Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The week before Christmas I went to a family reunion in the Bay Area of California. As we were staying in the middle of nowhere, I wasn't really expecting to be getting out of the house and away from my relatives to do any sight seeing.

Luckily, a friend of mine from Berkley was happy to show my brother and I around San Francisco for a day to escape the insanity of thirty people under one roof.

I was expecting nothing more exciting than a few hours at a coffee shop and maybe some shopping. Because of that and also the fact that I am anti-purse, but pro-girl jeans, I chose not to bring my camera. What a mistake that was (see poorly exposed iPhone photo below).

My friend immediately suggested we visit The Haight. As my friend and brother are both much cooler than I am, I had to control my massive counterculture fangirling and pretend to be all chill like, "oh yeah, I guess that would be tight." Meanwhile, on the inside, my heart was doing back flips because the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has been on my list of places to someday visit ever since I first started researching the Beats and reading accounts by Tom Wolfe at way too premature of an age (seriously, reading about LSD trips is really scarring to a twelve year old).

We didn't do too much at The Haight (though if I had brought my camera I totally would have made my friend and brother put up with my fanatic photographing of every small detail) except for browse Amoeba Music and sip some coffee at People's Cafe, but the feeling of laid-back revolution was still there --- despite the American Apparrel and Ben & Jerry's stores.

There was so much to look at and think about (and take pictures of! hmph) that I could definitely take a whole week to really experience it all. I want to find all of the historical locations like the sites of some of The Diggers' free stores, some venues where the Grateful Dead played their first shows and, of course, I'd venture to the nextdoor neighborhood to see the site of Harvey Milk's Castro Camera.

Having only been to Los Angeles and San Diego in my memory, I haven't had a very favorable opinion of California in the past. Sorry Andy Warhol, the plasticity of LA does nothing for me. San Francisco, however, I can dig. It completely changed my opinion of the state. For once, I saw more than California stereotypes. I saw real people and real history --- even if it is a history that became bloated by youth runaways and irresponsible drug use.

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