After 30+ Years, Departing Bernal Neighbor Breaks Up with San Francisco

Warm Sun After the Rains

Neighbor David lives on Coleridge, but he won’t be there much longer. He’s has lived in San Francisco since the 1970s, yet soon Neighbor David moving to Japan. It will be a big change, he says, but after all these many years it also feels like it’s time. To explain why, Neighbor David recently wrote a “break-up letter to San Francisco,” and we invited him to share it here with Bernalwood:

Dear San Francisco,

I am so breaking up with you.

When I first met you it was love at first sight. I have been with you longer than anyone I’ve ever known. You loved live music, funky art, and sideways culture. You loved to have drinks late at night. You loved late night gallery openings and performance art. You loved to play music. Funky ass music. You used to be a blues lady that was bluer than the sky right before dawn after a foggy night. “Only in San Francisco’ used to mean a black Jewish leather transvestite doing the funky chicken to Sylvester, with a straight guy wearing a jock strap at the Stud on a Friday night.

We would go out for cheap eats at Sparky’s or the Grubsteak after the bars closed. We would walk home because you couldn’t find your late night transfer and the bus would take forever anyway. We could go places. We could hang out. The Fab Mab, Nightbreak, I beam, All night dancing at the Trocadero or the deaf club (181 Club), Oasis, The farm, Wolfgangs, The Stone, Chi Chi, Nickie’s BBQ, Kennel Club, Covered wagon, Blue Lamp, Paradise. Most of them put to sleep.

We both know where you are now. As the drought tightens its grip, the water (coughcough housing) shortage serves as a metaphor for the grassroots cultural and artistic drought. Authorities give it a year before there is no more water. I am afraid that the artistic scene is pretty much parched. Unless of course you have 65 million dollars for a “members only” jazz venue. “Only in San Francisco” now means valet parking for potential buyers of the house next door. Clubs closed because it was noisy at night. Business after business closed down by jacked up rents and greed. A down payment was made for cultural indifference and it’s about paid off. Diversity diversified and moved to the east bay . Or further east. People of color are being squeezed out. Imagine the Bayview and 3rd Street as a boutique destination. Soon the bay area will be called LANO. LA of the north. The cultural landscape has changed so that there really is no place here for the likes of me. I’m not sure if I ever fit in here but for a while that was the beauty of it.. I can’t watch the SF version of the zombie techster apocalypse any longer. It’s too painful. (There is no hip in hipster)

By the way, I got a call from an old friend the other day. Her name is Japan. She said she may still have a thing for me and asked me to move in. So I am going. I will miss Bernal Heights something fierce and the friends I have made here over the years. Alas, It is time. Don’t wait up for me. I’ll leave the key under the mat. See you around.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

86 thoughts on “After 30+ Years, Departing Bernal Neighbor Breaks Up with San Francisco

  1. I know just how he feels. After 38 years living on Prentiss Street in the most idyllic place, we too moved! And to make matters worse, we moved to the DESERT!!!! No beautiful bay to look at anymore, but we do have a mountain, and big horn sheep. Coachella Valley is pretty dog friendly too!
    I miss my neighbors and the wonderful eateries on Cortland, especially Vega! I really miss Vega! Did I mention that I miss Vega????

  2. I will be writing a similar break-up letter this Aug. I too miss the I Beam, Sushi and Snakebites on Sunday’s at Nightbreak, The Spaghetti Western and the pile of potatoes smothered in cheese and salsa, Dv8 (now crappy Temple), No-Name Sushi on Church, Trocadero, The Esprit Outlet (now overpriced lofts), affordable rent and SF’s cool, artsy middle/lower class charm. When all the rich people just lived on Snob Hill and Pac Heights and left the old Victorians in the Misson and Haight for the rest of us.
    Now I’m just not rich enough for this BS 75$ a night average meal out, 5$ toast, 9$ ice cream, 15$ craft cocktails and 7$ espresso. I’m moving up North where I can afford to buy a house and have a big backyard and not worry about 75$ parking tickets; all on my measly middle class salary.

    Good luck to you David!

    • Fab Mab
      Nickie’s BBQ
      I Beam
      Spaghetti Western
      No Name Sushi
      Esprit Outlet

      Between you and OP, you’ve just about got me crying here. Yeah, those are some of the touchstones of what was a golden era here. Golden with a capital G.

