Re: Refinance your memories with this pill
by Hank Donat
Some folks love email. I have
friends who thrive on it. They survived the dot com bust and rose,
recalcitrant, like the Terminator with a cell phone and palm pilot.
In the interest of equal time, I should mention Gray Davis, since I did
say “Terminator.” Send Gray Davis an email. Tell him he’s leaving on a
I find it difficult to truly express a feeling in an email, but many
people are very good at it. For example, ex-pat San Franciscans can
graphically describe their remorse in email after they’ve left the
Kimble J. McSweeney writes, “I am presently a displaced San Franciscan,
serving time in the Hell Mound of the U.S. - Dallas, Texas.”
You might be surprised to know how many hell holes, arm pits, and
backwaters there are outside the Bay Area. None has a Palace of the
Legion of Honor, but they all have email.
Kimble remembers the exact day and date he left San Francisco. “I envy
your rising with each new sun and seeing the City anew for another
day,” he writes.
“My nightly walks along Ocean Beach are now little more than fond
memories,” he laments, “How very much I miss the theatre and concerts.
What I wouldn't give to be among the concrete canyons of the Financial
District again, to hear the clang of the trolleys, to wait for what
seemed an eternity for the M-Oceanview line to take me back home after
a long day at work.”
Kimble is expressing something every San Franciscan needs to hear once
in a while, lest they ever think the grass is greener in Dallas.
It’s not unusual for non-native San Franciscans to leave and come back.
Perhaps they thought the entire country had coincidentally evolved
around the same time they moved here in the first place.
Native San Franciscans knew it was the best place all along. That’s
what gives them their unique oblige in a city that possesses hearts,
often turning tourists into locals in a matter of minutes.
From Los Angeles, Barbara Shaurette writes, “I’m a San
Franciscan-in-exile, since my company decided to close its SF satellite
office. It was either move to the corporate office in L.A., or remain
in San Francisco as a jobless artist, competing with thousands of
others for the handful of remaining jobs. I'm wishing that I'd held
Someone tell the Convention and Visitors Bureau we have a new campaign:
“The city so nice you don’t mind being jobless among thousands.”
Cory Peeke gets right to point, “I'm a former San Franciscan currently
living in Seattle and I regret that I ever left.”
Some people sign their emails with the dates they lived here under
their names, like on tombstones: Ann Patane, “Bernal Heights Resident
1972 – 1986.” Ann didn’t say where she lives now, but I’m sure it’s not
You’ll be happy to know San Francisco still compares favorably with
great cities like London and Paris. People consistently email from
those places to express approval.
Abby Sims is a Briton who left her heart in San Francisco but visits
often. In the city, Abby says she wakes with a "here-I-am,
Also among the money lenders, penis enlargers, and prescription drug
suppliers who email me daily are locals from all corners of the city.
Katie Broder writes from the Mission District suggesting that I arrange
a “Queer Eye on the Straight Candidate” makeover of Matt Gonzalez for a
column in my interview series.
Matt Lynch is a fifth generation San Franciscan who says what he likes
best about his city are “the residential/urban mix, St. Ignatius
Church, the 49ers, submarine sandwiches in West Portal, wacky politics,
taking girlfriends to Coit Tower, and the North Beach Restaurant.”
San Francisco is brimming with things to write home about. The Wave
Organ at the end of the jetty near the yacht club in the Marina is a
frequent subject of emails from locals.
I recently sent a visitor from Canada to see and hear the Wave Organ.
Gail MacTaggart of Montreal was convinced she was supposed to hear Bach
coming from the bay. Canadians are so literal.
Gail later wrote me that what she found at the Wave Organ was more
sublime than anything she could have imagined.
An email from a prominent San Franciscan included a story about the
time her ob/gyn announced he was moving his office to Daly City shortly
before the birth of Ms. San Francisco’s daughter. Our heroine told the
doctor, “it’s been nice knowing you but I’ll squat in Golden Gate Park
before I have ‘Daly City’ on my daughter’s birth certificate.”
Some email is angry, but fortunately those are a small minority. I once
referred to Grant Avenue as Grant Street on my web site. That’s the
written equivalent of pronouncing Kearny, “Kier-knee” and is worthy of
a virtual flogging.
A San Franciscan wrote me after Leah Garchik and Bruce Bellingham each
had a different reference to how old Herb Caen would have been on his
most recent birthday. One said 87, the other 86. “So which is it?” the
reader inexplicably demanded of me.
For the record, it’s 87, and their email addresses are
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org respectively.
All of these people have succeeded in capturing a feeling in an email.
If I could do the same I would answer each one by saying that your love
for this beautiful, elusive city is clearly reflected in your memories.
Voicemail is another thing entirely.
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