hills; it's warm in the winter and freezing in the summer; there's thick fog everywhere!
"Nor is there any place like San Francisco itself -- much to the relief of conservative talk-show hosts...who often liken the place to Sodom and Gomorrah. Face it, the city has always been a haven for those who are a tad on the weird side by Presbyterian standards...If San Francisco had a Statue of Liberty, she would beckon, 'Send us your odd, your bizarre masses, your tired beatniks, ancient hippies, drag queens, poets, and artists, your tempermental opera singers and recalcitrant pastry chefs, your feminist firebugs and immortal quarterbacks, your transsexual tennis players yearning to breathe free.'"
- From "The Irreverent Guide to San Francisco," 4th edition.
However, now I understand that San Francisco's case of multiple personality disorder is her greatest strength and weakness. She can be anything and everything all at the same time, and you cannot help but love her for it.
"The irresistible beauty of San Francisco lies in its innate refusal to fit into any mold, beginning with the very ground upon which it is built -- steep hills and wide valleys dropping off suddenly at the edge of the continent."
- From "The Irreverent Guide to San Francisco," 4th edition.

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