      To everyone with contrary opinions, I get it, things change…cities change. So tell me what the touchstones of the current era might be, because I am struggling. Trick Dog? Mission Chinese Food? Humphry Slocombe? Valentine’s day pillow fight?

      I mean, those are all well and good, and I’ve seen one of the proprietors of Trick Dog out on the sidewalk hand-cutting perfectly clear ice cubes with a chain saw, which is certainly cool. But they all feel a bit meh.

      Seriously, if you spent one single night at the Mabuhay or Nickie’s, you’d say to yourself “this is the sort of thing I will remember in 30 years”. You could tell, even in the moment, that this was a rare and golden thing. Call me cynical, but I’m picturing the current 20-somethings, 30 years from now saying simply “oh yes, I had some very hollow and shallow years in San Francisco, but I made a lot of money.”

      I’d love to hear some cultural data points/touchstones as a counter argument here. Like I said, I’m struggling to see where the cultural gold is right now.


        Fab Mab = DNA, Bottom of the Hill, Amnesia
        Nickie’s BBQ = Memphis Minnie’s barbecue; Hard Knox for soul food
        CW = Thee Parkside for music and Benders for ambiance
        I Beam = Mighty, Monarch, Cat Club, Badlands
        Spaghetti Western = Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, Benders, Zeitgeist
        No Name Sushi = Blowfish, Ichi
        Esprit Outlet = Van Heusen, Burlington

        And now there’s more stuff. I just discovered last night that there’s an indoor miniature golf bar/restaurant in the Mission.

      • Considering all your memories seem to revolve around food and alcohol, maybe you should consider that may not be the reason a lot of us are in SF??? My best memories:

        Bouldering at Glen Canyon Park and meeting a professional pick-up artist who wanted to talk about all his tips. Classic day. Climbing at Castle Rock. Hiking in Marin or Big Basin. Hiking Land’s End and then ending the hike by going to the Legion of Honor to view art.

        Any time I cycle Paradise Loop is a great memory. Every time I’ve camped on Angel Island with my friends just talking and sipping whiskey.

        Catching Renee Fleming at the Davies Symphony Hall. Seeing Yuan Yuan Tom dance the Little Mermaid at the SF Ballet. The first time I went to see Book of Mormon. Catching Arcade Fire at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. Going to see the Colourists at Bottom of the Hill. Dance lessons at ODC. Walking my dog at Fort Funston.

        Hope you get the drift….some of us are not just about the countercultural. There are outdoor activities and the fine arts.

      • I appreciate the replies. However…neither of you gets it.

        Bouldering, Land’s end, Fort Mason, etc. These are great things. They don’t make a cultural moment. I promise I’ve ridden paradise loop more times than you. The fact that awesome naturalistic activities abound doesn’t address my point that there has been a cultural shift.

        Are you paid by the comment? You have no idea what you’re talking about. Nickie’s BBQ was a tiny dance club. Not a barbeque. Esprit had nothing in common with Burlington Coat Factory. Spaghetti Western was foremost a breakfast place. Etc. You are like a google-bot that made random word-associations with my list. Actually, yeah, there’s a lot of evidence on Bernalwood that you are a bot.

        I’ve been to the miniature golf in the former mortuary. It’s perfectly okay! The corn dogs are well regarded, but I thought they were just…corn dogs. Nothing bad at all there, but simply not the stuff memories are made of.

      • I like how you ignore all the cultural references in my post…..I guess the symphony, opera, ballet don’t register with you.

      • I’ve been thinking about this comment for the last few days…

        I’m willing to concede that these may not be the best of times if you define “culture” as underground music or art. Those things have been steadily priced-out, to be sure.

        But I think we’re in a golden age for food and culinary experimentation. In fact, I think it’s no exaggeration to say that chefs are our new indy rockstars.

        This is one of the interesting things thats happened in SF since the Great Recession: The emergence of a robust and tiered ecosystem for creative food people to turn their passion for food into successful careers. In a funny way, it almost mirrors the path a musician might have once taken. Street gigs = Farmer’s market stands, leading up to food trucks, or collective spaces (like 331 Cortland), to pop-ups, to their own brick and mortars. I could go on, but you probably get the idea. And of course Bernal has seen this up close: This is the path taken by Ichi Sushi, Hillside Supper Club, Pizza Hacker etc. To say nothing of Lazy Bear, Richie Nakano, etc etc etc. It’s become so commonplace that we almost take it for granted, but it’s a very new phenomenon and rather unique to SF.

