It's been a busy 2012 for me so far. I started the year by moving from South Dakota to upstate New York (pausing briefly to live in a horrifying motel). After that, I drove cross-country and moved to San Francisco. And now, as of a few weeks ago, I have officially moved from San Francisco and taken up permanent residence in Los Angeles. The reasons for the move are varied, which is a kinder and gentler way of saying I'm on the run from the law and Adam Tod Brown is not my real name.
But none of those details are important right now. What matters is this: I just left San Francisco, and I miss it, but probably not for the reasons you have in mind.
Here are five things you wouldn't expect to miss about San Francisco ...
San Francisco is fucking disgusting. Don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise. "Oh, but all those hills, man, it's so beautiful!" Right, that's if you can afford to live in that part of the city where Michael Keaton once took over Melanie Griffith's apartment and chased all the Asian people away using gigantic cockroaches.
That's a nice area. Everywhere else? Dirty. People often talk about New York City being dirty, and it is, but it's not even in the same discussion with San Francisco. If there were an official city scent, it would be hobo piss. That's because hobos are everywhere, and piss is what they do for a living. Well, not just piss, obviously. They also drop so much excrement on the escalators in the city's train stations that they're sometimes rendered inoperable from the sheer volume of poo gumming up the works. How bad can it be, you ask? Well, the city had to call in a hazmat team to clean up one recent mess. There was just that much poop. On the escalator. The public escalator.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shocked to find such an appropriate stock image.
That's pretty damn gross, how could a person possibly miss that? It's simple, really. Once you've lived with that kind of filth right outside your door, no amount of filth you can travel to really matters anymore. Unless you're visiting one of those still-developing countries where people just straight-up live on piles of refuse, it's a pretty safe bet that you'll be able to look around and say, "Dirty? Sure, but it's no San Francisco."
That's a good feeling. It makes a person feel like they've really seen some shit in their life. Because they have, on the escalators (and pretty much everything else) in San Francisco.
San Francisco loves to protest. I was never able to locate it, but I'm pretty sure there's a storefront somewhere in that city where you can just walk in and rent an ethnically diverse group of people to chant in the streets on your behalf for a few hours. That's really the only explanation I can come up with for San Francisco's "unique" approach to community activism.
Take the recent protest that briefly shut down one of the busiest lines on the city's Muni system at the absolute worst time possible, a Monday morning. The Muni is a trolley system (except when that trolley is a bus). You might remember it from the hobos shitting on it in the previous entry.
Despite its reputation as a mobile public restroom, the Muni gets thousands of San Francisco residents to work each day. So you'd expect that a protest intended to disrupt that, the process of getting people living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to the place where they collect their paychecks, would have to be over something pretty damn important, right?
That depends on who you believe. See, the protests were staged on the one-year anniversary of the death of a man named Kenneth Harding. He was killed by police in cold blood because he didn't pay his train fare.
A two-dollar crime.
That's the protestor line and, you must admit, it sounds pretty heinous. In no civilized nation is death an acceptable punishment for such a petty crime. You're damn right people should protest, right? Right, except for the part where that's not even a tenth of the actual story.
In addition to being a turnstile jumper, Harding was also on parole for promoting prostitution. Your Facebook friends playfully refer to this as "pimping." The "ho," in this case, was 13 years old. Who still wants to protest for Kenneth? Keep reading if you do.
At the time of his death, Kenneth Harding was also wanted for questioning in relation to the murder of a 19-year-old woman in the Seattle area. Oh, and according to most reports, he was shooting at police. That's why they were shooting at him, you see. In fact, the coroner determined that it was a bullet from Kenneth Harding's own gun that ultimately killed him. And it's not like these are classified details. This is all widely reported.
And somehow, after weighing all of the available details and evidence, it was deemed necessary to hold a massively disruptive protest to speak out against the "unprovoked police attack" on Kenneth Harding. Because in San Francisco, authority is always wrong.
Hey, speaking of that ...
I'm no scholar, but if I had to make a layman's guess as to why San Francisco disrespects authority so regularly, it's probably because there isn't much authority around in the first place. By the time you see a cop in San Francisco, it's been so long since you've seen the last one that you assume they just disbanded the entire police force and decided to try getting everyone stoned to keep the peace instead. If you don't believe that, I have a video to show you ...
That's video of a homeless woman attacking a train (naturally) ...
Attacking the woman who attempted to remove her from the train ...
Being beat by the woman who she attacked for trying to remove her from the train ...
And then just kind of laying beaten under the train for a bit ...
If you watch the video, you'll notice a few things. For one, not a single person is too concerned with if or when the police are coming. Certainly not this young gentleman, who uses the situation as an opportunity to add a little decoration to the train:
But it's not just that there aren't police around. If you listen closely, you don't even hear any sirens. You don't hear anyone attempting to alert the authorities. The guy operating the train gets out exactly one time, and that's to stop the graffiti kid. Never mind the grandma getting wrecked in front his train, just don't wreck the train. San Francisco will certainly protest a police shooting, even if it's justified. But don't you dare expect them to stand in the way of a great viral video.
But still, how does this indicate that police are in short supply in San Francisco? Well, you'll notice that there's a lot of talk about the "Air Yeezy 2 Campout" in the video and in the description of the video. That's because this was all happening right in front of a massive event put on by Nike to promote their new Air Yeezy 2 line, a shoe designed for Kanye West, because rappers are athletes, too.
And that event was taking place a stone's throw from the busiest mall in the city. Which is on quite possibly the busiest street in the city. On a Saturday afternoon. And not a single person involved in the ruckus seems to be concerned that, maybe, at an area packed with that many people, there might be a few cops around. Because there aren't.
I'm not a criminal, but living in San Francisco made me feel like I could get away with it if I ever decided to make a career change. As far as safety nets go, you could certainly do a lot worse than knowing you always have petty crime to fall back on in a pinch.
Also, it's probably the lack of law enforcement that clears the way for ...