Mar 28, 2007

The Bay.

Planning out a trip to the Bay Area for the first time in my life. At first, I didn't really think I'd have a lot to see - I know some folks out there, but not that many. Then I started to think about how so many strands in my life seem to come together on those winding streets, and I can't wait for when I can visit and explore some of it.

For example... my favorite genre of metal - thrash - has many of its standard-holders coming from out of the bay.

Asian America, the movement and the arts scene, were born on the streets of San Francisco. It's hard not to think of Wittman Ah-Sing or his inspiration, Frank Chin or the Kearny Street Workshop when you think "Asian American art," actually. Or the I-Hotel. Or the Ghadar party, for that matter.

The Summer of Love, and so much of the music and hope of that heady time all trace back to San Francisco. When we wish that we lived in the 60s, which so many of the idealistic set do (I guess, thinking that race wouldn't be an issue there, which is of course, stupid), I don't think we're thinking of Chicago, or Boston, or even New York. It's all about the Bay.

I think of the beat generation, of cafes with people reading, writing, thinking. I feel like SF is the logical sibling of NYC, and that the distaste that NY'ers have for LA is probably pretty analogous to what Bay Area folks feel for LA. Though looking at it from a distance, SF seems like it may be a bit more pure than NY, if only because NY has its superstars and Fifth Avenue to match the Sunset Strip and LA's artifice, but I don't know whether that's the case in SF.

My friends have told me that the boho experience that I remember so fondly from mid-90s East Village (still after the real wave in the 70s and 80s), would comport nicely with SF. That there is a good possibility that I wouldn't want to come back, though learning another city that has so much history seems daunting, and at my age, a little unwieldy.

I've heard from others that folks don't let too much phase them, and while I get annoyed sometimes at everyone being on edge in NYC, there's something about the edginess that keeps me awake and vibrant, and I don't know if the activism in the Bay Area is as grounded in hyper-reality. Still, it may be easier to sustain the work if you're not fighting against the neighbors, the weather, and the system as much as you seem to be in NYC.

So with all the art, and community, and history out in the area - with the ability to check out Kearny Street, and Alcatraz, and Angel Island, and a Chinatown that I can finally give some respect to, I'm definitely excited about a prospective trip. Let's see if it all pans out.

8 comments:

brown sugar said...

Found your link on "Pass The Roti". Just wanted to wish you a fun trip to SF. :-)

Rage said...

brown sugar,

thanks for the good thoughts! I'm definitely looking forward to it... sort of the intersection of so many parts of my life. Suggestions for cheap food are welcome. :)

burnedouteyes said...

maybe check out city lights bookstore if you're going to be in that neighborhood. a lot of beat poets were published by city lights press... it's a nice little shop.

Rage said...

Thanks for the heads up and reminder. Would love to go there, actually! I wonder - isn't there an Asian American bookstore that's really well known as well? Is it still around?

burnedouteyes said...

hmm, I don't know that bookstore... sounds familiar though.

Rage said...

Yeah. I just can't remember what it was. I keep wanting to say Eastwind Books, but I'm not sure that's what it was. *sigh* You know you're getting old when you can't remember these things. Of course, I'm talking about knowing it was out there from about 10 years ago...

brown sugar said...

I would suggest some yummy (and authentic) Mexican food at the many taquerias in the Mission. It's a fun area to walk around, eat some food, and do some people watching. Also, Chinatown as some cheap eats, too (right by City Lights). As for the Asian American bookstore, not too sure but I'll ask around. Have fun! :-)

Rage said...

brown sugar, Thanks very much! That all sounds awesome. Chinatown here we come!