        We are experiencing a trued golden age for food creativity, which may or may not be your cup of tea, but suffice to say, it’s happening regardless.

      • Food = culture for people with money or big appetites. You only get it if it’s time to eat and you pay for it.

        Music, art = culture for the masses. You can often enjoy it anytime, anywhere, without paying for it.

        Your claim is appropriate to the perspective that it’s getting to be impossible to enjoy SF without money.

      • Perhaps you don’t get out much? Food does cost money (but music and art often do too).

        Restaurants can be expensive, but many are not. PizzaHacker is a world-class case in point, but kick-ass food from food trucks costs even less.

        San Francisco has ALWAYS been hard to enjoy without money. But San Francisco has also (and in many ways still is) a place that you can enjoy without a whole lot of money. As always, you just have to be willing to explore.

      • I notice that after I posted present-day equivalents of the places the original poster was upset at losing there have been absolutely no comments about the post. It’s obvious that I know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that we’re not losing culture or food or anything in SF; people just go out of business and other businesses take their places.

      • Sorry, but what you get at Pizzahacker is not going to fill you up for a small amount of money. The comparison between restaurants and music culture is an extreme exaggeration that ignores class and reach. It’s very easy to get a transformative new album from your friend, not so easy to get dine out enough to get this “same” experience.

      • The whole point of this thread is that if you are looking for 1:1 comparisons, you are definitely going to be disappointed.

        But that said, you can get fantastic food in SF for $3.50 a pop. Or you can spend a tiny bit less, and go to McDonald’s. As for a discussion of class, that’s a meaningful thing, for sure, but it’s also a powerful way to snuff out conversation.

      • “Class… [is] a powerful way to snuff out conversation.” You would say something like that….

        Au contraire, class is a powerful way to further the conversation beyond an exclusionary statement that just applies to one commenter and his friends with similarly-sized bank accounts. Sorry, but when you say something like “without exaggeration this is that” you need to think it through.

  3. I’ve lived here for 20 years, and the change has been good. I’ve seen my part of Bernal become a much safer neighborhood than when we arrived with too many improvements to enumerate. Complain away, but in terms of culture, food and social acceptance, this SF bubble is still vastly superior than so many parts of the world — heck even so many parts of California. Embrace the change and enjoy life. Turns out my new tech neighbors are really nice and the hipster couple that’s renting across the street are so sweet.

  4. Oh good heavens – how silly. “I’ve gotten older and things have… CHANGED!” Talk to someone under the age of 30 – there are plenty of clubs and events and happenings and scenes (some of them in, yes, the East Bay) that are as transgressive and curious and experimental and inexpensive and FUN as 30 years ago. It’s fine to leave, but own your own changes, don’t blame it on SF…

    • Absolutely! When I moved here 20 years ago I would sit and stare dumbfounded at the people who described the theatre mecca that I had come to partake of (11 performance spaces between Leavenworth and Mason) as a cultural wasteland compared to (whenever they were 25, like I was at the time).

      It’s a tale as old as time, nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be….

      • This is why I have a difficulty with older people (say, over age 35 or so). They start looking at the past more than the present and begin to resent changes. I have skipped high school reunions, Summer of Love reunions, and other such events because while the past was probably pretty good, the present is what’s happening now, and I prefer to be a part of that.

        I like to look at old photos and read stories about things that were, but I don’t want to live there. I’m reminded of the old movie, “Sunset Boulevard”, where Norma Desmond is holed up in her mansion refusing to believe that the talkies have rendered her silent film stardom obsolete. She lives in a fantasy world, bolstered by her butler, who likes being supported by her and her fantasy. “Sunset Boulevard” is one of the creepiest movies ever made. I don’t like to live creepy.

    • I think he must own, and will be cashing out to fund his travels to Japan, where the cost of living is much less than SF.

  5. Can we call a moratorium on the “goodbye letter to SF” trend? They’re almost always by someone who is bitter about leaving and is seeking to make themselves feel better about their own choices. I never thought I would leave SF, but the economic reality may become inevitable, in which case I hope to be forever grateful for the time I spent here, and look forward to visiting in the future to see what changes continue to come, because big cities never stop changing — that’s what makes them interesting.

  6. Why does everybody gotta slash and burn in these things? From Thee Oh Sees guy to this dude, there have been quite a few of these. Pretty played out stuff. And the LA North thing was silly. So many SF people simply don’t get LA. It was, and is, pretty blue collar at its core.

    • As an L.A. native who moved to the Bay Area in 1992, I always find it amusing because it’s so one-sided. Everyone in L.A. thinks S.F. is great and wants to come visit me any chance they get. 🙂

  7. David’s come down with Old Man Disease. It’s easy enough to cure. One just has to stop living in the past.

    What David and many others fail to realize is the thing that has changed the MOST in 30 years is David.

    Yes, Bernal Heights and San Francisco have changed. So has Los Angeles, and Sacramento, and Houston, and Concord, and King of Prussia, PA. And Moscow and Shanghai and Lanaken. And the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and the face of the moon.

    When Young David arrived in SF, there were people who were 30 years older than him who had lived in San Francisco for 30+ years who complained about the changes happening around them. Some of them left SF because things just were not like they were in 1955 when they were young, everything was perfect, and San Francisco worked well for them.

    It sounds like David has lived in or spent some time in Japan. What I know, that David doesn’t yet, is that he’s probably not going to like living there. Because… guess what??… Japan has changed, too. It’s not like it was 30 years ago, either. David would be better off in a place new to him, where he can make new memories, without those having to compete with “the way things used to be”.

    I’m confident I’m within a few years of David’s age. David’s decision to share some of his insights with us has inspired me to do that same.

    Take out a small piece of paper right now. Write one sentence on it, Tape it to a place in your home or office where you will see it every day. It comes down when the paper has yellowed and the tape no longer sticks.

    The sentence is –


    Read it every day and dedicate some portion of your day to keeping it true.

    The world is going to keep changing, with you or without you.

    If you find yourself falling behind in your personal relationship, you can’t go back to high school. If you want more people in your life, you will have to modify some of your behaviors and how you spend some of your time. Or you can choose to have an ever shrinking circle of friends. No right or wrong options, but you will choose.

    If you find yourself falling behind economically, you’ll need to invest in improving your skills in the areas that generate money. If you don’t, those around you will be able to spend more money on more things than you. That won’t make those people smarter than you, happier than you, or better than you. But they will have more money. No right or wrong options here, either. But you can’t both keep spending most of your leisure time playing music, getting high, sitting around solving the world’s problems, etc. and improving and upgrading your economic skills.

    If you find those around you getting younger, congratulations! You’re not dead. The list of things you didn’t do, can’t do, and can no longer do, is ALWAYS going to be a LOT longer than the list of things you can do. So what. Work off the Can Do list anyway. That’s where life’s fun, challenges, and excitement are found. And that’s the list that keeps you from pining for a point in time when you were younger and the world was different in many ways.

    Now is not perfect. Don’t ever let yourself think it was. Now has challenges and choices and good stuff and crap stuff. Just like 30 years from now will have. It’s up to you if you want to lament over what is gone or get on with having a great day.

    I hope David finds a new place and lots and lots of great days. But that’s going to be difficult for him until he really accepts and really comes to terms with the reality that he’s not in his 20s any more and it’s not the 1980s anymore. And that the choices he made the past 30 years have provided him with many opportunities. And limited some opportunities. And made others more difficult, but maybe not impossible.

  8. San Francisco is full of so many challenges, such as getting around easily (there’s too much traffic), to affordability, to the homeless, to the pretentiousness, that residents have to keep patting themselves on the back and congratulating each other that they manage to live “where everyone wants to be.”

    Once you get past the ‘where everyone wants to be” part, you realize that there’s a lot of nice aspects to San Francisco, but they are only tolerable by ignoring the reality that living in the city can be noisy, filthy, dangerous, and pretentious.

    Once you move out of the city, you realizer there’s not THAT much to miss about living in the city that isn’t available elsewhere with less hassle. There’s good food outside the city, good grocers, good culture, good scenery, and most of all, peace and quiet. When you no longer have to justify the noise aspect of living in the city by telling yourself “that’s because I live in the city,” life is much better.

    • If you say so, but growing up in Sacramento I was always struck with just how much better SF was than pretty much anywhere else. Now that I’ve lived here for about 20 years the first thing that strikes me about other cities is how the food is generally worse, the scenery is divorced from the living station, the entertainment is very restricted, and the politics and diversity are virtual monoculture compared to SF.

      So no, I get that YMMV. moving out of the tenderloin into the Castro, then the Mission really transformed my view of the city, but SF really is that special of a city. It’s a fact that’s been acknowledged for the past 70 years. If you don’t get that, then I suggest you’re missing a lot of what is great about SF.

  9. So, we are two crazy natives who came back to the city two years ago after living elsewhere for work. We left the worst real estate market to come to the crazy, overpriced market here.
    The traffic is horrible, the homeless population seems to be growing by the day and longstanding small businesses are closing. But what we have is remarkable! Visually, we have one of the most beautiful places in the world. Having a bad day? Walk up to the top of our hill and look at that vista!
    We have found so many low cost or free events that we become overwhelmed with the choices. If we focus on ethnic eateries, we have amazing food without breaking the bank.

    By hipster standards, we are old so we do this old fashioned thing called cooking! Saves a ton of money and we don’t have to wait in line to eat.
    Why are we here? A passionate love of our home town!

  10. You guys are funny, really you all are. I’m thankful I got to spend 20+ years in SF. I’m also thankful for the 3 years in Oakland and the 5 years in LA. It gave me a perspective about SF and its inhabitants.

    SF HAS become pretentious, over priced and it IS a playground for the 1%. Yeah I now people in the previous generations have complained about things changing.
    But what’s been happening to this City in the last 5 years is unprecedented. For all of you that just bashed the hell out of David or are riding the “don’t become live David” bandwagon….shame. Because you know what? You ALL will have your own “David moment” sooner or later. It’s not age that’s for sure. I know 27 year old professionals that moved to this city 2-3 years ago saying similar shit as David and myself just said.

    I’m shocked that all the people on here think it’s business as usual. Have you all been living under a damn rock??
    Sorry if David’s opinion offended you but sometimes the truth hurts. I’m not gonna even go on about how the skyrocketing rent alone has priced me out of SF. Am I a bitter old person for wanting a house with a yard and private parking? Please tell me I’m just a hater because I want to save my money for when I AM old. Because I can’t do it here making 50k a year.
    Also ask anyone if they think paying 1800$ a month for a 200 sq foot studio with no private bath is not insane.
    Sorry guys. I don’t think David is old I just think David has a soul, which many of you all seem to be lacking.

    • Oh please, a bitter man going to Japan. Let me give you a clue about problems with this letter.

      People of color in Japan? You expect the Japanese to mix well with whites and blacks? They don’t. They’ll be polite to you but you’ll stand out in a homogenous society (unless David is Japanese).

      “black Jewish transvestite wearing leather”. Get back to me where you will find this on the streets in Tokyo. The Harajuku girls stay in their little neighborhood for a reason.

      “The artistic scene”. Are you going for the Beatles cover band? I doubt you’re going for the classical art/music scene since your letter doesn’t even mention SF’s fine symphony/opera/play scene. How about the Noh Theater and Z space? You think you’re going to find a better countercultural scene in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Hiroshima? What a joke.

      Hell, I love Japan, but this guy is delusional

      • Seriously! I mean, how do you complain about this city having too much of a work-obsessed culture, overpriced real estate and too much ethnic homogeneity, then follow that up with your plan to move to … Japan?

    • “Am I a bitter old person for wanting a house with a yard and private parking?”

      Well, maybe not. But a lot of people want to live here – too many for everyone to have a house with a yard and private parking. And you _are_ kind of a bitter old person if you heap wrath all those other people just for striving for the same thing that you want.

      There are many places in the world where you can easily obtain all that space. I’m sorry to report that this just isn’t one of them.

  11. You lost me with your anti-White paean to “diversity diversified”. Everyone knows that “diversity” means non-Whites. Besides, most of the “Whites” who’ve benefitted from the tech boom are–well–that’s another story.

    Let’s see how your penchant for “diversity” goes in Japan.

  12. BOO HOO! He’s complaining about rents in SF and now he’s moving to Japan? Japan is an extremely expensive place where the only way they can contain the prices is by building micro-apartments. And Japan is an insular society; if you’re not Japanese they let you know that you don’t fit in. Good luck.

    But as to whining about the loss of the past, TODAY we have the DNA lounge with the world’s longest-running goth event, Death Guild, along with lots of other concerts and dance club events. And the Oasis was just reopened by Heklina, with drag shows most nights. And jazz? May I remind people that jazz is FREE! I put on a weekly Friday night jazz show at the Atlas cafe. Totally FREE.

    Venues? Fun places? Oh, how about Mission Bowl? Brick & Mortar? The Riptide with their karaoke, “white trash dinner” nights, their live music (the owner Les even plays the drums in some of the bands), the Eagle if you want leather, Amnesia if you want 35 varieties of microbrew beers (at reasonable prices), and on and on.

    Late Night Dining? Oh, how about Cafe Mason, under the hostel on Mason near Geary. Open 24 hours, it’s a place you can meet hosteliers from around the world. And the Grubstake is still in business, as is Orphan Andy’s, and Sparky’s, and the Lucky Penny (still the best bargain in dining for American fare), as well as Lori’s diners, and there’s even a late night Indian place.

    Arts Scene? Well, don’t look now but there are no fewer than FIVE arts studios where people build art for Burning Man and other projects. Ever seen Bliss Dance on Treasure Island? She was built in Marco’s studio there. The Doggie Diner heads are being refurbished because people came forward with Kickstarter money to help out.

    The Presidio Bowl in SF and Albany Bowl in Albany have low-priced bowling. The Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda has a huge collection of pinball and other arcade machines ranging in vintage from the 1930s to the present. For $15 you get unlimited play all day and all night.

    At this time we’re in a Golden Age of San Francisco, and yet this guy complains that all the good stuff is gone. Hardly. It’s really just begun.

    • Yeah, you beat me to this reply.

      Admittedly the price of housing doesn’t affect me as I’m software engineer that had a stable job during the housing bust, so perhaps that biases my perspective. However the changes of the last few years are leading to a thriving San Francisco, and I hope that continues.

  13. He’s breaking up with SF for…Japan? First, SF is a City not a country. Second, if he’s hoping for inexpensive living in a diverse “city” with no valet parking he might want to rethink his choice. Sounds like this is more like an opportunity to bash SF. Enjoy Japan David. Don’t let the bridge hit you on the way out

  14. My family and I recently got priced out of NYC. (Before things got even crazier here.) I never once thought of writing an op-ed piece for BrooklynVegan about how much the Bowery has changed. I just packed my bags and came back to my second favorite city in the country. No one said I was entitled to live in NYC. There will be no protest or GoFundMe campaign for me.

  15. I don’t often use the cudgel of “as a local” but in this case I’m pleased to say, “As a local, GOOD RIDDANCE DAVE.” If you’ve seriously been living here for 30+ years and you can’t find low cost delicious ways to feed yourself and low (or zero) cost fun in SF, then I think it would be best for everyone if you clear out some space to allow some new individuals possessing a modicum of imagination to take your place.

    For the record, you can still walk home late at night and MUNI will continue to not assist you in getting home. Some classic SF experiences are here to stay.

    Oh, and good luck crafting your super-fringe alt lifestyle in Japan.

  16. This was posted at 9:12 am and now it’s 7:15pm- an entire day’s worth of meaness, snideness and lame put downs.

    • Yeah, Eugenie. I find myself avoiding this blog because it’s so full of nastiness in the comments. I only read it when I know I can stomach the vitriol.

      • The comments here aren’t nasty, by and large. People just disagree with David that SF is OVER. SF folks are passionate about our city, and get defensive when it is dissed.

        If you want nasty comments, try reading SFGate.

      • On the other hand, I offered constructive comments, including a list of venues, restaurants, and cultural ideas that show that SF hasn’t gone to hell after all.

    • Thank you! I can’t believe all of this meanness comes from my own neighbors. Maybe I should be afraid of them.

      • WHAT IS MEAN about disagreement? Perhaps you should listen to “To The Best of Our Knowledge” (KALW and KQED broadcast it, and it’s available as a podcast. They discussed the nature of political correctness and the tendency today for people to call everybody who doesn’t agree with them bullies.

        When I was growing up people engaged in conversation. They had differing opinions. NOBODY called it “hate” or “bullying” or anything of the sort. People just disagreed and other people listened to what they had to say and that was that.

        I’ve looked over the comments here and while some of them seem like put-downs toward the guy who made the original post, I don’t think any of them are out of order, and certainly I don’t see them as hateful or bullying at all.

        GROW UP, PEOPLE!

      • Seriously? The worst comment I’ve seen here is “good riddance.” Exactly which comment makes you afraid of your neighbors?

      • David,
        It’s not the disagreement that concerns me here. That part is healthy and I am happy we can express it. It’s the overall tone. What I see as a somewhat satirical post by the author turns into a “screw you” “good riddance” kind of response. That feels mean to me. I want my neighbors to show concern for me the same way I feel it for them. Community. If my neighbor backs into my car I don’t shoot him.

      • As the person who posted the “good riddance” comment, let me assure you that you have nothing to fear from this Lost Tribe of College Hill denizen.

        But quite frankly, if you’re going to air your sad-sack “I’m over this shithole town” diatribe on a website that’s dedicated to connecting residents and improving our little corner of the city, what do you expect? A pity party? People offering heartfelt support for your decision to leave and agreement that “SF ain’t what it used to be, and in fact it fully sucks now?”

        These sorts of missives are for a personal journal, a therapist’s office or your friend’s couch. Don’t whine loudly in public about the perceived decay of our shared environment and expect polite encouragement. Or do, but you’re not likely to get any.

      • The problem is David doesn’t have the Bold Italic around anymore the publish his letter.

    • I think most comments above are just writing and responding, in length and great details, to David’s article from another perspective, with counter argument of some of his assertions, and also giving neighbor David the reality check of living in Japan, or any part of the world.

      I do not see any intentional “meanness, snideness and lame” in those comments. If there is some, it’s nothing compared to the generalization cast upon the new comer techies, overwhelmingly one-sided reported and opinioned everywhere in any form of media.

    • Okay, so … exactly what kind of response did you expect from a post that basically says “You’re all boring, I’m leaving”?

      • Good point. No break-up/farewell letter ever said, “To be brutally honest, I am just not good enough for you. I’m really heartbroken that you left me for better things.”

  17. I beat you all for being a bitter old Bernal lifer – 50 years on the hill. Personally I find the changes getting to be unpleasant. It’s hard watching people being tumbled out of their homes because someone wants to make bigger bucks. Or people having their rents jacked up by 300% for the same reason. Yes, the neighborhood was funky. Most people didn’t fuss over you unless you did something first that they didn’t like. The hilltop was a favorite for dirt bike racers. The city couldn’t have cared less when other Bernal Heightsers unloaded their garbage into the east and west quarries. A lot of us fought for several years to do something about bikes and garbage and a lot got done. It’s hard seeing my friends leave when the big bucks people come in and simply elbow them out of the way just because they can.
    So for you newcomers I recommend that you get to know the “oldies.” There might be something in it for you unless all you think about is “big bucks.” I wrote a memoir titled BERNAL HILL MEMOIR. It’s about living up here at the top of hill for a long time. You can find it in the public library on Cortland Avenue.

  18. The same should be said too: for the ‘oldies’, please get to know the newcomers, instead of demonizing the whole group of people (most of the techie workers are NOT the big bucks, yes, they probably make six-figure salary, still just middle-class income).

    And also the causal relationship is wrong. They are also victims of high rent and this two-tier rental system. While the ‘oldies’ enjoy the rent-controlled protection, they have to pay for way higher rent to just live here (who says they don’t deserve living here?) because of the limited housing stock available to them.

    • Part of the reason people are getting pushed out of SF is because of those old timers who purchased property back in the ‘olden days’ and are selling it for millions now. Just look at the recent issue with Deb who is getting pushed out of her apartment after rent was raised 300%. That was an old time Bernal family, not some newbie techie.

  19. I too have left Bernal Heights after 28 years. However, I think of it as a chapter change. While the neighborhood has become more gentrified, it does have less crime and many more people are enjoying the wonderful outdoor spaces the community provides. We had a wonderful experience for it was here that Carnival started, Precita Eyes Mural Center blossomed and a true neighborhood began to coalesce. It’s always easy to say “it was better when”….but this really doesn’t say anything about Bernal. It will always be that lovely “village-like” neighborhood of San Francisco where children and their dogs can frolic in the park, lovers can enjoy a sun-lit afternoon on their blankets, the sounds of samba will reverberate in Precitaville in mid-May. Even though I have left the city and moved to the East Bay, I will always feel proud to have been a Bernal Height resident.

  20. Thank goodness there is more to BH and its citizens than is represented on this blog.
    The voices posting here are a convincing argument against the neighborhood.

      • Whoops. Yes, the comments here make me queasy. can’t You tolerate even a mild critique of your lifestyle? You get to stay, while others must leave. Isn’t that good enough for you? What is wrong with you, neighbors?

  21. Well this turned into a predictable shitfest.

    Good luck out there, David. The best thing about living in other cultures is the perspective you get on your own – the good, the bad, and the ugly. San Francisco will always welcome you back, even if only for a visit.

    I’m sure we’ve crossed paths over the past 30 years – we probably will again… so long as the barbarian hordes don’t drive me out in their rush to discover everything that’s new – PBR!! Bacon!! Polaroids!! Grass Fed Beef!! Bicycles!!

    Gambatte kudasai.

  22. It’s kind of sad the common response is to flee instead of doing the work to make SF what it once was again.

  23. CHEAP FOOD? $5.80 curry beef at the Jade Restaurant on Bryant and 16th. $6.95 sandwiches at Progressive Grounds. $3.85 slices of excellent pizza at Escape From New York. TWO “baby burritos” with meat for $5 at Taqueria San Jose.

    CHEAP ENTERTAINMENT? Free jazz show tonight at the Atlas Cafe at 7:30. Free bluegrass show on Thursday nights and free live ragtime and early blues music Saturday afternoons at the Atlas. Free live music of all kinds at the Revolution Cafe every night and some afternoons. Free live country music at Amnesia on Mondays and free live jazz at Amnesia on Wednesday nights. Royal Cuckoo always has excellent live music with no cover, including Freddie Hughes, top R&B singer from the 60s.

    CHEAP DRINKS? $4 well drinks (and $3 happy hour drinks) at the Powerhouse. Same deal at the Treasure Island Bar and Grill. $10 bottomless cup mimosas on Sunday also at the TI-BAG. Hamm’s and a well shot for $5 at the Knockout.

    I mean, what more could you want?

  24. Neighbor David, Can I have your apartment? I’ve lived here since 1998 and just had a breakup. I let my boyfriend have the apartment and now I fear I will never find an affordable place to call my home.

    check out this music video by a local cabaret artist about the state of affairs here:

  25. Frisco’ housing has always been overpriced(yes i did just say frisco). I liken my experience in the bay area as falling in love with a seductive woman who I could never afford that would ultimately bleed me dry if I stayed with her, leaving me a dessicated husk of a man. Sometimes you just gotta break up.

  26. How very sad. It is not about what it was around it is about how disrespectful the new comers are. How they think they are the best and deserve everything. Listen youngsters you will never come closer to what this town used to be or to have our experience, you worry about shaving your pubs and eat food without flavor. I won’t explain myself either. Have fun how ever you can and shut up. You aint nothing but mama’s boy and skinny girls in need of a burger that have some real meat on it. Go learn how have sex and then talk your peace.

  27. Don’t try to win over the haters. You’re not the jackass whisperer. Keep it classy folks. You never know if San Fran might break up with you!

  28. The entire world is (has been) changing, and that thing that made SF special from the 60s through the 90s has morphed into something else (over 15 years).

    I’m not so sure that ‘thing’ exists anywhere, anymore. The context has changed, that ‘thing’ is now some other thing.

    SF is still special, but in a totally different way, to a different type of person. I agree that if you value that ‘thing’ it was more than what it is – time to leave (I did). Let others enjoy it.

    Cities are fascinating -> whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Always evolving.

    • I guess I’m a “different type of person” than I used to be because I am a native and yet I still LOVE SF! Growing up we didn’t have the variety of food, culture, or music we have today.

      Starting in June I’m going to unveil a new Saturday night blues & R&B show at the Atlas Cafe. This adds to the existing Friday night jazz, Saturday afternoon ragtime, and Thursday night bluegrass/oldtime. I can’t a time when I was growing up that I could experience so many different kinds of music. Sure, we had rock and jazz, but that was about it. The blues scene had died, nobody performed bluegrass, there wasn’t any experimental stuff like Eastern European folk music or jazz/hip-hop crossovers or any of that.

      And when it comes to food, I remember salads being iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, MAYBE garbanzo beans, and thousand island dressing, not the huge salad productions we eat today. And entrees were great if you liked steak because that was mostly what you got when you went out to eat anywhere but a hamburger joint. Okay, you could get cioppino in North Beach, but that was about it for entrees.

      And culture…sheesh! We didn’t have a cartoon art museum, a Jewish museum, the Exploratorium, the Mexican Museum, etc. We didn’t have flash mobs such as pillow fights or a Saint Stupid’s Day Parade, or gay pride. We didn’t have the YBCA. Heck, we didn’t even have parks South of Market.

      • Agreed – it’s still a world class city. It’s my opinion that truly great cities are necessarily dynamic.

        No insult was meant in the statement ‘a different type of person.’ I was being intentionally general for the sake of concision.

        For what it’s worth, I am also a different person then when I first fell in love with SF, and that’s part of why I moved. I look at it like a long friendship where both parties grew apart.

        Good luck with your band!


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